Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

him away:

As his years advanced, he advanced in repu- / violent conflict of parties, had a prologue and tation : fór he continued to cultivate his mind, 1 epilogue from the first wits on either side. though he did not amend his irregularities : by But learning and nature will now and then which he gave so much offence, that, April 24, take different courses. His play pleased the 1700, the Dean and Chapter declared "the place critics, and the critics only. It was, as Addison of Mr. Smith void, he having been convicted of has recorded, hardly heard the third night. riotous behaviour in the house of Mr. Cole, an Smith had indeed trusted entirely to his merit, apothecary; but it was referred to the Dean had ensured no band of applauders, nor used when and upon what occasion the sentence any artifice to force success, and found that nashould be put into execution."

tive excellence was not sufficient for its own Thus tenderly was he treated : the governors support. of his college could hardly keep him, and yet The play, however, was bought by Lintot, wished that he would not force them to drive who advanced the price from fifty guineas, the

current rate, to sixty, ind Halifax, the general Some time afterwards he assumed an appear- patron, accepted the dedication. Smith's indoance of decency: in his own phrase, he whitened lence kept him from writing the dedication, till himself, having a desire to obtain the censorship, Lintot, after fruitless importunity, gave notice an office of honour and some profit in the cols that he would publish the play without it. Now, lege; but, when the election came, the prefer- therefore, it was written ; and Halifax expected ence was given to Mr. Foulkes his junior; the the Author with his book, and had prepared to same, I suppose, that joined with Freind in an reward him with a place of three hundred pounds edition of part of Demosthenes. The censor is a-year. Smith, by pride, or caprice, or indoa tutor ; and it was not thought proper to trust lence, or bashfulness, neglected to attend him, the superintendence of others to a man who though doubtless warned and pressed by his took so little care of himself.

friends, and at last missed his reward by not From this time Smith employed his malice going to solicit it. and his wit against the dean, Dr. Aldrich, whom Addison has, in the “Spectator,” mentioned he considered as the opponent of his claim. Of the neglect of Smith's tragedy as disgraceful to bis lampoon upon him, I once heard a single line the nation, and imputes it to the fondness for too gross to be repeated.

operas then prevailing. The authority of AddiBut he was still a genius and a scholar, and son is great; yet the voice of the people, when Oxford was unwilling to lose him; he was en- to please the people is the purpose, deserves redured, with all his pranks and his vices, two gard. In this question, I cannot but think the years longer ; but, on Dec. 20, 1705, at the in- people in the right. The fable is mythological, stance of all the canons, the sentence declared a story which we are accustomed to reject as five years before was put in execution.

false ; and the manners are so distant from our The execution was, I believe, silent and ten- own, that we know them not froin sympathy, der; for one of his friends, from whom I learned but by study; the ignorant do not understand much of his life, appeared not to know it. the action; the learned reject it as a schoolboy's

He was now driven to London, where he as- tale; incredulus odi. What I cannot for a mosociated himself with the whigs, whether be- ment believe, I cannot for a moment behold with cause they were in power, or because the tories interest or anxiety. The sentiments thus remote had expelled him, or because he was a whig by from life are removed yet farther by the diction, principle, may perhaps be doubted. He was, which is too luxuriant and splendid for dialogue, however, caressed by men of great abilities, and envelopes the thoughts rather than displays whatever were their party, and was supported them. It is a scholar's play, such as may please by the liberality of those who delighted in his the reader rather than the spectator; the work conversation.

of a vigorous and elegant mind, accustomed to There was once a design, hinted at by Oldis- please itself with its own conceptions, but of worth, to have made him useful. One evening, little acquaintance with the course of life. as he was sitting with a friend at a tavern, he Dennis tells us, in one of his pieces, that he was called down by the waiter; and, having had once a design to have written the tragedy of stayed soine time below, came up thoughtful, “Phedra ;” but was convinced that the action After a pause, said he to his friend, "He that was too mythological. wanted me below was Addison, whose business In 1709, a year after the exhibition of “Phæwas to tell me that a history of the Revolution dra,” died John Philips, the friend and fellowwas intended, and to propose that I should un- collegian of Smith, who, on that occasion, wrote dertake it. I said, 'What shall I do with the a poem, which justice must place among the character of Lord Sunderland ?' and Addison best elegies which our language can show, an immediately returned, “When, Rag, were you elegant mixture of fondness and admiration, of · drunk last ?' and went away."

