On the afternoon of Tuesday, 24th May 1763, Boswell, for whose praiseworthy particularity we can never be sufficiently thankful, paid his first formal visit to Dr. Johnson at his Chambers in Inner Temple Lane. The incidents of this interview, which followed hard upon Boswell's presentation to his new friend in Davies' back-parlour, are sufficiently familiar. But as a preparatory "wind-up" (in the sense of the elder Weller) to the altitude of the more important business to come, Boswell had taken the precaution of spending the morning in the stimulating society of a little company of wits — "Messieurs Thornton, Wilkes, Churchill and Lloyd." Wilkes, whose squinting portrait, sketched by Hogarth in Westminster Hall, was at this date only a few days old in the print shops; and Churchill, probably already meditating his retributory Epistle to the painter — require no introduction. Bonnell Thornton, late of the Connoisseur, was speedily to delight the visitors to Ranelagh with his burlesque of the Antient British Musick — that Ode on St. Caecilia's Day, the Jews' harp and salt-box accompaniment to which so hugely tickled the unmusical ear of Johnson. The fourth of the group, Robert Lloyd, the editor of the St. James's Magazine, is less known. His brief career, soon to end prematurely in the Fleet prison, needs no Trusler to moralize its message. But his fate, deserved or undeserved, conveniently illustrates that lamentable Case of Authors by Profession or Trade which, not many years earlier, Fielding's colleague, James Ralph, had submitted to the consideration of an indifferent public.
Lloyd's father, Dr. Pierson Lloyd, whom Southey describes not only as "a humourist," but as "a kind-hearted, equal-minded, generous, good man," occupied honourably for some seven and forty years the posts of usher and second master at St. Peter's College, Westminster, otherwise Westminster School. His son Robert, born in 1733, was admitted as a Queen's scholar in 1746, being then thirteen. Among his contemporaries were William Cowper, Charles Churchill, George Colman the Elder, Richard Cumberland, Warren Hastings and Elijah Impey. Another of his intimates in later life was Bonnell Thornton, who, in 1743, had been elected from Westminster to Christ Church, Oxford. During the first year of his school-days, the fifth form usher was that delightful, irresponsible, and indolent Vincent Bourne, so many of whose Poematia, human and modern through all their elegant Latinity, Cowper, fondly ranking his old master with Tibullus and Ovid, was afterwards to render into excellent English. Young Lloyd had marked abilities; and speedily became a more than respectable classical scholar. In 1751, he was captain of the school; and figured at the head of those elected to Trinity College, Cambridge. Of his university studies, there is little record; and his life, remote from the parental eye, is said to have been extravagant and "irregular." But he had already shown a bias towards verse. As early as 1751, he had written a long poem in the Spenserian stanza, entitled The Progress of Envy, dealing allegorically with Lauder's attack on the originality of Milton; and he must also have acquired some precocious reputation as an exceptionally fluent versifier, since, in 1754, Cowper addressed to him an Epistle in which, himself writing in octosyllabics, he hails his old schoolfellow as
sole heir, and single,
Of dear Mat Prior's easy jingle;
and even goes as far as to give him the praise, if not of superior finish, at least of superior facility.
While Lloyd was still at Trinity, Thornton and Colman established the weekly paper known as the Connoisseur, one of the brightest and most entertaining of the mid-century Essayists. Not many of its occasional writers are now known; but Cowper certainly assisted, and so did Lloyd. Lloyd's first attempt, in May 1755, was an Epistle to a friend "about to publish a Volume of Miscellanies," in which, as introductory to some colloquial characterization of the leading models and a paradoxical commendation of Hawkins Browne's Pipe of Tobacco, he warns his correspondent not to let his verse,
as verse now goes,
Be a strange kind of measur'd prose;
Nor let your prose, which sure is worse,
Want nought but measure to be verse.
Write from your own imagination,
Nor curb your Muse by Imitation,
For copies shew, howe'er exprest,
A barren genius at the best.
Another piece pleads urgently for some revolt against the depressing domination of the pedantic dullard. Not that its writer despises the great legislators of Parnassus:
Although Longinus' full-mouth'd prose
With all the force of genius glows;
Though judgment, in Quintilian's page,
Holds forth her lamp for ev'ry age;
Yet Hypercritics I disdain,
A race of blockheads dull and vain,
And laugh at all those empty fools,
Who cramp a genius with dull rules,
And what their narrow science mocks
Damn with the name of Het'rodox.
