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genial like their writer. They are extracted from the most amusing and interesting “Memoirs of Richard Cumberland, written by himself.” The charming description of Johnson and Reynolds at Mrs. Cumberland's tea-table is a refreshing contrast to the coarse and unsympathetic character of the observations of some of Johnson's contemporaries; notably, of the Irish Dr. Cainpbell, the brutality of whose remarks on Johnson's appear. ance detract greatly from the pleasure we should otherwise have had in presenting to our readers that very interesting literary curiosity, “ The Diary of a Visit to England in 1775.” This Diary, after reposing behind an old press in one of the offices of the Supreme Court of New South Wales for no one knows how long, was discovered and published at Sydney in 1854 by Mr. Raymond (see vol. ii., p. 396-403), and is now for the first time printed in England. Dr. Campbell gave out that his chief object in visiting London at this time was to see the “lions,” of whom Johnson was the chief. He describes many of the same dinners and conversations as Boswell, and some of them even more fully. It is curious to trace the agreements and differences; but the whole Diary is vigorous and amusing.
Dr. Campbell is especially interested in two very different classes, the clergy and the play-actors. He visits all the principal churches and theatres, and remarks on sermons and plays with the same freedom of speech. He describes Johnson's outer man, as we have said, with much coarse exaggeration, but his accounts of some conversations are excellent, and we are greatly indebted to him for the report of Johnson's views on Irish affairs as given in the Diary (“ Johnsoniana," p. 273), and at greater length in his “Strictures on the History of Ireland” (p. 336-8).
Johnson evidently received Dr. Campbell's advances with kindness and courtesy; and that the acquaintanceship ripened into regard is shown by the fact, that when Dr. Campbell, in 1778, published his “Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland,” Johnson gave for publication in it his Epitaph on Goldsmith, then in manuscript, but afterwards inscribed on the monument in Westminster Abbey.
The discovery of this Diary has also done much to dispel the ludicrous confusion of the “ Irish Dr. Campbell” with “ a flashy friend” of Mrs. Thrale's, for it shows decisively that when Mrs. Thrale wrote of this friend (doubtless Mr. Musgrave) from Bath, in May, 1776, Dr. Campbell was not at Bath, but in Ireland.
Extracts from Hannah More's letters and Fanny Burney's . diary, are also included in this collection, because the picture of Johnson cannot be complete without the lively sallies of Hannah, and the droll touches of Fanny, and for the sake of the vigorous sketches they contain of life and manners in Johnson's time. Happily, both these ladies knew and described Johnson in their early days, before Hannah's native sense and fun had been cramped and dulled, and before Fanny's style was ruined by affectation.
Of all Johnson's friends, we should naturally, perhaps, look most eagerly to Sir Joshua and Miss Reynolds for notices of him. Sir Joshua was, Boswell tells us, Johnson's “dulce decus, with whom he maintained an uninterrupted intimacy to the last hour of his life.” Opportunities for observation must have been endless, for there seems to have been hardly a day when the friends did not meet in the painting room or in general society; and that Reynolds's conception of Johnson's character was lofty in the extreme, is proved by the portrait from his hand. But we must confess that when Reynolds exchanges his brush for the pen, he fills us with disappointment and surprise, while the “Recollections” of Johnson by Miss Reynolds, though containing some few touches not to be met with elsewhere, will not bear comparison with those of Mrs. Piozzi, Hannah More, or Miss Burney. Both these articles are included in this volume more from respect to the claims of their writers than from their own intrinsic merit or interest.
From the lips and pen of Burke, little regarding Johnson has, alas! been preserved. We regret this the more because through twenty-seven years of uninterrupted friendship we trace his affectionate respect and admiration, and the touching and beautiful “ Character " Burke drew of Reynolds shows what we might have had of Johnson.
This collection of contemporary opinion is closed by an essay from the pen of Arthur Murphy, whose uninterrupted intimacy with Johnson for thirty years, and keen appreciation of the wit and humour which he thought Johnson's chief characteristic, entitle him to a respectful hearing. But this Essay is in itself most interesting—it may repeat a few of the current mistakes of the time, but it contains information not found elsewhere ; for instance, in the account of the acknowledgment by Johnson of the authorship of the “Parliamentary Debates.” In this Essay also is
given (pp. 398-400) what we know not where else to find, Murphy's fine translation or imitation of Johnson's Latin Poem, written in discouragement and despair after revising the Dictionary, and for the reproduction of this touching self-portraiture we claim, and believe we shall gain, the gratitude of all lovers of Johnson.
ROBINA NAPIER. Holkham Vicarage,
Nov. 26th, 1883.
Verses on a Sprig of Myrtle
On French writers