The Mulsos, of Twywell, were an old and respectable family, who had been established in the county of Northampton ever since the reign of Edward the First. They at one time possessed landed property to the amount of eight thousand a-year; but this had dwindled away considerably, and only a small part remained to their descendants.
Mr. Mulso, himself an only son, and who appears to have been in the law, married, in 1719, the posthumous daughter of Colonel Thomas, of the Guards, usually known as "the handsome Thomas," and they had a numerous family, five of whom attained maturity. Their eldest son, Thomas, was bred to the bar; their second, John, was a clergyman, and was a prebendary of Winchester and Salisbury, besides holding two valuable livings in Hampshire. The third, Charles, who was in the navy, died at the early age of twenty-one, in the Mediterranean; and Edward, the youngest, had an office in the Excise.
Hester, the only daughter who survived the period of childhood, was born on the 27th of October, 1727, and at a very early age evinced such uncommon talent, that her mother, who was herself endowed with wit as well as beauty, is said to have early begun to feel jealous of one, who, though no rival in personal charms, promised to be a formidable competitor for that admiration which she considered to be exclusively due to herself. In consequence of her continued suffering from ill-health, little attention was paid by her to her daughter's education, who was in a great degree self-taught.
From the period of her brother's death, which took place whilst Hester was still very young, the care of her father's house devolved upon Miss Mulso, who, at the same time, by exertions and application, attained that mental superiority for which she was afterwards so celebrated. She was acquainted with the French and Italian languages, and in Latin made no inconsiderable proficiency. For music she had a natural talent, and though totally uninstructed in that pleasing accomplishment, her taste was so exquisite, her ear so accurate, and her voice at once so sweet and powerful, that her performance never failed to give extraordinary pleasure.
At a very early period Miss Mulso appears to have been a great reader of romances, and of the old heavy French ones of Scudery in particular; for, in 1750, at the age of twenty-three, she says, in a letter to Miss Carter, "I have (and yet I am still alive) drudged through Le Grand Cyrus, in twelve huge volumes, Cleopatra, in eight or ten, Polyxander, Ibrahim, Clelia, and some others, whose names, as well as all the rest of them, I have forgotten. But this was in the days when I did not choose my own books, for there was no part of my life in which I loved romances." Nevertheless, they made sufficient impression on her mind to induce her, when only nine years old, to compose one, called Amoret and Melissa, which is said to have displayed great fertility of invention, and extraordinary marks of genius.
For some years, Miss Mulso's life flowed on in uneventful monotony, her winters being always spent in London, in a circle of highly valued friends, and her summers at the house of her brother John, the vicar of Sunbury, but more frequently at that of her eldest aunt, Mrs. Donne, then a widow, and resident at Canterbury. She also often visited the episcopal palace of her uncle the bishop of Winchester.
Miss Mulso's talents soon became known, and her abilities appreciated by some of the literati of the day. Of Richardson she early became a worshipper, and her portrait is introduced in the picture prefixed to Mrs. Barbauld's edition of his correspondence, as one of those to whom their idol is pouring forth its oracles, and unfolding to their enchanted ears the prolix but interesting adventures of his Clarissa Harlowe and Harriet Byron.
