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APPENDIX Z (PAGE 426)
Ante, DRYDEN, 26; SAVAGE, 172 n 2. It was offered Gray through Mason, by the Duke of Devonshire, who, as Lord Chamberlain, had the appointment. Mason, ii. 135. Gray wrote to Mason on Dec. 19, 1757:-Though I very well know the bland, emollient, saponaceous qualities both of sack and silver, yet, if any great man would say to me, "I make you rat-catcher to his Majesty, with a salary of £300 a year, and two butts of the best Malaga; and, though it has been usual to catch a mouse or two, for form's sake, in public once a year, yet to you, Sir, we shall not stand upon these things," I cannot say I should jump at it; nay, if they would drop the very name of the office, and call me Sinecure to the King's Majesty, I should still feel a little awkward, and think everybody I saw smelt a rat about me.' He concludes :-'There are poets little enough to envy even a poet-laureate.' Gray's Letters, i. 372. Mason converted this passage into the following:-'I hope you couched my refusal to Lord John Cavendish in as respectful terms as possible, and with all due acknowledgment to the Duke.' Mason, ii. 135.
Cibber died on Dec. 11, 1757. William Whitehead succeeded him the same month. Gent. Mag. 1757, pp. 578-9. 'Cibber's familiar style,' said Johnson, 'was better than that which Whitehead has assumed. Grand nonsense is insupportable.' Boswell's Johnson, i. 402.
APPENDIX AA (PAGES 435, 441)
'Johnson attacked Gray, calling him "a dull fellow." BOSWELL. "I understand he was reserved, and might appear dull in company; but surely he was not dull in poetry." JOHNSON. "Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull every where. He was dull in a new way, and that made many people think him GREAT. He was a mechanical poet. . . . No, Sir, there are but two good stanzas in Gray's poetry, which are in his Elegy." He then repeated the stanza "For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey," &c. He added, "The other stanza I forget." Boswell's Johnson, ii. 327. Johnson, in the fourth edition of his Dictionary, quotes the last line of the Elegy under bosom. For his parody of the poem' see John. Misc. i. 191, and for a parody of his criticism see Boswell's Johnson, iv. 392; John. Letters, ii. 315.
Gray, in 1748, wrote of Johnson's two poems in Dodsley's Coll. i. 101, iii. 150:-'London is to me one of those few imitations that have
[Johnson's two versions of a chorus in the Medea (11. 193–206)—the one a serious attempt to render the passage according to his conception of versification, the other a parody on Gray's style, as he conceived it-afford an illustration, as Mr. Tovey points out [Gray's Poems, Pitt Press, 1894, Introd. pp. 12-15], of the difference between Johnson's verse, which approaches closely to the prose of his age, and Gray's style re-creating, as it were, a distinct poetic diction. See also John. Misc. i. 191.]
all the ease and all the spirit of an original. The same man's verses on the opening of Garrick's theatre are far from bad.' Letters, i. 183.
For Gray's exclaiming, when he saw 'Johnson's large uncouth figure rolling before them :-"Look, look, Bonstetten, the great bear! There goes Ursa Major," see Boswell's Johnson, v. 384 n.
Dr. John Gregory wrote to Beattie in 1766:-'Gray told me with a good deal of acrimony that his Churchyard Elegy owed its popularity entirely to the subject, and that the public would have received it as well if it had been written in prose.' Forbes's Beattie, 1824, P. 44.
'Soon after its publication,' said Mason, 'I remember sitting with Mr. Gray in his College apartment; he expressed to me his surprise at the rapidity of its sale. I replied:
"Sunt lacrymae rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt
[Aeneid i. 462].
He paused awhile, and, taking his pen, wrote the line on a printed copy of it lying on his table. "This," said he, "shall be its future motto." "Pity," cried I, "that Dr. Young's Night Thoughts have preoccupied it." "So," replied he, "indeed it is." Mitford, i. Preface, P. 26.
'Gray's Elegy will be read as long as any work of Shakespeare, despite of its moping owl and the tin-kettle of an epitaph tied to its tail. It is the first poem that ever touched my heart, and it strikes it now just in the same place. Homer, Shakespeare, Milton and Dante, the four giants who lived before our last Deluge of poetry, have left the ivy growing on the churchyard wall.' LANDOR, Works, 1874, i. 426. See also Imag. Conver. ed. Crump, iii. 381.
'Tennyson, speaking of the Elegy, quoted:-"The paths of glory lead but to the grave"; and said:-"These divine truisms make me weep." Allingham MSS.
