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cessary to the propagation of falsehood, though his conscience had been hurt by even the appearance of imposition in writing the Parliamentary Debates. This year he wrote for Mrs Lennox the “ Dedication the Earl of Orrery,” of her Shakespeare Illustrated, in two volumes 12mo.
The death of Mr Cave, January the 10th 1754, af. forded Johnson an opportunity of shewing his regard for his early patron, by writing his life, which was published in the Gentleman's Magazine for February. In the end of July he found leisure to make an excursion to Oxford, for the purpose of consulting the libraries there. “ He stayed,” says Mr Warton, “ about five weeks, but he did not collect any thing in the li-a braries for his dictionary."
As the arduous work of the dictionary drew towards a conclusion, Lord Chesterfield, who had treated Johnson with great contempt, now meanly condescended to court a reconciliation with him, in hopes of being immortalized in a dedication. With this view he wrote two essays iu the “ World,” in praise of the dictionary, and according to Sir John Hawkins, sent Sir Thomas Robinson to him for the same purpose. But Johnson rejected the advances of the Noble Lord, and spurned his proffered patronage, in the following letter, which is worthy of being preserved, as it affords the noblest lesson to both patrons and authors that stands upon record in the annals of literary history,
" I have been lately informed by the proprietor of the World, that two papers in which my dictionary is recommended to the public were written by
your Lordship. To be distinguished is an honour, which being very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.
“When upon some slight encouragement I first visited your Lordship, I was overpowered like the rest of mankind by your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le vainquieur du vainquieur de la terre, that I mighi obtain that regard for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your Lordship in public, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.
“ Seven years, my Lord,' have now passed, since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on my work through difficulties of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron before.
“ The Shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks.
“ Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground encumbers him with
help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it, till I am solitary and cannot impart it, till I am known and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity, not to confess obligations, where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron, which Providence has enabled me to do for myself.
“ Having carried on my work thus far, with so little obligation to any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less ; for I have been long awakened from that dream of hope, in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation. My Lord, your's,”. &c. &c.
Johnson however acknowledged, to a friend, that he once received ten pounds from Lord Chesterfield; but as that was so inconsiderable a sum, he thought the mention of it could not properly find place in a letter of the kind that this was. Lord Chesterfield read the letter to Dodsley with an air of indifference, smiled at the several passages, and observed how well they were expressed. He excused his neglect of Johnson, by saying that he had heard he had changed his lodgings, and did not know where he lived, and declared he would have turned off the best servant he ever had, if he knew that he had denied him to a man who would have been always more than welcome. Of Lorri Chesterfield's general affability and easiness of access, especially to literary men, the evidence is unquestiou
able; but of the character which he gave of Johnson in his letters to his son, and the difference in their manners, little union or friendship could be looked for between them. Certain it is, however, that Johnson remained under an obligation to his Lordship to the value of ten pounds.
Though he failed in an attempt, at an early period of life, to obtain the degree of Master of Arts, the university of Oxford, a short time before the publication of his dictionary, in anticipation of the excellence of the work, and at the solicitation of his friend Mr Warton, unanimously presented it to him ; and it was considered as an honour of considerable importance in the introduction of the work to the notice of the public.
At length in the month of May 1754, appeared his
Dictiouary of the English Language, with an History of the Language, and an English Grammar, in two volumes folio.” It was received by the learned world, who had long wished for its appearance, with a degree of applause, proportionable to the impatience which the promise of it had excited. Though we may believe him in the declaration at the end of his preface, that he dismissed it with frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise ; there cannot be a doubt but that he was highly gratified by the reputation it acquired both at home and abroad. The Earl of Corke and Orrery, being at Florence, presented it to the Academia della Crusca. The academy sent Johnson their Vocabulario, and the
French academy sent him their Dictionnaire by Mr Langton.
Our author having spent, during the progress of his laborious work, the money for which he had contracted to execute it, was still under the necessity of exerting his talents, as he himself expresses it, in making provision for the day that was passing over him. The subscriptions taken in for his edition of Shakespeare, and the profits of his miscellaneous essays, were now his principal resource for subsistence.
In 1756 he engaged to superintend, and contribute largely, to another monthly publication, entitled“ The Literary Magazine, or Universal Review." For this periodical work he wrote original essays, and critical reviews: his essays evince extensive reading and sound judgment; some of his reviews are short accounts of the productions noticed, but many of them are examples of elaborate criticism in the most masterly style. About this period he was offered by a particular friend, a church living of considerable value in Lincolnshire, if he would take orders and accept it; but he chose to decline the clerical function. This year the Ivy Lane club was dissolved by the disper• sion of the members.
In April 1758, he began the Idler, which appeared statedly in a weekly newspaper, called—“ The Universal Chronicle," and was continued till April 1760. The Idler evidently appeared to be the production of the same genius as the Rambler ; but it has more of real life as well as ease of language.