London: A Poem, in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal
By Samuel Johnson

Transcription, correction, editorial commentary, and markup by Staff and Research Assistants at The University of Virginia, Sara Brunstetter, John O'Brien, Austin Benson
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Sources

London , 1738 This edition of London was prepared by students in "Samuel Johnson: From Print to Digital Media" in the spring of 2014: Sarah Booth, Kay Marie Ferguson, Laura Gilstrap, Katelyn Hebel, Brandan Hummel, Lauren Marrero, Maureen O'Connor, and Erica Seymour. They used the TypeWright tool in 18thConnect to edit from the copy of the first edition available in the Eighteenth-Century Collections Online database. Title page image sourced from Harvard University.

Editorial Statements

Research informing these annotations draws on publicly-accessible resources, with links provided where possible. Annotations have also included common knowledge, defined as information that can be found in multiple reliable sources. If you notice an error in these annotations, please contact lic.open.anthology@gmail.com.

Original spelling and capitalization is retained, though the long s has been silently modernized and ligatured forms are not encoded.

Hyphenation has not been retained, except where necessary for the sense of the word.

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Materials have been transcribed from and checked against first editions, where possible. See the Sources section.


Citation

Johnson, Samuel. London: A Poem, in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal, , 1738 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. http://anthology.lib.virginia.edu/work/Johnson/johnson-london. Accessed: 2024-06-23T09:22:17.616Z

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[TP] LONDON:introduction
A
POEM,
In IMITATION of the
THIRD SATIRE of JUVENAL
by Samuel Johnson
---------Quis ineptæ
Tam patiens Urbis, tam ferreus ut teneat se?
juvenal
Juv.

