Слике страница



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 distinguished, that his exercises were recommended as models to his fchool-fellows.

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

He was a very early writer, both in verse and profe. His Progress 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 Verfes 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 1728 he began his travels, and faw France and Italy. When he returned, he obtained a feat in parliament, and foon distinguished himself among the most eager opponents of Sir Robert Walpole, though his father, who was Commiffioner of the Admiralty, always voted with the Court.

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; he opposed the excife; he supported the motion for petition, ing the King to remove Walpole. His zeal was confidered by the courtiers not only as violent, but as acrimonious and malignant ; Hh 4


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.

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, whose business it was now to be popular, that he would advance his character by patronage. Mallet was made under-fecretary, with 200l. and Thomfon had a penfion of 100l. a year. For Thomson Lyttelton always retained his kindness, and was able at last to place him at ease.

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.


Lyttelton now ftood in the first rank of oppofition; and Pope, who was incited, it is not easy to fay how, to increase the clamour against the ministry, commended 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 unjuft 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 son, 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 short; 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 daugh


ter of Sir Robert Rich; but the experiment was unfuccefsful.

At length, after a long struggle, Walpole gave way, and honour and profit were distributed among his conquerors. Lyttelton was made (1744) one of the Lords of the Treafury; 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 Christianity; 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 queftion. His ftudies, being honeft, ended in conviction. He found that religion was true, and what he had learned he endeavoured to teach (1747), by Obfervations on the Converfion of St. Paul; a treatise to which infidelity has never been able to fabricate a specious anfwer. This book his father had the happiness of seeing, and expreffed his pleasure in a letter which deferves to be inferted.

"I have

« ПретходнаНастави »