Cadwallader Colden.

Lives & portraits of public characters .. (Volume 3) online

. (page 4 of 13)
Online LibraryCadwallader ColdenLives & portraits of public characters .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


1747 is distinguished as the epoch when Johnson's
arduous and important work, his Dictionary of the
English Lanyuage, was announced to the world ; for
which the booksellers stipulated to give him fifteen
hundred and seventy-five pounds. While this dictionary
was going forward, Johnson lived part of the time iu
Holborn, and part in Gough-square, Fleet-street.

In 1749, he published The Vanity of Human Wishes :
he composed seventy-five lines of this work in one day,

* Wilcox, the bookseller, on being informed by Johnson, that
his intention was to get his livelihood as eh author, eyed his
robust frame attentively, and with a signiticant look, said " You
had better buy a porter'* knot."

f The following is an exact list of his places of residence
since he entered the metropolis as an author.

Exeter-street, near Catherine-street, Strand. — Greenwich. —
Woodstock-street, near Hanover-square. — Castle-street, Caven-
dish-square, No. 6.— Strand.— Boswell-court.— Strand again. —
Bow-street. — Holborn. — Fetter-lane. — Holborn again. — Gough-
square.— Staple's-inn,—Gray's-inR. — Inner Temple-lane, No. 1.
Johnson's-court, No. 7,— Bolt-court, No. 8.



DR. SAMUF-L JOHNSON.

Without puttiiif^ one of iheni upon paper lill lliey were
iinished. In this year, also, his tragedy of Irene was
performed at Drury-lane Theatre, by which he gained
'2951. 17s.

On Tuesday, March 20, 1749, the first number of his
JRanihler appeared.

March 17, 1752, his wife died ; she was buried at
Bromley, in Kent. His sulierings upon this occasion
were severe, beyond what are commonly endured ; for
he was the most kind, indulgent, and afi'ectionats of
husbands. Her wedding-ring v/as, after her death,
preserved by him, as long as he lived, with afi'ectionale
care, in a little round wooden box, in the inside of
which he pasted a slip of paper, thus inscribed by him
in fair characters ; —

" Eh en !

" E!iz. Johnson,

" Nupta Jul. 9°. 1736,

" Mortua, eheu !

" Mart. 17^ 1752."

In 1755, the University of Oxford conferred on him
the degree of Master of Arts, by diploma. Jn this year,
also, his Dictionary, with a Grammar and History of
the English Language, was published in 2 vols, folio ;
and the world contemplated with wonder so stupendous a
work, achieved by one man, while other countries
tliought such undertakings fit only for whole academies.

In 1756 he issued proposals for an edition of Sliaks-
peare, with notes ; whicli shortly alter appeared.

About this period he was offered a living of consider-
able value in Lincolnshire, if he was inclined to enter
into holy orders ; but he did not accept it.

On the 15th of April, 1758, he began his celebrated
periodical. The Idler.

In January, 1759, bis mother died, at the age of 90 ;
an event which deeply ali'ected him.

While his mother lay dead, he wrote his Basselas,
Prime of Ahyasinia, which lie completed in the evenings



DR. SAMIIKL JOHNSON.

of one week, sei.t it to the press in portions as it was
written, and never read it over for many jcars after it
was puhli.>liid. It was written tp defray the expense of
Lis mother's funeral.

Early in 17G2, Dr. Johnson was represented to his
late Jtlajesty as a very ieained and good man, without
any certain provision, and the King was pleased to grant
Lim a pension of three hundred pounds per annum.

In February, 176^, there happened one of the most
remaikable incidents of Jol<nson's life : this was his being
honoured by a private conversation with his late Majesty,
in the library at the Queen's house ; with this celebrated
interview the Doctor was highly delighted.

In 1768, at the foundation of the Royal Academy,
Johnson had the honour of being appointed Professor in
Ancient Literature.

In 1775, he received his diploma as Doctor of Laws
from the University of Oxford.

In 1777, some booksellers agreed to publish a new
edition of the British Foels, and four of thejn waited on
Dr. Johnson to request him to undertake the writing the
life of each author. The Doctor very politely undertook
it ; and as the terms were left to himself, he named the
very moderate sum of two hundred guineas. In 1781, he
completed the work.

We now come to the close of the invaluable life of this
great and good man. In 1782, he had a stroke of the
palsy, and was also afflicted with an asthma, and with the
dropsy ; but in the midst of his own diseases and pains,
he was ever attentive to the distresses of others, as ap-
pears by the several letters he wrote to Sir Joshua Rey-
nolds, in behalf of persons whom he conceived worthy
of relief, and whom he had assisted to the very utmost
of his means ; for his generous humanity to the unfortu-
nate was almost beyond example.

