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bid melancholy, his love of fame, his dejection, his tavern-parties, and his wandering reveries, Vacua mala somnia mentis, about which so much has been written ; all are painted in miniature, but in vivid colours, by his own hand. His idea of writing more Dictionaries was not merely said in verse. Mr. Hamilton, who was at that time an eminent printer, and well acquainted with Dr. Johnson, remembers that he engaged in a Commercial Dictionary, and, as appears by the receipts in his possession, was paid his price for several sheets; but he soon relinquithed the undertaking. It is probable, that he found himself not sufficiently versed in that branch of knowledge.

He was again reduced to the expedient of short compositions for the supply of the day. The writer of this narrative has now before him a letter in Dr. Johnson's hand-writing, which shews the distress and melancholy fituation of the man, who had written the Rambler, and finished the great work of his Dictionary. The letter is directed to Mr. Richardson (the author of Clariffa), and is as follows:

66 SIR,

6 SIR,


“ I am obliged to entreat your assistance. “ I am now under an arrest for five pounds

eighteen shillings. Mr. Strahan, from “ whom I thould have received the neceffary

help in this case, is not at home ; and I 66 am afraid of not finding Mr. Millar. If

you will be so good as to send me this sum “ I will very gratefully repay you, and add it “ to all former obligations. I am, Sir,

6. Your most obedient,
66 and most humble servant,

- SAMUEL JOHNSON. Gough-square, 16 March."

In the margin of this letter there is a memorandum in these words : “ March 16, 1756, “ Sent fix guineas. Witness, Wm. Richard

“ son.” For the honour of an admired wriy ter it is to be regretted, that we do not find

a more liberal entry. To his friend in diftress he fent eight shillings more than was wanted. Had an incident of this kind occurred in one of his Romances, Richardson, would have known how to grace his hero ; but in fictitious scenes generosity costs the writer nothing


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About this time Johnson contributed several papers to a periodical Miscellany, called The Visitor, from motives which are highly honourable to him, a compassionate regard for the late Mr. Christopher Smart. The criticism on Pope's Epitaphs appeared in that work. In a short time after, he became a reviewer in the Literary Magazine, under the auspices of the late Mr. Newbery, a man of a projecting head, good taste, and great industry. This employment engrossed but little of Johnson's time. He resigned himself to indolence, took no exercise, rose about two, and then received the vifits of his friends. Authors, long since forgotten, waited on him as their oracle, and he

gave responses in the chair of criticism. He listened to the complaints, the schemes, and the hopes and fears, of a crowd of inferior wri

who," he said, in the words of Roger Ascham, “ lived, men knew not how, and died obscure, men marked not when." He believed, that he could give a better history of Grub-street than any man living. His house was filled with a succession of visitors till four or five in the evening. During the whole time he presided at his tea-table. Tea



was his favourite beverage ; and, when the late Jonas Hanway pronounced his anathema against the use of tea, Johnson rose in defence of his habitual practice, declaring himself “ in that article a hardened sinner, “ who had for years diluted his meals with “ the infusion of that fascinating plant ; " whofe tea-kettle had no time to cool; who “ with tea folaced the midnight hour, and “ with tea welcomed the morning."

The proposal for a new edition of Shakspeare, which had formerly miscarried, was resumed in the year 1756. The booksellers readily agreed to his terms; and subscriptiontickets were issued out. For undertaking this work, money, he confessed, was the inciting motive. His friends exerted them. selves to promote his interest; and, in the mean time, he engaged in a new periodical production called The IDLER. The first number appeared on Saturday, April 15, 1758 ; and the last, April 5, 1760. The profits of this work, and the subscriptions for the new edition of Shakspeare, were the means by which he supported himself for four or five years. In 1759 was published


Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. His transla-
tion of Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia seems to
have pointed out that country for the scene
of action; and Rasila Christos, the General
of Sultan Segued, mentioned in that work,
most probably suggested the name of the
prince. The author wanted to set out on a
journey to Lichfield, in order to pay the last
offices of filial piety to his mother, who, at
age of ninety, was then near her dissolu-

but money was necessary. Mr. Johnston, a bookseller, who has long since left off business, gave one hundred pounds for the copy. With this supply Johnson set out for Lichfield; but did not arrive in time to close the

eyes of a parent whom he loved. He attended the funeral, which, as appears ainong his memorandums, was on the 23d of January, 1759.

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his house in Gough-square. Mrs. Williams went into lodgings. He retired to Gray’s-Inn, and foon removed to chambers in the Inner Temple-lane, where he lived in poverty, total idleness, and the pride of literature.

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