ROBERT LLOYD, born in 1733, was the son of the second master of Westminster school, at which seminary he received his education, and had for his school-fellows Churchill, Thornton, Colman, and other names who afterwards arrived at distinction.
In 1751, he was elected to Trinity college, Cambridge, where he cultivated his talents for poetry, and seems to have made great proficiency in academic studies but to have deserved little praise for decorous behaviour.
On quitting the university, he officiated for some time as usher to his father; but this employment was little suited to the vivacity of his mind, and he quitted it in disgust. He was wholly unfit to become
The shoeing-horn to Lily's wit,
The chandelier to Duns's feet.
Lloyd now became an author by procession, and experienced most of the vicissitudes of torture to which men of that precarious profession are liable. Few of his literary undertakings, however, added to his reputation, except The Actor, which was published in 1760, and justly entitled him to rank among men of genius.
Other poems, sometimes written on the spur of the occasion, followed in succession, all of which possessed ease and wit, but require no particular enumeration or comment. We have selected some of the most popular and unexceptionable of his pieces, which will convey an adequate idea of his powers.
In 1763, he projected a periodical work, under the title of The St. James's Magazine; but notwithstanding the talent with which it was conducted, it failed, for want of encouragement, and Lloyd, becoming involved in debt by his imprudence and disappointments, was committed to the Fleet.
In this situation, he was in a great measure supported by the benevolence of his friend Churchill; though the occasional exercise of his pen brought him frequent supplies of money, if not of fame, but far insufficient for the demands raised by his taste for dissipation.
While a prisoner here, he had the misfortune to lose his most faithful friend, Churchill; and this, with the sense of his own forlorn condition, preyed so strongly on his spirits, that he took to his bed, from whence he never rose again. He died on the 15th of December 1761, aged 31, and was buried in the church-yard of St. Bride's parish.
As a poet, Lloyd is of the school of Swift, and in ease and graceful negligence of expression, bears a close resemblance to his prototype. In private life, he was beloved by his friends; but they were chiefly men who like himself, had thrown off the restraints of prudence, and made haste to be undone!
Lloyd seems to have been of a disposition different from that of the genus "irritabile vatum." In the general intercourse of life, he is said to have been generous and friendly: he had a grateful heart; and shewed, by his warm attachment to his friends, how sensible he was of their kindness. Though the rigid moralist might have reason to censure his irregularities, they were of such a nature as betrayed no malevolence of temper, reflecting on him the character so well known under the denomination of "no one's enemy but his own," rather than that of a friend only to himself and an enemy to others. He was an excellent scholar; but his peculiar merit in composition was the dressing up an old thought in a new, neat, and trim manner. He was content to scamper round the foot of Parnassus on his little Welsh poney, which seems never to have tired. He left the fury of the winged steed, and the daring flights of the sacred mountain, to the sublime genius of his friend Churchill.