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him: he was endured, with all his pranks and his vices, two years longer; but on Dec. 20, 1705, at the instance of all the canons, the sentence declared five years before was put in execution.
and tender; f
The execution was, I believe, silent and for one of his friends, from whom I learned much of his life, appeared not to know it. He was now driven to London, where he associated himself with the Whigs, whether because they were in power, or because the Tories had expelled him, or because he was a Whig by principle, may perhaps be doubted. He was, however, caressed by men of great abilities, whatever were their party, and was supported by the liberality of those who delighted in his conversation. 107
There was once a design, hinted at by Oldisworth, to have made him useful. One evening, as he was sitting with a friend at a tavern, he was called down by the waiter; and, having stayed some time below, came up thoughtful. After a pause, said he to his friend, "He that wanted me below was Addison, whose business was to tell me that a History of the Revolution was intended, and to propose that I should undertake it. I said, 'What shall I do with the character of Lord Sunderland?' and Addison immediately returned, When, Rag, were you drunk last?' and went away."
Captain Rag was a name which he got at Oxford by his negligence of dress. This story I heard from the late Mr. Clark of Lincoln's Inn, to whom it was told by the friend of Smith.
wor Such scruples might debar him from some profitable employments; but, as they could not deprive him of any real esteem, they left him many friends; and no man was ever better introduced to the theatre than he, who, in that violent conflict of parties, had a prologue and epilogue from the first wits on either side. But learning and nature will now and then take different courses. play pleased the critics, and the critics only. It was, as Addison has recorded, hardly heard the third night. Smith had indeed trusted entirely to his merit, had ensured no band of applauders, nor used any artifice to force success, and found that native excellence was not sufficient for its own support.
The play, however, was bought by Lintot, who advanced the price from fifty guineas, the current rate, to sixty; and Halifax, the general patron, accepted the dedication. Smith's indolence kept him from writing the dediation till Lintot, after fruitless importunity, gave notice that he would publish the play without. Now, therefore, it was written; and Halifax expected the author with his book, and had prepared to reward him with a place of three hundred pounds a year. Smith, by pride, or caprice, or indolence, or bashfulness, neglected to attend him, though doubtless warned and pressed by his friends, and at last missed his reward by not going to solicit it. Addison has, in the Spectator, mentioned the neglect of Smith's tragedy as disgraceful to the nation, and imputes it to the fondness for operas then prevailing. The authority of Addison is great; yet the voice of the people, when to please the people is the purpose, deserves regard. In this question, I cannot but think the people in the right. The fable is mythological, a story which we are accustomed to reject as faulty; and the manners are so distant from our own, that we know them not from sympathy, but by study: the ignorant do not understand the action; the learned reject it as a schoolboy's tale; incredulus odi. What I cannot for a moment believe, I cannot for a moment behold with interest or anxiety. The sentiments thus remote from life are removed yet further by the diction, which is too luxuriant and splendid for dialogue, and envelopes the thoughts rather than displays them. It is a scholar's play, such as may please the reader rather than the spectator; the work of a vigorous and elegant mind, accustomed to please itself with its own conceptions, but of little acquaintance with the course of life.
Dennis tells us, in one of his pieces, that he had once a design to have written the tragedy of Phædra; but was convinced that the action, was too mythological.
In 1709, a year after the exhibition of Phædra, died John Philips, the friend and fellow-collegian, of Smith, who, on that occasion, wrote a poem, which justice must place among the best elegies which our language can show, an elegant mixture of fondness and admiration, of dignity and softness. There are some passages too ludicrous; but every human perfor mance has its faults.
This elegy it was the mode among his friends to purchase for a guinea; and, as his acquaintance was numerous, it was a very profitable poem.nĖ,
Of his Pindar mentioned by Oldisworth, I have never otherwise heard. His Longinus he intended to accompany with some illustrations, and had selected his instances of the false sublime from the works of Blackmore.
He resolved to try again the fortune of the stage, with the story of Lady Jane Grey. It is not unlikely that his experience of the inefficacy and incredibility of a mythological tale might determine him to choose an action from English history, at no great distance from our own times, which was to end in a real event, produced by the operation of known characters.
A subject will not easily occur that can give more opportunities of informing the understanding, for which Smith was unquestionably qualified, or for moving the passions, in which I suspect him to have had less powerloren
Having formed his plan and collected materials, he declared that a few months would complete his design; and, that he might pursue his work with less frequent avocations, he was, in June, 1710,, invited by Mr. George Ducket to his house at Gartham, in Wiltshire. Here he found such opportunities of indulgence as did not much forward his studies, and particularly some strong ale, too delicious to be resisted. He ate and drank till he found himself plethoric and then, resolving to ease himself by evacuation, he wrote to an apothecary in the neighbourhood a prescription of a purge so forcible, that the apothecary thought it his duty to delay it till he had notice of its danger. Smith, not pleased with the contradiction of a shopman, and boastful of his own knowledge, treated the notice with rude contempt, and swallowed his own medicine, which in July, 1710, brought him to the grave. He was buried at Gartham.
