Samuel Johnson

The Letters of Samuel Johnson, with Mrs. Thrale's genuine letters to him, Vol. 2: 1775-1782; Letters 370-821.1

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578.1. Streatham. Th. 17 July '78. Richard Clark.Address: To Richard Clerk Esq Sheriff of London Great Broad Street. Guildhall.—

Dear Sir

I know your kindness for literature, and therefore have not much difficulty in soliciting your help, even though You cannot give it but with considerable trouble.

pg 252In the Life of Dryden, of which I have written a great part it will be necessary to say something of Settle, who had once the honour of being his Antagonist. Settle, as I have learned, was the City Poet, and the last who bore that title. If You have the power of making the necessary enquiries I would wish to know.

The history of the office—when or how it began—The succession of City Laureats—their salary—their employment—When Settle obtained it—how long he held it—

Settle died in the Chartreux. I would wish to know the year of his reception, and of his death. But unless You have some very ready means of obtaining this knowledge, I will not trouble you about it, for I think, I can find means of obtaining what is known at the Chartreux. The account of the City Poet will be a great addition to my Work.

  • I am, Sir, Your most humble Servant
  • Sam: Johnson

July. 17. 1778 Streatham in Surrey.

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Editor’s Note
578.1.—For the subject of J's inquiry see his Life of Dryden, ¶ 116 in Hill's edition. There J repeats his opinion that Settle was the last 'of these bards'. Clark referred the question to one Thomas Whittell, who wrote to J from the Guildhall 26 Aug. His letter is in the collection of Mr. Arthur Houghton of New York; a photostat is in the Bodleian. W could find no record of a City Poet so styled, but there were records of City Chronologers; and from the fact that the office had been held by 'Ben: Johnson and Frans Quarles' he inferred that the chronology was in verse. W found nothing about Settle, and in his view 'the last City Chronologer was Mr. Cromwell Bradshaw who surrendered his place on the 4th ffebruary 1669'.
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