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him in his literary, endeavour to exhibit him in his
As the narrowness of his father's circumstances had
from • The lives of these three persons as they exhibit an example of the distresses to which idleness and the want of moral principles may expose men of parts, may be an useful caveat to young men of the rising generation, and prove a more powerful persuasive to industry, economy, and the right use of great talents, than the most laboured argument. That of Savage presents itself to view in the works of Johnson : those of the other two are elsewhere to be found, and an abridgement of each of them is inserted, for the fame reason that beacons are erected to point out rocks and shoals to ignorant or benighted persons.
Nicholas Amhurst was born at Marden in Kent ; but in what year is uncertain : he received his education in Merchant-Taylors' school in London, and was thence removed to St. John's college, Oxford; but expelled for the libertinism of his principles and the irregularity of his conduct. After this expulsion, for which very different causes were assigned by him and those who enforced
from which he inferred, that Navery and indigence were its inseparable concomitants, and reflecting on
it, he satirized the learning and discipline of the university, and exposed the characters of its most respectable members, in a poem called Oculus Britanniæ,' and in his « Terræ Filius,' a work compounded of wit and fcurrility. He, foon after, quitted Oxford, came to London, and published a volume of miscellanies : he wrote many satirical and malignant poems, and translated some of Mr. Addison's Latin pieces; but his chief fame arose from his conducting the Craftsman,' in which he was made the tool of
oppofition. For some extraordinarily indiscreet use of his libelling powers, the printers of this paper were seized, and Mr. Amhurst, with a view of being considered as the victim of his party, and more than indemnified for all he should suffer, surrendered himself; but the prosecution dropped, and he was disappointed. Upon the famous compromise of 1742, no terms were stipulated by his friends for him who had been the instrument of their success; the reflection whereon is thought to have precipitated his end; for he died in a few months after, as is said, of a broken heart, and was indebted to the bounty of Franklin the printer for a grave.
Samuel Boyse, the son of an English dissenting minister, was born in 1708, and educated at a private school in Dublin. At eighteen he was sent to Glasgow, and before he had completed his nineteenth year, married the daughter of a tradesman there. His father, for a considerable time, supported his natural extravagance, which his wife, who was diffolute and vicious, rendered ftill more burthenfome. This resource failing, he went to Edinburgh, where his poetical abilites procured him many friends,'particularly the countess of Eglinton and lord Stormont, who aflisted him in his exigencies, and were disposed to continue their bounty ; but Boyse's character and deportment repelled kindness. His talents were greut: he had a genius for poetry, for painting, and music; yet it was so obscured by a mean and sordid temper, that many knew him intimately without discovering his abilities : his chosen acquaintances were such as could not serve him : he was intoxicated whenever he had the means to avoid starving, and was voluptuous, luxurious, and boundlessly expensive, without the least taste for what is elegant. The contempt he drew on himself at Edinburgh made him
the lives and conduct of these men, might fear that
resolve on quitting it for London, whither those who had been his
In 1742, while in a spunging-house, he was driven to
render the followers of it, with respect to religion, to politics, and even to morality, altogether indifferent. Nor could he be ignorant of that mortifying dependence which the profession itself exposes men to, a profession that leads to no preferment, and for its
• see if my affair can possibly be made up. I hope, therefore, you • will have the humanity to send me half a guinea for support, till • I can finish your papers in my hands. The ode on the British • nation I hope to have done to day, and want a proof copy of that
part of Stowe you design for the present magazine, that it may be • improved as far as possible from your affiftance. Your papers are • but ill transcribed. I agree with you as to St. Augustine's cave. • I humbly intreat your answer, having not tasted any thing since • Tuesday evening I came here ; and my coat will be taken off my • back for the charge of the bed, so that I must go into prison naked, • which is too shocking for me to think of. · I am, with sincere regard,
• S. BOYS E.' • Crown coffee-house, Grocer's alley,
• Poultry, July 21, 1742. • Received from Mr. Cave the sum of half a guinea by me, in « confinement, S. Boyfe,'
'The miseries of his confinement did not teach him discretion : he was released, but his wants were little abated, and he made use of the most disgraceful arts to excite charity: he sometimes raised subscriptions for non-existent poems, and sometimes employed his wife to give out that he was dying. He was afterwards engaged, at a very low rate, in the compilation of an historical view of the transactions of Europe, by Mr. Henry of Reading; at which place his wife died. To fignify his sorrow for her death, he tied a black ribbon round the neck of a lap-dog, which, to acquire the character of a man of taste, he used to carry in his arms. After he left Reading, he grew more decent in his dress and behaviour ; but his health was then declining, and in May 1749 he died in an obscure lodging near Shoe-lane, and was buried at the charge of the parisha
most laborious exertions confers no greater a reward than a supply of natural wants.
Ralph, a writer of this class, and who had formed some such connections as would have flattered the hopes of any man, was the tool of that party of which the late lord Melcombe laboured to be the head. To serve the interests of it, he wrote a periodical paper, and a voluminous history of England, fraught with such principles as he was required to disseminate. This man, in a pamphlet intitled “The case of authors by profeffion,' has enumerated all the evils that attend it, and shewn it to be the last that a liberal mind would choose.
All this Johnson knew and had duly weighed: the lesser evils of an author's profession, such as a dependence on booksellers, and a precarious income, he was able to endure, and the greater, that is to say, the prostitution of his talents, he averted; for, whatever sacrifices of their principles such men as Waller, Dryden, and others, have made in their writings, or to whatever lengths they may have gone in panegyrics or adulatory addresses, his integrity was not to be warped: his religious and political opinions he retained and cherished; and in a sullen confidence in the strength of his mental powers, disdained to solicit patronage by any of the arts in common use with writers of almost every denomination. That this firmness was not affected, will appear by a retrospect to the methods he took for the attainment of knowledge, and the settling his notions as to the great duties of life.
His course of study at the university was irregular and desultory, and scarcely determined as to its object. Vol. I.