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from his youth with so much ardour. The house in Leicestersquare acquires a touching interest from a little incident connected with his last days. He was glad to amuse himself during his melancholy affliction," and part of his attention was bestowed upon a little tame bird which, like the favourite spider of the prisoner in the Bastile, served to pass away a lonely hour. But this proved also a fleeting pleasure; for one summer's morning, the window of the chamber being by accident left open, the little favourite took flight, and was irrecoverably lost, although its master wandered for hours in the square before the house in the fruitless hope of reclaiming it.” A symbol of a moral sentiment lies in that simple story. So do the cherished joys of earth in many a case take wing, leaving those who have lost them to wander after them in vain.
Sir Joshua Reynolds, after suffering much from nervous disease, died in Leicester-square, February 23rd, 1792, aged sixty-nine. He had a public funeral. The remains were removed to Somerset House, and from thence the procession moved to the cathedral of St. Paul: it included forty-two mourning coaches and forty-nine private carriages, and the pall was borne by three dukes, two marquises, and five other noblemen. The funeral train was met by the lord mayor and sheriffs at Somerset-place, whilst vast multitudes lined the way to gaze upon the pageant; shops being shut, and people vying with each other to show homage to departed genius. He was interred in a crypt beneath the dome, where the ashes of other distinguished painters have since found their place of reposeLawrence, Barry, Opie, West, Fuseli, and Turner. Nelson and Collingwood sleep within the same subterranean enclosure, to which Wellington is conveyed, reminding us of the truth, not less affecting than familiar, that neither skill in art nor prowess in arms can protect the sons of men from the stroke of the last enemy.
XI. DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
“ My first journey to London !" There are few of the country-born inhabitants of the great city who do not look back to that event with peculiar interest. How busy imagination used to be in the days of their boyhood with this object of their hope. How the old grey metropolis, painted in fancy hues, used to loom before the eye, and excite eager longings for the day when the grand expedition was to be made. With feelings bordering on envy, the lad on his way to school before breakfast, as the summer sun smiled so cheerfully on the front of the provincial inn, looked up to the passengers on the roof of the London day-coach, and paused to witness the busy preparations of the red-coated driver and guard, and followed with his eye the well-laden vehicle rattling along the stones and whirling round the corner, and caught the echo of the merry horn, becoming fainter and fainter till it died away. And when perchance some young schoolfellow had been to spend his holidays in the mother city, with what curiosity was he welcomed on his return, and how eagerly did listening groups gather round him to receive his wonderful stories. When the period arrived for one's own personal adventure in this way, how broken was the sleep the night before! What dreams we had, all in glorious confusion ! Nor was there any fear of lying too late that morning. With what joy did we spring into the place booked some time before, and all day long how we did wonder about what we were to see; and did we not stretch our neck to catch a glimpse of every object in advance, as the coach neared Whitechapel ?
To how many has the first journey to London been really an epoch in their history. The legendary tale of Whittington dreaming of London streets being paved with gold, and finding out at last that for him they might be said to be so, has found almost a counterpart in the actual experience of not a few, who have in succeeding centuries occupied his seat of honour and worn the civic chain. Arrival in the metropolis, too, has often proved the first step out of obscurity into fame. Minds full of genius have found it a battle-ground on which, not however till after much hard fighting, they have won the laurels of renown. As in the biography of commerce the struggles of young men in pursuit of wealth, during the first few years of their London life, would afford materials full of interest and instruction, so are illustrations and lessons supplied by the opening chapters of a metropolitan career in the history of aspirants after literary fame.