LONDON:
Printed for R. Doddesley, at Tully's Head in Pall-Mall.
MDCCXXXVIII.
3 LONDON:
A
POEM,
In IMITATION of the
THIRD SATIRE of JUVENAL
1THO' Grief and Fondness in my Breast rebel, 2When injur'd THALESthales bids the Town farewll, 3Yet still my calmer Thoughts his Choice commend, 4I praise the Hermit, but regret the Friend, 5Who now resolves, from Vice and LONDON far, 6To breathe in distant Fields a purer Air, 7And, fix'd on CAMBRIA'Scambria solitary Shore, 8Give to St DAVIDdavid one true Briton more. 4 9For who would leave, unbrib'd, Hibernia'shibernia Land, 10Or change the Rocks of Scotland for the Strandthestrand? 11There none are swept by sudden Fate away, 12But all whom Hunger spares, with Age decay: 13Here Malice, Rapinerapine, Accident, conspire, 14And now a Rabblerabble rages, now a Fire; 15Their Ambush here relentless Ruffians lay, 16And here the fell Attorney prowls for Prey; 17Here falling Houses thunder on your Head, 18And here a female Atheist talks you dead. 19While THALES waits the Wherrywherry that contains 20Of dissipated Wealth the small Remains, 21On Thamessthames Banks, in silent Thought we stood, 22Where GREENWICH smiles upon the silver Flood: 23Struck with the Seat that gave ELIZAeliza Birth, 24We kneel, and kiss the consecratedconsecrated Earth; 5 25In pleasing Dreams the blissful Age renew, 26And call BRITANNIA's Glories back to view; 27Behold her Cross triumphant on the Main, 28The Guard of Commerce, and the Dread of Spain, 29Ere Masqueradesmasquerade debauch'd, Exciseexcise oppress'd, 30Or English Honour grew a standing Jest. 31A transient Calm the happy Scenes bestow, 32And for a Moment lull the Sense of Woe. 33At length awaking, with contemptuous Frown, 34Indignant THALES eyes the neighb'ring Town. 35SINCE Worth, he cries, in these degen'rate Days, 36Wants ev'n the cheap Reward of empty Praise; 37In those curst Walls, devote to Vice and Gain, 38Since unrewarded Scienceunrewardedscience toils in vain; 39Since Hope but sooths to double my Distress, 40And ev'ry Moment leaves my Little less; 6 41While yet my steady Steps no Staff sustains, 42And Life still vig'rous revels in my Veins; 43Grant me, kind Heaven, to find some happier Place, 44Where Honesty and Sense are no Disgrace; 45Some pleasing Bank where verdant Osiersosiers play, 46Some peaceful Valevale with Nature's Paintings gay; 47Where once the harrass'd BRITONbriton found Repose, 48And safe in Poverty defy'd his Foes; 49Some secret Cell, ye Pow'rs, indulgent give. 50Let ---- live here, for ---- has learn'd to livedashes. 51Here let those reign, whom Pensions can incite 52To vote a Patriot black, a courtier whitepatriot; 53Explain their Country's dear-bought Rights away, 54And plead for Pirates in the Face of Day; 55With slavish Tenets taint our poison'd Youth, 56And lend a Lye the Confidence of Truth. 57Let such raise Palaces, and Manors buy, 58Collect a Tax, or farm a Lottery, 7 59With warbling eunuchseunuchs fill our Licensed Stagelicense, 60And lull to Servitude a thoughtless Age. 61Heroes, proceed! What Bounds your Pride shall hold? 62What Check restrain your Thirst of Pow'r and Gold? 63Behold rebellious Virtue quite o'erthrown, 64Behold our Fame, our Wealth, our Lives your own. 65To such, a groaning Nation's Spoils are giv'n, 66When publick Crimes inflame the Wrath of Heav'n: 67But what, my Friend, what Hope remains for me, 68Who start at Theft, and blush at Perjury? 69Who scarce forbear, tho' BRITAIN'S Court he sing, 70To pluck a titled Poet'spoet borrow'd Wing; 71A Statesman's Logic unconvinc'd can hear, 72And dare to slumber o'er the Gazetteergazette; 73Despise a Fool in half his Pension drest 74And strive in vain to laugh at H---y'shenly Jest. 75Others with softer Smiles, and subtler Art, 76Can sap the Principles, or taint the Heart; 8 77With more Address a Lover's Note convey, 78Or bribe a Virgin's Innocence away. 79Well may they rise, while I, whose Rustic Tongue 80Ne'er knew to puzzle Right, or varnishvarnish Wrong, 81Spurn'd as a Begger, dreaded as a Spy, 82Live unregarded, unlamented die. 83For what but social Guilt the Friend endears? 84Who shares Orgilio'sorgilio Crimes, his Fortune shares. 85But thou, should tempting Villainy present 86All Marlboroughmarlborough hoarded, or all Villiersvilliers spent, 87Turn from the glitt'ring Bribe thy scornful Eye, 88Nor fell for Gold, what Gold could never buy, 89The peaceful Slumber, self-approving Day, 90Unsullied Fame, and Conscience ever gay. 91The cheated Nation's happy Fav'rites see! 92Mark whom the Great caress, who frown on me! 9 93LONDON! the needy Villain's gen'ral Home, 94The Common Shoresewer of Paris and of Rome; 95With eager Thirst, by Folly or by Fate, 96Sucks in the Dregs of each corrupted State. 97Forgive my transportstransport on a Theme like this, 98I cannot bear a French Metropolis. 