Two of his remaining contributions are fables; and there is an imitation of a Vauxhall song which effectively reproduces what Mrs. Riot in Garrick's Lethe would call the "very Quincetence and Emptity" of that popular form of art. The last paper has a prose introduction, dated from "Trin. Coll. Cam., June 6 ;" and contains a passage which may perhaps be regarded as autobiographical. Speaking of the Abuse of Words, the writer says: "I myself, Sir, am grievously suspected of being better acquainted with Homer and Virgil than Euclid or Saunderson [the blind Professor of mathematics]; and am universally agreed to be ruined, for having concerned myself with Hexameter and Pentameter more than Diameter." From which, whatever significance be attached to the word "ruined," it may fairly be inferred that he shared with some greater men their distaste for mathematics. And if we are to believe Cowper, there had been too much classics and mathematics at Westminster, and too little religious instruction.
When, in September 1756, "Mr. Town" of the Connoisseur bade farewell to his public, he made due acknowledgment of the assistance he had received from his Cambridge contributor. According to Welch's Alumni Westmonasterienses, Lloyd took the two degrees in Arts in 1755 and 1758. But, apart from his literary pursuits, his university career, as we have said, had been unsatisfactory, and there was little likelihood of his obtaining a fellowship. To bring him once more under domestic supervision, his father, now second master, obtained for him the post of usher at his old school, a post for which, as far as scholarship was concerned, he was, naturally, abundantly qualified. That the deadening drudgery of the life would not appeal to him, may perhaps be anticipated; and one remembers the heartfelt outbursts of Goldsmith on this particular topic. In Lloyd's Author's Apology, afterwards printed at the head of his collected poems, he dwells bitterly on his memories:
—Were I at once impower'd to shew
My utmost vengeance on my foe,
To punish with extremest rigour,
I could invent no penance bigger
Than using him as learning's tool
To make him Usher of a school;
the duties of which office, he says,
but ill befit
The love of letters, arts, or wit...
Better discard the idle whim,
What's He to Taste? or Taste to Him?
For me, it hurts me to the soul
To brook confinement or controul;
Still to be pinion'd down to teach
The syntax and the parts of speech;
Or, what perhaps is drudging worse,
The links, and joints, and rules of verse;
To deal out authors by retale
Like penny pots of Oxford ale;
—Oh 'Tis a service irksome more
Than tugging at the slavish oar.
Yet such his task, a dismal truth,
Who watches o'er the bent of youth;
And while, a paltry stipend earning,
He sows the richest seeds of learning,
And tills their minds with proper care,
And sees them their due produce bear,
No joys, alas his toil beguile,
His own lies fallow all the while.
He admits that, before him, both Samuel Wesley and Vincent Bourne had contrived to double the parts of usher and author; but pleads his incapacity to do likewise. Consequently, it was not long before he resigned his position; and, to his prudent father's distress, threw himself on letters for a livelihood.
Granted his aversion from the calling which had been thrust upon him, it must be confessed that his desire to essay a more congenial, if more hazardous career, was not unintelligible. He had many friends in the writing world. Already, at Cambridge, he must have become a member of the select little Nonsense Club of old Westminsters which met weekly for literary purposes combined with conviviality. Of these, Cowper, who by this time had been called to the Bar, was one. Another was Cowper's lifelong friend, Joseph Hill, that "honest man, close-button'd to the chin, Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within," of whom he subsequently wrote. Then there were Bonnell Thornton and Colman, for whom he worked on the Connoisseur, and Bensley, to whom from Cambridge he had addressed two epistles. From one of these it is clear that even in 1757, he had no illusions as to the traditional perils of a literary life:
You say I should get fame. I doubt it:
Perhaps I am as well without it.
For what's the worth of empty praise?
What poet ever din'd on bays?
For though the Laurel, rarest wonder!
May screen us from the stroke of thunder,
This mind I ever was, and am in,
It is no antidote to famine.
And poets live on slender fare,
Who, like Cameleons, feed on air,
And starve, to gain an empty breath,
Which only serves them after death.
