Failure of the First Attempt
But Johnson had to realize that there was an enormous variety in the usage of words. As he read through his large corpus, he realized that his methods would not be able to cope with vast possibilities of different usages for the words.
The result was that he had to form new methods that would be able to deal with the great variety. Johnson had to leave behind an enormous amount of work. It was of no use anymore. In the late 20th century parts of this work were found. They are now known as the Sneyd-Gimbel materials. What seems to us like a little technical crisis, has actually been a large philosophical crisis for Johnson. He had thought he alone could create his Dictionary within three years.
The reasons for the failure of this plan can partly be found in his biography. In 1752 Johnson´s wife died. Another reason is the fact that Johnson was part of different literary enterprises while he compiled the dictionary. He worked as a journalist. Furthermore he had to fight with personal problems like diseases. Temporary scholars believe that Johnson suffered from tourette.
Finally he suffered mentally from his self picture. He saw himself a poet, who had to work on a lexicon.
To sum it all up one can say that he, besides all those reasons mentioned above, totally underestimated the work load of his project.