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(swarming ', I think, was the phrase) the largest there. "Why, I can swarm it now,' replied Dr. Johnson, which excited a hearty laugh—(he was then, I believe, between fifty and sixty); on which he ran to the tree, clung round the trunk, and ascended to the branches, and, I believe, would have gone in amongst them, had he not been very earnestly entreated to descend; and down he came with a triumphant air, seeming to inake nothing of it.
At another time, at a gentleman's seat in Devonshire, as he and some company were sitting in a saloon, before which was a spacious lawn, it was remarked as a very proper place for running a Race. A young lady present boasted that she could outrun any person; on which Dr. Johnson rose up and said, 'Madam, you cannot outrun me;' and, going out on the Lawn, they started. The lady at first had the advantage; but Dr. Johnson happening to have slippers on much too small for his feet, kick'd them off up into the air, and ran a great length without them, leaving the lady far behind him, and, having won the victory, he returned, leading Her by the hand, with looks of high exultation and delight?
It was at this place where the lady of the House before a large company at Dinner address'd herself to him with a very audible voice, ‘Pray, Dr. Johnson, what made you say in your Dictionary that the Pastern of a Horse was the knee of an [sic] Horse 3?' ' Ignorance, madam, ignorance,' answered Johnson. And I was told that at another time at the same table, when the lady was pressing him to eat something 4, he rose up with his knife in his hand, and loudly exclaim'd, 'I vow to God I cannot eat a bit more,' to the great terror, it was said, of all the company. I did not doubt of the gentleman's veracity who related this. But I was rather surprised at this expression from Johnson; for never
Swarming, in this sense, is not This blunder is the stranger as in in Johnson's Dictionary. Miss Rey Bailey's Dictionary, which he had nolds in one of her manuscripts writes before him when writing his own, warming
pastern is correctly defined. 2 From Paris he wrote :-'Iran Boswell records in his Tour:a race in the rain this day, and beat 'I must take some merit from my Baretti.' Life, ii. 386. See Letters, contriving that he shall not be asked ii. 363, n. 1, for his race with his friend twice to eat or drink anything (which Payne.
always disgusts him).' Life, v. 264. Ante, i. 182 n.; Life, i. 293, 378. See ante, ii. 184 n.
did I know any person so cautious in mentioning that awful name on common occasions, and I have often heard him rebuke those who have unawares interjuctionaly [sic] made use of it".
It was about this time when a lady was traveling [sic] with him in a post-chaise near a village Churchyard ?, in which she had seen a very stricking [sic] object of maternal affection, a little verdent [sic] flowery monument, raised by the Widow'd Mother over the grave of her only child, and had heard some melancholy circumstances concerning them, and as she was relating them to Dr. Johnson, she heard him make heavy sighs, indeed sobs, and turning round she saw his Dear Face bathed in tears, an incident which induced the Lady to describe them in a little poem intitled [sic] A melancholy 3 Tale, founded upon true circumstances *.
Ante, ii. 18 n., 45 n. 2 Wear in Deavonshire (sic), near Torrington. Miss REYNOLDS.
Johnson went to Devonshire in 1762, and spent two days at Torrington, with Reynolds's brothers-inlaw, Palmer and Johnson. Miss Reynolds, who saw him there, was no doubt the lady. Taylor's Reynolds, ii. 215, 217; Life, i. 377. "Mr. Palmer's house is in its arrangements little altered since Dr. Johnson dined in it in 1762.' Murray's Handbook to Devon, ed. 1872, p. 260.
3 Melancholy is scored through in the original.
4 In one of her manuscripts, after 'bathed in tears,' Miss Reynolds added :-'A circumstance he had probably long forgotten, when he wrote at the end of the manuscript Poem with his correcting pen in red ink, I know not when I have been so
much affected. Dr. Johnson honour'd two more poems by the same Author with his corrections and inserted them in Mrs. Williams's collection of poems, without knowing who was the Author till many years after. In the same Book is a most beautiful little composition of his own, a Fairy tale, which I think shews the most amiable view of Dr. Johnson's mind of any of his works.' See Life, ii. 26.
He wrote to her on June 16, 1780 :-Do not, my love, burn your papers. I have mended little but some bad rhymes. I thought them very pretty, and was much moved in reading them.' Letters, ii. 180.
In Lady Colomb's collection is a copy of her verses mended by Johnson. The following extract shows the badness of her rhymes and the nature of his corrections. These last, in italics, were written abovethe original.
• As late disconsolate in pensive mood
I sat revolving life's vicissitude
Tho' it cannot be said that Dr. Johnson was ‘in manners gentle, yet it justly can, that he was in affections mild ',' benevolent and Compassionate, and to this singularity of character, inverting the common forms of civilized society, may I believe be ascribed in a great measure his extraordinary celebrity, sublimated, as one may say, with terror and with love.
But indeed it is worthy of consideration whether these, or any of Dr. Johnson's singularities, would have excited such admiration, had they not been associated with the idea of his moral and religious character ; hence, most undoubtedly, that universal homage of respect and veneration that has been paid to his memory.
Much may be said in excuse for Dr. Johnson's asperity of manners at times, being, I believe, the natural effects of those inherent melancholy infirmities, both mental and corporeal, to which he was subject. Very rarely I believe-perhaps neverwas he intentionally asperous, unless provoked by something said or done that seem'd detrimental to the cause of religion or morality, even in the slightest degree? Tho' indeed it must be confessed that in his zealous ardour to defend the former he too often trespassed on the borders of the latter.
in the middle way
yet all hope withdraws
The springing grass, the circulating air.
to praise and prayer.
