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SAMUEL JOHNSON, a writer of great eminence, thirteen nights, but has never since appeared on was born in 1709 at Litchfield, in which city his the theatre : Johnson, in fact, found that he was not father was a petty bookseller. After a desultory formed to excel on the stage, and made no further course of school-education, it was proposed to him, trials. by Mr. Corbet, a neighboring gentleman, that he His periodical paper, entitled “The Rambler," should accompany his own son to Oxford as his appeared in March 1750, and was continued till companion ; accordingly, in his nineteenth year, he March 1752. The solemnity of this paper prewas elected a commoner of Pembroke College. vented it at first from attaining an extensive cirFrom young Corbet's departure, he was left to culation; but after it was collected into volumes, it struggle with penury till he had completed a resi- continually rose in the public esteem, and the author dence of three years, when he quitted Oxford had the satisfaction of seeing a tenth edition. The without taking a degree. His father died, in very “ Adventurer,” conducted by Dr. Hawkesworth, narrow circumstances, soon after his return from the succeeded the Rambler, and Johnson contributed university ; and for some time he attempted to gain several papers of his own writing. In 1755, the a maintenance by some literary projects. At length, first edition of his “Dictionary" made its appear. in 1735, he thought proper to marry a widow twice ance. It was received by the public with general his own age, and far from attractive, either in her applause, and its author was ranked among the person or manners. By the aid of her fortune he greatest benefactors of his native tongue. Modern was enabled to set up a school for instruction in Latin accuracy, however, has given an insight into its and Greek, but the plan did not succeed ; and after defects; and though it still stands as the capital a year's experiment, he resolved to try his fortune work of the kind in the language, its authority as a in the great metropolis. Garrick, afterwards the standard is somewhat depreciated. Upon the last celebrated actor, had been one of his pupils, accom- illness of his aged mother, in 1759, for the purpose panied by whom he arrived in London ; Johnson of paying her a visit, and defraying the expense of having in his pocket his unfinished tragedy of Irene. her funeral, he wrote his romance of “Rasselas,
The first notice which he drew from ihe judges Prince of Abyssinia," one of his most splendid per. of literary merit, was by the publication of “ London, formances, elegant in language, rich in imagery, a Poem,” in imitation of Juvenal's third satire. and weighty in sentiment. Its views of human life The manly vigor, and strong painting, of this per- are, indeed, deeply tinged with the gloom that over. formance, placed it high among works of its kind, shadowed the author's mind ; nor can it be praised though it must be allowed, that its censure is coarse for moral effect. and exaggerated, and that it ranks rather as a party, Soon after the accession of George III., a than as a moral poem. It was published in 1738. grant of a pension of 3001. per annum was made For some years Johnson is chiefly to be traced in him by His Majesty during the ministry of Lord the pages of the Gentleman's Magazine, then con- Bute. A short struggle of repugnance to accept a ducted by Cave; and it was for this work that he favor from the House of Hanover was overcome gratified the public with some extraordinary pieces by a sense of the honor and substantial benefit conof eloquence which he composed under the disguise ferred by it, and he became that character, a penof debates in the senate of Liliput, meaning the sioner, on which he had bestowed a sarcastic defiBritish parliament. He likewise wrote various nition in his Dictionary. Much obloquy attended biographical articles for the same miscellany, of this circumstance of his life, which was enhanced which the principal and most admired was “The when he published, in several of his productions, Life of Savage."
