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From the year 1736 the opposition to the Minister had eno couraged Cave to give the Parliamentary Debates in his Magazine. Guthrie was the person employed for this purpose. In 1740-1 Johnson succeeded to that department. The eloquence, the force of argument, and the splendor of language, displayed in the several speeches, are well known, and universally admired. We cannot refrain, in this place, from the insertion of an anecdote, which we can relate upon good authority. Dr. Johnson, Mr. Wedderburn (now Lord Loughborough), Dr. Francis (the translator of Horace), Mr. Murphy, the late Mr. Chet wyn, and several other gentlemen, dined with Mr. Foote. After dinner, an important debate, toward the end of Sir Robert Walpole's adminiftration, being mentioned, Doctor Francis observed, that Mr. Pitt's speech, upon that occasion, was the best he had ever read. He had been employed, he added, during a number of years, in the study of Demofthenes, and bad finiled a translation of that celebrated orator, with all the decorations of style and language within the reach of his capacity. Many of the company remembered the debate, and several passages were cited from the speech, with the approbation and applause of all present. During the ardour of the conversation, Johnson remained filent, When the warmth of praise subsided, he opened with these words: “ That speech I wrote in a garret in Exeter-Street," The company was ftruck with astonishment. After staring at each other, for some time, in filent amaze, Dr. Francis asked how that speech could be written by him. « Sir, said Jobpson, I wrote it in Exeter-ftreet: I never was in the gallery of the House of Commons but once : Cave had interest with the door. keepers : he and the persons employed under him got admittance: they brought away the subject of discussion, the names of the speakers, the fide ihey took, and the order in which they rose, together with notes of the various arguments adduced in the course of the debate. The whole was afterwards communicated to me, and I composed the speeches in the form they now have in the Parliamentary Debates. For the speeches of that period are all reprinted from Cave’s Magazine.” To this discovery Dr. Francis made answer : “ Then, Sir, you have exceeded Demofthenes himself, for to say you have exceeded Francis's Demosthenes would be nothing.” The rest of the company were Javith of their compliments to Johnson : pne, in particular, praised his impartiality, observing that he had dealt out reason and eloquence with an equal hand to both parties.
" That is not quite true, Sir,” said Johnson; “ I saved appearances well enough, but I took care that the Whig dogs hould not have the best of it.” The sale of the Magazine was greatly increased by the Parliamentary Debates, which were continued by John
son till near the end of 1743. From that time they were written by Dr. Hawkesworth to the year 1760.
In 1743 or 4, Osborne the Bookseller, who kept a shop in Gray's Inn, ventured to purchase the Earl of Oxford's library, at the price of 13,000 l. He projected a catalogue in five octavo volumes, at five shillings each. Johnson was employed in this painful and laborious drudgery. He was likewise to select from the many thousand volumes, of which the library confifted, all fuch minor tracts and fugitive pieces, as were in any degree worth preserving, with intent to reprint and publish the whole in a collection, called the Harleian Miscellany. The catalogue was completed, and the Harleian Miscellany was, in 1749, publiled in eight quarto volumes. That Johnson should be thus. employed in a work fit for a day.labourer, must give to every reader a painful refe&tion. He was, during the whole time, a lion in the toils. He paused occasionally to read the book that came to his hands. Olborne thought that such curiofity tended to nothing but delay : he reproached him for his tardiness with all the pride and insolence of a man, who knew that he paid daily wages, and therefore thought that he might assume an unwarrantable superiority. In the course of the dispute, Ofborne, with that roughness which was natural to him, in answer to Some affertion, bluntly gave the lie. Johnson seized a folio, and knocked the bookseller down. This anecdote has been often told to prove Johnson's ferocity : but merit cannot always take the spurns of the unworthy, with patience and a forbearing spirit.
