Griffith, Elizabeth

, a lady once of some note a a writer of novels and plays, whose maiden name was Griffith, was of Welch descent, and early in life married Richard Griffith, a gentleman of a good family, but reduced fortune, in Ireland. The first performance by which she became known was entitled “The Letters of Henry and Frances,” which are said to contain the genuine correspondence between her and her husband before their marriage, and for some years after. They were published at the particular request of Margaret countess of Cork, who was one of her friends, and privy to her connexion with Mr. Griffith, which was at first kept secret. From these letters, a few particulars of the private history of the parties may be collected. Mr. Griffith appears to have received no regular education, although in his youth he had evinced some talents for poetry; he introduced himself, however, by degrees into “the genteelest and most reputable company;” but tired of a city life, passed several years with a relation in the country of Ireland, where he read, learned French, and “studied husbandry philosophically.” He then engaged in a farm and the linen manufacture; and about 1760 appears to have received a place from the duke of Bedford, at that time lord lieutenant of Ireland. His acquaintance with Mrs. Griffith was accidental, and commenced on his parr, to use his own phrase, “as an act of gallantry” but rinding “no probability of success,” a strange declaration and being | enafrioured with her writings, conversation, and character, became, at last, a real and honourable lover, but declined matrimony for several years, as she had no fortune, and his expectations from his father were much larger than they were likely to turn out. At length, however, they married, about the year 1752; and their first publication was this correspondence, published by subscription, and not very successful with any class of readers, not even the sentimentalists, for whom it was chiefly calculated. Some of the letters, however, are of a superior cast, and contain many sensible remarks on books, men, and manners. Their next publication, which was also written in conjunction, was “Two Novels, in Letters, 4 vols. the first and second, entitled Delicate Distress, by Frances the third and fourth, entitled the Gordian Knot, by Henry,1769, 12mo. Both these are of a strict moral tendency; but, like the correspondence of the authors, too much tinged with the pedantry of quotation and philosophizing, instead of natural description and feeling. Previously to this, Mr. Griffith had published in 1764, “The Triumvirate; or the authentic Memoirs of A. B. and C.” 2 vols. 12mo, a novel of so Joose a kind, that even his wife could not venture to recommend it to the fair sex, and yet adds her opinion that “every gentleman will read it with pleasure, and I trust without any injury to his morals.” Of Mr. Griffith’s performances we hear no more, nor have been able to ascertain the time of his death. Mrs. Griffith’s other novels were “Lady Barton,” and “Juliana HarJey.” She also wrote some dramas which had various success, but none of them have preserved their station on the stage. One of her most agreeable publications svas “The Morality of Shakspeare’s Drama illustrated,1775, 8vo. She published also some translations, “The Adventures of Pierre Viaud,” and the “Letters of Ninon de L’Enclos,” c. She died Jan. 3, 1793, at Millecenr, in the county of Kildare. She was unquestionably a woman of considerable literary talents, but does not appear to have found in her lover and husband the judgment which could give them a proper direction. Nor did he contribute much to bar happiness in his latter days. He had long accustomed himself to the cant of sentiment, which is too frequently mistaken for genuine moral feeling. When in his grand climacteric, he seduced a girl of fortune and consequence, with whom he lived the reminder of his days. The libehine notions in his “| Triumvirate” appear to have been more predominant sense he affected to entertain of pure morals in his “Letters.1


Gent. Mag. vol. XL. p. 264, LXIII. p. 104. Victor’s Works, vol. T. p. 303—313,334. Miss Seward’s Letters, vol. III. p. 313 14. Biog. Dramatica.