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vered the infant poet with leaves and Aowers : for how should a child of three years old make regular verses, and in alternate rhyme? The father, moreover, foretold that he would be a great man.
At a proper age he was placed in the free-school at Lichfield. He was not remarkable for diligence: in the fields with his schoolfellows, he talked more with himself than his companions, and was never remarkable for a tenacious memory. In 1725 he went on a visit to his uncle Cornelius Ford, who detained him for some months, and in the mean time affifted him in the classics. After this he was placed at another school at Stourbridge in Worcestershire, and thence returned to his father's house, as seems probable, to be trained up a bookseller. He used to say that he could bind a book. On the 31st O&ober 1728, he went as an alliftant in the studies of a young · man, of the name of Corbett, to Pembroke college, Oxford. Corbett was entered as a gentleman commoner, and Johnson as a commoner. The college tutor, named Jordan, was a man of mean abilities. Johnson being fined for not attending his lectures, said, ".Sir, you have fconced me two pence for nonattendance at a lecture not worth a penny.” Corbete left the university in about two years, and Johnson's salary ceased. Being now straitened in his circumstances, his poverty was too apparent. He had but one pair of shoes, and his feet appeared through them. A new pair being placed, by order of a friend, at his door, he threw them away with indignation. His tutor, Jordan, went off to a college living, and was succeeded by the present Dr. Adams, now at the head of the college, and much esteemed for his learning and his talents. Under such a master, Johnson became more regular in his attendance. Ethics, theology, and classical literature were his studies. He projected a common-place book, to the extent of fix folio volumes, but, says Sir John Hawkins, the blank leaves far exceed the written ones. At the university, his mind received an early impression of piety, and a taste for the best authors, antient and modern. Of that wandering disposition of mind, which followed him through life, he discovered early symptoms. His reading was desultory, and always by fits and starts. His ftudies were not directed to any particular science. General philology was the object of his ambition. The management of his time he never pra&tised ; nor did he regard the hours of study, more than was required by the discipline of the college. He joined the young men in hunting the servitor, who at stated times knocked at the room doors, to know if the students were within. One of his schoolfellows thought that there was something wrong in his conftitution, which would end in the total loss of his understanding or his health, but, happily for mankind, he was not
a true prophet. Notwithstanding all these appearances of wildness, Johnson read to great advantage. For a task imposed upon him, he translated the Messiah of Pope; who saw the performance through the means of doctor Arbuthnot's son, and in strong terms declared his approbation of it.
Johnson continued at Oxford from the 31st of O&tober 1728, to December 1729, when, for want of pecuniary supplies, he left the place ; but, having obtained the assistance of a friend, returned in a short time, and in the whole completed a residence of three years. Wonders are told of his memory, and, indeed, all, who knew him late in life, can witness that he retained that faculty in the greatest vigour.
From the univerfity, Johnson returned to his father's house at Lichfield. Notwithstanding the natural ferocity of his temper, he had the highelt respect for the clergy. From contempt of the sacerdotal order, he thought the transition easy to a contempt of religion. His father died in December 1731, and in the month of March following, Johnson became under.master, or usher, of a grammar school at Marker-Bosworth in Leicestershire. of this school, Sir Wolftan Dixie was the patron. Johnson was disgusted by this gentleman's pride, and, in the July following, left the place, ever after speaking of it with abhorrence. lc
appears by a memorandum in his own hand. writing, dated 15th June 1732, that his whole receipt out of his father's effects was no more than 201. In June 1733, he resided with a person of the name of Jarvis, at Birmingham. At this place he translated, from the French, a Voyage to Abyffinia, written originally by Jerome Lobo, a Portuguese jesuit, and containing a narrative of the endeavours of a company of missionaries to attract the people of Abyflinia to the church of Rome. A further account of the missionary and the inbabitants of the country will be seen in the Appendix, which we propose to add to this extract. At present we are unwilling to lose sight of our hero.
