Lennox, Charlotte

, a lady long distinguished for her genius and literary merit, and highly respected by Johnson and Richardson, was born in 1720. Her father, colonel James Ramsay, was a field-officer, and | lieutenant-­governor of New-York, who sent her over, at the age of fifteen, to. England, to an opulent aunt, but whom, on ner arrival, she found incurably insane. The father died soon after, leaving his widow (who died at New York in Aug. 1765), and this daughter, without any provision. Who Mr. Lennox was, or when she married, we have not been able to learn, and, indeed, very little is known of her early history by her few surviving friends, who became acquainted with her only in her Tatter days. We are told, that from the death of her father she supported herself by her literary talents, which she always employed usefully.

She published, in 1751, “The Memoirs of Harriot Stuart,” and, in 1752, ‘ The Female Quixote.“In the latter of these novels, the character of Arabella is the counter-part of Don Quixote; and the work was very favourably received. Dr. Johnson wrote the dedication to the earl of Middlesex. In the following year she published” Shakespeare illustrated,“in 2 vols. J2mo, to wnich she afterwards added a third. This work consists of the novels and histories on which the plays of Shakspeare are founded, collected and translated from the original authors: to which are added critical notes, censuring the liberties which Shakspeare has generally taken with the stories on which his plays are founded. In 1756, Mrs. Lennox published,” The Memoirs of the Countess of Berci, taken from the French,“2 vols. 12mo; and,” Sully’s Memoirs,“translated, 3 vols. 4to; which have since been frequently reprinted in 8vo, and are executed with no small ability. In 1757, she translated” The Memoirs of Madame Maintenon.“In 1758, she produced” Philander, a Dramatic Pastoral,“and” Henrietta,“a novel of considerable merit, 2 vols. 12mo; and, in 1760, with the assistance of the earl of Cork and Orrery, and Dr. Johnson, she published a translation of” Father Brumoy’s Greek Theatre,“3 vols. 4to; the merit of which varies materially in different parts of the work. In 1760-1, she published a kind of Magazine, under the name of the” Ladies Museum,“which extended to two volumes, octavo, and seems to have been rather an undertaking of necessity than choice. Two years after, she publishedSophia, a Novel,“2 vols. 12mo, which is inferior to her earlier performances; and, after an interval of seven years, she brought out, at Covent-garden theatre,” The Sisters, a Comedy,“taken | from her novel of Henrietta, which was condemned on the first night of its appearance. In 1773, she furnished Drurylane theatre with a comedy, entitled,” Old City Manners.“Her last performance, not inferior to any of her former in that species of composition, was” Euphemia, a Novel, 17yO,“4 vols. 12mo. In 1775, we find Dr. Johnson assisting her in drawing up proposals for an edition of her works, in 3 vols. 4to; but it does not appear to have been published. Dr. Johnson had such an opinion of Mrs. Lennox that, on one occasion, not long before his death, he went so far as to pronounce her superior to Mrs. Carter, miss Hannah Moore, and miss Burney. Sir John Hawkins has given a ludicrous account of the doctor’s celebration of the birth of Mrs. Lennox’s first literary child, ’ The Life of Harriot Stuart.” This, however, was certainly not her first production, for in 1747, she published “Poems on several occasions,” printed for Sam. Paterson. She was then Miss Ramsay.

It is to be regretted, that the latter days of this ingenious lady were clouded by penury and sickness; calamities which were in a considerable degree alleviated by the kindness of some friends, who revered alike her literary and her moral character. Among these it would be unjust not to mention the names of the right hon. George Rose, and the rev. W. Beloe. But the most effectual aid she received was from The Literary Fund society, in consequence of which her only son was, a few years since, enabled to fit himself out for an employment in the Anglo-American States; and from the same source the means of decent subsistence were, for the last twelvemonth of her life, afforded to the mother. She died Jan. 4, 1804. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer.—Boswell’s aud Hawkins’s Life of Johnson.—Biographical Mss. by the late Isaac Reed.