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While he was at Lichfield, in the college vacation of the year 1729, he felt himself overwhelmed with an horrible hypochondria, with perpetual irritation, fretfulness, and impatience; and with a dejection, gloom, and despair, which 5 made existence misery.

"Sunday (said he) was a heavy day to me when I was a boy. My mother confined me on that day, and made me read 'The Whole Duty of Man,'° from a great part of which I could derive no instruction. When, for instance, I had 10 read the chapter on theft, which from my infancy I had been taught was wrong, I was no more convinced that theft was wrong than before; so there was no accession of knowledge. A boy should be introduced to such books by having his attention directed to the arrangement, to the style, and 15 other excellencies of composition; that the mind being thus engaged by an amusing variety of objects may not grow weary.

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"I fell into an inattention to religion, or an indifference about it, in my ninth year. The church at Lichfield, in which 20 we had a seat, wanted reparation, so I was to go and find a seat in other churches; and having bad eyes, and being awkward about this, I used to go and read in the fields on Sunday. This habit continued till my fourteenth year; I then became a sort of lax talker against religion, for I did 25 not much think against it; and this lasted till I went to Oxford, where it would not be suffered. When at Oxford, I took up Law's 'Serious Call to a Holy Life,' expecting to find it a dull book, (as such books generally are), and perhaps to laugh at it. But I found Law quite an overmatch 30 for me; and this was the first occasion of my thinking in earnest of religion." From this time forward religion was the predominant object of his thoughts.

He told me, that from his earliest years he loved to read poetry, but hardly ever read any poem to an end; that he 35 read Shakspeare at a period so early, that the speech of the Ghost in Hamlet terrified him when he was alone; that Horace's Odes were the compositions in which he took most

delight, and it was long before he liked his Epistles and Satires. He told me what he read solidly at Oxford was Greek; not the Grecian historians, but Homer and Euripides and now and then a little Epigram; that the study of which he was the most fond was Metaphysicks.


His apartment in Pembroke College was that upon the second floor over the gateway. The enthusiast of learning will ever contemplate it with veneration. One day, while he was sitting in it quite alone, the master of the College overheard him uttering this soliloquy in his strong emphatick 10 voice: "Well, I have a mind to see what is done in other places of learning. I'll go and visit the Universities abroad. I'll go to France and Italy. I'll go to Padua. And I'll mind my business. For an Athenian blockhead is the worst of all blockheads."

He was then depressed by poverty, and irritated by disease. "Ah, Sir, I was mad and violent. It was bitterness which they mistook for frolick. I was miserably poor, and I thought to fight my way by my literature and my wit; so I disregarded all power and all authority.



I have heard from some of his contemporaries that he was generally seen lounging at the College gate, with a circle of young students round him, whom he was entertaining with wit, and keeping from their studies, if not spiriting them up to rebellion against the College discipline, which in his 25 maturer years he so much extolled.

He very early began a diary of his life. Oct. 1729. "Desidiæ valedixi; syrenis istius cantibus surdam posthac aurem obversurus. - I bid farewell to Sloth, being resolved henceforth not to listen to her syren strains."


Johnson was peculiarly happy in mentioning how many of the sons of Pembroke were poets; adding, with a smile of sportive triumph, "Sir, we are a nest of singing birds." He was not, however, blind to what he thought the defects of his own college. Taylor had obtained his father's consent 35 to be entered of Pembroke, that he might be with his schoolfellow. This would have been a great comfort to Johnson.

But he fairly told Taylor that he could not, in conscience, suffer him to enter where he knew he could not have an able tutor. He then made enquiry all round the University, and having found that Mr. Bateman, of Christ-Church, was the 5 tutor of highest reputation, Taylor was entered of that College. Mr. Bateman's lectures were so excellent, that Johnson used to come and get them at second-hand from Taylor, till his poverty being so extreme, that his shoes were worn out, and his feet appeared through them, he saw that this humiliat10 ing circumstance was perceived by the Christ-Church men, and he came no more. He was too proud to accept of money, and somebody having set a pair of new shoes at his door, he threw them away with indignation.

Dr. Adams paid Johnson this high compliment. "I was 15 his nominal tutor; but he was above my mark." When I repeated it to Johnson, his eyes flashed with grateful satisfaction, and he exclaimed, "That was liberal and noble."