99Illustrious EDWARD! from the Realms of Day, 100The Land of Heroes and of Saints survey; 101Nor hope the British Lineamentslineament to trace, 102The rustic Grandeur, or the surly Grace, 103But lost in thoughtless Ease, and empty Show, 104Behold the Warriour dwindled to a Beau; 105Sense, Freedom, Piety, refin'd away, 106Of FRANCE the Mimic, and of SPAIN the Prey; 107All that at home no more can beg or steal, 108Or like a Gibbetgibbet better than a Wheelwheel; 109Hiss'd from the Stage, or hooted from the Court, 110Their Air, their Dress, their Politicks import; 10 111Obsequiousobsequious, artful, Volublevoluble and gay, 112On Britain's fond Credulitycredulity they prey. 113No gainful Trade their Industry can 'scape, 114They sing, they dance, clean Shoes, or cure a Clap; 115All Sciences a fasting Monsieur knows, 116And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes, 117Ah! what avails it, that, from Slav'ry far, 118I drew the Breath of Life in English Air; 119Was early taught a Briton's Right to prize, 120And lisp the Tale of HENRY'shenry Victories; 121If the gull'dgulled conqueror receives the Chain, 122And what their Armies lost, their Cringes gain? 123Studious to please, and ready to submit, 124The supple Gaulgaul was born a Parasite: 125Still to his Int'rest true, where'er he goes, 126Wit, Brav'ry, Worth, his lavish Tongue bestows; 11 127In ev'ry Face a Thousand Graces shine, 128From ev'ry Tongue flows Harmony divine. 129These arts in vain our rugged Natives try, 130Strain out with fault'ring Diffidence a Lye, 131And gain a Kick for awkward Flattery. 132Besides, with Justice, this discerning Age 133Admires their wond'rous Talents for the Stage: 134Well may they venture on the Mimic's Art, 135Who play from Morn to Night a borrow'd Part; 136Practis'd their Master's Notions to embrace, 137Repeat his Maxims, and reflect his Face; 138With ev'ry wild Absurdity comply, 139And view each Object with another's Eye; 140To shake with Laughter ere the Jest they hear, 141To pour at Will the counterfeited Tear; 142And as their Patron hints the Cold or Heat, 143To shake in Dog-days, in December sweat. 12 144How, when Competitors like these contend, 145Can surly Virtue hope to fix a Friend? 146Slaves that with serious Impudencen054n054Shameless, immodest. Source: Oxford English Dictionary - [UVAstudstaff] beguilen055n055To deceive or cheat. Source: Oxford English Dictionary - [UVAstudstaff], 147And lye without a Blush, without a Smile; 148Exalt each Trifle, ev'ry Vice adore, 149Your Taste in Snuff, your Judgment in a Whore; 150Can Balbo'sbalbo Eloquence applaud, and swear 151He gropes his Breeches with a Monarch's Air. 152For Arts like these preferr’d, admir’d, carest, 153They first invade your Table, then your Breast; 154Explore your Secrets with insidious Art, 155Watch the weak Hour, and ransack all the Heart; 156Then soon your ill-plac'd Confidence repay, 157Commence your Lords, and govern or betray. 158By Numbers here from Shame or Censure free, 159All Crimes are safe, but hated Poverty. 13 160This, only this, the rigid Law persues, 161This, only this, provokes the snarling Muse; 162The sober Trader at a tatter'd Cloak, 163Wakes from his Dream, and labours for a Joke; 164With brisker Air the silken Courtiers gaze, 165And turn the varied Taunt a thousand Ways. 166Of all the Griefs that harrass the Distrest, 167Sure the most bitter is a scornful Jest; 168Fate never wounds more deep the gen'rous Heart, 169Than when a Blockhead's Insult points the Dart. 170Has Heaven reserv'd, in Pity to the Poor, 171No pathless Waste, or undiscover'd Shore? 172No secret Island in the boundless Main? 173No peaceful Desart yet unclaim'd by SPAIN? 174Quick let us rise, the happy Seats explore, 175And bear Oppression's Insolence no more. 14 176This mournful Truth is ev'ry where confest, 177SLOW RISES WORTH, BY POVERTY DEPREST: 178But here more slow, where all are Slaves to Gold, 179Where Looks are Merchandise, and Smiles are sold, 180Where won by Bribes, by Flatteries implor'd, 181The Groom retails the Favours of his Lord. 182But hark! th' affrighted Crowd's tumultuous Cries 183Roll thro' the Streets, and thunder to the Skies; 184Rais'd from some pleasing Dream of Wealth and Pow'r, 185Some pompous Palace, or some blissful Bow'rbower, 186Aghast you start, and scarce with akingaking Sight, 187Sustain th' approaching Fire's tremendous Light; 188Swift from pursuing Horrors take your Way, 189And Leave your little ALL to Flames a Prey; 190Then thro' the World a wretched Vagrant roam, 191For where can starving Merit find a Home? 15 192In vain your mournful Narrative disclose, 193While all neglect, and most insult your Woes. 194Should Heaven's just Bolts Orgilio's Wealth confound, 195And spread his flaming Palace on the Ground, 196Swift o'er the Land the dismal Rumour flies, 197And publick Mournings pacify the Skies; 198The Laureatlaureate Tribe in servile Verse relate, 199How Virtue wars with persecuting Fate; 200With well-feign'd Gratitude the pension'd Band 201Refund the Plunder of the begger'd Land. 202See! while he builds, the gaudy Vassalsvassal come, 203And crowd with sudden Wealth the rising Dome; 204The Price of Boroughs and of Souls restore, 205And raise his Treasures higher than before. 