1780 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Francis Grose, "Dr. Johnson" 1780 ca.; in Grose, The Olio (1792) 161-62.



Doctor Johnson's Dictionary was not entirely written by himself; one Steward, a porter-drinking man, was employed with him: Steward's business was to collect the authorities for the different words.

Whilst this Dictionary was in hand, Dr. Johnson was in debt to a milk man, who attempted to arrest him. The Doctor then lived in Gough-square: once on an alarm of this kind, he brought down his bed and barricadoed the door, and from the window harangued the milk-man and bailiffs in these words: "Depend upon it, I will defend this my little citadel to the utmost."

About this time the Doctor exhibited a proof that the most ingenious mind may be so debased by distress, as to commit mean actions. — In order to raise a present supply, Johnson delivered to Mr. Strahan the printer, as new copy, several sheets of his Dictionary, already printed and paid for; for which he thus obtained a second payment. The Doctor's credit with his Bookseller not being then sterling, and the occasion for money very pressing, ways and m eans, to raise the supply wanted, were necessary to prevent a refusal.

These circumstances the author mentions, that he received from a person who was concerned in printing the Dictionary.