The Singing Swan: An Account of Anna Seward and Her Acquaintance with Dr. Johnson, Boswell, & Others of Their Time

The Singing Swan: An Account of Anna Seward and Her Acquaintance with Dr. Johnson, Boswell, & Others of Their Time

The Singing Swan: An Account of Anna Seward and Her Acquaintance with Dr. Johnson, Boswell, & Others of Their Time

The Singing Swan: An Account of Anna Seward and Her Acquaintance with Dr. Johnson, Boswell, & Others of Their Time

Excerpt

It is not simply for convenience of nomenclature that we speak of the latter half of the eighteenth century as The Age of Johnson. Johnson was not only the most arresting literary figure of the period; he dominated it personally. The Literary Club which he ruled contained, with surprisingly few exceptions,' the men who give the age its peculiar glory. It is amazing that one small society should have included Johnson, Goldsmith, Reynolds, Garrick, Percy, Boswell, Malone, Steevens, Sheridan, Burke, Fox, Adam Smith, and Gibbon. When we add to this the fact that Johnson knew intimately most of the "female authors" of the day and regarded some of them as his protégées, his position as literary dictator appears something quite unparalleled in our annals.

Granting this, it is still possible to compile a considerable list of eighteenth-century authors whose connection with Johnson was tenuous or nonexistent. Sterne is such an author, and Beckford another -- comets of the literary heaven following eccentric and solitary orbits. Churchill, Wilkes, and Lloyd were professed anti-Johnsonians. Smollett, though he lived beside Johnson in London for more than twenty years, was no member . . .

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