best preventive of that constitutional melancholy which was ever lurking about him, ready to trouble his quiet. But his enlarged and lively mind could not be satisfied without more diversity of employment, and the pleasure of animated relaxation. He therefore not only exerted his talents in occasional composition very different from Lexicography, but formed a club in Ivy-lane, Paternoster-row, with a view to enjoy literary discussion, and amuse his evening hours. The members associated with him in this little society were his beloved friend Dr. Richard Bathurst, Mr. Hawkesworth, afterwards well known by his writings, Mr. John Hawkins, an attorney, and a few others of different professions.

In the Gentleman's Magazine for May of this year he wrote a 'Life of Roscommon,'* with Notes, which he afterwards much improved, indented the notes into text, and inserted it amongst his Lives of the English Poets.

Mr. Dodsley this year brought out his Preceptor, one of the most valuable books for the improvement of young minds that has appeared in any language; and to this meritorious work Johnson furnished 'The Preface,'* containing a general sketch of the book, with a short and perspicuous recommendation of each article; as also, The Vision of Theodore the Hermit, found in his Cell,'* a most beautiful allegory of human life, under the figure of ascending the mountain of Existence. The Bishop of Dromore heard Dr. Johnson say, that he thought this was the best thing he ever wrote.

1749 ÆTAT. 40.]-IN January, 1749, he published The Vanity of Human Wishes, being the Tenth Satire of Juvenal imitated. He, I believe, composed it the preceding year2. Mrs. Johnson, for the sake of country air, had lodgings at Hampstead, to which he resorted occasionally, and there the greatest part, if not the whole, of this Imitation was written.

He was afterwards for several years Chairman of the Middlesex Justices, and upon occasion of presenting an address to the King, accepted the usual offer of Knighthood. He is authour of 'A History of Musick,' in five volumes in quarto. By assiduous attendance on Johnson in his last illness, he obtained the office of one of his executors; in consequence of which, the booksellers of London employed him to publish an edition of Dr. Johnson's works, and to write his Life.

2 Sir John Hawkins, with solemn inaccuracy, represents this poem as a consequence of the indifferent reception of his tragedy. But the fact is, that the poem was published on the 9th of January, and the tragedy was not acted till the 6th of the February following.





[1749 The fervid rapidity with which it was produced, is scarcely credible. I have heard him say, that he composed seventy lines of it in one day, without putting one of them upon paper till they were finished. I remember when I once regretted to him that he had not given us more of Juvenal's Satires, he said he probably should give more, for he had them all in his head; by which I understood that he had the originals and correspondent allusions floating in his mind, which he could, when he pleased, embody and render permanent without much labour. Some of them, however, he observed were too gross for imitation.

The profits of a single poem, however excellent, appear to have been very small in the last reign, compared with what a publication of the same size has since been known to yield. I have mentioned, upon Johnson's own authority, that for his London he had only ten guineas; and now, after his fame was established, he got for his Vanity of Human Wishes but five guineas more, as is proved by an authentick document in my possession 1.

It will be observed, that he reserves to himself the right of printing one edition of this satire, which was his practice upon occasion of the sale of all his writings; it being his fixed intention to publish at some period, for his own profit, a complete collection of his works.

His Vanity of Human Wishes has less of common life, but more of a philosophick dignity than his London. More readers, therefore, will be delighted with the pointed spirit of London, than with the profound reflection of The Vanity of Human Wishes. Garrick, for instance, observed in his sprightly manner, with more vivacity than regard to just discrimination, as is usual with wits, 'When Johnson lived much with the Herveys, and saw a good deal of what was passing in life, he wrote his London, which is lively and easy. When he became more retired, he gave us his Vanity of Human Wishes, which is as hard as Greek. Had he gone on

1 Nov. 25, 1748. I received of Mr. Dodsley fifteen guineas, for which I assign to him the right of copy of an imitation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, written by me; reserving to myself the right of printing one edition. 'SAM. JOHNSON.' London, 29 June, 1786. A true copy, from the original in Dr. Johnson's handwriting. "JA'. DODSLEY.




to imitate another satire, it would have been as hard as Hebrew '.'

But The Vanity of Human Wishes is, in the opinion of the best judges, as high an effort of ethick poetry as any language can shew. The instances of variety of disappointment are chosen so judiciously and painted so strongly, that, the moment they are read, they bring conviction to every thinking mind. That of the scholar must have depressed the too sanguine expectations of many an ambitious student 2. That of the warrior, Charles of Sweden, is, I think, as highly finished a picture as can possibly be conceived.

Were all the other excellencies of this poem annihilated, it must ever have our grateful reverence from its noble conclusion; in which we are consoled with the assurance that happiness may be attained, if we apply our hearts' to piety:

'Where then shall hope and fear their objects find!
Shall dull suspense corrupt the stagnant mind?

Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,

Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?

Shall no dislike alarm, no wishes rise,

No cries attempt the mercy of the skies?