206Now bless'd with all the Baubles of the Great, 207The polish'd Marble, and the shining Plate, 16 208Orgilio sees the golden Pile aspire, 209And hopes from angry Heav'n another Fire. 210Could'st thou resign the Park and Play content, 211For the fair Banks Severn of or Trentn036; 212There might'st thou find some elegant Retreat, 213Some hireling Senator'sn037n037Members of Parliament who had been paid off to vote the government line. - [UVAstudstaff] deserted Seat; 214And stretch thy Prospects o'er the smiling Land, 215For less than rent the Dungeons of the Strand; 216There prune thy Walks, support thy drooping Flow'rs, 217Direct thy Rivulets, and twine thy bowers; 218And, while thy Beds a cheap Repastrepast afford, 219Despite the Dainties of a venalvenal Lord: 220There ev'ry Bush with Nature's Music rings, 221There ev'ry Breeze bears Health upon its Wings; 222On all thy Hours Security shall smile, 223And bless thine Evening Walk and Morning Toil. 17 224Prepare for Death, if here at Night you roam, 225And sign your Will before you sup from Home. 226Some fiery Fopfop, with new Commission vain, 227Who sleeps on Bramblesbramble till he kills his Man; 228Some frolick Drunkard, reeling from a Feast, 229Provokes a Broil, and stabs you for a Jest. 230Yet ev'n these Heroes, mischievously gay, 231Lords of the Street, and Terrors of the Way; 232Flush'd as they are with Folly, Youth and Wine, 233Their prudent Insults to the Poor confine; 234Afar they mark the Flambeausflambeau bright Approach, 235And shun the shining Train, and golden Coach. 236In vain, these Dangers past, your Doors you close, 237And hope the Balmy Blessings of Reposerepose: 18 238Cruel with Guilt, and daring with Despair, 239The midnight Murd'rer bursts the faithless Bar; 240Invades the sacred Hour of silent Rest, 241And plants, unseen, a Dagger in your Breast. 242Scarce can our Fields, such Crowds at Tyburntyburn die, 243With Hemp the Gallows and the Fleet supply. 244Propose your Schemes, ye Senatorian Band, 245Whose Ways and Means support the sinking Land; 246Lest Ropes be wanting in the tempting Spring, 247To rig another Convoy for the K---g. 248A single Jail, in ALFRED'salfred golden Reign, 249Could half the Nation's Criminals contain; 250Fair Justice then, without Constraint ador'd, 251Sustain'd the Ballance, but resign'd the Sword; 252No Spies were paid, no Special Juries known, 253Blest Age ! But ah ! how diff'rent from our own ! 19 254Much could I add, ---- but see the Boat at hand, 255The Tide retiring, calls me from the Land: 256Farewel ! ----- When Youth, and Health, and Fortune spent, 257Thou fly'st for Refuge to the Wilds of Kentkent; 258And tir'd like me with Follies and with Crimes, 259In angry Numbers warn'st succeeding Times; 260Then shall thy Friend, nor thou refuse his Aid, 261Still Foe to Vice forsake his Cambriancambrian Shade; 262In Virtue's Cause once more exert his Rage, 263Thy Satire point, and animate thy Page. F I N I S.
introductionLondon, published in 1738, represents Johnson's attempt to satirize the grubby world of London and also to rise above it. The poem is an "imitation" of the third Satire of the Roman poet Juvenal, which probably dates to the first century. In this poem, Juvenal imagines a friend of the poet, named Umbricius, who is sick and tired of the city of Rome and is leaving for the countryside for good. In doing what was called an "imitation" of his classical source, Johnson is not simply translating Juvenal's poem, but updating it, finding modern correlations to the Latin original. Here, London stands in for Rome, "Thales" stands in for Juvenal's friend Umbricius, and the Tuscan countryside to which Umbricius was headed becomes Wales. Exhausted by the filth, crowds, noise of London, and the difficulty of making a living as a writer, Thales (believed by some scholars to refer to Richard Savage, another hack writer who had become a friend of Johnson's) in some ways expresses Johnson's own frustrations. But London itself, published in a handsome folio edition, written in the heroic couplet form that to readers of the 1730s identified the high style of serious poetry, using the form of the imitation to signify its neoclassical aspirations, and hyped in the pages of the Gentleman's Magazine (which published ads for the poem, and also excerpted it), is clearly an attempt to Johnson to get out of hackdom as soon as possible, to become a poet like Alexander Pope, making a good living independent of the whims and tight fists of the booksellers and magazine editors. The poem also positioned itself as part of the growing opposition to the government of Sir Robert Walpole, who had dominated British politics since taking over as the de facto Prime Minister (there was no such official position yet) in 1721. Walpole