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contract a very close friendship; and such was their extreme necessities, that they have often wandered whole nights in the street for want of money to procure them a lodging. In one of these nocturnal rambles, when their distress was almost incredible, so far were they from being depressed by their situation, that in high spirits, and brimful of patriotism, they traversed St. James's Square for several hours, inveighed against the minister, and, as Johnson said in ridicule of himself, his companion, and all such patriots, "resolved that they would stand by their Country!” In 1744 he published the life of his unfortunate companion; a work which, had he never written any thing else, would have placed him very high in the rank of authors. His narrative is remarkably smooth and well disposed; his observations are just, and his reflections disclose the inmost recesses of the human heart.
In 1749, when Drury-lane theatre was opened under the management of Garrick, Johnson wrote a prologue for the occasion, which for just dramatic criticism on the whole range of the English stage, as well as for poetical excellence, is confessedly unrivalled. But this year is, in his life, distinguished as the epoch when his arduous and important work, the Dictionary of the English Language, was announced to the world by the publication of its plan or prospectus addressed to the Earl of Chesterfield. From that nobleman Johnson was certainly led to expect patronage and encouragement; and it seems to be equally certain that his lordship expected, when the book should be published, to be honoured with the dedication. The expectations of both were disappointed. Lord Chesterfield, after seeing the lexicographer once or twice, suffered him to be repulsed from his door: but afterwards, thinking to conciliate him when the work was upon the eve of publication, he wrote two papers in “ The World," warmly recommending it to the public. This artifice was seen through; and Johnson, in very polite language, rejected his lordship's advances, letting him know, that he was unwilling the public should consider him as owing to a patron that which Providence had enabled him to do for hiniself. This great and laborious work its author expected to complete in three years, but he was certainly employed upon it seven ; for we know that it was begun in 1747, and the last sheet was sent to the press at the end of the year 1754. When we consider the nature of the undertaking, it is indeed astonishing that it was finished so soon, since it was written, as he says, “ with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great ; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academic bowers, but amidst inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow.
The sorrow to which he here alludes is probably that which he felt for the loss of his wife, who died on the 17th of March O. S. 1752, and whom he continued to lament as long as he lived.
The Dictionary did not occupy his whole time: for, while he was pushing it forward, he fitted his
OF DR. JOHNSON.
II Tragedy for the stage ; wrote the lives of several eminent men for the Gentleman's Magazine ; published an Imitation of the roth Satire of Juvenal, intitled “ The Vanity of Human Wishes;” and began and finished “ The Rambler.” This last work is so well known, that it is hardly necessary to say that it was a periodical paper published twice a week, from the 20th of March 1750 to the 14th of March 1752 inclusive: but to give our readers some notion of the vigour and promptitude of the author's mind, it may not be improper to observe that, notwithstanding the severity of his other labours, all the assistance which he received does not amount to five papers; and that many of the most masterly of those unequalled essays were written on the spur of the occasion, and never seen entire by the author till they returned to him from
Soon after the Rambler was concluded, Dr, Hawkesworth projected “ The Adventurer” upon a similar plan; and by the assistance of friends he was enabled to carry it on with almost equal merit. For a short time, indeed, it was the most popular work of the two; and the papers with the signature T, which are confessedly the most splendid in the whole collection, are now known to have been communicated by Johnson, who received for each the sum of two guineas. This was double the price for which he sold sermons to such clergymen as either would not or could not compose their own discourses; and of sermon-writing he seems to have made a kind of trade,
Though he had exhausted, during the time that he 'was employed on the Dictionary, more than the sum for which the booksellers had bargained for the copy, yet by means of the Rambler, Adventurer, sermons, and other productions of his pen, he now found himself in greater affluence than he had ever done before, and as the powers of his mind, distended by long and severe exercise, required relaxation to restore them to their proper tone, he appears to have done little or nothing from the closing of the Adventurer till the year 1756, when he submitted to the office of reviewer in the Literary Magazine. Of his reviews, by far the most valuable is that of Soame Jennyns's "Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil.” Never were wit and metaphysical acuteness more closely united than in that criticism, which exposes the weakness and holds up to contempt the reasoning of those vain mortals, who presumptuously attempt to grasp the scale of existence, and to forni plans of conduct for the Creator of the universe, But the furnishing of magazines, reviews, and even newspapers with literary intelligence, and authors of books with dedications and prefaces, was considered as an employment unworthy of Johnson. It was therefore proposed by the booksellers that he should give a new edition of the dramas of Shakespeare; a work which he had projected many years before, and of which he had published a specimen which was commended by Warburton. When one of his friends expressed a hope that this employment would furnish him with amusement and add to his fame, he replied, " I look upon it as I did upon the Dictionary ; it is all work; and my inducement to it is not love or desire of fame, but the want of money which is the only motive to writing that I know of.” He issued proposals, however, of considerable length, in which he showed that he knew perfectly what a variety of research such an undertaking required : but his indolence prevented him from pursuing it with diligence, and it was not published till many years afterwards.
On the 15th of april 1758 he began a new periodical paper intitled “ The Idler,” which came out every Saturday in a weekly newspaper, called • The Universal Chronicle, or Weekly Gazette," published by Newbery. Of these essays, which were continued till the sth of april 1760, many were written as hastily as an ordinary letter; and one in particular composed at Oxford was begun only half an hour before the departure of the post which carried it to London. About this time he had the offer of a living of which he might have rendered himself capable by entering into orders. It was a rectory in a pleasant country of such yearly value as would have been an object to one in much better circumstances; but sensible, as it is supposed, of the asperity of his temper, he declined it, saying, “ I have not the requisites for the office, and I cannot in my conscience shear the flock which I am unable to feed.”
Soon after the death of his mother, which happened in the year 1759, he wrote his “ Rasselas