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question for posterity whether his or mine is the original.” There has been some controversy as to the length of Johnson's stay at Oxford. Hawkins and Boswell in their biographies said three years, and Boswell is usually correct. But in this instance he is wrong, for later evidence shows that Johnson was in actual residence but about fourteen months. His name was on the college books until October, 1731, but his residence came to an end in December, 1729.

In many respects his college life was unsatisfactory. In the words of Boswell, he was “ depressed by poverty and irritated by disease." And yet a man in whom the social feeling was so large could not fail of popularity and enjoyment. In later years he loved to visit Oxford, and always enjoyed talking over his college experiences with the friends he had made there. “Sir, we are a nest of singing birds,” said he of Oxford. Pembroke College remembers Johnson with affection. Today in the library is the desk once owned by Johnson. On it was written the famous Dictionary; and

“his rooms on the second floor, above the ancient gateway, are much the same as when he lived there. The window of the bedroom looks on the old quadrangle, and in the rooms on the floor below is an oriel window, facing north, placed by the college in honor of its former illustrious member."

Marriage. - In December, 1731, Michael Johnson, the father of Samuel, died. Samuel's inheritance amounted to but £20. “Having no money and no prospects, Johnson naturally married,” wittily observes a biographer. The marriage took place at Derby, July 9, 1735. Boswell has given us an account of the wedding which he heard from Johnson himself:

Sir, she had read the old romances, and had got into her head the fantastical notion that a woman of spirit should use her lover like a dog. So, sir, at first she told me that I rode too fast, and she could not keep up with me; and, when I rode a little slower, she passed me, and complained that I lagged behind. I was not to be made the slave of caprice; and I resolved to begin as I meant to end. I therefore pushed on briskly till I was fairly out of her sight. The road lay between two hedges, so I

was sure she could not miss it, and I contrived that she should soon come up with me; when she did, I observed her to be in tears.”

The bride was Mrs. Porter, a widow in her forty-seventh year; Johnson was not quite twenty-six. Garrick described the bride as very fat, with cheeks of florid red, “produced by thick painting, and increased by the liberal use of cordials; flaring and fantastic in her dress, and affected both in her speech and general behavior." Lucy Porter, the step-daughter, told Boswell that the bridegroom in appearance

was very forbidding; he was then lean and lanky; so that his immense structure of bone was hideously striking to the eye, and the scars of scrofula were deeply visible. He also wore his hair, which was straight and stiff, separated behind; and he often had seemingly convulsive starts and odd gesticulations, which tended to excite at once surprise and ridicule."

That the marriage of two such persons would end in unhappiness would be the natural inference, but matrimonial bliss is not to be inferred by any of the rules of logic. In this case there is every indication that the marriage was a happy one.

“ This is the most sensible man I have ever met," said Mrs. Porter to her daughter when she first met the uncouth Johnson. “Sir, it was a love match on both sides," said Johnson to his friend Beauclerk. And after her death in March, 1752, he worked in a room in the attic for several years because that was the only room in which he had not seen his dear Tetty. And a year after her death, he makes record, “I kept this day as the anniversary of my Tetty's death, with prayers and tears in the morning. In the evening I prayed for her conditionally, if it were lawful."

Goes to London. - His wife brought him a fortune of £800. Part of this was lost through the insolvency of an attorney. With the remainder the couple set up a school at Edial, near Lichfield. After a year and a half the school failed, for Johnson did not have the virtues of a successful schoolmaster. One of his pupils was David Garrick, a man who played a prominent part among the later London friends.

his pen.

Johnson, like Shakspere and thousands of lesser literary men, turned toward London with the hope of making a living with

In discussing the earnings of literary men in the eighteenth century, Sir Leslie Stephen writes:

"A few poets trod in Pope's steps. Young made more than £3000 for the satires called the Universal Passion. ... Gay made £1000 by his Prems; £400 for the copyright of the Beggar's Opera, and three times as much for its second part, Polly. Among historians, Hume seems to have received £700 a volume; Smolletto made £2000 by his catchpenny rival publication; Henry made £3300 by his history; and Robertson, after the booksellers had made £6000 by his History of Scotland, sold his Charles V. for £4500. Amongst the novelists, Fielding received £700 for Tom Jones and t1000 for Amelia; Sterne, for the second edition of the first part of Tristram Shandy and for two additional volumes, received £650.... Goldsmith received 60 guineas for the immortal Vicar, a fair price, according to Johnson, for a work by a then unknown author. By each of his plays he made about £500, and for the eight volumes of his Natural History he received 800 guineas. Towards the end of the century, Mrs. Radcliffe received £500 for the Mysteries of Udolpho, and £800 for her last work, the Italian. Perhaps the largest sum given for a single book was £6000 paid to Hawkesworth for his account of the South Sea Expeditions. Horne Tooke received from £4000 to £5000 for the Diversions of Purley; and it is added by his biographer, though it seems incredible, that Hayley received no less than £11,000 for the Life of Cowper. This was, of course, in the present century, when we are already approaching the period of Scott and Byron."

