1799 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Melmoth

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 69 (March 1799) 261.



At Bath, aged 80, Wm. Melmoth, esq. well known in the literary world by his translation of the Letters of Pliny, 1747, and Cicero, 1753, and the latter's treatise on Old Age and Friendship, 1773 and 1777, and the agreeable specimen of epistolary correspondence under the name of Fitzosburne's Letters, about 1742. In 1749 he was provoked to answer Mr. Bryant's attack, in his treatise on the Truth of the Christian Religion, on his remarks on Trajan's persecution of the Christians at Bithynia, which made a note to his translation of Pliny's Letters (LXIV. 550). His last work was a tribute of filial piety to his own father, in Memoirs of a late eminent Advocate, 1796, 8vo, of which see vol. LXVI. p. 586. Mr. M. was eldest son of his father's second wife, daughter of Samuel Rolt, esq. of Milton Erneys, co. Bedford, and married, first, Dorothy, daughter of the celebrated Dr. King, principal of St. Mary hall, Oxford; and, secondly, Mrs. Ogle, and Irish lady, who survives him. See more of his family, LXVI. 587; and take the tribute paid to him by the author of The Pursuits of Literature, Part IV. p. 89: "William Melmoth, esq. a most elegant and distinguished writer 'near half an age, with every good man's praise.' His translations of Cicero and Pliny will speak for him while Roman and English eloquence can be united. Mr. M. is a happy example of the mild influence of learning on a cultivated mind. I mean of that learning which is declared to be the aliment of youth, and the delight and consolation of declining years. Who would not envy this 'fortunate old man' his most finished translation and comment on Tully's Cato? or, rather, who would not rejoice in the refined and mellowed pleasures of so accomplished a gentleman and so liberal a scholar?"