Page images

to the treats, and people to whom I was till then unknown, admired how happy Mr. Thrale must be in such a wonder of a wife.

I wondered all the while where his heart lay; but it was found at last, too soon for joy, too late almost for sorrow. A vulgar fellow, by name Humphrey Jackson, had, as the clerks informed me, all in a breath, compleat possession of it. He had long practised on poor Thrale's credulity, till, by mixing two cold liquors which produced heat perhaps, or two colorless liquors which produced brilliancy, he had at length prevailed on him to think he could produce beer too, without the beggarly elements of malt and hops. He had persuaded him to build a copper somewhere in East Smithfield, the very metal of which cost £2,000, wherein this Jackson was to make experiments and conjure some curious stuff, which should preserve ships' bottoms from the worm ; gaining from Government money to defray these mad expenses. Twenty enormous vats, holding 1,000 hogsheads each, — costly contents !

— ten more holding 1,000 barrels each, were constructed to stew in this pernicious mess; and afterwards erected, on I forget how much ground bought for the ruinous purpose.

That all were spoiled, was but a secondary sorrow. We had, in the commercial phrase, no beer to start for customers. We had no money to purchase with. Our clerks, insulted long, rebelled and ratted, but I held them in. A sudden run menaced the house, and death hovered over the head of its principal. I think some faint image of the distress appears in Doctor Johnson's fortyeighth letter, 1st. vol. But God tempers every evil with some good. Such was my charming mother's firmness, and such her fond attachment to us both, that our philosophical friend, embracing her, exclaimed, that he was equally charmed by her conduct, and edified by her piety. “ Fear not the menaces of suicide,” said he ; " the man who has two such females to console him, never yet killed himself, and will not now. Of all the bankrupts made this dreadful year,” continued he, “none have destroyed themselves but married men ; who would have risen from the weeds undrowned, had not the women clung about and sunk them, stifling the voice of reason with their cries.” Ah, Sir James Fellowes, and have not I too been in a ship on fire,* not for two

* Alluding to the fire on board an East Indiaman, in which Sir James Fellowes was passenger.

hours, but for two full weeks, between the knowledge of my danger and the end on 't?

Well! first we made free with our mother's money, her little savings! about £3,000 — 't was all she had; and, big as I was with child, I drove down to Brighthelmstone, to beg of Mr. Scrase £ 6,000 more ; he gave it us, and Perkins, the head clerk, had never done repeating my short letter to our master, which only said, “I have done my errand, and you soon shall see returned, whole, as I hope, your heavy but faithful messenger, H. L. T.

Perkins's sons are now in possession of the place, their father but lately dead. Dear Mr. Scrase was an old gouty solicitor, retired from business, friend and contemporary of my husband's father. Mr. Rush lent us £ 6,000, Lady Lade £5,000, — our debts, including those of Humphrey Jackson, were £130,000, besides borrowed money. Yet in nine years was every shilling paid ; one, if not two elections well contested ; and we might, at Mr. Thrale's death, have had money, had he been willing to listen to advice, as you will see by our correspondence, which it is now time for you to begin, and be released from these scenes of calamity. The baby that I carried lived an hour, — my mother a year; but she left our minds more easy. I lay awake twelve nights and days, I remember, 'spite of all art could do ; but here I am, vexing your tired ear with past afflictions.

You will see that many letters were suppressed. But as you have probably thought more of my literary, than of my moral or social existence, though I hope not, it will be right at least to say that it was during the winters of those happy years when I reigned Queen at Offley Place all summer, that Hogarth made me sit for his fine picture of the Lady's Last Stake, now in possession of Lord Charlemont.

It was then, too, when I was about thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years old, that I took a fancy to write in the “St. James's Chronicle,” unknown to my parents and my tutor too : it was my sport to see them reading, studying, blaming, or praising their own little whimsical girl's performances ; but such was their admiration of one little verse thing, that I could not forbear owning it, and am sorry that no copy has, I believe, been kept.

calamity. "Tayot to begin, and cont correspon

The little poetical trash I did write in earnest, is preserved somewhere, perhaps in “ Thraliana,” which I promised to Mrs. Mostyn ; perhaps in a small repository I prepared for dear Salusbury, before our final parting : such I meant it to be ; but have no guess how you will find the stuff, or whether he ever thought it worth his while to keep old aunt's school exercises, — such he would probably and naturally consider them. There is a little poem called “Offley Park ” I know; another “On my Poor Aunt Anna Maria's Favorite Ash-Tree ;” and one styled “ The Old Hunter's Petition for Life," written to save dear Forester from being shot because grown superannuated. There is a little odd metaphysical toy beside, written to divert Doctor Collier after the death of his dog Pompey, for whom James Harris made a Greek epitaph, of which this is the English meaning, as I remember; but no doubt all is lost, and these verses are not mine. I forget whose though:

