1872 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Gilbert West

Whitwell Elwin, in Works of Pope (1871-1889) 8:347n.



Gilbert West, who was born about 1700, and died in 1756, was the son of a clergyman, and was first cousin to Lyttelton. Their mothers were Miss Temples, the sisters of Lord Cobham. West was educated at Eton, and Oxford. His taste was for scholarship, literature, and theology, but his uncle, Lord Cobham, being a military man, induced him to enter the army. In a few years he resigned his commission, and devoted the rest of his life to the easy business of a subordinate government office, and the steady pursuit of his favourite studies. He has left some name in theology by his Observations on the Resurrection, and in poetry by his translation of Pindar, and his Imitations of Spenser. His writings in both kinds are the productions of a cultivated rather than of a vigorous mind, and the criticism of Coleridge on his poems exactly describes the general character of his works: "They have the merit of chaste and manly diction, but they are cold, and, if I may express it, only dead-coloured." Pope, in a letter to Lyttelton, Nov. 3, 1741, says, "Pray let Mr. West know I am alive, and while I am alive, warmly his;" and in his will, made two years later, Pope bequeathed him five pounds to buy a ring, and a reversionary legacy of two hundred pounds on the death of Martha Blount.