The Life and Activities of Sir John Hawkins: Musician, Magistrate, and Friend of Johnson

The Life and Activities of Sir John Hawkins: Musician, Magistrate, and Friend of Johnson

The Life and Activities of Sir John Hawkins: Musician, Magistrate, and Friend of Johnson

The Life and Activities of Sir John Hawkins: Musician, Magistrate, and Friend of Johnson

Excerpt

When Sir John Hawkins reached middle life he was for ever hankering after, but never achieving, a record of his career. Says his daughter, Laetitia:

From the earliest years of my recollection, my father was wont to inculcate the usefulness of committing to paper, facts and circumstances; but he was generally too much employed, or too weary of employment, to do himself what he wished done. He was sometimes disposed to dictate to my elder brother; but my brother, who was himself engaged in a work of deep research, was not always at leisure; and when he was at leisure, my father was often taking his evening-nap. The thing wished was therefore never done; or, if attempted, it was not begun with energy enough to keep it going.

I had heard all that could be said in favour of the scheme; and made sensible of its comparative importance by the progressive accumulation of facts, I, though myself with little leisure to subtract from time which I was never allowed to call my own, began in private to do what my father recommended; but the fear that this, which was to me relaxation when done in secret, would, if divulged, be added to my daily labour and exacted as a task, made me do it literally, à l'insçu de mon père,--a singular instance, perhaps, of clandestine obedience.

And so it is to Laetitia (that garrulous and rambling narrator) that we are indebted for a good deal of information about her father's career--Laetitia, helped out here and there by the memories of her two brothers, perhaps, and certainly by those of 'the oldest friend of my family', Richard Clark, successively Alderman, Sheriff, Lord Mayor, and Chamberlain of the City of London, whose profession, like that of Hawkins himself, was the law, and who was, like Hawkins (and, indeed, on his introduction), a member of the circle that surrounded the great Dr. Johnson. It is to Richard Clark that Laetitia gratefully dedicates her first volume.

Now Laetitia, as has just been hinted, was no systematic historian. She had not the very smallest idea of chronological arrangement--nor, indeed, of arrangement of any kind. Her . . .

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