“ Here what remains of Pompey lies,
Handsome, generous, faithful, wise.
Then shouldst thou, friend, possess a bitch
In nature's noble gifts as rich;
When Death shall take her, let her have
With Pompey here one common grave;
So from their mingled dust shall rise
A race of dogs as good and wise:
Dogs who disease shall never know,
Rheumatic ache or gouty toe;
Nor feel the dire effects of tea,
Nor show decay by cachexy.
For if aright the future Fates I read,
Immortal are the dogs their pregnant dust shall breed."

The great James Harris was no disdainer of trifles. He wrote the two comical dialogues at the end of “ David Simple," an old novel composed by Doctor Collier's sister, who was dead before I knew him, in conjunction with Sally Fielding, whose brother was author of “Tom Jones," not yet obsolete. James Harris gave me his “ Hermes” interleaved, that I might write my remarks on it, proving my attention to philosophical grammar, for which study I had shown him signs of capacity, I trust; but Collier would not suffer him to talk metaphysics in my hearing, unless he himself was the respondent. ( what conversations ! What correspondences were these! never renewed after my wedding-day, October 11th, 1763. Dr. Johnson was perhaps justly offended if I even appeared to recollect them, and in my mother's presence. There was no danger. They had never fallen in Mr. Thrale's way — of course.

But you make me an egotist, and force me to remember scenes and ideas I never dreamed of communicating. The less so, because finding my fortune of late circumscribed in a manner wholly new to me, no doubt remained of all celebrity following my lost power of entertaining company, giving parties, &c.; and my heart prepared to shut itself quite up, convinced there existed not a human creature who cared one atom for poor H. L. P. now she had no longer money to be robbed of. That disinterested kindness does exist, however, my treatment here at Bath evinces daily, and in six months will come — if things do but continue in their natural course - my restoration day. Meanwhile this odd prefatory collection of Biographical Anecdotes are at your service. The Essays I wrote when quite a girl — almost a child — must all be lost undoubtedly. The following Allegory is just as good as I could make it now, bating the grand fault of representing Imagination as a female character. This is glanced at in 221 and 222 of “ British Synonymy,” Vol. I.; but I did myself injustice in calling it a translation, for such it really is not, or deserving to be called so.



Struck with his charms whom all admire,
Whose beauties colder bosoms fire,
Imagination ventured forth
In search of Happiness, — her lover;
Nor feared the frowns of wit or worth,
No blame could on her choice be thrown,
When once the object's name was known.
To Love's gay temple first she flies,
And darts around her piercing eyes,
And is my hero here ? she cries ;
Perhaps he may, the god replies;

But freely search our groves around,
Nor think yourself confined;
His name our echoes all resound,
Perhaps his form you 'll find.
The Nymph was pleased, her search renewed ;
Through each soft maze her love pursued,
Till as she ran with rapid force
Fair Delicacy checked her course.
I never thought to see you here,
Without a veil too! Fye, my dear:
To seek your sweetheart! and is this
A likely seat for sober bliss ?
Believe my words and quick recede,
No Happiness lives here — Indeed.
Imagination stood corrected,

Then swiftly from her presence flew;
And soon her wand'ring steps directed

T' Ambition's palace — now in view.
Fixed on a rock of steep ascent

The glittering fabric stood:
The way was slippery as she went,

And wet with human blood.
Her lover's form on high was placed

To tempt her steps along :
But when the phantom she embraced,

It vanished and was gone.
From hence with trembling haste she fled,
And to the realms of Riches sped :
Consumptive care, and dropsied pride,
And tinselled splendor here she spied;
Nor ought was wanting — more or less,
Save what she sought for — Happiness.

What has our heroine next to do?
Her journey she began to rue,
For why? No places now remain
To try her fortune in 't is plain :
And yet this foolish, luckless love
Would let her have no rest:
Though 'gainst it all she could she strove,
Still would it flutter in her breast.
Whilst thus she thought and would have spoke,
Sudden a voice the silence broke:

« PreviousContinue »