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nied him, found means to have him introduced to Mr. Jorden, Fellow of Pembroke, who was to be his tutor. According to Dr. Adams, who was present, he seemed very full of the merits of his son, and told the company he was a good scholar and a poet, and wrote Latin verses. His figure and manner seemed strange to them; but he behaved modestly, and fat filent, till, upon something which occurred in the course of conversation, he suddenly struck in, and quoted Macrobius; and this gave the first impression of that extensive reading in which he had indulged himself.
Of his tutor, Mr. Jorden, he gave. Mr. Boswell the following account : “ He was a very worthy man, but a heavy man, and I did not profit much by his instruction. Indeed, I did not attend him much.” He had, however, a love and respect for Jorden, not for his literature, but for his worth. " Whenever (said he) a young
man becomes Jorden's pupil, he becomes his son."
The fifth of November was at that time kept with great folemnity at Pembroke College, and exercises upon the gunpowder plot were required. Johnson neglected to perform his. To apologize for his neglect, he gave in a short copy of verses,
intituled Somnium, containing a common I thought, “ that the muse had come to him
in his sleep, and whispered that it did not * become him to write on such subjects as is politics; he should confine himself to
humbler themes ;” but the versification I was truly Virgilian.
Having given such a specimen of his poetical powers, he was asked by Mr. Jor1 den to translate-Pope's Meffiah into Latin
hexameter verse, as a Christmas exercise.
He performed it with uncommon rapidiis ty, and in so masterly a manner, that he s obtained great applause from it, which
ever after kept him high in the estimation of his college and indeed of all the university. Pope, impelled by gratitude and taste, perhaps not unassisted by vanity, is reported to have said concerning it, , " that the author would leave it a question for posterity, whether his or mine be the original ?” It was first printed by his fa. ther, without his knowledge ; and afterwards inserted in a “ Miscellany,” published by subscription at Oxford, in 1731, by Mr. John Husbands, Fellow of Pembroke College.
The particular course of his reading while at Oxford, and during the time of vacation which he passed at home, cannot be traced. From his earliest years he loved to read poetry and romances of chivalry. He read Shakspeare at a period sa early, that the speech of the ghost in “ Hamlet”. terrified him when he wasalone. Horace's odes were the composi-,
tions he most liked in early life ; but it was long before he could relish his fatires and epistles. He told Mr. Boswell, what he read folidly 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 most fond was metaphysics; but he had not read much even in that way. We may be absolutely certain, however, both from his writings and his conversation, that his reading was very extensive. He projected a common-place book to the extent of six folio volumes, but according to Sir John Hawkins, the blank leaves far exceeded the written ones
In 1729, while at Litchfield, during the college vacation, the “morbid melancholy” which was lurking in his constitution, gathered such strength as to'afflict him in a dreadful manner. He was overwhelmed with an horrible hypocondria, with perpe
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țual irritation, fretfulness, and impatience, and with a dejection, gloom, and despair, that made existence misery. He fancied himself seized by, or approaching to infanity; in conformity with which notion he applied, when he was at the very worst, to his godfather, Dr. Swinfen, physician in Litchfield, and put into his hand a state of his case, written in Latin ; “which showed,” as Mr. Boswell expresses it, “ an uncommon vigour, not only of fancy and taste, but of judgment.” That he should have supposed himself approaching to infanity, at the very time when he was giving proofs of a more than ordinary soundness and vigour of judgment, is less strange than that Mr. Boswell should consider the vigour of fancy, which he difplayed on such a subject, a proof of his sanity. It is a common effect of melan. choly to make those who are afflicted with it imagine that they are actually suffering