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Latin, and more necessary in English; and can only be acquired by a daily imitation of the best and correctest authors.


While Johnson kept his academy, there can be no doubt that he was insensibly furnishing his mind with various knowledge; but I have not discovered that he wrote any thing except a great part of his tragedy of "Irene." Mr. Peter Garrick, the elder brother of David, told me that he remembered Johnson's borrowing the Turkish History of him, in order to form his play from it. When he had finished some part of it, he read what he had done to Mr. Walmesley, who objected to his having already brought his heroine into great distress, and asked him, "How can you contrive to plunge her into deeper calamity?" Johnson, in sly allusion to the supposed oppressive proceedings of the court of which Mr. Walmesley was registrar, replied, "Sir, I can put her into the Spiritual Court!"

Mr. Walmesley, however, was well pleased with this proof of Johnson's abilities as a dramatic writer, and advised him to finish the tragedy and produce it on the stage.

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JOHNSON now thought of trying his fortune in London, the great

field of genius and exertion, where talents of every kind have the fullest scope, and the highest encouragement. It is a memorable circumstance that his pupil, David Garrick, went thither at the same time,1 with intent to complete his education, and follow the profession

1 Both of them used to talk pleasantly of this their first journey to London. Garrick, evidently meaning to embellish a little, said one day in my hearing, "We rode and tied." And the Bishop of Killaloe (Dr. Barnard) informed me, that at another time, when Johnson and Garrick were dining together in a pretty large company, Johnson humorously ascertaining

of the law, from which he was soon diverted by his decided preference for the stage.

This joint expedition of those two eminent men to the metropolis, was many years afterwards noticed in an allegorical poem on Shakspeare's Mulberry-tree, by Mr. Lovibond, the ingenious author of "The Tears of Old May-day."

They were recommended to Mr. Colson,1 an eminent mathematician and master of an academy, by the following letter from Mr. Walmesley:




"DEAR SIR, Lichfield, March, 2, 1737. "I had the favour of yours, and am extremely obliged to you; but I cannot say I had a greater affection for you upon it than I had before, being long since so much endeared to you, as well by an early friendship, as by your many excellent and valuable qualifications; and, had I a son of my own, it would be my ambition, instead of sending him to the University, to dispose of him as this young gentleman is.

"He, and another neighbour of mine, one Mr. Samuel Johnson, set out this morning for London together. Davy Garrick is to be with you early the next week, and Mr. Johnson to try his fate with a Tragedy, and to see to get himself employed in some translation, either from the Latin or the French. Johnson is a very good scholar and poet, and I have great hopes will turn out a fine tragedy-writer. If it should in any way lie in your way, doubt not but you would be ready to recommend and assist your countryman.


How he employed himself upon his first coming to London is not

the chronology of something, expressed himself thus: "That was the year when I came to London with twopence halfpenny in my pocket." Garrick overhearing him, exclaimed, "Eh? what do you say; with twopence halfpenny in your pocket?"-Johnson: "Why, yes; when I came with twopence halfpenny in my pocket, and thou, Davy, with three halfpence in thine." BOSWELL.

1 The Reverend John Colson was bred at Emanuel College, in Cambridge, and in 1728, when George the Second visited the University, was created Master of Arts. About that time he became First Master of the Free School at Rochester, founded by Sir Joseph Williamson. In 1739, he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge, on the death of Professor Sanderson, and held that office till 1759, when he died. He published Lectures on Experimental Philosophy, translated from the French of l'Abbé Nodet, 8vo, 1732, and some other tracts. Our author, it is believed, was mistaken in stating him to have been Master of an Academy. Garrick, probably, during his short residence at Rochester, lived in his house as a private pupil."-BOSWELL.

The character of Gelidus, the philosopher, in the "Rambler" (No. 24), was meant to represent this gentleman. See Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes, &c., p. 49.-MALONE.

particularly known.' I never heard that he found any protection or encouragement by the means of Mr. Colson, to whose academy David Garrick went. Mrs. Lucy Porter told me, that Mr. Walmesley gave him a letter of introduction to Lintot, his bookseller, and that Johnson wrote some things for him; but I imagine this to be a mistake, for I have discovered no trace of it, and I am pretty sure he told me that Mr. Cave was the first publisher by whom his pen was engaged in London.

