Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sir Joshua Reynolds

As recorded in James Boswell's "Life of Johnson", on July 17, 1771, Samuel Johnson wrote to portraitist Joshua Reynolds:


'DEAR SIR,--When I came to Lichfield, I found that my portrait had been much visited, and much admired. Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place; and I was pleased with the dignity
conferred by such a testimony of your regard.
'Be pleased, therefore, to accept the thanks of, Sir, your most obliged and most humble servant,

'Ashbourn in Derbyshire,


July 17, 1771.'

'Compliments to Miss Reynolds.'

Walter Scott covered Samuel Johnson and his crowd with biographical sketches.  In his "The Miscellaneous Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott",  he includes this comment concerning Johnson's publication "The Idler":

'In 1752, Johnson was deprived of his wife, a loss which he appears to have felt most deeply. After her death, society, the best of which was now open to a man who brought such stores to increase its pleasures, seems to have been his principal enjoyment, and his great resource when assailed by that malady of mind which embittered his solitary moments.

The Idler, scarcely so popular as the Rambler, followed in 1758. In 1759, Rasselas was hastily composed, in order to pay the expenses of his mother's funeral, and some small debts which she had contracted. This beautiful tale was written in one week, and sent in portions to the printer. Johnson told Sir Joshua Reynolds that he never afterwards read it over! The publishers paid the author a hundred pounds, with twenty-four more, when the work came to a second edition.'

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