Imatges de pàgina
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AUTHOR'S LIFE.

ROBERT Lowth, son of the rev. WILLIAM Lowth, chaplain to the bishop of Winchester, and prebendary of a cathedral church in that see, was born at Winchester in the year 1710, where he was educated in grammar learning at the school founded by William of Wykeham, in which he acquired an accurate knowl. edge of the Greek and Roman classics, and made considerable progress in oriental literature. Even at school he discovered a poetical genius, and among other pieces which he wrote at that period, was a beautiful poem onThe Genealogy of Christ, as it is represented on the east window of Winchester college chapel; and another, which appeared in the twenty-third volume of the Gentleman's Magazine, entitled Catherine's Hill,' the place where the Winchester scholars are allowed to play on holidays. In 1728, he was sent to New college, Oxford, of wbich institution he was

elected a fellow in 1734: took his degree as M. A. in 1737, and was, in 1741, elected professor of poetry in the university of Oxford. In the discharge of the duties of this office he delivered bis • Prælectiones' on Hebrew poetry; which work, entitled “ De Sacra Poesi Hebræorum Prælectiones Academicæ," be gave to the public in 1753, and a second edition in 1763.

His first preferment in the church was the rectory of Ovingdon, in Hampshire, to which he was presented by bishop Hoadly. In 1748, Mr. Lowth accompanied Mr. Legge, afterwards chancellor of the exchequer, to Berlin, who went to that court in a public character, and with whom, from his earliest years, he lived on terms of the niost uninterrupted friendship. In the following year

he undertook the charge of the sons of the duke of Devonshire, as travelling tutor on the continent. The duke was so thoroughly satisfied with the conduct of Mr. Lowth in this office, that he afterwards proved his steady friend and patron. In 1750 he was appointed archdeacon of Winchester, and three years after he was presented to the rectory of East Woodhay, in the county of Southampton.

Io the year 1754, the university of Oxford honoured the au. thor with the degree of doctor of divinity, and in the following year he was nominated first chaplain to the marquis of Harrington, lord lieutenant of Ireland. Thither he accompanied that nobleman, and was, in a short time, offered the bishopric of Limerick, which however he exchanged for some preferment in the county of Durbam, in his own country.

In 1758, Dr. Lowth preached a sermon at Durbam, on Free Enquiry in Matters of Religion, which has been frequently reprinted.

In the same year he published his Life of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester,' and founder of the colleges in wbich be had received his education. His next piece has been exceedingly popular in our schools, though now generally superceded by a work of the same kind by Mr. Lindley Murray, viz. • An Introduction to English Graminar.'

Passing over a controversy between Dr. Lowth and Dr. War, burton, which did not reflect much credit on the angry tempers of the disputants, we may observe that Dr. Lowth was elected a fellow of the Royal Society at Gouingen in the year 1765, and in the following year he was promoted to the see of St. David's, and almost inimediately translated to the bishopric of Oxford. In this high office he remained till the year 1777, when he succeeded Dr. Terrick in the see of London. In 1778 he published the last of his literary labours, entitled • Isaiah : A new Translation, with a preliminary Dissertation, and Notes, critical, philological, and explanatory.' His design, in this work, was not only to give an exact and faithful representation of the words and sense of the prophet, by adhering closely to the letter of the text, and treading, as nearly as may be, in bis footsteps; but, moreover, to imitate the air and manner of the author, to express the form and fashion of the composition, and to give the English reader some notion of the peculiar turn and cast of the original.

In 1779 the bishop was called on to preach a sermon before the

king at the Chapel-royal, on Ash-Wednesday, in which he attacked the opponents to the ministerial system of government, among whom was the celebrated Dr. Richard Price, who defended himself with energy and spirit. In 1781 bishop Lowth was engaged in a law suit with Lewis Disney Flytche, Esq. concerning the legality of general bonds of resignation, which, if Dr. Towers's statement of the case be at all accurate, was highly dis. creditable to his lordship : suffice it to say, that in this case the decisions of the courts of law, almost unanimously pronounced, were unexpectedly reversed by the house of lords, by a majority of one, and of the members who voted on this occasion fourteen were bishops, and as such parties in their own cause, (See Dr. Tower's observations on the Cause between the bishop of London, and L. D. Ffytche, Esq.) In 1783 the bishop was fixed on to succeed archbishop Cornwallis, but on account of his advanced age he thought proper to deciine the high honour of the archbishopric of Canterbury. In the latter years of his life he endured a great degree of suffering from that dreadful disorder, the stone, which he bore with fortitude and resignation to the di. vine will. He experienced also some of the most painful strokes of calamities which a father can experience, in the loss of affectionate children.

