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him. When he discovered who they were, and was told their errand, he smiled, and with great good humour agreed to their proposal: "What, 19 it you, you dogs! I'll have a frisk with you." He was soon drest, .and they sallied forth together into Covent-Garden, where the greengrocers and fruiteres were beginning to arrange their hampers, just coming in from the country. Johnson made some attempts to hejp them ; but the honest gardeners stared so at bis figure and manner, and odd interference, that he soon saw his services were not relished. They then repaired to one of the neighbouring taverns, and made a bowl of that liquor called Bishop, which Johnson had always liked: while in joyous contempt of sleep, from which he had been roused, he repeated the festive lines,
"Short, O short then be thy reign,
They did not stay long, but walked down to the Thames, took a boat and rowed to Billingsgate. Beauclerk and Johnson were so well pleased with their amusement, that they resolved to persevere in dissipation for the rest of the day: but Langton deserted them, being engaged to breakfast with some young Ladies. Johnson scolded him for " leaving his social friends, to go and sit with a set of wretched un-idcad girls." Garrick being told of this ramble, said to him smartly, " 1 heard of your frolic t'other night. You'll be in the Chronicle." Upon which Johnson afterwards observed. "He durst not do such a thing. His wife would not let him."
He entered upon this year, 1753, with his usual piety, as appears from the following prayer, which I transcribed from that part of his diary which he burnt a few days before his death:
"Jan. I, 1753, N. S. which I shall use for the future.
"Almighty God, who hast continued my life to this day, grant that by the assistance of thy Holy Spirit, I may improve the time which thou shalt grant me, to my eternal salvation. Make me to remember, to thy glory, thy judgements and thy mercies. Make me so to consider the loss of my wife, whom thou hast taken from me, that it may dispose me, by thy grace, to lead the residue of my life in thy fear. Grant this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
He now relieved the drudgery of his Dictionary, and the melancholy of his grief, by taking an active part in the composition of" The Adventurer," in which he began to write April II), marking his essays with the signature T, by which most of his papers in that collection are distinguished: those, however, which have that signature, and also that of Mysargyrug, were not written by him, but, as I suppose, by Dr. Bathurst. lodeed Johnson's energy of thought, and richness of language, are still
'Mr. Langton has recollected, or Dr. Johnson repeated, the passage wrong. The lines are in Lord Lansdowne's Drinking Soug.to Sleep, and run thus: "Short, very short be then thy reign,' "For I'm in baste to laugh and drink again."
more decisive marks than any signature. As a proof of this, my readers, 1 imagine, will not doubt that number 3t), on sleep, is his; for it not only has the general texture and colour of his style, but the authors .with whom he was peculiarly conversant, are readily introduced in it in cursory allusion. The translation of a passage in Statins quoted in that paper, and marked C. B. has been erroneously ascribed to Dr. Bathurst, whose Christian name was Richard. How much this amiable man actually contributed to " The Adventurer," cannot be known. Let me add, that Hawkeswortb's imitations of Johnson are sometimes so happy, that it is extremelyjdifficult to distinguish them, with certainty, from the compositions of his great archetype. Hawkesworth was his closest imitator, a circumstance of which that writer would once have been proud to be told, though, when he had become elevated by having risen into some '.. i;ree of consequence, he, in a conversation with me, had the provoking; effrontery to say he was not sensible of it.
Johnson was truly zealous for the success of " The Adventurer;" and very soon after his engaging in it, he wrote the fotlouing letter:
"To The Reverend Dr. Joseph Warton. "dear Sir,
"I Ought to have written to you before now, but 1 ought to do, many things which I do not; nor can I, indeed, claim any merit from this letter; for being desired by the authoursaud proprietor of the Adventurer to look out for another hand, my thoughts necessarily fixed upon you, whose fund of literature will enable you to assist them, with very little interruption of your studies.
"They desire you. to engage to furnish one paper a month, at two guineas a paper, which you may very readily perform. We have considered that a paper should consist of pieces of imagination, pictures of life, and disquisitions of literature. The part which depends on the imagination is very well supplied, as you will find when you read the paper: for descriptions of life, there is now a treaty almost made with an authour and an authouress: and the province of criticism and literature they are very desirous to assign to the commentator on Virgil.
