1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

James Beattie to the Earl of Kinnoull, 29 August 1773; Forbes, Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 1:292-93.



Mrs. Montagu's state of health is very indifferent; she complains of a feverish disorder, which has haunted her the greatest part of the summer. She is greatly afflicted at the death of our great and good friend, Lordy Lyttelton. This event was unexpected; it is little better than a fortnight, since I received a very kind letter from him. The loss to his friends, and to society, is unspeakable, and irreparable: to himself his death is infinite gain; for whether we consider what he felt here, or what he hoped for hereafter, we must admit, that no man ever had more reason to wish for a dismission from the evils of this transitory life. His lordship died, as he lived, a most illustrious example of every Christian virtue. His last breath was spent in comforting and instructing his friends. "Be good and virtuous," said he, to Lord Valencia, "for know that to this you must come." The devout and chearful resignation, that he occupied his mind during his illness, did not forsake him in the moment of dissolution, but fixed a smile on his lifeless countenance. I sincerely sympathise with your Lordship, on the loss of this excellent man. Since I came to town, I have had the honour and happiness to pass many an hour in his company, and to converse with him on all subjects: and I hope I shall be the better, while I live, for what I have seen, and what I have heard, of Lord Lyttelton.