Miss Mulso was, however, not so infatuated as implicitly to submit to Richardson's maxims upon all subjects, and she entered into a spirited controversy with him upon the subject of filial obedience, which is published in her works. He, according to her, appears to consider that a woman is to have no choice in matrimony but the will of her parents; whilst Miss Mulso stoutly maintains her right to a negative, and brings several good arguments to support her cause, intermingled with some laughable observations, very much in the style of his own Anna Howe, and Charlotte Grandison. In one part, she says, "Suppose a woman was single till forty; I fancy by that time, the HAWKS, VULTURES, and KITES, will give her but little trouble, and that she might be pretty secure from the danger of being DEVOURED." She seems to have had penetration enough to discern that women, in modern days, are not exposed to such imminent peril of being run away with, as may be supposed from the pages of Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison. Another sort of trial meets them; the poet says,
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness in the desert air,
and many a lively and amiable girl is doomed, by circumstances, to pass the prime of her life in obscurity, and, neglected and forgotten, to bloom, wither, and pass away into oblivion. Moralists, in addressing the sex by courtesy termed fair, generally appear to consider their readers as universally young, beautiful, and captivating. Now, as few are so in a very eminent degree, and at all events only for a few fleeting years of their existence, surely romance writers might remember that their pages may occasionally be perused by those who have no personal attractions, and who possibly may have passed what is called their best days. And even possessing both youth and beauty, it may be the lot of a woman to pass her life in utter retirement, where the gaze of admiration is never fixed upon her countenance, nor the tale of flattery addressed to her ear; and whilst she bears of her compeers, who boast, perhaps, but few of her advantages, meeting with advantageous offers, and opportunities of settling in the world, she finds herself condemned to a cheerless and hopeless celibacy. Discontent, envy, and jealousy, are passions likely to be excited under such circumstances, and to teach young females to guard against those feelings, and to be happy in obscurity and neglect, might possibly do more good than the instructing them to be prepared for admiration they may never receive, and attention with which it is every improbable they may ever meet.
It evinces great independence of mind on the part of Miss Mulso, thus early in life, for she was then but twenty-three, to venture to differ from, and steadily though modestly to support her opinions, against one who, like Richardson, was considered in the circle in which he moved as a sort of oracle, and whose works were held in such high estimation, that they were even recommended from the pulpit.
That she dared to think for herself, is evident from her criticisms upon other popular writers of that day, for she complains of Fielding, that "he contrives to gloss over gross and monstrous faults in such a manner, that even his virtuous readers call them frailties." She says, "I cannot help believing that he has a very low opinion of human nature, and that his writings tend to enforce it on his readers. * * What end can it serve to persuade men that they are Yahoos, but to make them act agreeable to that character, and despair of attaining a better?" She observes, she "could almost quarrel with her very great favourite, the Rambler, for his too general censure on mankind, and for speaking of envy and malice as universal passions;" and she even ventured personally to argue with the mighty sage himself on the subject. She is describing a visit paid by Dr. Johnson to Richardson, in July 1753, and she says:
"Mr. Johnson was very communicative and entertaining, and did me the honour to address most of his discourse to me. I had the assurance to dispute with him on the subject of human malignity, and wondered to hear a man, who by his actions shows so much benevolence, maintain that the human heart is naturally malevolent, &c. &c. To which he answered, that if he had betrayed such sentiments in the Rambler, it was not with design, for that he believed the doctrine of malevolence, though a true one, is not an useful one, and ought not to be published to the world."
In her correspondence with Richardson, on the subject of matrimony, Miss Mulso probably felt no small degree of personal interest, for it was at his house that she was first introduced to Mr. Chapone, a young lawyer in the Temple, between whom and herself a mutual attachment was soon formed. Prudential considerations induced her father, to whom she communicated her feelings, even previous to Mr. Chapone's having made a regular declaration, to request her not to enter into any engagement without his permission. With this injunction she implicitly complied; but on perceiving that their regard was mutual, although from pecuniary difficulties there was no prospect of a speedy union, he permitted them to form an engagement, and allowed them frequently to indulge in the society of each other.
Miss Mulso was enthusiastically attached to her intended husband, and their difference of feeling upon the tender passions formed a topic of lively raillery between herself and the celebrated Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, with whom she first became acquainted in 1749, at Canterbury, at the house of her aunt, Mrs. Donne, and with whom she formed a friendship that lasted for fifty years, and which was only dissolved by the death of the parties. Miss Carter was about ten years older than Miss Mulso, and from her numerous avocations of a literary nature, appears never to have had leisure to form any attachment of a much more tender nature than what she felt for her own family and friends. Miss Mulso used frequently laughingly to abuse the "square-cornered heart" that precluded her from participating in her sentiments on the subject.
