Reading Experience Database
1450-1945

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Record 22291

Reading Experience:

Evidence:
'The Earl of Carlisle having written a tragedy, entitled "The Father's Revenge", some of his Lordship's friends applied to Mrs. Chapone to prevail on Dr. Johnson to read and give his opinion of it, which he accordingly did, in a letter to that lady. [the text of the letter is then given. The relevant parts of it follow:] "The construction of the play is not completely regular; the stage is too often vacant, and the scenes are not sufficiently connected. This, however, would be called by Dryden only a mechanical defect; which takes away little from the power of the poem, and which is seen rather than felt. A rigid examiner of the diction might, perhaps, wish some words changed, and some lines more vigorously terminated. But from such petty imperfections what writer was ever free? The general form and force of the dialogue is of more importance. It seems to want that quickness of reciprocation which characterises the English drama, and is not always sufficiently fervid or animated. Of the sentiments I remember not one that I wished omitted. In the imagery I cannot forbear to distinguish the comparison of joy succeeding grief to light rushing on the eye accustomed to darkness. It seems to have all that can be desired to make it please. It is new, just, and delightful. With the characters, either as conceived or preserved, I have no fault to find; but was much inclined to congratulate a writer, who, in defiance of prejudice and fashion, made the Archbishop a good man, and scorned all thoughtless applause, which a vicious churchman would have brought him".' 'The catastrophe is affecting. The Father and Daughter both culpable, both wretched, and both penitent, divide between them our pity and our sorrow.
Century: 1700-1799
Date: Until: 28 Nov 1783
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: city: London
   
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Samuel Johnson
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 18 Sep 1709
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: writer
Religion: Anglican
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
n/a
Additional comments: n/a

 

Text Being Read:

Author: Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle
Title: Father's Revenge, The
Genre: Drama
Form of Text: Manuscript: Unknown
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: borrowed (other)
sent to him by Mrs Chapone

 

Source Information:

Record ID: 22291  
Source - Print  
  Author: James Boswell
  Editor: R.W. Chapman
  Title: Life of Johnson
  Place of Publication: Oxford
  Date of Publication: 1980
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 1254-6
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson (Oxford, 1980), p. 1254-6, http://can-red-lec.library.dal.ca/Arts/reading/recorddetails2.php?id=22291, accessed: 04 February 2023

Additional comments:

Originally published 1791.

 

 

Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)