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In 1741, he wrote for the “ Gentleman's Magazine,” the “ Preface,” conclufion of his Lives of Drake and Barettier ; “ A free translation of the Jests of Hierocles, with an Introduction,” “ Debate on the proposal of Parliament to Cromwell, to assume the title of King, abridged, methodized, and digested; “ Translation of Abbé Guyon's Dissertation on the Amiazons; “ Translation of Fontenelle's Paneģyric on Dr. Morin.” He, this year, and the two following, wrote the Parliamentary Debates. The eloquence, the force of argument, and the splendour of language displayed in the several speeches, are well known, and universally admired. To one who praised his impartiality, observing that he had dealt out reason and eloquence with an equal hand to both parties, “ That is not quite true, Sir, said Johnson ; I saved appearances well enough, but I took care that the Whig Dogs should not have the
best of it.” They have been collected in 2 vols. 8vo, 1787, and recommended to the notice of parliamentary speakers, as orations upon questions of public importance, by a “ Preface," written by George Chalmers, Esq. whose commercial and biographical writings are well known and esteemed.
In 1742, he wrote for the “ Gentleman's Magazine,” the “ Preface;” the Parliamentary Debates; Esay on the Account of the Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough, then the popular topic of conversation ; The Life of Peter Burman; Additions to his Life of Barettier ; The Life of Sydenham, afterwards prefixed to Swan's edition of his works; the “ Foreign History,” for December'; “ Essay on the Description of China, from the French of Du Halde ; Proposals for printing Bibliotheca Harlecana ; or, a Catalogue of the Library of the Earl of Oxford. It was afterwards prefixed to the si first volume of the “ Catalogue,” in which
the Latin account of books were written by him. He was employed in this business by Mr. Thomas Olborne, bookseller in Gray's Inn, 'who purchased the library for 13,000l., a sum which, Mr. Oldys says,' in one of his manuscripts, was not more than the binding of the books had cost; yet the slowness of the sale was such, that there was not much gained by it. It has been confidently related, with many embellishments, that Johnson knocked Ofborne down in his shop with a folio, and put his foot upon his neck. Johnson himself relates it differently to Mr. Bofwell. “Sir, he was impertinent to me, and I beat him; but it was not in his Chop, it was in my own chamber.” This anecdote has been often told to prove Johnson's ferocity; but merit cannot always take the spurns of the unworthy with patience and a forbearing spirit.
He wrote in the “ Gentleman's Magazine” for 1743, the “ Preface ;” the Parliamentary Debates for January and February; “ Considerations on the Dispute between Cronfaz and Warburton, on Pope's Essay on Man,” in which he defends Cronsaz; Ad Lauram parituram Epigramma; A Latin translation of Pope's Verses on bis Grotto; an exquisitely beautiful Ode on Friendship; and an “ Advertisement” for Osborne, concerning the Harleian Catalogue.
The same year he wrote for his schoolfellow, Dr. James's “ Medicinal Dictionary,” in 3 vols. folio, the Dedication to Dr. Mead, which is conceived with great address, to conciliate the patronage of that very eminent man. He had also written, or assisted in writing, the proposals for this work; and, being very fond of the study of physic, in which Dr. James was his master, he furnished some of the articles.
At this time, his circumstances were much embarrassed; yet such was his liberal affection for his mother, that he took upon himself a debt of her’s, to Mr. Levett of Litchfield, which, though only twelve pounds, was then considerable to him.
In 1744, he wrote the “ Preface" for the Gentleman's Magazine, and the Preface to the Harleian Miscellany. The selection of the pamphlets of which it was composed was made by Mr. Oldys, a man of eager curiosity, and indefatigable diligence, to whom English literature owes many obligations.
The same year he produced one work fully fufficient to maintain the high reputation which he had acquired. This was the Life of Savage, which he had announced his intention of writing in the “ Gentleman's Magazine,” for August 1743. It is said by Sir John Hawkins, that he composed the whole of it in thirty-fix hours ;