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to make him master; but, unfortunately, he is not capable of receiving their bounty, which would make him happy for life,' by not being a Master of Arts;' which, by the statutes of this school, the master of it must be.

"Now these gentlemen do me the honour to think that I have interest enough in you, to prevail upon you to write to Dean Swift, to persuade the University of Dublin to send a diploma to me, constituting this poor man Master of Arts in their University. They highly extol the man's learning and probity; and will not be persuaded, that the University will make any difficulty of conferring such a favour upon a stranger, if he is recommended by the Dean. They say, he is not afraid of the strictest examination, though he is of so long a journey; and will venture it, if the Dean thinks it necessary; choosing rather to die upon the road, 'than be starved to death in translating for booksellers;' which has been his only subsistence for some time past.

"I fear there is more difficulty in this affair, than those good-natured gentlemen apprehend; especially as their election cannot be delayed longer than the 11th of next month. If you see this matter in the same light that it appears to me, I hope you will burn this, and pardon me for giving you so much trouble about an impracticable thing; but, if you think there is a probability of obtaining the favour asked, I am sure your humanity, and propensity to relieve merit in distress, will incline you to serve the poor man, without my adding any more to the trouble I have already given you, than assuring you that I am, with great truth, Sir,

"Your faithful servant,


It was, perhaps, no small disappointment to Johnson that this respectable application had not the desired effect; yet how much reason has there been, both for himself and his country, to rejoice that it did not succeed, as he might probably have wasted in obscurity those hours in which he afterwards produced his incomparable works.

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ABOUT this time he made one other effort to emancipate himself from the drudgery of authorship. He applied to Dr. Adams, to consult Dr. Smalbroke of the Commons, whether a person might be permitted to practise as an advocate there, without a doctor's degree in Civil Law. "I am," said he, "a total stranger to these studies; but whatever is a profession, and maintains numbers, must be within the reach of common abilities, and some degree of industry." Dr. Adams was much pleased with Johnson's design to employ his talents in that manner, being confident he would have attained to great eminence. And, indeed, I cannot conceive a man better qualified to make a distinguished figure as a lawyer; for he would have brought to his profession a rich store of various knowledge, an uncommon

acuteness, and a command of language, in which few could have equalled, and none have surpassed, him. He who could display eloquence and wit in defence of the decision of the House of Commons upon Mr. Wilkes's election for Middlesex, and of the unconstitutional taxation of our fellow subjects in America, must have been a powerful advocate in any cause. But here, also, the want of a degree was an insurmountable bar.

He was, therefore, under the necessity of persevering in that course into which he had been forced; and we find that his proposal from Greenwich to Mr. Cave, for a translation of Father Paul Sarpi's History, was accepted.1

Some sheets of this translation were printed off, but the design was dropped; for it happened, oddly enough, that another person of the name of Samuel Johnson, Librarian of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, and curate of that parish, engaged in the same undertaking, and was patronised by the clergy, particularly by Dr. Pearce, afterwards Bishop of Rochester. Several light skirmishes passed between the rival translators, in the newspapers of the day; and the consequence was that they destroyed each other, for neither of them went on with the work. It is much to be regretted that the able performance of that celebrated genius, Fra Paolo, lost the advantage of being incorporated into British literature by the masterly hand of Johnson.

I have in my possession, by the favour of Mr. John Nichols, a paper in Johnson's handwriting, entitled "Account between Mr. Edward Cave and Sam. Johnson, in relation to a version of Father Paul, &c., begun August the 2nd, 1738;" by which it appears, that from that day to the 21st of April, 1739, Johnson received for this work 497. 78. in sums of one, two, three, and sometimes four guineas at a time, most frequently two. And it is curious to observe the minute and scrupulous accuracy with which Johnson had pasted upon it a slip of paper, which he has entitled "Small Account," and which contains one article, "Sept. 9th, Mr. Cave laid down 2s. 6d." There is subjoined to this account, a list of some subscribers to the work, partly in Johnson's handwriting, partly

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1 In the "Weekly Miscellany," October 21, 1738, there appeared the following advertisement:-"Just published, proposals for printing the History of the Council of Trent, translated from the Italian of Father Paul Sarpi; with the Author's life, and Notes, Theological, Historical, and Critical, from the French edition of Dr. Le Courayer; to which are added, Observations on the History, and Notes and Illustrations from various Authors, both printed and manuscript. By S. Johnson. 1. The work will consist of two hundred sheets, and be two volumes in quarto, printed on good paper and letter. 2. The price will be 18s. each volume, to be paid, half a guinea at the delivery of the first volume, and the rest at the delivery of the second volume in sheets. 3. Twopence to be abated for every sheet less than two hundred. It may be had on a large paper, in three volumes, at the price of three guineas; one to be paid at the time of subscribing, another at the delivery of the first, and the rest at the delivery of the other volumes. The work is now in the press, and will be diligently prosecuted. Subscriptions are taken in by Mr. Dodsley, in Pall Mall, Mr. Rivington, in St. Paul's Churchyard, by E. Cave, at St. John's Gate, and the Translator, at No. 6, in Castle-street, by Cavendishsquare."-Boswell.

in that of another person; and there follows a leaf or two, on which are written a number of characters which have the appearance of a shorthand, which, perhaps, Johnson was then trying to learn.




