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was ever executed. He now formed a plan for a new edition of Shakespeare : but in this he was anticipated by Warburton, of whose competency for the undertaking the public had then a very high opinion. The preparatory ophlet, however, which Johnson had published upon the occasion, was highly commended by that supercilious churchman, who spoke of it as the work of a man of great parts and genius. Johnson ever acknowledged the obligation with gratitude. “He praised me,” said he,“ at a time when praise was of value to me.”
In 1746 he formed and digested' the plan of his great philological work, which might then be well esteemed one of the desiderata of English literature : It was announced to the public in 1747, in a pamphlet entitled “ The Plan of a Dictionary of the English language, addressed to the Right Honourable Philip Dormer, Earl of Chesterfield, one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of state.” The hint of undertaking this work is said to have been first suggested to Johnson by Dodsley, who contracted with him for the execution of it, in conjunction with Mr Charles Hitch, Mr Andrew Millar, the two Mess. Longman and the two Mess. Knaptons. The price stipulated was L. 1575. The cause of its being inscribed to Lord Chesterfield is thus related : “I had neglected," said Jolmson, to write it by the time appointed. Dodsley suggested a desire to have it addressed to Lord Chesterfield. I laid hold of this as a pretext for the delay, that it might be better done, and let Dodsley have bis desire."
To enable him to complete this vast undertaking, he hired a house, fitted up one of the upper rooms after the manner of a counting-house, and employed six amanuenses there in transcribing. The words, partly taken from other dictionaries, and partly supplied by himself, having been first written down with spaces left between them, he delivered in writing their etya mologies, definitions, and various significations. The authorities were copied from the books themselves, in which he had marked the several passages with a black lead pencil, the traces of which could easily be effaced.
His fortunate pupil Garrick having in the course of this year become joint patentee and manager of Drury Lane theatre, Johnson furnished him with a prologue at the opening of it, which for just and manly criticism, as well as poetical excellence, is unrivalled in that species of composition.
In 1748, he formed a club that met at a chop-house in Ivy Lane every Tuesday evening, with a view to enjoy literary discussion, and the pleasure of animated relaxation. They used to dispute about the moral sense and the fitness of things, but Johnson was not uniform in his opinions, contending as often for victory as for truth, an inclination which prevailed with him through life.
The year following he published “ The Vanity of Human Wishes, being the tenth Satire of Juvenal imitated,” with his name. This poem is characterized by profound reflection, more than pointed spirit. It has however been always held in high esteem. The in
stances of the variety of disappointments are chosen so judiciously, and painted so strongly, that the moment they are read they bring conviction to every mind.
The same year his tragedy of Irene, which had long been kept hack for want of encouragemeut, appeared upon the stage at Drury Lane,, through the kindness of his friend Garrick. Previous to the representation a violent altercation took place between the author · and the manager. Jolinson, like many authors, little acquainted with stage effect, pertinaciously rejected the advice of Garrick, and would by no means suhmit his lines to the critical amputation of the manager, till at length through the interference of a friend to both parties, he gave way to the proposed alterations, at least in part;, and the tragedy was produced.
Before the curtain was drawn up, Johnson's friends were alarmed by the whistling of cat-calls; but the prologue, written by the author in a manly strain, soothed the audience, and the play went off tolerably well 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, no doubt at the suggestion of Mr Garrick, to which if the author had attended in time, his compliance might have saved his play. However, it is said
that he acquiesced without a murmur in the unfavourable decision of the public upon his tragedy, and it appears he was convinced that dramatic writing was not his fort, as he was never known to have made another effort in that species of composition.
On the 20th of March 1750, he published the first paper of the Rambler, and continued it without interruption every Tuesday and Friday till the 17th of March 1752, when it closed. In carrying on this periodical publication he seems neither to have courted, nor to have met with much assistance ; the papers contributed by others amounting only to five in number. These admirable essays, we are told by Mr Boswell, were written in baste, just as they were wanted for the press, without ever being read over by him before they were printed. The Rambler was not successful as a periodical work, not more than five hundred copies of any one number having been ever sold. Soon after the first folio edition was concluded, it was published in four octavo volumes, and the author lived to see a just tribute of approbation paid to its merit in the extensiveness of its sale, ten numerous editions of it having been printed in London, before his death, besides those in Ireland and Scotland.
Though his circumstances at this time were far from being easy, he received as a constant visitor at his house, Miss Anna Williams, daughter of a Welsh phy, sician, and a woman of more than ordinary talents and literature, who had just lost her sight.
She had contracted a close intimacy with his wife, and after her death she had an apartment from him at all times when
he had a house. In 1755, Garrick gave her a benefit which produced L. 200. She afterwards published a quarto volume of miscellanies, and thereby increased her little stock to L. 300. This and Johnson's protection supported her during the rest of her life.
In 1752 he lost bis wife, after a cohabitation of seventeen years, and in this melancholy event felt the most poignant distress. In the interval between her death and burial he composed a funeral sermon for her, which was never preached, but being given to a friend, it has been published since his death.
Soon after the Rambler ceased, Dr Hawkesworth projected the Adventurer, in conjunction with Bonnel Thornton, Dr Bathurst, and others. The first number was published 7th November 1752, and the paper continued twice a-week till March 9th 1754. • Thornton's assistance was soon withdrawn, and he set up a new paper in conjunction with Colman, called the Connoisseur. . Johnson was zealous for the success of the Adventurer, which was at first rather more popular than the Rambler. He engaged the assistance of Dr Warton, whose admirable essays were well known. Johnson began to write in the Adventurer April 10th, 1753, marking his papers with the signature T. His price was two guineas for each paper. Of all the papers he wrote he gave both the fame and the profit to Dr Bathurst. Indeed the latter wrote them, while Johnson dictated; though he considered it as a point of honour not to own them. He even used to say he did not write them, on the pretext that he dictated liem-only, allowing himself by this casuistry to be ac