dignity and softness. There are some passages Captain Rag was a name which he got at Ox- too ludicrous; but every human performance ford by his negligence of dress.

has its faults. This story I heard from the late Mr. Clark, of This elegy it was the mode among his friends Lincoln's Inn, to whom it was told by the friend to purchase for a guinea ; and as his acquaintof Smith,

ance was numerous, it was a very profitable poem. Such scruples might debar him from some Of his Pindar, mentioned by Oldisworth, I profitable employments; but as they could not have never otherwise heard. His Longinus he deprive him of any real esteem, they left him intended to accompany with some illustrations, many friends; and no man was ever better in- and had selected his instances of the false sub truduced to the theatre than he, who, in that I lime from the works of Blackmore

He resolved to try again the fortune of the He had great readiness and exactness of cri. stage with the story of Lady Jane Grey. It is ticism, and by a cursory glance over a new not unlikely that his experience of the inefficacy composition would exactly tell all its faults and and incredibility of a mythological tale might beauties. determine him to choose an action from the He was remarkable for the power of reading English history, at no great distance from our with great rapidity, and of retaining, with great own times, which was to end in a real event, fidelity, what he so easily collected. produced by the operation of known characters. He therefore always knew what the present

A subject will not easily occur that can give question required ; and, when his friends exmore opportunities of informing the understand-pressed their wonder at his acquisitions, made ing, for which Smith was unquestionably quali in a state of apparent negligence and drunkenfied, or for moving the passions, in which I sus- ness, he never discovered his hours of reading or pect him to have had less power.

method of study, but involved himself in affected Having formed his plan and collected mate- silence, and fed his own vanity with their admals, he deciared that a few months would com- miration. plete his design; and, that he might pursue his One practice he had, which was easily ob work with less frequent avocations, he was, in served: if any thought or image was presented June, 1710, invited by Mr. George Ducket to to his mind that he could use or improve, he did his house at Gartham, in Wiltshire. Here he not suffer it to be lost : but, amidst the jollity of found such opportunities of indulgence as did a tavern, or in the warmth of conversation, very not much forward his studies, and particularly diligently committed it to paper. some strong ale, too.delicious to be resisted. Thus it was that he had gathered two quires He ate and drank till he found himself plethor of hints for his new tragedy; of which Rowe, ric; and then, resolving to ease himself by eva- when they were put into his hands, could make, cuation, he wrote to an apothecary in the neigh- as he says, very little use, but which the collector bourhood a prescription of a purge so forcible, considered as a valuable stock of materials. that the apothecary thought it his duty to delay When he came to London, his way of life it till he had given notice of its danger. Smith, connected him with the licentious and dissolute; Dot pleased with the contradiction of a shopman, and he affected the airs and gayety of a man of and boastful of his own knowledge, treated the pleasure : but his dress was always deficient; notice with rude contempi, and swallowed his scholastic cloudiness still hung about him; and own medicine, which, in July, i7!0, brought him his merriment was sure to produce the scorn of to the grave. He was buried at Gurtham. his companions.

Many years afterwards, Ducket communi- With all his carelessness and all his vices, he cated to Oldmixon, the historian, an account, was one of the murmurers at fortune; and wonpretended to have been received from Smith, that dered why he was suffered to be poor, when Clarendon's History was, in its publication, cor- Addison was caressed and preferred; nor would rupted by Aldrich, Smalridge, and Atterbury; a very little have contented him; for he estiand that Smith was employed to forge and insert mated his wants at six hundred pounds a-year. the alterations.

