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in Leicestershire; he resided as a humble companion in the house of a country gentleman; but a life of dependence was insupportable to his haughty spirit. He repaired to Birmingham, and there earned a few guineas by literary. drudgery. In that town he 5 printed a translation, little noticed at the time, and long forgotten, of a Latin book about Abyssinia." He then put forth proposals for publishing by subscription the poems of Politian, with notes containing a history of modern Latin verse; but subscriptions did not 10 come in; and the volume never appeared.

While leading this vagrant and miserable life, Johnson fell in love. The object of his passion was Mrs. Elizabeth Porter, a widow who had children as old as himself. To ordinary spectators, the lady appeared to 15 be a short, fat, coarse woman, painted half an inch thick, dressed in gaudy colours, and fond of exhibiting provincial airs and graces which were not exactly those of the Queensberrys and Lepels.' To Johnson, however, whose passions were strong, whose eyesight 20 was too weak to distinguish ceruse from natural bloom, and who had seldom or never been in the same room with a woman of real fashion, his Titty,° as he called her, was the most beautiful, graceful, and accomplished of her sex. That his admiration was unfeigned can- 25 not be doubted; for she was as poor as himself. She accepted, with a readiness which did her little honour, the addresses of a suitor who might have been her son.° The marriage, however, in spite of occasional 5 wranglings, proved happier than might have been expected. The lover continued to be under the illusions of the wedding-day till the lady died in her sixty-fourth year. On her monument he placed an

inscription extolling the charms of her person 10 and of her manner; and when, long after her decease,

he had occasion to mention her, he exclaimed, with a tenderness half ludicrous, half pathetic, “Pretty creature°!

His marriage made it necessary for him to exert 15 himself more strenuously than he had hitherto done.

He took a house in the neighbourhood of his native town, and advertised for pupils. But eighteen months passed away; and only three pupils came to his

academy. Indeed, his appearance was so strange, and 20 his temper so violent, that his schoolroom must have

resembled an ogre's den. Nor was the tawdry painted grandmother whom he called his Titty well qualified to make provision for the comfort of young gentlemen.

David Garrick, who was one of the pupils, used, 25 many years later, to throw the best company of

London into convulsions of laughter by mimicking the endearments of this extraordinary pair.

At length Johnson, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, determined to seek his fortune in the capital as a literary adventurer. He set out with a few guineas, 5 three acts of the tragedy of Ireneo in manuscript, and two or three letters of introduction from his friend Walmesley.

Never, since literature became a calling in England, had it been a less gainful calling than at the time 10 when Johnson took up his residence in London. In the preceding generation a writer of eminent merit was sure to be munificently rewarded by the government. The least that he could expect was a pension or a sinecure place; and, if he showed any aptitude 15 for politics, he might hope to be a member of parliament, a lord of the treasury, an ambassador, a secretary of state. It would be easy, on the other hand, to name several writers of the nineteenth century of whom the least successful has received 20 forty thousand pounds from the booksellers. But Johnson entered on his vocation in the most dreary part of the dreary interval which separated two ages of prosperity. Literature had ceased to flourish under the patronage of the great, and had not begun 25


to flourish under the patronage of the public. One man of letters, indeed, Pope, had acquired by his pen what was then considered as a handsome fortune, and lived on a footing of equality with nobles and ministers of state. But this was a solitary exception. Even an author whose reputation was established, and whose works were popular, such an author as Thomson, whose Seasons were in every library, such an

author as Fielding, whose Pasquin had had a greater 10 run than any drama since The Beggar's Opera,' was

sometimes glad to obtain, by pawning his best coat, the means of dining on tripe at a cookshop underground, where he could wipe his hands, after his greasy meal, on the back of a Newfoundland dog. It is easy,

there15 fore, to imagine what humiliations and privations must have awaited the novice who had still to earn a

One of the publishers to whom Johnson applied for employment measured with a scornful eye

that athletic though uncouth frame, and exclaimed, 20 “ You had better get a porter's knot, and carry

trunks." Nor was the advice bad, for a porter was likely to be as plentifully fed and as comfortably lodged, as a poet.

Some time appears to have elapsed before Johnson 25 was able to form any literary connection from which


he could expect more than bread for the day which was passing over him. He never forgot the generosity with which Hervey, who was now residing in London, relieved his wants during this time of trial. “Harry Hervey,” said the old philosopher many years later, 5

was a vicious man; but he was very kind to me. If you call a dog Hervey I shall love him.” At Hervey's table Johnson sometimes enjoyed feasts which were made more agreeable by contrast. But in general he dined, and thought that he dined well, on sixpenny 10 worth of meat, and a pennyworth of bread, at an alehouse near Drury Lane.°

The effect of the privations and sufferings which he endured at this time was discernible to the last in his temper and his deportment. His manners had never 15 been courtly. They now became almost savage. Being frequently under the necessity of wearing shabby coats and dirty shirts, he became a confirmed sloven. Being often very hungry when he sate down to his meals, he contracted a habit of eating with 20 ravenous greediness. Even to the end of his life, and even at the tables of the great, the sight of food affected him as it affects wild beasts and birds of prey. His taste in cookery, formed in subterranean ordinarieso and Alumode beefshops, was far from delicate. 25

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