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ROBERT LLOYD, whose father was one of the masters of Westminster School, was born in 1733. Having passed with considerable distinction through the usual routine of education, he was elected to Trinity College, Canabridge, where, although celebrated as a wit, he obtained but little credit for discretion. He took his degree in 1755, and became an usher to his father, an employinent, however, little consonant to his taste or satisfying to his ambition, and which he soon relinquished in disgusi. He describes himself as one
* Whom Pleasure first a willing Poct made,
And Folly spoilt by taking up the trade.' His schoul-fellow, and subsequently his friend and continual associate, Churchill, was one of his lures into the world; he became " an author by profession," launched into the extravagancies, endured the vicissitudes, and paid the penalties which dissipation invariably exacts-self-reproach, a ruined constitution, and an early grave.
Although he had previously and on several occasions appeared in print, it was not until 1760 that his fame was at all commensurate with his desires. * The Actor established it, and gave to Churchill the hint of the Rosciad, by which it was eclipsed. In 1762 he became editor-it may almost be said author--of the St. James's Magazine; degenerated into a mere literary drudge, caring only to supply the necessities of the moment, -at length found himself in a jail,-and, on the 15th Dec. 1764, died of a broken heart, at the age of thirty-one.
Lloyd was an accomplished scholar; his facility in composition was 60 great as to have been an evil; his memory was singularly tenacious; his talents were varied, and he was not an idler; yet he perished before his mind can be said to have attained its vigour ; “pitied by few, by more despised;” deserted by his friends, and affording a remarkable illustration of the words of the Psalmist, “ The spirit of a man may sustain his infirmities, but a wounded spirit who can bear?"
He is described as possessing many of the qualities which are unhappily often found united with moral defects, and which contribute to lessen the rigour with which irregularities are regarded. He was gentle, amiable, generous, and a most agreeable companion. It is added that he had a grateful heart, and fully appreciated the kindnesses he received. His connexion with Churchill, which, if it did not originate, contributed mainly to his unhappy and disreputable career, was, indeed, so unselfish and generous, as to be a remarkable exception to that almost universal rule which describes virtue and friendship as inseparable. Lloyd, while in jail, was supported by Churchill out of his slender means, and survived him but a few weeks. When the death of Churchill was communicated to him, he took to his bed, fell into a state of despondency, and soon died. The drama of their lives was not however yet finished. Miss Patty Churchill, who is said to have possessed much of her brother's sense, spirit, and genius, was betrothed to Lloyd, whom she soon followed to the grave.
The character of the writer is also that of his productions; they are distinguished by a graceful looseness, at times terse and energetic, and then slovenly and inaccurate. Occasionally he boasts of the indifference with which he regards life, and the troubles he inherits with it; and th exhibits the restlessness of a better spirit under the stings of self-reproach. His friend Wilkes describes him as content to scamper round the foot of Parnassus on his little Welsh poney, and leaving the fury of the enraged steed, and the daring flights of the sacred mountain, to the sublimer genius of Churchill. His chief excellence was in dressing up an old thought in a "new, neat, and trim manner;" yet he has afforded abundant proof that he had fancy and vigour enough to justify higher efforts, had his mind been more wisely directed.
The poems he has left us are for the most part ephemeral; addressed to persons and referring to subjects which have ceased to interest us. He was, as we have said, either led by inclination, or compelled by circumstances, to care for no labour that did not produce an immediate recompense. The topics which engaged "the Town" were therefore those that suggested subjects for his pen. It is, however, to his honour that his rhymed compliments, of which he was sufficiently lavish, are addressed to such men as Garrick, Hogartlı, Thornton, Colman, Churchill, -men worthy of praise, -and that few or none of them have been laid upon the shrine of wealth or title.
The wealthy cit, grown old in trade,
While madam doats upon the trees,
“ What signify the loads of wealth,
Sir Traffic's name so well applied Awak'd his brother merchant's pride; And Thrifty, who had all his life Paid utmost deference to his wife, Confess d her arguments had reason, And, by th' approaching summer season, Draws a few hundreds from the stocks, And purchases his country box.
Some three or four miles out of town, (An hour's ride will bring you down,) He fixes on his choice abode, Not half a furlong from the road : And so convenient does it lay, The stages pass it ev'ry day: And then so snug, so mighty pretty, To have a house so near the city! Take but your places at the Boar, You're set down at the
door. Well then, suppose them fix'd at last, White-washing, painting, scrubbing past, Hugging themselves in ease and clover, With all the fuss of moving over; Lo, a new heap of whims are bred! And wanton in my lady's head.
