Cartwright William

(1738), but also a translation of the Swiss writer Jean Pierre de Crousaz's Examination of Mr. Pope's Essay on Man (1738), which held that Alexander Pope's fatalistic approach led to Spinozism. In addition, for Gentleman's Magazine she translated one of the 18th century's most famous works, Francesco Algarotti's Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy Explain'd, for the Use of the Ladies. In Six Dialogues on light and colours. From the Italian (1739), which focused on the newly popular natural philosophy.

Carter met Samuel Johnson through her work for the periodical and became friendly with Thomas Birch, a critic who may have been an anonymous voice praising Carter's works; he also hoped she would marry him. She followed her father's advice to "live quietly" if she hoped to marry but had no intention of doing so, turning down one suitor because he had published poetry that exhibited "too light and licentious a turn of mind." She corresponded with the countess of Hertford and gained many admirers of her poetry. Carter arose early in the morning to study, depending upon, so the story goes, a local church sexton to pull a string hanging out her window that was attached to a bell at her bedside to awaken her. She circulated anonymously "Ode to Wisdom," and Samuel Richardson published it in his famous epistolary fiction Clarissa (1747) without knowing the author's identity, for which he later apologized, as he used it without her permission. In the first example of a woman's educating a man at Cambridge, she tutored her stepbrother and worked for months on the project of translating Epictetus from Greek. In addition, she contributed two essays to Samuel Johnson's periodical, Rambler. When Johnson printed her All the Works of Epictetus as a large quarto volume in 1758, it earned £1,000 from subscriptions. That was a fortune for Carter and allowed her independence from her father and the ability to live in London. Although invited to stay with friends, she preferred living alone. After her stepmother's death she rented part of her new house in Deal to her father, and he lived there until his death in 1774.

Yielding to the pressure of her circle of friends, who included Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, she published Poems on Several Occasions (1762), which remained in print through four editions. That would be her final publication of note. She traveled to Europe with Montagu and her friend Lord Lyttelton and later received annuities from both Montagu and another friend, William Pulteney, earl of Bath. Her literary circle expanded to include the novelists Hannah More and Joanna Baillie.

No feminist, Elizabeth Carter stated her disapproval of writing by those supporting women's rights such as Charlotte Smith and Mary Wollstonecraft. Although she enjoyed writing by women, she did not believe they should travel in the same circles as men. However, she took full advantage of the avenues open to "ladies" during her age to write. The periodical press offered new opportunity for women like Carter, a dedicated scholar who gained a positive reputation. She did not act on that reputation to serve as a role model. While her verse proved influential, it was limited to praise of its "sublime simplicity," "correctness," and "elegance," and it did not inspire other women to follow her lead. Johnson's remark that "My old friend, Mrs. Carter, could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus" may remain the best known fact about this intelligent, but creatively inhibited, writer.

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