Johnson seems to have soon grown are not much less than those in the weary of correcting; at all events whole poem of about 170 lines. the corrections in the first few lines
''Of manners gentle, of affections mild,
Pope, Epitaph on Gay. ?'Obscenity and impiety (said in my company.' Life, iv. 295. See Johnson) have always been repressed ante, ii. 224.
But what I believe chiefly conduced to fix that general stigma on his character for ill-breeding was his naturally loud and imperious tone of voice', which apparently heightened his slightest dissenting opinion to a degree of harsh reproof, and, with his corresponding Aspect, had in general an intimidating influence on those who were not much acquainted with him, and often excited a degree of resentment, which his words in their common acceptation had no tendency to provoke. I have often on those occasions heard him express great surprise that what he had said could have given any offence?, but rarely, I believe, any sorrow }, being conscious of the rectitude of his intentions, which to preserve seem'd his chief concern, the chief object of his meditations, in which not unfrequently he seem'd absorbed even when in company.
It was doubtless very natural for so good a man to keep a strict watch over his mind * ; but so very strict as Dr. Johnson apparently did may perhaps in some measure be attributed to his dread of its hereditary tendencies, which, I had reason to believe, he was very apprehensive bordered upon insanity 5. Probably his studious attention to repel their prevalency, together with his experience of divine assistance, co-operating with his reasoning faculties, may have proved in the highest degree conducive to the exaltation of his piety, the pre-eminency of his wisdom; and I think it is probable that all his natural defects which so peculiarly debard [sic] him from unprofitable amusements were also conducive to the same end 6. · Ante, i. 451.
'no such weak-nerved people'as to 2. After musing for some time, he be hurt by being contradicted roughly said, “I wonder how I should have and harshly; and iv. 295. any enemies; for I do harm to no 3 For his readiness to seek a rebody.” Life, iv. 168.
conciliation, see ante, ii. 223. When he was ill of the palsy, he See ante, ii. 225, where Sir Joshua wrote to Mrs. Thrale :-'I have in Reynolds also mentions the strict this still scene of life great comfort watch Johnson kept over himself.' in reflecting that I have given very 5 Ante, i. 409. few reason to hate me.
6 In another version of the Recolscarcely any man has known me lections Miss Reynolds writes :closely but for his benefit, or cursorily ' Being so peculiarly debarred from but to his innocent entertainment.' the enjoyment of those amusements Letters, ii. 314. See also Life, iv. which the eye and the ear afford, 280, where he says that he knows doubtless he sought more assiduously
That Dr. Johnson's mind was preserved from insanity by his Devotional aspirations may surely be reasonably supposed. No man could have a firmer reliance on the efficacy of Prayer, and he would often with a solemn earnestness beg of his intimate friends to pray for him, and apparently on very slight occasions of corporeal indisposition.
But that he should have desired one prayer from Dr. Dodd, who was such an atrocious offender, has I know been very much condemn'd, as highly injurious to his character, not considering perhaps that Dr. Johnson might have had sufficient reason to believe Dodd to be a sincere Penitent, which indeed was the case"; besides his mind was so soften'd with pitty [sic] and for those gratifications which scientific turpitude. It corrupted no man's pursuits or philosophic meditation be principles; it attacked no man's life. stow. Somewhat the same thought It involved only a temporary and is expressed by Baron Grimm : reparable injury. ... In requital of Je ne saurais m'empêcher d'avancer, those well-intended offices which you en passant, un paradoxe qui mérite are pleased so emphatically to accependant d'être approfondi; c'est knowledge, let me beg that you make que dans l'état où sont les choses, et in your devotions one petition for my l'esprit de société étouffant continu eternal welfare. Life, iii. 147. ellement en nous le génie, rien n'est Wesley, who visited Dodd in prison si favorable à sa conservation que des two days before his execution, said :sens peu parfaits. Ainsi, la vue ex ‘Such a prisoner I scarce ever saw trêmement basse vous empêchera de before; much less such a condemned remarquer mille petites manières, malefactor. I should think none mille minuties, et vous ne pourrez
could converse with him without acjamais avoir envie de les imiter, parce knowledging that God is with him.' que vous ne les aurez jamais aperçues. Wesley's Journal, ed. 1827, i. 378. Ainsi, votre oreille peu fine vous em Dodd had forged the signature of pêchera de distinguer la différence his late pupil, the fifth Earl of Chesterdes tons, et vous serez garanti de la field, to a bond for £4,200,"flattering manie de vous y exercer, parce que
himself with hopes that he might be vous ne les aurez pas sentis. C'est able to repay its amount without ainsi que votre génie concentré en lui being detected.' Life, iii. 140. même au milieu de la société con Five years earlier he had published servera sa force et sa sûreté, et sera a sermon 'intended to have been à l'abri des dangers qui l'entourent.' preached in the Chapel-Royal at Correspondance de Grimm, ed. 1814, St. James's,' on 'the Frequency of i. 187.
Capital Punishments inconsistent I'Atrocious' is an absurd term to with Justice, sound Policy and Reapply to Dodd. Johnson in his last ligion.' Gentleman's Magazine, 1772, letter to him said :-'Be comforted; your crime, morally or religiously In the Index to the first 56 volumes considered, has no very deep dye of of the Gentleman's Magazine under