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tempting one. Pursuing the track of his author, he expatiates on the miseries that await empire, grandeur, wealth, and power, and the disappointments that frustrate the hopes of ambition, learning, eloquence, and beauty ; in all which instances he has been able to point out examples the most striking and apposite.
The poem concludes with an answer to an enquiry that must necessarily result from the perufal of the foregoing part of it, viz. what are the consolations that human life affords ? or, in other words, in whom or on what is a virtuous man to rest his hope? the refolution of this question is contained in the following lines, which for dignity of sentiment, for pious instruction, and purity of style, are hardly to be equalled by any in our language.
• Where then shall hope and fear their objects find? • Must dull suspense corrupt the stagnant mind? • Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate, • Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate? • Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise, • No cries invoke the genius of the skies?
Enquirer, cease, petitions yet remain, " Which Heav'n may hear, nor deem religion vain.
Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
Safe in his pow'r, whose eyes discern 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 affires,
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
For faith, that panting for a happier seat,
the pow'r to gain; ( With these celestial wisdom calms the mind,
And makes the happiness she does not find.'
In the following year, it having been discovered, that a grand-daughter of Milton was living, Mr. Garrick was prevailed on to permit the representation of the Masque of Comus at his theatre, for her benefit. Upon this occasion, Johnson, forgetting the enmity which he had always borne towards Milton, wrote a prologue, wherein he calls the attention of the audience to his memory, and without imputing to his descendant any other merit than industrious poverty and conjugal fidelity, implores them to crown defert beyond the grave.
Johnson's beneficence was of the most diffusive kind: Distress was the general motive, and merit, whether in the object or any to whom he claimed relation, the particular incentive to it. There was living at this time, a man of the name of De Groot, a painter by profession, and no contemptible artist, who, after having travelled over England, and at low prices painted as many persons as could be persuaded to fit to him, settled in London, and became reduced to poverty: him Oldys, or some one other of his friends, introduced to Johnson, who found out
by his conversation that he was a descendant of Grotius; and thereupon exerting his interest in his behalf, he procured for him an admission into the Charterhouse, in which comfortable retreat he died.
Johnson was all this while working at the dictionary, having to assist him a number of young persons whose employment it was to distribute the articles with sufficient spaces for the definitions, which it is easy to discern are of his own composition.
Of these his asistants, some were young men of parts, others mere drudges. Among the former was one of the name of Shiells, a Scotchman, the author of a poem in blank verse, intitled ' Beauty,' and also of a collection of the lives of the poets, in four volumes, which, for a gratuity of ten guineas, Theophilus Cibber suffered to be printed with his name, a book of no authority other than what it derives from Winstanley, Langbaine, and Jacob, and in other respects of little worth ; but concerning which it is fit that the following fact should be made known : Cibber at the time of making this bargain, was under confinement for debt in the king's-bench prison, and with a view to deceive the public into a belief that the book was of his father's writing, it was concerted between the negotiators of it and himself to suppress his chriftian name, and that it should be printed as a work of Mr. Cibber.
The intense application with which he was obliged to pursue his work, deprived Johnson of many of the pleasures he most delighted in, as namely, reading in his desultory manner, and the conversation of his friends. It also increased his constitutional melancholy, and at times excited in him a loathing of that
employment to which he could not but look upon himself as doomed by his necessities. The sum for which he had ftipulated with the booksellers, was by the terms of the agreement, to be paid as the work went on, and was indeed his only support. Being thus compelled to spend every day like the past, he looked on himself as in a state of mental bondage, and reflecting that while he was thus employed, his best faculties lay dormant, was unwillingly willing to work.
And here we cannot but reflect on that inertness and laxity of mind which the neglect of order and regularity in living, and the observance of stated hours, in short, the waste of time, is apt to lead men to : this was the fource of Johnson's misery throughout his life; all he did was by fits and starts, and he had no genuine impulse to action, either corporal or mental. That the compilation of such a work as he was engaged in, was necessarily productive of that languor, which, in the prosecution of it he manifested, is by no means clear : all employments, all occupations whatever, are intrinsically indifferent, and excite neither pain nor pleasure, but as the mind is difposed towards them. Fame, mere posthumous fame has engaged men to similar undertakings, and they have pursued them with zeal and even delight. Canne, the editor of a bible printed in 1664, spent many years in collecting parallel passages in the Old and New Testament, to such a number as to croud the margin of the book, and in the preface thereto he declares, that it was the most delightful employment of his life; and what but a real pleasure in that kind of labour,
and the consideration of its benefit to mankind, could be the inducement with such a man as Hoff. man to compile a lexicon more than twice as voluminous as that of Johnson ?
And, to speak more at large, viz. of men who have benefited the world by their literary labours, avowing as their motive the desire of gain, we find not all infected with that disease, which as it affected Johnson, may almost be said to have converted all his mental nutriment to poison : on the contrary, there have been many who mixed with the world, and by a good use of their time, were capable of great application and enjoying the benefits of society; and of these I shall mention three persons, his contemporaries, men of very different characters from each other ; all authors by profession, and of great eminence in literature.
The first was the reverend Dr. Thomas Birch, a divine of the church of England, but originally a quaker. In his youth he was passionately fond of reading, and being indulged in it by his father, became successively usher to two schools in which the sons of quakers were educated. He married at the age of twenty-three ; but in less than a year became a widower. Having had the happinels of a recommendation to Sir Philip Yorke, then attorney-general, and being honoured with his favour and patronage, he, in 1730, entered into holy orders, and was presented to a rectory and also to a vicarage in Gloucestershire. Soon after this, in conjunction with the reverend Mr. Bernard, the well-known Mr. John Lockman, and Mr. George Sale the translator of the