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Sensura Literaria, by S. E. Bridges, Esq. who has paid a just trk bute to the genins, literary talents, and private virtues of the lady; and the intention of her family has already been announced of publishing her Memoirs on a more enlarged plan, with a selection of her correspondence; it would therefore be anticipata ing the pleasure the public are likely to receive from so desir. able and interesting a piece of biography, were we here to enter into a minute detail of circumstances.
Mrs. Smith was the eldest daughter of Nicholas Turner, Esq. a gentleman of fortune, who inherited considerable estates in the counties of Surry and Sussex. He was a man of very superior talents, remarkable for the brilliancy of his wit, his powers of conversation, and a peculiar vein of humour, which rendered hima the delight of society. Her mother, whose maiden name was Towers, was as distinguished by the graces of her mind, as by a person of exquisite beauty; but this lady died in child-bed before her eldest daughter had attained her fourth year, and the care of ther person devolved on an aunt, the sister of her deceased mo. ther. Mr. Tarner early discovered such indications of genius in the infant mind of his child, that he determined no expence should be spared in the cultivation of those talents which she seemed to kave inherited from both her parents; and therefore bestowed on her what was thought the best education. She was placed in one of the most distinguished seminaries in the neighbourhood of London; and, on quitting school, which she did at an early age, she was attended by various masters: and, if expence constituted a good education, she may be said to have received the best that could have been given; but Mrs. Smith frequently regretted, that in the conduct of it so little judgment was shewn, and that the time lost in the attainment of superficial accomplishments was not employed in more aseful studies, in the acquirement of languages, and still more, that so little attention was paid to enforce those important principles which fortify the mind,' and enable it to struggle against the inevitable evils of life. Her father was himself a poet, and encouraged this talent in his daughter, who, as she tells us in one of her last works, composed verses at a very early age; but her aunt had imbibed an opinion, that learning disquali. fied women for their own peculiar duties, and was in general un. favourable to their establishment in life, and observed with great disapprobation this turn of mind, and the passion of her niece for reading, and prohibited her from so employing her time, without however taking any effectual measure to prevent her gratifying this taste; so that she had always the power of carrying on her
contraband studies, and every book that carne in her way, slie devoured with avidity, and with little discrimination. By this means she acquired a mass of desultory knowledge, which, by esciting her curiosity, led her on at a subsequent period in pur. suit of more perfect information. Her father, having sold his Surry estates, divided his time between his house in Sussex and one he took in London; and his daughter was early introduced into society, partook of all the amasement and dissipation her father and aunt engaged in, and entered into them with that eager. ness natural to a young person; and as her very fine form had attained the stature of a woman, she wore the dress of one, and it has been said that her father received proposals for ler, at the early age of thirteen, from a gentleman who had seen her at a public assembly, and was struck with the charms of her figure... an offer which was declined on account of her extreme youth. It had been happy, had a reason so substantial operated a few years longer; but before she was sixteen, she was married lo the younger son of Richard Smith, Esq., who was a West India merchant of much eminence, and this son was associated in the father's business. After having been accustomed to the most bound. less indulgence from her own family, (and to her aunt erery wisla and caprice of her's was a law,) she was suddenly involved in household cares, and had many other canses to regret the union. From this marriage, which had been brought about by the offici. ousness of friends, and which was by no means the effect of attaciment on either side, all the future misfortunes of the subject of these pages originated: an uncle of Mrs. S. was the only person of the family who saw, and foretold all the misery that would resalt from an union, in which neither the habits, nor the temper of the parties had been considered; when neither were arrived at a time of life, to ascertain or appreciate the character of each other;. but he had not suflicient weight to induce those, who saw this con. nection in a different view, to break it off. Mr. Turner was on the point of marrying a second wife, who although she exacted much consideration in consequence of her large fortune, had little claine to it from her personal qualities, and whose authority a grown up daughter, who had never been accustomed to controul, would inost, probably have resisted: he consequently felt no reluctance in closing with proposals, which relieved him from the apprehen. sions he entertained, and this marriage took place on the 22d of February, 1765! The residence of the young people was in a very disgusting part of the city, from whence they removed in the course of two years; the death of their first child, and the
effect this Arst affliction had on a young mother, so endanget. ed her health, and that of her second child, whoin the nursed, and who was born on the same day its brother expired, that it was found necessary to remove them to purer air. The village of Southgate was chosen for this purpose, where Mrs. Smith recovered from her indisposition; and her understanding in time sæbdued the sorrow which she load first given way to, with excess. In this quiet spot, she had now more command of her time, and the use of a good library, and the power, from being much alone, of follow. ing those pursuits to which she was attached, enabled her to forin her taste and devote her thoughts to intellectual improvement: but this produced one unfortunate result, it opened her eyes to those defects she had hitherto been unwilling to see; yet, although she could no longer be blind to them herself, she endeavoured to conceal them from the observation of others, and, in her own beha. viour towards her husband, tried to give him consequence. His inattention to business was extremely displeasing to his father, and the increase of the family making a larger house necessary, their next residence was within five miles of London; "and soon after Mr. Smith's father purchased an estate called Lys Farm, Hampshire. But he had no sooner removed thither, than he be. gan enlarging the house, and making additions to the garden and offices on an extensive plan; his agricultural pursuits becanre ex. pensive and ruinous in proportion to his inexperience; and Mrs. Smith soon found, that her domestic comforts were by no means increased, and she had only hartered one species of misery for another. Here she lost her eldest son, a boy of very superior in. tellect, and who promised to partake much of his mother's genius: this was a deep affliction to his mother; he did not long survive his grandfather, the father of Mr. Smith, whose death was far from being an advantage to his daughter-in-law, for in him she lost a steady and attectionate friend, who had always her interest and happiness at heart. He left a very large property among his grandehildren, of which there were several, besides the eight children of his youngest son, but his will was 60 extremely prolix and confused, that no two lawyers understood it; so that the Trustees appointed by it refused to act, and Mr. Smith became, as principal executor, possessed of the entire management of these extensive concerns, in the conduct of which he acted with so little caution, and so little to the satisfaction of the several collate. ral branches of the family concerned, that they felt themselves coinpelled to appeal to the law. The consequences were disastrous ; but Mrs. Smith did not in the hour of distress desert her husband,
but shared in the misery he had brought op himself, and exerted the powers of her mind with such indefatigable zeal, that, after the space of a few months, she succeeded in disentangling him from his immediate embarrassments, and the property was vested in the hands of trustees, two of them gentlemen connected with Mr. Smith's family, high in situation and aflluent in circumstances.
