« AnteriorContinuar »
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 ?
APPENDIX BB (PAGES 446, 453 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;
"Mr. Lyttelton is a gentle elegiac person. Gray's Letters, i. 184.
Advice to a Lady. He was only twenty-two when, as a lover, he thus teaches Belinda her duty to her future husband :'Let ev'n your prudence wear the
pleasing dress Of care for him, and anxious tender
'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.'
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 wroteon 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.
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.
APPENDIX CC (PAGE 449)
Eng. Poets, lxiv. 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 (l. 102), perhaps had in mind the following line in The Monody (Eng. Poets, Ixiv. 312):
*Clos'd are those beauteous eyes in endless night.' Perhaps each poet imitated Virgil (Aeneid x. 746):
'In aeternam clauduntur lumina noctem.'
APPENDIX DD (Page 451)
Account of a Journey into Wales in Two Letters to Mr. Bower, Works, p. 711. The Letters were written in 1756.
Archibald Bower was a Jesuit priest who professed himself a Protestant, and in 1748-66 published a History of the Popes in 7 vols. He was attacked by the Jesuits as 'notoriously a liar' and by some Protestants as a Jesuit in disguise. See Gent. Mag. 1757, pp. 65, 117, and ib. 1785, p. 177, where it is said that'he defended himself with great skill and ability, which cannot be too much admired, whether guilty or not; and this perhaps will ever remain doubtful. . . . Lord Lyttelton was his friend to the last. He died in 1766, aged 78.'
Walpole wrote of him in 1750:-'He is much admired here ; but I am not good Christian enough to rejoice over him, because turned Protestant ; nor honour his confessorship, when he ran away with the materials that were trusted to him to write for the Papacy, and makes use of them to write against it.' Letters, ii. 209. See also ib. p. 508.
Gibbon wrote of him in 1764:—'He is a rogue unmasked, who enjoyed for twenty years the favour of the public, because he had quitted a sect to which he still secretly adhered.' Misc. Works, v. 464.
'Lyttelton,' wrote Hume,' says that Robertson and (Adam Smith and Bower are the glories of English literature.' Burton's Hume, ii. 58.
Bower is joined with Lauder as an impostor and quack in Goldsmith's Retaliation. He was one of the writers of The Universal History. John. Letters, ii. 433.
[MS. OF POPE'S ILIAD (pages 119-26). The original manuscript from which the transcripts were made is preserved in the British Museum (Add. MSS. 4807). So numerous are the corrections that only a facsimile could accurately show by what gradations Pope's version advanced to correctness.' Johnson, unfortunately, was not very well served by his transcriber, nor is this perhaps a matter for wonder if, as Cunningham says, it was Mrs. Thrale who made the transcript from the first copy.
A comparison between the version of the passages as they were printed in the Lives of the Poets, and the same passages as they appear in the actual manuscript in the British Museum, discloses some differences. In the more important instances of divergence, the text of the present edition has been altered in accordance with the manuscript.]
(THOMSON AND THE SURVEYORSHIP-GENERAL OF THE
LEEWARD ISLANDS (page 293). All the biographers of Thomson have asserted that the poet was appointed Surveyor-General of the Leeward Islands; that the appointment was due to the kind offices of Lyttelton; and that Thomson appointed as his deputy William Paterson, his friend and successor in the post. It is somewhat perplexing to meet with other evidence in conflict with this unanimity.