He had a little money when he came to town, and he knew how he could live in the cheapest manner. His first lodgings were at the house of Mr. Norris, a staymaker, in Exeter-street, adjoining Catherinestreet, in the Strand. "I dined," said he, "very well for eightpence, with very good company, at the Pine-Apple, in New-street, just by. Several of them had travelled. They expected to meet every day; but did not know one another's names. It used to cost the rest a shilling, for they drank wine; but I had a cut of meat for sixpence, and bread for a penny, and gave the waiter a penny; so that I was quite well served, nay, better than the rest, for they gave the waiter nothing."

He at this time, I believe, abstained entirely from fermented liquors : a practice to which he rigidly conformed for many years together, at different periods of his life.

His Ofellus,2 in the "Art of Living in London," I have heard him relate, was an Irish painter, whom he knew at Birmingham, and who had practised his own precepts of economy for several years in the British capital. He assured Johnson, who, I suppose, was then meditating to try his fortune in London, but was apprehensive of the expense, "that thirty pounds a year was enough to enable a man to live there without being contemptible. He allowed ten pounds for clothes and linen. He said a man might live in a garret at eighteenpence a week; few people would inquire where he lodged; and if they did, it was easy to say, 'Sir, I am to be found at such a place.' By spending threepence in a coffee-house, he might be for some hours every day in very good company; he might dine for sixpence, breakfast on bread and milk for a penny, and do without supper. On clean-shirtday he went abroad, and paid visits." I have heard him more than once talk of his frugal friend, whom he recollected with esteem and kindness, and did not like to have one smile at the recital. "This man," said he, gravely, was a very sensible man, who perfectly understood common affairs; a man of a great deal of knowledge of the world, fresh from life, not strained through books. He borrowed a

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1 One curious anecdote was communicated by himself to Mr. John Nichols. Mr. Wilcox the bookseller, on being informed by him that his intention was to get his livelihood as an author, eyed his robust frame attentively, and with a significant look, said, “You had better buy a porter's knot." He however added, "Wilcox was one of my best friends."-BOSWELL. 2 Ofellus was a philosophic countryman, commemorated by Horace, Sat. ii. lib. 2.-BOSWELL. VOL. I.


horse and ten pounds at Birmingham. Finding himself master of so much money, he set off for West Chester, in order to get to Ireland. He returned the horse, and probably the ten pounds too, after he got home."

Considering Johnson's narrow circumstances in the early part of his life, and particularly at the interesting æra of his launching into the ocean of London, it is not to he wondered at, that an actual instance, proved by experience, of the possibility of enjoying the intellectual luxury of social life upon a very small income, should deeply engage his attention, and be ever recollected by him as a circumstance of much importance. He amused himself, I remember, by computing how much more expense was absolutely necessary to live upon the same scale with that which his friend described, when the value of money was diminished by the progress of commerce. It may be estimated that double the money might now with difficulty be sufficient.

Amidst this cold obscurity, there was one brilliant circumstance to cheer him; he was well acquainted with Mr. Henry Hervey,1 one of the branches of the noble family of that name, who had been quartered at Lichfield as an officer of the army, and had at this time a house in London, where Johnson was frequently entertained, and had an opportunity of meeting genteel company. Not very long before his death, he mentioned this, among other particulars of his life, which he was kindly communicating to me; and he described this early friend, Harry Hervey," thus: "He was a vicious man, but very kind to me. If you call a dog Hervey, I shall love him."


He told me he had now written only three acts of his "Irene," and that he retired for some time to lodgings at Greenwich, where he proceeded in it somewhat further, and used to compose, walking in the park; but did not stay long enough at that place to finish it.

At this period we find the following etter from him to Mr. Edward Cave, which, as a link in the chain of his literary history, it is proper to insert:



Greenwich, next door to the Golden Heart, Church-street,
July 12, 1737.

"SIR, "Having observed in your papers very uncommon offers of encouragement to men of letters, I have chosen, being a stranger in London, to communicate to you the following design, which, I hope, if you join in it, will be of advantage to both of us.

"The History of the Council of Trent having been lately translated into

1 The Honourable Henry Hervey, third son of the first Earl of Bristol, quitted the army and took orders. He married a sister of Sir Thomas Ayston, by whom he got the Aston Estate, and assumed the name and arms of that family.-BOSWELL.

The Honourable Henry Hervey was nearly of the same age with Johnson, having been

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