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Be thine the glory to have led the way,
Ah why should modesty conceal thy name?
Notwithstanding these commendations, Mrs. Carter, at a more mature period of life, was not willing to acknowledge these translations, which she thought trilling and unworthy of her talents; an estimation not perfectly just, as they were well written and of importance, as they essentially contributed to her introduction among the learned and the great. So much satisfied, indeed, was Johnson with them, that he recommended her to undertake a translation of Boethius De Consolatione, and to acknowledge it by the prefixture of her name.
In the mean time Mrs. Carter continued her correspondence with the Gentleman's Magazine. An elegy by her on the death of Mrs. Rowe, appears in that publication for April, 1737, and
* Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 9, p. 322.
which two years afterwards was reprinted in the same miscellany, with many corrections and alterations, and with her name at full length. In 1738 she sent Mr. Cave some beautiful lines on the planetary system, addressed-to Mr:Wright the astronomer, and in November, 1739, her exquisite Ode to Melancholy, though without any signature. It was soon traced, however, to its source, and, more than any of her former productions, contributed to spread the reputation of her
So widely, indeed, was her celebrity diffused, that it reached many parts of the Continent, and occasioned the celebrated Barratier, then nearly, of her own age, to solicit a correspondence with her, a request which was but just gratified when the studies of this young man, so remarkable for the precocity of his genius, were prematurely terminated by the stroke of death.
The introduction of our poetess to Miss Talbot, in the year 1741, was the mean of very widely. extending the circle of her friends and admirers. Among these no one was more attached to her than Dr. Secker, and no one was ultimately of more service to her in her literary pursuits. She was likewise early intimate with the celebrated Mrs. Montagu, and with Mrs. Vesey; and with these ladies and Miss Talbot she supported for
many years an uninterrupted and most valuable epistolary correspondence.
It was in the year 1746 that Mrs. Carter wrote her “ Ode to Wisdom," one of the most elegant and interesting of her poetical effusions. Richardson appears to have printed it in his Clarissa, from a manuscript in private circulation, though it is said by Mr. Pennington to have been first published in the Gentleman's Magazine. She contributed likewise, in 1751, at the particular request of Mr. William Duncombe, one ode and some corrections to his version of Horace: the Prophecy of Nereus, lib. 1, od.15, was, owing to the inadequacy of all prior translations, the piece which Mr. Duncombe wished her to attempt; and that it was executed to his satisfaction, we have reason to suppose from the praises which, as her nephew affirms, he bestowed upon it.
We have mentioned that through her connection with Mr. Cave, our author was at an early period of life introduced to Dr. Johnson. This great man was then so struck with the depth and variety of her acquisitions, that he wrote a Greek epigram in her praise, at the same time declaring to Cave, that “ she ought to be celebrated in as many different languages as Louis le Grand.” That his admiration of her talents and virtues had suffered no diminution during the lapse of
cighteen years, is evident from the following letter, which, as written by a man remarkable for his sincerity and veracity, closes in a manner highly honourable to the subject of our sketch. It may be noticed also, that this short epistle adds one more proof to the many which we possess, of the benevolent and affectionate feelings of the writer:
“ From the liberty of writing to you, if I have hitherto been deterred by the fear of your
under standing, I am now encouraged to it by the con fidence of your goodness.
“ I am soliciting a benefit for Miss Williams, and beg that if you can by letters influence any in her favour, (and who is there whom you cannot influence ?) you will be pleased to patronize her on this occasion. Yet for the time is short, and as you were not in town, I did not till this day remember that you might help us, and recollect how widely and how rapidly light is diffused,
“ To eyery joy is appended a sorrow. The name of Miss Carter introduces the memory of Cave. Poor dear Cave! I owed him much; for to him I owe that I have known you. He died, I am afraid, unexpectedly to himself, yet surely unburthened with any great crime; and for the
positive duties of religion, I have yet no right to condemn him for neglect.
“ I am, with respect, which I neither owe nor pay. to any other,
Madam, “ Your most obedient and most humble Servant, Gough Square,
« Sam. Johnson." Jan. 14, 1756. For some years previous to the receipt of this letter from Johnson, Mrs. Carter's time had been much occupied by the important and arduous task of educating her youngest brother Henry* for the University; and in consequence of this employment, which was necessarily unremitting, she resided constantly at Deal.
In the year 1756, deeming her pupil at length sufficiently prepared, he was, after having passed through his examination with much credit, entered a pensioner of Béne't College, Cambridge, and was, as Mr. Pennington has remarked, probably the only instance of a student at Cambridge who was indebted for his previous education to one of the other sex.
The time of our accomplished author was not, however, entirely engaged by the labour of
* Dr. Carter's family was numerous, and Henry was the youngest child by his second wife, and designed for the church