New Acquisitions


William Beville. Observations on Dr. Johnson's Life of Hammond. London: W. Brown, 1782. *2008-1095.

In his Lives of the Poets, Johnson dismisses the poetry of James Hammond (1710-1742), concluding that "these elegies have neither passion, nature, nor manners … He produces nothing but frigid pedantry. It would be hard to find in all his productions three stanzas that deserve to be remembered." One wonders if Hammond's close relationship with the Earl of Chesterfield had any impact on Johnson's critical opinions. The author of these observations was known to Boswell, who writes of some negative responses to the Lives:

From this disreputable class, I except an ingenious, though not satisfactory defence of Hammond, which I did not see till lately, by the favour of its author, my amiable friend, the Reverend Mr. Bevill, who published it without his name. It is a juvenile performance, but elegantly written, with classical enthusiasm of sentiment, and yet with a becoming modesty, and great respect for Dr. Johnson.