- JOHNSON, SAMUEL
- the great English lexicographer, born in Lichfield, the son of a bookseller; received his early education in his native town and completed it at Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1728; in 1736 he married a widow named Porter, who brought him £800; started a boarding-school, which did not prosper, and in the end of a year he removed to London along with David Garrick, who had been a pupil under him; here he became connected with Cave, a printer, the proprietor of the Gentleman's Magazine, with whom he had previously corresponded, and contributed to the pages of the magazine, earning thereby a meagre livelihood, eking out his means by reporting Parliamentary debates in terms which expressed the drift of them, but in his own pompous language; in 1740 he published a poem entitled the "Vanity of Human Wishes," and about the same time commenced his world-famous Dictionary, which was Published in 1755, "a great, solid, square-built edifice, finished, symmetrically complete, the best of all dictionaries"; during the progress of the Dictionary Johnson edited the Rambler, writing most of the contents himself, carrying it on for two years; in 1758 he started the Idler; in 1762 the king granted him a pension of £300, and by this he was raised above the straitened circumstances which till then had all along weighed upon him, and able to live in comparative affluence for the last 22 years of his life; five years after he instituted the Literary Club, which consisted of the most celebrated men of the time, his biographer, Boswell, having by this time been introduced to him, as subsequently the family of Mr. Thrale; in 1770 he began his "Lives of the English Poets," and in 1773 he made a tour in the Highlands along with Boswell, of which journey he shortly afterwards published an account; Johnson's writings are now dead, as are many of his opinions, but the story of his life as written by BOSWELL (q.v. BOSWELL, JAMES) will last as long as men revere those qualities of mind and heart that distinguish the English race, of which he is the typical representative (1709-1783).
The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. James Wood. 1907.
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