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school of Stourbridge, of which Mr. ther with the failure of remittances, Wentworth was master. Here he occasioned by his father's insolvency, did not remain much more than a forced him to leave it without a dea twelvemonth, and, as he told Dr. gree. Of Pembroke College, in his Percy, learned much in the school, Life of Shenstone, and of Sir Thomas but little from the master; whereas Browne, he has spoken with filial with Hunter, he had learned much gratitude. From his tutor, Mr. Jorfrom the master, and little in the den, whom he described as a school. The progress he made was, thy man, but a heavy one,” he did perhaps, gained in teaching the other not learn much. What he read soboys, for Wentworth is said to have lidly, he said, was Greek; and that employed him as an assistant. His Greek, Homer and Euripides; but compositions in English verse indi- his favourite study was metaphysics, cate that command of language which we must suppose him to have which he afterwards attained. The investigated by the light of his own two following years he accused him- meditation, for he did not read much self of wasting in idleness at home; in it. With Dr. Adams, then a jubut we must doubt whether he had nior fellow, and afterwards master of much occasion for self-reproach, the College, his friendship continued when we learn that Hesiod, Ana- till his death. creon, the Latin works of Petrarch, Soon after his return to Lichfield, and “ a great many other books not his father died; and, the following commonly known in the Universities,” memorandum, extracted from the litwere among his studies.
tle register which he kept in Latin, His father, though a man of strong of the more remarkable occurrences understanding, and much respected that befel him, proves at once the in his line of life, was not successful small pittance that was left him, and in business. He must, therefore, have the integrity of his mind: “1732, Julii had a firm reliance on the capacity 15. Undecim aureos deposui : quo of his son ; for while he chided him die quicquid ante matris funus (quod for his want of steady application, serum sit precor) de paternis bonis he resolved on making so great an sperare licet, viginti scilicet libras aceffort as to send him to the Univer- cepi. Usque adeo mihi fortuna finsity; and, accompanying him thither, genda est. Interea ne paupertate placed him, on the 31st of October, vires animi languescant nec in flagi1728, a commoner at Pembroke Col- tium egestas abigat, cavendum. lege, Oxford. Some assistance was, 1732, July 15. I laid down eleven indeed, promised him from other guineas. On which day, I received quarters, but this assistance was the whole of what it is allowed me never given; nor was his industry to expect from my father's property, quickened by his necessities. He before the decease of my mother was sometimes to be seen lingering (which I pray may be yet far disabout the gates of his college; and, tant) namely, twenty pounds. My at others, sought for relief from the fortune therefore must be of my own oppression of his mind in affected making. Meanwhile, let me beware
, mirth and turbulent gaiety. So ex- lest the powers of my mind grow treme was his poverty, that he was languid through poverty, or want prevented by the want of shoes from drive me to evil.” On the following resorting to the rooms of his school- day, we find him setting out on foot fellow, Taylor, at the neighbouring for Market Bosworth, in Leicestercollege of Christ Church ; and such shire, where he had engaged himself was his pride, that he flung away with as an usher to the school of which indignation a new pair that he found Mr. Crompton was master. Here he left at his door. His scholarship was described to his old school-fellow, attested by a translation into Latin Hector, the dull sameness of his verse of Pope's Messiah ; which is life, in the words of the poet: Vitam said to have gained the approbation continet una dies: that it was as unof that poet. But his independent varied as the note of the cuckoo, and spirit, and his irregular habits, were that he did not know whether it were both likely to obstruct his interests more disagreeable for him to teach, in the University; and, at the end of or for the boys to learn the grammar three years, increasing debts, toge rules. To add to his misery, he had to endure the petty despotism of a self till July, 1736, when he marSir Wolstan Dixie, one of the pa ried Elizabeth Porter, the widow trons of the school. The trial of a of a mercer at Birmingham, and few months disgusted him so much daughter of William Jervis, Esq. with his employment, that he relin- of Great Peatling, in Leicestershire. quished it, and, removing to Bir- This woman, who was twenty years mingham, became the guest of his older than himself, and to whose friend Mr. Hector, who was a chi- daughter he had been an unsuccessful rurgeon in that town, and lodged in suitor, brought him eight hundred the house of a bookseller ; having pounds; but, according to Garrick's remained with him about six months, report of her, was neither amiable he hired lodgings for