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No. I.

Of Dr. Johnson by Miss Reynolds.


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MR. PALMER's papers contain two manuscripts of Miss Reynolds's Ed.

Recollections, both in her own handwriting, nearly the same in substance, but differing a good deal as to the order, and something as to the handling, of the various topics. Miss Reynolds's best style was, as Dr. Johnson himself hinted to her, not a clear one, and in those rambling Recollections, scattered over separate sheets of paper, there is a good deal of tautology and confusion, through which the editor has had some difficulty in discovering any thing like order. He has, however, made an arrangement which, if not quite satisfactory, is at least intelligible. These Recollections tell little that is new, but they confirm and explain, and occasionally throw a useful light on some interesting points of Dr. Johnson's manners and character: and although they have not the advantage of having been written while the matters were quite fresh in Miss Reynolds's mind, the long and cordial intimacy between her and Dr. Johnson entitles them to as much confidence as can be placed in Recollections.


“ The first time I was in company with Dr. Jolinson, which was at Miss Cotterel’s, I well remember the flattering notice he took of a lady present, on her saying that she was inclined to estimate the morality of every person according as they liked or disliked Clarissa Harlowe. He was a great admirer of Richardson's works in general, but of Clarissa he always spoke with the highest enthusiastic praise. He used to say that it was the first book in the world for the knowledge it displays of the human heart?.

“ Yet of the author I never heard him speak with any degree of cordiality, but rather as if impressed with some cause of resentment

against him; and this has been imputed to something of jealousy, not • to say envy, on account of Richardson's having engrossed the atten

tions and affectionate assiduities of several very ingenious literary ladies, whom he used to call his adopted daughters, and for vhom

[Mr. Gwatkin's copy of these Recolicctions seems to have been extracted and abridged from the originals by another hand. -Ed.]

s [See ante, vol. ii. p. 49.-Ev.]

Dr. Johnson had conceived a paternal affection (particularly for two of them, Miss Carter and Miss Mulso, now Mrs. Chapone), previous to their acquaintance with Richardson, and it was said that he thought himself neglected by them on his account.

“Dr. Johnson set a higher value upon female friendship than perhaps most men', which may reasonably be supposed was not a little enhanced by his acquaintance with those ladies, if it was not originally derived from them. To their society, doubtless, Richardson owed that delicacy of sentiment, that feminine excellence, as I may say, that so peculiarly distinguishes his writings from those of his own sex in general, how high soever they may soar above the other in the more dignified paths of literature, in scientific investigations, and abstruse inquiries.

“Dr. Johnson used to repeat, with very apparent delight, some lines of a poem written by Miss Mulso:

“Say, Stella, what is love, whose cruel power

Robs virtue of content, and youth of joy ?
What nymph or goddess, in what fatal hour,

Produced to light the mischief-making boy ?
Some say, by Idleness and Pleasure bred,

The smiling babe on beds of roses lay:
There with soft honey'd dews by Fancy fed,

His infant beauties opend on the day ?.'
6. Dr. Johnson had an uncommon retentive memory


every thing that appeared to him worthy of observation. Whatever he met with in reading, particularly poetry, I believe he seldom required a revisal to be able to repeat verbatim. If not literally so, his deviations were generally improvements. This was the case, in some respects, in Shenstone's poem of the “Inn,' which I learned from hearing Dr. Johnson repeat it; and I was surprised, on seeing it lately among the author's works for the first time, to find it so different. One stanza he seems to have extemporized himself:

*And once again I shape my way

Through rain, through shine, through thick and thin,
Secure to meet, at close of day,

A kind reception at an inn.'



' [“ In his conversation with ladies, he had such a felicity as would put vulgar gallantry out of countenance. Of the female mind he conceived a higher opinion than many men, and, though he was never suspected of a blamable intimacy with any individual of them (see ante, p. 306), had a great esteem for the sex. The defect in his powers of sight rendered him totally insensible to the charms of beauty; but he knew that beauty was the attribute of the sex, and treated all women with such an equable complacency as flattered every one into a belief that she had her share of that or some more valuable endowment. In his discourses with them his compliments had ever a neat and eleg tur: they were never direct, but always implied the merit they were intended to attest.” -Hawkins's Life, p. 309.-ED).

? [Johnson paid the first of those stanzas the great and undeserved compliment of quoting it in his Dictionary, under the word “QUATRAIN.”—ED.]


“He always read amazingly quick, glancing his eye from the top to the bottom of the page in an instant. If he made any pause, it was a compliment to the work; and after seesawing' over it a few minutes, generally repeated the passage, especially if it was poetry.

“One day, on taking up Pope's Essay on Man,' a particular passage seemed more than ordinary to engage his attention ; so much so indeed that, contrary to his usual custom, after he had left the book and the seat in which he was sitting, he returned to revise it, turning over the pages with anxiety to find it, and then repeated, Passions, though selfish, if their means be fair,

Epis. ii.
List under Reason, and deserve her care:
Those that, imparted, court a nobler aim,

Exalt their kind, and take some virtue's name.'
His task, probably, was the whole paragraph, but these lines only
were audible.

“He seemed much to delight in reciting verses, particularly from Pope. Among the many I have had the pleasure of hearing him recite, the conclusion of the · Dunciad;' and his Epistle to Jervas, seemed to claim his highest admiration.

v 96.

· Led by some rule that guides, but not constrains,
And finish'd more through happiness than pains ?'

he used to remark, was a union that constituted the ultimate degree of excellence in the fine arts.

“ Two lines also from Pope's · Universal Prayer' I have heard him quote, in very serious conversation, as his theological creed:

“And binding Nature fast in fate,

Left free the human will.'