The state of poverty in which his father died, appears from a note in one of Johnson's little diaries. "I layed by 20 eleven guineas on this day, when I received twenty pounds, being all that I have reason to hope for out of my father's effects, previous to the death of my mother; an event which I pray GoD may be very remote. I now therefore see that I must make my own fortune. Meanwhile, let me take care 25 that the powers of my mind be not debilitated by poverty, and that indigence do not force me into any criminal act.

Johnson was so far fortunate, that the respectable character of his parents, and his own merit, had, from his earliest 30 years, secured him a kind reception in the best families at Lichfield. Among these were Dr. Swinfen, Captain Garrick, and Mr. Gilbert Walmsley, Registrar of the Ecclesiastical Court of Lichfield. In these families he was in the company of ladies, particularly at Mr. Walmsley's, whose wife and 35 sisters-in-law, of the name of Aston, and daughters of a Baronet, were remarkable for good breeding; so that the notion which has been industriously circulated and believed,

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that he never was in good company till late in life, is wholly without foundation.

In the forlorn state of his circumstances, he accepted of an offer to be employed as usher in the school of Market-Bosworth, in Leicestershire. This employment was very irk- 5 some to him in every respect. Mr. Hector recollects his writing "that the poet had described the dull sameness of his existence in these words, 'Vitam continet una dies' (one day' contains the whole of my life); that it was unvaried as the note of the cuckoo; and that he did not know whether it 10 was more disagreeable for him to teach, or the boys to learn, the grammar rules."

He was invited by Mr. Hector to pass some time at Birmingham. Mr. Warren, the first established bookseller in Birmingham, was very attentive to Johnson, who he soon 15 found could be of much service to him in his trade, by his knowledge of literature and in furnishing some numbers of a periodical Essay printed in the newspaper, of which Warren was the proprietor. He made some valuable acquaintances there, amongst whom were Mr. Porter, a mercer, whose widow 20 he afterwards married.°

Having mentioned that he had read at Pembroke College a Voyage to Abyssinia, by Lobo, a Portuguese Jesuit, and that he thought an abridgement and translation of it from the French into English might be an useful and profitable publica- 25 tion, Mr. Warren and Mr. Hector joined in urging him to undertake it. He accordingly agreed; but his constitutional indolence soon prevailed, and the work was at a stand. Mr. Hector, who knew that a motive of humanity would be the most prevailing argument with his friend, went to John- 30 son, and represented to him, that the printer could have no other employment till this undertaking was finished, and that the poor man and his family were suffering. Johnson upon this exerted the powers of his mind, though his body was relaxed. He lay in bed with the book, which was a quarto, 35 before him, and dictated while Hector wrote.

He published proposals for printing by subscription the

Latin Poems of Politian.

There were not subscribers enough to insure a sufficient sale; so the work never appeared.

Miss Porter told me, that when he was first introduced to 5 her mother, his appearance was very forbidding: he was then lean and lank, so that his immense structure of bones was hideously striking to the eye, and the scars of the scrophula `were deeply visible. He also wore his hair, which was straight and stiff, and separated behind; and he often had, seemingly, 10 convulsive starts and odd gesticulations, which tended to excite at once surprise and ridicule. Mrs. Porter was so much engaged by his conversation that she overlooked all these external disadvantages, and said to her daughter, "This is the most sensible man that I ever saw in my life." 15 Though Mrs. Porter was double the age of Johnson, and her person and manner, as described to me by the late Mr. Garrick, were by no means pleasing to others, she must have had a superiority of understanding and talents, as she certainly inspired him with a more than ordinary passion. He 20 went to Lichfield to ask his mother's consent to the marriage; which he could not but be conscious was a very imprudent scheme, both on account of their disparity of years, and her want of fortune. But Mrs. Johnson knew too well the ardour of her son's temper, and was too tender a parent to oppose 25 his inclinations.

"Sir, it was a love marriage on both sides." I have had from my illustrious friend the following curious account of their journey to church upon the nuptial morn: - "Sir, she had read the old romances, and had got into her head the 30 fantastical notion that a woman of spirit should use her lover like a dog. So, Sir, at first she told me that I rode too fast, and she could not keep up with me: and, when I rode a little slower, she passed me, and complained that I lagged behind. I was not to be made the slave of caprice; and I resolved to 35 begin as I meant to end. I therefore pushed on briskly, till I was fairly out of her sight. The road lay between two hedges, so I was sure she could not miss it; and I contrived

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