himself. By nor handsome, though that she was Mr. Hector he was stimulated, not both in Johnson's estimation appears without some difficulty, to make a from the epithets“ formosæ, cultæ, translation from the French, of Lobo's ingeniosæ," which he inscribed 'on Voyage to Abyssinia, for which he her tombstone. Their nuptials were received no more than five guineas celebrated at Derby, and to that from the bookseller, who, by an ar- town they went together on horsetifice not uncommon, printed it at back from Birmingham; but the Birmingham, with the date of Lon- bride assuming some airs of caprice don in the title-page. To Mr. Hece on the road, like another Petruchio tor, therefore, is due the impulse he gave her such effectual proofs of which first made Johnson an author. resolution, as reduced her to the abThe motion being once given did not jectness of shedding tears. His first cease; for, having returned to Lich- project after his marriage was to set field in 1735, he sent forth in Au- up a school; and, with this intention, gust, proposals for printing by sub. he hired a very commodious house, scription Politian's Latin Poems, at the distance of about two miles with a Life of the Author, Notes, from Lichfield, called Edial Hall, and a History of Latin Poetry, from which has lately been taken down, the age of Petrarch to that of Poli- and of which a representation is to tian. His reason for fixing on this be seen in the History of Lichfield, era it is not easy to determine. by Mr. Harwood. One of my friends, Mussato preceded Petrarch; the in- who inhabited it for the same purterval between Petrarch and Politian pose, has told me that an old counis not particularly illustrated by ex- tryman who lived near it, and recellence in Latin poetry; and Poli- membered Johnson and his pupil tian was much surpassed in correct- Garrick, said to him, “ that Johnson ness and elegance, if not in genius, was not much of a scholar to look at, by those who came after him-by but that master Garrick was Flaminio, Navagero, and Fracastorio. strange one for leaping over a style." Yet in the hands of Johnson, such a It is amusing to observe the impressubject would not have been want- sions which such men make on coming in instruction or entertainment. mon minds. Unfortunately, the preSuch as were willing to subscribe, judice occasioned by Johnson's unwere referred to his brother, Natha- sightly exterior was not confined to niel Johnson, who had succeeded to the vulgar, insomuch that it has been his father's business in Lichfield; but thought to be the reason why so few the design was dropped, for want of parents committed their children to a sufficient number of names to en- his care, for he had only three pucourage it, a deficiency not much to pils. This unscholar-like appearbe wondered at, unless the inhabit- ance it must have been that made ants of provincial towns were more the bookseller in the Strand, to whom learned in those days than at pre- he applied for literary employment, sent.
him archly, and recommend it to In this year, he made another ef- him rather to purchase a. porter's fort to obtain the means of subsist- knot. But, as an old philosopher ence by an offer of his pen to Cave, has said, every thing has two hanthe editor of the Gentleman's Maga- dles. It was, perhaps, the contrast zine; but the immediate result of between the body and the mind, bethe application is not known; nor tween the incultum corpus, and the in what manner be supported him- ingenium, which afterwards was one
cause of his being received so wil- further be could do to excite the lingly in those circles of what is commiseration of the audience, Johncalled high life, where any thing that son replied, “ that he could is exceedingly strange and unusual into the Ecclesiastical Court. Gar. is apt to carry its own recommenda- rick, who was to be placed at Coltion with it. Failing in his attempt son's academy, accompanied his at Edial, he was disposed once more former instructor on this expedition to engage in the drudgery of an to London, at the beginning of March, usher, and offered himself in that ca- 1737. It does not appear that Mr. pacity to the Rev. William Bud- Walmsley's recommendation of him worth, master of the grammar-school to Colson, whom he has described at Brewood, in Staffordshire, cele- under the character of Gelidus,* in the brated for having been the place in twenty-fourth paper of the Rambler, which Bishop Hurd received his edu- was of much use. He first took cation, under that master. But here lodgings in Exeter-street in the again nature stood in his way; for Strand, but soon retired to GreenBudworth was fearful lest a strange wich, for the sake of completing his motion with the head, the effect pro- tragedy, which he used to compose, bably of disease, to which Johnson walking in the Park. From Greenwas habitually subject, might excite wich, he addressed another letter to the derision of his scholars, and for Cave, with proposals for translating that reason declined employing him. Paul Sarpi's History of the Council He now resolved on trying his for- of Trent, with the notes of Le Coutune in the capital.