It is quite possible that the Epistle from which these lines are taken — lines the truth of which their writer was later to illustrate in his own person — was one of the Thursday contributions to the proceedings of the Nonsense Club. But the only other pieces traditionally connected with it which survive, have a different origin. In August 1757, Walpole had "snatched" from Dodsley, as the first-fruits of the private press at Strawberry Hill, "two amazing Odes" by Gray, subsequently entitled The Progress of Poesy and The Bard. "They are Greek, they are Pindaric, they are sublime!" wrote the enraptured Horace to his correspondent Mann; but "consequently," he added, "I fear a little obscure" — an obscurity which, at first, Gray loftily refused to dispel. Under pressure, he appended four short notes to The Bard; but declared he would not have put another for "all the owls in London." His epigraph, [Greek characters] — "vocal to the intelligent" — was, he insisted, "both his Motto and Comment." This being so, it is perhaps not unreasonable that the perplexed recipients of a dark saying should complain that it was hard to comprehend; and the first readers of the Odes, Goldsmith among the rest, undoubtedly so complained. In 1760, following the Critical Review by filling up Gray's motto with a qualifying clause which he had purposely withheld, namely — "but, for the generality, requiring interpreters." Lloyd and Colman set themselves light-heartedly to burlesque The Progress of Poesy by an Ode to Obscurity, and Mason's Ode to Memory by an Ode to Oblivion. The former is sometimes attributed to Colman; the latter to Lloyd; but on either side they were both admittedly "written in concert." Here is the first strophe of the Ode to Obscurity:
Daughter of Chaos and old Night,
Cimmerian Muse, all hail!
That wrapt in never-twinkling gloom canst write,
And shadowest meaning with thy dusky veil!
What Poet sings, and strikes the strings?
It was the mighty Theban spoke.
He from the ever-living Lyre
With magic hand elicits fire.
Heard ye the din of Modern Rhimers bray?
It was cool M[aso]n: or warm G[ra]y
Involv'd in tenfold smoke.
At this date it is needless to quote more. The parodies are certainly clever; they successfully reproduce some of the poet's peculiarities, as, for instance, his liking for compound epithets, and they could only have been written by scholars, But Gray's unrivalled Pindaric Odes are still babbled by schoolboys "in extremis vicis," while the caricatures of Lloyd and Colman, notwithstanding Southey's fantastic proposal that they should form a standing appendix to their models, have now to be sought for in charitable anthologies. Meanwhile, it is interesting to note with what diversity of welcome they were received by Gray's contemporaries. To Warburton they were but miserable buffoonery; to Walpole (friend of both Gray and Mason) "trash, spirited from the kennel." On the other hand, Johnson, who preferred Gray's life to his Muse, would have agreed with Southey. "A considerable part" of the Ode to Obscurity might, he declared, "be numbered among those felicities which no man has twice attained." It was the better of the two, he told Boswell on another occasion; but they were both good. "They exposed a very bad kind of writing." As for Adam Smith's "canard," that Gray was so much hurt "that he never afterwards attempted any considerable work," the latter assertion is obviously incorrect, while the former is not supported by Gray's correspondence. Where Gray understands his assailant, he agrees that his assailant "makes very tolerable fun with him," though he thinks there is more anger with Mason (to whom he is writing). Elsewhere he says of Colman, then the reputed sole author, "I believe his Odes sell no more than mine did, for I saw a heap of them lie in a Bookseller's window, who recommended them to me as a very pretty thing." It is only fair to add that Colman and Lloyd afterwards very frankly recanted to Joseph Warton; and that one of Lloyd's most ambitious Latin imitations was a version of the Elegy. He also specially refers to Gray in his Epistle to Churchill:
What Muse like GRAY'S shall pleasing pensive flow,
Attemper'd sweetly to the rustic woe?
Or who like him shall sweep the Theban lyre,
And, as his master, pour forth thoughts of fire?
When the Nonsense Club was first established is not apparent, nor is it clear when it broke up, though Southey supposes that its dispersion followed upon the defection of Cowper a year or two later. But almost concurrently with the burlesque Odes, to be exact, a few weeks before, Lloyd had issued, in the form of an address to Bonnell Thornton, his first considerable poem, The Actor, an effort of which the Gentleman's Magazine affirmed that "the Poetry would have pleased, even without the Sentiment, and the Sentiment without the Poetry." It is, in truth, the most serious of Lloyd's efforts. Its heroics, for he deserts on this occasion his usual octosyllabics, are neatly wrought; it wisely avoids the criticism of living people by name, paying only careful compliments to Garrick; and it lays its finger upon several obvious stage errors. In action it upholds nature as opposed to tradition; puts (with the late M. Coquelin) the modulation of the voice before excessive gesture, and condemns those popular starts and attitudes which Goldsmith had just been ridiculing in his Chinese Letters. Further, it deplores the "vile stage-custom" which "drags private foibles on the public scene," a palpable hit at Foote, and censures generally over-acting, tricks of dress, ghosts, and the absurd entertainments of pantomime. Finally, it takes leave with a graceful lament over the perishable character of the histrionic art:
Yet, hapless Artist! tho' thy skill can raise
The bursting peal of universal praise,
Tho' at thy beck Applause delighted stands,
And lifts, Briareus-like, her hundred hands,
Know, Fame awards thee but a partial breath!