The two friends, by occasional personal visits, and by a constant correspondence, kept up a regular intercourse. In the published letters of Miss Mulso, a warm heart, sound judgment, and original way of thinking are evinced. She ever advocates the cause of the social affections and of benevolent feelings, in opposition to the stoical precepts of Epictetus, to Miss Carter's translation of which was prefixed an ode by Miss Mulso, on the somewhat misanthropical views of human nature entertained by Johnson and others. She says, "The divine laws are calculated for a real, not an imaginary state of being. They forbid the indulgence of our natural passions and sensations, tinder circumstances in which they would become injurious to our fellow-creatures or ourselves, but they do not forbid the sensations themselves." "Am I to believe that I am surrounded with beings, who, if I am good and amiable, will hate and persecute me from envy; if frail and faulty, will rejoice in an opportunity to triumph over my weakness, and to display their own superiority; who love not, but from self-interest, yet have too much pride to be capable of gratitude, and are irritated to malevolence by the burden of benefits? Such is the human character, if we may believe Mr. Johnson and others, who, having suffered from the world, exaggerate its faults with the bitterness of enemies, and impute to the worst causes the effects by which themselves have been hurt. ** I am persuaded that benevolence and social love (however stifled and depressed, or even sometimes totally extinguished by other passions) are originally implanted in the human breast as universally as the principle of self-love, which some maintain to be the only innate affection, and the only motive of our actions. Set the very good against the very bad, and allow me to persist in thinking, that the majority are between both. Either too insignificant to be styled virtuous or wicked, or else such a strange mixture of good and bad qualities, that it is difficult to say which scale is uppermost, — are the two characters which I fancy would be found the most general, and under which three parts of mankind should be classed."
She was equally opposed to an illiberal way of thinking, and to the ungenerous expression of censure against those who differ in opinions from ourselves; for she would have us charitably make allowances for all. She says, "Those who argue in behalf of Christianity ought carefully to preserve the spirit of it in their manner of expressing themselves. I have so much honour for the christian clergy, that I had much rather hear them railed at, than bear them rail, and I must say that I am most grievously offended with the generality of them for their method of treating all who differ from them in opinion."
In August, 1759, Miss Mulso paid her uncle the bishop a visit, at his episcopal palace at Salisbury. She thus describes her feelings with regard to society and high life: "I shall now tell you something of myself, who live here uncorrupted by grandeur; who can see venison parties without eating them, and great dinners smoke every day without envying those whose noses are always thus besmoked; who come home from an assembly at eleven, without envying those who dance till five; and who could be content to return to my little habitation, without envying those who live in a palace; who could prefer a little attorney even to my Lord Feversham, had he offered to me instead of the fair young lady he has so happily won." * * *
"We are a numerous family, in a noble and cheerful house, and my two young friends enliven those hours when we can escape other company. But these, alas, are few! Our grand grievance is the frequency of formal company, and formal dinners, which last are, I think, amongst the worst of those many deplorable disadvantages which attend on a large fortune."
Miss Mulso's moderate desires and humble wishes were now, however, to be gratified in the way most satisfactory to her feelings. for, in 1760, her father consented to her union with Mr. Chapone, and also that of his eldest son with Miss Prescott, between whom a long engagement had existed. It was arranged that the two marriages were to take place on the same day, and that he himself should reside with his son, whilst Mr. and Miss Chapone were to go into lodgings till they could meet with a house that would suit them. She communicates the approaching happy event in an animated letter to her friend Miss Carter. She speaks of the manner in which tier thoughts and time have been occupied since she left Canterbury, and continues, "The happiness of my own life, and that of my dearest brother, has been deeply interested in the transaction of these few weeks. Thank God, all is now settled in the way we wished. Give me your congratulations, my dear friend, but as much for my brother and friend, as for myself; for in truth I could not have enjoyed my own happiness in an union with the man of my choice, had I been forced to leave them in the same uncomfortable state of tedious and almost hopeless expectation, in which they had suffered so long.
