Sivut kuvina
[blocks in formation]

URBANE, nullis feffe laboribus,
URBANE, nullis victe calumniis,
Cui fronte fertum in eruditâ
Perpetuò viret et virebit ;

Quid moliatur gens imitantium,
Quid et minetur, folicitus parùm,
Vacare folis perge Mufis,

Juxta animo ftudiifque felix.

Lingue procacis plumbea fpicula,
Fidens, fuperbo frange filentio ;
Victrix per obftantes catervas
Sedulitas animofa tendet.

Intende nervos, fortis, inanibus
Rifurus olim nifibus æmuli;
Intende jam nervos, habebis
Participes opera Camanas.

Non ulla Mufis pagina gratior,
Quam quæ feveris ludicra jungere
Novit, fatigatamque nugis
Utilibus recreare mentem.

Texente Nymphis ferta Lycoride,
Rofe ruborem fic viola adjuvat

Immifta, fic Iris refulget

Æthereis variata fucis.

S. J.


• A tranflation of this Ode, by an unknown correfpondent, appeared in the Magazine for the

month of May following:

"Hail URBAN! indefatigable man,

"Unwearied yet by all thy useful toil!

"Whom num'rous flanderers assault in vain ;
"Whom no bafe calumny can put to foil.
"But ftill the laurel on thy learned brow
"Flourishes fair, and fhall for ever grow.


Etat. 29.

It appears that he was now enlifted by Mr. Cave as a regular coadjutor in 1738. his magazine, by which he probably obtained a tolerable livelihood. At what time, or by what means, he had acquired a competent knowledge both of French and Italian, I do not know; but he was fo well skilled in them, as to be fufficiently qualified for a translator. That part of his labour which confifted in emendation and improvement of the productions of other contributors, like that employed in levelling ground, can be perceived only by those who had an opportunity of comparing the original with the altered copy. What we certainly know to have been done by him in this way, was the Debates in both houses of Parliament, under the name of "The Senate of

"What mean the fervile imitating crew,

"What their vain bluft'ring, and their empty noise,

"Ne'er feek: but ftill thy noble ends purfue,

"Unconquer'd by the rabble's venal voice.

"Still to the Muse thy ftudious mind apply,

Happy in temper as in industry.

"The fenfelefs fneerings of an haughty tongue,

"Unworthy thy attention to engage,

"Unheeded pafs; and tho' they mean thee wrong,
"By manly filence difappoint their rage.
"Affiduous diligence confounds its foes,
"Refiftlefs, tho' malicious crouds oppose.

"Exert thy powers, nor flacken in the course,
"Thy fpotlefs fame fhall quafh all false reports:
"Exert thy powers, nor fear a rival's force,
"But thou shalt fmile at all his vain efforts;
"Thy labours fhall be crown'd with large fuccefs;
"The Mufe's aid thy magazine shall bless.

"No page more grateful to th' harmonious nine

"Than that wherein thy labours we furvey:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


Atat. 29.

Lilliput," fometimes with feigned denominations of the several speakers, fometimes with denominations formed of the letters of their real names, in the manner of what is called anagram, fo that they might eafily be decyphered. Parliament then kept the prefs in a kind of myfterious awe, which made it necessary to have recourfe to fuch devices. In our time it has acquired an unrestrained freedom, fo that the people in all parts of the kingdom have a fair, open, and exact report of the actual proceedings of their representatives and legiflators; which in our conftitution is highly to be valued, though, unquestionably, there has of late been too much reason to complain of the petulance with which obscure fcribblers have prefumed to treat men of the most respectable character and situation.

