Reynolds, Frederic Mansel (DNB00)

REYNOLDS, FREDERIC MANSEL (d. 1850), author, was the eldest son of Frederic Reynolds [q. v.] the dramatist. Having received a good education, he drifted into a quasi-literary occupation, editing ‘The Keepsake’ from 1828 to 1835, and 1838–9. This annual, in which the engravings usually atoned for the general feebleness of the literary contributions, was produced with lavish expense, and was probably the best of its class.

Wordsworth contributed to Reynolds's ‘Keepsake’ a sonnet on the mysterious gravestone in Worcester Cathedral which bears on it the simple word ‘Miserrimus.’ Neither Wordsworth nor Reynolds was aware that the person commemorated was Thomas Morris (1660–1748) [q. v.] In ignorance of this circumstance, Reynolds composed a narrative of the crimes of a supposititious Miserrimus, told in the first person, under the title ‘Miserrimus: a Tale.’ It was originally printed for private circulation in 1832; was published anonymously in 1833, with a dedication to William Godwin, and reprinted in the same year. By most of the critics it was pronounced ‘impassioned,’ but it was denounced in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ as a libel on an innocent and helpless person. Jekyll, who called it ‘Young Reynolds's extravaganza,’ implied that it was the result of a nightmare (Correspondence, p. 311). In 1836 Reynolds brought out a companion novel entitled ‘The Parricide, a domestic Romance,’ but it did not meet with equal success. ‘The creation of a smile’ was his sole object in writing his novel, ‘The Coquette’ (1834, 3 vols.).

In his later years Reynolds suffered much from a nervous disorder, and resided mostly abroad. After a long illness he died at Fontainebleau, on his way to Italy, 7 June 1850. He left behind him a young wife ‘whom he had known from her childhood, and whose education he had superintended.’

Reynolds was a well-informed man, with a good taste in painting and music. His versification was graceful, but his prose style was forced and artificial.

[Gent. Mag. 1850, ii. 231; Madden's Countess of Blessington, iii. 252–5; cf. Morris, Thomas, (1660–1748).]

W. P. C.