A Brief Account of the Vision and Death of the Late Lord Lyttleton [Lyttelton]: To Which is Added an Anecdote of Lord Kaimes [i.e. Lord Kames] and the Melancholy End of a profligate Young Man

Stanford [New York]: Printed and sold by Daniel Lawrence, 1804.

Price: $650.00

Softcover. First edition. 16mo. Removed. Stitched, laid into later unprinted wrappers. 12pp. Foxing and toning, a good copy. Lord Thomas Lyttelton [i.e. the second Baron Lyttelton], a young man of questionable character, (i.e. “a drug addict and debaucher of women”) died suddenly at age 35. Before doing so, he confided word to his intimates of a mysterious lady in white, an apparition who foretold his imminent fate. For months, as Samuel Johnson’s correspondent Hester Thrale noted, the ghostly story was the talk of the town. The Thrales and Samuel Johnson had met young Lord Lyttelton and Hester Thrale had even written her own narrative of the story. In Hester’s account, Lyttelton had claimed to have “bilk’d the Bitch” [i.e. cheated the female apparition of her prediction of her death] only minutes before expiring. Almost 25 years later, stories began to circulate in American newspapers of new information regarding the young Lord’s death. The Stanford, New York printer Daniel Lawrence, in the preface of this volume infers that British Admiral Wolseley had verbally narrated his eyewitness account of his time with the young Lord Lyttelton to Mary Knowles, the recollection being witnessed by William Savery, a Philadelphia Quaker. Mary (Morris) Knowles (1733-1807) was known as a poet and brilliant conversationalist on intimate terms with Samuel Johnson. As noted on page [3] of this pamphlet and the *ODNB*, she would become embroiled in a small controversy with Boswell’s biography of Johnson: "Knowles’s reputation was further enhanced by this retelling of what can be truly considered a ghost story: Lord Lyttelton reckless and given to drink and dance, is told by a female spirit that he will be dead in three nights. Lord Lyttelton proceeds to challenge this date with Death with more amusement and pleasure, but is stricken fifteen minutes before midnight on the third day. A fellow rake (who had betted Lord Lyttelton one thousand pounds on the odds and outcome of his predicted death) suddenly recoils in horror in bed, miles away, upon mystically sensing the passing of his gambling companion. The connection between Hester Thrales, Mary Knowles, Samuel Johnson, and the “Wicked” Lord Lytelton suggests an interesting historical constellation. *OCLC* and *Shaw and Shoemaker* 5905 and 6601 cite four copies.

Item #331797

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A Brief Account of the Vision and Death of the Late Lord Lyttleton [Lyttelton]: To Which is Added an Anecdote of Lord Kaimes [i.e. Lord Kames] and the Melancholy End of a profligate Young Man. Mary KNOWLES, attributed to.