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SAMUEL JOHNSON was born in Lichfield, September 18, 1709. His father was a bookseller, and Samuel passed two years in the shop. In 1728 he went to Oxford, but left college three years later, from poverty, without taking a degree. In 1731 his father died bankrupt, and he became an usher at Bosworth, and worked some for the booksellers at Birmingham. In 1735 he married Mrs. Porter, a widow twice his own age, with whom he received £800, which enabled him to set up a school. But he failed in this, and in 1737 went to London with Garrick, and became a contributor to the "Gentleman's Magazine." In the following year he published his London," ," which was very favorably received. But for a dozen years thereafter he led a precarious life, doing various odd jobs of literary work for poor pay. In 1749 he published his "Vanity of Human Wishes," and in the next year commenced "The Rambler." This periodical ran two years, and was almost wholly Johnson's own composition. It was not thoroughly appreciated until after it had come to an end and was bound
THOUGH grief and fondness in my breast rebel,
I praise the hermit, but regret the friend,
For who would leave, unbrib'd, Hibernia's land, Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand? There none are swept by sudden fate away, But all whom hunger spares, with age decay: Here malice, rapine, accident, conspire, And now a rabble rages, now a fire; Their ambush here relentless ruffians lay, And here the fell'attorney prowls for prey; Here falling houses thunder on your head, And here a female atheist talks you dead.
While Thales waits the wherry that contains Of dissipated wealth the small remains, On Thames's banks, in silent thought, we stood Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood; Struck with the seat that gave Eliza birth, We kneel, and kiss the consecrated earth; In pleasing dreams the blissful age renew, And call Britannia's glories back to view; Behold her cross triumphant on the main, The guard of commerce, and the dread of Spain, Ere masquerades debauch'd, excise oppress'd, Or English honor grew a standing jest.
A transient calm the happy scenes bestow, And for a moment lull the sense of woe.
up as a series of essays, in which form it reached a tenth edition in the author's lifetime. "Irene," a tragedy, his only attempt at dramatic compo- . sition, was brought out at Drury Lane in 1749, and ran thirteen nights. His Dictionary,' which had cost him eight years of labor, was published in 1755. He began the "Idler" in 1758, and continued it two years. In 1759 he wrote "Rasselas " in the evenings of one week, to defray the expenses of his mother's funeral. In 1762 he was granted a pension of £300, and the next year he made the acquaintance of James Boswell, whose "Life" of him is better known than any of Johnson's own works. Johnson, who had been made LL. D. in 1755, was now at the height of his prosperity and power. The famous Literary Club, of which he was the leader, was established in 1764. In 1773 he visited the Hebrides with Boswell, and two years later published an account of the tour. In 1781 his "Lives of the Poets" appeared. He died in London, December 13, 1784, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
At length awaking, with contemptuous frown, Indignant Thales eyes the neighb'ring town.
Since worth, he cries, in these degenerate days Wants even the cheap reward of empty praise; In those curs'd walls, devote to vice and gain, Since unrewarded science toils in vain ; Since hope but soothes to double my distress, And every moment leaves my little less; While yet my steady steps no staff sustains, And life still vig'rous revels in my veins; Grant me, kind Heaven, to find some happier place,
Where honesty and sense are no disgrace;
Some secret cell, ye pow'rs, indulgent give,