Many years afterwards, Ducket communicated to Oldmixon, the historian, an account pretended to have been received from Smith, that Clarendon's History was, in its publication, corrupted by Aldrich, Smalridge, and Atterbury; and that Smith was employed to forge and insert the alterations.rol
This story was published triumphantly by Oldmixon, and may be supposed to have been eagerly received; but its progress was soon checked; for, finding its way into the "Journal of Trevoux," it fell under the eye of Atterbury, then an exile in France, who immediately denied the charge, with this remarkable particular, that he never in his whole life had once spoken to Smith; his company being, as must be inferred, not accepted by those who attended to their characters. 008 bin ow soldw Viowy 8
The charge was afterwards very diligently refuted by Dr. Burton of Eton, a man eminent for literature; and, though not of the same party with Aldrich and Atterbury, too studious of truth to leave them burthened with a false charge. The testimonies which he has collected have convinced mankind that either Smith or Ducket was guilty of wilful and malicious falsehood.
This controversy brought into view those parts of Smith's life which, with more honour to his name, might have been concealed.
Of Smith I can yet say a little more. He was a man of such estimation among his companions, that the casual censures or praises which he dropped
in conversation were considered, like those of Scaliger, as worthy of preservation.
He had great readiness and exactness of criticism, and by a cursory glance over a new composition would exactly tell all its faults and beauties.
He was remarkable for the power of reading with great rapidity, and of retaining with great fidelity what he so easily collected.
He therefore always knew what the present question required; and, when his friends expressed their wonder at his acquisitions, made in a state of apparent negligence and drunkenness, he never discovered his hours of reading or method of study, but involved himself in affected silence, and fed his own vanity with their admiration.
One practice he had, which was easily observed: if any thought or image was presented to his mind, that he could use or improve, he did not suffer it to be lost; but, amidst the jollity of a tavern, or in the warmth of conversation, very diligently committed it to paper.
Thus it was that he had gathered two quires of hints for his new tragedy; of which Rowe, when they were put into his hands, could make, as he says, very little use, but which the collector considered as a valuable stock of materials.
When he came to London, his way of life connected him with the licentious and dissolute; and he affected the airs and gaiety of a man of pleasure; but his dress was always deficient; scholastic cloudiness still hung about him; and his merriment was sure to produce the scorn of his companions.
With all his carelessness, and all his vices, he was one of the murmurers at Fortune; and wondered why he was suffered to be poor, when Addison was caressed and preferred; nor would a very little have contented him; for he estimated his wants at six hundred pounds a year.
In his course of reading, it was particular that he had diligently perused, and accurately remembered, the old romances of knight-errantry.
He had a high opinion of his own merit, and was something contemptuous in his treatment of those whom he considered as not qualified to oppose or contradict him. He had many frailties; yet it cannot but be supposed that he had great merit, who could obtain to the same play a prologue from Addison, and an epilogue from Prior; and who could have at once the patronage of Halifax, and the praise of Oldisworth.
For the power of communicating these minute memorials, I am indebted to my conversation with Gilbert Walmsley, late registrar of the ecclesiastical court of Lichfield, who was acquainted both with Smith and Ducket; and declared, that, if the tale concerning Clarendon were forged, he should suspect Ducket of the falsehood; "for Rag was a man of great veracity."
Of Gilbert Walmsley, thus presented to my mind, let me indulge myself in the remembrance. I knew him very early; he was one of the first friends that literature procured me, and I hope that at least my gratitude made me worthy of his notice.
He was of an advanced age, and I was only yet 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 of opinion did not keep us apart. I honoured him, and he endured me.
He had mingled with the gay world without exemption from its vices or its follies, but had never neglected the cultivation of his mind; his belief of Revelation was unshaken; his learning preserved his principles; he grew first regular, and then pious."
His studies had been so various, that I am not able to name a man of equal knowledge. His acquaintance with books was great; and what he did not immediately know, he could at least tell where to find.
his amplitude of learning, and such his copiousness of communication, that it may be doubted whether a day now passes in which I have not some advantage from his friendship.
At this man's table I enjoyed many cheerful and instructive hours, with companions such as are not often found; with one who has lengthened, and one who has gladdened, life; with Dr. James, whose skill in physic will be long remembered; and with David Garrick, whom I hoped to have gratified with this character of our common friend: but what are the hopes of man! I am disappointed by that stroke of death, which has eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impoverished the public stock of harmless pleasure.
In the Library at Oxford is the following ludicrous Analysis of Pocockius: EX AUTOGRAPHO. haror
[Sent by the Author to Mr. Urry.]
