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met, they too often part without any conclusion. He has copied Fénelon more than Fontenelle '.
When they were first published they were kindly commended by the Critical Reviewers, and poor Lyttelton 3 with humble gratitude returned, in a note which I have read, acknowledgements which can never be proper, since they must be paid either for flattery or for justice*.
When, in the latter part of the last reign, the inauspicious commencement of the war made the dissolution of the ministry unavoidable, Sir George Lyttelton, losing with the rest his employment, was recompensed with a peerage 5; and rested from political turbulence in the House of Lords.
His last literary production was his History of Henry the
Lyttelton mentions both writers in his Preface. Fontenelle's Dialogues des Morts was published in 1683 and Fénelon's in 1712. In Dialogue xiv. first ed. p. 134, Lyttelton wrote of Voltaire:-'Even his exile, I fear, has not taught him enough to curb the excesses of his wit.' Voltaire wrote a letter to him complaining of this and other statements, and signed himself:-'Gentleman of the King's Chamber. At my Castle of Ferney, in Burgundy.' Euvres, 1. 543. For Horace Walpole's ridicule of this subscription see his Letters, iii. 380. Lyttelton published Voltaire's letter in Gent. Mag. 1761, p. 54. For his own answer see Rebecca Warner's Original Letters, p. 282.
2 The writers in The Critical Review. They are for supporting the constitution both in Church and State,' said Johnson. Boswell's Johnson, iii. 32. See also ib. ii. 39.
scope of the Review was to decry any work that appeared favourable to the principles of the Revolution.' HORACE WALPOLE, Memoirs of the Reign of George II, iii. 260. Lyttelton, a Whig, dreaded a hostile criticism. Smollett moreover was the editor, who had grossly libelled him. The reviewer says that the hand of a master is visible in every page.' Critical Review, May, 1760, p. 390.
3 See ante, DRYDEN, 40, for 'poor Dryden,' and post, LYTTELTON, Appendix BB.
Walpole wrote in 1781:-""Poor Lyttelton" were the words of offence. Mrs. Vesey sounded the trumpet. It has not, I believe, produced any altercation, but at a blue-stocking meeting held by Lady Lucan, Mrs. Montagu and Dr. Johnson kept at different ends of the chamber, and set up altar against altar there.' Letters, viii. 16.
W. W. Pepys, writing to Mrs. Montagu, lamented that 'our dear and respectable friend should be handed down to succeeding generations under the appellation of poor Lyttelton.' John. Misc. ii. 417.
In the first edition, 'returned his acknowledgements in a note which I have read; acknowledgements either for flattery or justice.'
For Boswell's defence of the practice see Boswell's Johnson, iv. 57, and for Macaulay's breaking through Johnson's rule see his Life, 1877, ii. 124
'Nov. 13, 1756. Mr. Legge returns to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sir George Lyttelton is indemnified with a peerage.' H. WALPOLE, Letters, iii. 44.
On Nov. 25 Lyttelton wrote to his brother:-'My good friends were pleased to say they would annihilate me; but my annihilation is a Peerage given me by the King, with the most gracious expressions of favour.' Phillimore, ii. 537. See ante, WEST, 6 n.
Second, elaborated by the searches and deliberations of twenty years, and published with such anxiety as only vanity can dictate 2.
The whole work 20
The story of this publication is remarkable. was printed twice over, a great part of it three times, and many sheets four or five times. The booksellers paid for the first impression; but the charges and repeated operations of the press were at the expence of the author, whose ambitious accuracy is known to have cost him at least a thousand pounds. He began to print in 1755. Three volumes appeared in 17643, a second edition of them in 1767, a third edition in 1768, and the conclusion in 1771
Andrew Reid, a man not without considerable abilities, and 21 not unacquainted with letters or with life, undertook to persuade Lyttelton, as he had persuaded himself, that he was master of the secret of punctuation; and, as fear begets credulity, he was
1 Lyttelton, as he told Doddridge in 1747, wrote the History 'to expose a false religion which is every day gaining ground in this kingdom; ... by the account of that reign in which the spirit of Popery discovers itself in all its deformity.' Phillimore, i. 381. 'BOSWELL. I rather think, Sir, that Toryism prevails in this reign. JOHNSON. I know not why you should think so, Sir. You see your friend Lord Lyttelton, a nobleman, is obliged in his History to write the most vulgar Whiggism.' Boswell's Johnson, ii. 221. See also ib. ii. 37 for Johnson's talk with George III about the book.
Hume wrote to Adam Smith on July 14, 1767-'Have you read Lord Lyttelton? Do you not admire his Whiggery and his Piety; Qualities so useful both for this World and the
next?' Hume MSS. in the Royal Society, Edinburgh.
'For the first article [in Mémoires littéraires de la Grande Bretagne], Lyttelton's History of Henry II, i must own myself responsible; but the public has ratified my judgment of that voluminous work, in which sense and learning are not illuminated by a ray of genius.' GIBBON, Memoirs, p. 173.
'His Henry II raises no more
passions than Burn's Justice of Peace. WALPOLE, Letters, viii. 16.
2 The Critical Review, 1767, i. 81, spoke highly of it. Mr. Murphy said he understood it was kept back several years for fear of Smollett.' Boswell's Johnson, iii. 33.
'Lyttelton was equally in dread of present and future critics, which made his works so insipid that he had better not have written them at all.' WALPOLE, Letters, v. 500.
3 The first notice of them is in 1767, both in Gent. Mag. p. 319, and Ann. Reg. ii. 266. 1767, not 1764, was the year of publication.
Walpole wrote of it on Dec. 14, 1771: It is so crowded with clouds of words, and they are so uninteresting, that I think one may dispute, as metaphysicians do, whether all the space is a plenum or a vacuum.' Letters, v. 356.
5 He edited The Present State of the Republick of Letters (ante, POPE, 189 n. 1) from 1728-36. Brit. Mus. Cata.
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 1, 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.
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 John
son, 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 even at meals.' Works, p. 676.
Chesterfield described him '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.
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 '."
"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."
29 '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 interval 3 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
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. 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
Ante, LYTTELTON, 2.
Gray wrote to Walpole in 1748: