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He was invited next to spend some time with Mr Hector, an early friend, who was residing in Birmingham. Here he became acquainted with one Porter, a mercer, whose widow he afterwards married. Here, too, he executed his first literary work,-a translation of Lobo's “ Voyage to Abyssinia,” which was published in 1735, and for which he received the munificent sum of five guineas ! He had previously, without success, issued proposals for an edition of the Latin poems of Politian; and, with a similar result, offered the service of his pen to Edward Cave, the editor and publisher of the Gentleman's Magazine, to which he afterwards became a leading contributor.

Shortly after this, Porter dying, Johnson married the widow-a lady more distinguished for sense, and particularly

, for the sense to appreciate his talents, than for personal charms, and who was twice her husband's age. It does not seem to have been a very happy match, although, probably, both parties loved each other better than they imagined. He was now assisted by his wife's portion, which amounted to £800, and opened a private academy at Echal, near Lichfield, but obtained only three pupils,-a Mr Offely, who died early, the celebrated David Garrick, and his brother George. At the end of a year and a half, disgusted alike with the duties of the office, and with his want of success in their discharge, Johnson left for London, with David Garrick for his companion, and reached it with one letter of introduction from Gilbert Walmsley, three acts of the tragedy of “ Irene," and (according to his fellow-traveller) threepence-halfpenny in his pocket!

To London he had probably looked as to the great mart of genius, but at first he met with mortifying disappointment. He made one influential friend, however, in an officer named Henry Hervey, of whom he said, “ He was a vicious man, but very kind to me; were you to call a dog Hervey, I shall love

In summer he came back to Lichfield, where he stayed three months, and finished his tragedy. He returned to London in autumn, along with his wife, and tried, but in vain, to get " Irene" presented on the stage. This did not


happen till 1749, when his old pupil David Garrick had become manager of Drury Lane Theatre.

In March 1738, he began to contribute to the Gentleman's Magazine, a magazine he had long admired, and the original printing-place of which-St John's Gate-he "beheld with reverence” when he first passed it. Amidst the variety of his contributions, the most remarkable were his “ Debates in the Senate of Lilliput”-vigorous paraphrases of the parliamentary discussions—of which Johnson finding the mere skeleton given him by the reporters, was at the pains of clothing it with the flesh and blood of his own powerful diction. In May of the same year appeared his noble imitation of Juvenal, “ London,” which at once made him famous. After it had been rejected by several publishers, it was bought by Dodsley for ten guineas. It came out the same morning with Pope's satire, entitled “1738,” and excited a much greater sensation. The buzzing question ran,“ What great unknown genius can this be ?” The poem went to a second edition in a week; and Pope himself, who had read it with pleasure, when told that its author was an obscure man named Johnson, replied, “He will soon be déterré.”

Famous as he had now beeome, he continued poor; and tired to death of slaving for the booksellers, he applied, through the influence of Pope and Lord Gower, to procure a degree from Dublin, that it might aid him in his application for a school at Appleby, in Leicestershire. In this, however, he failed, and had to persevere for many years more in the ill-paid drudgery of authorship—meditating a translation of " Father Paul's History," which was never executed—writing in the Gentleman's Magazine lives of Böerhaave and Father Paul, &c., &c., &c.—and published separately " Marmor Norfolciense,” a disguised invective against Sir Robert Walpole, the obnoxious premier of the day. About this time he became intimate with the notorious Richard Savage, and with him spent too many of his private hours. Both were poor, both proud, both patriotic, both at that time lovers of pleasure, and they became for a season inseparable; often perambulating the streets all night, engaged now, we fear, in low revels, and now


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in high talk, and sometimes determined to stand by their country when they could stand by nothing else. Savage for a season corrupted Johnson, he also communicated to him much information, and at last left himself in legacy, as one of the best subjects to one of the greatest masters of moral anatomy. In 1744, Johnson rolled off from his powerful pen, with as much ease as a thick oak a thundershower, the sounding sentences which compose the “ Life of Savage," and which shall for ever perpetuate the memory and the tale of that “unlucky rascal.” It is a wasp preserved in the richest amber. The whole reads like one sentence, and is generally read at one sitting. Sir Joshua Reynolds, meet

, ing it in a country inn, began to read it while standing with his arm leaning on a chimney-piece, and was not able to lay it aside till he had finished it, when he found his arm totally benumbed. In 1745, Johnson issued proposals for a new

. edition of Shakspeare, but laid them aside for a time, owing to the great expectations entertained of the edition then promised by Warburton.

