1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hawkesworth

John Wilson Croker, Note in Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. Croker (1831) 2:508n.



"The general disapprobation with which the doctrines unhappily advanced by Hawkesworth in this preface [to Cooke's Voyages] were received, deprived him," says the Biographical Dictionary, "of peace of mind and of life itself;" and Mrs. Piozzi says, (Anecdotes, p. 142) "Hawkesworth, the pious, the virtuous, and the wise, fell a lamented sacrifice to newspaper abuse;" and Mr. Malone, in a MS. note on that passage, in his copy of Piozzi's Anecdotes, (which Mr. Markland has been so good as to communicate to me), states, that, "after Hawkesworth had published Cooke's first voyage, he was attacked severely in the newspapers, by a writer who signed himself 'A Christian,' for some tenets in that work, which so preyed on his spirits that he put an end to his life by a large dose of opium." There is reason, however, to hope that these accounts — both of the public indignation, and of Dr. Hawkesworth's consequent distress of mind — were exaggerated; for he was, between the publication of his preface in Spring, 1773, and his death in the November of the same year, elected a Director of the East India Company, — a distinction which, if the accounts before-mentioned were true, is is not likely that he should have either solicited or obtained. One is anxious to believe that a life like Hawkesworth's, spent in advocating the interests of morality and religion, was not to be miserably clouded at its very close.