Page images



employed, I know not at what price, to point the pages of Henry the Second. The book was at last pointed and printed, and sent into the world. Lyttelton took money for his copy', of which, when he had paid the Pointer, he probably gave the rest away; for he was very liberal to the indigent.

When time brought the History to a third edition, Reid was either dead or discarded; and the superintendence of typography and punctuation was committed to a man originally a combmaker, but then known by the style of Doctor 2. Something uncommon was probably expected, and something uncommon was at last done; for to the Doctor's edition is appended, what the world had hardly seen before, a list of errors in nineteen pages 3.

But to politicks and literature there must be an end. Lord Lyttelton had never the appearance of a strong or of a healthy man; he had a slender uncompacted frame, and a meagre face^: he lasted, however, sixty years, and was then seized with his last illness. Of his death a very affecting and instructive account has been given by his physician 5, which will spare me the task of his moral character 6.

I mean point-commas and so forth? for I am, I hear, a sad hand at your punctuation.' Byron's Works, Letters and Journals, ed. R. E. Prothero, 1898, ii. 252.

For Jeffrey's 'attending to the very commas and colons' in the proofsheets of Macaulay's England see Cockburn's Jeffrey, 402.

I Wilkes wrote on June 22, 1767 :— 'I hear that he has received £3,000 for his History, which is in two small quartos.' Wilkes's Corres. 1805, iii. 150.

In the first edition, 'Dr. Saunders.' 3 For an instance of these errors see Boswell's Johnson, iii. 33 n.


'The intrusion or omission of a comma was sufficient to discompose Mr. Savage.' Ante, SAVAGE, 127. 4 He, not Johnson, was the spectable Hottentot' of Chesterfield's Letters. Boswell's Johnson, i. 267 n. Chesterfield wrote of him :-' His head, always hanging upon one or other of his shoulders, seems to have received the first stroke upon a block.' Letters, 1774, ii. 219.

'He was, in his figure, extremely tall and thin; his face was so ugly,

his person so ill-made, and his carriage so awkward, that every feature was a blemish, every limb an encumbrance, and every motion a disgrace; but as disagreeable as was his figure, his voice was still more so.' LORD HERVEY, Memoirs, i. 433.

In the lines beneath a caricature he is described as 'so long, so lank, so lean, and bony.' Boswell's Johnson, v. 285 n.

5 The physician was Dr. James Johnstone, of Kidderminster, father of Dr. John Johnstone, of Birmingham, editor of Parr's Works. The letter, dated May 26, 1773, was written to Mrs. Montagu. Rebecca Warner's Original Letters, p. 276. It was first published (with omissions and errors followed by Johnson) in Gent. Mag. 1773, p. 604.

Dr. Johnson, in his Life of Lyttelton, suppressed an anecdote which would have made his memory ridiculous. "He was a man rather melancholy in his disposition, and used to declare to his friends, that when he went to Vauxhall he always supposed pleasure to be in the next box to his." European Mag. 1798,

'On Sunday evening [morning] the symptoms of his lordship's 24 disorder, which for a week past had alarmed us, put on a fatal appearance, and his lordship believed himself to be a dying man. From this time he suffered by restlessness rather than pain; though his nerves were apparently much fluttered, his mental faculties never seemed stronger, when he was thoroughly awake.


'His lordship's bilious and hepatick complaints seemed alone 25 not equal to the expected mournful event: his long want of sleep, whether the consequence of the irritation in the bowels, or, which is more probable, of causes of a different kind, accounts for his loss of strength and for his death very sufficiently.

'Though his lordship wished his approaching dissolution not 26 to be lingering, he waited for it with resignation. He said, "It is a folly, a keeping me in misery, now to attempt to prolong life"; yet he was easily persuaded, for the satisfaction of others, to do or take any thing thought proper for him. On Saturday he had been remarkably better, and we were not without some hopes of his recovery.

