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was correct, and his blank verse is free and borough of Oakhampton; and being warmed
Free as young Lyttelton her course pursue, the landscape on the banks of his native Tyne,
Still true to virtue, and as warm as true. and notes the feelings of his own boyhood. “In 1741 he married Lucy, the daughter of His Hymn to the Naiads' has the true classic
Hugh Fortescue, Esq., a lady for whom he ring, and has caught the manner and the feel.
entertained the purest affection, and with ing of Callimachus. His inscriptions -those, whom he lived in unabated conjugal harmony. for example, on Chaucer and Shakspere—are
Her death in childbed, in 1747, was lamented reckoned among our best, and have been imi
by him in a Monody,' which stands promitated by both Southey and Wordsworth. His
nent among his poetical works, and displays odes are his least successful productions; his
much natural feeling, amidst the more elaboOde to the Earl of Huntingdon' having re
rate strains of a poet's imagination. So much ceived most favour. Yet withal, his popularity may suffice respecting his productions of this was greater in his own day than it is likely to
class, which are distinguished by the correctbe in ours--popularity attributable to the
ness of their versification, the elegance of their influence of the writings of Gray, and espe
diction, and the delicacy of their sentiments. cially to the revived study of Milton and other
His miscellaneous pieces, and his history of classic models through the notes and writings
Henry II., the last, the work of his age, have of Warton.
each their appropriate merits, but may here "It may be added that, upon the question be omitted. sometimes discussed, whether the progress of “ The death of his father, in 1751, produced science is favourable to poetry, Akenside
his succession to the title and a large estate ; differs from Campbell. The latter speaks of and his taste for rural ornament rendered poetic feelings that yield to cold material
Hagley one of the most delightful residences laws,' the former holds that the rainbow's
in the kingdom. At the dissolution of the tinctured hues' shine the more brightly when
ministry, of which he composed a part, in science has investigated and explained them."
1759, he was rewarded with elevation to the - Dr. Angus's “Handbook of Eng. Lit.,” pp.
peerage, by the style of Baron Lyttelton, of 216, 217. See Allibone's " Crit. Dict. Eng. Frankley, in the county of Worcester. He Lit."
died of a lingering disorder, which he bore with pious resignation, in August, 1773, in the 64th year of his age."-Aikin's “ Select Brit.
Poets." See Gilfillan's Ed. of “Brit. Poets." GEORGE, LORD LYTTELTON. “George, Lord Lyttelton, born at Hagley, in Jan., 1708-9, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, Bart., of the same place.
THOMAS GRAY. Ho received his early education at Eton, whence he was sent to Christchurch College, Thomas Gray, born 1716, died 1771, “was Oxford. In both of these places he was dis a man of vast and varied acquirements, and tinguished for classical literature, and some whose life was devoted to the cultivation of of his poems which we have borrowed were letters. He was the son of a respectable the fruits of his juvenile studies. In his nine London money-scrivener, but his father was a teenth year he set out on a tour to the Conti man of violent and arbitrary character, and nent; and some of the letters which he wrote the poet was early left to the tender care of during this absence to his father are pleasing an excellent mother, who had been obliged to proofs of his sound principles, and his unre separate from her tyrannical husband. He served confidence in a venerated parent. He received his education at Eton, and afterwards also wrote a poetical epistle to Dr. Ayscough, settled in learned retirement at Cambridge, his Oxford tutor, which is one of the best of where he passed nearly the whole of his life. his works. On his return from abroad he was He travelled in France and Italy as tutor to chosen representative in Parliament for the Horace Walpole, but quarrelling with his
papil, he returned home alone. Fixing him to end. The thoughts indeed are obvious self at Cambridge, he soon acquired a high enough, but the dignity with which they are poetical reputation by his beautiful Ode on a expressed, the immense range of allusion and Distant Prospect of Eton College,' published description with which they are illustrated, in 1747, which was followed, at pretty fre and the finished grace of the language and quent intervals, by his other imposing and versification in which they are embodied, give highly-finished works, the 'Elegy written in to this work something of that inimitable per& Country Churchyard,' the 'Pindaric Odes,' fection of design and execution which we see and the far from numerous but splendid pro in an antique statue or a sculptured gem. In ductions which make up his works. His the Bard,' starting from the picturesque idea quiet and studious retirement was only broken of a Welsh poet and patriot contemplating by occasional excursions to the North of Eng the victorious invasion of his country by land, and other holiday journeys, of which he Edward I., he passes in prophetic review the has given in his letters so vivid and animated whole panorama of English History, and gives a description. His correspondence with his a series of most animated events and per. friends, and particularly with the poet Mason, sonages from the thirteenth to the eighteenth is remarkable for interesting details, descrip century. It is true that he is occasionally tions, and reflections, and is indeed, like that turgid, but the general march of the poem of Cowley, among the most delightful records has a rush and a glow worthy of Pindar himof a thoughtful and literary life. Gray refused self. The phantoms of the great and the the offer of the Laureateship, which was pro illustrious flit