Not all thy talents brave the stroke of death.
Poets to ages yet unborn appeal,
And latest times th' Eternal Nature feel.
Tho' blended here the praise of bard and play'r,
While more than half becomes the Actors share,
Relentless death untwists the mingled fame,
And sinks the player in the poet's name.
The pliant muscles of the various face,
The mien that gave each sentence strength and grace,
The tuneful voice, the eye that spoke the mind,
Are gone, nor leave a single trace behind.
Cibber's Apology is credited with the germinal form of this somewhat self-evident truth. In 1766, half-a-dozen years later, Garrick compressed it into a well-known couplet of his Prologue to the Clandestine Marriage; and Sheridan, with much facile "fioriture," included it in that Monody which was spoken by Mrs. Yates at Drury Lane, on the great actor's death. But it was Lloyd who first elaborated the idea. Its latest form, as regards the vocalist, is to be found in de Musset's admirable Stances a la Malibran.
With Lloyd's judicious commendation of the autocrat of Drury Lane must no doubt be connected the performance, at that theatre, of his Ode on the death of George II, entitled the Tears and Triumph of Parnassus, 1760, to be succeeded, in the following year, by the dramatic pastoral of Arcadia; or, the Shepherd's Wedding, in honour of the august nuptials of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and George III. Both of these occasional, and nowise remarkable, productions had the advantage of the music of John Stanley, the blind organist of the Temple Church. Lloyd also supplied Garrick with several prologues: for the King's birthday; for Colman's Jealous Wife (in which he seems to glance at the author's obligations to Fielding's Tom Jones); and for the Hecuba of Miss Burney's eccentric Brighton friend, Dr. John Delap. But the most definite and important outcome of The Actor was, unquestionably, The Rosciad of Charles Churchill. Disqualified for a university career by an early and imprudent Fleet marriage, Churchill, by "need, not choice," had been leading a precarious life on the "forty pounds a year" of a country living, eked out by tuition. In 1758, at his father's death, he had been elected, by favour of the parishioners, to the curacy and lectureship of St. John the Evangelist, Westminster. Dr. Pierson Lloyd, his former master, had helped him more than once in money difficulties, as Churchill afterwards acknowledged, by mediating with his creditors; and Robert Lloyd, unhappily for himself, was also warmly attached to his old class-mate. The favourable reception of The Actor roused the dormant faculties of Churchill, whose first metrical essays were unfortunate. A Hudibrastic poem called The Bard was declined by the booksellers as worthless; a second, The Conclave, satirizing the Dean (Dr. Zachary Pearce) and Chapter of Westminster, was regarded as too libellous for publication. But in these tentative efforts, Churchill had found his strength; and for a fresh subject he selected the Stage, in which he had always been interested. "After two months' close attendance on the theatres," he completed The Rosciad. Even for this he was refused the trifling fee of five guineas. Thereupon he boldly issued the poem at his own expense.
The result in the theatrical world has been aptly compared to that caused by the discharge of a gun in a rookery. Churchill being utterly unknown, the anonymous writer was at first supposed to be Lloyd, assisted possibly by Thornton and Colman; but apart from the fact that one of the most serious passages in the piece, a plea for the moderns against the ancients, is placed in Lloyd's mouth, the ascription showed little critical acuteness. There was no resemblance whatever between Lloyd's easy generalities and the direct cudgel-play of his more fearless friend. Such lines as "He mouths a sentence, as curs mouth a bone," which is said to have driven Davies from the boards to the book-shop; the remorseless "PRITCHARD'S for Comedy too fat and old;" and the
MOSSOP, attach'd to military plan,
Still kept his eye fix'd on his right-hand man,
were, compared with Lloyd, as the roaring of the tiger to that of the sucking dove; and neither the dove nor the tiger was at first particularly pleased by the turn which things had taken. Churchill, however, in the second edition, openly claimed the authorship: and, in a shorter poem entitled The Apology, proceeded, with an energy which left no doubt as to his staying power as a satirist, to trounce his chief assailant, the Critical Review, then edited by Smollett; while Lloyd's affectionate and unenvious nature speedily forgot its own annoyance in admiration for the superior gifts of his friend — gifts to which, moreover, he paid admiring homage in more than one epistle:
Pleas'd I behold superior genius shine,
Nor ting'd with envy wish that genius mine.
