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A DICTION A R Y
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SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D. an English writer of great eminence, was born in 1709, at Lichfield, in which city his father was a petty bookseller. He inherited from that parent, with a strong athletic body, a scrofulous taint which impaired his sight and hearing, and a disposition to morbid melancholy. He also derived from him those civil and religious principles or prejudices which distinguished the Jacobite party, at that time numerous in the kingdom. He received a school education partly at the free-school of Lichfield, partly at Stourbridge in Worcestershire. Though his progress in literature was by no means extraordinary, yet a tenacious memory enabled him to lay up a store of various knowledge from desultory reading. This was increased by a residence of two years, after leaving school, at the house of his father, who probably designed him for his own trade. As he had already acquired reputation from his exercises, particularly of the poetical class, his father willingly complied with the proposal of a neighbouring gentleman, Mr. Corbet, of maintaining Samuel at Oxford as companion to his son. Accordingly, in 1728, his nineteenth year, he was entered a commoner of Pembroke college. His tutor, Mr. Jorden, was a man whose abilities could command little respect from a pupil who, doubtless, had begun to feel the powers of his own mind, and who was furnished with literary information not usually acquired in the trammels of an university-course, He seems to have been careless of his character with respect both to
the discipline and the studies of the place; and the state of indigence into which he fell aster the departure of young Corbet, threw him into a kind of despair, which he attempted to hide by affected frolic and turbulence. Yet he obtained credit by some occasional compositions, of which the most distinguished was a translation in Latin hexameters of Pope's Messiah, written wiłook §not with classical purity.
After struggling wiši pāśrī; #he had completed a residence of three years, he left Oxford...is utopg a degree; nor can he be reckoned among those whosejižo.éâșities;has been formed in that illustrious seminary. In reality, the furniture of Johnson's mind was chiefly of his own acquisition; and the advice of his cousin Cornelius Ford, a dissolute but ingenious clergyman, to aim at general knowledge, rather than fix his attention upon any one particular object of study, seems to have given the decisive turn to his pursuits. At this period of his life, as he himself related, he was first led to think in earnest of religion, by the perusal of Law’s “Serious Call to the Unconverted;” and it cannot be doubted that his feelings on this important topic received an in
delible impression from the principles inculcated in that powerfully writ, ten book.
Soon after his return from the university to his native city, his fathe dicq in very narrow circumstances; and he sound no better means o support than the place of usher to the grammar-school of Market-Bos worth, Leicestershire. This, his impatience under the haughty trea ment of the patron of his school soon induced him to quit; and b passed some time as a guest with Mr. Hector, surgeon at Birminghar who had been his school-fellow. In that place he wrote some litera essays for Mr. Warren, bookseller and proprietor of a newspaper; a he translated and abridged from the French the account of a voyage Abyssinia, by father Lobo. This was printed at Birmingham, and w published in London in 1735, without the translator's name. It has pretension to peculiar elegance; but the preface is strongly marked w
the character of style and thinking which afterwards so much dist guished the author.
Returning to Lichfield, he issued proposals for publishing by s scription the Latin poem of Politian, with his life, and a history of L. poetry from the era of Petrarch to the time of Politian; but suc project was not likely to meet with adequate encouragement in a coul