successfully suppressed dissent through a mixture of brutality, bribery, and control of the print media. By the late 1730s, however, attacks on his regime were becoming more open and frequent, prompting new attempts on the part of his government to suppress dissenting voices. In particular, the Stage Licensing Act of 1737 called for theater managers to submit all plays for government approval in advance of performance. Prompted in part by satires against the regime like John Gay's The Beggars Opera (1728) and the satirical afterpieces by Henry Fielding that had been very popular in the mid-1730s, the Stage Licensing Act had a chilling effect on the theater. In particular, the passage of the Act thwarted Johnson's attempt to become a playwright himself. Johnson had arrived in London just that year with a half-finished tragedy in his luggage, a play called Irene that he probably imagined as a vehicle by which he could make a lot of money and gain status as an author. But in the aftermath of the Stage Licensing Act, theater managers became extremely cautious about new plays in general, and Irene was not staged until 1749. By using Juvenal's Third Satire as a point of departure, London manages to critique the Walpole regime indirectly and through coded references, but contemporary readers, particularly those in sympathy with the opposition, were readily able to see how the poem mocked Walpole's reign as corrupt. Probably because of its political stance, London seems to have sold reasonably well, and Alexander Pope, the most famous poet of the period (and a sympathizer with opposition politics), praised it. But as a vehicle for establishing Johnson's reputation as a significant poet who could make a living off his art it was a dead end. Johnson had to continue to grind out work for hire for another decade and a half. It was not until he achieved fame in the 1750s, first as the author of a Spectator-like series of journalistic essays called The Rambler and then as the editor of the Dictionary of the English Language, which made him a kind of national treasure, since he had single-handedly accomplished for English what it had taken large teams of scholars to do for other European languages. Here, let's read Johnson as eighteenth-century Grub Street's finest product--and its most perceptive critic. juvenal"Who can endure this terrible city? Who is so iron-willed that he can bear it?" thalesThe character of Thales has often been seen to have been inspired by the author Richard Savage, a friend of Samuel Johnson. Richard Savage, like Thales here, left London in an attempt to live in Wales. In 1744, after the death of Savage, Johnson published his Life of Richard Savage, a full-scale biography. - [UVAstudstaff] cambriaWales. Savage did go to Wales, where he died in debtor's prison. - [UVAstudstaff] davidThe Patron saint of Wales. - [UVAstudstaff] hiberniaThe Latin name for Ireland. - [UVAstudstaff] thestrandThe main thoroughfare of London, connecting the City of London with Westminster. - [UVAstudstaff] rapinePlunder or pillage. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] rabbleAn unruly, disorganized crowd or mob. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] wherryA light rowing boat used mainly on rivers. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] thamesThe second longest river in Britain, which flows through central London. - [UVAstudstaff] elizaQueen Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace. - [UVAstudstaff] consecratedSacred, hallowed, or sanctified. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] masqueradeMasquerade balls were enormously popular in London in this period. People dressed up in costume in order to conceal their identities; critics denounced masquerades as hot-beds of sexual intrigue and immoral behavior. - [UVAstudstaff] excise Any toll or tax. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [AJB] unrewardedscienceUnacknowledged intellectual pursuits. - [UVAstudstaff] osiersAny of several willows with tough pliant branches used in basketwork. It can also be a flexible branch of any of these willows. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] valeA more or less extensive tract of land lying between two ranges of hills, or stretches of high ground, and usually traversed by a river or stream; a dale or valley, esp. one which is comparatively wide and flat. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] britonA member of one of the Brittonic-speaking (Welsh, Cornish) peoples. