« AnteriorContinuar »
mata Latina, quibus, notas, cum historia Latina poeseos, a Petrarchæ ævo ad Politiani tempora deducta, et vita Politiani fusius quam antehac enarrata, addidit Sam. Johnson. The work was to be printed in thirty Svo sheets, price 5s. The proposals notify that, “ Subscriptions are taken in by the editor, or N. Johnson, bookseller of Lichfield,” his brother, who had taken up his father's trade *. For want of encouragement the work never appeared, and probably never was executed. The project, indeed, was not likely to meet with adequate encouragement in a country town; but it is to be regretted that it was not afterwards revived, in more favourable circumstances; as a new life of Politian, and a history of Latin poetry from the age of Petrarch to the time of Poli. tian, from the pen of Johnson, would have been a valuable accession to Italian literature.
We find him again this year at Birmingham; and in order to procure some little subsistence
* No particulars concerning his success are known. He died in 1737, in the 25th year of his age.
by his pen, he addressed a letter, under the name of S. Smith, to Mr Edward Cave, the original projector and editor of the “ Gentleman's Magazine”*, November 25, 1734; in which he proposed, “ on reasonable terms, sometimes to supply him with poems, inscriptions, &c. never printed before, and short literary dissertations in Latin or English, critical remarks on authors, ancient or modern, forgotten poems that deserve revival, loose pieces, like Floyer's t, worth preserving,” &c. To this letter Mr Cave returned an answer, dated December 2. fol. lowing; in which, Sir John Hawkins informs
* To the “ Grubstreet Journal,” a weekly publication, the world is indebted for this truly valuable literary miscellany. The chief conductors of it were Dr Martyn and Dr Russel, two young physicians, under the assumed names of Bavius and Mævius. It began in January 1730; and, meeting with encouragement, Cave projected an improvement on the plan, in a miscellany of his own; and, in the following year, gave to the world the first number of the “ Gentleman's Magazine, or Monthly Intelligencer," under the assumed name of Sylvanus Urban, Gent. See “ Memoirs of the Society of Grubstreet,” Preface, p. 12.
+ Sir John Floyer's Treatise on Cold Baths. Gent. Mag. 1734.
us, he accepted his offer; but it does not appear that any thing was done in consequence of it. .
The terms of his engagement with Mr Cave cannot now be known; but it must have been a small resource for a maintenance. He found it. necessary, therefore, to look around him for other employment. Accordingly, in 1735, he tendered his assistance as an usher to the Reverend Mr Budworth, master of the grammar school at Brerewood in Staffordshire; but was rejected, from an apprehension, on the part of Mr Budworth, that the involuntary motions to which his nerves were subject, might render him an object of imitation, and possibly of ridicule, with his pupils.
He had, from his infancy, been sensible to the influence of female charms. When at
Stourbridge school he was much enamoured 1 of Olivia Lloyd, a young quaker, to whom he
wrote a copy of verses, which has not been found. He conceived a tender passion for Miss Lucy Porter, whose mother he afterwards married, and whom he had frequent opportunities
of seeing at the house of Mr Hunter, his preceptor, whose second wife was her aunt. According to Miss Seward, the grand-daughter of Mr Hunter*, his Verses to a Lady, on receiving from her a sprig of myrtle, which have been erroneously ascribed to Hammond, “ were written at her grand-father's, and addressed to Lucy Porter (as she herself acknowledged), when he was enamoured of her, two or three years before he had seen her mother, his future wife." But Mrs Piozzi's account of this little composition, from Johnson's own relation to her, is confirmed by the true history of those verses, from the recollection of Mr Hector; which is, that they were written at Birmingham, in 1731, at his request, in about half an hour, for his friend Mr Morgan
* She was the eldest daughter of the Rev. Thomas Seward, rector of Eyam in Derbyshire, canon residenLiary of Lichfield, and one of the editors of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays, who married Miss Elizabeth Hunter, daughter of Mr Hunter, head-master of Lichfield school. She is advantageously known to the world by the appli. cation of her talents to poetry and elegant literature. Desiring, and deserving, praise for her own ingenious
Graves, who waited upon a lady in the neighbourhood, who, at parting, presented him the branch, which he shewed him, and wished much to return the compliment in verse *.
His juvenile attachments to the fair sex were, however, very transient, and he never had a criminal connection. In 1735 he became the fervent admirer of Mrs Elizabeth Porter, widow of Mr Henry Porter, mercer in Birmingham, to whose family he had probably been introduced by his sister Mrs Hunter, or through his acquaintance with Mr Jarvis, who
writings, she accepted it from her contemporaries without repaying it to others. Awed by the majesty of his virtue, and jealous of his literary supremacy, she was by no means partial, in her conversation and writings, to the fame and honour of Johnson. His intellectual superiority, and moral purity, made him more liable to have some spot affixed to the splendour of his reputation, that it might not be totally insupportable. She died March 25, 1809, aged 69. A collection of her poems, edited by Mr Scott, was printed in 3 vols, Svo, 1810; and a selection from her epistolary correspondence, by Mr Constable, in 6 vols. Svo, 1811.
* See Correspondence between Miss Seward and Mr Boswell on this controversy, in Gent. Mag. vol. LIII. and LIV. and Boswell's Life, &c. vol. 1, p. 66, &c.