rayer. Before the summer was exAmong the many respectable fa- pired, he returned for Mrs. Johnson, milies in Lichfield, into whose so- whom he had left at Lichfield, and ciety Johnson had been admitted, remaining there three months, at none afforded so great encouragement length finished Irene. On his second to his literary talents as that of Mr. visit to London, his lodgings were Walmsley, who lived in the Bishop's first in Woodstock-street, near Hanopalace, and was registrar of the Ec- ver Square, and then in Castle-street, clesiastical Court, and whom he has near Cavendish Square. His tra80 eloquently commemorated in his gedy, which was brought on the stage Lives of the Poets. By this gentle- twelve years after by Garrick, having man he was introduced in a letter been at this time rejected by the to the Rev. Mr. Colson, Lucasian manager of the playhouse, he was Professor of Mathematics in the forced to relinquish his hopes of beUniversity of Cambridge, and the coming a dramatic writer, and enmaster of an academy, “as a very gaged himself to write for the Gengood scholar, and one who he had tleman's Magazine. The debates in great hopes would turn out a fine parliament were not then allowed to dramatic writer, who intended to try be given to the public with the same his fate with a tragedy, and to get unrestricted and generous freedom himself employed some transla- with which it is now permitted to tion, either from the Latin or the report them.
To elude this proFrench.” The tragedy on which hibition, and gratify the just curiosity Mr. Walmsley founded his expecta- of the country, the several members tions of Johnson's future eminence were designated by fictitious names, as a dramatic poet, was the Irene. under which they were easily disA shrewd sally of humour, to which coverable; and their speeches in both the reading of this piece gave rise, houses of parliament, which was enevinces the terms of familiarity on titled the Senate of Lilliput, were in which he was with his patron; for, on this manner imparted to the nation Walmsley'sobserving, when some part in the periodical work above-menof it had been read, that the poet had tioned. At first, Johnson only realready involved his heroine in such rised these reports; but he became distress, that he did not see what so dexterous in the execution of his
* In a ncte to Johnson's Works, 8vo. Edition, 1810, it is said that this is rendered improbable by the account given of Colson, by Davies, in his Life of Garrick, which was certainly written under Dr. Johnson's inspection, and, what relates to Colson, probably from Johnson's confirmation.
task, that he required only to be tion in the course of a week. Pope told the names of the speakers, and having made some ineffectual inthe side of the question to be es- quiries concerning the author, from poused, in order to frame the speeches Mr. Richardson, the son of the himself; an artifice not whólly ex- painter, observed that he would soon cusable, which afterwards occasi- be deterré. In the August of 1739, oned him some self-reproach, and we find him so far known to Pope, even at the time pleased him so lit- that at his intercession Earl Gower tle, that he did not consent to con- applied to a friend of Swift to assist tinue it. The whole extent of his in procuring from the University the assistance to Cave is not known. degree of Master of Arts, that he The Lives of Paul Sarpi, Boerhaave, might be enabled to become a canAdmirals Drake and Blake, Barre- didate for the mastership of a school tier, Burman, Sydenham and Ros- then vacant; the application was common, with the Essay on Epi- without success. taphs, and an Essay on the Account His own wants, however pressing, of the Conduct of the Duchess of did not hinder him from assisting his Marlborough, were certainly con- mother, who had lost her other son. tributed to his miscellany by John- A letter to Mr. Levett, of Lichfield, son. Two tracts, the one a Vindica- on the subject of a debt, for which tion of the Licenser of the Stage he makes himself responsible on her from the Aspersions of Brooke, Aur account, affords so striking a proof of thor of Gustavus Vasa; the other, filial tenderness, that I cannot refuse Marmor Norfolciense, a pamphlet myself the pleasure of transcribing it. levelled against Sir Robert Walpole and the Hanoverian succession, were
December 1, 1743. published by him, separately, in
Sir, I am extremely sorry that we have 1739.
encroached so much upon your forbearance For his version of Sarpi's History, perplexity of affairs hindered me from
with respect to the interest, which a great he had received from Cave, before thinking of with that attention that I the 21st of April in this year, fifty ought, and which I am not immediately pounds, and some sheets of it had able to remit to you, but will pay it (í been committed to the press, when, think twelve pounds) in two months. I unfortunately, the design was stop- look upon this and on the future interest of ped, in consequence of proposals ap- that mortgage as my own debt ; and beg pearing for a translation of the same that you will be pleased to give me direcbook, by another person of the same
tions how to pay it, and not mention it to name as our author, who was curate my dear mother. If it be necessary to pay of St. Martin's in the Fields, and this in less time, I believe I can do it; but patronised by Doctor Pearce, the I take two months for certainty, and beg
an answer whether you can allow me so Editor of Longinus. Warburton *
much time. I think myself very much afterwards expressed a wish that obliged to your forbearance, and shall esJohnson would give the original on teem it a great happiness to be able to one side, and his translation on the serve you. "I have great opportunities of other. His next engagement was to dispersing any thing that you may think it draw up an Account of the printed proper to make public. I will give a note books in the Earl of Oxford's library, for the money payable at the time mentionfor Osborne, the bookseller, who had ed, to any one here that you shall appoint. purchased them for thirteen thousand I am, Sir, your most obedient, pounds. Such was the petulant im
and most humble servant, patience of Osborne, during the pro- At Mr. Osborne's, Bookseller,
SAM. Johnson. gress of this irksome task, that John
in Gray's Inn. son was once irritated so far as to beat him.