For several years, except a few trifles in the Gentleman's Magazine, and his famous “ Prologue delivered at the Opening of Drury Lane Theatre,” he seems to have written nothing. But in 1745 appeared the prospectus of his most laborious undertaking, the “ English Dictionary." This continued his principal occupation for some years, and, as Boswell truly observes, “served to relieve his constitutional melancholy by the steady, yet not oppressive, employment it secured him.” In its unity, too, and gigantic size, the task seemed fitted for the powers

of so strong a man; and although he says he dismissed it at last with “ frigid tranquillity," he had no doubt felt its influence during the time to be at once that of a protecting guardian and of an inspiring genius. In 1749, he published his “ Vanity of Human Wishes,” for which he received the sum of fifteen guineas,—a miserable recompense for a poem which Byron pronounces “sublime,” and which is as true as it is magnificent in thought, and terse in language. In the same year, Garrick had “ Irene ” acted, but it was “ damned” the first night, although it dragged on heavily for

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eight nights more. When the author was asked how he felt at its ill-success, he replied, “Like the Monument!” How different from Addison, walking restlessly, and perspiring with anxiety behind the scenes, while the fate of “ Cato hanging in the balance !

In 1750 he began his “ Rambler," and carried it on with only tolerable success till 1752. The world has long ago made up its mind on the merits and defects of this periodical, its masculine thought and energetic diction, alternating with disguised commonplace and (as he would have said himself) “ turgescent tameness" — its critical and fictitious papers, often so rich in fancy, and felicitous in expression, mixed with others which exhibit “ bulk without spirit vast," and are chiefly remarkable for their bold, bad innovations on that English tongue of which the author was piling up the standard Dictionary. Many have dwelt severely on Johnson's inequalities, without attending to their cause; that was unquestionably the body of death ” which hung so heavily upon his system, and rendered writing at times a positive torment. Let his fastidious critics remember that he never spent a single day, of which he could say that he was entirely well, and free from pain, and that his spirits were often so depressed, that he was more than once seen on his knees, praying God to preserve his understanding.

A great calamity now visited his household. This was the death of his wife. She expired on the 17th of March 1752. She had been married to him sixteen years; and notwithstanding the difference of age, and other causes of disagreement, he seems to have loved her with sincerity, and to have lamented her death with deep and long-continued sorrow. He relaxed not, however, an instant in his literary labours, continued the preparation of his Dictionary, and contributed a few lively and vigorous papers to the Adventurer”—a paper edited by Dr Hawkesworth, a writer of some talent, who did his best to tower up to the measure and stature of the “Rambler."

During this time Johnson was filling his house with a colony of poor dependants,—such as Mrs Anna Williams, a soured female poetaster; and Levet, a tenth-rate medical

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peripatetic, who, as well as Hodge, the great lexicographer's cat, and Francis Barber, his black servant, now share in his immortality,—besides becoming acquainted with such men of eminence as Reynolds, the inimitable painter; Bennet Langton, the amiable and excellent country-gentleman; and Beauclerk, the smart and witty “man about town." In 1755 (exactly a hundred years ago), Johnson chastised Lord Chesterfield for his mean, finessing conduct to him about his Dictionary, in a letter unparalleled, unless in “Junius," for its noble and condensed scorn,-a scorn which“ burns frore,"

” cold performing the effect of fire--and which reached that callous Lord, under the sevenfold shield of his conceit and conventionalism; visited Oxford, and was presented by acclamation with that degree of M.A. which he had left twentyfour years before without receiving; and, in fine, issued his Dictionary, the work of eight years, and which, undoubtedly, is the truest monument of his talent, industry, and general capacity, if not of the richness of his invention, or of the strength of his genius. He had obtained for it only the sum of £1575, which was all spent in the progress of the work; and he was compelled again to become a contributor to the periodical press, writing copiously and characteristically to the Gentleman's Magazine, the Universal Visitor, and the Literary Magazine. In 1756, he was arrested for a debt of £5, 18s., but was relieved by Richardson, the novelist. In the same year he resumed his intention of an edition of Shakspeare, of which he issued proposals, and which he promised to finish in little more than a year, although nine years were to elapse ere it saw the light. In 1758, he began the “ Idler," which reached the 1030 No., and was considered lighter and more agreeable than the “ Rambler.” He has seldom written anything so powerful as his fable of “ The Vultures." In 1759, his mother died, at the age of ninety,-an event which deeply affected him. Soon after this, and to defray the expenses of her funeral, he wrote his brilliant tale of "Rasselas," in the evenings of a single week,a rare feat of readiness and rapid power, reminding one of Byron writing the “ Corsair” in a fortnight, and of Sir

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