To CHURCHILL'S muse can bow with decent awe,
Admire his mode, nor make that mode my law;
Both may, perhaps, have various pow'rs to please:
Be his the Strength of Numbers, mine the Ease.
Elsewhere, in The Poet, Lloyd draws Churchill's portrait with all the fervency of friendly enthusiasm:
Is there a man, whose genius strong
Rolls like a rapid stream along,
Whose Muse, long hid in chearless night,
Pours on us like a flood of light,
Whose acting comprehensive mind
Walks Fancy's regions, unconfin'd;
Whom, nor the surly sense of pride,
Nor affectation, warps aside;
Who drags no author from his shelf,
To talk on with an eye to self;
Careless alike, in conversation,
Of censure, or of approbation;
Who freely thinks, and freely speaks,
And meets the Wit he never seeks;
Whose reason calm, and judgment cool,
Can pity, but not hate a fool;
Who can a hearty praise bestow,
If merit sparkles in a foe;
Who bold and open, firm and true,
Flatters no friends — yet loves them too:
CHURCHILL will be the last to know
His is the portrait, I would show.
By The Rosciad and The Apology Churchill made more than a thousand pounds, with which, to his credit, he paid his debts. But at this stage, discarding first his clerical garb for gold lace and ruffles, and next, for he resigned his cure, his clerical character, he unhappily embarked with all the ardour of a vigorous constitution, upon those pleasures of the town which, in the measured words of Gibbon, "are within the reach of every man who is regardless of his health, his money, and his company." Into the train of this worst of Mentors, Lloyd, docile and unstable, was only too readily drawn; and people who were still smarting from the strokes of Churchill's criticism, were not slow to comment upon such unworshipful developments of literary success. As may be imagined, the tale lost nothing in the telling; and it is quite conceivable, as suggested by William Tooke, the earliest editor of Churchill, that irregularities which, in some of his contemporaries, would have passed unnoticed, or been indulgently condoned as mere eccentricities of genius, were magnified by the victims of his pen into acts of unbridled depravity. More thin-skinned than most satirists — which is saying a good deal — Churchill bitterly resented this inquisition into his "midnight conversations"; and, in a poem called Night, addressed to Lloyd, endeavoured to defend himself against his traducers. But his defence, based upon the then-current fallacy that honest vices are more excusable than hypocritical virtues — as if, says a modern critic, there were no possible third course — is not convincing; while it seems besides to indicate incidentally that the "sons of CARE," as they curiously styled themselves, did not always derive from their dissipations the distraction they sought. Nor is the later apology of their boon-companion and evil-genius, Wilkes, drawn speciously from the precedents of antiquity, any more to the point. Of Wilkes, however, we may safely say, "Non tali auxilio"; and, moreover, we are not writing, nor design to write, a paper on Churchill, being, for the present, busied only with his friend Lloyd.
Lloyd, unlike Churchill, had not found verse a monetary success; and although he never at any time overcame his rooted antipathy to tuition, he must also have soon discovered that one form of servitude was no better than another; and that by octo-syllabics, however easily they jingled, it was difficult to live. His prologues and theatrical pieces can have produced but little. For some months previous to the appearance of Arcadia, he had been acting as editor of the poetical department of The Library, a periodical conducted by Dr. Andrew Kippis, later to be better known as projector of an interrupted Biographia Britannica. Lloyd's connection with The Library lasted until May 1762, when he issued a quarto volume of Poems including The Actor, the Epistle to Churchill, the Burlesque Odes, and a number of minor pieces. From the lengthy list of subscribers, it would seem that this collection should have been the most lucrative of his publications; but although he appears to have always performed his daily task with mill-horse regularity, it is clear that his gains, as a man of wit, never sufficed to his expenditure as a man of pleasure, and that from the outset he was embarrassed. With September 1762 he issued the first number of the St. James's Magazine, Davies being one of the publishers. Of course it was to be like nothing else. It was to deal exclusively with Belles Lettres. It was to be original and various; it was to be scholarly; it was to be soundly critical. The hackeyed attractions of the ordinary monthly were to be studiously avoided. It would contain
No pictures taken from the life,
Where all proportions are at strife;
No Humming-Bird, no painted Flower,
No Beast just landed in the Tower,
No wooden Notes, no colour'd Map,
No Country-Dance shall stop a gap;
No Crambo, no Acrostic fine,
Great letters lacing down each line;
No strange Conundrum, no invention
Beyond the reach of comprehension,
No Riddle, which whoe'er unties,
Claims twelve Museums for the Prize,
Shall strive to please you, at th' expence
Of simple taste, and common sense.
