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Drury-lane Playhouse. For the opening of the theatre, at the usual time, Johnson wrote for his friend the well-known prologue, which, to say no more of it, may at least be placed on a level with Pope's to the tragedy of Cato. The playhouse being now under Garrick's direction, Johnson thought the opportunity fair to think of his tragedy of Irene, which was his whole stock on his first arrival in town, in the year 1737. That play was accordingly put into rehearsal in January, 1749. As a precursor to prepare the way, and to awaken the public attention, The Vanity of Human Wishes, a Poem in Imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, by the Author of London, was published in the same month. In the Gentleman's Magazine, for February 1749, we find that the tragedy of Irene was acted at Drury-lane, on Monday, February the 6th, and from that time, without interruption, to Monday, February the 20th, being in all thirteen nights. Since that time it has not been exhibited on any stage. Irene may be added to some other plays in our language, which have lost their place in the thea. tre, but continue to please in the closet. Du. ring the representation of this piece, Johnson attended every night bebind the scenes, Con. ceiving that his character as an author required some ornament for his person, he chose, upon that occasion, to decorate himself with a handsome waistcoat, and a gold-laced hat. The late Mr. Topham Beauclerc, who had a great deal of that humour which pleases the more for seeming undesigned, used l give a pleasant description of this Green-room finery, as related by the author himself; “ But,” said Johnson, with great gravity," I soon laid aside my gold“ laced-hat, lest it should make me proud." The amount of the three benefit nights for the tragedy of Irene, it is to be feared, was not very considerable, as the profit, that stimulating motive, never invited the author to another dramatic attempt. Some years afterwards, when the present writer was intimate with Garrick, and knew Johnson to be in distress, he asked the manager why he did not produce another tragedy for his Lichfield friend? Garrick's answer was remarkable: “ When John“son writes tragedy, declamation roars, and passion sleeps : when Shakspeare wrote, he “ dipped his pen in his own heart.”

There may, perhaps, be a degree of sameness in this regular way of tracing an author from one work to another, and the reader may feel the effect of a tedious monotony; but in the life of Johnson there are no other landmarks. He was now forty years old, and had mixed but little with the world. He followed no profession, transacted no business, and was a stranger to what is called a town-life. We are now arrived at the brightest period he had hitherto known. His name broke out upon mankind with a degree of lustre that promised a triumph over all his difficulties. The Life of Savage was admired as a beautiful and instructive piece of biography. The two imitations of Juvenal were thought to rival even the excellence of Pope; and the tragedy of Irene, though, uninteresting on the stage, was universally admired in the closet, for the propriety of the sentiments, the richness of the language, and the general harmony of the whole composition. His fame was widely diffused; and he had made his agreement with the booksellers for his English Dictionary at the sum of fifteen hun. dred guineas; part of which was to be, from time to time, advanced in proportion to the progress of the work. This was a certain fund for his support, without being obliged to write fugitive pieces for the petty supplies of the day. ACcordingly we find that, in 1749, he established a club, consisting of ten in number, at Horseman’s in Ivy-lane, on every Tuesday evening. This is the first scene of social life to which Johnson can be traced out of his own house. The members of this little society were, Samuel Johnson; Dr. Salter (father of the late Master of the Charter-house;) Dr. Hawkesworth; Mr. Ryland, a merchant: Mr. Payne, a bookseller, in Paternoster-row; Mr. Samuel Dyer, a learned young man; Dr. William M Ghie, a Scotch physician; Dr. Edmund Barker, a young physician; Dr. Bathurst, another young physician; and Sir John Hawkins. This list is given by Sir John, as it should seem, with no other view than to draw a spiteful and malevolent character of almost every one of them. Mr. Dyer, whom Sir John says he loved with the affection of a brother, meets with the harshest treatment, because it was his maxim, that to live in peace with mankind, and in a temper to do good offices, was the most essential part of our duty. That notion of moral goodness gaye umbrage to Sir John Hawkins, and drew down upon the memory of his friend the bitterest imputations. Mr. Dyer, however, was admired and loved through life. He was à man of literature. Johnson loved to enter with him into a discussion of metaphysical, moral, and critical subjects; in those conflicts, exercising his talents, and, according to his custom, always contending for victory. Dr. Bathurst was the person on whom Johnson fixed his affection. He hardly ever spoke of him without tears in his eyes. It was from him, who was a native of Jamaica, that Johnson received into his service, Frank *, the black servant, whom, on account of his master, he valued to the end of his life. At the time of instituting the club in IvyJane, Johnson had projected the Rambler. The title was most probably suggested by the Wanderer ; a poem which he mentions, with the warmest praise, in the Life of Savage. With jhe same spirit of independence with which he wished to live, it was now his pride to write. He communicated his plan to none of his friends; he desired no assistance, relying entirely on his own fund, and the protection of the Divine Being, which he implored in a solemn form of prayer, composed by himself for the occasion. Having forined a resolution to undertake a work that might be of use and honour to his country, he thought, with Milton, that this was pot to be obtained " but by devout prayer to

+ See Gent. Mag. vol. LXXI. p. 190.

" that Eternal Spirit that can enrich with all “utterance and knowledge, and send out his “seraphim with the hallowed fire of his altar, " to touch and purify the lips of whom he "pleases.”

Having invoked the special protection of Heaven, and by that act of piety fortified his mind, he began the great work of the Rambler. The first number was published on Tuesday, March the 20th, 1750; and from that tiine was continued regularly every Tuesday and Saturday for the space of two years, when it finally closed, on Saturday, March 14, 1752. As it began with motives of piety, so it appears that the same religious spirit glowed with unabating ardour to the last. His conclusion is; “ The “Essays professedly serious, if I have been “ able to execute my own intentions, will be “ found exactly conformable to the precepts of “ Christianity, without any accommodation to " the licentiousness and levity of the present « age. I therefore look back on this part of my work with pleasure, which no man shall “ diminish or augment. I shall never envy the “honours which wit and learning obtain in any “other cause, if I can be numbered among the “ writers who have given ardoyr to virtue, and “ confidence to truth.” The whole number of Essays amounted to two hundred and eight. Addison's, in the Spectator, are more in number, but not half in point of quantity: Addison was not bound to publish on stated days; he could watch the ebb and fow of his genius, and

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