1750 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

William Dodd, 1750; in Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. Croker (1831) 4:139n.



[J. W. Croker: Miss Reynolds and Sir J. Hawkins doubted whether Johnson had ever been in Dodd's company; but Johnson told Boswell (ante, v. iii. p. 504.) that "he had once been." The editor has now before him a letter, dated in 1750, from Dr. Dodd to his friend the Rev. Mr. Parkhurst, the lexicographer, mentioning this meeting; and his account, at that day, of the man with whom he was afterward to have so painful a correspondence, is interesting and curious.]

"I spent yesterday afternoon with Johnson, the celebrated author of The Rambler, who is of all others the oddest and most peculiar fellow I ever saw. He is six feet high, has a violent convulsion in his head, and his eyes are distorted. He speaks roughly and loud, listens to no man's opinions, thoroughly pertinacious of his own. Good sense flows from him in all he utters, and he seems possessed of a prodigious fund of knowledge, which he is not at all reserved in communicating; but in a manner so obstinate, ungenteel, and boorish, as renders it disagreeable and unsatisfactory. In short, it is impossible for words to describe him. He seems often inattentive to what passes in company, and then looks like a person possessed by some superior spirit. I have been reflecting on him ever since I saw him. He is a man of most universal and surprising genius, but in himself particular beyond expression."