Dr. Johnson, after paying a visit to Oxford, Lichfield,
and other i>!aces, arrived in London, on the 16th of
November, 1784 ; and soon after his return to the me-
tropolis, both the asthma and dropsy became more violent



DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.

and distressing. During his sleepless nights, !ie amnsed
himself by translating into Latin verse, from the Greek,
many of the epigrams in the Anthologia.

The Doctor, from the time that he was certain his
death was near, appeared to be perfectly resigned, was
seldom or never fretful, or out of temper, and often
said to his faithful servant, " Attend, Francis, to the
salvation of your soul, which is an object of the greatest
importance."

On Monday, December 13, 1784, he died ; and on
the 20th of the same month, his body was deposited in
Westminster Abbey ; and over his grave was placed
a large blue flag-stone. A cenotaph was erected in
St. Paul's Cathedral to his memory; the epitaph being
written by that erudite scholar, the Rev. Doctor Parr.

It would be idle, to attempt in this small space, a
character of Samuel Johnson: the illiberal attacks
of many puny scribblers, are easily accounted for : be-
cause this giant of literature would not condescend to
argue with them, they said he was the vilest brute that
ever lived. Posterity will do the memory of this good
man justice — his humanity, charity, morality and religion
— saying nothing of his learning, and his writings, —
will for ever stamp Samuel Johnson, as one of the most
eminent and illustrious of Englishmen.




)'BniliM lS2^^m^MlEiTM.c



ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF ENGLAND,

Was the daughter of Henrj the Eighth, by the lovely
but unfortunate Anne Boleyn : she was born at tiie
palace of Placenlia, in Greenwich, September 7, 1533.
Her infancy was unfortunate through the unhappy fate
of her mother, but she was nevertlieless educated with
care and attention. Mr. William Grindal was Elizabeth's
first classical tutor, under whose instructions she made a
rapid progress until the year 1548, when he unfortunately
fell a victim to the plague. To supply the loss of him,
she addressed herself to the celebrated Roger Ascham,
who, at her solicitation, left the university of Cambridge,
and consented to become her instructor. Under his
tuition she resumed her studies with new ardour, and
read, with attention and diligence, ihe ancient historians,
philosophers, and orators. In July, 1553, her sister
Mary, on the death of Edward VI. succeeded to the
throne; and, having received from her many favours
and testimonies of esteem, she treated her at first with
a form of regard. But these fair appearances were of
short duration ; articles, calculated to ensnare Elizabeth,
were devised and drawn up ; and her person, upon mere
surmise and affected distrust, seized, secured, and
harassed from place to place. She was imprisoned and
harshly treated, even to the hazard of her life. Her
sufferings were, however, mitigated by the interposition
of Philip of Spain, the husband of Mary: through his
inlluence she was liberated from confinement, and treated
with greater respect. In gratitude to Philip she caused
his portrait to be placed by her bed-side, and was ac-
customed to speak of him to her friends as her deliverer
and preserver. On the death of Mary, which happened
November 17, 1558, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne,
and proceeded to London f'iroKf I sr?J*J'ds of people, who
68,



aU£llN ELIZABEfH.

contended with each other in testimonies of jo>' and
attachment. With a niagnanimit)' that did her honour,
and a prudence that evinced her judgment, she threw a
veil over every oft'ence that had been committed against
her, and received graciously and with affability the most
virulent of her enemies.

After devoting a few days to domestic arrangements,
she gave notice to foreign courts of her accession to the
throne. Philip, who in this event had meditated, by
espousing Elizabeth, to obtain that power in England
which his connection with her sister had failed to procure
liim, immediately despatched orders to his ambassador
in London, to make, in his name, proposals of marriage
to the Queen, and to offer to procure from Rome a
dispensation for the nuptials, which proposal, Elizabeth,
without hesitation, declined. She now made ^ome pro-
jects in paying off the debts which pressed heavily upon
the crown, and in regulating the coin, which had been
debased by her predecessors. She furnished her arsenals
with arras from abroad ; engaged the nobility and gentry
to imitate her example ; introduced into the kingdom
the arts of making gunpowder and brass cannon ; fortified
her frontiers towards Scotland ; made frequent reviews
of the militia ; encouraged agriculture, by allowing corn
to be freely exported ; promoted trade and navigation ;
and restored the naval force.

