In his Grammar of the English Tongue, published as part of A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, Samuel Johnson included a section on versification. In it, he quotes from a poem by Richard Glover, one of the twenty authors cited but once in the Grammar entire: For resistance I could fear none, But with twenty ships had done What thou, brave and happy Vernon, Hast atchiev’d with six alone. Glover.1 This comes from the politically inflammatory ‘Admiral Hosier’s Ghost’.2 Richard Glover (1712–85),3 an ardent and prominent Whig and Patriot, seems an odd choice for Johnson, given the political differences separating the two men in the 1750 s.4 However, behind this inclusion in the Grammar lies a Johnsonian textual genealogy that has hitherto escaped notice.5 In the late 1730 s and early 1740 s, shortly after his arrival in London, Johnson threw himself and his fertile quill into the anti-Walpolean ferment that marked the politics of that turbulent period. One aspect of this activity stands out, in light of the Glover quotation. A key Opposition charge was revived from the ministry’s mishandling of a naval expedition in the mid-1720 s, that led by Vice Admiral Francis Hosier (1673–1727). Thousands of men—including Hosier himself—died due to the outbreak of yellow fever during the ‘pacific blockade’ of Spanish treasure port, Porto Bello, and afterwards.6 As previously noted, Percy included Glover’s ballad in his Reliques. His summary of the episode, especially given his relationship with Johnson, merits notice while more fully describing the misadventure: This [‘Hosier’s Ghost’] was a party song written by the ingenious author of ‘Leonidas’, on the taking of Porto Bello from the Spaniards by Admiral Vernon, Nov. 22, 1739. The case of Hosier, which is here so pathetically represented, was briefly this. In April 1726, that commander was sent with a strong fleet into the Spanish West Indies, to block up the galleons in the ports of that country, or, should they presume to come out, to seize and carry them into England. He accordingly arrived at the Bastimentos near Porto Bello, but being employed rather to overawe than to attack the Spaniards, with whom it was probably not our interest to go to war, he continued long inactive on that station, to his own great regret. He afterwards removed to Carthagena, and remained cruising in these seas, till far the greater part of his men perished deplorably by the diseases of that unhealthy climate. This brave man, seeing his best officers and men thus daily swept away, his ships exposed to inevitable destruction, and himself made the sport of the enemy, is said to have died of a broken heart. Such is the account of Smollett, compared with that of other less partial writers.7 Johnson glances at the Hosier debacle in a paragraph from his 1739 Marmor Norfolcience, an ironic satire that purported to be an ancient prophesy ‘discover’d’ near Lynn, in Walpole’s native Norfolk: Do not our ships sail unmolested, and our merchants traffick in perfect security? Is not the very name of England treated by foreigners in a manner never known before? Or if some slight injuries have been offered, if some of our petty traders have been stopped, our possessions threatened, our effects confiscated, our flag insulted, or our ears crop’d, have we lain sluggish and unactive? Have not our fleets been seen in triumph at Spithead? Did not Hosier visit the Bastimentos, and is not Haddock now stationed at Port Mahon?8 The irony here, as has been noticed, is heavy-handed, an unsuccessful attempt to tap into a Swiftian vein.9 Nonetheless, Johnson’s deployment of the ‘scandal’ of Hosier’s doomed fleet clearly participates within the Opposition rhetoric of the day, a deployment that would be more successfully exploited by Glover’s popular broadside about a year later.10 But this does not exhaust Hosier’s appearance in Johnson’s pre-Dictionary writings. In the year following publication of ‘Admiral Hosier’s Ghost’, he was at work on the Debates in Parliament for the Gentleman’s Magazine. This was a scheme hatched by editor Edward Cave to report on parliamentary proceedings—in itself illegal at the time—using a fiction whereby contemporary politicians’ names were replaced by ones drawn from or inspired by Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. In the Debates, Johnson refers to the Hosier debacle six