We often think of Johnson's first visit to London. He was twenty-eight years of age, and came up in search of fortune in a double sense. He wanted a livelihood; but literary ambition was coupled with the humbler desire. He and Garrick travelled from Lichfield together. They liked to talk of it afterwards, and would paint the picture of their poverty at the time in the very darkest colours, as men who rise are often wont to do. 66 We rode and tied,” said the tragedian. “I came to London with twopence halfpenny in my pocket,” said the great lexicographer and critic. “What do you say?" his companion inquired. “Why, yes,” he rejoined, “I came with twopence halfpenny in my pocket, and thou, Davy, with three halfpence in thine." Johnson certainly was very badly off. His school at Lichfield had failed; and literature now was his only resource. It is ever, as Sir Walter Scott said,
a good walking-stick, but a bad crutch;" it was so then even more than now, for readers were a limited class, and the book-trade far from flourishing. “You had better buy a porter's knot," observed Wilcox, the publisher, to the newly arrived competitor in the race of authorship, as he looked on his large frame and vigorous limbs. For some time, so far as a maintenance was concerned, Johnson could hardly have been in greater straits had he taken the man's advice. Even seven years after his first arrival, he was at times in such indigence that he could not pay for a lodging, and he and his friend Savage wandered whole nights about the streets. On one occasion they walked till morning round St. James's-square, not at all, however, depressed by their situation ; as, according to Johnson's own account, “ they were in high spirits and brim-full of patriotism, and for several hours inveighed against the minister, and resolved they would stand by their country.”
The first place in which Johnson lived on reaching London was a garret in the house of a Mr. Morris, staymaker, in Exeter-street, adjoining Catherine-street, in the Strand. Frequently four-pence halfpenny a day was all that he spent on his support, for he was rigidly honest, and would not get into debt without the means of payment; thus forming a noble exception to the too general practice of his brother adventurers in the book-making craft. When now and then a little more cash diminished the need of extreme privation, he gave himself a treat after the following fashion. “I dined very well for eightpence, with very good company, at the Pine Apple in New-street, just by. Several of them had travelled. They expected to meet every day, but did not know one another's names. It used to cost the rest a shilling, for they drank wine; but I had a cut of meat for sixpence, and bread for a penny, and gave the waiter a penny; so that I was quite well served, nay, better than the rest, for they gave the waiter nothing.” Johnson's life just then was a cold and comfortless one, but he had a friend in a Mr. Hervey, of whom he ever spoke with gratitude and affection. Beautiful is it to notice, amidst Johnson's stern and rugged nature, fountains of feeling such as gush up in his wellknown words: “If you call a dog Hervey, I shall love him.” Johnson also resided in Bow-street, Covent Garden, and in Castlestreet, Oxford Market; but his early London history is better associated with another locality.
There is a quiet spot at Clerkenwell which we are very fond of visiting. It is adorned with an archæological relic of rare interest, one of the few which time and circumstances have spared. The picture of it still lingers on the brown cover of the “Gentleman's Magazine.” We allude to St. John's Gate, through which, in days of yore, crusading knights, of the order of that name, often passed upon their high-mettled steeds; but known in Johnson's day, and since, for other associations. There lived, in the first half of the eighteenth century, the famous Mr. Cave, an enterprising publisher, who originated the periodical just mentioned, calling himself, in his editorial capacity, Sylvanus Urban. Johnson admired this primitive leader in a walk of literature since crowded by a host of followers. To St. John's Gate he soon made his way,
and beheld the edifice “with reverence,” as he expressly informed Mr. Boswell; an expression which the biographer interpreted in allusion to the miscellany, whereas later annotators, who have been as busy with Johnson's works and life as their ancient predecessors were with Homer, inform us there can be no doubt the reference is to the edifice itself, with its chivalrous memories. We find Johnson writing to Mr. Cave, “ from Greenwich, next door to the Golden Heart, Church-street." Afterwards he became a contributor to the magazine, and arranged with Cave for the publication of his early works. There he would often go with MSS. in his pocket to talk over literary and business matters with his new friend, and hence we can distinctly connect the shade of this great author, in his twenty-ninth year, with the gateway and the street adjoining. As we linger about it, we fancy we see him in shabby clothes, emerging from the little doorway under the shady arch, with that feeling of honest independence which Johnson of all men loved to