The reputation which she acquired, added to the
flourishing state of her affairs, procured her various
offers of marriage, notwithstanding her declared prefer-
ence of a single life. The archduke Charles, second sou
to the emperor, and Casimir, son to the Elector Palatine,
were among the number of her suitors. Eric, king of
Sweden, and Adolph, Duke of Holstein, made the same
proposals. The Earl of Arran, heir to the crown of
Scotland, was also recommended to her in marriage.
But lord Robert Dudley, a young man of specious qua-
lities and address, was the declared favourite of the Queen.
Elizabeth gave to all her suitors a gentle refusal, without
absolutely discouraging their hopes. A mixture of co-



aUEEN ELr/ABETil.

quelry and policy appeared to infiuciicc liei conduct,
while in Lcr own mifid she determined never to divide
her power.

The Guises having, in opposition to their monarch,
formed a confederacy with Spain, opened the way for an
alliance hetween France and England. The Duke of
Aleogon (afterwards Duke of Anjou) had never wholly
dropped the project of espousing Elizabeth, and, not
satisfied with the courtship of his brother's ambassador,
sent over an agent of his own, an artful and agreeable
man, better calculated to forward his suit.

The Duke of Anjou, encouraged by the reports of his
agent, paid a secret visit to the Queen at Greenwich,
from which it does not appear that the lover, notwith-
standing his figure was far from prepossessing, lost
ground by this interview. The flattering reception he
met with removed all doubts, and inspired him with the
most sanguine hopes of success. On the anniversary of
the coronation, which was celebrated with pomp, Eliza-
beth was observed, after along and familiar conversation
with the Duke, to take from her finger a ring, and place
it upon his. This public proof of her favour persuaded
the spectators that the nuptials could not be far distant :
it was even regarded as a promise of marriage signified
to the eyes of the world.

Notwithstanding this manifestation of her sentiments,
the heart of Elizabeth was still agitated by doubts : she
remained for some time in great perturbation, irresolution,
and anxiety ; her nights were sleepless, and her days
unquiet ; till at length, as might have been foreseen, her
permanent habits of prudence and ambition triumphed
over a temporary inclination.

Having sent for the Duke of Anjou, the Queen held
with him a long conversation ; in which it is supposed
she apologised to him for breaking her engagements, as,
on leaving her, he appeared greatly irritated and dis-
gusted, threw away the ring which she had given him,
and muttered curses on the mutability of woman, and of
islanders. He soon after departed to his government in



J



QUEEN ELIZABETH,

ilie Netlicilauds ; lost tlie confidence of (lie .stales h^ an
attempt on their liherties ; was expelled the countrj ;
retired into Fiance, and there died. Thus did Elizabeth,
by timely reflection, and by attending to the counsels of
her friends, avoid the calamities which must have fol-
lowed so unsuitable and imprudent a connection.

The anxieties of Elizabeth from the attempts of the
English catholics, ceased not during the whole of her
reign ; while the revolutions that happened in Scotland
sometimes raised her hopes and excited her fears. The
Queen of Scots had frequently made overtures to Eliza-
beth, which had been uniformly treated with neglect.
The jealousy which had been excited in Elizabeth by the
pretensions, the principles, and the character of the
Queen of Scots, induced her to adopt measures by which
the danger was aggravated. Mary, in resentment of the
severe treatment which she experienced, continually
menaced the repose and the authority of her oppressor.
Every method to free herself from confinement brought
upon the captive queen additional rigours, by which her
spirit, high and undaunted, was exasperated rather than
broken. By a combination of causes, Mary was, at
length, urged to her ruin ; for an opportunity to elFect
which her enemies had long been laying in wait; and
at last Mary was brought to that situation so long and,
it is feared, ardently desired by Elizabeth. To dis-
semble was habitual to her, and she found no difliculty
in affecting the utmost reluctance to permit the sentence,
pronounced by the commissioners upon Mary, to be put
in force. The sentence was ratified by both houses,
and an application made to the queen to consent to its
execution. To this petition she returned an answer
equivocal and embarrassed ; full of apparent irresolution
and real artifice. She at length summoned her secretary
Davison, and ordered him to draw out, secretly, a
warrant for the execution of the Queen of Scots ; which,
it .was afterwards pretended by Elizabeth, was meant to
keei> by her in case of an attemff^at the deliverance of
Mary. Having sigr^cd the warrant, she commanded



QUEEN ELIZABETH.

