Imágenes de página

company was present. He married, when he was near fixty, a street-walker, who persuaded him that she was a woman of family and fortune. His character was rendered valuable by repeated proofs of honesty, tenderness, and gratitude to his benefactor, as well as by an unceasing diligence in his profession. His single failing was an occasional departure from sobriety.

In a short time after the Rambler ceased, Dr. Hawkesworth projected the “ Adventurer," in connection with Bonnel Thornton, Dr. Bathurst and others. The first number was published, November 7.1752, and the paper continued twice a-week, till March 9. 1754. Thornton's assistance was soon withdrawn, and he set up a new paper, in conjunction with Colman, called the “ Connoisseur.”

Johnson was zealous for the success of the “ Adventurer," which was at first ra


mother more successful than the Rambler. He

'engaged the assistance of Dr. Warton, whose admirable essays are well known. April 10. 1753, he began to write in it, marking his papers with the signature T; all of which, except those which have also the fignature Mifargyrus (by Dr. Bathurst), are his. His price was two guineas for each paper. Of all these papers, he gave both the fame and the profit to Dr. Bathurst. Indeed, the latter wrote them while Johnfon dictated; though he considered it as a point of honour not to own them. He even used to say he did not write them, on the pretext that he di&tated them only; allowing himself, by this casuistry, to be “accessary to the propagation of falsehood," though his conscience had been hurt by even the appearance of imposition in writing the Parliamentary Debates. This year he wrote for Mrs. Lennox, the Dedication to

the Earl of Orrery, of her “ Shakspeare Ilļustrated,” 2 vols. 1 2mo.

The death of Mr. Cave, January 10.1754, gave him an opportnity of shewing his regard for his early patron, by writing his Life, which was published in the “ Gentleman's Magazine” for February. This seems to have been the only new performance of that year, except his papers in the “ Adventurer.” In the end of July, he found leisure to make an excurfion to Oxford, for the purpose of consulting the libraries there. “ He stayed,” says Mr. Warton, “ about five weeks; but he collected nothing in the libraries for his Dica tionary.

As the Dictionary drew towards a conclufion, Chesterfield, who had previously treated Johnson with unpardonable neglect (which was the real cause of the breach between them, and not the commonly received story of Johnson's being denied ad

mittance while Cibber was with his lordship), now as meanly courted a reconciliation with him, in hopes of being immortalized in a dedication. With this view, he wrote two essays in “ The World” in praise of the Dictionary, and, according to Sir. John Hawkins, sent Sir Thomas Robinson to him, for the same purpose. But Johnson, who had not renounced the connection, but upon the just grounds of continued neglect, was sensible, that to listen to an accommodation, would be to exchange dignity for a friendship trifling in its value, and precarious in its tenure. He therefore rejected his advances, and spurned his proffered patronage, by the following letter, dated February 1755, which is, preserved here as a model of courtly farcasm, and manly reprehension, couched in terms equally respeciful in their form, and cutting in their essence. It affords the noblest lesson to both authors and patrons

[ocr errors]

that stands upon record in the annals of literary history,

“ I have been lately informed by the proprietor of “ The World,” that two papers in which my Diktionary is recommended to the public, were written by your Lordship. To be so distinguished, is an honour, which, being very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.

“ When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your Lordship, I was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by your address, and could not forbear to with that I might boast myself Le vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre, that I might obtain that regard for which I saw the world contending ; but I found my attendance so little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your Lordship

« AnteriorContinuar »