** 1 hope this proposal will not be rejected, and that the next post will bring us your compliance. I speak as oue of the fraternity, though I have no part in the paper, beyond now and then a motto; but two of the writers are my particular friends, and I hope the pleasure of seeing a third united to them, will not be denied to, dear,
"Your most obedient,
"And most humble servant, "March, 8, 1753. *• Sam. Johnson."
The consequence of this letter was, Dr. Warton's enriching the collection with several admirable essays.
Johnson's saying " 1 have no part in the paper beyond now and then a motto," may seem inconsistent with his being the author of the papers marked T. But he had, at this time, written only one unmber; and
besides, even at any after period, he might have used the same expression, considering it as a point of honour not to own them: for Mrs. Williams told me that, " as he had given those Essays to Dr. Bathurst, who sold them at two guineas each, he never would own them; nay, he used to *ay, he did not write them: but the fact was, that he dictated them, while Bathurst wrote," 1 read to him Mrs. Williams's account; he smiled, and said nothing.
I am not quite satisfied with the casuistry by which the productions of one person are thus passed upon the world for the productions of another. 1 allow, that not only knowledge, but powers and qualities of mind may be communicated; but the actual effect of individual exertion never can be transferred, with truth, to any other than its own original cause. One person's child may be made the child of another person by adoption, as among the Romans, or by the ancient Jewish mode of a wife having children borne to her upon her knees, by her handmaid. But these were children in a different sense from that of nature. It was clearly understood that they were not of the blood of their nominal parents. So in literary children, an author may give the profits and fame of his composition to another man, but cannot make that other the real author. A Highland gentleman, a younger branch of n family, once consulted me if he could not validly purchase the Chieftainship of his family from the Chief, who was willing to sell it. I told him it was impossible for him to acquire, by purchase, a right to be a different person from what he really was; for that the right of Chieftainship attached to the blood of primogeniture, and, therefore, was incapable of being transferred. I added, that though Esau sold his birth-right, or the advantages belonging to it,he still remained the first-born of his parents ; and that whatever agreement a Chief might make with any of the clan, the Heralds-Office could not admit of the metamorphosis, or with any decency attest that the vounger was the elder; but I did not convince the worthy gentleman.
Johnson's papers in the Adventurer are very similar to those of the Rambler; but being rather more varied in their subjects,and being mixed with essays by other writers, upon topics more generally attractive than even the most elegant ethical discourses, the sale of the work, at first, was more extensive. Without meaning, however, to depreciate the Adventurer, I must observe, that as the value of the Rambler came, in the progress of time, to be better known, it grew upon the public estimation, and that its sale has far exceeded that of any other periodical papers since the reign of Queen Anne.
In one of the books of his diary I find the following entry:
"April 3, 1753. I began the second vol. of my Dictionary, room being left in the first for Preface, Grammar, and History, none of them yet begun.
"O God, who hast hitherto supported me, enable me to proceed in this labour, and in the whole task of my present state; that when 1 shall render up, at the last day, an account of the talent committed to me, I may receive pardon, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen."
He this year favoured Mrs. Lenox with a Dedication* to the Earl of Orrery, of her " Shakspeare Illustrated."
In 1734 I can trace nothing published by him, except his numbers of the Adventurer, and " The Life of Edward Cave," in the Gentleman's Magazine for February. In biography there can be no question that he excelled, beyond all who have attempted that species of composition; upon which, indeed, he set the highest value. To the minute selection of characteristical circumstances, for which the ancients were remarkable, he added a philosophical research, and the most perspicuous and energetic language. Cave was certainly a man of estimable qualities, and was eminently diligent and successful in his own business, which, doubtless, entitled him to respect. But he was peculiarly fortunate in being recorded by Johnson ; who, of the narrow life of a printer and publisher, without any digressions or adventitious circumstances, has made an interesting and agreeable narrative.
The Dictionary, we may believe, afforded Johnson full occupation thk year. As it approached^ to its conclusion, he probably worked with redoubled vigour, as seamen increase their exertion and alacrity when they have a near prospect of their haven.