The tranflation of Lobo was published in 8vo. by a Birmingham bookseller: what price Johnson had for it does not appear. In February 1734 he returned to Lichfield, and in August following, published proposals for printing by subscription, an edition of the Latin poems of Politian, with the history of Latin poetry, from the æra of Petrarch to the time of Politian; and also the life of Politian, to be added by the editor ; the work to be printed in thirty 8vo sheets, price 5s. For want of encouragement, the project was heard of no more.
Johnson, it seems, now intended to become an author by profession. To this, Sir John Hawkins appears to have some very nice and squeamith objections. He points to a diftinction between the man, who writes with a view to profit, and him, who, regardless of money, follows the impulse of his genius,
He seems to wonder that Johnson did not enter into the refinement of his notions, but, on the contrary, owned no genuine motive for writing, other than necessity. The delicacy of Sir John Hawkins may be eafily appeared. The Author, who with intent to profit by his labour, does nothing but what is fair and moral, if he writes well, confers a benefic on mankind, and is honourably employed. Horace has long ago faid, Paupertas impulit audax ut versus facerem. Racine, Boileau, Corneille, Moliere, Addison, Congreve, Pope, and others, may be added to the list. If Sir John will answer to himself one question, his doubts will vanish: if a man takes 2001, for his work, from what impulse does he write ?
In the year 1734, Johnson, in prosecution of his defign, made a tender of his services to Mr. Cave, the proprietor of the Gentleman's magazine. His letter upon this occasion is as follows: SIR,
Nov. 25, 1734. • As you appear no less sensible than your readers, of the defeat of your poetical article, you will not be displeased, if, in order to the improvement of it, I communicate to you the sentiments of a per. fon, who will undertake, on reasonable terms, sometimes to fill a column.
• His opinion is, that the publie would not give you a bad reception, if, beside the cusrent wit of the month, which a critical examination would generally reduce to a narrow com pass, you admitted, not only poems, inscriptions, &c. never printed before, which he will sometimes supply you with, but likewise short literary dissertations in Latin or English ; critical remarks on authors, ancient or modern; forgotten poems that deserve revival, loose pieces, like Floyer's, worth preferving. By this method, your literary article, for so it might be called, will, he thinks, be better recommended to the public, than by low jests, awkward buffoonery, or the dull scurrilities of either party.
• If such a correspondence will be agreeable to you, be pleased to inform me, in two posts, what the conditions are on which you shall expect it, Your late offer gives me no' reason to distrust your generosity. If you engage in any literary projects beside this paper, I have other designs to impart, if I could be secure from having others reap the advantage of what I should hint.
• Your letter, by being directed to S. Smith, to be left at the Castle in Birmingham, Warwickshire, will reach
Your humble servant to To this letter Cave returned an answer, dated ad Dec. 1734, and retained Johnson as a correspondent and contributor
* A prize of 501. for the best poem on Life, Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.
+ This letter, and Cave's answer to it, may serve to refute an affertion in an anonymous account of Johnson's life, that he was introduced to the acquaintance of Cave by Savage.
