Johnson and His Books


Samuel Johnson. Review of The Sugar-Cane by James Grainger. 1764. Manuscript. MS Hyde 50 (55)

The Sugar-Cane is the most significant work of the physician and minor poet James Grainger (1721?-1766), and perhaps owes some of its modest fame to an incident Boswell retold in the Life. "This poem, when read in manuscript at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, had made all the assembled wits burst into a laugh, when, after much blank-verse pomp, the poet began a new paragraph thus: 'Now, Muse, let's sing of rats.'" Apparently Grainger was sufficiently chastened to cut this line, as it does not appear in the published work.