Слике страница

as the art of spinning the thread of life in another mythology. Theft is always dangerous; Gray has made weavers of his flaughtered bards, by a fiction outrageous and incongruous. They are then called upon to Weave the warp, and weave the woof, perhaps with no great propriety; for it is by croffing the roof with the warp that men weave the web or piece; and the first line was dearly bought by the admiffion of its wretched correfpondent, Give ample room and verge enough. He has, however, no other line as bad.

The third stanza of the fecond ternary is commend 9 ed, I think, beyond its merit. The perfonification is indiftinct. Thirst and Hunger are not alike; and their features, to make the imagery perfect, should have been difcriminated. We are told, in the fame ftanza, how towers are fed. But I will no longer look for particular faults; yet let it be obferved that the ode might have been concluded with an action of better example; but fuicide is always to be had, without expence of thought.

Thefe odes are marked by glittering accumulations of ungraceful ornaments; they ftrike, rather than please; the images are magnified by affectation; the language is laboured into harfhnefs. The mind of the writer feems to work with unnatural violence. Double, double, toil and trouble. He has a kind of ftrutting dignity, and is tall by walking on tiptoe. His art and his struggle are too vifible, and there is too little appearance of eafe and nature.

To say that he has no beauties, would be unjust: a man like him, of great learning and great industry, could not but produce fomething valuable. When he pleases least, it can only be faid that a good design was ill directed.

X 2


His tranflations of Northern and Welsh Poetry de ferve praise; the imagery is preserved, perhaps often improved; but the language is unlike the language of other poets.


In the character of his Elegy I rejoice to concur with the common reader; for by the common fense of readers uncorrupted with literary prejudices, after all the refinements of fubtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours. The Church-yard abounds with images which find a mirrour in every mind, and with fentiments to which every bofom returns an echo. The four ftanzas, beginning Yet even these bones, are to me original: I have never seen the notions in any other place; yet he that reads them here perfuades himself that he has always felt them. Had Gray written often thus, it had been vain to blame, and useless to praise him.





EORGE LYTTELTON, the fon of Sir Thomas Lyttelton of Hagley in Worcestershire, was born in 1709. He was educated at Eton, where he was fo much diftinguished, that his exercises were recommended as models to his school-fellows.

From Eton he went to Chrift-church, where he retained the fame reputation of fuperiority, and difplayed his abilities to the publick in a poem on Blenheim.

He was a very early writer, both in verse and profe. His Progrefs of Love, and his Perfian 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 fhepherds and flocks, and crooks dreffed with flowers; and the Letters have fomething of that indiftinct and headftrong ardour for liberty which a man of genius always catches when he enters the world, and always fuffers to cool as he paffes forward.

He staid not long at Oxford; for in his travels, and faw France and Italy.

X 3

1728 he began

When he re


turned, he obtained a feat in parliament, and foon dif
tinguished himself among the most eager opponents of
Sir Robert Walpole, though his father, who was Com-
miffioner of the Admiralty, always voted with the


For many years the name of George Lyttelton was feen in every account of every debate in the House of Commons. He oppofed the ftanding army; he oppofed the excife; he fupported the motion for petitioning the King to remove Walpole. His zeal was confidered by the courtiers not only as violent, but as acrimonious and malignant; and when Walpole was at laft hunted from his places, every effort was made by his friends, and many friends he had, to exclude Lyttelton from the Secret Committee.

The Prince of Wales, being (1737) driven from St. James's, kept a feparate court, and opened his arms to the opponents of the miniftry. Mr. Lyttelton became his fecretary, and was fuppofed to have great influence in the direction of his conduct. He perfuaded his master, whofe bufinefs it was now to be popular, that he would advance his character by patronage. Mallet was made under-fecretary, with 200/. and Thomfon had a penfion of 100l. a year. For Thomfon Lyttelton always retained his kindness, and was able at laft to place him at eafe.

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 laft were disappointed.

Lyttelton now flood in the first rank of oppofition; and Pope, who was incited, it is not eafy to fay how, to increate the clamour against the miniftry, commended


mended him among the other patriots. This drew upon him the reproaches of Fox, who, in the house, imputed to him as a crime his intimacy with a lampooner fo unjust and licentious. Lyttelton fupported his friend, and replied, that he thought it an honour to be received into the familiarity of fo great a poet.

While he was thus confpicuous, he married (1741) Mifs Lucy Fortefcue of Devonshire, by whom he had a fon, the late lord Lyttelton, and two daughters, and with whom he appears to have lived in the highest degree of connubial felicity: but human pleasures are fhort; fhe died in childbed about five years afterwards, and he folaced his grief by writing a long poem to her memory.

He did not however condemn himself to perpetual folitude and forrow; for, after a while, he was content to feek happiness again by a fecond marriage with the daughter of Sir Robert Rich; but the experiment was unsuccessful.

At length, after a long struggle, Walpole gave way, and honour and profit were diftributed among his conquerors. Lyttelton was made (1744) one of the Lords of the Treasury; and from that time was engaged in fupporting the schemes of the ministry.

Politicks did not, however, fo much engage him as to withhold his thoughts from things of more importance. He had, in the pride of juvenile confidence, with the help of corrupt converfation, entertained doubts of the truth of Chriftianity; but he thought the time now come when it was no longer fit to doubt or believe by chance, and applied himself seriously to the great question. His ftudies, being honeft, ended in conviction. He found that religion was true, and X 4 what

« ПретходнаНастави »