Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 34.djvu/383

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


amination of the body, which lay in state for some days at Hill Street, and was then removed to Hagley for interment.

The curious correspondence between Lyttelton's dream and his death was from the first regarded by not a few as more than a mere coincidence; and told and retold ‘with advantages,’ the story soon acquired and long retained the rank of a first-rate ghost story, which the pious converted to edificatory uses. Among the believers was Johnson's friend, Dr. Adams, master of Pembroke College, Oxford; and Johnson himself, though not satisfied with the evidence, was ‘willing to believe’ (Boswell, ed. Birkbeck Hill, iv. 298; and cf. Horace Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunningham, vii. 28; Mrs. Delany, Autobiography, v. 498; Pennington, Memoirs of Mrs. Carter, i. 433). An appropriate sequel to the story was furnished by Miles Peter Andrews [q. v.], who averred that on the night and about the hour of Lyttelton's decease he dreamt that Lyttelton came to him and told him ‘all was over.’ Both dreams are recorded in the ‘Scots Magazine,’ 1779, p. 650. There is also an account of Lyttelton's dream in the ‘London Magazine,’ 1779, p. 534. Another in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ 1816, pt. ii. 422, purports to be from a document preserved at Pitt Place, but cannot be of earlier date than 1785, when Hugh Fortescue, whom it calls Lord Fortescue, succeeded to the barony. Yet another account, drawn up by Lyttelton's uncle, Lord Westcote, and preserved at Hagley, bears date 13 Feb. 1780, and was published by permission of the fourth Lord Lyttelton in ‘Notes and Queries,’ 5th ser. ii. 401–2. All these accounts agree in all essential particulars (see also Wraxall, Memoirs, 3rd ed. i. 329; Mrs. Piozzi, Autobiography, ed. Hayward, ii. 94 et seq.; Nash, Worcestershire, Corr. and Add. p. 36).

Lyttelton left the family estates unencumbered, a moderate fortune made at play, and no lawful issue. Lady Lyttelton long survived him, and died in April 1840. The estates devolved upon William Henry Lyttelton, first baron Lyttelton of Frankley of the second creation [q. v.] Lyttelton's libertinism was exceptional even in his age and rank, and secured him a place in the ‘Diaboliad’ [cf. Combe, William]. He is said to have been physically timid, and, though a deist, afflicted with apprehensions in regard to the future state. During his brief public career he gave proof of abilities which, had he lived, must have carried him to a high position in the state. There is an engraving of Lyttelton's head from a miniature in Wraxall's ‘Memoirs,’ ed. Wheatley, i. 226–7.

What purports to be ‘A Letter from Thomas, Lord Lyttelton, to W. Pitt, Earl of Chatham, on the Quebec Bill,’ was published at Boston in 1774, 8vo, but is of doubtful authenticity. In 1775 appeared his ‘Speech … on a Motion made in the House of Lords for a Repeal of the Canada Bill, May 17, 1775,’ London, 4to. A thin volume of verse, entitled ‘Poems by a Young Nobleman of distinguished abilities lately deceased, particularly the State of England, and the once flourishing City of London, in a Letter from an American Traveller, dated from the ruinous Portico of St. Paul's in the year 2199 to a Friend settled in Boston, the Metropolis of the Western Empire. Also Sundry Fugitive Pieces, principally wrote whilst upon his Travels on the Continent,’ was published at London in 1780, 4to. Another edition of the same date has the title ‘Poems by the late Thomas, Lord Lyttelton, to which is added a Sketch of his Lordship's Character,’ 8vo. These poems are probably genuine. The principal piece is in blank verse, modelled somewhat awkwardly on Milton's. The others, in various metres, are spirited and occasionally coarse. A volume of ‘Letters of the late Thomas, Lord Lyttelton,’ published the same year, London, 8vo, was accepted as genuine, but these letters were afterwards claimed by William Combe as his own composition, and have since been generally so regarded (see Quarterly Review, Dec. 1851, art. iv., where they are treated as authentic, and an attempt is made to identify Junius with Lyttelton; and cf. Frost's Life of Thomas, Lord Lyttelton, where the authenticity of the letters is also assumed). Lyttelton also wrote a blasphemous parody of his father's ‘Dialogues of the Dead’ and some other miscellanea, which remained in manuscript. A few notes in his handwriting are preserved in Add. MS. 20730.

[Besides the authorities mentioned in the text, see Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Mrs. Montagu's Letters, iv. 231, 248; Grenville Papers, iii. 170; Phillimore's Memoirs and Corresp. of George, Lord Lyttelton, iv. 773, 789; Chatham Corresp. iv. 344; Cavendish's Debates, i. 27; Walpole's Memoirs of George III, ed. Le Marchant, iii. 216; Walpole's Journal of the reign of George III; Walpole's Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, ed. Park, iv. 321; Doran's Mann and Manners at the Court of Florence, ii. 110; Howell's State Trials, xx. 584, 587; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. viii. 31, xi. 198, 6th ser. iv. 518; Gent. Mag. (1837) pt. ii. 223; (1840), pt. i. 557; Add. MS. 5851, p. 187; Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. App. 37; Commons' Journ. xxxii. 134–6; Lords Journ. xxxiv. 4; Collins's Peerage, viii. 357; Beatson's Polit. Index, iii. 334.]

J. M. R.