Well to be sure, it must be own'd,
Now bricklay’rs, carpenters, and joiners, With Chinese artists, and designers, Produce their schemes of alteration, To work this wond'rous reformation. The useful dome, which secret stood Embosom'd in the yew-tree's wood, The trav'ler with amazement sees A temple, Gothic or Chinese, With many a bell and tawdry rag on, And crested with a sprawling dragon; A wooden arch is bent astride A ditch of water, four feet wide, With angles, curves, and zigzag lines, From Halfpenny's exact designs.
And now from Hyde-Park Corner come
The Villa thus completely grac'd,
JAMES BEATTIE was born in 1735, in the parish of Lawrence-Kirk, Kincardineshire ; where his father kept a small shop and rented a little farm. Haring been educated at a parochial school, he obtained a bursary at the Marischal College, Aberdeen; and in 1753 was appointed schoolmaster of a parish near his natire village, at the foot of the Grampian mountains; here he continued during four years, nursing, in his solitude, the thoughts that were to become the property of mankind. In 1758, he became usher in the grammar school of Aberdeen; and in 1760 published a volume of " Original Poems and Translations." At the age of 26, he obtained the chair of Moral Philosophy, in the Marischal College,-an appointment which he held for forty years. His " Essay on Truth,” published in 1770, obtained a rapid and extensive popularity; soon afterwards appeared the first part of the "Minstrel;" the second part of which was not issued until 1774. Its merit was at once appreciated; it immediately raised the author into the first ranks of fame. Soon after its publication he paid a visit to London : his society was eagerly sought; the University of Oxford conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws; and the King having honoured the Poet with an audience, bestowed upon him a pension of 2001. a year. Thus distinguished, having realized his early dreams of glory,-having climbed "the steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar," esteemed by his friends, admired by all, and possessed of an “elegant competence," the author of the Minstrel was far from happy. The worm had long been gnawing at his heart. His home was one of entire sadness. His wife was afflicted with mental derangement; in 1790, he lost his eldest son, a young man of rare promise, who had been conjoined with him in the Professorship; in 1796, his only remaining son died; these successive shocks not only ruined his constitution, but affected his mind. He was released from life in 1803.
The character of Dr. Beattie is almost without a blemish; and it received ample justice from his contemporaries.
"The Minstrel" may be classed among the most popular of our English poems. Of all the works of Dr. Beattie it is unquestionably the best, whether we consider the plan or the execution : the language is extremely elegant; the versification harmonious; it exhibits the richest poetic imagery, with a delightful flow of the most sublime, delicate, and pathetic sentiments; it breathes the spirit of the purest virtue, the soundest philosophy, and the most exquisite taste. The praise of his friend and biographer, Sir William Forbes, has been echoed by critics less biassed by personal affection; Gray lauded it with a warm and disinterested energy; it was stamped with the approval of all who in his own day sate in the seats of literary judgment; and posterity has sanctioned the verdict which gave to it immortality.
It is written in the Spenserian stanza, and is avowedly an attempt to imitate the author of the Fairy Queen, not only in the measure of his verse, but in the “harmony and simplicity, and variety of his composition.” According to the author, “his design was to trace the progress of a poetical genius, born in a rude age, from the first dawning of fancy and reason, till that period at which he may be supposed capable of appearing in the world as a Minstrel.” There is no question (indeed he admits as much) that in the character of Edwin he desired to picture his own early thoughts, impressions, and aspirations; and thus in describing his own, pictured those of all who are born poets-born, that is to say, with those talents and sensibilities which, with the assistance of even a very slight education, invariably find vent in poetry. Edwin is but one of that “certain cast" to which the writer refers--and those who can comprehend the poetic temperament will be at no loss to understand how it was that a boy "should take pleasure in darkness or a storm, in the noise of thunder or the glare of lightning; should be more gratified with listening to music at a distance than with mixing in the merriment occasioned by it.” In the second part of the poem, the Poet still manifests a disposition to identify his hero with himself; takes him out of the school of nature and places him in his own-- that of moral philosophy: and it is perhaps difficult to say how he would have succeeded if he had carried out his original design, by adding a third canto “introducing some foreign enemy as invading his country, in consequence of which the Minstrel' was to employ himself in rousing his countrymen to arms."