arguments which seemed directly to oppose the The plan of his English Dictionary was laid be. rising spirit of liberty. fore the public in a letter addressed to Lord Ches- A long-promised edition of Shakspeare appeared terfield in 1747. In the same year he furnished in 1765; but though ushered in by a preface writ Garrick with a prologue on the opening of Drury- ten with all the powers of his masterly pen, the lane theatre, which in sense and poetry has not a edition itself disappointed those who expected much competitor among compositions of this class, except from his ability to elucidate the obscurities of the ing Pope's prologue to Cato. Another imitation great dramatist. A tour to the Western Islands of of Juvenal, entitled “The Vanity of Human Scotland in 1773, in which he was attended by his Wishes," was printed in 1749, and may be said to enthusiastic admirer and obsequious friend, James reach the sublime of ethical poetry, and to stand at Boswell, Esq. was a remarkable incident of his life. the head of classical imitations. The same year. considering that a strong antipathy to the natives of under the auspices of Garrick, brought on the stage that country had long been conspicuous in his conof Drury-lane his tragedy of “Irene.” It ran/ versation. But when, two years afterwards, he published the account of his tour, under the title or symptoms, followed, and such was the tenacity with « A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland," which he clung to life, that he expressed a great more candor and impartiality ivere found in it. desire to seek for amendment in the climate of than had been expected. In 1775, he was gratified, Italy. Still unable to reconcile himself to the through the interest of Lord North, with the degree thought of dying, he said to the surgeon who was of Doctor of Laws, from the University of Oxford. making slight scarifications in his swollen legs, He had some years before received the same honor - Deeper! deeper! I want length of life, and you from Dublin, but did not then choose to assume the are afraid of giving me pain, which I do not title. His last literary undertaking was the con- value.” The closing scene took place on Decem sequence of a request from the London booksellers, ber 13, 1785, in the 76th year of his age. His re who had engaged in an edition of the principal mains, attended by a respectable concourse of English poets, and wished to prefix to each a bio. friends, were interred in Westminster Abbey; and a graphical and critical preface from his hand. This monumental statue has since been placed to his he undertook; and though he will generally be memory in St. Paul's cathedral. His works were thought to have labored under strong prejudices published collectively in eleven volumes, 8vo., with in composing the work, its style will be found, in a copious life of the author, by Sir John Hawkins. great measure, free from the stiffness and turgidity A new edition, in twelve volumes, with a life, was which marked his earlier compositions.
given by Arthur Murphy. Or the conversations. The concluding portion of Dr. Johnson's life and oral dictates of Johnson, a most copious col. was saddened by a progressive decline of health, lection has been published in the very entertaining and by the prospect of approaching death, which volumes of Mr. Boswell. Upon the whole, it may neither his religion nor his philosophy had taught him be said, that at the time of his death, he was unto bear with even decent composure. A paralytic doubtedly the most conspicuous literary character stroke first gave the alarm; asthma, and dropsicall of his country.
Behold her cross triumphant on the main,
The guard of commerce, and the dread of Spain,
Ere masquerades debauch'd, excise oppressid,
Or English honor grew a standing jest.
A transient calm the happy scenes bestow, IN IMITATION OF THE THIRD SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
And for a moment lull the sense of woe.
At length awaking, with contemptuous frown, -Quis ineptie
|Indignant Thales eyes the neighb'ring town. Tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus ut teneat se ?--Juv.
Since worth, he cries, in these degenerate days
Wants even the cheap reward of empty praise ; Though grief and fondness in my breast rebel,
In those curs'd walls, devote to vice and gain, When injur'd Thales bids the town farewell, Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend,
Since unrewarded science toils in vain;
Since hope but soothes to double my distress,
And every moment leaves my little less ;
While yet my steady steps no staff sustains, To breathe in distant fields a purer air,
And life still vig'rous revels in my veins; And, fix'd on Cambria's solitary shore,
Grant me, kind Heaven, to find some happier place Give to St. David one true Briton more. For who would leave, unbrib'd, Hibernia's land,
Where honesty and sense are no disgrace;
Some pleasing bank where verdant osiers play, Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand ?
Some peaceful vale with Nature's paintings gay; There none are swept by sudden fate away,
Where once the harass'd Briton found repose, But all, whom hunger spares, with age decay :
| And safe in poverty defied his foes; Here malice, rapine, accident, conspire,
Some secret cell, ye pow'rs, indulgent give, And now a rabble rages, now a fire ;
Let- live here, for has learn'd to live. Their ambush here relentless ruffians lay,
Here let those reign, whom pensions can incite And here the fell attorney prowls for prey ;
To vote a patriot black, a courtier white; Here falling houses thunder on your head,
Explain their country's dear-bought rights away, And here a female atheist talks you dead.
