1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Melmoth

Anonymous, Obituary in Universal Magazine 107 (August 1800) 100.



William Melmoth, Esq. was the son of the pious author of The Great Importance of a Religious Life, an excellent little tract, which has gone through many editions. The object of the present memoir was one of the oldest scholars and writers in the kingdom, and was well known in the literary world by his translation of the letters of Pliny, in 1747, and of Cicero, 1753, Cicero's treatise on old age and friendship, 1773, and by his own work, published about 1742, under the fictitious name of "Fitzosborne's Letters." In 1749 he was provoked to answer Mr. Bryant's attack, in his treatise on the christian religion, on his remarks on Trajan's persecution of the christians in Bythynia, which made a note in his translation of Pliny's letters. His last work was a tribute of filial piety to his own father, in Memoirs of a late eminent Advocate, 1796.

Mr. Melmoth was the eldest son of his father's second wife, daughter of Samuel Rolt, esq. of Bedfordshire. His translations of Cicero and Pliny will speak for him while Roman and English eloquence can be united. Few writers have contributed so much to the improvement of our style, or have furnished such models of elegant writing, as far as concerns the correct choice and perspicuous arrangement of words, and the harmonious construction of periods. — He died at Bath, March 14, 1799, aged 89.