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As her circumstances would not admit of her keeping house, she retired into lodgings, where she lived with great respectability and comfort, and happy in her numerous friends. She had, however, in about two years after the death of Mr.Chapone, another heavy loss to deplore in the decease of her father, who had ever treated her with the utmost confidence, and with the tenderest parental love.
In the year 1766 Mrs. Chapone made an excursion into Yorkshire, and spent several months with her second brother, who then held the living of Thornhill, near Wakefield; and in 1770 she accompanied her friend Mrs. Montagu into Scotland. With the tour which she took with this. accomplished lady she was highly delighted: writing to Mrs. Carter from a country so romantic, she has given the following picture of one of its most striking scenes. "The rude magnificence. of nature, in the degree it is displayed in Scotland, was quite new to me, and furnished me with ideas I never before was in possession of. At Taymouth, indeed, every conceivable beauty of landscape is united with the sublime. Such a lake! such variegated hills rising from its banks! such mountains, and such cloud-cap'd rocks rising behind them! such a delicious green valley. to receive the sweet winding Tay! such woods!
such cascades! in short, I am wild that you and all my romantic friends should see it; for even a Milton's pen, or a Salvator Rosa's pencil, would fail to give you a complete idea of it. Several more sweet places we saw, which would have made capital figures, had they not been eclipsed by Lord Bredalbane's. My intellectual pleasures were as great in their kind, from the conversations of Mrs. Montagu and Dr. Gregory, who accompanied us in all our journeys, and is one of the most agreeable men I ever met with."*
In the year 1773 Mrs. Chapone's first work, with her name prefixed, appeared before the public; it was intituled "Letters on the Improvement of the Mind," and being addressed to her favourite niece, the eldest daughter of the Rev. John Mulso, was originally intended for private use. Through the persuasions of Mrs. Montagu, however, she was induced to commit it to the press, dedicated to that lady, and divided into ten letters. The first three are on the subject of Religion; the fourth and fifth on the Regulation of the Heart and Affections; the sixth on the Government of the Temper; the seventh on Economy; the eighth on Politeness and Accomplishments; and the ninth and tenth on Geography, Chronology, and History.
* Chapone's Works, vol. 1, p. 155.
The reception of this work was such as Mrs. Montagu had predicted; it was the object of general approbation, and soon became extensively circulated. It is, indeed, one of the best books that can be put into the hands of female youth; the style is easy and pure, the advice practical and sound, and the whole uniformly tends to promote the noblest principles of morality and religion. The reputation which Mrs. Chapone obtained by this publication induced many persons anxiously to seek her acquaintance; and, as she was known not to be affluent, there were several also who would willingly have engaged her, upon any terms, to superintend the education of their daughters. Averse, however, to such a charge, she constantly, though politely, rejected all offers of the kind.
Stimulated by the well-founded partiality of her friends, Mrs. Chapone ventured on another appeal to the public, in the year 1775, by the production of a volume of "Miscellanies." This elegant little work consists of Essays and Poems; the first part including, beside the Story of Fidelia, observations on Affectation and Simplicity, on Conversation, on Enthusiasm and Indifference in Religion, and a Letter to a new-married Lady. The Poems, which are for the most part the effusions of very early life, possess a strain of pleas
ing and pensive morality, and particularly the "Ode to Solitude," which is, in my opinion, greatly superior to the rest.
Few persons have ever more bitterly experienced one of the consequences of advanced life, the loss of friends and relations, than Mrs. Chapone; from 1778 to within a short period of her own death, almost every year brought with it a deprivation of this melancholy kind. Her aunt, her uncle, her beloved companions the Burrows's, with the exception of Mrs. Amy Burrows, her three brothers, and her favourite niece, beside many friends, were all taken from her; she stood, in fact, comparatively alone, insulated as it were amid society; and though ever patient, and struggling against affliction with a smile
She bent before the throne of woe
A face of smiles, a heart of tears!
The loss of her last brother and of her eldest niece, in 1799, completed the sum of her distress; her mind yielded to the shock, and her intellects became visibly impaired. That nothing was omitted by her remaining friends and relations, to soothe and mitigate her sorrows, we have the testimony of her latest biographer. Mrs. Burrows in particular scarcely ever left Mrs. Chapone, when with her youngest niece she retired to Had
ley in the autumn of 1800, but was, with Miss Burrows, her constant visitor. At this place, on the evening of Christmas day, 1801, and in the seventy-fourth year of her age, Mrs. Chapone expired, without a struggle, in the arms of her niece.
It is scarcely necessary to say, even after the brief account which we have given of Mrs. Chapone, that with abilities of a superior kind, both natural and acquired, she was humble, benevolent, and religious; that she was warmly beloved by her friends, and admired by all who knew her.
The contributions to the Rambler and Adventurer, which have given her a place in these volumes, are four billets in N° 10 of the former work, and the story of Fidelia in Nos. 77, 78, and 79, of the latter. The billets form one of the very few real correspondences with which Johnson was favoured, though, at the commencement of the paper in which they are inserted, he has, with the customary licence of periodical writers, boasted of the number of his correspondents, and of their increase from day to day.
The history of Fidelia represents, in a very interesting and pathetic manner, the total inefficacy of Deism as a source of rectitude and consolation, and exposes, through the mean of a striking example, the dreadful mischiefs which are se