And plead for pirates in the face of day; While Thales waits the wherry that contains
With slavish tenets taint our poison'd youth, Of dissipated wealth the small remains,
And lend a lie the confidence of truth. On Thames's banks, in silent thought, we stood
Let such raise palaces, and manors buy, Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood;
Collect a tax, or farm a lottery ; Struck with the seat that gave Eliza* birth,
With warbling eunuchs fill our silenc'd stage, We kneel, and kiss the consecrated earth;
And lull to servitude a thoughtless age. in pleasing dreams the blissful age renew,
Heroes, proceed! what bounds your pride shall hold! And call Britannia's glories back to view;
What check restrain your thirst of pow'r and gold
Behold rebellious virtue quite o'erthrown, * Queen Elizabeth, born at Greenwich. Behold our fame, our wealth, our lives your own
To such, the plunder of a land is giv'n,
Well may they venture on the mimic's art, When public crimes inflame the wrath of Heaven: Who play from morn to night a borrow'd part; But what, my friend, what hope remains for me, Practis'd their master's notions to embrace, Who start at theft, and blush at perjury?
Repeat his maxims, and reflect his face;
And view each object with another's eye ;
To shake with laughter ere the jest they hear, And dare to slumber o'er the Gazetteer;
To pour at will the counterfeited tear; Despise a fool in half his pension dress'd,
And, as their patron hints the cold or heat, And strive in vain to laugh at Clodio's jest. To shake in dog-days, in December sweat. Others with softer smiles, and subtle art,
How, when competitors like these contend, Can sap the principles, or taint the heart; Can surly virtue hope to fix a friend; With more address a lover's note convey,
Slaves that with serious impudence beguile, Or bribe a virgin's innocence away:
And lie without a blush, without a smile: Well may they rise, while I, whose rustic tongue Exalt each trifle, ev'ry vice adore, Ne'er knew to puzzle right, or varnish wrong, Your taste in snuff, your judgment in a whore; Spurn'd as a beggar, dreaded as a spy,
Can Balbo's eloquence applaud, and swear Live unregarded, unlamented die.
He gropes his breeches with a monarch's air. For what but social guilt the friend endears? For arts like these preferr'd, admir'd, caress'd, Who shares Orgilio's crimes, his fortune shares. They first invade your table, then your breast; But thou, should tempting villany present
Explore your secrets with insidious art, All Marlb'rough hoarded, or all Villiers spent, Watch the weak hour, and ransack all the heart Turn from the glittering bribe thy scornful eye, Then soon your ill-plac'd confidence repay, Nor sell for gold, what gold could never buy, Commence your lords, and govern or betray. The peaceful slumber, self-approving day,
By numbers here from shame or censure free, Unsullied fame, and conscience ever gay.
All crimes are safe but hated poverty.
The sober trader at a tatter'd cloak
With brisker air the silken courtiers gaze, Sucks in the dregs of each corrupted state. And turn the varied taunt a thousand ways. Forgive my transports on a theme like this, Of all the griefs that harass the distress'd, I cannot bear a French metropolis.
Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest ; Illustrious Edward! from the realms of day, Fate never wounds more deep the gen'rous heart The land of heroes and of saints survey ;
Than when a blockhead's insult points the dart. Nor hope the British lineaments to trace,
Has Heaven reserv'd, in pity to the poor, The rustic grandeur, or the surly grace ;
No pathless waste, or undiscover'd shore ? But, lost in thoughtless ease and empty show, No secret island in the boundless main ? Behold the warrior dwindled to a beau ;
No peaceful desert yet unclaim'd by Spain ? Sense, freedom, piety, refin'd away,
Quick let us rise, the happy seats explore, of France the mimic, and of Spain the prey. And bear oppression's insolence no more.
