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Etat. 30.

defcription which Sydenham gives of that disease. "This diforder is a kind
of convulfion. It manifests itself by halting or unsteadiness of one of the legs,
which the patient draws after him like an ideot. If the hand of the fame fide
be applied to the breast, or any other part of the body, he cannot keep it a
moment in the fame posture, but it will be drawn into a different one by a
convulfion, notwithstanding all his efforts to the contrary."
Sir Joshua
Reynolds, however, is of a different opinion, and has favoured me with the
following paper.

"Thofe motions or tricks of Dr. Johnfon are improperly called convulfions. He could fit motionlefs, when he was told fo to do, as well as any other man; my opinion is, that it proceeded from a habit he hadindulged himself in, of accompanying his thoughts with certain untoward actions, and those actions always appeared to me as if they were meant to reprobate fome part of his past conduct. Whenever he was not engaged in converfation, fuch thoughts were fure to rush into his mind; and, for this reason, any company, any employment whatever, he preferred to being alone. The great business of his life (he faid) was to efcape from himself; this difpofition he confidered as the disease of his mind, which nothing cured but company.

"One instance of his absence and particularity, as it is characteristick of the man, may be worth relating. When he and I took a journey together into the Weft, we vifited the late Mr. Banks, of Dorsetshire; the converfation turning upon pictures, which Johnson could not well fee, he retired to a corner of the room, ftretching out his right leg as far as he could reach before him, then bringing up his left leg, and stretching his right still further on. The old gentleman obferving him, went up to him, and in a very courteous manner affured him, that though it was not a new houfe, the flooring was perfectly safe. The Doctor started from his reverie, like a perfon waked out of his sleep, but spoke not a word.”

While we are on this fubject, my readers may not be difpleased with another anecdote, communicated to me by the fame friend, from the relation of Mr. Hogarth.

Johnson used to be a pretty frequent vifiter at the house of Mr. Richardfon, authour of Clariffa, and other novels of extenfive reputation. Mr. Hogarth came one day to fee Richardfon, foon after the execution of Dr. Cameron, for having taken arms for the house of Stuart in 1745-6; and being a warm partifan of George the Second, he observed to Richardfon, that certainly there must have been some very unfavourable circumftances lately discovered in this particular cafe, which had induced the King to approve of an execution



for rebellion fo long after the time when it was committed, as this had the appearance of putting a man to death in cold blood", and was very unlike Etat. 31. his Majesty's usual clemency. While he was talking, he perceived a perfon standing at a window in the room, fhaking his head, and rolling himself about in a strange ridiculous manner. He concluded that he was an ideot, whom his relations had put under the care of Mr. Richardson, as a very good man. To his great furprize, however, this figure ftalked forwards to where he and Mr. Richardson were fitting, and all at once took up the argument, and burst out into an invective against George the Second,, as one, who, upon all occafions, was unrelenting and barbarous; mentioning many inftances, particularly, that when an officer of high rank had been acquitted by a Court Martial, George the Second had, with his own hand, ftruck his name off the lift. In short, he displayed fuch a power of eloquence, that Hogarth looked at him with astonishment, and actually imagined that this ideot had been at the moment inspired. Neither Hogarth nor Johnson were made known to each other at this interview.

In 1740 he wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine the "Preface," "Life of Admiral Drake,*" and the first parts of those of " Sir Francis Blake,*" and of " Philip Baretier,*" both which he finished the year after. He also wrote an" Effay on Epitaphs,f" and an " Epitaph on Philips, a Mufician, which was afterwards published with fome other pieces of his, in Mrs. Williams's Mifcellanies. This Epitaph is fo exquifitely beautiful, that I remember even Lord Kames, ftrangely prejudiced as he was against Dr. Johnson, was compelled to allow it very high praise. It has been ascribed to Mr. Garrick, from its appearing at firft with the fignature G; but I have heard Mr. Garrick declare, that it was written by Dr. Johnson, and give the following account of the manner in which it was compofed. Johnfon and he were fitting together; when, amongst other things, Garrick repeated an Epitaph. upon this Philips by a Dr. Wilkes, in these words:

• Impartial pofterity may, perhaps, be as little inclined as Dr. Johnfon was to juftify the uncommon rigour exercifed in the cafe of Dr. Archibald Cameron. He was an amiable and truly honest man; and his offence was owing to a generous, though mistaken principle of duty. Being obliged, after 1746, to give up his profeffion as a phyfician, and go into foreign parts, he was honoured with the rank of Colonel, both in the French and Spanish fervice. He was a fon of the ancient and refpectable family of Cameron, of Lochiel; and his brother, who was the Chief of that brave clan, diftinguifhed himself by moderation and humanity, while the Highland army marched victorious through Scotland. It is remarkable of this Chief, that though he had earnestly remonftrated against the attempt as hopeless, he was of too heroick a spirit not to venture his life and fortune in the caufe, when perfonally afked by him whom he thought his Prince.

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Johnson fhook his head at these common-place funereal lines, and faid to Garrick, "I think, Davy, I can make a better." Then, ftirring about his tea for a little while, in a state of meditation, he almost extempore produced the following verses:

Phillips, whose touch harmonious could remove
"The pangs of guilty power or hapless love;
"Reft here, distress'd by poverty no more,
"Here find that calm thou gav'st so oft before:
Sleep, undisturb'd, within this peaceful fhrine,
"Till angels wake thee with a note like thine!"