'On Sunday, about eleven in the forenoon, his lordship sent 27 for me, and said he felt a great hurry, and wished to have a little conversation with me in order to divert it. He then proceeded to open the fountain of that heart from whence goodness had so long flowed as from a copious spring. "Doctor," said he, "you shall be my confessor: when I first set out in the world, I had friends who endeavoured to shake my belief in the Christian religion. I saw difficulties which staggered me; but I kept my mind open to conviction. The evidences and doctrines of Christianity, studied with attention, made me a most firm and persuaded believer of the Christian religion. I have made it the rule of my life, and it is the ground of my future hopes. I have erred and sinned; but have repented, and never indulged any vicious habit. In politicks and publick life I have made publick good the rule of my conduct 3. I never gave counsels which I did not at the time think the best. I have seen that I was sometimes in the wrong, but I did not err designedly. p. 376. E. FitzGerald attributes this saying to Sir C. H. Williams. More Letters, p. 157.

Poyntz, English ambassador at the Congress of Soissons in 1728, whom Lyttelton in his youth visited at Paris, wrote to his father:-'His health is liable to frequent interruptions. They seem to proceed chiefly from an ill digestion, which may sometimes be occasioned by the vivacity of his imagination's pursuing some agreeable thought too intensely, and diverting the spirits from their

proper function
Works, p. 676.

even at meals.'

Chesterfield described him as 'wrapped up like a Laputan in intense thought. . . . He throws anywhere but down his throat whatever he means to drink, and only mangles what he means to carve.' Letters, ii. 219, iii. 129.

[blocks in formation]





I have endeavoured in private life to do all the good in my power, and never for a moment could indulge malicious or unjust designs upon any person whatsoever 1."

'At another time he said, "I must leave my soul in the same state it was in before this illness; I find this a very inconvenient time for solicitude about any thing."

'In the evening, when the symptoms of death came on, he said, "I shall die; but it will not be your fault." When lord and lady Valentia came to see his lordship, he gave them his solemn benediction, and said, "Be good, be virtuous, my lord; you must come to this." Thus he continued giving his dying benediction to all around him. On Monday morning a lucid interval3 gave some small hopes, but these vanished in the evening; and he continued dying, but with very little uneasiness, till Tuesday morning, August 22, when between seven and eight o'clock he expired, almost without a groan.'

His lordship was buried at Hagley; and the following inscription is cut on the side of his lady's monument :

'This unadorned stone was placed here
By the particular desire and express
directions of the Right Honourable

Who died August 22, 1773, aged 64.'

Lord Lyttelton's poems are the works of a man of literature and judgement, devoting part of his time to versification. They have nothing to be despised, and little to be admired. Of his Progress of Love it is sufficient blame to say that it is pastoral 3. His blank verse in Blenheim has neither much force nor much elegance. His little performances, whether Songs or Epigrams, are sometimes spritely and sometimes insipid'. His epistolary


Fielding, in the Dedication to Tom Jones, says of him and Ralph Allen (ante, POPE, 218, 254):—'If there be in this work, as some have been pleased to say, a stronger picture of a truly benevolent mind than is to be found in any other, who that knows you, and a particular acquaintance of yours, will doubt whence that benevolence hath been copied?'

She was his daughter. Burke's Peerage.

3 For 'lucid interval' see John. Letters, ii. 377; Gibbon's Memoirs, p. 34.

On his tour he wrote from Luneville in 1728 :-'In the morning the

Duke hunts; but my malicious stars
have so contrived it that I am no
more a sportsman than a gamester.
There are no men of learning in the
whole country; on the contrary, it is
a character they despise. A man of
quality caught me the other day read-
ing a Latin author, and asked me,
with an air of contempt, whether I
was designed for the Church.
this would be tolerable if I was not
condemned to converse with a set of
English who are still more ignorant
than the French.' Works, p. 645.
5 Ante, LYTTELTON, 3.
6 Ante, LYTTELTON, 2.
7 Gray wrote to Walpole in 1748:-


pieces have a smooth equability, which cannot much tire because they are short, but which seldom elevates or surprizes. But from this censure ought to be excepted his Advice to Belinda', which, though for the most part written when he was very young, contains much truth and much prudence, very elegantly and vigorously expressed, and shews a mind attentive to life, and a power of poetry which cultivation might have raised to excellence 2.



On July 27, 1780, Johnson wrote to Lyttelton's brother, Lord Westcote, about this Life. My desire is to avoid offence, and to be totally out of danger. I take the liberty of proposing to your lordship, that the historical account should be written under your direction by any friend you may be willing to employ, and I will only take upon myself to examine the poetry.'