In his course of reading, it was particular that This story was published triumphantly by he had diligently perused, and accurately rememOldmixon, and may be supposed to have been bered, the old romances of knight-errantry. eagerly received; but its progress was soon He had a high opinion of his own ment, and checked: for, finding its way into the Journal of was something contemptuous in his treatment Trevoux, it fell under the eye of Atterbury, then of those whom he considered as not qualified to an exile in France, who immediately denied the oppose or contradict him. He had many frailcharge, with this remarkable particular, that he ties; yet it cannot but be supposed that he had never in his whole life had once spoken to Smith;* great merit, who could obtain to the same play a his company being, as must be inferred, not ac- prologue from Addison and an epilogue from cepted by those who attended to their characters. Prior; and who could have at once the patron

The charge was afterwards very diligently re- age of Halifax and the praise of Oldisworth. futed by Dr. Burton of Eton, a man eminent for For the power of communicating these minute literature ; and, though not of the same party, memorials, I am indebted to my conversation with Aldrich and Atterbury, too studious of with Gilbert Walmsley, late registrar of the ectruth to leave them burdened with a false clesiastical court of Lichfield, who was acquaintcharge. The testimonies which he has collected ed both with Smith and Ducket; and declared, have convinced mankind that either Smith or that, if the tale concerning Clarendon were Ducket was guilty of wilful and malicious false forged, he should suspect Ducket of the falsehood.

hood; for Rag was a man of great veracity. This controversy brought into view those parts Of Gilbert Walmsley, thus presented to my of Smith's life, which, with more honour to his mind, let me indulge myself in the remembrance. name, might have been concealed.

I knew him very early; he was one of the first Or Smith I can yet say a little more. He was friends that literature procured me, and I hope a man of such estimation among his companions, that at least my gratitude made me worthy of that the casual censures or praises which he his notice. dropped in conversation were considered, like He was of an advanced age, and I was only those of Scaliger, as worthy of preservation. not a boy; yet he never received my notions with

contempt. He was a whig, with all the virulence

and malevolence of his party ; yet difference ol • Sec Bishop Auerbury's Epistolary Correspond opinion did not keep us apart. I honoured him, I. p. 325, it appenrs that Smith was at one time suspected and he endured me. w have been author of the “ Tale of a Tub."-N. He had mingled with the gay world, without cxemption from its vices or its follies, but had | aliquando oden hanc ad te mitto sublimem, to never neglected the cultivation of his mind; his neram, flebilem, suavem, qualem demum divinus belief of Revelation was unshaken ; his learn-|(si Musis vacaret) scripsisset Gastrellus: adeo ing preserved his principles; he grew first regu- scilicet sublimem ut inter legendum dormirc, lar, and then pious.

adeo Aebilem ut ridere velis. Cujus elegantiam Ilis studies had been so various, that I am notut melius inspicias, versuum ordinem et materiam able to name a mi of equal knowledge. His breviter referam. Imus. versus de duobus præacquaintance with books was great ; and what liis decantatis. 2dus. et 3us. de Lotharingio, cuhe did not immediately know, he could at least niculis subterraneis, saxis, ponto, hostibus, et tell where to find. Such was his amplitude of A siâ. 4tus. et 5tus. de catenis, subdibus, uncis, learning, and such his copiousness of communi- draconibus, tigribus, et crocodilis. 6us. Tus. Sus. cation, that it may be doubted, whether a day 9us. de Gomorrha, de Babylone, Babele, et quonow passes in which I have not some advantage dam domi suæ peregrino. "10us. aliquid de quo from his friendship:

dam Pocockio.' 11us. 12us. de Syriâ, Solyma. At this man's table I enjoyed many cheerful | 13us. 14us. de Hosea, et quercu, et de juvene and instructive hours, with companions such as quodam valde sene. 15us. 16us. de Ætna, et are not often found; with one who has length-quomodo Ætna Pocockio fit valde similis. 17us. ened and one who has gladdened life; with Dr. 18us. de tubâ, astro, umbrâ, flammis, rotis, Po James, whose skill in physic will be long remem-cockio non neglecto. Cætera de Christianis, bered, and with David Garrick, whom I hoped to Ottomanis, Babyloniis, Arabibus, et gravissima have gratified with this character of our common agrorum melancholiâ ; de Cæsare Flacco, * Nesfriend: but what are the hopes of man! I am tore, et miserando juvenis cujusdam florentissimi disappointed by that stroke of death which has fato, anno ætatis suæ centesimo præmaturè ab eclipsed the gayety of nations, and impoverished repti. Quæ omnia cum accuratè expenderis, the public stock of harmless pleasure.