Having completed Osborne's work, and being released from his service, Johníon published, in February 1744, the life of his unfortunate friend Savage. This is not the place to speak of the work, nor indeed is an account of it neceffary. It is in every body's hands, and has been always admired as an elegant piece of biography. The Author had now lived nearly halt his days: without friends or lucrative profession, he had toiled and laboured, yet ftill, as he himself exprefles it, was to provide for the day that was passing over him. Of the profession of an unfriended author, he faw the danger and the difficulties. · Amhurst, who had conducted the Craftsman, Savage, Samuel Boyse, and others, who had laboured in literature, without emerging from diftress, were recent examples, and clouded his prospect. In the course of his ftudies, he had formed a list of literary projects, not less than forry-nine articles ; but fuch was his want of encouragement, or the versatility of his temper, that not one of all his schemes was executed. A new undertaking now occurred to him, namely an edition of Snakespeare. As a prelude to this design, he published, in the year 1745, " Miscellanecus Obfervations on the Tragedy of Macbeth, with Remarks on Sir Thomas Han
mer's Edition of Shakespeare, and Proposals for a new Edition by himself.” This was intended as a specimen of his abilities, and, indeed, the tract has such evident marks of a schojar and a genius, that Warburton, in his own edition, speaks of it in handsome terms. The notice of the Public was, however, not excited ; there was no friend to promote a subscription; the project died at that time, to revive at a future period.
A new undertaking was now proposed to Johnson, namely, an English Dictionary, upon an enlarged plan. Several of the most opulent Booksellers had long meditated a work of this kind; Johnson was in the vigour of life, and the agreement was soon adjusted berween the parties. Emboldened by this connection with the first Bookfellers in town, Johnson now thought it proper to have a better habitation than he had hitherto known.
To this time he had lodged with his wife in courts and alleys in and about the Strand and Fleet-street; but now, for the purpose of carrying on his arduous undertaking, and to be near the Printer, he took a house in Gough Square, Fleet-street. He went to work without delay; five or fix amanuenses were conftantly under his direction. He was now cold that the Earl of Chesterfield had spoken favourably of his design. In consequence of this information, he drew up, in 1747, a plan of his Dictionary, and dedicated it to Lord Chesterfield, then Secretary of State. Mr. Whitehead, afterwards Poet Laureat, was charged with the manuscript, in order to convey it to his Lordship. The result was an invitation from Lord Chesterfield to the Author. A stronger contrast of characters could not be brought together, the nobleman, celebrated for his wit, and thoroughly accomplished in all the modes of politeness and artificial civility; the author, conscious of his own merit, towering in idea above all competition, versed in scholastic logic, but a Atranger to all the forms of polite conversation ; uncouth, loud, and vociferous. The acquaintance was commenced, but never cemented into friendship. The coalition was too unnatural. Johnson expected a Mecænas, and was disappointed. No patronage, no provision, no assistance followed. Visits were repeated, but the reception was not cordial. Johnson one day was left for a full hour, waiting in an antichamber, till a gentleman should retire, and leave his Lordship at leisure. This gentleman was Colley Cibber; Johnson saw him go away, and, fred with indigoation, ruthed out of the house.
Of the idea which Lord Chesterfield entertained of Johnson, we have a diftinct view in the following portrait, delineated in one of bis Lordship’s letters for the use of his son. The passage is as follows:
• There is a man whose moral character, deep learning, and superior parts, I acknowledge, admire, and respect; but whom it is so
impossible for me to love, that I am almost in a fever whenever I am in his company. His figure (without being deformed) seems made to disgrace or ridicule the common structure of the human body. His legs and arms are never in the position which, according to the situation of his body, they ought to be in, but constantly employed in committing acts of hoftility upon the graces. He throws any where, but down his throat, whatever he means to drink, and only mangles what he means to carve. Inattentive to all the regards of social life, he mif-times, and mis-places every thing. He disputes with heat, and indiscriminately, mindless of the rank, character, and situation of them with whom he disputes : absolutely ignorant of the several gradations of familiarity and respect, he is exactly the same to his superiors, his equals, and his inferiors; and therefore by a necessary consequence, absurd to two of the three. Is it possible to love such a man? No. The utmost I can do for him, is, to consider him as a respectable Hottentot.'
