« AnteriorContinuar »
THE WILL OF CHARLES CHURCHILL I CHARLES CHURCHILL, of Acton, in the county of Middlesex, Clerk, but now at Boulogne in France, being in an ill state of health, but of sound mind, memory, and understanding, do make, publish, and declare this to be my last Will and Testament, in manner and form following. In the first place, I give to my Wife an annuity of sixty pounds a year for her natural life. Item, I give to Elizabeth Carr, of Turnham Green, in the county of Middlesex, spinster, an annuity of fifty pounds a year during her natural life. I give to his Grace, the Duke of Grafton, the Earl and Countess Temple, John Wilkes, Huniphry Cotes, and Robert Lloyd, Esquires, and Mr. Walsh, merchant at Boulogne, each a ring, as a memorial of my regard to their merit. I desire my dear friend, John Wilkes, Esquire, to collect and publish my works with the remarks and explanations he has prepared, and any others he thinks proper to make. I give all the rest, residue, and remainder of my estates, of what nature or kind soever, to my executors hereinafter named, ÎN TRUST, to be divided equally between my two sons, Charles and John, and the survivor of them. Lastly, I nominate, constitute, and appoint the said Humphry Cotes, and John Churchill, my brother, of Church Street, Westminster, executors of this my last Will, and guardians to my said children. In witness, &c. 3rd Nov. 1764.
Wilkes, in conformity with the injunction contained in Churchill's Will, professed to be occupied in the preparation of copious notes for a complete edition of the poems, and in most of his letters alluded to the progress he was making, and to the pleasing but mournful interest he took in the duty. It does not appear, however, that he ever wrote more than the few notes printed in the Appendix to the North Briton, and reprinted by Almon, in his Memoirs and Correspondence of Wilkes, in five volumes; of which Southey has well said that a more catchpenny work has seldom issued from the press upon the decease of any public character. Horace Walpole, in one of his letters, mentioned that Wilkes showed him the notes he had prepared, and that they consisted of nothing but a preliminary observation on each of the poems. If Wilkes did write more fully, he must have destroyed the manuscripts, as none were found after his death ; although it is possible he may have been induced to suppress some notes for various motives, some probably of a questionable nature.*
Something of this sort may be collected from the following passage in one of his letters to Cotes:
“I have a very long note on this passage of my ever honoured Churchill:
She could not starve if there was only Clive.
I have laboured much, but it will remain locked up among my papers, for fear of hurting Jack.
I have sent you a variety of MSS. and printed papers, and know not what you have received. Have you that about Calcraft, which is done with much care? If you have not, I will send it to you. If I wanted money, Colonel Keene hinted to me that I might have what I would from him; that is, he would buy me off. I have nobly served him up. How pleased is the dear shade of our friend with all I have done, I am sure of it.”
In his letters to Miss Wilkes and to Cotes, until the end of 1765, constant allusions are made to the intended edition, with notes, as appears by the extracts we subjoin ; after which period his interest in the work appears to have ceased, and although he always afterwards wrote of Churchill with affection and respect, he seldom if ever adverted to the promised notes.
Calais, Dec. 10, 1764. I HAVE not slept two hours since I have been here, I mean continued sleep, Churchill is still before my eyes.
I hear that John Churchill is about selling the right of copy of our dear friend's works. Is it to take place before or after my edition, which will take me up several months more; for I will never risk any crudities with the public.
December, 13. My eye
is ever fixed, not straitly,* but steadily, on my two great works, Churchill's edition, and my history.
TO MISS WILKES.
Naples, March 25, 1705. THERE is not a man in Europe who writes to a friend under the disadvantages I now do. I have
Alluding to his obliquity of vision, of which he appeare to have been more sensible than of that of his conduct.
reason to fear the shadow of a pen, yet I will per. severe in justice to myself, in love to my country, in veneration to the memory
Churchill. He told me, and the world too,
Resolve not quick, but once resolved be strong.
I am following every part of the plan I had concerted with him. I shall soon be here in a philosophical retirement such as he admired, in the bosom of philosophy and patriotism, for so you'll find it. I came here upon principle, to dedicate myself to my two great works, the edition of his noble poetry, and my history.
I hope to eat my frugal morsel with content and cheerfulness, though many a sigh and tear escape me for the death of dear Churchill.
TO MISS WILKES.
April 16, 1765. You cannot read Pope too much. He is the most correct of our English poets, though he has not the strength and copiousness of Dryden, nor of my dear Churchill. The edition of Churchill and my history, occupy me entirely.
TO MISS WILKES.
Naples, May 21. The loss of Churchill I shall always reckon the most cruel of all afflictions I have suffered. I will soon convince mankind that I knew how to value such superior genius and merit. I have more than half finished the projected edition of Churchill, and my thoughts now turn towards printing it, which I find cannot be done here.
May 28, 1765. I LOOK forward to better times, and feel a resource in my old fortitude, adequate to every affliction but the death of Churchill
, and the absence of a very few. I have told you fully about our dear friend's work, and the notes relative to yourself, as likewise of my history. I do not know your sentiments on any of these heads, but I am sure you and the public will approve what I shall soon submit to you both. No man has ever taken more pains, that notes, a dull business of itself, may not disgrace his fair classic page.
TO GEORGE COLMAN.
Nov. 10, 1765. I HAD your friendly letter by M. de Beaumont, but I have not been able before this to write to you; your idea was so closely joined with that of poor Churchill, that for a long time I sought to avoid it, and though it returned upon me in my late pursuits, I could not cherish it as I used to do. My grief began to abate, when the additional shock of Lloyd's death almost overset me. I have tried ever since by journeys and a variety of company, to recover the tone of my mind, but I am at times more melancholy than it is almost possible for you to conceive a man of so good animal spirits to be.
I had fully opened my mind to Lloyd as to my