Lord Chesterfield, to whom Johnson had paid the high compliment of addressing to his Lordship the Plan of his Dictionary, had behaved to him in such a manner as to excite his contempt and indignation. The world has been for many years amused with a story confidently told, and as confidently repeated with additional circumstances, that a sudden disgust was taken by Johnson upon occasion of his having been one dnv kept long in waiting in his Lordship's antechamber, for which the reason assigned was, that he hud company with him ; and that at last, when the door opened, out walked Colley Cibber; and that Johnson was so violently provoked when he found for whom he had been so long excluded, that he went away in a passion, and never would return. I remember having mentioned this story to George Lord Lyttelton, who told me, he was very intimate with Lord Chesterfield; and holding it as a well-known truth, defended Lord Chesterfield by saying, that " Cibber, who had been introduced familiarly by the back-stairs, had probably not been there above ten minutes." It may seem strange even to entertain a doubt concerning a story so long and so widely current, and thus implicitly adopted, if not sanctioned, by the authority which I have mentioned; but Johnson himself assured me, that there was not the least foundation for it. He told me, that there never was any particular incident which produced a quarrel between Lord Chesterfield and him; but that his Lordship's continued neglect was the reason why he resolved to have no connection with him. When the Dictionary was upou the eve of publication, Lord Chesterfield, who, it is said, hud flattered himself with expectations that Johnson would dedicate the work to him, attempted, in a courtly munner, to soothe and insinuate himself with the Sage, conscious, as it should seem, of the cold indifference with which he had treated its learned author; and further attempted to conciliate him, by writing two papers in " The World," in recommendation of the work; and it must be confessed, that they contain some studied compliments, so finely turned, that if there had been no previous offence, it is probable that Johnson would have been highly delighted. Praise, in general, was pleasing to bim; but by praise from a man of rank and elegant accomplishments, he was peculiarly gratified.
His Lordship says, "I think the public in general, and the republic of letters, in particular, are greatly obliged to Mr. Johnson, for having undertaken, and executed So great and desirable a work. Perfection is not to be expected from man; but if we are to judge by the various works of Johnson already published, we have good reason to believe, that he will bring this as near to perfection as any man could do. The Plan of it, which he published some years ago, seems to me a proof of it. Nothing can be more rationally imagined, or more accurately and elegantly expressed. I therefore recommend the previous perusal of it to all those who intend to buy the Dictionary, and who, 1 suppose, are all those who cau afford it."
"It must be owned, that our language is, at present, in a state of anarchy, and hitherto, perhaps, it may not have been the worse for it. During our free and open trade, many words and expressions have beeu imported, adopted, and naturalized from other languages, which have greatly enriched our own. Let it still preserve what real strength and beauty it may have borrowed from others; but let it not, like the Tarpeian maid, be overwhelmed and crushed by unnecessary ornaments. The time for discrimination seems to be now come. Toleration, adoption, and naturalization have run their lengths. Good order and authority are now necessary. But where shall we find them, and at the snme time, the obedience due to them? We must have recourse to the old Roman expedient in times of confusion, and chuse a dictator. Upon this principle, I give my vote to Mr. Johnson, to fill that great and arduous task, and I hereby declare, that I make a total surrender of all my rights and privileges in the English language, as a free-born British subject, to the caid Mr. Johnson, during the term of his dictatorship. Nay more, I will not only obey him like an old Roman, as my dictator, but, like a modern Roman, I will implicitly believe in him as my Pope, and hold him to be infallible while in the chair, but no longer. More than this he cannot well require; for, I presume, that obedience can never be expected, when there is neither terrour to enforce, nor interest to invite it." ♦ *******
"But a Grammar, a Dictionary, and a History of our Language, through its several stages, were still wanting at home, and importunately called for from abroad. Mr*Johnson*s labours will now, I dare say, very fully supply that want, and greatly contribute to the farther spreading of our language in other countries. Learners were discouraged, by finding no standard to resort to; and, consequently thought it incapable of any. They will now be undeceived and encouraged."
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