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sided at his tea-table. Tea was his favourite
beverage; and, when the late Jonas Hanway pronounced his anathema against the use of tea, Johnson rose in defence of his habitual practice, declaring himself “in that article a “hardened sinner, who had for years diluted “his meals with the infusion of that fascinat“ing plant; whose tea-kettle had no time to “cool; who with tea solaced the midnight “hour, and with tea welcomed the morning.”
The proposal for a new edition of Shakspeare, which had formerly miscarried, was resumed in the year 1756. The booksellers readily agreed to his terms; and subscriptiontickets were issued out. For undertaking this work, money, he confessed, was the inciting motive. His friends exerted themselves to promote his interest; and, in the mean time, he engaged in a new periodical production called THE IDLER. The first number appeared on Saturday, April 15, 1758; and the last, April 5, 1760. The profits of this work, and the subscriptions for the new edition of Shakspeare, were the means by which he supported himself for four or five years. In 1759 was published Rasselas, Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. His translation of Lobo's Voyage to Abyssinia seems to have pointed out that country for the scene of action; and Rassila Christos, the General of Sultan Segued, mentioned in that work, most probably suggested the name of the prince. The author wanted to set out on a journey to Lichfield, in order to pay the last offices of filial piety to his mother, who, at the age of ninety, was then near her dissolution; but money was necessary. Mr. Johnston, a bookseller, who has long since left off business, gave one hundred pounds for the copy. With this supply Johnson set out for Lichfield ; but did not arrive in time to close the eyes of a parent whom he loved. He attended the funeral, which, as appears among his memorandums, was on the 23d of January, 1759. *
Johnson now found it necessary to refrench his expences. He gave up his house in Gough-square. Mrs. Williams went into lodgings. He retired to Gray's Inn, and soon removed to chambers in the Inner Temple-lane, where he lived in poverty, total idleness, and the pride of literature.
- - Magni
Magni stat nominis umbrá. Mr. Fitzherbert (the father of Lord St. Helen's, the present. minister at Madrid) a man distinguished through life for his benevolence and other amiable qualities, used to say, that he paid a morning visit to Johnson, intending from his chambers to send a letter into the city ; but, to his great surprize, he found an author by profession without pen, ink, or paper. The present Bishop of Salisbury was also among those who endeavoured, by constant attention, to sooth the cares of a mind which he knew to be afflicted with gloomy apprehensions. At one of the parties made at his house, Boscovich, the Jesuit, who had then lately introduced the Newtonian philosophy at Rome, and, after publishing an elegant Latin poem on the subject, was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, was one of the company invited to meet Dr. Johnson. The conversation at first was mostly in French. Johnson, though thoroughly versed in that language, and a professed admirer of Boileau and La Bruyere, did not understand its pronunciation, nor could he speak it himself with propriety. For the rest of the evening the talk was in Latin. Boscovich had a ready current flow of that flimsy phraseology with which a priest may travel through Italy, Spain, and Germany. Johnson scorned what he called colloquial barbarisms. It was his pride to speak his best. He went on, after a little practice, with as much facility as if it was his native tongue. One sentence this writer well remembers. Observing that Fontinelle at first opposed the Newtonian philosophy, and embraced it afterwards, his words were: Fontinellus, ni fallor, in extremá senectute, fuit transfuga ad castra Newtoniana. We have now travelled through that part of Dr. Johnson's life which was a perpetual struggle with difficulties. Halcyon days are now to open upon him. In the month of May 1762, his Majesty, to reward literary merit, signified his pleasure to grant to Johnson a pension of three hundred pounds: a year, The Earl of Bute was minister. Lord Loughborough, who, perhaps, was originally, a mover in the business, had authority to mention it. He was well acquainted with Johnson; but, having heard much of his independent spirit, and of the downfall of Osborne the bookseller, he did not know but o .* his
his benevolence might be rewarded with a folio on his head. He desired the author of these Memoirs to undertake the task. This writer thought the opportunity of doing so much good, the most happy incident in his life. He went, without delay, to the chambers in the Inner Temple-lane, which, in fact, were the abode of wretchedness. By slow and studied approaches the message was disclosed. Johnson made a long pause: he asked if it was seriously intended ? He fell into a profound meditation, and his own definition of a pensioner occurred to him. He was told, “That he, at least, did not come “ within the definition.” . He desired to meet next day, and dine at the Mitre Tavern. At that meeting he gave up all his scruples. On the following day Lord Loughborough conducted him to the Earl of Bute. The conversation that passed was in the evening related to this writer by Dr. Johnson. He expressed his sense of his Majesty's bounty, and thought himself the more highly honoured, as the favour was not bestowed on him for having dipped his pen in faction. “No, “Sir” said Lord Bute, “it is not offered “to you for having dipped your pen in