(465) George Steevens, Esq. In 1770, this eminent scholar and learned commentator became associated with Dr. Johnson, in the edition of Shakspeare which goes by their joint names. A fourth edition, with large additions, was published in 1793, in fifteen volumes octavo. In the preparation of it for the press, Mr. Steevens gave an instance of editorial activity and perseverance, which is, probably, without a parallel. For a period of eighteen months, he devoted himself solely and exclusively to the work; and, during that time, left his house every morning at one o’clock with the Hampstead patrols, and proceeded, without any consideration of weather or season, to the chambers of his friend, Isaac Reed, in Staple’s Inn, where he found a sheet of the Shakspeare letterpress was ready for his revision: thus, while the printers were asleep, the editor was @ awake; and the fifteen large volumes were completed in the short space of twenty months. The feat is recorded by Mr. Matthias, in the Pursuits of Literature:
“Him late, from Hampstead journeying to his
Aurora oft for Cophalus mistook;
What time he brush’d her dews with hasty pace,
To meet the printer’s dev’let face to face.”
He died at Hampstead in 1800, and in his sixty-fourth year.-E.
For these three weeks I have had the gout in my left elbow and hand, and can yet but just bear to lay the latter on the paper while I write with the other. However, this is no complaint, for it is the shortest fit I have had these sixteen years, and with trifling pain: therefore, as the fits decrease, it does ample honour to my bootikins regimen, and method. Next to my bootikins, I ascribe much credit to a diet-drink of dock-roots, of which Dr. Turton asked me for my receipt, as the best he had ever seen, and which I will send you if you please. It came from an old physician at Richmond, who did amazing service with it in inveterate scurvies,—the parents, or ancestors, at least, I believe, of all gouts. Your fit I hope is quite gone.
Mr. Gough has been with me. I never saw a more dry or more cold gentleman. He told me his new plan is a series of English monuments. I do like the idea, and offered to lend him drawings for it.
I have seen Mr. Steevens too, who is much more flowing. I wish you had told me it was the editor of Shakspeare, for, on his mentioning Dr. Farmer, I launched out and said, he was by much the most rational of Shakspeare’s commentators, and had given the only sensible account of the authors our great poet had consulted. I really meant those -who Wrote before Dr. Farmer. Mr. Steevens seemed a little surprised, which made me discover the blunder I had made. For which I was very sorry, though I had meant nothing by it; however, do not mention it. I hope be has too