Davison to carry it to tlie chancellor, and get lib seal
affixed. Davison having acquainted tlie council with the
whole transaction, thej endeavoured to persuade him to
send off Beale, the clerk of the council, with the warrant.
The secretary, not aware of their intentions, fell into
the snare : the warrant was dispatched, and orders given
for the execution of the prisoner.

While ensuring tranquillity at home, Elizabeth was
not negligent of distant dangers. Philip was secretly
preparing a large navy to revenge himself of the iiisults
he had received from the English. The Marquis of
Santa Cruze, a sea officer of great reputation, was
destined to the command of a fleet, to which, from its
uncommon size, force, and formidable appearance, the
Spaniards had already given the title of the Invincible
Armada. These extraordinary preparations were soon
known in England. Elizabeth, having foreseen the
invasion, determined to contend for her crown with the
whole force of the Spanish monarchy. Twenty-two thou-
sand foot, and one thousand horse, under the command
of Leicester, were stationed at Tilbury to defend the
capital. The main army, consisting of thirty thousand
horse, was commanded by Lord Hunsdon, and appointed
to march wherever the enemy should appear. The English
fleet sailed and gallantly attacked the armada, which was
also overtaken, soon after it had passed the Orkneys,
by a violent tempest. The ships, having already lost
their anchors, were obliged to keep the sea : the sailors,
unaccustomed to such hardships, yielded to the fury of
the storm, and suffered themselves to be driven either on
the western isles of Scotland, or on the coast of Ireland,
■where they were miserably wrecked.

On the 4th of September, soon after these events, died
the Earl of Leicester, the great but unworthy favourite
of Elizabeth, whose attaohraent to him continued to the
last moment of his life. This event was shortly followed
by the death of Essex, who fell, in the bloom and vigour
of life, a victim to his rash and ungovernable temper.
He was privately executed in the Tower.



aUECN LLIZAJJETrl.

After the return of Essex from the expedition against
Cadiz, observing the increase of the qaeen's attachment
towards him, he expressed bis regret that the necessity of
her service called him so often from her presence, and his
fears lest in these intervals, the ill offices of his enemies
should prevail against him. To calm this jealousy, the
queen gave him a ring, assuring him, into whatever
disgrace he should fall, that on the sight of that ring, she
would recollect her former affection, v/ould again afford
Liui a tearing, and lend to his apology a favourable ear.
This precious gift was preserved by Essex till the last
extremity, when he resolved to make proof of its efficacy,
and committed it to the countess of Nottingham, whom
he requested to deliver it to the queen. The countess
was prevailed on by her husband to suppress what had
passed and conceal the ri.ig. Elizabeth, still expecting
from her favourite this last appeal to her tenderness, and
ascribing his neglect to obstinacy and pride, was urged,
at length, by policy and resentment, to sign the warrant
for his execution.

The countess of Nottingham being seized with sickness,
and finding her end approaching, was smitten by remorse
for the part she had acted. Having, at her request, ob-
tained a visit from the queen, she revealed the fatal
secret and implored forgiveness. Elizabeth, struck with
horror, burst into passion, shook the dying penitent in
her bed, and wildly exclaimed, " That God might pardon
her, but she never could." Having thus said, she broke
from her, and thenceforth abandoned herself to sorrow.
The anxiety of her mind made swift ravages on her feebL-
frame ; her voice and senses soon after failing, she fell
into a lethargic slumber, in which having continued some
Lours, she expired gently, March 24, 1603, in the 70th
year of her age, and the 4.5th of her reign.

The portrait which accompanies this Memoir represents
the Queen in the dress in which she went to St. Paul's to
return thanks for the destruction of the Spanish Armada.




T}Mmm^w> wm^m^wT.