All that at home no more can beg or steal, This mournful truth is everywhere confess'd, Or like a gibbet better than a wheel :
Slow rises worth by poverty depress'd : Hiss'd from the stage, or hooted from the court, But here more slow, where all are slaves to gold, Their air, their dress, their politics, import; Where looks are merchandise, and smiles are sold : Obsequious, artful, voluble, and gay,
Where won by bribes, by flatteries implor'd, On Britain's fond credulity they prey.
The groom retails the favors of his lord. No gainful trade their industry can 'scape,
But hark! th' affrighted crowd's tumultuous cries They sing, they dance, clean shoes, or cure a Roll through the streets, and thunder to the skies : clap:
Rais'd from some pleasing dream of wealth and All sciences a fasting Monsieur knows,
pow'r, And, bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes.
Some pompous palace or some blissful bower, Ah! what avails it, that, from slav'ry far, Aghast you start, and scarce with aching sight I drew the breath of life in English air;
Sustain th' approaching fire's tremendous light; Was early taught a Briton's right to prize, Swift from pursuing horrors take your way, And lisp the tale of Henry's victories ;
And leave your little all to flames a prey; If the gull’d conqueror receives the chain,
Then through the world a wretched vagrant roam And flattery prevails when arms are vain ? For where can starving merit find a home? Studious to please, and ready to submit;
In vain your mournful narrative disclose, The supple Gaul was born a parasite :
While all neglect, and most insult your woes. Still to his int'rest true, where'er he goes,
Should Heaven's just bolts Orgilio's wealth con Wit, brav'ry, worth, his lavish tongue bestows :
found, In ev'ry face a thousand graces shine,
And spread his flaming palace on the ground, From ev'ry tongue flows harmony divine.
Swift o'er the land the dismal rumor flies, These arts in vain our rugged natives try,
And public mournings pacify the skies ; Strain out with falt'ring diffidence a lie,
The laureate tribe in venal verse relate, And get a kick for awkward Aattery.
How virtue wars with persecuting fate; Besides, with justice, this discerning age With well-feign'd gratitude the pension'd band Admires their wondrous talents for the stage : | Refund the plunder of the beggar'd land.
See! while he builds, the gaudy vassals come,
VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.
IN IMITATION OF THE TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL. The polish'd marble and the shining plate, Orgilio sees the golden pile aspire,
LET observation, with extensive view, And hopes from angry Heav'n another fire. Survey mankind from China to Peru; Couldst thou resign the park and play content,
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife, For the fair banks of Severn or of Trent;
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life; There might'st thou find some elegant retreat,
I Then say how hope and fear, desire and hate. Some hireling senator's deserted seat;
O'erspread with snares the clouded maze of fate, And stretch thy prospects o'er the smiling land, Where wav'ring man, betray'd by vent'rous pride For less than rent the dungeons of the Strand;
To chase the dreary paths without a guide, There prune thy walk, support thy drooping As treach'rous phantoms in the mist delude, flowers,
Shuns fancied ills, or chases airy good; Direct thy rivulets, and twine thy bowers;
How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice, And, while thy grounds a cheap repast afford, Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice; Despise the dainties of a venal lord :
How nations sink by darling schemes oppress'd, There ev'ry bush with Nature's music rings,
When vengeance listens to the fool's request. There ev'ry breeze bears health upon its wings; Fate wings with ev'ry wish th' afflictive dart, On all thy hours security shall smile,
Each gift of nature and each grace of art; and bless thine evening walk and morning toil.
With fatal heat impetuous courage glows, Prepare for death is here at night you roam,
With fatal sweetness elocution flows, And sign your will before you sup from home.
Impeachment stops the speaker's pow'rsul breath, Some fiery fop, with new commission vain,
And restless fire precipitates on death. Who sleeps on brambles till he kills his man;
But, scarce observ'd, the knowing and the bold Some frolic drunkard, reeling from a feast,
Fall in the gen'ral massacre of gold; Provokes a broil, and stabs you for a jest.
