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to have courted, nor to have met with much assistance, the number of papers contributed by others amounting only to five in number, four billets in No. 10, by Mrs. Chapone, No. 30, by Mrs. Talbot, No. 97, by Richardson, and Nos. 44. and 100, by Miss Carter. These admirable essays, we are told by Mr. Boswell, were written in haste, just as they were wanted for the press, without even being read over by him before they were printed.
Making every allowance for powers far exceeding the usual lot of man, still there are bounds which we must set to our belief upon this head. It is not at every season that the mind can concentrate its faculties to a particular subject with equal strength, or that the fancy can create imagery fpontaneously to adorn and enforce its reasonings. That Johnson sometimes selected his subject, culled his images, and arranged his arguments for these papers,
is evident from the notes of his common, place book, preserved by Sir John Hawkins and Mr. Bofwell. When he planned fome essays with such minute carefulness, it is not likely that he trusted wholly to the sudden effufions of his mind for the remainder. Those which are taken from the notes of his common-place book, do not manifest by an excellence superior to the rest, peculiar labours of mind in the conception, or pains in the composition ; and we cannot suppose a man so happy in his genius, that the new-born offspring of his brain should invariably appear as strong and perfect as those which have been matured, fashioned, and polished by sedulous reflection. This, therefore, appears to be most probable, with respect to the wonderful faculty which he is fáid to have manifested in this and other of his works ; that during his sleepless nights and frequent abstractions from company, he con
ceived and sketched much of an impending work; that though he had in some degree preconceived his materials, he committed nothing to paper, just as he is known
to have done in composing his Vanity of | Human Wipes. If this supposition strips the account of wonder, it invests it with probability, since a man of his powers of mind and habits of composition, might well write an essay at a fitting, and without a blot, when he had little more to attend to, than to clothe his conceptions in vigorous language, modulated into sonorous periods.
The Rambler was not successful as a periodical work, not more than five hundred copies of any one number having been ever printed. Of course, the bookseller, . who paid Johnson four guineas a-week, did not carry on a very successful trade ; his generosity and perseverance are to be commended. While it was coming out
in single papers at London, Mr. James Elphinstone suggested, and took the charge of an edition at Edinburgh, which followed progressively the London publication, printed by Sands, Murray and Cochrane, with 'uncommon elegance, upon writing paper, of a duodecimo fize, and was completed in eight volumes. Soon after the first folio edition was concluded, it was published in four octavo volumes ; and Johnson lived to see a just tribute of approbation paid to its merit in the extensiveness of its fale, ten numerous editions of it having been printed in London, before his death, besides those of Ireland and Scotland.
This year he wrote a Prologue, which was spoken by Garrick, before the acting of “ Comus," at Drury-Lane theatre, April 5, for the benefit of Mrs. Elizabeth Foster, Milton's grand-daughter, and the only surviving branch of his family, and
took a very zealous interest in the success of the charity. Tonfon, the bookfeller, gave 2ol. and Dr. Newton brought a large contribution ; yet all their efforts, joined to the allurements of Johnson's pen, and Garrick's performance, procured only 1301.
In 1751, while he was employed both on the Rambler and his Dizionary, he wrote the Life of Cheynell, in “ The Student, or the Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany,” a periodical work, in which Smart, Colman, Thornton, and other wits of both the universities, distinguished their talents.
Sir John Hawkins relates, that in the spring of this year, he indulged himself in a frolic of midnight revelry. This was to celebrate the birth of Mrs. Lennox's first literary child, the novel of “ Harriet Stuart.” He drew the members of the Ivy-Lane Club, and others, to the numbeş of twenty, to the Devil Tavern, where,