THOMAS DERMODY

Was born at a town called Innis, in the county of Clare
in Ireland, in the year 1774. His father, who was a re-
spectable scbool-mastor in that place, early initiated him
in the knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages. Der-
mody was studious even in his childhood, and that which
is generally esteemed by other boys a drudgery, was to him
a pleasure. At a very early age he had read most of the
poets of antiquity, and had absolutely began an English
version of Homer, at a time of life when most boys are
studying their grammars. At about nine years of age a
desire to see the metropolis of his country, led him clan-
destinely to leave his father's house, and with a small
bundle under his arm, and a few shillings in his pocket,
he turned his back on bis paternal comforts for ever,
setting out to seek his fortune, as he himself has related,
fully assured in his own mind that his talents and acquire-
ments would soon introduce him to the literary men of the
day. Arrived in Dublin — all his money expended, and
without a friend, or even an acquaintance to whom he
could apply for relief— the little fellow wandered about
the streets almost perishing with hunger, till chance di-
rected him to a sort of book-stall on Ormond quay, which
was kept by a poor man of the name of Saunders, a native
of Scotland. Saunders seeing something extraordinary
in the appearance of the boy, was induced to ask him
some questions, by which means, learning his situation,
he gave him an invitation to partake his homely meal, and
afterwards lodged him in a stall or shed, the repository
of learning. Here Dermody often had the honour of
rescuing from the rapacious mice the very leaves on which
their heroic deeds were sung by the bards of old — and
69.



THOMAS DERMODV.

many a critic rat repented liis rashness, cangltt bj the
joungpoet, making ratber too free with the works of bis
dear friends Shakspeare and Cervantes.

Under the protection of the friendly bookseller, Der-
modj remained onjy a short time : a gentleman happening
one day to pass near the stali, detected him in the very
act of reading Longinus ! — From this moment the fame of
his learning began to spread ; the book-merchant's stall
was often visited by persons who were desirous to con-
verse with the astonishing boy ; and he was not long
suffered to remain in obscurity. In Ireland, genius,
when known, does not long languish in neglect. The
Countess of Moira became the patroness of the young
Dermody ; she placed him under the care of the Rev. Mr.
Boyd, of Portarlington, well known to the literary world
as the elegant translator of Dante. After his having re-
mained under the care of this clergyman some time, he
was, by his noble and beneficent patroness, removed to a
ce'ebrated academy iu Dublin, kept by the Rev. Mr.
Austin. While with Mr. Austin, Dermody published a
volume of poems, composed between the ages often and
twelve, which gained him great celebrity ; so much so
that he was spoken of in Dublin as a prodigy, and many
of the nobility being desirous of seeing and conversrug with
him, he visited at their hous£s as often as they could ob-
tain leave of his tutor for a short abstinence from his
studies. Dermody afterwards published a volume of
poems, written between the ages of fourteen and fifteen^
which poems (if possible) increased his fame.

At about this time, by his imprudent condu<^t, he lost
the countenance of his noble patroness, the Countess of
Moira, and, after committing many irregularities, at
length he enlisted as a common soldier, but was traced
and recovered this time by the exertion of the late Mr.
llaymond, of Drury-Lane theatre, then on the Dublin
boards, who was for many years his firm and steady friend.
To trace Dermody through all the vicissitudes of his life,
would ftjr exceed the limits of this account : suffice it to
say, that he was for three years in the army, at first as a



J



THOMAii DI'RMUDV.

common soUUer, afterwaros as a corporal, ajid last of ai!
iis a lieuteiiatit- He was in several engagements, in all
of which lie behaved with uncommon bravery, and had
the misfortune to be very severely wounded more than
once.

Dermody's commission was presented him by the truly
noble Lord Moira, whose liberai patronage and friendship
our bard enjoyed until his deatii.

In this country Derniody snliered all the extremity of
want, aud languished, unknown and unregarded, till he
was discovered and drawn from his obscurity by his
former friend, Mr. Raymond. He was at that time in
the utmost state of wrttchedness, but, by the assiduous
exertions of iiis friend, he was soon introduced to some
literary men, and began his career as an author in this
metropolis.

A rapid decline closed the life pf the unhappy Dermody
on the lath July, 1802. About a fortnight before his
death, thinking the country air might relieve him, he
wandered from town, and took up his residence in a
wretched old house near Sydenham, inhabited by la-
bourers employed in digging the canal in that neighbour-
hood. From hence he wrote to Mr. Raymond, at.d
another friend, who had been in the habit of contributing
to his necessities, and begged their assistance. These
friends immediately .sent him a small supply of cash, and
then went to see him. He was, indeed, in a miserable
state. He received them with a tear of gratitude ; — his
voice had not strength to tell his Ihanks : he soon reco-
vered himself, however, enough to converse a little.
One of his friends observing Butler's Hudibras on the
table — " I am merry to the last you see," said he ; then
being taken with a (it of coughing, " Ah !" said he, " this
iiollow^ cough rings out my knell." A few hours after-
wards he died. His friends had feft him, having pre-
viously taken a lodging for him, delightfully situated on
Sydenham Common, to which it was their intcijlion to


1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryCadwallader ColdenLives & portraits of public characters .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 13)