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Elegy on a Blackbird
41. Sequel to the Story of Misargyrus JOHNSON
This elegant and instructive paper was projected by Dr. John HAWKESWORTH soon after the RAMBLER was concluded, and in conjunction with Dr. JOHNSON, who, having experienced the inconveniences of solitary authorship in an undertaking of this kind, laid down a regular plan, and allotted distinct departments to certain writers. Of this plan we have some information from a letter written by Dr. Johnson to Mr. afterwards Dr. JosEPH WARTON. “ We have considered," says Dr. J. “ that a paper should consist of pieces of imagination, pictures of life, and disquisitions of literature. The part which depends on the imagination is very well supplied, as you will find when you read the paper ; for descriptions of life, there is now a treaty almost made with an author and an authoress; and the province of criticism and literature they are very de
sirous to assign to the commentator on Virgil*.” This letter is dated March 8, 1753, and about a month afterwards Mr. WARTON accepted the province of criticism and literature, for which he was certainly eminently qualified. The “ part which depends on imagination was supplied by HAWKESWORTH, THORN. Ton, and Johnson himself. Who the author and authoress about to be engaged for descriptions of life, were, does not appear; but the negotiation did not take place, as the whole paper, except six or seven numbers, was written by Drs. HAWKESWORTH, THORNTON, Johnson, and WARTON. In respect to style, THORNTON stands alonet; his province was humour, and he was not given to studious decorations. HAWKES. WORTH was a professed and most successful imitator of Dr. Johnson. Mr. Warton, not without some intervals of humour, kept to his province of literature and criticism, but with occasional efforts in the solemn manner of Johnson, as will be specified hereafter.
The first number was published on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 1752, in the folio size, and quantity of the RAMBLER, and at the same price. At the bottom of the last
page is the following notice: “ Printed for J. PAYNE, at Pope's Head, in Paternoster-Row, where letters to the ADVENTURER are received. These numbers will be formed into regular volumes, to each of which will be
* BOSWELL's Life of JOHNSON.
+ In the last edition to this Preface, I was so far misled by si JOHN HAWKINS and Mr. BoSWELL, as to state that the papers now at: tributed to BONNEL THORNTON were written by Dr. BATHURST.
printed a title, a table of contents, and a translation of the mottos and quotations.”—The title is ornamented with an oval head of Pope, by B. R. which in few copies has escaped the merciless hands of the collectors. The days of publication were Tuesday and Saturday, and a period was put to the work in No. 140, Saturday, March 9, 1754, when, by signing his name, Dr. HAWKESWORTH (to use sir John Hawkins' phrase) “ almost in terms, declared himself the editor.”
The publisher, Mr. John PAYNE, of whom notice - has been already taken in the Preface to the Ram
BLER, was very anxious for the success of this new undertaking, and applied for Dr. BIRCH's good opinion and recommendation, in the following letter now in the British Museum:
I have presumed to beg your acceptance of the numbers that are hitherto published of a paper
called the ADVENTURER, the ultimate design of which is to promote the practice of piety and virtue upon the principles of Christianity; yet in such a manner that they for whose benefit it is chiefly intended may not be tempted to throw it aside. And if, sir, upon perusal you find it not unworthy your acceptance, permit me also to entreat you to give it your protection and en. couragement, which will greatly oblige, Rev. Sir, Your obedient humble servant,
John PAYNE, Bookseller at Pope's Head in