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THE

LIFE OF DR. JOHNSON.

DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON, who has been styled the brightest ornament of the 18th cen. tury, was born at Litchfield in Staffordshire, in the year 1709. His father, who was a book. seller of some reputation, placed him at the free school of Litchfield. He early displayed strong marks of genius. Some of his school exercises, which have been accidentally preserved, justify the expectations which determined a father, not opulent, to continue him in the paths of literature. Before he was fourteen years old, his mind was disturbed by scruples of infidelity; but his studies and inquiries being honest, ended in conviction. He found that religion is true; and what he had learned, he cver afterwards endeavoured to teach. Grotius's excellent book “ On the Truth of the Christian Religion,” was very useful in removing his doubts, and establishing his belief.

In 1728, he was entered as a commoner at Pembroke college, Oxford. Dr. Adam said of him, “that he was the best qualified young

inan, that he ever remembered to have seen admitted.” Here he produced a fine Latin version of Pope's Messiah. Pope read the translation, and returned it with this encomium; “ The writer of this poem will leave it a question for posterity, whether his or mine be the original." From his father's insolvency, and the scantiness of his finances, he was obliged to leave Oxford before he had completed the usual studies, and without a degree.

From the university, he returned to Litchfield, with little improvement of his prospects; and soon after engaged as usher in a school in Leicestershire. But being unkindly treated by the patron of the school, he left it after a few months, in disgust. In 1735 he married a widow of Birmingham, much older than himself, and not very engaging in person or manners. She was possessed of 8001.; which enabled him to fit up a house and open an academy. But this plan also failed for want of encouragement: he obtained only three scholars, one of whom was the celebrated David Garrick. In 1737 he settled in London, where, for several years, he derived his principal employment and support, by writing for the Gentleman's Magazine.

In 1738, he published his “ London," an admirable poem, which laid the foundation of his fame. It contains the most spirited invectịves against tyranny and oppression, the warmest predilection for his own country, and the

purest love of virtue.-In 1744, appeared his 6 Life of Savage.” The narrative is remarkably smooth and well disposed, the observations are just, and the reflections disclose the inmost recesses of the human heart." The Vanity of human Wishes,” was produced in 1749. It contains profound reflections: and the various instances of disappointment are judiciously chosen, and strongly painted “ The Rambler" came out in 1750. In this work Johnson is the great moral teacher of his countrymen: his essays form a body of ethics: the observations on life and manners are acute and instructive: and the papers, professedly critical, serve to promote the cause of literature. Every page shows a mind teeming with classical allusion, and poetical imagery. In 1755 he published his grand work, the « Dictionary of the English Language.” This performance may properly be called the Mount Atlas of English literature. The labour of forming it was immense; and the definitions

exhibit astonishing proofs of acuteness of in, tellect, and precision of language. His “Lives

of the English Poets” were completed in 1781. This is an eminently valuable work. His judgment, taste, quickness in the discrimination of motives, and his happy art of giving to well known incidents the grace of novelty, and the force of instruction, shine strongly in these narratives. Sometimes, however, his colourings receive a tinge from prejudice, and

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