1799 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Walter Harte

R. H., in "Original Anecdotes of Walter Harte" Gentleman's Magazine 69 (December 1799) 1019.



Harte and Hawkins passed a week with me in the country; and, talking of moduses, Harte related, that a miller applied to him for an abatement. He replied, "With all my heart;" but added, "take notice, such alteration will break the modus, and I shall then have a right to full tythe." Many clergymen would not act with such generous distinterestedness. He was a man of very liberal principles. I have many letters from him (one I regret having lost), in which he communicates in pathetic terms, that he and his pupil Stanhope were detained by illness at a town in Carniola till their money was spent, when Mendez, a Jew merchant of London, who was travelling in that country, hearing that two gentlemen from England were in distress, he went many miles out of his way to visit them, and supply their wants. I remember W. H. extols his humane kindness, and says he was preferable to many "soi-disant chretiens." At Rome, his landlord offered to introduce him to a lady of pleasure. On his replying, that the English Clergy held intercourse with such females unbecoming; the landlord told him, in Italy such practices were so common, that Cardinals were not ashamed to look out of window to see a procession, with their arms round their mistress's neck. W. Harte was one of Dr. Samuel Johnson's earliest admirers. His Life of Richard Savage was published in 1744; soon after which Harte, dining with Cave at St. John's Gate, took occasion to speak very handsomely of the work, which was anonymous. Cave told Harte, when they next met, that he had made a many very happy the other day at his house, by the encomiums he bestowed on the author of Savage's Life. "How could that be," says Harte, "none were present but you and I." Cave replied, "You might observe I sent a plate of victuals behind the screen. There skulked the biographer, one Johnson, whose dress was so shabby that he durst not make his appearance. He overheard our conversation; and your applauding his performance delighted him exceedingly."