In the following year (1744) he In May, 1738, appeared his “Lon- produced his Life of Savage, a work don,” imitated from the Third Satire that gives the charm of a romance to of Juvenal, for which he got ten a narrative of real events; and guineas from Dodsley. The excellence which, bearing the stamp of that of this poem was so immediately per- eagerness and rapidity with which it ceived, that it reached a second edi. was thrown of the mind of the
* Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, vol. v. p. 696.
writer, exhibits rather the fervour of Massinger and Beaumont and Fletan eloquent advocate, than the labo- cher, yet at least of Congreve and riousness of a minute biographer. Otway, who are involved in the The forty-eight octavo pages, as he sweeping censure passed on “ the told Mr. Nichols,* were written in one wits of Charles." day and night. At its first appear- Of all his various literary underance it was warmly praised, in the takings, that in which he now enChampion, probably either by Field- gaged was the most arduous, a Dice ing, or by Ralph, who succeeded to tionary of the English language. him in a share of that paper; and His plan of this work was, at the Sir Joshua Reynolds, when it came desire of Dodsley, inscribed to the into his hands, found his attention so Earl of Chesterfield, then one of the powerfully arrested, that he read it Secretaries of State; Dodsley, in through without changing his posture, conjunction with six other bookas he perceived by the torpidness of sellers, stipulated fifteen hundred and one of his arms that had rested on a seventy-five pounds as the price of chimney-piece by which he was his labour; a sum, from which, when standing. For the Life of Savage,t the expenses of paper and transcriphe received fifteen guineas from tion were deducted, a small portion Cave. About this time he fell into only remained for the compiler. In the company of Collins, with whom, other countries, this national desias he tells us in his life of that poet, deratum has been supplied by the he delighted to converse.
united exertions of the learned. Had His next publication (in 1745) the project for such a combination in was a pamphlet, called “Miscella- Queen Anne's reign been carried neous Observations on the Tragedy into execution, the result might have of Macbeth, with Remarks on sir been fewer defects and less excelT. H. (Sir Thomas Hanmer's) Edi- lence: the explanation of technical tion of Shakspeare,” to which were terms would probably have been subjoined, proposals for a new edi. more exact, the derivations more cotion of his plays. These observa- pious, and a greater number of sigtions were favourably mentioned by nificant words & now omitted, have Warburton, in the preface to his been collected from our earliest edition; and Johnson's gratitude for writers; but the citations would praise bestowed at a time when often have been made with less judge praise was of value to him was fere ment, and the definitions laid down vent and lasting. Yet Warburton, with less acuteness of discrimination. with his usual intolerance of any From his new patron, whom he dissent from his opinions, afterwards courted without the aid of those complained in a private letter to graces so devoutly worshiped by Hurd, that Johnson's remarks on his that nobleman, he reaped but small commentaries were full of insolence advantage; and, being much exasand malignant reflections, which, had perated at his neglect, Johnson adthey not in them “ as much folly dressed to him a very cutting, but, it as malignity,” he should have had must be owned, an intemperate letter, reason to be offended with.
renouncing his protection, though, In 1747, he furnished Garrick, when the Dictionary was completed, who had become joint-patentee and Chesterfield had ushered its appearmanager of Drury Lane, with a Pro- ance before the public in two comlogue on the opening of the house. plimentary papers in the World ; but This address has been commended the homage of the client was not to quite as much as it deserves. The be recalled, or even his resentment to characters of Shakspeare and Ben be appeased. His great work is thus Jonson are, indeed, discriminated spoken of at its first appearance, in a with much skill; but surely some- letter from Thomas Warton to his thing might have been said, if not of brother. || “ The Dictionary is ar
* Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, vol. v. p. 15.
+ Ibid. vol. viii. # Warburton's Letters, 8vo. Edit. p. 369.
Ś This defect has probably been remedied by Mr. Todd's enlargement of the Dic. tionary.
Il Wooll's Life of Joseph. Warton, p. 230.