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] dashesReaders were invited to fill in the blanks here with people who it might be dangerous to name directly; perhaps even the name 'George,' that of the king. - [UVAstudstaff] patriot"Patriots" were those who opposed the Walpole government and "Courtiers" were those who supported his policies. - [UVAstudstaff] eunuchsCastrati singers; male singers who had been castrated as children to preserve the high register of their voices, these singers had become extremely popular to opera goers. - [UVAstudstaff] licenseThe Stage Licensing Act had been passed in 1737; it required theatres to submit plays to the government for approval in advance of their performance, and effectively censored the London stage. - [UVAstudstaff] poetJohnson is implicitly attacking Poet Laureate Colley Cibber. Cibber was a mediocre poet and playwright but he was primarily given the title because he supported Walpole and the Whig Party. The borrowed wing part may be an accusation of plagiarism. - [UVAstudstaff] gazetteThe Gazette was the official newspaper used by the Walpole government to influence public opinion, and, therefore, here labeled a total bore. - [UVAstudstaff] henlyProbably referring to John Henly, known as Orator Henly, a well-known London preacher who had become famous more for his showmanship than his religious doctrine; he drew big crowds but was also considered to be something of a buffoon, and was also known to be a Walpole supporter. - [UVAstudstaff] varnishTo cover, gloss over, or disguise. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] orgilioThe poet may not be referring to a particular person, but since orgueil means pride in French, imagining a prideful person in general. - [UVAstudstaff] marlboroughJohn Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), was a war hero for his successes in the War of the Spanish Succession at the turn of the eighteenth century; he was also widely believed to have been an enormous war profiteer, making a fortune from contracts to supply the troops. - [UVAstudstaff] villiersGeorge Villiers, the second Duke of Buckingham, (1628-87) was a notorious rake and spendthrift. - [UVAstudstaff] sewerSewer. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] transportHere referring to the sense of transport as a state of excitation, excess. - [UVAstudstaff] lineamentLine or outline. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] gibbetOrignially synonymous with gallows, but has later been used to mean an upright post with projecting arm from which the bodies of criminals were hung in chains or irons after execution. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] wheelAn instrument of torture and punishment. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] obsequiousCompliant with the will or wishes of another. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] volubleLiable to change; inconstant, variable, mutable. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] credulityReadiness to believe. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] henryProbably a reference to Henry V, who was famous for his military success in the Hundred Years War with France. - [UVAstudstaff] gulledDuped, deceived, befooled. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] gaulFrenchman. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] balboBalbo is Latin for one who stammers, so, such a person's eloquence here is an oxymoron. - [UVAstudstaff] bowerA cottage, often used as a romanticized abode in poetry. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] akingAn archaic spelling of aching. - [UVAstudstaff] laureateThe poets laureate; since this was an official position, such poets, like Cibber, did not deviate far from the government's official line. - [UVAstudstaff] vassalPart of the feudal system, vassals are the ones who own land, and thus control the workers of the land. Normally they're portrayed in a negative, arrogant manner. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] n036The River Severn is in Wales; the Trent river is a major river in England. Both are far from London. - [UVAstudstaff] repastRefreshments or rest. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] venalCorrupt. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] fopOne who is overtly concerned about their appearance and other people's perceptions of them. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] bramblePrickly Shrubs. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] flambeauTorches. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] reposeA break or rest. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff] tyburnTyburn, roughly at the site of Marble Arch today was the location of the gallows at which criminals were hanged. Often such executions drew large crowds. - [UVAstudstaff] alfredAlfred was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. He successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is the only English monarch to be accorded the epithet the Great. His reputation has been that of a learned and merciful man who encouraged education and improved his the legal system and military structure of his kingdom. - [UVAstudstaff] kentA country in southeastern England. - [UVAstudstaff] cambrianWelsh. Source: Oxford English Dictionary. - [UVAstudstaff]