Wide-wasting pest! that rages unconfin'd, Yet ev'n these heroes, mischievously gay;
And crowds with crimes the records of mankind. Lords of the street and terrors of the way; For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws, Flush'd as they are with folly, youth, and wine, For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws; Their prudent insults to the poor confine ;
Wealth heap'd on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys Afar they mark the flambeau's bright approach,
The dangers gather as the treasures rise. And shun the shining train, and golden coach. Let hist'ry tell where rival kings command,
In vain, these dangers past, your doors you close, And dubious title shakes the madded land, And hope the balmy blessings of repose;
When statutes glean the refuse of the sword. Cruel with guilt, and daring with despair,
How much more safe the vassal than the lord ; The midnight murd'rer bursts the faithless bar;
Low skulks the hind beneath the rage of power, Invades the sacred hour of silent rest,
And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Tower, And leaves, unseen, a dagger in your breast.
Untouch'd his cottage, and his slumbers sound, Scarce can our fields, such crowds at Tyburn die, Though confiscation's vultures hover round. With hemp the gallows and the fleet supply.
The needy traveller, serene and gay, Propose your schemes, ye senatorian band,
Walks the wild heath and sings his toil away. Whose ways and means support the sinking land,
Does envy seize thee? crush ih' upbraiding joy, Lest ropes be wanting in the tempting spring, Increase his riches, and his peace destroy ;. To rig another convoy for the king.
Now fears in dire vicissitude invade, A single jail, in ALFRED's golden reign,
The rustling brake alarms, and quiv'ring shade, Could half the nation's criminals contain ;
Nor light nor darkness bring his pain relief, Fair Justice, then, without constraint ador'd,
One shows the plunder, and one hides the thief. Held high the steady scale, but sheath'd the sword;| Yet still one gen'ral cry the skies assails, No spies were paid, no special juries known,
And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales; Blest age! but ah! how diff'rent from our own!
Few know the toiling statesman's fear or care, Much could I add,-but see the boat at hand, Th' insidious rival and the gaping heir. The tide retiring calls me from the land :
Once more, Democritus, arise on Earth, Farewell - When youth, and health, and fortune
With cheerful wisdom and instructive mirth, spent,
See motley life in modern trappings dress'd, Thou fly'st for refuge to the wilds of Kent;
And feed with varied fools th' eternal jest : And, tir'd like me with follies and with crimes,
Thou who couldst laugh, where want enchain'd In angry numbers warn'st succeeding times;
caprice, Then shall thy friend, nor thou refuse his aid,
Toil crush'd conceit, and man was of a piece; Still foe to vice, forsake his Cambrian shade ; Where wealth unlov'd without a mourner died; In virtue's cause once more exert his rage,
And scarce a sycophant was fed by pride;
Where ne'er was known the form of mock debate,
Attentive truth and nature to descry,
What murder'd Wentworth, and what exil'd Hyde And pierce each scene with philosophic eye, By kings protected, and to kings allied ? To thee were solemn toys, or empty show, What but their wish indulg'd in courts to shine, The robes of pleasure, and the veils of woe: And pow'r too great to keep, or to resign. All aid the farce, and all thy mirth maintain, When first the college rolls receive his name, Whose joys are causeless, or whose griefs are vain. The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame;
Such was the scorn that filled the sage's mind, Resistless burns the fever of renown, Renew'd at ev'ry glance on human-kind;
Caught from the strong contagion of the gown: How just that scorn ere yet thy voice declare, O'er Bodley's dome his future labors spread, Search ev'ry state, and canvass ev'ry pray'r. And Bacon's mansion* trembles o'er his head.