"I shall rejoice to hear that you are coming soon to town, and shall hope for many, a comfortable tete-a-tete with you in my lodgings in Carey Street, for there I must reside till Mr. Chapone can get a house that suits him, which is no easy matter, as he is so confined in point of situation. In the mean time he will carry on his business at his chambers as before. I have therefore chosen the spot nearest to them, though farther than I wish from all the rest of my friends.
"Do not think I have forgotten you, even in this time of flutteration: indeed I have not; but my time has been so taken up, that I have hardly touched a pen since I came to town. I hope you join with me in the most perfect dissent from an opinion of your favourite Johnson, 'that a married woman can have no friendship but with her husband.' I flatter myself my heart will be improved in every virtuous affection by an union with a worthy man, and that all my friends will find it more worthy of their attachment, and better qualified for the best uses of friendship, than it ever was before."
Miss Mulso's union with Mr. Chapone, which took place in 1760, when she was about thirty-three years old, appears to have been productive of all the happiness she had anticipated.
She writes to Mrs. Carter, in 1761: "I dare say you had a real pleasure on reading in the newspapers of the completion of two engagements, the length of which you had so often lamented. And I know you will be really glad to bear, that with every other circumstance of happiness my heart could wish, in the beginning of an union which promises to be the best blessing of my life, I have had the additional comfort of better health since my marriage, than I have known for a long time before it. Certainly, 'a merry heart does good like medicine.' Mine rejoices almost as much for my dear brother as for myself. God be praised, we are at present a very happy family, and my dear good father, who has made us so, seems to enjoy a large share of satisfaction and pleasure in what he has done: his cheerfulness enabled me to bear our parting with less pain than I expected.
"I have more hours to myself than I wish for, for business usually allows me very little of my husband's company except at meals. This I should be inclined to lament as an evil, if I did not consider that the joy and complacency with which we meet, may probably by this means last longer than if we could be always together. If you can love a man, I expect you will love him, if ever you know him thoroughly. In the mean time, I will be contented if you love his worse half."
Again, in July of the same year, she writes: "My time has been taken up in removing into and settling myself in my own house. But I certainly ought to have informed you sooner, that I am at last tolerably settled, and more to my, mind than I expected; for the house, though very small, has its 'agrimens,' and I do not find any ill quality in it. We have furnished it neatly, and the cleanliness of a house just fitted up is not ill recommended to me by the dirt I had lived in before, in those 'puddling' lodgings."
But, alas! the felicity of Mrs. Chapone was destined to be but short lived; a terrible blow now awaited her, for, in the following September, when they had not been married ten months, Mr. Chapone was seized with so violent a fever, that from the first his life was despaired of.
Miss Burrows, afterwards the wife of Sir Cullen Smith, one of a family from whom, both in prosperity and adversity, Mrs. Chapone ever received the most tender marks of friendship, hastened, upon this occasion, to her afflicted friend, and staid with her during the whole of the trying scene. She thus writes to Miss Carter:—
"September 22, 1761.
Mr. Chapone died on Saturday night, about ten o'clock. She had not been into his room since Monday last, for as her presence was judged injurious to him, she submitted to the advice of her friends not to continue her attendance upon him; she therefore was not made acquainted with his death till Sunday morning. She received the news with her accustomed meekness, and has, by the whole of her behaviour during his illness, and since his death, shown an example of patience and resignation that is quite astonishing. You would hardly believe were I to describe to you her calmness and composure, as you are so well acquainted with the strength of her passion for him. Could I tell you half the noble things she says and does, it must convince you of the sincerity of her religion, and infinitely increase your affection for her.