before us like the shadowy posed to him on the death of Cibber, but kings in the weird procession of Macbeth: accepted the appointment of Professor of and the unity of sentiment is maintained first Modern History in the University, though he by the gratified vengeance with which the never performed the functions of that chair, prophet foresees the crimes and sufferings of his fastidious temper and indolent self. the oppressors of his country and their deindulgence keeping him perpetually engaged scendants, and by the triumphant prediction in forming vast literary projects which he of the glorious reign of the Tudor race in never executed. He appears not to have been Britain. In the odes entitled The Fatal popular among his colleagues; his haughty, Sisters' and The Descent of Odin,' Gray retiring, and somewhat effeminate character borrowed his materials from the Scandinavian prevented him from sympathizing with the legends. The tone of the Norse poetry is not tastes and studies that prevailed there; and perhaps very faithfully reproduced, but the he was at little pains to conceal his contempt fiery and gigantic imagery of the ancient for academical society. His industry was un Scalds was for the first time imitated in tiring, and his acquirements undoubtedly im English ; and though the chants retain some mense ; for he had pushed his researches far echoes of the sentiment and versification of beyond the usual limits of ancient classical more modern and polished literature, these philology, and was not only deeply versed in attempts to revive the rude and archaic the romance literature of the Middle Ages, in grandeur of the mythological traditions of the modern French and Italian, but had studied Eddas deserve no niggardly meed of approthe then almost unknown departments of bation. In general Gray may be said to overScandinavian and Celtic poetry. Constant colour his language, and to indulge occasionally traces may be found in all his works of the in an excess of ornament and personificadegree to which he had assimilated the spirit tion; he will nevertheless be always regarded not only of the Greek lyric poetry, but the as a lyric poet of a very high order, and as finest perfume of the great Italian writers : one who brought an immense store of varied many passages of his works are a kind of and picturesque erudition to feed the fire of a mosaic of thought and imagery borrowed from rich and powerful fancy.”-Shaw's “ Hist. Pindar, from the choral portions of the Attic Eng. Lit., pp. 388, 389; Allibone's “Crit. tragedy, and from the majestic lyrics of the Dict. Eng. Lit.”; Beeton's "Dict. Univer. Italian poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth Biog.”; Gilfillan's Ed. of “Gray's Poems." centuries: but though the substance of these mosaics may be borrowed from a multitude of sources, the fragments are, so to say, fused into one solid body by the intense flame of a powerful and fervent imagination. His finest
WILLIAM MASON. lyric compositions are the Odes entitled The Bard,' that on the 'Progress of Poetry,' the “William Mason, a poet of some distinction, "Installation Ode' on the Duke of Grafton's born in 1725, was the son of a clergyman, who election to the Chancellorship of the Uni held the living of Hull. He was admitted versity, and the short but truly noble Ode first of St. John's College, and afterwards of to Adversity,' which breathes the severe and Pembroke College, Cambridge, of the latter of lofty spirit of the highest Greek lyric in which he was elected Fellow in 1747. He spiration. The 'Elegy written in a Country entered into holy orders in 1754, and, by the Churchyard' is a masterpiece from beginning favour of the Earl of Holderness, was pre
sented to the valuable rectory of Aston, been placed to his memory in Poets' Corner, Yorkshire, and became chaplain to His in Westminster Abbey. His character in Majesty. Some poems which he printed gave private life was exemplary for worth and him reputation, which received a great ac active benevolence, though not without cession from his dramatic poem of Elfrida.' degree of stateliness and assumed superiority By this piece, and his Caractacus,' which of manner."'--Aikin's “ Select Brit. Poets.” followed, it was his aim to attempt. the See Gilfillan's "Less-known Brit. Poets”; restoration of the ancient Greek chorus in Campbell's "Specimens.” tragedy; but this is so evidently an appendage of the infant and imperfect state of the drama, that a pedantic attachment to the ancients could alone suggest its revival. In 1756 he published a small collection of
OLIVER GOLDSMITH. Odes,' which were generally considered as displaying more of the artificial mechanism Oliver Goldsmith, born 1728, died 1774. of poetry, than of its genuine spirit. This “ The most charming and versatile, and cerwas not the case with his Elegies,' published tainly one of the greatest writers of the in 1763, which, abating some superfluity of eighteenth century, whose works, whether in ornament, are in general marked with the prose or verse, bear - peculiar stamp of gentle simplicity of language proper to this species grace and elegance. He was born at the of composition, and breathe noble sentiments village of Pallas, in the county of Longford, of freedom and virtue. A collection of all Ireland. His father was a poor curate of his poems which he thought worthy of pra English extraction, struggling, with the aid serving, was published in 1764, and afterwards of farming and a miserable stipend, to bring went through several editions. He had up a large family. By the assistance of a married an amiable lady, who died of a con benevolent uncle, Mr. Contarine, Oliver was sumption in 1767, and was buried in the enabled to enter the University of Dublin in cathedral of Bristol, under a monument, on the humble quality of sizar. He however which are inscribed some very tender and neglected the opportunities for study which beautiful lines, by her husband.