necesse est ut oden hanc meam admirandå planè In the library at Oxford is the following ludi- varietate constare fatearis. Subitò ad Batavos crous Analysis of Pocockius :

proficiscor, lauro ab illis donandus. Prius verò

Pembrochienses voco ad certamen Poeticum. EX AUTOGRAPHO.

Vale. (Sent by the Author to Mr. Urry.)

Illustrissima tua deosculor crura. OPUSCULUM hoc, Halberdarie amplissime, in

E. SMITH. lucem proferre hactenus distuli, judicii tui acumen subveritus magis quam bipennis. Tandem Marone.

Pro Flacco, animo paulo attentiore, scripsissem

DUKE.

Of Mr. Richard Duke I can find few memo- | he rather talked than lived viciously, is an age rials. He was bred at Westininster* and Cam- when he that would be thought a wit was bridge; and Jacob relates, that he was some afraid to say his prayers ; and, whatever might time tutor to the Duke of Richmond.

have been bad in the first part of his life, was He appears from his writings to have been surely condemned and reformed by his better not ill qualified for poetical compositions; and, judgment. being conscious of his powers, when he left the In 1683, being then master of arts and fellow l'niversity, he enlisted himself among the wits. of Trinity College, in Cambridge, he wrote a He was the familiar friend of Otway; and was poem on the marriage of the Lady Anne with engageil, among other popular names, in the George, Prince of Denmark. translations of Ovid and Juvenal. In his “Re- He then took orders ;£ and, being made preview,” though infinished, are some vigorous bendary of Gloucester, became a proctor in conlines. His poems are not below mediocrity ; vocation for that church, and chaplain to Queen nor have I found much in them to be praised. Anne. With the wit he seems to have shared the dis

In 1710, he was presented by the Bishop of soluteness of the times ; for some of his com- Winchester to the wealthy living of Witney, in positions are such as he must have reviewed Oxfordshire, which he enjoyed but a few months, with detestation in his later days, when he pub- On February 10, 1710–11, having returned froin lished those sermons which Felton has com- an entertainment, he was found dead the next mended.

morning. His death is mentioned in Swift's Perhaps, like some other foolish young men, Journal.

He was admitted there in 16:0; was eiected to Tri. Poetry; but were first published in Dryden's Miscellany. nity College, Cambridge, in 1675; and took his master's as were most, if not all, of the poems in that collec. degree in 1 182 --N.

tion.-H. Thev make a part of a volume published by Tonson He was presented to the rectory of Blaby, in Lelin svo. 1717, containing the poems of the Earl of Ros. cestershire, in 1897-8; and obtained a prebend at Glov. Coumon, and the Duke of Buckingham's Essay on Icester, in 1668.-N.

KING.

William King was born in London, in 1663; which only he could find delight. His reputation the son of Ezekiel King, a gentleman. He was as a civilian was yet maintained by his juo. allied to the family of Clarendon.

ments in the courts of delegates, and raised very From Westminster-school, where he was a high by the address and knowledge which ho scholar on the foundation under the care of Dr. discovered in 1700, when he defended the farl Busby, he was at eighteen elected to Christ- of Anglesea against his lady, afterwards Dutchchurch, in 1681; where he is said to have pro-ess of Buckinghamshire, who sued for a divorce, secuted bis studies with so much intenseness and obtained it. and activity, that before he was eight years The expense of his pleasures and neglect of standing he had read over, and made remarks business had now lesscned his revenues; and he upon, i wenty-two thousand odd hundred books was willmg to accept of a settlement in Ireland, and manuscripts.* The books were certainly where, about 1702, he was made judge of the not very long, the manuscripts not very diffi- Admirally, commissioner of the prizes, keeper cult, nor the remarks very large ; for the calcu- of the records is Birmingham's tower, and vicarlator will find that he despatched seven a day general to Dr. Marsh, the primate. for every day of his eight years; with a rem- But it is vain to put wealth within the reach nant that more than satisfies most other stu- of him who will not stretch out his hand to dents. He took his degree in the most expen- take it. King soon found a friend, as idle and sive manner, as a grand compounder; whence thoughtless as himself, in l'pton, one of the it is inferred that he inherited a considerable judges, who had a pleasant house called Mounfortune.

