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bookseller in that town, at whose house Mr. Hector lodged, was very attentive to Johnson; and, in return, obtained the assistance of his pen in furnishing some numbers of a periodical Essay printed in the newspaper, of which he was at that time the proprietor. He continued to live as Mr. Hector's guest for about six months, and then hired lodgings in another part of the town. During his stay, he made some valuable acquaintances: among these were Mr. Porter, a mercer, whose widow he subsequently married, * and Mr. Taylor, who by his ingenuity in mechanical inventions and his success in trade acquired a large fortune. He translated, like
* Of this lady, who was about twenty years older than himself, and had a fortune of 8001., he had previously loved the daughter: but, though their conjugal harmony was not uninterrupted, he lamented her death with unfeigned sorrow, and retained an enthusiastic veneration for her memory. That it was
a love match, indeed, on both sides' (as he used to assert) can hardly be admitted, in the usual acceptation of the term : for · Johnson was at that time “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 convulsive starts and odd gesticulations, which tended to excite at once surprise and ridicule: while she (according to Garrick) was very fat, with a bosom of more than ordinary protuberance; having swelled cheeks of a florid red, produced by thick painting and increased by the liberal use of cordials; flaring and fantastic in her dress, and affected both in her speech and in her general behaviour.” Yet Johnson was susceptible of the tender passion. Miss Molly Aston in particular, the sister of Mrs. Walmsley, he praised as a beauty, a scholar, and a wit--though a Whig, who talked all in praise of libertyas the loveliest creature, in short, that he ever saw. Upon her he made the following epigram:
Liber ut esse velim suasisti, pulcra Maria ;
Ut maneam liber, pulcra Maria, vale. VOL. VI.
wise, from the French · Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia, which was published in one volume 8vo. in 1735, and for which he received from the bookseller five guineas. In this small volume occurs little to mark the hand of Johnson; but the preface and the dedication furnish a few passages in that energetic and manly stile, which he may be said to have invented and taught to his countrymen.
Previously to it's publication he returned to Lichfield, and there issued proposals for printing the Latin Poems of Politian with his Life, a History of Latin Poetry from the æra of Petrarch to that of Politian, and Notes, in thirty sheets 8vo., price five shillings:' alas! he did not meet with a sufficient number of subscribers, to encourage him to proceed! In 1735, he married, and soon afterward set up a private academy, for which purpose he hired a large house well situated near his native city.* But the only pupils placed under his care were the celebrated Garrick and his brother George, with a young gentleman of fortune named Offely, who died early. Disappointed in this project, he determined to visit London in March 1737, in company with Garrick, who at that time intended to follow the profession of the law. From this, however, he was quickly diverted by his strong propensity to the stage. Johnson was recommended by his friend Gilbert Walmsley, † Registrar of the Prerogative Court at
* In the Gentleman's Magazine, for 1736, is the following advertisement : At Edial, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, young gentlemen are boarded and taught the Latin and Greek languages by SAMUEL JOHNSON."
+ Of one, who could discern such great and different merit, the reader may not be displeased to hear a little more; and
Lichfield, to Mr. Colson an eminent mathematician and master of an academy at Rochester, in a letter
from whom can he hear it with so much pleasure, or effect, as from his grateful Protegé? “Of Gilbert Walmsley, thus presented to my mind, let me indulge myself in the remembrance. I knew him very early; he was one of the first friends that literature procured me, and I hope, that at least my gratitude made me worthy of his notice. He was of an advanced
age, and I was only yet a boy; yet he never received my notions with contempt. He was a Whig, with all the virulence and malevolence of his party (N. B. It should be remembered, that the writer was a Tory, with all the &c. &c. &c. of his. When men are the statuaries, lions are vanquished); yet difference of opinion did not keep us apart. I honoured him, and he endured me. He had mingled in the gay world without exemption from it's vices, or it's follies, but had never neglected the cultivation of his mind. His belief of Revelation was unshaken: his learning preserved his principles; he grew first regular, and then pious. His studies had been so various, that I am not able to name a man of equal knowledge. His acquaintance with books was great ; and what he did not immediately know, he could at least tell where to find. Such was his amplitude of learning, and such his copiousness of communication, that it may be doubted whether a day now passes, in which I have not some advantage from his friendship. At this man's table I enjoyed many cheerful and instructive hours, with companions such as are not often found with one who has lengthened, and one who has gladdened, life: with Dr. James, whose skill in physic will be long remembered ; and with David Garrick, whom I hoped to have gratified with this character of our common friend—but what are the hopes of man! I am disappointed by that stroke of death, which has eclipsed the gayety of nations, and impoverished the public stock of harmless pleasure!” (Johnson's Life of Edmund Smith.)
How does this last line pay a life of exertion!
Walmsley's epitaph, written by one more favourable to his political memory, the father of the late Miss Seward, is here subjoined:
Reader, if Science, Truth, and Reason charm, If social charities thy bosom warm;
containing the following passage : “ Davy Garrick is to be with you early the next week (as a pupil) and Mr. Johnson to try his fate with a tragedy, and to see to get himself employed in some translation, either from the Latin or the French. Johnson is a very good scholar and a poet, and I have great hopes will turn out a fine tragedy-writer.”
How disproportionate were the after-fates of these two youthful travellers! Of this however the fault, if any, rested (as Chalmers observes) with the public. But Johnson reserved to himself the privilege of laughing at his friend's foibles, as in the character of Prospero in the Rambler, No. 200 (where he has exaggerated some of the traits beyond nature, in order to render vanity still more ridiculous) and would not tamely suffer any other person to attack them.
It may here be remarked, that Swift likewise had a friend, upon whose success in life he could not always look with complacency : “ Stratford (says he) is worth a plum, and is now lending government 40,000l. ; yet we were educated together at the same school and university.” These schoolfellows Budgell
, in the Spectator,* thus describes : “ One of them was not only thought an impenetrable blockhead at
If smiling Bounty ope thy heart and door,
But, if thy country's rights thou would’st betray,
school, but still maintained his reputation at the university; the other was the pride of his master, and the most celebrated person in the college of which he was a member. The man of genius is at present buried in a country-parsonage of eightscore pounds a years; while the other, with the bare abilities of a common scrivener, has gotten an estate of above a hundred thousand pounds." Stratford, however, eventually sunk from his elevation graviore casu, as appears from Swift's - Journal.'
The earliest patron of Johnson in London was Edward Cave, printer of the Gentleman's Magazine; and from his compositions for that publication, which obviously acquired great improvement under his
suggestions, he for many years derived his principal support. He was considered indeed, for some time, as it's conductor or editor, and received 1001. per ann. for his labours. His first contribution was a Latin Ode, Ad Urbanum, in March 1738.
In the summer of 1739 he returned to Lichfield, and during a residence of three months finished his • Irene,'* which, upon his second arrival in the metropolis, he ineffectually offered to Fleetwood, the patentee of Drury Lane,
In 1738, he published London, a Poem, in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal. This gained him considerable reputation, and excited the attention even of Pope, who prophesied that the author would soon be deterré.'t Yet even this, so cautiously did
* Founded upon a passage in Knolles' · History of the Turks;' a book, afterward highly praised in his · Rambler,' No. 122.
† Praise the more liberal and valuable, as · London' appeared on the same morning with Pope's Seventeen Hundred and