"Mr. and Mrs. Mulso are exceedingly friendly to her, and have kindly invited me to their house in Rathbone Place, together with my dear afflicted friend. I told her I was going to write to you, and she desired me to give her kindest love to you. Indeed all her friends, and their kindness to her, are remembered by her, particularly at this time, with so much gratitude and affection, that it quite surprises me, and is a pleasing mark of her gratitude to Heaven for all those blessings she still possesses."
But though the mind was prepared, by previous discipline, to bow with Christian resignation to the will of the Almighty, yet the body was not equal to the conflict, and in the succeeding month, Mrs. Chapone became so alarmingly ill, that but faint hopes were entertained of her recovery. In November, however, a favourable Change took place, and in December, she was enabled. to address Miss Carter in a manner which evinces the pious gratitude with which she bore her loss.
"I have been very near Death, and at the time he threatened most, it was the earnest wish of my heart to meet and embrace him. But I bless God I am restored not only to life, but to a sense of the great mercy indulged me in the grant of a longer term of trial. It must be my own fault if the life which is given me be not of the highest value to me, though very unlikely to be a happy one. It is, however, attended with such blessings even now, as ought to reconcile me to it. I mean particularly, many kind and excellent friends, who strive as much as possible to alleviate my irreparable loss, and to supply me with every comfort I am capable of feeling. I have many cheerful hours. I endeavour as much as possible to welcome every pleasing sensation, and to make the most of those hours in which my thoughts can be led from subjects of affliction. I reckon up the blessings I have left, and among these the friendship of my dear Mrs. Carter is not forgotten."
How superior is this Christian philosophy to the stoicism which would forbid one to feel, or to the morbid sensibility that would prevent the mourner from listening to the voice of consolation.
How deeply Mrs. Chapone was attached to her husband is apparent from the affecting tenderness with which, whenever she could summon resolution to do so, she ever spoke of him; and his miniature she seldom allowed herself the pleasure of contemplating, as it roused sensations of grief and regret, in which she thought it wrong to indulge.
Mrs. Chapone's sorrow for the loss of her husband, which, "Like Aaron's serpent, swallowed all the rest," was destined to be accompanied by pecuniary embarrassments, which, at any other period, might have proved a serious trial. She says, "My dear Mr. Chapone's affairs were left in great confusion and perplexity by his sudden death, which happened just at the time of year in which he should have settled his accounts and made out his bills. As these are very considerable, his estate must suffer a great loss from this circumstance. At present, things are in a very melancholy state, and my own prospects are such as would have appeared very dreadful to me at any other time. But the deprivation of the source of all my worldly happiness has, I think, made me less sensible to other calamities."
She could now no longer afford to keep an establishment of her own, but on a very narrow income she retired into lodgings, where she, however, maintained a respectable appearance, and varied her time by frequent and repeated visits to her friends, particularly to her kind Uncle, the Bishop of Winchester, at Farnham Castle, and Winchester House, Chelsea; also, to her three cousins, his daughters, who were married, the eldest to Dr. Ogle, Dean of Winchester; the second to Dr. Butler, afterwards Bishop of Exeter; the youngest to Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle; and who all resided in the county of Hants.
It was about 1762, that Mrs. Chapone became acquainted with Mrs. Montagu, through the medium of their mutual friend Miss Carter, from whom she received great kindness and attention, and with whom she made a tour into Scotland, in 1770; when, among other literary characters whom Mrs. Montagu's celebrity attracted around her, Mrs. Chapone mentions Dr. Gregory, who accompanied them in their journey, and Dr. Robertson the historian. On their road home, they paid a visit to Hagley, the beautiful seat of Mrs. Montagu's intimate friend, Lord Lyttelton, where, among other 'agremens,' she mentions his reading a good deal of the new volume of his history of Henry the Second, in the composition of which he was then employed.
