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“If it rained knowledge,” said Johnson to Boswell, exulting in his canvass of Lord Marchmont, about Pope, “I'd hold out my hand.” Humbler biographers

, are expected to take more pains, although their industry is often unfruitful. The history of Akenside has been investigated by Mr. Bucke, the Rev. Alexander Dyce, and the latest Editor of “Johnson's Lives.” I have not been able to make much addition to their stores. The life of Akenside by Mr. Dyce, is particularly careful, and must always be consulted with advantage.

My inquiries respecting Dyer have been more successful. The kindness of Mr. W. H. Dyer Longstaffe, the descendant and the representative of the Poet, has furnished me with some unpublished verses of Dyer, and several interesting illustrations of his mind and genius. To the same gentleman I am indebted for the portrait which appears in this volume. The face


of Dyer, is now, for the first time, exhibited to his admirers; the portrait which was prefixed to the editions of his Poems, by Johnson and Bell, represented a very different Mr. Dyer, who is mentioned by Sir John Hawkins. My thanks are also due to Mr. Peter Cunningham, and Mr. I. G. Nichols. I should have been willing to enlarge the number of the Notes, but a crowded page is not pleasing ; and every reader of a poet is expected to bring some information to the perusal. For the Notes, which have a signature, I am responsible.


St. Catherine's, May 28, 1855.




THERE is yet standing, in the busy town of Newcastleupon-Tyne, the house in which Mark Akenside, a Presbyterian dissenter, followed the trade of a butcher. Under that roof a second son, also called Mark, was born, No. vember 9, 1721, and was “baptized the 30th of the same month by the Rev. Mr. Benjamin Bennet.” Two hundred years earlier, Thomas Horsley, Mayorof Newcastle, founded a school to be free for any within or without the town. Thither the boy Mark was sent in due season. He must have remained in the school for a considerable time, if he ever became, as he is reported to have been, the pupil of Richard Dawes, the learned author of the “Miscellanea Critica,” who was appointed to the head-mastership in 1738. To him the following lines are thought to apply:

Thee, too, facetious Momion, wandering here,
Thee, dreaded censor, oft have I beheld
Bewilder'd unawares: alas, too long
Flush'd with thy comic triumphs, and the spoils
Of sly derision! till on ev'ry side
Hurling thy random bolts, offended truth
Assigned thee here thy station, with the slaves

Of folly. Dawes was a fair object of sarcasm. On one occasion he directed the boys to render the Greek word for “ass” into “alderman,” by way of insulting the Corporation, with whom he had quarrelled. Akenside subsequently received instruction from a dissenting teacher in the town.

He adds another name to the list of boy-poets; for in his sixteenth year he contributed some verses to the Gentleman's Magazine, with an introductory note to the

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