different times. Of the six, five were openly hostile to the Walpole camp. Two examples will suffice to indicate the tenor of the latter group: Snadsy [Samuel Sandys, 1695–1770]: The Iberians suffered no other inconvenience than confinement in the harbour, and a short delay of their annual treasures; while our admiral was languishing with melancholy, sailors dying by multitudes, and our ships rotting without action. (Yale Works, XII, 490–1) Ptit [William Pitt, 1708–78]: If it be enquir’d what advantage was granted by this treaty to the Blefuscudians [the French] … an answer may very justly be refused, till the Minister or his apologists shall explain his conduct in the last war with Iberia, and inform us why the plate fleet was spared, our ships sacrificed to the worms, and our admiral and his sailors poysoned [sic] in an unhealthy climate? The lives of Hozeri and his forces which were squandered by compliance with Blefuscu, are now justly to be demanded from this man [Walpole]; he is now to be charged with the murder of those unhappy men whom he exposed to misery and contagion … (Yale Works, XII, 553) Given that the speeches debate a motion for the removal of Walpole (Walelop), this negative emphasis is clearly part of Johnson’s reporting. Moreover, the pointedness of the examples cited unmistakably aligns with the hostile position established earlier in Marmor Norfolciense. By the mid-1740 s, Johnson’s ardour had cooled, and he eventually came to see the Opposition politicians centred around Cobham, Lyttelton, and Frederick, Prince of Wales not as noble idealists but cynical opportunists.11 Strikingly, a decade later, when compiling his materials on the English language, he would see fit to include a stanza from ‘Admiral Hosier’s Ghost’. His view of Glover’s Whig political stance was surely low and that of his poetic ability hardly high; during his trip to Scotland some two decades later, Boswell records this conversational tidbit: It was dark when we came to Fors last night; so we did not see what is called King Duncan’s monument.—I shall now mark some gleanings of Dr. Johnson’s conversation. I spoke of Leonidas, and said there were some good passages in it. Johnson. ‘Why, you must seek for them’.12 So why did Johnson place the Hosier stanza in his Grammar? Maybe he considered it one of the items worth ‘seeking for’ in Glover’s oeuvre. Or perhaps he was thinking back upon a period in his life when he was deeply immersed in politics and was planting a private clue for his readers to discover, such as his infamous definition of ‘pension’ in the Dictionary or the more personal but politically neutral entry for ‘lich’.13 This conjecture finds support in the authors located nearby—Dryden, Addison, Prior, and ‘Gay’ (as attributed, incorrectly, by Johnson)—all prominent political satirists from the previous three decades. A more benign possibility lies in the thematic congruence uniting the three stanzas that conclude the versification section, Glover, ‘Gay’, and a ‘Ballad’ (Lewis Theobald’s, but not attributed by Johnson), respectively, all involving human interactions with a hostile coast or sea. But the story does not end there. In 1773 Johnson published the fourth edition of his Dictionary, the last he personally edited (with the assistance of George Steevens). In it, he quotes Glover at least three times, under ‘eminent’, ‘extent’ (n.s.), and ‘stipendiary’: 3. Conspicuous; remarkable. Eminent he mov’d In Grecian arms, the wonder of his foes. Glover. 2. Bulk; size; compass. Ariana, of Darius’ race, That rul’d th’ extent of Asia. Glover. One who performs any service for a settled payment. If thou art become A tyrant’s vile stipendiary, with grief That valour thus triumphant I behold, Which after all its danger and brave toil, Deserves no honour from the gods or men. Glover.14 The passage under ‘eminent’ is from book eight of Leonidas, while those under ‘extent’ and ‘stipendiary’ are drawn from book five. Looking back to the 1773 Scottish exchange noted above, it is tempting but incorrect to speculate that the conversation had some bearing on the inclusion of these three authorities: Johnson had already completed his revisions before the Hebridean journey.15 Recognition of the inclusion of the three passages from Glover does however lend authority to his remark, ‘Why, you must seek for them.’ We now see that he had been ‘seeking’ and had winnowed his hoard down to three. Most likely, the poem Leonidas had been drawn to Johnson’s attention by the publication of its revised edition in 1770,16 the year before he began his revisions for the 1773 Dictionary. Whatever the reason for Johnson’s later inclusions of Glover in the Grammar and the fourth edition of Dictionary, it culminates a minute history of Johnson’s participation within a small but significant episode in British naval and political history and his connection with a curious textual bedfellow, a figure now largely forgotten but once significant enough to engage the attention of the great lexicographer and satirist. Footnotes 1 The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, gen. ed. Robert DeMaria, Jr., 23 vols (New Haven, CT, 1958–), XVIII, 359. My thanks to Robert G. Walker and Christine Jackson-Holzberg for suggestions on earlier versions of this piece. 2 London, 1740, ll. 49–52. Roger Lonsdale has recently reprinted the text in The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse (Oxford, 1989), 332–3. 3 For Glover, see the following sources: Paul Baines, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online, 2013), <https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/10831> [accessed 20 May 2017], s.v. ‘Richard Glover’; Gregory C. Kelley, Dictionary of Literary Biography, ed. John Sitter (Deroit, 1990), XCV, s.v. ‘Richard Glover’; [Richard Glover] Memoirs by a Celebrated Literary and Political Character (London, 1814); Alexander Chalmers, ‘The Life of Glover’, The Works of the English Poets from Chaucer to Cowper, ed. Chalmers, 21 vols (London, 1810), XVII, 3–12. Kelley writes of Glover’s contemporary importance: Although now largely ignored, Richard Glover was in his own time one of England’s most famous poets. In addition to his substantial literary reputation, he acquired a formidable body of classical learning, participated in the growing commercial activities of mid-eighteenth century London, and made himself a man of considerable influence. (101–2) 4 Glover’s early patron was Lord Cobham, leader of the faction that broke with Walpole in 1733 over the Excise Bill (Chalmers, ‘Life of Glover’, 4). For Johnson’s later, unflattering views of ‘Cobham, Lyttelton, and Chesterfield’, all members of this Opposition party, see ‘Life of Hammond’ (Yale Works, XXII, 840) and ‘Life of Pope,’ (Yale Works, XXIII, 1172). 5 In addition to the connection discussed in the following, a few other links between Glover and Johnson deserve notice. They shared a common friend in David Garrick, who accepted Glover’s tragedy Boadicia and premièred it on on 1 December 1753 (Baines, ODNB). Thomas Percy included‘Hosier’s Ghost’ in his 1765 Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (Lewis, 103–04); Johnson assisted Percy with this work (Life, I, 552, II, 2n1; Samuel Johnson’s Prefaces and Dedications, ed. Allen T. Hazen [New Haven, CT, 1937], 160–3). In his 1781‘Life of Mallet’ (¶12), Johnson mentions Glover’s declining to undertake a historical account of the Duke of Marlborough commissioned by the Duchess. After Glover’s death, Johnsonian associate Isaac Reed published an account of his life in the European Magazine (January 1786)—the primary source for Chalmers’s ‘Life of Glover’. 6 H. R. Richmond, The Navy as an Instrument of Policy:1558–1727 (Cambridge, 1953), 394. As Richmond indicates, this took place during an undeclared war between the Triple Alliance (Britain, France, and Holland) against Spain and Austria, hence Walpole’s reluctance to allow Hosier to engage more forcefully. A recent study offers a somewhat more modest account of the casualties: ‘over two thousand seamen, 60 officers, and two admirals (Hosier’s successor, Edward Hopson, died too), without a shot being fired’, Daniel A. Baugh, ‘Sir Charles Wager, in Peter Le Fevre and Richard Harding (eds), Precursors of Nelson (London, 2000), 114–5. Baugh’s analysis also disputes the failure of the expedition, concluding it to be ‘a dreadful mission which … achieved its object’. 7 Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 2 vols (London, 1910), II, 163. The closing reference is to Smollett’s Continuation of the Complete History of England, 4 vols (London, 1760–1), II, 449. Smollett’s account is also of interest, given his presence at the 1741 Battle of Cartagena, which he later wrote about in The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748). 