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PAUL WHITEHEAD was the youngest son of Mr. Edmund Whitehead,
a tradesman, said to have been a taylor in Castle-yard, Holborn, and was born in 1910, on St. Paul's day, from which circumstance he obtained the christian name he bore. He received his education from a clergyman at Hitchin in Hertfordshire. Being intended for trade, he was placed an apprentice to a mercer in London; but, disliking his situation, he soon quitted it, and entered himself of the Temple, in order to study the law.
Being acquainted with Mr. Fleetwood, the manager of Drury-lano theatre, he was prevailed upon by that gentleman to become bound with him for the payment of a considerable sum of money, which, when it became due, the manager was unable to discharge. He absconded, therefore, and left Mr. Whitehead answerable for it, who, being arrested, was confined for several years within the walls of the Fleet Prison.
His first performance was “ The State Dunces," inscribed to Mr. Pape, in 1733; and in 1938 he published “ Manners,” a satire, in which some nobleman having been treated with very little respect, a complaint was made to the House of Lords, and on the 12th February, 1738-9, it was voted to be scandalous, and Dodsley the publisher of it was taken into custody by the Black Rod, and confined a week. On this occasion Mr. Whitehead with drew until the storm was over.
His next performance was “ The Gymnasiad," published in 1744 ; and that was succeeded by “ Honour, a Satire," in 1747. At this period the Prince of V'ales being in opposition to the Court, Mr. Whitehead connected himself with that party, and was author of the celebrated pamphlet, called “ The Case of the honourable Alexander Murray,” which fell under the censure of the House of Commons, who procured Mr. Owen, the publisher to be prosecuted for vending it. In 1755 he published “ The Epistle to Dr. Thompson.
He had, in the year 1735, married Miss Dyer, only daughter of Sir Swinnerton Dyer, of Spain's Hall in Essex, with whom he is said to have received 10,000l. She died young; and Mr. Whitehead, after his release from Fleetwood's debt, lived in a state of independence, if not affluence. He was particularly attached to Lord Le Despenser, at whose house he almost constantly resided, and by whom he was held in an equal degree of estimation. To this nobleman he bequeathed his heart, with 50l. for an urn, desiring it to be placed in some corner of his lordship's mausoleum, as a memorial of its warm attachment to the noble founder.
For some time before Mr. Whitehead's death, he lingered under a severe illness, during which he employed himself in burning his manuscripts. Though his disorder was such as no medicine would reach, he bore the excruciating pains which he suffered with great resignation, and died December 30, 1774. On the 13th of August following his heart was deposited, as he desired, with great pomp and ceremony.
JOHN ARMSTRONG was born in Castleton parish, Roxboroughshire,
where his father and brother were both ministers. He compleated his education in the university of Cambridge; and took his degree in physick, February 4, 1732, with much reputation. He soon after came to the metropolis, where he was more successful as an author than a physician.
In 1737 he published his celebrated, though too licentious poem, called, “ The Economy of Love;" which has passed through many editions, more, it is to be feared, to the advantage of the bookseller than to the reader. · In 1744 he produced “ The Art of preserving Health ;” a work, in which an excellent critick observes, there is a classical correctness and closeness of style that are truly admirable.
In 1746 he vas appointed one of the physicians to the Hospital for lame and sick Soldiers behind Buckingham House ; and in 1760 went physician to the army in Germany. He was the author of several medical works, which do not appear to have acquired much reputation.
He died in September 1779; and to the surprize of his friends, left a considerable sum of money, saved by great parsiinony out of a very moderate income arising from his half-pay.
HN LANGHORNE was a native of Kirkby-Stephen in Westmoreland.
