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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
 
 
 
 

Record Number: 21708


Reading Experience:

Evidence:

'In the afternoon I tried to get Dr. Johnson to like the Poems of Mr. Hamilton of Bangour, which I had brought with me: I had been much pleased with them at a very early age; the impression still remained on my mind; it was confirmed by the opinion of my friend the Honourable Andrew Erskine, himself both a good poet and a good critick, who thought Hamilton as true a poet as ever wrote, and that his not having fame was unaccountable. Johnson, upon repeated occasions, while I was at Ashbourne, talked slightingly of Hamilton. He said there was no power of thinking in his verses, nothing that strikes one, nothing better than what you generally find in magazines; and that the highest praise they deserved was, that they were very well for a gentleman to hand about among his friends. He said the imitation of "Ne sit ancillae tibi amor", &c. was too solemn; he read part of it at the beginning. He read the beautiful pathetick song, 'Ah the poor shepherd's mournful fate', and did not seem to give attention to what I had been used to think tender elegant strains, but laughed at the rhyme, in Scotch pronunciation, [italics] wishes [end italics] and [italics] blushes [end italics], reading [italics] wushes [end italics]--and there he stopped. He owned that the epitaph on Lord Newhall was pretty well done. He read the 'Inscription in a Summer-house', and a little of the imitations of Horace's 'Epistles'; but said he found nothing to make him desire to read on. When I urged that there were some good poetical passages in the book. "Where (said he,) will you find so large a collection without some?" I thought the description of Winter might obtain his approbation: 'See Winter, from the frozen north Drives his iron chariot forth! His grisly hand in icy chains Fair Tweeda's silver flood constrains,' &c. He asked why an 'iron chariot'? and said 'icy chains' was an old image. I was struck with the uncertainty of taste, and somewhat sorry that a poet whom I had long read with fondness, was not approved by Dr. Johnson. I comforted myself with thinking that the beauties were too delicate for his robust perceptions'.

Century:

1700-1799

Date:

Until: 16 Sep 1777

Country:

n/a

Time

n/a

Place:

n/a

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:

James Boswell

Age:

Adult (18-100+)

Gender:

Male

Date of Birth:

29 Oct 1740

Socio-Economic Group:

Professional / academic / merchant / farmer

Occupation:

writer and lawyer

Religion:

n/a

Country of Origin:

Scotland

Country of Experience:

n/a

Listeners present if any:
e.g family, servants, friends

n/a


Additional Comments:

n/a



Text Being Read:

Author:

William Hamilton

Title:

[poems]

Genre:

Poetry

Form of Text:

Print: Book

Publication Details

n/a

Provenance

owned


Source Information:

Record ID:

21708

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:

836-7

Additional Comments:

n/a

Citation:

James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson, (Oxford, 1980), p. 836-7, http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/reading/UK/record_details.php?id=21708, accessed: 02 March 2021


Additional Comments:

Originally published 1791.

   
   
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