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Chapel, by Margaret, sole daughter and heiress of Richard Swayne, of Bere, in the County of Dorset, Esq.
In deep learning, genius, and extensive knowledge, she was equalled by few: in piety, and the practice of every christian duty, excelled by none.
“ She was born December 16, 1717, and died in London, February 19, 1806, and was interred there in the burial ground of Grosvenor Chapel.”
With the exception of Sir William Jones, this country has probably produced no greater linguist than Mrs. Carter; to the languages that we have already enumerated as in her possession, she afterwards added the Portuguese, and no inconsiderable progress in the Arabic, of which last tongue she constructed a Dictionary for herself, that embraced many words, the import of which had been improperly stated. Her knowledge of Greck was so intimate, that Dr. Johnson, speaking of a celebrated scholar, declared that he understood Greek better than any one whom he had ever known, except Elizabeth Carter.
As a translator and a poet we have, as far as our prescribed limits would admit, taken due notice of our author. She has very lately, however, been brought before the public as an epistolary writer; a province in which, from the ample correspondence just published, she must be allowed to have greatly excelled. Her letters, in fact, which were certainly never intended for the press, will, in point of ease, spirit, style, and matter, rank with the first which this country has produced. Their tendency too, as in all the works of Mrs. Carter, is unexceptionably good.
With regard to her moral and religious character, we may say, in few words, that it approached as near perfection as the frailty necessarily attached to humanity will admit.
It now only remains to consider Mrs. Carter as a contributor to the Rambler of her friend Dr. Johnson. Her assistance, we regret to say, was far from extensive; for No 44 and N° 100 are the only pieces which we can attribute to her pen. Of these, the first is a vision, contrasting the doctrines and practice of religion and superstition, and the tendency of which forms a fine relief to the shade which so continually darkens the hopes and speculations of Johnson; it paints religion, indeed, and her influence in such cheerful and animating colours, that if any thing could have dissipated the perpetual gloom which surrounded that great and worthy character, this exhilarating view must have broken through its atmosphere like a sun-beam on his mind.
The second is an ironical essay on the benefits to be derived to society from a life of fashionable dissipation, and is written with much spirit, ease, and humour,
The associates of Hawkesworth and Johnson in the composition of the ADVENTURER were not numerous. Bathurst, Warton, Chapone, and Colman, form the list of those whose papers a acknowledged. On the authority of Dr. Johnson, however, we have to add, that the Hon. Hamilton Boyle was a contributor to the Adventurer; but among the small number of papers which have no signature the property of this gentleman has never been ascertained. We may also mention, that to the Rev. Richard Jago we are indebted for the copy of verses in No thirty-seven.
It may be necessary, before we proceed; to say, as Mr. Colman contributed but a single essay
* Boswell's Journal, 3d edition, p. 240.
to the Adventurer, and was subsequently the chief author of another periodical paper, that, though his number will be noticed in this place, the sketch of his life will be deferred until the Connoisseur has a claim upon our attention.
RICHARD BATHURST, M. D. was born in Jamaica, the son of Colonel Bathurst, a planter in that Island, who, on leaving the West Indies to fix his residence in England, adopted the science of medicine for the profession of his son, and sent him to London, as the place where he could not only best acquire the rudiments of his art, but the largest share, likewise, of its emoluments.
The experiment, however, proved ultimately an unfortunate one; for, though in point of natural talents, education, and manners, Dr. Bathurst was unexceptionable, he wanted not only fortune, but interest; without which, no ability, however great, has, in general, been found availing in this profession.
The death of the Colonel, who left his affairs in total ruin, made it necessary that his son should exert every nerve to acquire practice, and he accordingly took every probable and reputable step to obtain reputation and employment. Notwithstanding all his efforts, however, his advancement closed with the appointment of physician to an hospital, the revenues of which were so scanty
and precarious, as to afford him little or no recompence for his attendance. In short, he failed so completely, that before he left England he confessed to Johnson, that“ in the course of ten years exercise of his faculty, he had never opened his hand to more than one guinea.”*
Dr. Johnson, who was intimately acquainted with Bathurst, and indeed loved and admired him for the sweetness of his disposition, the elegance of his manners, and the brilliancy of his talents, was greatly hurt at his want of success, and often expressed to Sir John Hawkins his surprise, “ that a young man of his endowments and engaging manners should succeed no better; and his disappointment drew from him a reflection, which he has inserted in his life of Akenside, that by an acute observer who had looked on the transactions of the medical world for half a century, a very curious book might be written on the fortune of physicians.” + With many
of the most eminent medical men of his day Dr. Johnson had formed a close friendship; he entertained a high idea of the varied learning and science necessarily connected with the character of an accomplished physician, and would frequently affirm of the physicians of this
* Hawkins's Life of Johnson, p. 235.
+ Life of Johnson, p. 235, 236.