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London by Samuel Jhonson Essay Sample

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London by Samuel Jhonson Essay Sample

London is part of the eighteenth-century genre of imitation.[10] The work was based on Juvenal’s Third Satire which describes Umbricius leaving Rome to live in Cumae in order to escape from the vices and dangers of the capital city.[12] In Johnson’s version, it is Thales who travels to Cambria (Wales) in order to escape from the problems of London.[8] Johnson chose Juvenal as a model based on his own appreciation for Juvenal’s works.[8]

The poem describes the various problems of London, including an emphasis on crime, corruption, and the squalor of the poor.[13] In order to emphasize his message, these various abstract problems are personified as beings that seek to destroy London.[14] Thus, the characters of Malice, Rapine, and Accident “conspire” (line 13) to attack those who live in London.[14]

The poem begins:
Though grief and fondness in my breast rebel, When injured Thales bids the town farewell, Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend, I praise the hermit, but regret the friend, Resolved at length, from vice and London far, To breathe in distant fields a purer air, And, fixed on Cambria’s[15] solitary shore, Give to St David[16] one true Briton more. (lines 1–8) Who Thales represents is unknown, but it is possible that he represents Richard Savage, Johnson’s friend who left London to travel to Wales.[17]

The main emphasis of the poem comes to light on line 177: “Slow rises worth, by poverty depressed”.[13]
The poem is forced to cut short, and the narrator concludes: Much could I add, — but see the boat at hand, The tide retiring, calls me from the land: Farewell! — When youth, and health, and fortune spent, Thou fly’st for refuge to the wilds of Kent; And tired like me with follies and with crimes, In angry numbers warn’st succeeding times; Then shall thy friend, nor thou refuse his aid, Still foe to vice, forsake his Cambrian shade; In virtue’s cause once more exert his rage, Thy satire point, and animate thy page. (lines 254–263)

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