These illustrations are sufficient to show that a man of literary ability might be able to make a living in the great Babylon of modern times, but Johnson's beginnings were as full of misery and want as those of thousands of less celebrated aspirants who have made the name of Grub Street a synonym for poverty. Of the first years in London we know very little, for even that most persevering of biographers, Boswell, failed to get much information on this period. Johnson himself has told us a little of his manner of living:

"I dined 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 we did not know each other'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 as well served, nay, better, than the rest, for they gave the waiter nothing."

But before his affairs grew better, they grew worse. From scraps of conversation with his friends in later life we gather that there were times when he walked the streets because he had no place of lodging. Mrs. Piozzi relates that Johnson once burst into a passion of tears as he read the lines from his own satire telling of the "ills which assail the scholar's life," lines which brought to mind the bitter experiences of his first years in London,

Literary Beginnings.- Two years before going to London he had translated Lobo's Abyssinia, and in 1738, the year after he went to London, he published his London. But the first years of his literary struggles in London are associated with the Gentleman's Magazine, a periodical conducted by Edward Cave. Johnson was delighted to become a contributor to this magazine; later he became a kind of under-editor. For this magazine he wrote a variety of articles, doing whatever work would bring him remuneration. From 1740 to 1743 he reported the parliamentary debates for the magazine. Owing to strict regulations against publishing the proceedings of Parliament, the reported speeches appeared under the title of Debates in Magna Lilliputia, and fictitious names were given to the speakers. Sometimes Johnson, having no more definite knowledge than that certain speeches had been made, wrote the speeches himself.

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“that at a dinner party at Mr. Foote's, an important debate, towards the end of Sir Robert Walpole's administration, being mentioned, Dr. Francis observed that Mr. Pitt's speech on that occasion was the best he had ever read.' He went on to say that 'he employed eight years of his life in the study of Demosthenes, and finished a translation of that celebrated orator, with all the decorations of style and language within the reach of his capacity; but had met with nothing equal to the speech above mentioned. Many of the company remembered the debate; and some passages were cited with the approbation and applause of all present. During the ardor of conversation, Johnson remained silent. As soon as the warmth

of praise subsided, he opened with these words: ‘That speech I wrote in a garret in Exeter Street.' The guests then began to praise the impartiality with which reason and eloquence had been equally dealt out to both parties. But Johnson would not agree to this. 'I saved,' he said, appearances tolerably well, but I took care that the Whig dogs should not have the best of it.'


Another incident belonging to this period illustrates both the variety of work he was willing to undertake and his sturdy independence of character. Osborne, a well-known bookseller, had purchased the library of Lord Oxford, and had employed Johnson to assist in making a catalogue. While at this work a controversy arose which ended in Johnson's knocking down the bookseller with one of the heavy folios. When in later years Mrs. Thrale asked him about this quarrel, he replied, “There is nothing to tell, dearest lady, but that he was insolent and I beat him, and that he was a blockhead and told of it, which I should never have done. . . I have beat many a fellow, but the rest had the wit to hold their tongues." To Boswell he said, “Sir, he was impertinent to me and I beat him. But it was not in his shop; it was in my own chamber.”

Irene and London. - Before he had migrated to London he had written the greater part of Irene, a tragedy in five acts. But it was not acted until February, 1749, when it appeared under the title of Mahomet and Irene. Elaborate preparations were made to insure its success, and Garrick and Barry, the best actors of the time, took part in the performance, but in spite of all the tragedy failed. Yet it was not a complete failure for the author received from copyright and "author's night” nearly £300. The setting of the play is oriental. Mahomet, the Emperor of the Turks, is in love with Irene, a Greek slave, who spurns his attentions. While Mahomet is making love, Cali, the Grand Vizier, is conspiring against the sovereign. Upon being caught in his treachery he falsely accuses Irene as a conspirator. Just after she has consented to become the wife of the monarch, she is led away to be strangled. Too late the Sultan discovers that he has been duped.

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