“ Some lines also he used to repeat in his best manner, written in memory of Bishop Boulter 3, which I believe are not much known.

Some write their wrongs in marble; he, more just,
Stoop'd down serene and wrote them in the dust;
Trod under foot, the sport of every wind,
Swept from the earth, and blotted from his mind.
There, secret in the grave, he bad them lie,
And grieved they could not ’scape the Almighty's eye.'

“A lady who had learnt them from Dr. Johnson thought she had made a mistake, or had forgot some words, as she could not make

1 [A lady said pleasantly of Dr. Johnson's strange movement, or oscillation while reading, that “his head swung seconds.Miss Hawkins's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 216. -En.]

2 Epistle to Jervas. Miss REYNOLDS.
3 [By Dr. Madden. See ante, v. i. p. 307...Ed.]


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out a reference to there, and mentioned it to him. No,' he said, she had not;' and after seesawing a few minutes, said something that indicated surprise, that he should not have made the same remark before.

“Some time after, he told the lady that these lines were inserted in the last edition of his Dictionary, under the word SPORT".

“Of Goldsmith's Traveller he used to speak in terms of the highest commendation. A lady. I remember, who had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Johnson read it from the beginning to the end on its first coming out, to testify her admiration of it, exclaimed, “I never more shall think Dr. Goldsmith ugly. In having thought so, however, she was by no means singular ; an instance of which I am rather inclined to mention, because it involves a remarkable one of Dr. Johnson's ready wit: for this lady, one evening being in a large party, was called upon after supper for her toast, and seeming embarrassed, she was desired to give the ugliest man she knew; and she immediately named Dr. Goldsmith, on which a lady' on the other side of the table rose up and reached across to shake hands with her, expressing some desire of being better acquainted with her, it being the first time they had met; on which Dr. Johnson said, “Thus the ancients, on the commencement of their friendships, used to sacrifice a beast betwixt them.'

“ Sir Joshua, I have often thought, never gave a more striking proof of his excellence in portrait-painting, than in giving dignity to Dr. Goldsmith's countenance, and yet preserving a strong likeness. But he drew after his mind, or rather his genius, if I may be allowed to make that distinction, assimilating the one with his conversation, the other with his works.

“ Dr. Goldsmith's cast of countenance, and indeed his whole figure from head to foot, impressed every one at first sight with an idea of his being a low mechanic-particularly, I believe, a journeyman tailor. A little concurring instance of this I well remember. One day at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, in company with some gentlemen and ladies, he was relating with great indignation an insult he had just received from some gentleman he had accidentally met (I think at a coffeehouse). · The fellow,' he said, took me for a tailor ! on which all the party either laughed aloud or showed they suppressed a laugh.

“ Dr. Johnson seemed to have much more kindness for Goldsmith, than Goldsmith had for him. He always appeared to be overawed by Johnson, particularly when in company with people of any con

[They are so. We see in this case, and that of Miss Mulso (ante, p. 384), that Dr. Johnson's personal partialities induced him to quote in his Dictionary authors who

business ere.” See ante, v. i. p. 307, the motive of his gratitude to Madden. -Ed.]

? [Miss Reynolds herself.-Ed.]
3 Mrs. Cholmondely.-Miss REYNOIDS.

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sequence, always as if impressed with some fear of disgrace, and indeed well he might. I have been witness to many mortifications he has suffered in Dr. Johnson's company: one day in particular, at Sir Joshua's table, a gentleman to whom he was talking his best stopped him, in the midst of his discourse, with · Hush! hush! Dr. Johnson is going to say something.'

At another time, a gentleman who was sitting between Dr. Johnson and Dr. Goldsmith, and with whom he had been disputing, remarked to another, loud enough for Goldsmith to hear him, “That he had a fine time of it, between Ursa major and Ursa minor!!'

Mr. Baretti used to remark (with a smile) that Dr. Johnson always talked his best to the ladies. But indeed that was his general practice to all who would furnish him with a subject worthy of his discussion; for, what was very singular in him, he would rarely, if ever, begin any subject himself, but would sit silent till something was particularly addressed to him, and if that happened to lead to any scientific or moral inquiry, his benevolence, I believe, more immediately incited him to expatiate on it for the edification of the ignorant than for any other motive whatever.

“One day, on a lady's telling him that she had read Parnell's “Hermiť with dissatisfaction, for she could not help thinking that thieves and murderers, who were such immediate ministers from heaven of good to man, did not deserve such punishments as our laws inflict, Dr. Johnson spoke such an eloquent oration, so deeply philosophical, as indeed afforded a most striking instance of the truth of Baretti's observation, but of which, to my great regret, I can give no corroborating proof, my memory furnishing me with nothing more than barely the general tendency of his arguments, which was to prove, that though it might be said that wicked men, as well as the good, were ministers of God, because in the moral sphere the good we enjoy and the evil we suffer are administered to us by man, yet, as infinite goodness could not inspire or influence man to act wickedly, but, on the contrary, it was his divine property to produce good out of evil, and as man was endowed with free-will to act, or to refrain from acting wickedly, with knowledge of good and evil, with conscience to admonish and to direct him to choose the one and to reject the other, he was, therefore, as criminal in the sight of God and of

· [The editor has preserved this specimen, as a striking instance of the easy fabrication of what are called anecdotes, and of how little even the best authorities can be relied on in such matters. The real anecdote was of Doctor Major and Doctor Minor (see ante, vol. ii. p. 350), by no means so happy as the fabrication, and the title of Ursa Major was applied to Johnson by old Lord Auchinlech (ante, vol. ii. p. 79). From these two facts the pleasant fallacy quoted by Miss Reynolds was no doubt compounded. -En.] ? [See ante, vol. ii. p. 307.-ED.]


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