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direction ; but I cannot receive my religion from any human hand. I desire, however, to be instructed, and am far from thinking myself perfect. It affords me a new conviction, that in these books there is little new, except new forms of expression, which may be sometimes taken, even by the writer, for new doctrines.”* Among his private devotions, we find the following prayer composed on the occasion of her death. t
* Annals, &c. p. 135.
+ The following characteristic and appropriate epitaph is inscribed on a monument erected to her memory in Ashbourne church, written by the 'present Sir Brooke Boothby, Bart. The concluding lines, according to the information of the author, refer to the peculiar circumstances of her death.
Could beauty, learning, talents, virtue save
“ O Lord God, Almighty disposer of all things, in whose hands are life and death ; who givest comforts and takest them away; I return thee thanks for the good example of Hill Boothby, whom thou hast now taken away; and implore thy grace, that I may im. prove the opportunity of instruction which thou hast afforded me, by the knowledge of her life, and by the sense of her death; that I may consider the uncertainty of my present state, and apply myself earnestly to the duties which thou hast set before me; that, living in
Her soul too heavenly for an house of clay,
She died in her 48th year. In note p. 205, it is the peerage of Cobham, not Brooke, which is claimed by her family,
thy fear, I may die in thy favour, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” |
Having sold his share in the property of the Rambler, and spent, during the progress of the work, the money for which he had contracted to write his Dictionary, he was still under the necessity of exerting his talents, “ in making provision for the day that was passing over him.”. The profits of 'his miscellaneous essays, were now his principal resource for subsistence ; 'and it is melancholy to find, from the following letter to Richardson, dated Gough-square, March 16, 1756, that they were insufficient to ward off the distress of an arrest, on a particular emergency. . . 7.“I am obliged to intreat your assistance ; I am now under an arrest for five pounds eighteen shillings. Mr Strahan, from whom I should have received the necessary help, in this case, is not at home, and I am afraid of not finding Mr Millar. If you could be so good as to send me this sum, I will very
* Prayers and Meditations, &c. p. 25.
gratefully repay you, and add it to all former obligations.” In the margin of this letter, there is a memorandum in these words :“ March 16, 1756. Sent six guineas. Witness Wm Richardson.”
« For the honour of an admired writer,” says Mir Murphy, “ it is to be regretted that we do not find a more liberal entry. Had an incident of this kind occurred in one of his romances, Richardson would have known how to grace bis hero ; but in fictitious scenes, generosity costs the writer nothing." * This anecdote may appear to support the parsimoof the author, whose hero gives most profusely; but something may still be said in favour of Richardson. All that Johnson asked was a temporary supply; and that was granted. There was certainly no ostentatious liberality; but a kind action seems to have been done, without delay, and without grudging.
Besides the necessity he was under of engaging in short compositions, for immediate
* Essay, &c. p. 87.
subsistence, some kind of literary occupation was necessary to the preservation of his mind from dejection and melancholy. Accordingly, notwithstanding his constitutional inactivity, he was ever ready to furnish Prefaces and Dedications to the works of his friends, and willing to give his assistance in the compilation of Magazines and Reviews, projected by the booksellers. · This year, he contributed to a publication entitled - The Universal Visiter, and Monthly Memorialist,” for the assistance of Smart the pdet, one of the stated undertakers, * with whose unhappy vacillation of mind he sincerely sympathized, the essays marked with two asterisks; except the “ Life of Chaucer," 64 Reflections on the state of Portugal," and an “ Essay on Architecture," which wait all the characteristical marks of his composition. Further thoughts on Agriculture, being the se
. * Richard Rolt, a voluminous compiler, was the other undertaker. According to Sir John Hawkins, Mr Garrick and Bishop Percy were contributors to this miscel. lany, for the same benevolent purpose.