In 1768 his eldest daughter died at the age of thirteen, of whom he was passionately fond, and whose death he deplored in the following exquisitely beautiful epitaph, which is inscribed on her tomb :

Cara, vale, ingenio præstans, pietate, pudore,

Et plusquam natæ nomine cara, vale.
Cara Maria, vale. At veniet felicius ævum

Quando iterum tecum, sim modo dignus, ero.
Cara, redi, læta tum dicam voce paternus,

Eja, age in amplexus, cara Maria, redi.

In 1783, his second daughter, as she was presiding at the tea-table, suddenly expired. His eldest son also, of whom he was led to form the highest expectations, was hurricd to the grave in the bloom of youth. His lordship died at Fulham in 1787, having nearly completed the 77th year of his age. Of bishop Lowth's extensive learning, fine taste, and pecaliar qualifications for the station which he filled, he has left abundant proofs. While his amiable manners rendered him an ornament to tho high rank in

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which he moved, and endeared him to all with whom he conversed, his zeal for the established religion of the country made him anxious to promote to places of trust and dignity such clergymen as he knew were best qualified to fill them. He united, in an eminent degree, the qualities of the gentleman with those of the scholar: he conversed with elegance, as he wrote with accuracy. His heart was tender and sympathetic. He possessed a mind which felt its own strength, and decided on whatever came before it with promptitude. In those trials where affliction was to be suffered or subdued he behaved as a man and a Christian. His piety had no tincture of moroseness ; his charity no leaven of ostentation. The bishop was author of some sermons, preached on particular occasions, and of many poetical pieces, some of which have been frequently reprinted; the titles of which will be found in the General Biography. Rees's Cyclopædia.

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

It may not be improper to apprize the public, that although the following Lectures be entitled Lectures on the Hebrew Poetry, their utility is by no means confined to that single object. They embrace all THE GREAT PRINCIPLES OF GENERAL CRITICISM, as delivered by the ancients, improved by the keen judgement and polished taste of their author. In other words, this work will be found an excellent compendium of all the best rules of taste, and of all the principles of composition, illustrated by the boldest and most exalted specimens of genius (if no higher title be allowed them) which antiquity has transmitted to us: and which have hith. erto seldom fallen under the inspection of rational criticism.

Lest, from the title of the work, or from the circumstance of being originally published in a learned language, a prejudice should arise in the breast of any individual, that these Lectures are addressed only to the learned, I think it a duty to anticipate a misapprehension which might interfere both with his entertainment and instruction. The greatest as well as the most useful works of taste and literature, are those, which, with respect at least to their general scope and design, lie most level to the common sense of mankind. Though the learning and genius displayed in the following Lectures must ever excite our warmest admiration ; though they abound in curious researches, and in refined and exquisite observations; though the splendour of the sentiments and the elegance of the style will necessarily captivate the eye and the ear of the classical reader; the truth is, THAT THEY ARE MORE CALCULATED FOR PERSONS OF TASTE AND GENERAL READING, THAN FOR WHAT IS COMMONLY TERMED THE LEARNED WORLD. Here are few nice philological disquisitions, no abstruse metaphysical speculations ; our author has built solely upon the basis of common sense, and I know no part of his work, which will not be intelligible and useful to almost every understanding.

A still greater mistake it would be, to suppose any knowledge of the Hebrew necessary to enable us to read these Lectures with profit and pleasure. So happily does the simple genius of the Hebrew language accord with our own; and so excellent a transcript of the original (notwithstanding a few errors) is our common translation of the Scriptures ; so completely, so minutely, I might say, does it represent the style and character of the Hebrew writings, that no person, who is conversant with it, can be at all at a

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