to his magazine. Though now engaged with Cave, Johnson thought himself at liberty to look for other employment. Accordingly in 1736, he made overtures to the Rev. Mr. Budworth, master of a grammar school at Brerewood, in StaffordAhire, and formerly a pupil of Mr. Blackwall, at Market Bosworth, to become his affiftant. This proposition did not succeed. Mr. Budworth apprehended that the convulsive motions, to which Johnson was even at that time subje&, might be an object of ridicule to his scholars, and of course leffen their respect for the mafter. Johnson being now about the age of 27, married Mrs. Porter, the widow of a mercer at Birmingham. She was worth about 8001., which to a person in Johnson's circumstances made it a desirable match. Of her beauty and personal charms Johnson was an admirer, though his biographer doubts whether he ever saw “the human face divine." He certainly was very short-fighted, but it may be presumed that he approached near enough to his wife, and, when young, perceived distinctly. Garrick and others represented her as a painted doll, of litile value, and disguised with affecta
To turn his wife's fortune to the best advantage, Johnson now projected the scheme of an academy of literature. In this he was encouraged by Mr. Gilbert Walmfley, regifter of the ecclefiaftical court of the bishop of Lichfield. Of this gentle. man's character Johnson has left a handsome testimonial at the end of the life of Edmund Smith. It appears that, under such patronage, he took a house at a place called Edial, near Lichfield. The celebrated Garrick, whose father, captain Garrick, lived at Lichfield, was placed under Johnson's care, by the advice of Walmsley, Garrick was then about the age of eighteen. An acceffion, however, of seven or eight pupils was the most that could be obtained. To remedy this want of success, the following advertisement was published : “ At Edial, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, young Gentlemen are boarded, and taught the Latin and Greek languages, by Samuel Johnson,” Vide Gentleman's Magazine 1736, p. 418. The plan, notwithstanding, proved abortive.
It appears, upon good authority, that in March 1737, Johnson and Garrick were fellow-travellers on horseback, and arrived in London together. A letter from Mr. Walmsley, though it has not the date of the year, bears every appearance of being written upon this occafion. It is directed to the Rev. Mr. Collon, a celebrated mathematician, and is in the following terms : • DEAR SIR,
Lichfield, March 2. • I had the favour of yours, and am extremely obliged to you; but cannot say, I had a greater affection for you upon it, than I had U 4
before, being long since so much endeared to you, as well by an early friend thip, as by your many excellent and valuable qualifica. tions. And, had I a son of my own, it would be my ambition, instead of sending him to the university, to dispose of him as this young gentleman is.
• He and another neighbour of mine, one Mr. S. Johnson, set out this morning for Lordon together. Davy Garrick is to be with you early the next week, and Mr. Johnson to try his fate with a tragedy, and to see to get himself employed in some translation either from the Latin or the French. Johnson is a very good scholar and a poet, and, I have great hopes, will turn out a fine tragedy writer. If it should any ways lay in your way, doubt not but you would be ready to recommend and allist your countrynien.
G. WALMSLEY.' The tragedy above mentioned was, most probably, Mahomet and Irene, which was acted at Drury-lane in January or February 1749. It is founded upon a passage in Knolles's History of the Turks, a book, which the Reader will recollect, has been since highly praised and recommended in the Rambler.
It does not appear that Mrs. Johnson attended her husband in this his first visit to the metropolis. The ftock of money which Johnson and Garrick brought with them, was soon exhaufted. For immediate relief, they borrowed of Mr. Wilcox, a bookseller in the Strand, five pounds upon their joint note. The money was punctually repaid. Johnson now wilhed to engage more closely with Cave, the publisher of the Gentleman's Ma. gazine. For this purpose he wrote the following letter :
'Greenwich, next door to the Golden Heart,
Church-ftreet, July 12, 1737. Having observed in your papers very uncommon offers of encouragement to men of letters, I have chosen, being a stranger in London, to communicate to you the following design, which, I hope, if you join in it, will be of advantage to both of us.
The History of the Council of Trent, having been lately translated into French, and published with large notes by Dr. Le Courayer, the reputation of that book is so uch revived in Eng. land, that it is presumed a new translation of it from the Italian, together with Le Courayer's notes from the French, could not fail of a favourable reception.
• If it be answered that the history is already in English, it must be remembered that there was the same objection againit Le Cou. rayer's undertaking, with this disadvantage, that the French had a version by one of their best translators, whereas you cannot read three pages of the English history without discovering that the style is capable of great improvements ; but whether those improvements are to be expected from this attempt, you must judge from the specimen, which, if you approve the proposal, I shall submit to your examination.
• Suppose the merit of the versions equal, we may hope that the addition of the notes will turn the balance in our favour, considering the reputation of the annotator,