His father was the Reverend Joseph Langhorne, who died when this his son was young.- The place of his education is unknown; nor does it appear from what seminary he obtained the academical honour by which he was distinguished. About the year 1761 he was at Clare-Hall, Cambridge; but his name does not appear in thri list of Graduates either here or at Oxford. After entering into holy orders he became tutor to the sons of Robert Cracroft, Esq. of Hackthorne in Lincolnshire, whose daughter he afterwards married. In December 1765 he was appointed assistant at Lincoln'sInn. His marriage took place in January, 1767; and the death of his lady soon after produced the monody which does equal honour to the taste and sensibility of the author, and to the virtues of the person celebrated. He was a very frequent and iniscellaneous writer, both in verse and prose. Besides a great variety of pieces, to which he affixed his name, he was the author of many others which were anonymous. Some time before his death he was presented to the living of Blagden in Somersetshire. He died on the first of April, 1779.
SAMUEL JOHNSON was the eldest son of Michael Johnson, a book
seller at Lichfield, in which city this great man was born on the 7th day of September, 1709. The chief part of his education he received under Mr. Hunter, master of the free-school of his native city. On the 31st of October, 1728, he was admitted of Pembroke College, Oxford, where he was entered as a commoner.
He remained in the University about three years in the whole, when the inability of his father to support hin longer compelled him to quit the place without a degree. To maintain himself, he condescended to accept the office of under-master, or usher, of a free grammar-school at Market-Bosworth in Leicestershire, which he relinquished in a very short time. He resided in 1733 at Birmingham, and there is supposed to have been first introduced to Mrs. Porter, who about the year 1736 became his wife.
With the small property he acquired with this lady, he attempted to establish a boarding-school for young gentlemen at Edial near Lichfield, but without success.
On this disappointment he quitted the country in March 1737, in company with Mr. Garrick, and came to London, where he remained during the rest of his life.
In London he had to contend with all the inconveniencies which a stranger, poor and friendless, could encounter; and for the greater part of his life, had no other income than what arose from his writings; which, how'ever excellent, afforded but a scanty and even precarious subsistence. In this state, often struggling with adversity, he passed twenty-four years from bis arrival in the metropolis.
An uniformity of life so unbroken can only be marked by the publication of his works; the principal of which shall be enumerated. On his arrival in town he engaged to write for “ The Gentleman's Magazine ;”, and in 1738 published “London, a Poem,” in imitation of Juvenal. About 1743 he was employed by Osborn, the bookseller, in compiling the “ Catalogue of « the Harleian Library.” In 1744 the “Life of Savage" appeared ; and in
1746 he undertook to compile the " Dictionary of the English language," which was not compleated until the year 1755.
He did not confine himself entirely to this work. In January 1749, “ The « Vanity of Human Wishes," his second imitation of Juvenal, was published. In February « Irene” was acted at Druryalane. In 1750 he began “ The Rambler," which was continued until March 1752.
In that year he lost his wife, whose menory he has perpetuated by the excellent “Sermon written on her Death." In 1755 his Dictionary was published; and the next year he put forth Proposals for publishing Shakspeare, with notes. In 1758 he began
In 1758 he began “ The Idler;" and the next year produced “Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia."
The beginning of his present Majesty's reign was favourable to the fortune of Dr. Johnson. He was amongst the first to whom a pension was offered. His acceptance of it released him from the necessity of continual application, and gave him a respite from literary drudgery. Soon afterwards he was introduced to the family of Mr. Thrale, in which he passed much of his time, until the death of that gentleman.
In 1765 he published his edition of rShakspeare ;” and about the same time had the degree of Doctor of Laws conferred on him by the University of Dublin. He had before had the degree of Master of Arts given him, unasked by the University of Oxford. In 1773 he travelled into Scotland ; and two years afterwards published the Narrative of his Tour. He several times undertook the defence of Administration against the opponents of the Minister; and it has been asserted, that it was once in contemplation to pro: cure him a seat in parliament.
When the work, now reprinted, was undertaken, he engaged to furnish the Lives of the several Poets. These were published at two different times, in 1779 and 1781, and were his last productions. His health had been some time declining; he lingered about a year, and died on the 13th of December, 1784. He was buried in Westminster Abbey; where a monument is about to be erected to his memory.