Imágenes de página

Boyse*, Oldyst, and others who had laboured in literature, without emerging from distress, were recent examples, and clouded his prospect. . .

To escape the common fate of “ scholars, a race of mortals formed for dependence t,” he had, at an early period of his literary career, projected various publications, which he conceived would extend his fame, and emancipate

no terms were stipulated by his friends for him who had been the instrument of their success. He died, soon after of a broken heart, and was indebted to the charity of Francklin, the printer, for a grave. See Ralph's “ Case of Authors.”

* The ingenious author of “ Deity,” and innumerable compilations for the booksellers, closed a life of extravagance, folly, and wretchedness, in an obscure lodging in Shoe-Lane, 1749, and was buried at the charge of the parish. See « Works of the British Poets,” Vol. X. Edinburgh, 1795.

+ This learned antiquary and industrious biographier subsisted by writing for the booksellers. At the period of his engagement with Osborne, he was so inuch straitened in circumstances as to have the misfortune to suffer the restraint of his person in the Fleet. When he died, in 1761, his books, with marginal notes, and manuscript collections, were sold for the payment of his debts.

Life of Frederick, King of Prussia.


him from the necessity of labouring under the direction of booksellers. Sir John Hawkins has preserved a list of literary projects, not less than thirty-nine articles, some of them of immense extent, which afford a curious and interesting proof of his great knowledge of books and general literature, and strongly illustrate the fertility and resources of his mind *. This catalogue he continued through life to enlarge; but it cannot be recorded without regret, that such was his want of encouragement, or the versatility of his temper, that not one of all his noble and useful projects was ever executed.

A new edition of Shakespeare now occurred to him; and as a prelude to it, in April 1745, he published an anonymous pamphlet, intitled, Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth, with Remarks on Sir Thomas Hanmer's edition of Shakespeare; to which is affixed, Proposals for a new edition of Shakespeare, with a Specimen, 8vo. The Proposals were published by Cave. The work was to have been printed in ten small volumes, price L.1, 5s. in sheets.

* See Appendix.


The notice of the public was, however, not excited to his anonymous proposals for the execution of a task which Warburton was known to have undertaken: the project, therefore, died at that time, to revive at a future period; probably in consequence of the following letter from Tonson the bookseller, to Cave, dated April 11, 1745.

“I bave seen a proposal of yours for printing an edition of Shakespeare, which I own much surprised me; but I suppose you are misled by the edition lately printed at Oxford, and that you think it is a copy any one has a right to. If so, you are very much mistaken ; and if you call on me any afternoon about four or five o'clock, I doubt not I can shew you such a title as will satisfy you, not only as to the original copy, but likewise to all the emendations to this time; and I will then give my reasons why we rather chuse to proceed with the University by way of reprisal, for their scandalous invasion of our rights, than by law; which reasons will not hold good as to any other persons who shall take the same liberty. As you are a man of character, I had rather satisfy you of our right by argument than by the expence of a Chancery suit; which will be the method we shall take with any one who shall attack our property in this or any other copy that we have fairly bought and paid for,” &c. . ,

For the temporary obstruction, from whatever cause, to his projected edition of Shakespeare, he was consoled by the flattering attention bestowed on his pamphlet. Even the supercilious Warburton, in the “ Preface” to his Shakespeare, published two years afterwards, had the candour to exempt it from his general censure “ of those things which have been published under the titles of · Essays, • Remarks,' . Observations,' &c. on · Shakespeare," and spoke of it as the work of “a man of great parts and genius.” This obligation Johnson always acknowledged in terms of gratitude. “ He praised me,” said he, " at a time when praise was of value to me.”

As an instance of the little occasional advantages which, as an author by profession, he did not disdain to take by the exercise of his pen, he this year accepted a gratuity from Dr Samuel Madden, a name which Ireland

ought to honour *, for correcting his poem, en, titled, “ Boulter's Monument; a Panegyrical Poem, sacred to the memory of that great and excellent prelate and patriot, the most Rev. Dr Hugh Boulter, late Lord Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of all Ireland.” Printed by S. Richardson, 8vo, 1745. In his recollections concerning the author, at a subsequent period, in conversation with his countryman Dr Tho. mas Campbell t, he said, “ when Dr Madden came to London, he submitted that work to my castigation ; and I remember I blotted a great many lines, and might have blotted a great many more, without making the poem worse. However, the Doctor was very thankful, and

* He was the author of the premium-scheme in the University of Dublin, for the advancement of learning, and the founder of the Dublin Society, for the improvement of Agriculture, Arts, Manufactures, &c. See p. 81. His poem, of which Johnson requested Dr Campbell to procure him a copy, is extremely scarce, and seems to have eluded the diligence of Bishop Percy.

+ Author of " A Philosophical Survey," and “ Strictures on the Ecclesiastical and Literary History of Ireland;" which co-operate with the “Antiquities” of Dr Ledwich, in illustrating, by rational researches, the authentic history and antiquities of that island. ' He died in 1795.

« AnteriorContinuar »