This important article of the Gentleman's Magazine was, for feveral years, executed by Mr. William Guthrie, a man who deferves to be refpectably recorded in the literary annals of this country. He was defcended of an ancient family in Scotland; but having a small patrimony, and being an adherent of the unfortunate house of Stuart, he could not accept of any office in the state; he therefore came to London, and employed his talents and learning as an "Authour by profeffion." His writings in hiftory, criticism, and politicks, had confiderable merit". He was the first English hiftorian who had recourse to that authentick fource of information, the Parliamentary Journals; and fuch was the power of his political pen, that, at an early period, government thought it worth their while to keep it quiet by a penfion, which he enjoyed till his death. Johnson esteemed him enough to wish that his life should be written. The debates in Parliament, which were brought home and digested by Guthrie, whose memory, though furpaffed by others who have fince followed him in the fame department, was yet very quick and tenacious, were fent by Cave to Johnfon for his revifion; and, after fome time, when Guthrie had attained to greater variety of employment, and the speeches were more and more enriched by the acceffion of Johnson's genius it was refolved that he fhould do the whole himself, from the scanty notes furnished by perfons employed to attend in both houfes of Parliament. Sometimes, however, as he himself told me, he had nothing more communicated to him but the names of the several speakers, and the part which they had taken in the debate.

? How much poetry he wrote, I know not; but he informed me, that he was the authour of the beautiful little piece, "The Eagle and Robin Redbreast," in the collection of poems entitled "THE UNION," though it is there faid to be written by Archibald Scott, before the year 1600.

Etat. 29.

Thus was Johnfon employed, during fome of the best years of his life, 1738. as a mere literary labourer "for gain, not glory," folely to obtain an honest fupport. He however indulged himself in occafional little fallies, which the French fo happily exprefs by the term jeux d'efprit, and which will be noticed in their order, in the progrefs of this work.

But what firft difplayed his tranfcendent powers, and "gave the world. affurance of the MAN," was his "LONDON, a Poem, in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal," which came out in May this year, and burst forth with a splendour, the rays of which will for ever encircle his name. Boileau had imitated the fame fatire with great fuccefs, applying it to Paris; but an attentive comparison will fatisfy every reader, that he is much excelled by the English Juvenal. Oldham had alfo imitated it, and applied it to London; all which performances concur to prove, that great cities, in every age, and in every country, will furnish fimilar topicks of fatire. Whether Johnson had previously read Oldham's imitation, I do not know; but it is not a little remarkable, that there is fcarcely any coincidence found between the two performances, though upon the very fame fubject. The only instances are, in describing London as the fink of foreign worthleffness:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The particulars which Oldham has collected, both as exhibiting the horrours of London, and of the times, contrafted with better days, are different from those of Johnson, and in general well chofen, and well exprest3.


" I own it pleased me to find amongst them one trait of the manners of the age in London, in the last century, to shield from the fneer of English ridicule, what was fome time ago too common a practice in my native city of Edinburgh :

"If what I've faid can't from the town affright,
"Confider other dangers of the night;

I 2



Etat. 29.

There are, in Oldham's imitation, many profaick verfes and bad rhymes, poem fets out with a strange inadvertent blunder :

and his

[merged small][ocr errors]

It is plain he was not going to leave his friend; his friend was going to leave him. A young lady at once corrected this with good critical fagacity


"Tho' much concern'd to lofe my dear old friend."

There is one paffage in the original, better transfused by Oldham than by Johnfon:

"Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in fe,

[ocr errors][merged small]

which is an exquifite remark on the galling meannefs and contempt annexed
to poverty: JOHNSON's imitation is,

"Of all the griefs that harrafs the diftreft,
"Sure the most bitter is a fcornful jeft."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Where, or in what manner this poem was compofed, I am forry that I neglected to ascertain with precision, from Johnson's own authority. He has marked upon his corrected copy of the first edition of it, "Written in 1738;" and, as it was published in the month of May in that year, it is evident that much time was not employed in preparing it for the prefs. The history of its publication I am enabled to give in a very fatisfactory manner; and judging from myself, and many of my friends, I trust that it will not be uninteresting to my readers..

"When brickbats are from upper ftories thrown,
"And emptied chamberpots come pouring down
"From garret windows.”


« EdellinenJatka »