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"I have read your religious treatise with "infinite pleasure and fatisfaction. The style "is fine and clear, the arguments close, cogent, and irrefiftible. May the King of kings, whofe glorious cause you have so "well defended, reward your pious labours, "and grant that I may be found worthy, through the merits of Jefus Chrift, to be "an eye-witness of that happiness which I "don't doubt he will bountifully bestow 66 upon you. In the mean time, I shall never cease glorifying God, for having en"dowed you with fuch useful talents, and giving me fo good a fon.
"Your affectionate father,
A few years afterwards (1751), by the death of his father, he inherited a baronet's. title with a large estate, which, though perhaps he did not augment, he was careful to adorn, by a house of great elegance and expence, and by much attention to the decoration of his park,
As he continued his activity in parliament, he was gradually advancing his claim to profit and preferment; and accordingly was made in time (1754) cofferer and privy counsellor: this place he exchanged next year for the great office of chancellor of the Exchequer; an office, however, that required fome qualifications which he foon perceived himself to want.
The year after, his curiofity led him into Wales; of which he has given an account, perhaps rather with too much affectation of delight, to Archibald Bower, a man of whom he had conceived an opinion more favourable than he feems to have deferved, and whom, having once efpoufed his intereft and fame, he never was perfuaded to difown. Bower, whatever was his moral character, did not want abilities; attacked as he was by an univerfal outcry, and that outcry, as it seems, the echo of truth, he kept his ground; at laft, when his defences began to fail him, he fallied out upon his adverfaries, and his adverfaries retreated.
About this time Lyttelton published his Dialogues of the Dead, which were very eagerly read, though the production rather, as it feems, of leisure than of study, rather effufions than compofitions. The names of his perfons too often enable the reader to anticipate their converfation; and when they have met, they too often part without any conclufion. He has copied Fenelon more than Fontenelle.
When they were first published, they were kindly commended by the Critical Reviewers; and poor Lyttelton, with humble gratitude, returned, in a note which I have read, acknowledgements which can never be proper, fince 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 diffolution of the ministry unavoidable, Sir George Lyttelton, lofing with the reft his employment, was recompenfed with a peerage; and refted from political turbu
lence in the House of Lords.
His last literary production was his Hiftory of Henry the Second, elaborated by the fearches and deliberations of twenty years, and published with fuch anxiety as only vanity can dictate.
The story of this publication is remarkable. The whole work was printed twice over, a great part of it three times, and many sheets four or five times. The bookfellers paid for the first impreffion; but the charges and repeated operations of the press were at the expence of the author, whose ambitious accuracy is known to have coft him at least a thousand pounds. He began to print in 1755Three volumes appeared in 1764, a fecond edition of them in 1767, a third edition in 1768, and the conclufion in 1771.
Andrew Reid, a man not without confiderable abilities, and not unacquainted with letters or with life, undertook to perfuade Lyttelton, as he had perfuaded himself, that he was master of the fecret of punctuation; and, as fear begets credulity, he was employed,
ployed, I know not at what price, to point * the pages of Henry the Second. The book was at laft pointed and printed, and fent into the world. Lyttelton took money for his copy, of which, when he had paid the Pointer, he probably gave the reft 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 fuperintendence of typography and punctuation was committed to a man originally a comb-maker, but then known by the style of Doctor. Something uncommon was probably expected, and fomething uncommon was at laft done; for to the Doctor's edition is appended, what the world had hardly feen before, a lift of errors in nineteen pages.
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 flender uncompacted frame, and a meagre face: he lafted however fixty years, and was then feized with his laft illness. Of his death a very affecting and instructive ac