Footnotes

a054Shameless, immodest. Source: Oxford English Dictionary
a055To deceive or cheat. Source: Oxford English Dictionary
a037Members of Parliament who had been paid off to vote the government line.
thales_The character of Thales has often been seen to have been inspired by the author Richard Savage, a friend of Samuel Johnson. Richard Savage, like Thales here, left London in an attempt to live in Wales. In 1744, after the death of Savage, Johnson published his Life of Richard Savage, a full-scale biography.
cambria_Wales. Savage did go to Wales, where he died in debtor's prison.
david_The Patron saint of Wales.
hibernia_The Latin name for Ireland.
thestrand_The main thoroughfare of London, connecting the City of London with Westminster.
rapine_Plunder or pillage. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
rabble_An unruly, disorganized crowd or mob. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
wherry_A light rowing boat used mainly on rivers. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
thames_The second longest river in Britain, which flows through central London.
eliza_Queen Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace.
consecrated_Sacred, hallowed, or sanctified. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
masquerade_Masquerade balls were enormously popular in London in this period. People dressed up in costume in order to conceal their identities; critics denounced masquerades as hot-beds of sexual intrigue and immoral behavior.
excise_ Any toll or tax. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
unrewardedscience_Unacknowledged intellectual pursuits.
osiers_Any of several willows with tough pliant branches used in basketwork. It can also be a flexible branch of any of these willows. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
vale_A more or less extensive tract of land lying between two ranges of hills, or stretches of high ground, and usually traversed by a river or stream; a dale or valley, esp. one which is comparatively wide and flat. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
briton_A member of one of the Brittonic-speaking (Welsh, Cornish) peoples. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
dashes_Readers were invited to fill in the blanks here with people who it might be dangerous to name directly; perhaps even the name 'George,' that of the king.
patriot_"Patriots" were those who opposed the Walpole government and "Courtiers" were those who supported his policies.
eunuchs_Castrati singers; male singers who had been castrated as children to preserve the high register of their voices, these singers had become extremely popular to opera goers.
license_The Stage Licensing Act had been passed in 1737; it required theatres to submit plays to the government for approval in advance of their performance, and effectively censored the London stage.
poet_Johnson is implicitly attacking Poet Laureate Colley Cibber. Cibber was a mediocre poet and playwright but he was primarily given the title because he supported Walpole and the Whig Party. The borrowed wing part may be an accusation of plagiarism.
gazette_The Gazette was the official newspaper used by the Walpole government to influence public opinion, and, therefore, here labeled a total bore.
henly_Probably referring to John Henly, known as Orator Henly, a well-known London preacher who had become famous more for his showmanship than his religious doctrine; he drew big crowds but was also considered to be something of a buffoon, and was also known to be a Walpole supporter.
varnish_To cover, gloss over, or disguise. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
orgilio_The poet may not be referring to a particular person, but since orgueil means pride in French, imagining a prideful person in general.
marlborough_John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), was a war hero for his successes in the War of the Spanish Succession at the turn of the eighteenth century; he was also widely believed to have been an enormous war profiteer, making a fortune from contracts to supply the troops.
villiers_George Villiers, the second Duke of Buckingham, (1628-87) was a notorious rake and spendthrift.
sewer_Sewer. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
transport_Here referring to the sense of transport as a state of excitation, excess.
lineament_Line or outline. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
gibbet_Orignially synonymous with gallows, but has later been used to mean an upright post with projecting arm from which the bodies of criminals were hung in chains or irons after execution. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
wheel_An instrument of torture and punishment. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
obsequious_Compliant with the will or wishes of another. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
voluble_Liable to change; inconstant, variable, mutable. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
credulity_Readiness to believe. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
henry_Probably a reference to Henry V, who was famous for his military success in the Hundred Years War with France.
gulled_Duped, deceived, befooled. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
gaul_Frenchman. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
balbo_Balbo is Latin for one who stammers, so, such a person's eloquence here is an oxymoron.
bower_A cottage, often used as a romanticized abode in poetry. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
aking_An archaic spelling of aching.
laureate_The poets laureate; since this was an official position, such poets, like Cibber, did not deviate far from the government's official line.
vassal_Part of the feudal system, vassals are the ones who own land, and thus control the workers of the land. Normally they're portrayed in a negative, arrogant manner. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
a036The River Severn is in Wales; the Trent river is a major river in England. Both are far from London.
repast_Refreshments or rest. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
venal_Corrupt. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
fop_One who is overtly concerned about their appearance and other people's perceptions of them. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
bramble_Prickly Shrubs. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
flambeau_Torches. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
repose_A break or rest. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.
tyburn_Tyburn, roughly at the site of Marble Arch today was the location of the gallows at which criminals were hanged. Often such executions drew large crowds.
alfred_Alfred was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. He successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is the only English monarch to be accorded the epithet the Great. His reputation has been that of a learned and merciful man who encouraged education and improved his the legal system and military structure of his kingdom.
kent_A country in southeastern England.
cambrian_Welsh. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.