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THE SACRED POETRY
TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN OF THE
Right Rev. ROBERT LOWTH, D. D.
PRELECTOR OF POETRY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, AND AFTERWARDS
LORD BISHOP OF LONDON,
BY G. GREGORY, F. A. S.
To which are added
THE PRINCIPAL NOTES OF PROFESSOR MICHAELIS, AND
NOTES BY THE TRANSLATOR AND OTHERS.
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 knowledge 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 on. The 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 which 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 his • Prælectiones' on Hebrew poetry; which work, entitled “ De Sacra Poesi Hebræorum Prælectiones Academicæ,” he 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 most 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 Southamplon.
In 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, Jord 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 Durham, 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 immediately 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 his 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. concern. ing the legality of general bonds of resignation, which, if Dr. Towers's statement of the case be at all accurate, was highly discreditable 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 decline 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.
Io 1768 his eldest daughter died at the age of thirteen, of whom he was passionately food, and whose death he deplored in the fol. lowing exquisitely beautiful epitaph, which is inscribed on her tomb :
Cara, vale, ingenio præstans, pietate, pudore,
Et plusquam natæ nomine cara, vale.
Quando iterum tecum, sim modo dignus, ero.
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 hurried 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, five taste, and pecaliar qualifications for the station which he filled, he has left abundant proofs. While his amiable manners rendered him an ornament to the high rank in