Abbildungen der Seite

ever, as a member of the republic of letters, were inadequate to his support; and he found it necessary to relinquish his pen for the more profitable returns of trade. He opened, therefore, an East India warehouse in Leadenhall-street, and obtained a valuable appointment in the General Post-office. His contribution to the Spectator is relative to this change in his condition, and the letter in N° 288, signed with his name at length, may be considered as a species of advertisement, descriptive of the elegant and costly articles in which he dealt.

These new employments soon placed our quondam translator in easy circumstances; he married a beautiful and amiable woman, and became the father of a family of fine children. All that life affords for rational and domestic enjoyment appeared to be now within his reach; when the indulgence of licentious appetite, at an age too which seems to indicate that it was the result of habit rather than of sudden temptation, not only exposed his character to the world, but deprived him of existence. He was found dead, on the morning of the 19th of February, 1717-18, in a brothel near Temple-bar; and so strong was the suspicion, arising from the combination of circumstances, that he had been murdered by the wretches who surrounded him, that the offer of

a conditional pardon, and a reward of fifty pounds for the discovery of the murderer, was advertised in the London Gazette. The completion of his 58th year took place on the very day that he was destroyed.

41. WILLIAM HARRISON, after the customary initiation in classical learning at Westminster school, completed his education at New College, Oxford, of which he became a fellow. He appears to have left the university for the capital about the year 1708; for Swift, in a letter to Stella, dated October the 13th, 1710, thus speaks of him :-" There is a young fellow here in town we are all fond of, and about a year or two come from the university, one Harrison, a little pretty fellow, with a great deal of wit, good sense, and good nature;-he has nothing to live on but being governor to one of the Duke of Queensberry's sons for forty pounds a year*.” Fortunately for our young adventurer, Swift early imbibed for him a considerable degree of esteem, and at length seems to have felt for him the affection of a parent.

When Steele closed the Tatler on January the 2d, 1711, Swift advised Harrison to resume the subject, and to write a fifth volume of the Tat

* Swift's Works, Nichols's edition, vol. xiv. p. 228.


ler, promising him his assistance, and that of Mr. Secretary St. John. Flattered by the proposal, Harrison commenced the undertaking on January the 13th, 1711; on which day the Dean, writing to Stella, mentions the first number in the following terms: "To-day little Harrison's new Tatler came out: there is not much in it, but I hope he will mend. You must understand that upon Steele's leaving off, there were two or three scrub Tatlers came out, and one of them holds on still, and to-day it advertised against Harrison's, and so there must be disputes which are genuine, like the straps for razors. I am afraid the little toad has not the true vein for it*." Harrison obtained likewise the assistance of Henley and Congreve, and continued the work until May the 19th, 1711, at which period fiftytwo had been published, and were collected into a volume, which the editor called the fifth of the Tatler. It is greatly inferior, however, to the papers of Addison and Steele, and soon sunk into oblivion.

The regard which Swift professed for our author was about this time productive of an appointment for him, which ought to have been as lucrative as it was honourable; through his interest with Mr. St. John, he procured for him the * Swift's Works, Nichols's edition, vol. xiv. p. 326,

[ocr errors]


Queen's secretaryship to lord Raby, then ambassador at the Hague. The income of this office should have been full a thousand pounds a year, but government paid him not a groat; and when he returned from Utrecht with the Barrier Treaty in January, 1713, he was not only three or four hundred pounds in debt, but without a farthing in his pocket. Of his extreme penury at this time, Swift has recorded a very striking proof. Harrison," says he, was with me this morning, (Jan. 31, 1712-13,) we talked three hours, and then I carried him to court. When we went down to the door of my lodging, I found a coach waiting for him, I chid him for it; but he whispered me, it was impossible to do otherwise; and in the coach he told me, he had not one farthing in his pocket to pay it; and therefore took the coach for the whole day, and intended to borrow money somewhere or other. So there was the Queen's minister intrusted in affairs of the greatest importance, without a shilling in his pocket to pay a coach *."

It is probable, that had Mr. Harrison lived he would have obtained the revenue to which he was entitled; he survived the incident, however, that we have just quoted but a fortnight, and died, most sincerely lamented by Swift,. on Fe*Swift's Works, vol. xv. p. 374.

bruary the 14th, 1712-13. The passage in Swift's works, which records the illness and death of this amiable young man, reflects so much honour on the Dean's feelings and benevolence, and forms so pleasing a trait in his character, that I gladly seize the opportunity of presenting it to my readers.

Journal to Stella, February the 12th, 1712-13. "I found a letter on my table last night, to tell me that poor little Harrison, the Queen's secretary that came lately from Utrecht with the Barrier Treaty, was ill, and desired to see me at night; but it was late, and I could not go till today. I went in the morning, and found him mighty ill, and got thirty guineas for him from Lord Bolingbroke, and an order for a hundred pounds from the treasurer to be paid him to-morrow; and I have got him removed to Knightsbridge for the air. He has a fever and inflammation on his lungs, but I hope will do well. "13th. I was to see a poor poet, one Mr. in a nasty garret, very sick. I gave him twenty guineas from Lord Bolingbroke, and disposed the other sixty to two other authors, and desired a friend to receive the hundred pounds for poor Harrison, and will carry it to him to-morrow morning. I sent to see how he did, and he is extremely ill; and I am very much afflicted for him, as he is


« ZurückWeiter »