'Gray (he said) in his limited sphere is great, and has a wonderful ear.' Life of Tennyson, ii. 288.
'This turn for style imparts to our poetry a stamp of high distinction, and sometimes it doubles the force of a poet not by nature of the very highest order such as Gray.' MATTHEW ARNOLD, Celtic Literature, 1867, p. 138.
'It seems to me strange that —, and — ', should go on pouring out poem after poem, as if such haste could prosper with any but firstrate men and I suppose they hardly reckon themselves with the very first. I feel sure that Gray's Elegy, pieced and patched together so laboriously by a man of almost as little genius as abundant taste, will outlive all these hasty abortions. And yet there are plenty of faults in that Elegy too, resulting from the very elaboration which yet makes it live.' E. FITZGERALD, Letters, ii. 209.
'In FitzGerald's Letters to Fanny Kemble, p. 151, we find 'Browning, Swinburne, & Co.' See also ib. pp. 154, 187.
EORGE LYTTELTON, the son of Sir Thomas Lyttelton
of Hagley in Worcestershire, was born in 1709'. He was educated at Eton3, where he was so much distinguished that his exercises were recommended as models to his school-fellows.
From Eton he went to Christ-church, where he retained the same reputation of superiority, and displayed his abilities to the publick in a poem on Blenheim 5.
He was a very early writer, both in verse and prose. His Progress of Love and his Persian Letters' were both written when he was very young; and, indeed, the character of a young man is very visible in both. The Verses cant of shepherds and flocks, and crooks dressed with flowers; and the Letters have something of that indistinct and headstrong ardour for liberty which a man of genius always catches when he enters the world, and always suffers to cool as he passes forward9.
See Appendix BB.
2 His mother and Gilbert West's mother were sisters. Ante, WEST, 2 n. 3.
3 In his Persian Letters he describes the education of 'several young noblemen' by a learned clergyman. 'They are accustomed to tremble at a rod, to tell lies in excuse of trifling faults, to betray their companions, to be spies and cowards.' Works, 1775, p. 185.
4 He matriculated on Feb. 11, 1725-6, but took no degree. Alumni Oxon.
5 Post, LYTTELTON, 31. It is the Palace of Blenheim, and Marlborough ' in these retreats,' and the widowed Duchess that he celebrates. Eng. Poets, Ixiv. 267. He wrote the poem in 1727. Works, 1775, p. 639.
The Progress of Love, in Four Eclogues. Eng. Poets, lxiv. 251; post, LYTTELTON, 31. It was first published in 1732.
7 Letters from a Persian in Eng
land to his Friend at Ispahan, Works, p. 91; Gent. Mag. 1735, P. 167. Montesquieu's Lettres persanes, published in 1721, were avowedly imitated by Lyttelton (see Warton's Essay on Pope, ii. 386), and by Goldsmith in his Citizen of the World (1760).
8 Ante, POPE, 313.
Ante, AKENSIDE, 3. Lyttelton advocates reform of Parliament and an unrestrained press in public matters. He maintains that Cromwell showed 'solid good sense' in wishing to have the title of King. Works, pp. 106, 189, 211, 213. He lived to draw the protest against the repeal of the American Stamp Act. Walpole's Letters, iv. 491.
'In his Persian Letters, many of which are written on the most important subjects in ethics, politics and philosophy, he hath condescended to introduce two or three novels.' FIELDING, Works, 1806, v. 424. For
He staid not long at Oxford, for in 1728 he began his travels, 4 and saw France and Italy'. When he returned he obtained a seat in parliament 2, and soon distinguished himself among the most eager opponents of Sir Robert Walpole, though his father, who was Commissioner of the Admiralty, always voted with the Court 3.
For many years the name of George Lyttelton was seen in every account of every debate in the House of Commons. He opposed the standing army 5; he opposed the excise; he supported the motion for petitioning the King to remove Walpole'. His zeal was considered by the courtiers not only as violent, but as acrimonious and malignant; and when Walpole was at last hunted from his places, every effort was made by his friends, and many friends he had, to exclude Lyttelton from the Secret Committee 10.
The Prince of Wales, being (1737) driven from St. James's, 6 kept a separate court, and opened his arms to the opponents of the ministry". Mr. Lyttelton became his secretary ", and was
his intention not to reprint these Letters see Warton's Essay on Pope, ii. 386.
For his letters on his tour see Works, p. 639.
* In 1735, as member for Okehampton. Parl. Hist. ix. 619.