town, near Dublin, to whien King frequently In 1688, the same year in which he was made retired ; delighting to neglect his interest, forget master of arts, he published a confutation of his cares, and desert his duty. Varillas's account of Wickliffe; and engaging Here he wrote “Mully' of Mountown," a in the study of the civil law, became doctor in poem; by which, though fancifui readers in the 1692, and was admitted advocate at Doctors' pride of sagacity have given it a political interCommons.

pretation, was meant originally no more than · He had already made some translations from it expressed, as it was dictated only by the the French, and written some humorous and sa- Author's delight in the quiet of Mountown. tirical pieces; when, in 1694, Molesworth pub

In 1708, when Lord' Wharton was sent to lished his “Áccount of Denmark,” in which he govern Ireland, King returned to London with treats the Danes and their monarch with great his poverty, his idleness, and his wit, and pube contempt; and takes the opportunity of insinu- lished scene essays, called “Useful Transac ating those wild principles, by which he sup- tions.". His "Voyage to the Island of Caja poses liberty to be established, and by which mai” is particularly commended. He then his adversaries suspect that all subordination wrote “The Art of Love," a poem remarkable, and government is endangered.

notwithstanding its title, for purity of sentiment; This book offended Prince George; and the and in 1709 imitated Horace in an “Art of Danish minister presented a memorial against Cookery," which he published, with some let. it. The principles of its author did not please ters to Dr. Lister. Dr. King; and therefore he undertook to con- In 1710, he appeared as a lorer of the church, fute part, and laugh at the rest. The contro on the side of Sacheverell; and was supposed versy is now forgotten; and books of this kind to have concurred at least in the projection of seldom live long, when interest and resentment: The Examiner.” His eyes were open to all have ceased.

the operations of whiggism; and he bestowed In 1697, he mingled in the controversey be some strictures upon Dr. Kennet's adulatory tween Boyle and Bentley; and was one of those sermon at the funeral of the Duke of Devonshire. who tried what wit could perform in opposition “The History of the Heathen Gods,” a book to learning, on a question which learning only composed for schools, was written by him in could decide.

1710. The work is useful, but might have been In 1699, was published by him “A Journey produced without the powers of King. The to London,” after the method of Dr. Martin next year, he published" Rufinus," an historiLister, who had published “A Journey to Pa- cal essay; and a poem, intended to dispose the ris.” And in 1700 he satirised the Royal Soci- nation to think as he thought of the Duke of ety, at least Sir Hans Sloane, their president, in Marlborough and his adherents. two dialogues, entitled “The Transactioner." In 1711, competence, if not plenty, was again

Though he was a regular advocate in the put into his power. He was, without the trouble courts of civil and canon law, he did not love of attendance, or the mortification of a request

, his profession, nor indeed any kind of business made gazetteer. Swift, Freind, Prior, and other which interrupted his voluntary dreams, or men of the same party, brought him the key of forced him to rouse from that 'indulgence in the gazetteer's office. He was now again placed

in a profitable employment, and again threw the This appears by his " Adversaria," printed in his benefit away: An act of insolvency made his works edil 1778 3 vols.-C.

business at that time particularly troublesome; and he would not wait till hurry should be at an mas-day. Thoug! his life had not been without end, but impatiently resigned it, and returned to irregularity, his principles were pure and ortho his wonted indigence and amusements.

dox, and his death was pious. One of his amusements at Lambeth, where he After this relation, it will be naturally supposed resided, was to mortify Dr. Tenison, the arch- that his poems were rather the amusements of bishop, by a public festivity on the surrender of idleness than the efforts of study; that he endeaDunkirk to Hill; an event with which Teni-voured rather to divert than astonish; that his son's political bigotry did not suffer him to be thoughts seldom aspired to sublimity; and th.c, delighted. King was resolved to counteract if his verse was easy and his images familiar, his sullenness, and at the expense of a few bar- he attained what he desired. His purpose is to rels of ale filled the neighbourhood with honest be merry; but, perhaps, to enjoy his mirth, it merriment.

may be sometimes necessary to think well of his In the autumn of 1712, his health declined ; opinions.* he grew weaker by degrees, and died on Christ

SPRAT.

