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day, without putting one of them upon paper till they were finished. He received of Dodsley, for the copy, only fifteen guineas. It has been thought to have less of common life, and more of a philofophic dignity than his London. It is characterized by profound reflection, more than pointed fpirit. It has, however, always been held in high esteem, and is certainly as great an effort of ethic poetry as any language can show. The instances of the variety of disappointment are chosen fo judiciously, and painted so strongly, that the moment they are read, they bring conviction to every thinking mind.
On the 8th of February this year, his tragedy of Irene, which had been long kept back for want of encouragement, was brought upon the stage at Drury-Lane, by the kindness of Garrick. A violent difpute arose between him and the manager, relative to the alterations necessary to be
I made to fit it for the theatre. The poet 1 for a long time refused to submit his lines
to the critical amputation of the actor, and the latter was obliged to apply to Dr. Taylor to become a mediator in the dispute. Johnson's pride at length gave way to alterations; but whether to the full extent of the manager's wishes, is not known. Dr. Adams was present the first night of the representation, and gave Mr. Boswell the following account : “ Before the curtain drew
up, there were catcalls whistling, which alarmed Johnson's friends. The prologue, which was written by himself, in a manly strain, foothed the audience, and the play went off tolerably till it came to the conclusion, when Mrs. Pritchard, the heroine of the piece, was to be strangled upon the stage, and was to speak two lines with the bow string round her neck. The audience cried out, der ! Murder !” She several times attempt
ed to speak, but in vain. At last she was obliged to go off the stage alive.” This passage was afterwards struck out, and she was carried off to be put to death behind the scenes, as the play now has it. Mr. Bofwell ascribes the epilogue to Sir William Yonge ; but upon no good foundation.
In the unfavourable decision of the public
upon his tragedy, Johnson acquiesced without a murmur. He was convinced that he had not the talents necessary to write successfully for the stage, and never made another attempt in that species of composition.
In December this year, he wrote the Preface and Postscript to Lauder's “ Eflay on Milton's Use, and Imitation of the Moderns, in his Paradise Lost,” 8vo, a book made up of forgeries, and published to impose upon mankind. Sir John Hawkins tells us, that Johnson assisted. Lauder
from motives of enmity to the memory of Milton ; but it appears, that while Lauder's work was in the press, the proof sheets were submitted to the inspection of the Ivy-Lane Club. If Johnson approved of the design, it was no longer than while he believed it founded in fact. With the rest of the club, he was in one common
As soon as Dr. Douglas, now Bishop of Şalisbury, espoused the cause of truth, and with ability that will ever do him honour, dragged the impoftor to open daylight, Johnson made ample reparation to the genius of Milton. He not only disclaimed the fraud, but insisted on the impostor confessing his offence'; and for this purpose drew up a recantation, which Lauder figned and published, intituled, " A letter to the Rev. Mr. Douglas, occasioned by his Vindication of Milton,” by William Lauder, M. A. 4to, 1751. The frankness of this confession would have made fome atonement for the baseness of the attempt, and its abject humility been deemed a sufficient punishment of the impostor, if that unhappy man had not had the folly and wickedness afterwards to deny this apology, and reassert his former accusation, in a pamphlet intituled, King Charles Vindicated from the Charge of Plagiarism, brought against him by Milton, and Milton himself convicted of Forgery and a gross imposition on the Public,” 8vo, 1755. This effort of spleen and malice was also abortive ; and Lauder foon afterwards retired to Barbadoes, where he died, as he had lived, an object of general contempt, in 1771.