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unsettled turn of mind which prevented his ever fixing in any profession.”
1725: ÆTAT. 16.—AFTER having resided for some time at the house of his uncle, Cornelius Ford, Johnson was, at the age of fifteen, removed to the school of Stourbridge, in Worcestershire, of which Mr. Wentworth was then master.
This step was taken by the advice of his cousin, the Reverend Mr. Ford, a man in whom both talents and good dispositions were disgraced by licentiousness,' but who was a very able judge of what was right. At this school he did not receive so much benefit as was expected. It has been said, that he acted in the capacity of an assistant to Mr. Wentworth, in teaching the younger boys. “Mr. Wentworth (he told me) was a very
able man, but an idle man, and to me very severe ; but I cannot blame him much. I was then a big boy; he saw I did not reverence him; and that he should
get no honour by me. I had brought enough with me, to carry me through ; and all I should get at his school would be ascribed to my own labour, or to my foriner master. Yet he taught me a great deal.”
He thus discriminated, to Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, his progress at his two grammar-schools. “ At one, I learnt 'much in the school, but little from the master; in the other, I learnt much from the master, but little in the school.”
The Bishop also informs me, that “ Dr. Johnson's father, before he was received at Stourbridge, applied to have him admitted as a scholar and assistant to the Reverend Samuel Lea, M.A. head master of
5 He is said to be the original of the parson in Hogarth's Modern Midnight Conversation.
Newport school, in Shropshire; (a very diligent good teacher, at that time in high reputation, under whom Mr. Hollis is said, in the Memoirs of his Life, to have been also educated.)". This application to Mr. Lea was not successful ; but Johnson had afterwards the gratification to hear that the old gentleman, who lived to a very advanced age, mentioned it as one of the most memorable events of his life, that “ he was very near laying that great man for bis scholar."
He remained at Stourbridge little more than a year, and then returned home, where he may be said to have loitered, for two years, in a state very unworthy his, uncommon abilities. He had already given several proofs of his poetical genius, both in his school-exercises and in other occasional compositions. Of these I have obtained a considerable collection, by the favour of Mr. Wentworth, son of one of his masters, and of Mr. Hector, his schoolfellow and friend ; from which I select the following specimens :
Translation of VIRGIL. Pastoral I.
Now, Tityrus, you, supine and careless laid, Play on your pipe bencath this becchen shade; While wretched we about the world must roam, And leave our pleasing fields and native home, Here at your ease you sing your amorous flame, And the wood rings with Amarillis' name.
As was likewise the Bishop of Dromore many years afterwards
Those blessings, friend, a deity bestow'd,
My admiration only I exprest, (No spark of
Translation of HORACE. Book I. Ode xxii.
The man, my friend, whose conscious heart
With virtue's sacred ardour glows,
Nor needs the guard of Moorish bows:
Or horrid Africk's faithless sands;
His liquid wealth o'er barbarous lands.
For while by Chloe's image charm’d,
Too far in Sabine woods I stray'd;
A grizly wolf surprised, and fled,
Apulia's spacious wilds with gore;
Dire nurse of raging lions, bore.
Among the quivering branches sighs ;
With horrid gloom the frowning skies :
A clime deny'd to human race ;
Her heav'nly voice, and beauteous face.
Translation of HORACE. Book II. Ode ix.
Clouds do not always veil the skies,
Nor showers immerse the verdant plain ; Nor do the billows always rise,
Or storms afflict the ruffled main.
Nor, Valgius, on th’ Armenian shores
Do the chain'd waters always freeze ;
Or bends with violent force the trees.
But you are ever drown'd in tears,
For Mystes dead you ever mourn ;
But finds you sad at his return.
The wise experienc'd Grecian sage
Mourn'd not Antilochus so long ; Nor did King Priam's hoary age
So much lament his slaughter'd son.
Leave off, at length, these woman's sighs,
Augustus' numerous trophies sing ; Repeat that prince's victories,
To whom all nations tribute bring.
At length the undaunted Scythian yields,
And scarce forsakes his native fields.
Translation of part of the Dialogue between HECTOR
and ANDROMACHE; from the Sixth Book of HOMER's ILIAD.
She ceas’d; then godlike Hector answer'd kind, (His various plumage sporting in the wind) That post, and all the rest, shall be my care ; But shall I, then, forsake the unfinished war ? How would the Trojans brand great Hector's name ! And one base action sully all my fame, Acquired by wounds and battles bravely fought ! Oh ! how my soul abhors so mean a thought. Long since I learn’d to slight this fleeting breath, And view with cheerful eyes approaching death. The inexorable sisters have decreed That Priam's house, and Priam's self shall bleed : The day will come, in which proud Troy shall yield, And spread its smoking ruins o'er the field. Yet Hecuba's, nor Priam's hoary age, Whose blood shall quench some Grecian's thirsty rage,