the place offered him, and became notorious “In 1772, the first book of Mason's 'En for his irregularities, his disobedience to auglish Garden,' a didactic and descriptive poem, thority, and above all for a degree of imin blank verse, made its appearance, of which providence carried to the extreme, though the fourth and concluding book was printed excused by a tenderness and charity almost in 1781. Its purpose was to recommend the morbid. The earlier part of his life is an modern system of natural or landscape gar obscure and monotonous' narrative of indening, to which the author adheres with effectual struggles to subsist, and of wanderthe rigour of exclusive taste. The versifica ings which enabled him to traverse almost tion is formed upon the best models, and the the whole of Europe. Having been for description, in many parts, is rich and vivid ; a short time tutor in a family in Ireland, but a general air of stiffness prevented it he determined to study medicine; and after from attaining any considerable share of nominally attending lectures in Edinburgh, he popularity. Some of his following poetic began those travels—for the most part on pieces express his liberal sentiments on poli foot, and subsisting by the aid of his flute tical subjects; and when the late Mr. Pitt and the charity given to a poor scholarcame into power, being then the friend of a which successively led him to Leyden, through free constitution, Mason addressed him in an Holland, France, Germany, and Switzerland,
Ode,' containing many patriotic and manly and even to Pavia, where he boasted, though ideas. But being struck with alarm at the the assertion is hardly capable of proof, that unhappy events of the French Revolution, he received a medical degree. one of his latest pieces was a 'Palinody to fessional as well as his general knowledge Liberty.' He likewise revived, in an improved was of the most superficial and inaccurate form, and published, Du Fresnoy's Latin character. It was while wandering in the poem on the Art of Painting, enriching it guise of a beggar in Switzerland that he with additions furnished by Sir Joshua Rey sketched out the plan of his poem of the nolds, and with a metrical version. Few - Traveller,' which afterwards formed the have been better executed than this, which commencement of his fame. In 1756 he unites to great beauties of language a correct found his way back to his native country; representation of the original. His tribute and his career during about eight years was to the memory of Gray, being an edition of a succession of desultory struggles with his poems, with some additions, and · Memoirs famine, sometimes as a chemist's shopman in of his Life and Writings,' was favourably re- | London; sometimes as an usher in boardingceived by the public.