8 Yale Works, X, 41. The word ‘Bastimentos’ recurs in l. 53 of Glover’s poem; it immediately follows the stanza Johnson quotes in the Grammar. The OED’s third definition, ‘A ship, a vessel’ cites ll. 53–5. (Johnson’s earlier usage is not cited; nor does he define it in the Dictionary.) The actual meaning refers to the island of Bastimentos, near Panama. (See The Historical Register, xlv (1727), 40.) The OED cites an 1860 edition that showed all nouns without capitals and hence the geographical name was elided: the 1740 version reads: Then the Bastimento’s never / Had out foul Dishonour seen’. Lonsdale’s edition of the poem muddies the waters further by glossing the word as ‘walls’, wrongly, perhaps, following the OED’s second definition. 9 See Donald J. Greene, The Politics of Samuel Johnson (Athens, GA, 1990), 96–9 and Thomas Kaminski, The Early Career of Samuel Johnson (Oxford, 1987), 100–2. 10 For other, contemporary examples of Johnson’s Opposition satire, see A Compleat Vindication of the Licensers of the Stage (May 1739) and such passages from London (May 1738) as, Has Heaven reserv’d, in pity to the poor, No pathless waste, or undiscovered shore; No secret island in the boundless main? No peaceful desart yet unclaim’d by Spain? Quick let us rise, the happy seats explore, And bear oppression’s insolence no more. (ll.170–5; Yale Works, VI, 56) In a later, 1748, edition, Johnson adds a footnote to l. 173: ‘The Spaniards at this time were said to make claim to some of our American provinces’. 11 For an account of Johnson’s transition from Opposition champion to sceptical neutrality, see ch. 3 of Anthony W. Lee, Mentoring Relationships in the Life and Writings of Samuel Johnson: A Study in the Dynamics of Eighteenth-Century Literary Mentoring (Lewiston, 2005), 85-127. See also Nicholas Hudson, A Political Biography of Samuel Johnson (London and New York, 2013), 33–88. 12 Boswell’s Life of Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill; rev. L. F. Powell. 2nd edn, 6 vols (Oxford, 1934-64), V, 116. In the original 1887 edition, Hill includes in a note this anecdote, from Hannah More’s Memoirs (I, 405), that Powell excised from the modern edition used by Johnson scholars today: I was much amused with hearing old Leonidas Glover sing his own fine ballad of Hosier’s Ghost, which was very affecting. He is past eighty [he was seventy-three]. Mr. [Horace] Walpole coming in just afterwards, I told him how highly I had been pleased. He begged me to entreat for a repetition of it. It was the satire conveyed in this little ballad upon the conduct of Sir Robert Walpole’s ministry which is thought to have been a remote cause of his resignation. It was a very curious circumstance to see his son listening to the recital of it with so much complacency. See also Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, ed. W. S. Lewis, 48 vols (New Haven, CT), XXXI, 229. 13 See also, e.g., the account of Johnson’s politically barbed handling of Earl Gower under the Dictionary entry for renegado in Boswell’s Life of Johnson, I, 296. 14 Johnson’s inclusion of Glover in these entries is all the more remarkable given his claim, in the Preface to his Dictionary, … to admit no testimony of living authours, that I might not be misled by partiality, and that none of my cotemporaries might have reason to complain; nor have I departed from this resolution, but when some performance of uncommon excellence excited my veneration, when my memory supplied me, from late books, with an example that was wanting, or when my heart, in the tenderness of friendship, solicited admission for a favourite name. (Yale Works, XVIII, 95) 15 For Johnson’s process of revising the fourth edition, see Allen Reddick, The Making of Johnson’s Dictionary: 1746–1773, rev. edn (Cambridge, 1996), 89–120. Reddick makes no mention of Glover, nor did any of the other major Dictionary scholars’ work I consulted: Kolb and Sledd, DeMaria, Jr., Lynch, McDermott, and Mugglestone. 16 Leonidas, A Poem, 2 vols (London, 1770). This was the fifth edition, enlarged from nine to twelve books. © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: email@example.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Notes and Queries – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 20, 2018
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