« ElőzőTovább »
All men will try, and hope to write as well,
SAMUEL JOHNSON was born at Litchfield, on the 7th of September, Old Style, in the year 1709. His father, Michael Johnson, was of low parentage, was a native of Cubley, in Derbyshire, and at the birth of the subject of our memoir, resided at Litchfield, and carried on the business of a country bookseller, by attending, on markef-days, at all the neighbouring towns. He was nevertheless a man of much information ; was a decent classical scholar, and lived in such a state of respectability that he was made one of the magistrates of that city. His mother's name was Sarah Ford : she had descended from a respectable family in Warwickshire, and was the sister of Dr. Joseph Ford, an eminent physician, and father of Cornelius Ford, the celebrated Chaplain to Lord Chesterfield. Mrs. Johnson possessed a considerable share of understanding, and was much respected for her piety and prudence. They did not marry till they were advanced in years, and they had only another son, named Nathaniel, who after succeeding to the business of his father, died in 1737, in
the 25th year of his age. Samuel also had an uncle, named Andrew, who for some years kept the ring appropriated for boxers in Smithfield.
From an unclean nurse, or perhaps from hereditary derivation, he was afflicted with the disease called the King's Evil, and the Jacobites, which principles his father possessed, believing in the efficacy of royal contact, his mother, when he was two years old, presented him before Queen Anne, who, for the first time, performed the office of the touch, and gave to the patient all the healing virtue which she was capable of imparting. But the disease was too obstinate to yield even to more potent remedies: he was afterwards cut for the relief of that scrophulous humour, but the operation only disfigured his countenance, which was naturaliy harsh and rugged, impaired his hearing, and deprived him of tbe sight of his left eye.
Having acquired the first rudiments of education at Litchfield, under Tom Brown, the author of a spellingbook, he began at eight years of age, to learn Latin at the free-school of that city, and though he was not remarkable for diligence or application, he, in less than two years, was taken from the under-master by the head-master, Mr. Hunter, who made him a pupil of his own. Amongst his school-fellows were Dr. James, the inventor of the Fever Powder; and Mr. Lowe, Canon of Windsor.
There is no doubt that his progress under the above, mentioned gentleman was considerable, though Johnson describes him as “wrongheadedly-severe;" for at the age of fifteen he was removed to a still higher school, at Stourbridge, in Worcestershire, where he obtained a complete knowledge of classical literature. He seems to have figured there in the double capacity of usher and scholar; repaying the information he ac