3 His father was member for Camelford. The list of the division on March 8, 1738-9, on the Convention with Spain is given in Gent. Mag. June, 1739, where it is stated (pp. 306, 309) that the father, with a salary of £1,300, with lodging, and fire and candle,' voted for the ministers, and the son, with a salary of £866 as Secretary to the Prince, voted against them. See also Coxe's Walpole, i. 603.
Walpole, in 1747, mentions his making the finest oration imaginable.' Letters, ii. 81.
'He had a great flow of words, that were always uttered in a lulling monotony, and the little meaning they had to boast of was generally borrowed from the common-place maxims and sentiments of moralists.' LORD HERVEY, Memoirs, i. 433.
5 On Feb. 3, 1737-8, and on Feb. 14, 1738-9. Parl. Hist. x. 405, 1345.
The Excise Bill was brought in on April 4, 1733, two years before he entered Parliament. Ib. ix. 1.
' On Feb. 13, 1741. Ib. xi. 1370. His reported speech was written by Johnson. Gent. Mag. 1743, p. 172.
On the opening lines of this paragraph Macaulay seems to have modelled one part of his style.
8 'There was nobody more violent in the Opposition, nor anybody a more declared enemy to Sir Robert Walpole than Mr. Lyttelton.' LORD HERVEY, Memoirs, ii. 481.
" In the first edition, 'driven.' The same word comes four lines lower down.
Appointed on March 29, 1742, 'to inquire into the conduct of the Earl of Orford [Walpole].' Lyttelton was excluded. Parl. Hist. xii. 587. "Ante, POPE, 217; THOMSON, 28; MALLET, 12.
12 In Aug. 1737. Works, p. 701. Mrs. Delany (Auto. 2nd Ser. iii. 179) told of 'Lyttelton sending a letter on business of a secret nature to the post, without any direction, about the Prince's affairs, and it came into the hands of Mr. Pelham [the Prime Minister].'
supposed to have great influence in the direction of his conduct'. He persuaded his master, whose business it was now to be popular, that he would advance his character by patronage. Mallet was made under-secretary with 2003, and Thomson had a pension of 100l. a year. For Thomson Lyttelton always retained his kindness, and was able at last to place him at ease 5.
Moore courted his favour by an apologetical poem, called The Trial of Selim, for which he was paid with kind words, which, as is common, raised great hopes, that at last were disappointed'.
8 Lyttelton now stood in the first rank of opposition; and Pope, who was incited, it is not easy to say how, to increase the clamour against the ministry, commended him among the other
His Prince, that writes in verse, and
The worthy youth shall ne'er be in
Swift, in 1739, asked Lyttelton to let the Prince know the profound respect, honour, esteem and veneration I bear towards his princely virtues.' Swift's Works, xix. 205.
2 For Bute's patronage of literary men see Boswell's Johnson, i. 372.
Ante, MALLET, 12.
4 Ante, THOMSON, 28. These amounts are not given in the first edition.
5 Ante, THOMSON, 35. Thomson introduces him in The Castle of Indolence, i. 65.
• The Trial of Selim the Persian for Divers High Crimes and Misdemeanours. In Gent. Mag. 1748, p. 240, it is entered under 'Law.' Selim was the name of the supposed author of the Persian Letters. For Moore see ante, POPE, 358.
''Lyttelton set up The World [Boswell's Johnson, i. 257]; Moore was to enjoy the full profits of it, whether the numbers were written by himself or not.' Phillimore's Lyttelton, i. 329.
Horace Walpole wrote on May 18, 1754You will laugh when I tell you that I am employed to reconcile Sir George and Moore; the latter has been very flippant, say impertinent, on the former's giving a little place to Bower in preference to him.' Letters, ii. 386. The 'little place' was Clerk to the Bucks warrants.' Phillimore, i. 334.
Smollett, writing of Lyttelton in Peregrine Pickle, 1751, iv. 122 (Appendix CC), says: Let a scribbler creep into his notice by the most abject veneration,... receive and read his emendations with pretended extasy, .. bawl for him upon all occasions in common conversation, prose and rhyme, . . . feed him with the soft pap of dedication,... the friendship of Mr. Scrag will be sooner or later manifested in some warm sinecure.'
Smollett also scoffed at him in Roderick Random, 1748, ch. 63, in the character of Earl Sheerwit, 'a Maecenas in the nation.' See Scott's Works, 1834, iii. 128.
8 He had been won over by the attentions of the Prince of Wales.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 406 n.; ante, POPE, 217.