Hawkesworth, the writer, was introduced by Garrick to Lord Sandwich, who thinking to put a few hundred pounds into his pocket, appointed him to revise and publish Cook's Voyages. He scarcely did anything to the MSS., yet sold it to Cadell and Strahan, the printer and bookseller, for £6000. Soon after this he purchased some portion of India stock; and having made a speech or two at the India House, was much feasted by the directors, &c.
About this time he was severely attacked in the newspapers, particularly in letters signed "A Christian," for certain passages in the Voyages, from which it was inferred he did not believe in a Providence. These attacks affected him so much that, from low spirits he was seized with a nervous fever, which on account of the high living he had indulged in had the more power on him; and he is supposed to have put an end to his life by intentionally taking an immoderate dose of opium. — (From the Bishop of Salisbury. The opinion from Dr. Fordyce.)
He was originally a watchmaker, or some other mechanick trade. By reading Dr. Johnson's writings he acquired his style, and a certain moral and sentimental air, though nothing mortified him so much as to suppose that he was an imitator of Johnson. He lived much with him, and Johnson was fond of him, but latterly owned that Hawkesworth — who had set out a modest, humble man — was one of the many whom success in the world had spoiled. He was latterly, as Sir Joshua Reynolds told me, an affected insincere man, and a great coxcomb in his dress. He had no literature whatever; and was so ignorant even of English history that, when he was employed, in publishing three volumes of Swift's letters the Bishop of Salisbury (as he told me) could not make him comprehend the difference between Lord Oxford and Lord Orford.