Soon after these events, Mrs. Smith collected such poems as she had originally written for her amusement; they were first offered lo Dodsley and refused; they were afterwards shewn to Dilly in the Poultry, who also declined them : it has been seen with what degree of judgment these decisions were made: through the in. terest of Mr. Hayley, they were at length printed by Dodsley on Mrs. Smith's account, and the rapid sale, and almost immediate demand for a second edition, sufficiently justified the author's confi. dence in her own powers, and encouraged her to proceed in a line, which, as it might render her in a great degree independent of the persons who had now the management of the affairs, contributed to divert her thoughts, and to lead her mind into the visionary re. gions of fancy, rendering the sad realities she was suffering under, in some measure, less poignant. The still encreasing derangement of Mr. Smith's affairs soon after obliged him to leave England, and in the autumn of 1784, he established his family in a gloomy and inconvenient chateau in Normandy, nine miles from any town. In the spring of 1785, the family returned to England, and soon after resided in the ancient mansion then belonging to Sir Charles Mill, at Woollading, now the residence of Lord Robert Spencer, and of which parish the father of Otway the poet had been rector; a circumstance which rendered it classic ground to Mrs. Smith, and inspired those beautiful sonnets in which his name is so happily introduced ; 'here also she translated those very in. teresting extracts from Les Causes Celebres which have been so de servedly admired, and which was a most difficult undertaking froin the singularity of the work, and the obscurity of the law. Lerins. Again it became necessary for Mrs. Smith to exert her for. titude, when she parted from her eldest son, who had been appointed to a writership in Bengal ; and when the second was snatched from her by a rapid and malignant fever, which more or less affected the whole family, and which carried him off after an illness ei three days. Other domestic calamities, insupportable to a spirit like hers, overtook her very soon afterwards; and circumstances which delicacy forbids us to detail, determined her to quit her husband's house, and withdraw with most of her children to a small village near Chichester. The charmning novel of Emmeline *
written at this place, in the course of a few months ; the novelty of the descriptive scenery which Mi's. Smith first introduced, and the elegance of the style, obtained for it the most unbounded suc. cess, and encreased the ardour and persevering application of the author, which brought forward several other works of the same kind, almost all equally pleasing, and which followed with a rapi. dity and variety truly astonishing,
Mrs. Smith after some time removed te Brighton, where she continued till 1793, and where her talents introduced her to many distinguished and literary characters : circumstances and the love of change next carried her to another part of Sussex. Her third son had entcred the army, and served on the continent in the campaign of that year, as ensign in the 14th regiment; he had been distinguished by his good conduct, but unfortunately received a dangerous wound before Dunkirk, which made the 'amputation of his leg necessary. He returned to England in this melancholy situation ; and such a distressing event, combining with other causes, preyed ou the constitution of his mother, wlio, having contracted a very alarming rheumatic complaint, was advised to try the Bath waters, and thither she 'removed in 1794, where in the spring of 1795, that which she considered as the heaviest of her domestic calamities befel her, in the death of her second daughter, a lovely and amiable young woman, of a rapid decline. She had been two years the wife of the Chevalier de Foville, an emigrant. Mrs. Smith is said never to have recovered this affic. tion ; but at times the original chearfulness of her temper returned, and latterly she never mentioned her 'lost daughter. Her love of change, which might always be numbered among her foibles, was now become an habitual restlessness; and she continued to wander from place to place, in hopes of attaining that happiness which ever seemed to elude her pursnit. ' Iler various residences may be traced in her poems. M 1801, she had to lament the death of that on who lost his limb in the service of his country, which took place at Barbadoes, where the affairs of his family bad called him, and by his ardent spirit and exertions, the property situaled there was disposed of ; but he was not destined to reap the benefit of his successful negociatiov, he fell a vietim to the yellow fever, froin the benevolence of his disposition in attending his servant, who was first seized with the malady. His loss was deeply regietted by his mother and family. In 1803, Mrs. Smith removed from the neighbourhood of Tunbridge Wells, to a village in Surry, regarding ít as her native soil, having passed her infancy at her father's place "at Stoke, and there she had long expressed a desire that all her