Some of these promises were kept, but even in the first number there was departure from the programme, inasmuch as its final pages were occupied by an account, "lifted" bodily from the London Gazette, and certainly not Belles Lettres, of the great event of 1762, the taking of the Havannah from the Spaniards, with other occurrences, Foreign and Domestic. As usual, the editor had many disappointments from the "eminent hands" who had promised their assistance. Churchill, whose fast-following productions were, with copious extracts, rapturously reviewed, sent nothing; and Garrick is only represented by a prologue and epilogue. On the other hand, Cowper contributed an ironical Dissertation on the Modern Ode; and also, it is supposed, a subsequent exemplification of it, though this is initialed "L," and may have been by Lloyd. From the introductory remarks, Cowper, it would seem, had contemplated an Art of Poetry on the same plan; but his intentions were prevented by that second derangement to which belong those terrible Sapphics beginning "Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portion." From Falconer of The Shipwreck came The Fond Lover, a song "written at sea," and dated "Royal George"; from Christopher Smart, a eulogistic epitaph on Fielding, and a fable. Bonnell Thornton sent, among other things, some specimens of an intended translation of Plautus, being portions of the "Miles gloriosus," a task to which he had been stirred by emulation of Colman's Terence. Colman again, copying Lloyd's own epistle from the Cobbler of Tissington to Garrick, pens a companion letter to Lloyd himself, in which, with great good humour, and no little truth, he rallies his old schoolfellow for trusting overmuch to his metrical facility. He warns him that if he "cramps his Muse in four-foot verse," he will ultimately find "his ease his curse." Why does he not "write a great work! a work of merit"? Otherwise,
Too long your genius will lie fallow
And ROBERT LLOYD be ROBERT SHALLOW.
The advice was more easy to give than to take, especially by an editor whose contributors were voluntary; and who, in their default, was pledged to fill five sheets per month with printed matter, and that matter more verse than prose. No wonder Lloyd was weary of the task, and had already written:
Continual plagues my soul molest,
And Magazines disturb my rest,
While scarce a night I steal to bed,
Without a couplet in my head,
And in the morning, when I stir,
Pop comes a Devil, "Copy, sir."
I cannot strive with daring flight
To reach the brave Parnassian HEIGHT,
But at its foot, content to stray,
In easy unambitious way
Pick up those flowers the muses send,
To make a nosegay for my friend.
One of his most assiduous colleagues, a certain equally facile but forgotten rhymer, Mr. Charles Denis, who was a brother of the famous admiral and patron of Thackeray's "Denis Duval," furnished translations of La Fontaine, Marmontel, Voltaire, Boileau and other versions or paraphrases from the French. Lloyd himself padded his pages with a long prose rendering of the Nouvelle Ecole des Femmes of M. Moulier de Moissy, his ostensible pretext being to show to what extent Churchill's enemy, Arthur Murphy, had relied upon that comedy for his own piece, The Way to Keep Him. There are also ominous proposals for a complete translation of Racine, to be published as a monthly make-weight. Lloyd seems to have struggled doggedly with his "metier de forcat," for he says in his general Preface to vol. i, that he is personally responsible for upwards of seven hundred lines in every number; but it cannot be denied that he is often open to the charge of being "shallow." He nevertheless shows constant capabilities for better things. One of his dialogues, Chit-chat, is a bourgeois paraphrase of the Two Ladies of Syracuse in Theocritus. A Cheapside Gorgo and Praxinoe, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Scot, go (in their sacks and cardinals) to see, not the Adonis festival, but that memorable contemporary show, the opening of Parliament by George III, with the gingerbread splendours of whose state-coach, recently designed by Chambers the Architect, they are duly impressed. The close imitation of an original demands a certain restraint, which was good for Lloyd; and though it is not easy to select a quotation, Chit-chat is a very satisfactory specimen of his better manner. But long before the St. James's Magazine had reached its closing blue numbers, that ill-fated serial was plainly, in its projector's words, dragging out
a miserable being,
Its end still fearing and foreseeing;
and when, in February 1764, the long-threatened end came, Lloyd had for some time surrendered the work to other hands, and was himself, "for debts contracted during its progress," an inmate of the Fleet.