Mrs. Chapone was particularly attached to the family of her second brother, William, consisting of four children; and in a visit she paid to his parsonage at Thornhill, near Wakefield, in Yorkshire, she contracted that partiality for his eldest daughter which gave rise to her celebrated Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, which established her reputation as a literary character. They were dedicated to Mrs. Montagu, who, it seems, from the expression of "some strokes of her elegant pen having corrected them," not only advised their publication, but assisted with her criticism. They first appeared in 1773, and Mrs. Chapone says, on July 20, of the same year, "My publication has indeed succeeded far beyond my expectation. The bookseller is preparing a second edition with all haste, the whole of the first being gone out of his hands, which, considering that he printed off fifteen hundred at first, is indeed a great sale. I attribute this success principally to Mrs. Montagu's name and patronage, and secondly to the world's being so fond of being educated, that every book on that subject is well received. My friends all fret and scold at me for having sold my copy, and grudge poor Waller his profits. But for my own part I do not repent what I have done, as I am persuaded the book would not have prospered so well in any hands as in his. Though I love money reasonably well, yet I fear I have still more vanity than avarice, and am therefore very happy in the approbation the letters meet with, though my profits are not the heavier."
From this it would appear that fame was the only remuneration Mrs. Chapone received for this highly meritorious work, which, after the lapse of more than sixty years, still remains a standard work upon female education, and which, perhaps, as a whole, has never yet been surpassed.
The publication of this work brought Mrs. Chapone into immediate notice. Her acquaintance was courted, and, as it was understood that her circumstances were not affluent, applications were made to her to assist in the education of several families, but she refused to accede to any proposals of this nature.
In 1775, appeared a little volume of miscellanies from Mrs. Chapone's pen, dedicated to Mrs. Carter, consisting of Essays, the story of Fidelia, which had previously appeared in the Adventurer, in 1751, together with poems composed on various occasions. The best of these had been prefixed to Mrs. Carter's translation of Epictetus, in the form of an irregular ode, addressed to her on that occasion. This performance did not meet with equal success with her preceding one, but in it may be found many elegant and ingenious observations.
In 1776, she had the honour of being personally complimented by King George III. and Queen Charlotte upon her work. She is describing a royal visit paid to her uncle, the king's preceptor in youth, at Farnham Castle. She says, "Yes, my dearest, simple as I sit here, I have been in company with the King and Queen — have enjoyed the sweet aspect of princes — been complimented over and over by royal lips upon my book — been exhorted to write more — my niece inquired about — my place of abode — my address in London asked — and, in short, as great honours done me as shall be desired, look you, on a summer's day. Nothing could exceed the good-humour, the ease, the kindness, I may say the friendliness, of the royal guests. The Queen has the most engaging manners you can conceive, and a countenance so overflowing with graciousness and benignity, that it is impossible to see her without loving her. Her readiness in starting conversation, and the address with which she introduced a thousand obliging and polite things, were really in a degree that astonished me. The King remembered me as Miss Mulso, but did not before know that my name was Chapone; and the Queen (before I appeared) expressed her surprise to find that the author of the letters she admired was the Bishop's niece. She said, she had asked several people, but never could learn who Mrs. Chapone was. On the arrival of their majesties at the episcopal palace, the people who lined the streets were a good deal disappointed at the Queen's appearance, whom they expected to see ride along with her crown upon her head, and were not a little surprised to see her with a black hat and a plain blue coat."
Again, in 1774, she writes: "Mr. Buller went to Windsor on Saturday, saw the King, who inquired about the Bishop, and hearing that he would be eighty-two the next Monday, 'Then,' says he, 'I will go and wish him joy.' And I,' said the Queen, 'will go too.' Mr. B. then dropped a hint of the additional pleasure it would give the Bishop if he could see the princes. 'That,' said the King, 'requires contrivance but if I can manage it we will all go.' Accordingly, on the day appointed, at eleven o'clock, the royal party arrived 'en masse' at Farnham Castle. The royal guests had breakfast in one room, and in another, Mrs. Chapone assisted in doing the honours to their attendants.