"I did not care to detain your servant while I wrote an answer to your letter, in which you seem to insinuate that I had promised more than I am ready to perform. If I have raised your expectations by any thing that may have escaped my memory, I am sorry; and if you remind me of it, shall thank you for the favour. If I made fewer alterations than usual in the debates, it was only because there appeared, and still appears to be, less need of alteration. The verses to Lady Firebrace1 may be had when you please, for you know that such a subject neither deserves much thought, nor requires it. "The Chinese Stories2 may be had folded down when you please to send, in which I do not recollect that you desired any alterations to be made.

"An answer to another query I am very willing to write, and had consulted with you about it last night, if there had been time; for I think it the most proper way of inviting such a correspondence as may be an advantage to the paper, not a load upon it.

"As to the Prize Verses, a backwardness to determine their degrees of merit is not peculiar to me. You may, if you please, still have what I can say; but I shall engage with little spirit in an affair, which I shall hardly end to my own satisfaction, and certainly not to the satisfaction of the parties concerned.3

"As to Father Paul, I have not yet been just to my proposal, but have met with impediments, which, I hope, are now at an end; and if you find the progress hereafter not such as you have a right to expect, you can easily stimulate a negligent translator.

"If any or all of these have contributed to your discontent, I will endeavour to remove it; and desire you to propose the question to which you wish for an I am, Sir, your humble servant,





[No date.]

“I am pretty much of your opinion, that the Commentary cannot be prosecuted with any appearance of success; for, as the names of the authors concerned are of more weight in the performance than its own intrinsic merit, the public will be soon satisfied with it. And I think the Examen should be pushed forward with the utmost expedition. Thus, 'This day, &c. An

1 They afterwards appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine," with this title "Verses to Lady Firebrace, at Bury Assizes."-BoswELL.

2 Du Halde's "Description of China" was then publishing by Mr. Cave in weekly numbers, whence Johnson was to select pieces for the embellishment of the Magazine.NICHOLS.

3 The premium of forty pounds proposed for the best poem on the Divine Attributes is here alluded to.-NICHOLS.

Examen of Mr. Pope's Essay, &c., containing a succinct Account of the Philosophy of Mr. Leibnitz on the System of the Fatalists, with a Confutation of their Opinions and an illustration of the Doctrine of Free-will;' (with what else you think proper.)

"It will, above all, be necessary to take notice, that it is a thing distinct from the Commentary.

"I was so far from imagining they stood still,1 that I conceived them to have a good deal beforehand, and therefore was less anxious in providing them more. But if ever they stand still on my account, it must doubtless be charged to me; and whatever else shall be reasonable, I shall not oppose; but beg a suspense of judgment till morning, when I must entreat you to send me a dozen proposals, and you shall then have copy to spare.

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"I am, Sir, yours, impransus,


Pray muster up the proposals if you can, or let the boy recal them from the booksellers."

But although he corresponded with Mr. Cave concerning a translation of Crousaz's Examen of Pope's Essay on Man, and gave advice as one anxious for its success, I was long ago convinced by a perusal of the preface that this translation was erroneously ascribed to him; and I have found this point ascertained beyond all doubt by the following article in Dr. Birch's manuscripts in the British Museum :


"Versionem tuam Examinis Crousaziani jam perlegi. Summam styli et elegan-tiam, et in re difficillima proprietatem, admiratus.

"Dabam Novemb. 27°, 1738."2

Indeed Mrs. Carter has lately acknowledged to Mr. Seward that she was the translator of the "Examen."

It is remarkable that Johnson's last quoted letter to Mr. Cave concludes with a fair confession that he had not a dinner; and it is no less. remarkable, that, though in this state of want himself, his benevolent heart was not insensible to the necessities of an humble labourer in literature, as appears from the very next letter:



[No date.]

"You may remember I have formerly talked with you about a Military Dictionary. The eldest Mr. Macbean, who was with Mr. Chambers, has very good materials for such a work, which I have seen, and will do it at a very low rate. I think the terms of war and navigation might be comprised, with good

1 The compositors in Mr. Cave's printing-office, who appear by this letter to have thenwaited for copy.-NICHOLS.

2 Birch MSS., Brit. Mus. 4323.-BOSWELL.

3 This book was published.-BOSWELL.

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