OPUSCULUM hoc, Halberdarie amplissime, in lucem proferre hactenus distuli, judicii tui acumen subveritus magis quam bipennis. Tandem aliquando oden hanc ad te mitto sublimem, teneram, flebilem, suavem, qualem demum divinus (si Musis vacaret) scripsisset Gastrellus adeo scilicet sublimem ut inter legendum dormire, adeo flebilem ut ridere velis. Cujus elegantiam ut melius inspicias, versuum ordinem et materiam breviter referam. Imus versus de duobus præliis decantatis. 2dus et 3us de Lotharingio, cuniculis subterraneis, saxis, ponto, hostibus, et Asiâ. 4tus et 5tus de catenis, sudibus, uncis, draconibus, tigribus, et crocodilis. 6us, 7us, 8us, gus, de Gomorrhâ, de Babylone, Babele, et quodam domi suæ peregrino. Ious, aliquid de quodam Pocockio. Irus, 12us, de Syriâ, Solymâ. 13us, 14us, de Hoseâ, et quercu, et de juvene quodam valde sene. 15us, 16us, de Ætnâ, et quomodo Etna Pocockio fit valde similis. 17us, 18us, de tubâ, astro, umbrâ, flammis, rotis, Pocockio non neglecto. Cætera de Christianis, Ottomanis, Babyloniis, Arabibus, et gravissimâ agrorum melancholiâ; de Cæsare, Flacco,* Nestore, et miserando juvenis cujusdam florentissimi fato, anno ætatis suæ centesimo præmaturè abrepti. Quæ omnia cum accuratè expenderis, necesse est ut oden hanc meam admirandâ planè varietate constare fatearis. Subito ad Batavos proficiscor, lauro ab illis donandus. Prius vero Pembrochienses voco ad certamen Poeticum.Vale.
Illustrissima tua deosculor crura, Wunschar I
raumoor to rawWE. SMITH. O iw andhervono apd vi upon sav orty bleditbich layer to
F Mr. Richard Duke I can find few memorials. He was bred at Westminstert and Cambridge; and Jacob relates that he was some time tutor to the Duke of Richmond.
He appears from his writings to have been not ill qualified for poetical compositions; and being conscious of his powers, when he left the university, he enlisted himself among the Wits. He was the familiar friend of Otway; and was engaged, among other popular names, in the translations of Ovid and Juvenal. In his Review, though unfinished, are some vigorous lines. His poems are not below mediocrity; nor have I found much in them to be praised.‡
Pro Flacco, animo paulo attentiore, scripsissem Marone.
He was admitted there in 1670; was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1675; and took his master's degree in 1682.
They make a part of a volume published by Tonson in 8vo, 1717, containing the poems of the Earl of Roscommon, and the Duke of Buckingham's Essay on Poetry; but were first published in Dryden's Miscellany, as were most, if not all, of the poems in that collection,
With the wit he seems to have shared the dissoluteness of the times; for some of his compositions are such as he must have reviewed with detestation in his later days, when he published those Sermons which Felton has commended. Perhaps, like some other foolish young men, he rather talked than lived viciously, in an age when he that would be thought a Wit was afraid to say his prayers; and whatever might have been bad in the first part of his life was surely condemned and reformed by his better judgment.
In 1683, being then Master of Arts, and Fellow of Trinity College in Cambridge, he wrote a poem on the marriage of the Lady Anne with George Prince of Denmark. einaWT
He then took orders; and, being made prebendary of Gloucester, became a proctor in convocation for that church, and chaplain to Queen Anne.
In 1710, he was presented by the Bishop of Winchester to the wealthy living of Witney in Oxfordshire, which he enjoyed but a few months. On February 10, 1710-11, having returned from an entertainment, he was found dead the next morning. His death is mentioned in Swift's Journal.
|ILLIAM KING was born in London in 1663; the son of Ezekiel King, a gentleman. He was allied to the family of Clarendon. From Westminster school, where he was a scholar on the foundation under the care of Dr. Busby, he was at eighteen elected to Christ Church in 1681; where he is said to have prosecuted his studies with so much intenseness and activity, that before he was eight years standing he had read over, and made remarks upon, twenty-two thousand odd hundred books and manuscripts. The books were certainly not very long, the manuscripts not very difficult, nor the remarks very large; for the calculator will find that he despatched seven a day for every day of his eight years; with a remnant that more than satisfies most other students. He took his degree in the most expensive manner, as a grand compounder; whence it is inferred that he inherited a considerable fortune. ⠀⠀
In 1688, the same year in which he was made master of arts, he published a confutation of Varillas's account of Wickliffe; and, engaging in the study of the civil law, became doctor in 1692, and was admitted advocate at Doctors' Commons.
He had already made some translations from the French, and written w some humorous and satirical pieces; when, in 1694, Molesworth published his "Account of Denmark," in which he treats the Danes and their monarch with great contempt; and takes the opportunity of insinuating those wild principles, by which he supposes liberty to be established, and by which his w adversaries suspect that all subordination and government is endangered.e This book offended Prince George; and the Danish minister presented a memorial against it. The principles of its author did not please Dr. King; and therefore he undertook to confute part, and laugh at the rest. The controversy is now forgotten: and books of this kind seldom live long, when interest and resentment have ceased.
In 1697, he mingled in the controversy between Boyle and Bentley; and was one of those who tried what wit could perform in opposition to learning, on a question which learning only could decide.
In 1699, was published by him "A Journey to London," after the method b of Dr. Martin Lister, who had published "A Journey to Paris." And, in