"After the breakfast was over, the royal guests came to visit us in the dressing-room. The King sent the princes in to pay their compliments to Mrs. Chapone. Himself, he said, was an old acquaintance. Whilst the princes were speaking. Mr. Arnold (the sub preceptor,) said, 'These gentlemen are well acquainted with a certain ode, prefixed to Mrs. Carter's Epictetus, if you know anything of it.' Afterwards the King came and spoke to us, and the Queen led the Princess Royal to me, saying, 'This is a young lady, who, I hope, has profited much by your instructions. She has read them more than once, and will read them oftener.' And the Princess assented to the praise that followed, with a very modest air. She has a sweet countenance, and a very modest air. I was pleased with all the princes, but particularly with Prince William, who is but thirteen, and little of his age, but so sensible and engaging, that he won the Bishop's heart, to whom he particularly attached himself, and would stay with him, whilst the others ran about the house. His conversation was surprisingly manly and clever for his age, yet with the little Bullers he was quite the boy, and said to John Buller, by way of encouraging him 'Come, we are both boys, you know.'"
In May, 1781, Mrs. Chapone lost her kind and venerable uncle, who died at the age of eighty-six. Her aunt, Mrs. Thomas, had preceded him in 1778, but she continued to receive every mark of attention from their three daughters, Mrs. Ogle, Mrs. Buller, and Lady Ogle.
The death of the Bishop was followed, in 1782, by that of Mrs. Chapone's youngest brother, Edward, who was well known to the musical world, and was for many years president of the Anacreontic Society. He possessed great powers of entertainment and versatility of conversation.
After the death of Mrs. Smith, and of her brothers and sister, Mr. and Miss Burrows, Mrs. Chapone spent her summers almost always in Hampshire, at the houses of her second brother, John, and of her three cousins, the Bishop's daughters. But in September, 1791, this brother was also taken from her, having survived his wife, (Miss Young, of Devonshire,) but one year; and in 1799, her eldest and sole-surviving brother died.
Thus bereft of all the friends of her early life, at the advanced age of seventy-two, Mrs. Chapone's mind and body at length both yielded to the attacks of age and sorrow. Her memory became materially impaired, and she sank into an alarming state of debility. As she never could bear the thought of having a companion who was to be paid for her attentions to her, her youngest niece (the sister of Mrs. Jeffreys) assumed the office, and took charge of her venerable relation. It was thought advisable for them to reside at Hadley, in Middlesex, in order to be near Mrs. Amy Burrows, also the sole surviving member of her own family, and thither they removed in the autumn of 1800.
Here she was soothed by the attention of many kind friends, and she had a few hours of enjoyment; but her infirmities increased so fast, that she was never able to go down stairs more than three or four times after she took possession of her house at Hadley.
On Christmas-day, in 1801, Mrs. Chapone fell into a doze from which nothing could arouse her, and at eight in the evening, without a sigh or a struggle, she breathed her last in the arms of her niece, still attended by her constant friend, Mrs. Amy Burrows.
Endowed with neither beauty, rank, nor fortune, yet, by her virtues and talents, Mrs. Chapone secured to herself the love and esteem of all those who were acquainted with her, and the respect and admiration of society in general. The solitary widow, living at one time in obscure and humble lodgings, was an object of interest even to royalty itself; and from her friends and connexions she constantly met with the disinterested affection and courteous attention due to her merits. By application and exertion in early life, she improved the abilities bestowed upon her by Providence, and she had the satisfaction of gaining for herself, through their influence, a respectable station among the pious and moral writers of England, and of transmitting to posterity a standard work upon female education. Although more than sixty years have elapsed since this work was first published, its advice does not even yet wear an antiquated air, and is as well calculated to improve the rising generation, as it was to instruct the youth of their grandmothers.
Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, 1773.
Miscellanies, &c. (Fidelia in the Adventurer, 1751,) 1775.