1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Lloyd

William Tooke, Note to Independence; Poetical Works of Charles Churchill (1804) 2:346-48n.



See how they redden, and the charge disclaim—
Virgil, and in the Fleet — forbid it Shame!
Hence, ye vain boasters, to the Fleet repair,
And ask, with blushes ask, if Lloyd be there.

The imprudent conduct of this unfortunate man, and the steady attachment our author on all occasions evinced towards him, have been noticed in our former volume. Lloyd entertained golden hopes of the success of the St. James's Magazine, a publication almost entirely of his own composition, and which he commenced on his quitting Westminster school, his situation as usher in which seminary he thus feelingly describes:

—Were I at once impower'd to shew
My utmost vengeance on my foe,
To punish with extremest rigour,
I could inflict no penance bigger
Than using him as learning's tool,
To make him usher of a school.
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 retail
Like penny pots of Oxford ale;
—Oh! 'tis a service irksome more
Than tugging at the slavish oar!
———*———*———*———
Of working on a barren soil,
And lab'ring with incessant pains
To cultivate a blockhead's brains;
For 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.

The St. James's Magazine proceeded no farther than two volumes, and never having had a sale adequate to his expectations and consequent mode of living, poor Lloyd was immured by his creditors in the Fleet prison, where his confinement was the more irksome, owing to the circumstance of his bosom friend, and prime seducer from the paths of prudence, Bonnel Thornton, refusing to become his security for the liberty of the rules: this giving rise to some ill-natured altercation, farther irritated Thornton, who became an inveterate enemy, in the quality of his most inexorable creditor.

In prison, Lloyd was principally supported by the bounty of Churchill, he also received some trifling sums from the booksellers, for a translation of Marmontel's Tales, and some other hasty and slovenly translations and original pieces, which did not contribute to increase his reputation.

The news of Churchill's death being announced somewhat abruptly to him while 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. In his sickness he was attended by Miss Patty Churchill, the sister of his deceased friend, and who possessed a considerable portion of the sense, spirit, and genius of her brother. This young lady is reported to have been betrothed to Lloyd, and that so mournful was the effect, which the melancholy catastrophe of her lover and brother had on her susceptible mind, that the grief for their loss preyed upon her spirits, and did not permit her long to survive them.