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1727, where she continued till near the time of her death in February, 1730-31; for though an
filling that high office. In part of the preceding century noblemen were addressed by that title; but that mode address, at the time this letter was written, was wholly ob solete. It however might have been directed to the son of a Peer.
May it please your Honour,
"That the most unfortunate of her sex presumes to lay her little offering at your feet; which, having bee accepted by Majesty, [her volume of Poems in 1727 wa dedicated to Caroline, Princess of Wales, at this tim become Queen,] she flatters her selfe, may afford you Honour, at a leisure hour, some entertainment also.
"She begs leave to lay her unhappy case before you Honour's charitable consideration, having bin deprive of a competent fortune by an unjust executor, [Georg Gwinnet, the elder,] who carried her through Civil an Common Law, Chancery, and the House of Lords; til length of time consumed the profits of the suit, and sh was landed in a prison; where, for several years, sh has suffered more than thought can conceive, or word express. And tho' she received liberty by the graciou Act in July session, has languished here ever since unde extream sickness and want, being so destitute of all ne cessaries, that she is not able to go through the street much less can she hope to get into any business, for the support of life, without a few modest fig-leaves to cove her; which having no means to raise, nor friend of relation living, she is compelled to claim an author right, of presenting her book; a method she little though to have used, and is ashamed to own now: but who, oh who, can blame a drowning wretch, for laying hold of an branch?
Act of Insolvency was passed in the middle of the year 1729, from inability, probably, to pay the gaoler's fees, she was confined for near a year afterwards. While she was in the Fleet, she sent a long letter to the pretended author of Congreve's Life, dated May 15th, 1729; and afterwards two
"There are but two volumes left of the whole impression, which she has bought at shop price, (as in the titlepage,) and is her whole stock to begin the world. She implores your Honour's acceptance of one, and favourable answer by the bearer, towards enabling a poor bird, let out of a cage, to pick up its daily food; which charity will sure find an eternal reward; and that it may, shall be the constant prayer of
April 16th, 1730.
"Most obedient, and
"That your Honour may not think your compassion abused by an idle creature, accustomed to this practice, I have sent by the bearer some vouchers, being attested copies of the originals, laid before Sir Robert Walpole. Mr. Jodrell, late Clerk of the Parliament, knew my parents, before I was born, and my selfe ever since; and with his son the Counsellor, still living, had the bounty to act for me during the whole ten years' suit, without accepting one fee.”
This unfortunate woman, after her release from imprisonment, took a lodging in Fleet-street, where she died a few months afterwards, February 3, 1739-31, and was buried in St. Bride's church-yard, at the expence of Margaret, Lady Delawar, to whom some occasional verses in her volume of poems are addressed.
other letters, on the 16th and 18th of June; containing, amidst a curious mixture of truth and falsehood, the following account of Dryden's funeral, which has been adopted by all his biographers, and obtained credit for above half a century.
"On the Wednesday morning following, being May-Day, 1700, under the most excruciating dolours, he died. Dr. Sprat, then Bishop of Rochester, sent on the Thursday to Lady Elzabeth, that he would make a present of the ground, which was £.40.' with all the other Abbey-fees, to his deceased friend." Lord Halifax' sent also
4 Unluckily this lady, in a poem on our author's death, published a few weeks after that event, gives a very dif. ferent account. See the verses quoted from it" All like himself he died," &c. in p. 353, n. Her first ac count doubtless was the truth, for it corresponds with that given by Mrs. Creed. Corinna, when she introduced these excruciating dolours, forgot, or did not know, that a mortification is attended with no pain.
The poem containing the couplet above referred to, is found in LucruS BRITANNICI, 1700, p. 13, where it is printed anonymously, being only said to be written by a young lady; but it is ascertained to be the production of Mrs. Thomas, by being also found in her Poems, pub. lished by herself in 8vo, in 1727.
5 This probably was set down at random, the whole of the fees for interment only, independent of the ground which may be required for a monument, not amounting, I have reason to believe, to more than this sum,
6 Sprat was not Dryden's friend; on the contrary was an intimate friend of Martin Clifford, who is supposed to
to my Lady and Mr. Charles, that if they would give him leave to bury Mr. Dryden, he would inter him with a private gentleman's funeral, and afterwards bestow five hundred pounds on a monument in the Abbey; which, as they had no reason to refuse, they accepted. On the Saturday following the company came; the corpse was put into a velvet hearse, and eighteen mourning coaches filled with company attending. When, just before they began to move, Lord Jefferies, with some of his rakish companions, coming by, in wine, asked whose funeral? And being told, What!' cries he, shall Dryden, the greatest honour and orna'ment of the nation, be buried after this private 'manner? No, Gentlemen! let all that loved Mr. 'Dryden, and honour his memory, alight, and join 'with me in gaining my Lady's consent, to let me ' have the honour of his interment, which shall be 'after another manner than this; and I will bestow 'a thousand pounds on a monument in the Abbey 'for him.' The gentlemen in the coaches, not knowing of the Bishop of Rochester's favour, nor of Lord Halifax's generous design, (these two
have assisted the Duke of Buckingham in writing THE REHEARSAL.
7 He was only Mr. Montague, in May, 1700. On the 13th of December in that year, he was created Baron Halifax; and in 1714 obtained an Earldom.
The body was first carried from his own house for interment, on Friday morning; as appears from the order of the College of Physicians, which will be inserted in its proper place.
noble spirits having, out of respect to the family, enjoined Lady Elzabeth and her son to keep their favour concealed to the world, and let it pass for her own expence, &c.) readily came out of the coaches, and attended Lord Jefferies up to the lady's bed-side, who was then sick. He repeated the purport of what he had before said; but she abso lutely refusing, he fell on his knees, vowing never to rise till his request was granted.* The rest of the company, by his desire, kneeled also. She being naturally of a timorous disposition, and then under a sudden surprise, fainted away. As soon as she recovered her speech, she cried, No, No.'• Enough, gentlemen,' (replied he, rising briskly ;) my Lady is very good; she says—Go, Go. Sho repeated her former words with all her strength, but alas, in vain! her feeble voice was lost in their acclamations of joy; and Lord Jefferies ordered the hearseman to carry the corpse to Russell's, an undertaker in Cheapside, and leave it there, till he sent orders for the embalment, which, he added, should be after the royal manner. His directions were obeyed; the company dispersed; and Lady Elzabeth and Mr. Charles remained inconsolable.
This lively lady has already said, that the company filled eighteen mourning coaches: so we have here seventytwo persons, kneeling, in a bedchamber, the dimensions of which were probably about eighteen feet by fourteen.
* Here we have a transcript from CLELIA, or PHARAMOND, or some other of the Romances, which Corinna had studied.