cious relatives, and it is not surprising that Charlotte found life dreary. Her father-in-law, on the death of his wife, married Charlotte's aunt.
Charlotte was now free to indulge her desire of living in the country. Her father-in-law, however, entertained a high opinion of her abilities, and offered her a considerable allowance if she would live in London and assist him in his business. He had on one occasion when he was libelled employed her to write a vindication of his character, a task that she fulfilled admirably. But a town life had never pleased her, and in 1774, with her husband and seven children, she went to live at Lys Farm, Hampshire. Her husband was at one time high sheriff of Hampshire (cf. L'Estrange, Life of M. R. Mitford, iii. 148; Letters of M. R. Mitford, ed. Chorley, 2nd ser. i. 29). But his extravagance and his attempts to realise wild and ruinous projects, propensities somewhat kept in check while he was living in his father's house, began to cause his wife uneasiness. She once expressed to a friend a desire that her husband should find rational employment. The friend suggested that his enthusiasm might be directed towards religion. ‘Oh!’ replied Charlotte, ‘for heaven's sake do not put it into his head to take to religion, for if he does he will instantly begin by building a cathedral’ (Nichols, Illustrations, viii. 35). In 1776 the elder Smith died, leaving a complicated will. The ensuing litigation increased the pecuniary difficulties of Charlotte and her husband; the Hampshire estate was sold, and in 1782 Smith was imprisoned for debt. His wife shared his confinement, which lasted for seven months.
For some years Charlotte Smith had been in the habit of writing sonnets, and it occurred to her that her compositions might afford a means of livelihood. She showed fourteen or fifteen of them to Dodsley, and afterwards to Dilly, but neither would publish them. She then appealed to Hayley—known to her by reputation, and a neighbour of her family in Sussex—who permitted her to dedicate to him a thin quarto volume of sonnets (‘Elegiac Sonnets and other Essays’). It was printed at Chichester at her own expense, and published by Dodsley at Hayley's persuasion in 1784. The poems found favour with the public; a second edition was called for the same year, and a fifth in 1789. They were reissued with a second volume and plates by Stothard, under the title of ‘Elegiac Sonnets and other poems,’ in 1797. Among the subscribers to that edition were the archbishop of Canterbury, Cowper, Charles James Fox, Horace Walpole, Mrs. Siddons, and the two Wartons. There were altogether eleven editions of the poems, the last dated in 1851.
But the circumstances of Mrs. Smith's family scarcely improved. They lived for a while in a dilapidated chateau near Dieppe in France, and there Mrs. Smith translated Prévost's ‘Manon Lescaut’ (1785), and wrote the ‘Romance of Real Life,’ an English version of some of the most remarkable trials from ‘Les Causes Célèbres;’ it appeared in 1786. About this time the family returned to England and settled at Woolbeding House, near Midhurst in Sussex. Mrs. Smith soon decided that a separation from her husband would be best for all concerned. The only reason assigned was incompatibility of temper, and the children remained with the mother. The husband and wife occasionally met and constantly corresponded; Mrs. Smith continued to give her husband pecuniary assistance, but firmly refused to live with him again. He died in March 1806.
In 1788 Charlotte Smith published her first novel, ‘Emmeline, or the Orphan of the Castle,’ in 4 vols., and it was so successful that her publisher, Cadell, supplemented the sum originally paid. It was admired by Sir Egerton Brydges and Sir Walter Scott. The latter indulgently declared the ‘tale of love and passion’ to be ‘told in a most interesting manner,’ praised the mingling of humour and satire with pathos, and considered that the ‘characters both of sentiment and of manners were sketched with a firmness of pencil and liveliness of colouring which belong to the highest branch of fictitious narrative.’ Hayley was even more extravagant in his praises (cf. Nichols, Lit. Illustr. vii. 708). Miss Seward, on the other hand, found it a servile imitation of Miss Burney's ‘Cecilia;’ and stated that the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Stafford were drawn from Mrs. Smith and her husband (Letters, ii. 213). A second novel, ‘Celestina,’ in 4 vols., came out in 1792, and was characterised as ‘a work of no common merit’ (cf. Nichols, Lit. Illustr. vii. 715), and a third, ‘Desmond,’ in 3 vols., in 1792. The character of Mrs. Manby in the last is said to represent Hannah More (Seward, Letters, iii. 329). In 1792 Mrs. Smith visited Hayley at Eartham, and met there Cowper, and probably Romney (Hayley, Memoirs, i. 432). ‘The Old Manor House,’ in 4 vols., considered by Scott her best piece of work, appeared in 1793.
Failing health was now added to the ever present pecuniary and family troubles. But Mrs. Smith's cheerful temperament enabled her to abstract herself from her cares, and