schools, the drudge of his employers and the “Mason died in April, 1797, at the age of butt and laughing-stock of the pupils ; someseventy-two, in consequence of a mortification times as a practitioner of medicine among the produced by a hurt in his leg. A tablet has poorest and most squalid population—' the
beggars in Axe Lane,' as he expressed it him upon the stage in some measure from its very self; and more generally as a miserable" and merits, some of its comic scenes shocking the scantily-paid bookseller's hack. More than perverted taste of an audience which admired once, under the pressure of intolerable dis the whining, preaching, sentimental pieces tress, he exchanged the bondage of the school that were then in fashion. In 1768 Goldfor the severer slavery of the corrector's table smith composed, as taskwork for the bookin a printing-office, and was driven back again sellers--though taskwork for which his now to the bondage of the school. The grace and rapidly rising popularity secured good pay. readiness of his pen would probably have af ment-the History of Rome,' distinguished forded him a decent subsistence, even from by its extreme superficiality of information the hardly-earned wages of a drudge-writer, and want of research no less than by en. but for his extreme improvidence, his almost chanting grace of style and vivacity of narrachildish generosity, his passion for pleasure tion. In 1770 he published the Deserted and fine clothes, and above all his propensity Village,' the companion poem to the “Trafor gambling. At one time, during this veller,' written in some measure in the same wretched period of his career, he failed to manner, and not less touching and perfect; pass the examination qualifying him for the and in 1773 was acted his comedy She humble medical post of a hospital mate; and, Stoops to Conquer,' one of the gayest, pleaunder the pressure of want and improvidence, santest, and most amusing pieces that the committed the dishonourable action of pawn English stage can boast. Goldsmith had long ing a suit of clothes lent him by his employer, risen from the obscurity to which he had been Griffiths, for the purpose of appearing with condemned : he was one of the most admired decency before the Board. His literary ap and popular authors of his time; his society prenticeship was passed in this severe school was courted by the wits, artists, statesmen, -writing to order, and at a moment's notice, and writers who formed a brilliant circle schoolbooks, tales for children, prefaces, in round Johnson and Reynolds--Burke, Garrick, dexes, and reviews of books; and contributing Beauclerk, Percy, Gibbon, Boswell—and he to the Monthly,' "Critical,' and 'Lady's became a member of that famous Club which Review,' the British Magazine,' and other is so intimately associated with the inperiodicals. His chief employer in this way tellectual history of that time. Goldsmith appears to have been Griffiths, and he is said was one of those men whom it is impossible to have been at one time engaged as a cor not to love, and equally impossible not to rector of the press in Richardson's service. despise and laugh at; his vanity, his childish In this period of obscure drudgery he com- though not malignant envy, his more than posed some of his most charming works, or Irish aptitude for blunders, his eagerness to at least formed that inimitable style which shine in conversation, for which he was pecumakes him the rival, and perhaps more than liarly unfitted, his weaknesses and genius the rival, of Addison. He produced the combined, made him the pet and the laughing"Chinese Letters,' the plan of which is imi stock of the company. He was now in the tated from Montesquieu's Lettres Persanes,' receipt of an income which for that time and giving a description of English life and man for the profession of letters might have been ners in the assumed character of a Chinese accounted splendid ; but his improvidence traveller, and containing some of those little kept him plunged in debt, and he was always sketches and humorous characters in which anticipating his receipts, so that he continued he was unequalled ; a Life of Beau Nash;' to be the slave of booksellers, who obliged and a short and gracefully-narrated History him to waste his exquisite talent on works of England,' in the form of 'Letters from a hastily thrown off, and for which he neither Nobleman to his Son,' the authorship of which possessed the requisite knowledge nor could was ascribed to Lyttelton. It was in 1764 make the necessary researches : thus he that the publication of his beautiful poem of successively put forth as taskwork the
the “Traveller' caused him to emerge from * History of England,' the History of | the slough of obscure literary drudgery in Greece,' and the History of Animated
which he had hitherto been crawling. The Nature,' the two former works being mere universal judgment of the public pronounced compilations of second-hand facts, and the that nothing so harmonious and so original | last an epitomized translation of Buffon. In had appeared since the time of Pope; and these books we see how Goldsmith's neverfrom this period Goldsmith's career was one failing charm of style and easy grace of of uninterrupted literary success, though his narration compensates for total ignorance folly and improvidence kept him plunged in and a complete absence of independent knowdebt which even his large earnings could not ledge of the subject. In 1774 this brilliant enable him to avoid, and from which indeed and feverish career was terminated." Goldno amount of fortune would have saved him. smith was suffering from a painful and danIn 1766 appeared the Vicar of Wakefield,' gerous disease, aggravated by disquietude of that masterpiece of gentle humour and deli mind arising from the disorder in his affairs ; cate tenderness ; in the following year his first and relying uponi his knowledge of medicine comedy, the Goodnatured Man,' which failed he imprudently persisted in employing 2