What his liabilities were we know not; but they need not have been large. In those days, in spite of Oglethorpe's Committee, a beneficent legislature still permitted a vindictive creditor to seize the body of an unhappy debtor for a trifling sum, casting him into a custody from which he might never again emerge; and, as we know from Johnson's Rambler, the Fleet, the King's Bench and the other prisons, were at this date crowded with many such miserable captives, who were exposed to all the discomforts arising from dirt, disease, foul air, bad food, and the grinding rapacity of tyrannical keepers. Why Lloyd, whose father was still a master at Westminster School, was suffered to remain for a moment in such a degrading environment, may perhaps be explained by the supposition that, freed by one claimant, he would only be arrested by another; and that, while he remained in the Fleet, or the limits known as its Rules or Liberties, he could not be arrested at all. Churchill, on hearing of his incarceration, at once hastened to his assistance, and provided for his immediate wants by supplying him with a servant and a guinea a week. This sum (unless it was spent as promptly as the similar allowance made to Richard Savage) should have sufficed to save Lloyd from the squalors of "Mount-scoundrel," and to secure him decent food and lodgment. Churchill also attempted to set on foot a subscription for his eventual release. But from mismanagement, or other causes now too obscure to make intelligible, the proposals came to nothing; and Lloyd remained in durance, receiving numerous visitors, though apparently abandoned by most of his old associates. "I have many acquaintances," he wrote mournfully to Wilkes in France, "but now no friends here." He continued to drudge hopelessly for the booksellers, finishing a version of Klopstock's Death of Adam; translating, with Charles Denis, Marmontel's Contes Moraux; and endeavouring to console himself philosophically by the reflection that irksome as confinement was, it was "not so bad as being usher at Westminster." He even produced The Capricious Lovers, a little comic opera from the French of Favart's Ninette a la Cour, which Garrick accepted for Drury Lane. On 4th November 1764 Churchill, who in his Independence, made indignant reference to Lloyd's continued confinement, ended his own meteoric course at Boulogne, where he died of fever. The rest may be told in Southey's words: "Lloyd had been apprised of his [Churchill's] danger; but when the news of his death was somewhat abruptly announced to him as he was sitting at dinner, he was seized with a sudden sickness, and saying, 'I shall follow poor Charles,' took to his bed, from which he never rose again; dying, if ever man did, of a broken heart. The tragedy did not end here: Churchill's favourite sister, who is said to have possessed much of her brother's sense and spirit and genius, and to have been betrothed to Lloyd, attended him during his illness; and, sinking under the double loss, soon followed her brother and her lover to the grave."
When Robert Lloyd was buried in the churchyard of St. Bride's parish he was thirty-one, and his premature end is sad enough. At the same time, it is impossible to give to the tale of his misfortunes more than the commiseration usually conceded to those who, in common parlance, are "nobody's enemy but their own." The record of his personality is scant and indistinct. He is said to have been modest, affectionate, generous, and devoted to those he liked. Truth constrains us to add that he was also weak-willed, fond of pleasure, and easily led away by companions whose social gifts were not ballasted with more solid merits. As a poet, either from lack of ambition, or from a conscious sense of limitation, he never fulfilled the promise of his youth. He was a sound scholar, without the least touch of pedantry; he had a fertile fancy, considerable humour, and an excellent judgment. The too-ready fluency on which he so much relied was nevertheless unfavourable to "fundamental brain-work"; and the pressure of necessity frequently hurried him into reckless over-production. Hence, in a short paper, it is difficult to borrow from his work more than a few autobiographical and literary passages. His melancholy story exemplifies most of those ills which his great contemporary had gloomily declared to be the allotted portion of letters: "Toil, Envy, Want, the Patron and the Jail." But he was spared the Patron.