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pretend a subterraneous communication between the ocean and the Nile, and that the sea, when violently agitated, swells the river. Many are of opinion, that this mighty flood proceeds from the melting of the snow on the mountains of Ethiopia; but so much snow and such prodigious heat are never met with in the same region. Lobo never saw snow in Abyssinia, except on mount SEMEN in the kingdom of TIGRE, very remote from the Nile; and on NAMARA, which is, indeed, not far distant, but where there never falls snow enough to wet, when dissolved, the foot of the mountain. To the immense labours of the Portuguese, mankind are indebted for the knowledge of the real cause of these inunda❤ tions, so great and so regular. By them we are informed, that Abyssinia, where the Nile rises, is full of moun-tains, and, in its natural situation, is much higher than Egypt; that in the winter, from June to September, no day is without rain; that the Nile receives in its course, all the rivers, brooks, and torrents, that fall from those mountains, and, by necessary consequence, swelling above its banks, fills the plains of Egypt with inundations, which come regularly about the month of July, or three weeks after the beginning of the rainy season in Ethiopia. The different degrees of this flood are such certain indications of the fruitfulness or sterility of the ensuing year, that it is publicly proclaimed at Cairo how much the water hath gained during the night."
Such is the account of the Nile and its inundations, which it is hoped, will not be deemed an improper or tedious digression, especially as the whole is an extract from Johnson's translation. He is all the time the actory
in the scene, and in his own words relates the story. Having finished this work, he returned in February, 1734, to his native city, and, in the month of August following, published proposals for printing by subscription the Latin Poems of Politian, with the History of Latin Poetry, from the era of Petrarch to the time of Politian; and also the Life of Politian, to be added by the editor, Samuel Johnson. The book to be printed in thirty octavo sheets, price five shillings. It is to be regretted that this project failed for want of encouragement. Johnson, it seems, differed from Boileau, Voltaire, and D'Lembert, who have taken upon them to proscribe all modern efforts to write with elegance in a dead language. For a decision pronounced in so high a tone, no good reason can be assigned. The interests of learning require, that the diction of Greece and Rome should be cultivated with care; and he who can write a language with correctness, will be most likely to understand its idiom, its grammar, and its peculiar graces of style. What man of taste would willingly forego the pleasure of reading Vida, Fracastorius, Sannazaro, Strada, and others, down to the late elegant productions of Bishop Lowth? The history which Johnson proposed to himself would, beyond all question, have been a valuable addition to the history of letters; but his project failed. His next expedient was to offer his assistance to Cave, the original projecter of the Gentleman's Magazine. For this purpose he sent his proposals in a letter, offering, on reasonable terms, occasionally to fill some pages with poems and inscriptions never printed before; with fugitive pieces that deserved to be revived,
and critical remarks on authors ancient and modern. Cave agreed to retain him as a correspondent and contributor to the Magazine. What the conditions were cannot now be known; but, certainly, they were not sufficient to hinder Johnson from casting his eyes about him in quest of other employment. Accordingly, in 1735, he made overtures to the reverend Mr. Budworth, master of a grammar school at Brerewood, in Staffordshire, to become his assistant. This proposition did not succeed. Mr. Budworth apprehended that the involuntary motions, to which Johnson's nerves were subject, might make him an object of ridicule with his scholars, and, by consequence, lessen their respect for their master. Another mode of advancing himself presented itself about this time. Mrs. Porter, the widow of a mercer in Birmingham, admired his talents. It is said that she had about eight hundred pounds; and that sum to a person in Johnson's circumstances was an affluent fortune. A marriage took place, and to turn his wife's money to the best advantage, he projected the scheme of an academy for education. Gilbert Walmsley, at that time registrer of the ecclesiastical court of the bishop of Lichfield, was distinguished by his erudition and the politeness of his manners. He was the friend of Johnson, and by his weight and influence, endeavoured to promote his interest. The celebrated Garrick, whose father, captain Garrick, lived at Lichfield, was placed in the new seminary of education, by that gentleman's advice. Garrick was then about eighteen years old. An accession of seven or eight pupils was the most that could be obtained, though notice was given by a public advertise
ment,* that at Edial, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, young gentlemen are boarded and taught the Latin and Greek languages, by Samuel Johnson.
The undertaking proved abortive. Johnson having now abandoned all hopes of promoting his fortune in the country, determined to become an adventurer in the world at large. His young pupil, Garrick, had formed. the same resolution; and, accordingly, in March, 1737, they arrived in London together. Two such candidates for fame, perhaps, never, before that day, entered the metropolis together. Their stock of money was soon exhausted. In his visionary project of an academy Johnson had probably wasted his wife's substance; and Garrick's father had little more than his half pay. The two fellow travellers had the world before them, and each was to choose his road to fortune and to fame. They brought with them genius, and powers of mind, peculiarly formed by nature for the different vocations to which each of them felt himself inclined. They acted from the impulse of young minds, even then meditating great things, and with courage anticipating success. Their friend Mr. Walmsley, by a letter to the Rev. Mr. Colson, who, it seems, was a great mathematician, exerted his good offices in their favour. He gave notice of their intended journey. "Davy Garrick," he said, "will be with you next week; and Johnson, to try his fate with a tragedy, and to get himself employed in some translation either from the Latin or French. Johnson is a very good scholar and a poet, and, I have great hopes, will.
* See the Gentleman's Magazine, for 1736, p. 418.
turn out a fine tragedy writer. If it should be in your way, I doubt not but you will be ready to recommend and assist your countrymen." Of Mr. Walmsley's merit, and the excellence of his character, Johnson has left a beautiful testamonial at the end of the Life of Edward Smith. It is reasonable to conclude, that a mathematician, absorbed in abstract speculations, was not able to find a sphere of action for two men who were to be the architects of their own fortune. In three or four years afterwards Garrick came forth with talants that astonished the public. He began his career at Goodman's fields, and there, monstratus fatis Vespasianus! he chose a lucrative profession, and consequently soon emerged from all his difficulties. Johnson was left to toil in the humble walks of literature. A tragedy, as appears by Walmsley's letter, was the whole of his stock. This, most probably, was IRENE; but, if then finished, it was doomed to wait for a more happy period. It was offered to Fleetwood, and rejected. Johnson looked round him for employment. Having, while he remained in the country, corresponded with Cave under a feigned name, he now thought it time to make himself known to a man whom he considered as a patron of literature. Cave had announced, by public advertisement, a prize of fifty pounds for the best poem on Life, Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell; and this circumstance diffused an idea of his liberality. Johnson became connected with him in business, and in a close and intimate acquaintance. Of Cave's character it is unnecessary to say any thing in this place, as Johnson was afterwards the biographer of his first and most useful patron. To be engaged in the translation of some