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Ionica   By: (1823-1892)

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(AKA Johnson)







William Johnson published in 1858 a slender volume bound in green cloth, (Smith, Elder & Co.) which was entitled "Ionica," and which comprised forty eight poems.

In 1877 he printed privately a little paper covered book (Cambridge University Press), entitled "Ionica II," containing twenty five poems. This book is a rare bibliographical curiosity. It has neither titlepage nor index; it bears no author's name; and it is printed without punctuation, on a theory of the author's, spaces being left, instead of stops, to indicate pauses.

In 1891 he published a book, "Ionica" (George Allen), which contained most of the contents of the two previous volumes, together with some pieces not previously published eighty five poems in all.

The present volume is a reprint of the 1891 volume; but it has been thought well to include, in an appendix, certain of the poems which appeared in one or other of the first two issues, but were omitted from the 1891 issue, together with a little Greek lyric, with its English equivalent, from the "Letters and Journals."

The poems from page 1 to page 104, Desiderato to All that was possible, appeared in the 1858 volume, together with those on pages 211 to 216, To the Infallible, The Swimmer's Wish, and An Apology. The poems from page 105 to page 162, Scheveningen Avenue to L'Oiseau Bleu, appeared in the 1877 volume, together with those on pages 217 and 218, Notre Dame and In Honour of Matthew Prior. The remainder of the poems, from page 163 to page 210, appeared in the 1891 volume for the first time. The dates subjoined to the poems are those which he himself added, and indicate the date of composition.


WILLIAM CORY (Johnson) was born at Torrington in Devonshire, on January 9, 1823. He was the son of Charles William Johnson, a merchant, who retired at the early age of thirty, with a modest competence, and married his cousin, Theresa Furse, of Halsdon, near Torrington, to whom he had long been attached. He lived a quiet, upright, peaceable life at Torrington, content with little, and discharging simple, kindly, neighbourly duties, alike removed from ambition and indolence. William Cory had always a deep love of his old home, a strong sense of local sanctities and tender associations. "I hope you will always feel," his mother used to say, "wherever you live, that Torrington belongs to you." He said himself, in later years, "I want to be a Devon man and a Torrington man." His memory lingered over the vine shaded verandah, the jessamine that grew by the balustrade of the steps, the broad leaved myrtle that covered the wall of the little yard.

The boy was elected on the foundation at Eton in 1832, little guessing that it was to be his home for forty years. He worked hard at school, became a first rate classical scholar, winning the Newcastle Scholarship in 1841, and being elected Scholar of King's in 1842. He seems to have been a quiet, retiring boy, with few intimate friends, respected for his ability and his courtesy, living a self contained, bookish life, yet with a keen sense of school patriotism though he had few pleasant memories of his boyhood.

Honours came to him fast at Cambridge. He won the Chancellor's English Medal with a poem on Plato in 1843, the Craven Scholarship in 1844. In those days Kingsmen did not enter for the Tripos, but received a degree, without examination, by ancient privilege. He succeeded to a Fellowship in 1845, and in the same year was appointed to a Mastership at Eton by Dr. Hawtrey. At Cambridge he seems to have read widely, to have thought much, and to have been interested in social questions. Till that time he had been an unreflecting Tory and a strong High Churchman, but he now adopted more Liberal principles, and for the rest of his life was a convinced Whig... Continue reading book >>

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