Enthusiast, cease; petitions yet remain,

Which Heav'n may hear, nor deem Religion vain.

1 From Mr. Langton.

2 In this poem one of the instances mentioned of unfortunate learned men is Lydiat:

'Hear Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end.'

The history of Lydiat being little known, the following account of him may be acceptable to many of my readers. It appeared as a note in the Supplement to the Gent. Mag. for 1748, in which some passages extracted from Johnson's poem were inserted, and it should have been added in the subsequent editions.-A very learned divine and mathematician, fellow of New College, Oxon, and Rector of Okerton, near Banbury. He wrote, among many others, a Latin treatise De Natura cali, etc., in which he attacked the sentiments of Scaliger and Aristotle, not bearing to hear it urged, that some things are true in philosophy and false in divinity. He made above 600 Sermons on the harmony of the Evangelists. Being unsuccessful in publishing his works, he lay in the prison of Bocardo at Oxford, and in the King's Bench, till Bishop Usher, Dr. Laud, Sir William Boswell, and Dr. Pink, released him by paying his debts. He petitioned King Charles I. to be sent into Ethiopia, etc., to procure MSS. Having spoken in favour of Monarchy and bishops, he was plundered by the parliament forces, and twice carried away prisoner from his rectory; and afterwards had not a shirt to shift him in three months, without he borrowed it, and died very poor in 1646.



Still raise for good the supplicating voice,

But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.

Safe in His hand, whose eye discerns afar
The secret ambush of a specious pray'r;
Implore His aid, in His decisions rest,
Secure whate'er He gives He gives the best.
Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires,
And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
Obedient passions, and a will resign'd;
For love, which scarce collective man can fill,
For patience, sovereign o'er transmuted ill;
For faith, which panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind Nature's signal for retreat.
These goods for man the laws of Heaven ordain,

These goods He grants, who grants the power to gain;
With these celestial wisdom calms the mind,

And makes the happiness she does not find.'


Garrick being now vested with theatrical power by being manager of Drury-lane theatre, he kindly and generously made use of it to bring out Johnson's tragedy, which had been long kept back for want of encouragement. But in this benevolent purpose he met with no small difficulty from the temper of Johnson, which could not brook that a drama which he had formed with much study, and had been obliged to keep more than the nine years of Horace, should be revised and altered at the pleasure of an actor. Yet Garrick knew well, that without some alterations it would not be fit for the stage. A violent dispute having ensued between them, Garrick applied to the Reverend Dr. Taylor to interpose. Johnson was at first very obstinate. 'Sir, (said he) the fellow wants me to make Mahomet run mad, that he may have an opportunity of tossing his hands and kicking his heels '.' He was, however, at last, with difficulty, prevailed on to comply with Garrick's wishes, so as to allow of some changes; but still there were not enough.

Dr. Adams was present the first night of the representation of Irene, and gave me 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, soothed the audience 2, and the play

Mahomet was, in fact, played by Mr. Barry, and Demetrius by Mr. Garrick but probably at this time the parts were not yet cast. * The expression used by Dr. Adams was soothed.' I should rather

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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 "Murder! Murder!" She several times attempted 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. The Epilogue, as Johnson informed me, was written by Sir William Yonge. I know not how his play came to be thus graced by the pen of a person then so eminent in the political world.

Notwithstanding all the support of such performers as Garrick, Barry, Mrs. Cibber, Mrs. Pritchard, and every advantage of dress and decoration, the tragedy of Irene did not please the publick. Mr. Garrick's zeal carried it through for nine nights, so that the authour had his three nights' profits; and from a receipt signed by him, now in the hands of Mr. James Dodsley, it appears that his friend Mr. Robert Dodsley gave him one hundred pounds for the copy, with his usual reservation of the right of one edition.

Irene, considered as a poem, is intitled to the praise of superiour excellence. Analysed into parts, it will furnish a rich store of noble sentiments, fine imagery, and beautiful language; but it is deficient in pathos, in that delicate power of touching the human feelings, which is the principal end of the drama. Indeed Garrick has complained to me, that think the audience was awed by the extraordinary spirit and dignity of the following lines:

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'Be this at least his praise, be this his pride,
To force applause no modern arts are tried:
Should partial catcalls all his hopes confound,
He bids no trumpet quell the fatal sound;
Should welcome sleep relieve the weary wit,
He rolls no thunders o'er the drowsy pit:
No snares to captivate the judgement spreads,
Nor bribes your eyes to prejudice your heads.
Unmov'd, though witlings sneer and rivals rail,
Studious to please, yet not asham'd to fail,

He scorns the meek address, the suppliant strain,
With merit needless, and without it vain ;

In Reason, Nature, Truth, he dares to trust;

Ye fops be silent, and ye wits be just!'

Aaron Hill (vol. ii. p. 355), in a letter to Mr. Mallett, gives the following account of Irene after having seen it: 'I was at the anomalous Mr.

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