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WORK better calculated to lead the A young mind to an acquaintance with English Literature, than Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets, is, perhaps, not in existence. It has been universally read and admired, for strength and dignity of style, originality of sentiment, and perspicuity of remark. It is not easy, indeed, to say, whether we more admire the author for the entertainment and instruction he affords us, or revere him for his invariable attachment to the cause of religion and virtue. That this great man did not in any instance write under the influence of partiality or prejudice, is not meant to be asserted, because it is not to be believed. Yet, notwithstanding some defects of this kind, his work is a masterpiece of criticism and biography.
That young persons, or others, to whom the price of the original work may be an inconvenience, may yet have access to the information
it contains, the present abridgement has been made. On examination, we trust it will be found to comprize, in a condensed form, all that is most worthy of attention: the parts necessarily omitted are those which it was thought could best be spared, and would be least regretted.
included: and of the Editor's Annotations, some are calculated to confirm conjectures or elucidate facts, and others to introduce anecdotes unnoticed by the Doctor, and with which, probably, he was not acquainted.
In fine, the volume now offered to the Public will be found at least a' faithful abstract of its great original ; the information it communicates, though compendious, is yet satisfactory; and in it have been blended, with attentive care,
N R. SAMUEL JOHNSON, who has been styled
U the brightest ornament of thie 18th century, was born in the city of Litchfield in Staffordshire, on the 18th of September N. S. 1709. His father Michael was a bookseller, and must have had some reputation in the city, as he more than once bore the office of chief magistrate,
When arrived at a proper age for grammatical instruction, he was placed in the free school of Litchfield, of which one Mr. Hunter was then master; a man whom his illustrious pupil thought “ very severe, and wrong-headedly severe,” because he would beat a boy for not answering questions which he could not expect to be asked. He was, however, a skilful teacher; and Johnson, when lie stood in the very front of learning, was sensible how much he owed to him; for upon being asked how he had acquired so accurate a knowledge of the Latin tongue, he replied, “ My master beat me very well; without that, Sir, I should have done nothing."
At At the age of 15 Johnson was removed from Litch. field to the school of Stourbridge in Worcestershire, at which he remained little more than a year, and then returned home, where he staid two years without any fettled plan of life or any regular course of study. He read, however, a great deal in a desultory manner, as chance threw books in his way, and as inclination directed him through them ; so that when in his 19th year he was entered a commoner of Pembroke college, Oxford, his mind was stored with a variety of such knowledge as is not often acquired in universities, where boys seldom read any books but what are put into their hands by their tutors. He had given very early proofs of his poetical genius both in his school exercises and in other occasional compositions : but what is perhaps more remarkable, as it shows that he ... must have thought much on a subject on whịch other boys of that age seldom think at all, he had before he was 14 entertained doubts of the truth of revelation. From the melancholy cáit of his temper these would na.. turally prey upon his fpirits, and give him great uneasiness: but they were happily removed by a proper course of reading: for “ his studies, being honest, ended in conviction. He found that religion is true; and what he had learned, he ever afterward endeavoured to teach.”.
For some transgression or absence his tutor had imposed upon him as a Christmas exercise the task of translating into Latin verse Pope's Mefiah ; which being shown to the author of the original, was read and returned with this encomium, “ The writer of this poem will leave it a question for posterity, whether his or mine be the original.” The particular course of his reading while in college, and during the vacation which he patied at home, cannot be traced. That at this period he read much, we have his own evidence in what he afterwards told the king ; but his mode of