At the fame time that Mr. Garrick favoured me with this anecdote, he repeated a very pointed Epigram by Johnson, on George the Second and Colley Cibber, which has never yet appeared, and of which I know not the exact date. Dr. Johnson afterwards gave it to me himself.

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In 1741 he wrote for the Gentleman's Magazine "the Preface,t" "Conclufion of his Lives of Drake and Baretier,*" "A free Translation of the Jefts of Hierocles, with an Introduction;t" and, I think, the following pieces: "Debate on the Proposal of Parliament to Cromwell, to affume the Title of King, abridged, methodised, and digested;†" "Translation of Abbé Guyon's Differtation on the Amazons ;+" "Tranflation of Fontenelle's Panegyrick on Dr. Morin.t" Two notes upon this appear to me undoubtedly his. He this year, and the two following, wrote the Parliamentary Debates. He told me himself, that he was the fole compofer of them for those three years only,

He was not, however, precifely exact in his statement, which he mentioned from hafty recollection; for it is fufficiently evident, that his compofition of them began November 19, 1740, and ended February 23, 1742-3.

It appears from fome of Cave's letters to Dr. Birch, that Cave had better affiftance for that branch of his Magazine, than has been generally fuppofed; and that he was indefatigable in getting it made as perfect as he could.

Thus, 21ft July, 1735, "I trouble you with the inclofed, becaufe you faid you could easily correct what is herein given for Lord C▬▬ld's speech. I beg you will do fo as foon as you can for me, because the month is far advanced."

And, 15th July, 1737. "As you remember the Debates fo far as to perceive the fpeeches already printed are not exact, I beg the favour that you will peruse the inclofed, and, in the best manner your memory will serve, correct the mistaken passages, or add any thing that is omitted. I fhould be very glad to have fomething of the Duke of N-le's fpeech, which would be particularly of fervice.

"A gentleman has Lord' Bathurst's speech to add fomething to."

And, July 3, 1744, "You will fee what ftupid, low, abominable stuff is put upon your noble and learned friend's character, fuch as I fhould quite reject, and endeavour to do fomething better towards doing juftice to the character. But as I cannot expect to attain my defires in that refpect, it would be a great fatisfaction to me, as well as an honour to our work, to have the favour of the genuine fpeech. It is a method that feveral have been pleafed to take, as I could fhew, but I think myself under a restraint. I fhall fay fo far, that I have had some by a third hand, which I understood well enough to come from the firft; others by penny-poft, and others by the fpeakers' themselves, who have been pleased to visit St. John's Gate, and fhew particular marks of their being pleased 9.”

There is no reafon, I believe, to doubt the veracity of Cave. It is, however, remarkable, that none of these letters are in the years during which Johnfon alone furnished the Debates, and one of them is in the very year after he ceafed from that labour. Johnson told me, that as foon as he found that the speeches were thought genuine, he determined that he would write no more of them, for "he would not be acceffary to the propagation of falfhood.” And fuch was the tenderness of his confcience, that a fhort time before his.

7 I fuppofe in another compilation of the fame kind. Birch's MSS. in the British Museum, 4302.

Doubtlefs, Lord Hardwick.



Etat. 32.


Etat. 32.

death he expreffed a regret for his having been the authour of fictions, which had paffed for realities.

He nevertheless agreed with me in thinking, that the Debates which he had framed were to be valued as Orations upon queftions of publick importance. They have accordingly been collected in volumes, properly arranged, and recommended to the notice of parliamentary speakers by a Preface, written by no inferiour hand'. I muft, however, obferve, that although there is in those Debates a wonderful store of political information, and very powerful eloquence, I cannot agree that they exhibit the manner of each particular fpeaker, as Sir John Hawkins feems to think. But, indeed, what opinion can we have of his judgement, and taste in publick speaking, who prefumes to give, as the characteristicks of two celebrated orators, "the deep-mouthed rancour of Pulteney, and the yelping pertinacity of Pitt."

This year I find that his tragedy of IRENE had been for fome time ready for the stage, and that his neceffities made him defirous of getting as much as he could for it, without delay; for there is the following letter from Mr. Cave to Dr. Birch, in the fame volume of manufcripts in the British Museum from whence I copied those above quoted. They were most obligingly pointed out to me by Sir William Musgrave, one of the Curators of that noble repository. Sept. 9, 1741.

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"I HAVE put Mr. Johnson's play into Mr. Gray's hands, in order to fell it to him, if he is inclined to buy it; but I doubt whether he will or He would difpofe of the copy, and whatever advantage may be made by acting it. Would your fociety, or any gentleman or body of men that you know, take fuch a bargain? He and I are very unfit to deal with theatrical perfons. Fleetwood was to have acted it last season, but Johnson's diffidence or prevented it."


I have already mentioned that " Irene" was not brought into publick notice till Garrick was manager of Drury-lane theatre.

' I am well affured, that the editor is Mr. George Chalmers, whofe commercial works are well known and efteeined.

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It is ftrange, that a printer who knew fo much as Cave, fhould conceive fo ludicrous a fancy

as that the Royal Society would purchase a Play.

5 There is no erafure here, but a mere blank; to fill up which may be an exercife for ingenious conjecture.

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