Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 45.djvu/332

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Cotton, and had at this time run through his property and been compelled to retire to a small cottage in a remote district. He was patronised by Lord Halifax, who, on becoming president of the board of trade (October 1748), sent him out in some capacity to Nova Scotia. His wife, with Hester, their only child, had some time before gone to live at Lleweny Hall, Denbighshire, with her brother, Sir R. S. Cotton, a childless widower, who promised to provide for his niece, but died before making his will. After Salusbury's emigration they lived first with Mrs. Salusbury's mother, Lady Cotton, at East Hyde, near Luton, Bedfordshire; and afterwards with Sir Thomas (brother of John Salusbury, judge of the admiralty court), who had married the heiress of Sir Henry Penrice, and lived at Offley Hall, Hertfordshire. Hester was a clever and lively girl. She became a daring horsewoman, and learnt Latin—apparently not Greek (Hayward, i. 49, 114), though a knowledge both of Greek and Hebrew is attributed to her by Mangin—and modern languages from Dr. Collier, a civilian, to whom she became much attached. She wrote papers before she was fifteen in the ‘St. James's Chronicle.’ Her father, after fighting duels and ‘behaving perversely’ in Nova Scotia, had returned to England, and went to Ireland with Lord Halifax, who was made lord lieutenant in 1761. During his absence, Sir Thomas proposed a marriage between his niece and Henry Thrale. Thrale was the son of a native of Offley who had become a rich brewer, and had brought up his son and daughters ‘quite in a high style.’ Neither of the young people cared for the other, but the uncle's promises to make a settlement upon his niece on condition of the marriage decided Thrale and Mrs. Salusbury. Hester appealed to her father upon his return. He quarrelled with his brother, and took his wife and child to London. There he died suddenly in December 1762. His daughter seems to imply that his death was hastened by irritation at her proposed marriage to Thrale, and at Sir Thomas's own intention to marry a second wife. Her father being out of the way, Miss Salusbury was married to Thrale on 11 Oct. 1763. She declares that Thrale only took her because other ladies to whom he had proposed refused to live in the borough (ib. ii. 24). Thrale had also a house at Streatham Park (destroyed in 1863), and kept a pack of hounds and a hunting box near Croydon. Mrs. Thrale complains that she was not allowed to ride or to manage the household, and was thus driven to amuse herself with literature and her children. Thrale was a solid, respectable man, who apparently behaved kindly to his wife (see her ‘character’ of him, ib. ii. 188); but he gave her some real cause for jealousy. The famous intimacy with Johnson began at the end of 1764, and in 1765 (see Birkbeck Hill in Boswell's Johnson, i. 490, 520–2) Johnson was almost domesticated at Streatham. He accompanied the Thrales to Wales in 1774, and to France in 1775. Thrale was elected for Southwark in December 1765, and continued to represent the borough till the election of 1780, when he was defeated. Mrs. Thrale took part in writing addresses and canvassing the electors. In 1772 Thrale was brought into great difficulties by expenses incurred to carry out a scheme, suggested by a quack, for making beer ‘without malt or hops’ (Hayward, ii. 26). Mrs. Thrale raised money from her mother and other friends; and says that, although their debts then amounted to 130,000l., they were all paid off in nine years. She afterwards took an active part in the business, besides managing her estate in Wales (ib. i. 70). On 21 Feb. 1780 Thrale had an attack of apoplexy, which permanently weakened his mind. Mrs. Thrale had also been much vexed for some time by his flirtations with ‘Sophy Streatfield,’ a pretty widow (ib. i. 110), who is also described by Miss Burney and who appears to have made many other conquests. Thrale's incapacity, his extravagance, and over-indulgence in eating caused his wife much anxiety, and on 4 April 1781 he died of a second attack. The brewery was soon afterwards sold to the Barclays for 135,000l. Thrale, she says, had left 20,000l. to each of his five daughters, and she estimated her own income at 3,000l. a year, which, however, turned out to be considerably above the mark (ib. i. 168). She had had twelve children, of whom Henry, the only son, died on 23 March 1776. Her eldest daughter, Hester Maria [see Elphinstone, Hester Maria], afterwards became Viscountess Keith. Another became Mrs. Hoare. The youngest surviving daughter, Cecilia, was afterwards Mrs. Mostyn. Another daughter appears to have remained unmarried, and a fifth died in infancy in 1783.

Mrs. Thrale had made the acquaintance of Gabriel Piozzi, an Italian musician of much talent, in 1780. He was her senior by six months (Hayward, i. 174). She had taken a fancy to him, which now ripened into passion. By the end of 1781 they were very intimate, and in August 1782, finding herself involved in a lawsuit with Lady Salusbury and straitened for money, she resolved to go to see Italy with Piozzi as guide, and to economise (ib. i. 166). She