1 violent remedy, against the advice of his phy “ The Vicar of Wakefield,' in spite of the sicians. He died at the age of forty-six, extreme absurdity and inconsistency of its deeply mourned by the brilliant circle of plot, an inconsistency which grows more perfriends to which his very weaknesses had ceptible in the latter part of the story, will endeared him no less than his admirable ever remain one of those rare gems which no genius, and surrounded by the tears and lapse of time can tarnish. The gentle and blessings of many wretches whom his in quiet humour embodied in the simple Dr. exhaustible benevolence had relieved. He Primrose, the delicate yet vigorous contrasts was buried in the Temple Churchyard, and a of character in the other personages, the atmonument was erected to his memory in mosphere of purity, cheerfulness, and gaiety Westminster Abbey, for which Johnson wrote which envelops all the scenes and incidents, a Latin inscription, one passage of which will contribute, no less than the transparency gracefully alludes to the versatility of his and grace of the style, to make this story a genius : qui nullum fere scribendi genus non classic for all time. Goldsmith's two cometetigit, nullum quod tetigit non ornavit.' dies are written in two different manners, the
"In everything Goldsmith wrote, prose or "Goodnatured Man' being a comedy of chaverse, serious or comic, there is a peculiar | racter, and 'She Stoops to Conquer' a delicacy and purity of sentiment, tinging, of comedy of intrigue. In the first the excessive course, the language and diction as well as easiness and generosity of the hero is not a the thought. It seems as if his genius, though quality sufficiently reprehensible to make him in its earlier career surrounded with squalid a favourable subject for that satire which is distress, was incapable of being sullied by the essential element of this kind of theatrical any stain of coarseness'or vulgarity. Though painting ; and the merit of the piece chiefly of English descent he had in an eminent consists in the truly laughable personage of degree the defects as well as the virtues of Croaker, and in the excellent scene where the the Irish character ; and no quality in his disguised bailiffs are passed off on Miss Richwritings is more striking than the union of land as the friends of Honeywood, whose grotesque humour with a sort of pensive ten house and person they have seized. But in derness which gives to his verse a peculiar “She Stoops to Conquer' we have a first-rate character of gliding melody and grace. He specimen of the comedy of intrigue, where had seen much, and reproduced with singular the interest mainly depends upon a tissue of vivacity quaint strokes of nature, as in his lively and farcical incidents, and where the sketch of Beau Tibbs and innumerable pas. characters, though lightly sketched, form a sages in the · Vicar of Wakefield.' The two gallery of eccentric pictures. The best proof poems of the Traveller' and the Deserted of Goldsmith's success in this piece is the Village' will ever be regarded as masterpieces constancy with which it has always kept posof sentiment and description. The light yet session of the stage ; and the peals of rapid touch with which, in the former, he laughter which never fail to greet the lively has traced the scenery and the natural pecu bustle of its scenes and the pleasant abliarities of various countries will be admired surdities of Young Marlow, Mr. and Mrs. long after the reader has learned to neglect Hardcastle, and above all the admirable Tony the false social theories embodied in his Lumpkin, a conception worthy of Vanbrugh deductions; and in spite of the inconsistency himself. pointed out by Macaulay, between the pic “ Some of Goldsmith's lighter fugitive tures of the village in its pristine beauty and poems are incomparable for their peculiar happiness, and the same village when ruined humour. The Haunch of Venison' is a and depopulated by the forced emigration of model of easy narrative and accurate sketchits inhabitants, the reader lingers over the ing of commonplace society; and in “Retaliadelicious details of human as well as inanimate tion' we have a series of slight yet delicate nature which the poet has combined into the portraits of some of the most distinguished lovely pastoral picture of 'sweet Auburn.' literary friends of the poet, thrown off with a The touches of tender personal feeling which hand at once refined and vigorous. In how he has interwoven with his description, as the masterly a manner, and yet in how few fond hope with which he dwelt on the project strokes, has Goldsmith placed before uş Garof returning to pass his age among the scenes rick, Burke, and Reynolds; and how deeply of innocence which had cradled his boyhood, do we regret that he should not have given us the comparison of himself to a hare returning similar portraits of Johnson, Gibbon, and to die where it was kindled, the deserted Boswell. Several of the songs and ballads garden, the village alehouse, the school, and scattered through his works are remarkable the evening landscape, are all touched with for their tenderness and harmony, though the the pensive grace of a Claude ; while, when Edwin and Angelina,' which has been so the occasion demands, Goldsmith rises with often lauded, has always appeared to me easy wing to the height of lofty and even mawkish, affected, and devoid of the true sublime elevation, as in the image of the spirit of the mediæval ballad.” - Shaw's storm-girded yet sunshine-crowned peak to “ Hist. of Eng. Lit.," pp. 350–354. See Dr. which he compares the good pastor.
Angus's “ Handbook of Eng. Lit."; Gilfillan's