He wrote next day :-'I wish it had been convenient to have had that done which I proposed. I shall certainly not wantonly nor willingly offend; but when there are such near relations living, I had rather they would please themselves. For the life of Lord Lyttelton I shall need no help-it was very public, and I have no need to be minute.' John. Letters, ii. 187.

On Aug. 16 he wrote to Nichols the printer:-'Is there not a life of Lyttelton before the quarto edition of his Works? I think there is—if not, I am, in respect to him, quite aground.' Ib. p. 197. There is no Life prefixed.

For the offence Johnson gave to Lyttelton's friends, and for 'the declaration of war from Mrs. Montagu,' see Boswell's Johnson, iv. 64;

[blocks in formation]


* 'Learning, eloquence and gravity distinguished this peer above most of his rank, and breathe in all his prose. His Epistle to Mr. Pope [Eng. Poets, lxiv. 282] is the best of his poetry, which was more elegant than striking. Originality seems never to have been his aim.' HORACE WALPOLE, Works, i. 539. Walpole, in his Letters, viii. 235, describes him as 'a sing-song warbler.'

3 Some time in March [1781] I finished the Lives of the Poets, which I wrote in my usual way, dilatorily and hastily, unwilling to work, and working with vigour and haste.' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 34.

John. Misc.ii. 421; ante, SHENSTONE, 11. Walpole wrote on Jan. 27, 1781:Mrs. Montagu and all her Maenades intend to tear Johnson limb from limb for despising their moppet, Lord Lyttelton.' Letters, vii. 505.

W. W. Pepys, speaking of the disputation at Streatham upon the Life (Boswell's Johnson, iv. 65 n.), says:—' Johnson took great credit for not having mentioned the coarseness of Lord Lyttelton's manners.' John. Misc. ii. 417. See also ib. i. 244, ii. 193.

[ocr errors]

J. Hussey recorded on the margin of his Boswell [ante, SAVAGE, Appendix FF]:-' Johnson said to me many years before he published his Preface [Life of Lyttelton]:-"Lord Lyttelton was a worthy good man, but so ungracious that he did not know how to be a gentleman." For Mrs. Piozzi's explanation of Johnson's supposed ill-will towards Lyttelton, see Boswell's Johnson, iv. 57; John. Misc. i. 257; John. Letters, i. 46 n. For Percy's explanation see John. Misc. ii. 208. See also LYTTELTON, 17 n. 3.


Eng. Poets, Ixiv. 311; ante, WEST, 6 n. It is advertised in Gent. Mag. Nov. 1747, p. 548-To the Memory of a Lady lately deceased. A Monody. Price Is. It is marred by the pastoral passages. 'Where there is

leisure for fiction there is little grief,' as Johnson said of Lycidas. Ante, MILTON, 180. Gray wrote of it :-'If it were all like the fourth stanza I should be excessively pleased. Nature and sorrow and tenderness are the true genius of such things; and something of these I find in several parts of it (not in the orange tree). Poetical ornaments are foreign to the purpose, for they only shew a man is not sorry;-and devotion worse; for it teaches him that he ought not to be sorry, which is all the pleasure of the thing.' Letters, i. 181. See also ib. p. 172.

On March 3, 1751, Gray wrote:-'In the last volume of Peregrine Pickle is a character of Mr. Lyttelton, under the name of Gosling Scrag, and a parody of part of his Monody, under the notion of a Pastoral on the death of his grandmother.' Ib. p. 212.

In the College of Authors in Peregrine Pickle, 1751, iv. 116, ‘a pastoral upon the death of his grandmother' is read by the poet. The Chairman says that 'he has expressly imitated, not to say copied, the celebrated production of the universal patron. What! (replied the other) you mean the famous Gosling Scrag, Esq. . . . Did he acquire the reputation of a wit by a repetition of trite invectives against a minister, conveyed in a theatrical cadence, accompanied with the most ridiculous gestures, before he believed it was his interest to desert his master and renounce his party?' This passage Smollett suppressed in later editions. In his Hist. of Eng. v. 381, we read of 'the delicate taste, the polished muse, and tender feelings of a Lyttelton.'

Gray, in The Progress of Poesy (1. 102), perhaps had in mind the following line in The Monody (Eng. Poets, lxiv. 312):

'Clos'd are those beauteous eyes in endless night.'

Perhaps each poet imitated Virgil (Aeneid x. 746):

'In aeternam clauduntur lumina noctem.'

« PreviousContinue »