Carver, Jonathan

, another unfortunate author in our own country, was a native of America. His grandfather, William Joseph Carver, of Wigan in Lancashire, a captain in king William’s army, was rewarded for his services in Ireland with the government of Connecticut in New England, in which province our author was born in. 1732, and where his father, a justice of the peace, died in 1747. Soon after, being designed for the study of physic, he was placed with a practitioner at Elizabeth-town; but this not suiting his enterprising spirit, he purchased, in. 1750, an ensigncy in the Connecticut regiment, and behaved so well as to obtain the command of a company. | Nothing more is known of him till 1757, when being in general Webb’s army, he fortunately escaped the dreadful massacre at Fort William Henry, an instance of Indian ferocity and French perfidy which he has pathetically described in his “Travels.” In the five succeeding campaigns he served also, first as lieutenant and afterwards as captain of provincials, with a high reputation, not only for bravery, but also for piety and morals. On the conclusion of the peace in 1763, captain Carver, with a view to make that vast acquisition of territory gained by Great Britain advantageous to her, determined to explore the most unknown parts of North America, particularly the vast continent which extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. His failure in this is now less to be regretted, as captain Cook has since shewn the impracticability of a north-west passage in those parts. Captain Carver, however, penetrated farther north-westward than any other European, except father Hennepin in 1680, viz. to the river St. Francis. The utmost extent of his travels to the west was towards the head of the river St. Pierre, in the country of the Naudowessies of the plains, whose language he learned, and among whom he wintered in 1766, and resided seven months. In 1769 he came over to England, in hopes of a reimbursement from government for the sums he had expended in their service; but in this he was disappointed, and reduced to great difficulties. In 1778, he published “Travels through the interior parts of North America in the years 1766, 1767, and 1768,” 8vo, a work considered as peculiarly interesting. In the following year, he published also “A Treatise on the Culture of the Tobacco Plant.” Both these ought unquestionably to have procured him employment as a man of talents, but unfortunately no notice was taken of him. About this time he was induced to lend his name to a compilation entitled “The New Universal Traveller,” published in weekly numbers, but this afforded a scanty supply. Through the winter of 1779, he preserved his existence by acting as a clerk in a lottery office until Jan. 31, 1780, a putrid fever supervening a long-continued dysentery, brought on by mere want, put an end to the life of a man whose public services and character deserved a better fate. We know not, however, that he perished in vain. His case attracted the notice of Dr. Lettsom, who, in some excellent letters in the Gentleman’s Magazine, recommended it to the public attention with such | effect, that while a temporary provision was made for captain Carver’s widow and children, by the publication. of a new edition of his “Travels,” a salutary impression was made on the public mind, to which, strengthened by other instances, we now owe that excellent institution, “The Literary Fund.1


Dr. Lettsom’s Account prefixed to the new edition of the Travels, in 1781, —Gent. Mag. vol. L. and Lit. See Indexes.