Before, however, dealing with this conflicting evidence, it is to be observed that there is some difference in the accounts with regard to the date of the appointment and the duration of Thomson's tenure of the office. The author of the life in the Biographia Britannica (Suppl. 1766, p. 169) writes: 'In 1746 Lord Lyttelton procured for him the place of Surveyor-General of the Leeward Islands, and he enjoyed it to his death.' Murdoch, Thomson's friend and biographer, writing four years earlier (Works, 1762, Pref., p. 11) states that Thomson, when he lost his place of Secretary of Briefs in 1737, was 'reduced to a state of precarious dependance, in which he passed the remainder of his life; excepting only the two last years of it, during which he enjoyed the place of Surveyor-General of the Leeward Islands, procured for him by the generous friendship of my Lord Lyttelton. Johnson also, apparently, adopts 1746 as the correct date, as he mentions the appointment after speaking of Tancred and Sigismunda, which was published in 1745. Later biographers, on the other hand, such as M. Morel (James Thomson, sa vie et ses æuvres, p. 150) and Mr. Seccombe (Dict. Nat. Biog.), seem inclined to assign 1744 as the date of appointment. Perhaps the more generally received view is most definitely given in the following statement by Mr. Logie Robertson (The Seasons, Clar. Press, p. 16) 'In the following year (1744), Lyttelton being then a Lord of the Treasury, Thomson was appointed to the sinecure office of Surveyor
General of the Leeward Islands. After paying a deputy to discharge the active duties of the post, he found himself benefited to the extent of about £300 a year.'
As however the commission appointing Lyttelton a Lord of the Treasury bears date Dec. 26, 1744, it is probable that we should read here 1744-5, according to the old reckoning. Mr. Logie Robertson furthermore states (p. 17): 'In 1746 the poet made way for his old friend and deputy, Paterson, in the office of Surveyor-General.'
Through the kindness of Mr. Hubert Hall, of the Public Record Office, the warrant appointing Paterson has been brought before my notice. This warrant, which clearly establishes the fact that Paterson was appointed in 1746, is as follows :
William Paterson to be Surveyor Genl of Antigua, Barbadoes, and the Leeward Isles, and the Island of Bermuda, in the room of Charles Dunbar dismissed, at the like salary and other allowances as were enjoyed by Mr. Dunbar.' Warrant dated 29 May, 1746. H. P.M. R. A. Customs and Excise Letter Book, vol. xxiii. p. 86.
It will be observed that there is no mention of Thomson. Paterson, who has hitherto been regarded as Thomson's deputy, is appointed in 1746 in direct succession to Charles Dunbar, who had been dismissed for frauds in connexion with the 43 per cent. duties in the summer of 1743, but whose fate, apparently, was not finally settled as late as 1745, as he continued petitioning the Crown until that date. Cal. of Treasury Books and Papers, 1742-5, pp. 269, 271, 289, 697.
In Chamberlayne's Public State of Great Britain, 1743, 1745, 1748, we find confirmation. In the volume for 1743 (part ii. bk. iii. p. 79), under Officers of the Customs in Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands, is this entry :-'Barbadoes, Bridge-Town, Charles Dunbar, SurveyorGeneral, for himself £400; for a clerk £50.' In 1745 (p. 80) the office is entered as vacant. In 1748 (p. 98) the following entry appears: ‘Bridge-Town, William Paterson, Esq., Surveyor-General, for himself £400; for a clerk £50.'
Again in regard to the general view that the post was a sinecure and discharged, in Thomson's case at any rate, through a deputy, the terms of the warrant hardly seem to allow of this. Moreover it is certain that Edward Perrie, Dunbar's predecessor, Dunbar himself and Paterson were all present in person to perform the duties of the office. Cal. of Treasury Books and Papers, 1731-4, p. 552, and a long letter of Thomson's written 'to Mr. Paterson of the Leeward Islands,' in 1748-almost certainly in April—wherein there are references to Paterson's official duties and to his residence in the Barbadoes. The Seasons, 1791, Life by R. Heron, Pref., p. 40.
The only suggestion I can make is that Lyttelton some time after his appointment in December, 1744, may have offered the post to Thomson. Thomson possibly did not care to go out to Barbadoes, and perhaps after some delay, occasioned by the fact that Dunbar's fate still hung in the balance, secured the transference of the post to his old friend William Paterson, the author of Arminius, who, from his experience as a clerk in a counting-house, was more competent than Thomson to perform the duties. Some private arrangement, I suggest, was made that Paterson should pay to Thomson a portion of the salary of £400.)