Thomas Sprat was born in 1636, at Talla- few books which selection of sentiment and ton, in Devonshire, the son of a clergyman; and elegance of diction have been able to prehaving been educated, as he tells of himself, not serve, though written upon a subject flux and at Westminster or Eton, but at a little school by transitory. “The history of the Royal So the churchyard side, became a commoner of ciety," is now read, not with the wish to know Wadham College, in Oxford, in 1651; and, be what they were then doing, but how their transing chosen scholar next year, proceeded through actions are exhibited by Sprat. the usual academical course; and, in 1657, be- In the next year he published “ Observations came master of arts. He obtained a fellowship, on Sorbiere's Voyage into England, in a Letter and commenced poet.

to Mr. Wren." This is a work not ill performIn 1619, his poem on the death of Oliver was ed; but perhaps rewarded with at least its full published, with those of Dryden and Waller. proportion of praise. In his dedication to Dr. Wilkins, he appears a In 1663, he published Cowley's Latin poems, very willing and liberal encomiast, buch of the and prefixed in Latin the Life of the Author, living and the dead. He implores his patron's which he afterwards amplified, and placed be excuse of his verses, both as falling “so infi- fore Cowley's English works, which were by nitely below the full and sublime genius of that will committed to his care. excellent poet who made this way of writing

Ecclesiastical benefices now fell fast upon free of our nation,” and being “so little equal him. In 1668, he became a prebendary of and proportioned to the renown of a prince on Westminster, and had afterwards the church of whom they were written; such great actions St. Margaret, adjoining to the Abbey. He was, and lives deserving to be the subject of the in 1680, made canon of Windsor ; in 1683, dean noblest pens and most divine phansies.” He of Westminster; and in 1684, bishop of Ro proceeds: “Having so long experienced your

chester. care and indulgence, and been forined, as it were, The court having thus a claim to his diligence by your own hands, not to entitle you to any and gratitude, he was required to write the histhing which my meanness produces would be tory of the Rye-house Plot; and in 1695, pubnot only injustice, but sacrilege."

lished “ A true Account and Declaration of the He published, the same year, a poem on the horrid Conspiracy against the late King, his “Plague of Athens ;” a subject of which it is present Majesty, and the present Government;" not easy to say what could recommend it. To a performance which he thonght convenient, these he added afterwards a poem on Mr. Cow- after the Revolution, to extenuate and excuse. ley's death.

The same year, being clerk of the closet to the After the restoration he took orders, and by King, he was made dean of the chapel-royal; Cowley's recommendation was made chaplain and, the year afterwards, received the last proof to the Duke of Buckingham, whom he is said of his master's confidence, by being appoined to have helped in writing "The Rehearsal.” one of the commissioners for ecclesiasticalaffujrs. He was likewise chaplain to the King.

On the critical day when the Declaration disAs he was the fivourite of Wilkins, at whose tinguished the true sons of the church of Eng. house began those philosophical conferences and land, he stood neuter, and permitted it to be inquiries which in time produced the Royal So- read at Westminster; but pressed none to viocie:y, he was consequenily engaged in the same studies, and became one of the fellows; and * Dr. Johnson appears to have made but little use of when, af er their incorporation, something seem- the life of Dr King, prefixed to his “Works, in 3 rol. ed necessary to reconcile the public to the new

1776, to which it may not be impertinent to refer the institusion, he undertook to write its history, the highest terms. In that at least hie yielded to orde of

reader. His talent for humour ought to be praised in which he published in 1667. This is one of the I his contemporaries.-C.

« ZurückWeiter »