Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

THE

LIFE OF JOHNSON,

BY MR. CHALMERS.

THE admission of Dr. Johnson's poems into the supplement to his own collection, published in 1793, renders some account of his life necessary in this place. Iam aware that the following is short and may not be thought satisfactory, for what can be satisfactory to those who have read Mr. Boswell's very interesting volumes, and who that has read them is unacquainted with the mind, the habits, the genius of Dr. Johnson ? Still as some account is indispensible to preserve the uniformity of our plan, an attempt has been made to compress the leading events of his life in a short narrative, which may perhaps refresh the memory, although it can add no. thing to the vast fund of information already before the public. * This highly distinguished writer was born on the 18th of September 1709, at Litchfield in Staffordshire, where his father Michael Johnson, a native of Derby. shire, of obscure extraction, was at that time a bookseller and stationer. His mother, Sarah Ford, was a native of Warwickshire, and sister to Dr. Ford, phy. sician, who was father to Cornelius Ford, a clergyman of loose character, whom Hogarth has satirized in one of the prints of his Modern Midnight Conversation.

Our author was the eldest of two sons. Nathaniel, the youngest, died in 1737, in his twenty-fifth year. The father was a man of robust body and active mind, yet occasionally depressed by melancholy, which Samuel inherited, and, with the aid of a stronger mind, was not always able to shake off. He was also a steady high-churchman, and an adherent of the house of Stuart, a prejudice which his son outlived in the nation at large, without entirely conquering in himself. Mrs. Johnson was a woman of good natural understanding, unimproved by education, and our anthor acknowledged, with gratitude, that she endeavoured to instil sen. timents of piety as soon as he was capable of any instruction. There is little else in his family history worthy of notice, nor had he much pleasure in tracing his pedigree, He venerated others, however, who could produce a recorded ancestry; and used to say, that in him this was disinterested, for he could scarcely tell who was his grandfather.

9.10: h: 154.

« PreviousContinue »