Unnumber'd suppliants crowd Preferment's gate, Are these thy views? Proceed, illustrious youth, Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great; And Virtue guard thee to the throne of Truth! Delusive Fortune hears th' incessant call,
Yet should thy soul indulge the gen'rous heat They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall. Till captive Science yields her last retreat ; On ev'ry stage the foes of peace attend,
Should reason guide ihee with her brightest ray, Hate dogs their flight, and insult mocks their end. And pour on misty doubt resistless day; Love ends with hope, the sinking statesman's door Should no false kindness lure to loose delight, Pours in the morning worshipper no more ; Nor praise relax, nor difficulty fright; For growing names the weekly scribbler lies, Should tempting Novelty thy cell refrain, To growing wealth the dedicator fies;
And Sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain ; From ev'ry room descends the painted face, Should Beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart, That hung the bright palladium of the place; Nor claim the triumph of a letter'd heart; And, smok'd in kitchens, or in auctions sold, Should no disease thy torpid veins invade, To better features yields the frame of gold ; Nor Melancholy's phantoms haunt thy shade; For now no more we trace in ev'ry line
Yet hope not life from grief or danger free, Heroic worth, benevolence divine :
Nor think the doom of man revers'd for thee: The form distorted justifies the fall,
Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes, And detestation rids th' indignant wall.
And pause awhile from letters to be wise ; But will not Britain hear the last appeal, There mark what ills the scholar's life assail, Sign her foes' doom, or guard her fav'rites' zeal ? Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail. Through Freedom's sons no more remonstrance See nations, slowly wise and meanly just, rings,
To buried merit raise the tardy bust. Degrading nobles and controlling kings;
If dreams yet flatter, once again attend, Our supple tribes repress their patriot throats, Hear Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end. And ask no questions but the price of votes ; | Nor deem, when Learning her last prize bestows, With weekly libels and septennial ale,
The glittering eminence exempt from foes; Their wish is full to riot and to rail.
See, when the vulgar 'scapes, despis'd or aw'd, In full-blown dignity, see Wolsey stand, Rebellion's vengeful talons seize on Laud. Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand : From meaner minds, though smaller fines content, To him the church, the realm, their pow'rs con- The plunder'd palace, or sequester'd rent: sign,
Mark'd out by dang'rous parts, he meets the shock, Through him the rays of regal bounty shine ; And fatal Learning leads him to the block: Turn'd by his nod the stream of honor flows, Around his tomb let Art and Genius weep, His smile alone security bestows :
But hear his death, ye blockheads, hear and sleep. Still to new heights his restless wishes tow'r, The festal blazes, the triumphal show, Claim leads to claim, and pow'r advances pow'r; The ravish'd standard, and the captive foe, Till conquest unresisted ceas'd to please,
The senate's thanks, the gazette's pompous tale, And rights submitted left him none to seize : With force resistless o'er the brave prevail. At length his sov'reign frowns the train of state Such bribes the rapid Greek o'er Asia whirl'd, Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate. For such the steady Roman shook the world ; Where'er he turns, he meets a stranger's eye, For such in distant lands the Britons shine, His suppliants scorn him, and his followers fly; And stain with blood the Danube or the Rhine ; Now drops at once the pride of awful state, This pow'r has praise, that virtue scarce can warm The golden canopy, the glitt’ring plate,
Till fame supplies the universal charm. The regal palace, the luxurious board,
Yet Reason frowns on War's unequal game, The liv'ried army, and the menial lord.
Where wasted nations raise a single name ; With age, with cares, with maladies oppressid, And mortgag'd states their grandsires' wreaths regret He seeks the refuge of monastic rest.
From age to age in everlasting debt; Grief aids disease, remember'd folly stings, Wreaths which at last the dear-bought right convey And his last sighs reproach the faith of kings. To rust on medals, or on stones decay.
Speak thou whose thoughts at humble peace repine, On what foundation stands the warrior's pride, Shall Wolsey's wealth with Wolsey's end be thine? How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide; Or liv'st thou now, with safer pride content, A frame of adamant, a soul of fire, The wisest justice on the banks of Trent? No dangers fright him, and no labors tire, For, why did Wolsey, near the steeps of fate, On weak foundations raise th' enormous weight?
| * There is a tradition, that the study of Friar Bacon, Why but to sink beneath misfortune's blow,
built on an arch over the bridge, will fall when a man With louder ruin to the gulfs below.
greater than Bacon shall pass under it. To prevent so What gave great Villiers to th' assassin's knife, shocking an accident, it was pulled down many years And fix'd disease on Ilarley's closing life?