After the incident of Colley Cibber, Johnson gave up all hopes of patronage. A dedication might pamper his Lordship’s vanity, but promised to himself no kind of advantage. He thought that he had received an affront, and in a style of resensment wrote a letter upon the occasion, concluding with a formal renunciation for ever of his Lordship's patronage. In his high and decisive tone he used to say, that Lord Chesterfield was a Wit among Lords, and a Lord among Wits. In fact, Johnson was ever alhamed of the transaction, and spoke of it upon all occasions with the greatest contempt.
Soon after the letter to Lord Chesterfield, Garrick, in conjunction with Lacy, became patentee of Drury-lane playhouse. For the opening of the theatre in Sept. 1747, Johnson wrote, for his friend, the well-known prologue, which, if we except Mr. Pope's to the tragedy of Cato, is, perhaps, the best in the English or any other language. The playhouse being now in the hands of Garrick, Johnson once more thought of his tragedy of Mahomet and Irene, which was his whole stock on his first arrival in town. In the winter 1749 the play was acted, with the advantages of Garrick, Barry, Mrs. Cibber, and Mrs. Pritchard. Never was there in point of dreffes, scenes, and decorations, such a display of eastern magnificence: but, says Sir John Hawkins, the diction was cold and philosophical; it came from the head of the writer, and reached not the hearts of the hearers.' This mav be the place to mention the distinction Garrick made between Johnson and Shakespeare; “ All that the former writes, comes from his head; when Shakespeare sat down to write, he dipped his pen into his own heart.” We shall not here enter n a critical examination of the play ; the Author's works will be before us, when we have gone through his life. During the representation of Mahomet and Irene, Johnson was conftantly behind the scenes, and, thinking that his character of Rev. April, 1787.
an Author required some ornament for his person, he chose, upon that occasion, to decorate himself with a gold-laced waistcoat. The piece did not succeed beyond nine nights: three of them were for the benefit of the Author : what was the amount is not known, but, probably, it was not very confiderable, as the profit, that stimulating motive, never invited him to another theatrical attempt.
That the history of an author must be found in his works, is, in general, a true observation ; and was never more apparent than in the life before us. Every epocha of Dr. Johnson's life is fixed by his writings. In the beginning of 1749, he published a second imitation of Juvenal, namely of the tenth Sacire, under the title of " The Vanity of Human Wishes.” It will be sufficient to say, in this place, that the posm has been always held in high esteem. The particular beauties shall be pointed out hereafter. In 1750 a grand-daughter of Milton had a be. nefit at Drury lane playhouse, and Johnson wrote the Prologue. In the meantime bis Dictionary went on.
The fum ftipulated with the Booksellers was to be paid, from time to time, as the work proceeded. This was the Author's only support. The intense application, which this vast performance required, deprived him of his favourite pleasures, such as reading in his desultory manner, ard the conversation of his friends. To foften, as well as he could, this inconvenience, he had formed, in 1749, a club, that met 'ac Horseman's chop-house in Ivy-lane, Paternofter-row, on every Tuesday evening. The members of this little fociety were ten in number; namely, Samuel Johnson ; Doctor Salter, father of the late Master of the Charter-house; Mr. [he was not then Dr.] Hawkesworth ; Mr. Ryland, a merchant; Mr. Juho Payne, then a bookf:ller in Pateraotter Row; Mr. Samuel Dyer, a learned young man, intended for the dif. fenting miniitry; Dr. William M Ghie, a Scotch physician; Dr. Edmund Barker, a young physician; Doctor Richard Bathurst, a young physician, and Sir John Hawkins *.
Acthis club Johnson made so hearty a meal, that the members believed it to be his dinner. He drank nothing but lemonade. The young Pretender, the rebels in Scotland, and ine executions on Tower- hill, were futjects not to be mentioned before him. Dyer was a Shatuíburian philosopher; he had been a pupil of the famous Hutcheson in Scoiland, and the moral sense was his rule and principle of virtue. Jubnfon, fays his biographer, was an admirer of Dr. Clarke, and believed with bim, that all rational beings are under an obligation to act agreeably to the fitness of things. To those who knew Johnson, we be
* A further account of this club will be given in our dppendix to this Life,