Imatges de pàgina


VOL. 11.


1698 ?-1765.

Born in the Highlands of Scotland--Educated at Edinburgh-Made Tutor to the Sons of the

Duke of Montrose— Visits London-Publishes · William and Margaret,' a Ballad-Changes his dame-Publishes the 'Excursion,' a Poem-Courts Pope by a Poem on. Verbal Criti. cism'-Writes for the Stage-Made Under-Secretary to Frederick Prince of Wales-Writes a ‘Life of Bacon,' and undertakes a ‘Life of the Duke of Marlborough'-Publishes · Amyntor and Theodora,' a Poem-Seeks to blacken the memory of Pope-Left Bolingbroke's Literary Executor–His Pamphlet against Admiral Byng-Obtains a Pension—Is twice married Death and Burial-Works and Character.

Of David MALLET having no written memorial, I am able to give no other account than such as is supplied by the anauthorised loquacity of common fame, and a very slight personal knowledge.

He was, hy his original, one of the Macgregors, a clan that became, about sixty years ago, under the conduct of Robin Roy, so formidable and so infamous for violence and robbery that the name was annulled by a legal abolition,' and when they were all to deno minate themselves anew, the father, I suppose of this author, called himself Malloch.'

David Malloch was, by the penury of his patents, compelled to be janitor of the High School at Edinburgh,' a mean office, of which he did not afterwards delight to hear. But he surmounted the disadvantages of his birth and fortune ; for when [1723] the Duke of Montrose applied to the College of Edinburgh for a tutor to educate

1 Here is an error : the Clan Macgregor was outlawed long before Rob Roy's day, by an Act of the Privy Council of James 1, in 1603. See Scott's Introduction to 'Rob Roy.'

9 The father, James Malloch, kept a small clachan, or publichouse, at Criefl, on the borders of the Highlands, where his son David was born cir. 1698. His mother's maiden name was Beatrix Clark.

3 Johnson's statement is confirmed by subsequent researches (see Stephen's History of the High School of Edinburgh,' p. 89). Mallet studied at Aberdeen under Professor Ker; and Ker's kindness is spoken of in after-life with thankfulness by the pupil, in a series of interest. ing letters, printed in the European Magazine,' when under the direction of Isaac Reed. His first situation after leaving Aberdeen, was that of tutor to the four sons (the eldest under fourteen) of a Mr. Home, near Edinburgh. “He allows me my learning, clothes and diet," bo writes to Ker in Oct. 1720," but no Axed salary." VOI., II.



or willingly misrepresented ; and is little more than an improve ment, or rather expansion, of a fragment which Pope printed in a Miscellany long before he engrafted it into a regular poem. There is in this piece more pertness than wit, and more confidence than knowledge. The versification is tolerable, nor can criticism allow it a higher praise.

His first tragedy was 'Eurydice,' acted at Drury Lane in 1731, of which I know not the reception nor the merit, but bave heard it mentioned as a mean performance. He was not then too high to accept a prologue and epilogue from Aaron Hill, neither of which can be much commended."

Having cleared his tongue from his native pronunciation so as to be no longer distinguished as a Scot,” he seems iuclined to disencumber himself from all adherences of his original, and took upon him to change his name from Scotch Malloch to English Mallet,


pondent, Mrs. Newsham; an office of five years' continuance, spent in travelling abroad with profit and without expense.

“To prove to you how little essential to friendship I hold letter-writing, I have not yet written to Mr. Mallet, whom I love and esteem greatly ; nay, whom I know to have as tender a heart, and that feels a friendly remembrance as long as any man. Pray send him the enclosed; 'tis all I can say, for (as I told you before) it makes me quite sick to be put upon the pikes, to be saying such things as can only be felt, not said."-Pope to Mrs. Newsham.

“May I never hope for the pleasure of hearing from you that you are well, and have got forgot me? By saying just that, and no more, you will give me the most agreeable piece of news I can receive or you yourself send. Believe me, I am in po treaty with Curll to furnish him any letters for his second volume. If he has no more influence with the clerks of the Post Office than with me, yours will come very safe, as it will be most welcome to, “Dear Sir, your most afectionate, faithful servant,

“D. MALLIT “P.8. Mr. N. is extremely your humble servant; and we beg leave to send by you a thou. sand good wishes to Mrs. Blount for the continuance of her good humour and good health. MALLET to Pope. "Gent.'s Mag.' for Oct., 1885.

• Eurydice' was published by Millar in the March of the same year, with a dedication to the Duke of Montrose. Of the success of the performance or the publication, I am as ignorant as Johnson. It occasioned, however, a sixpenny pamphlet of criticism, entitled 'Remarks on the Tragedy of Eurydice.'

I have seen a letter from Mallet to Andrew Millar, in which he says (22nd Aug, 1757,)“ If It ['Eurydice ') is not now the best play that has ever appeared in my time, the author and it ought to be buried together."

10 Sir, when people watch me narrowly, and I do not watch myself, they will find me out to be of a particular county. In the same manner Dunning may be found out to be a Deronshire man. So most Scotchmen may be found out. But, Sir, little aberrations are of Do disAdvantage. I never catched Mallet in a Scotch accent; and yet Mallet, I suppose, was past Sye-und-twenty before he came to London.--JOHNSON : Bonoell by Croker, p. 283.


without any imaginable reason or preference which the eye or ear can discover." What ather proofs he gave of disrespect to his native country, I know not; but it was remarked of bim, that he was the only Scot whom Scotchmen did not commend."

Aboat this time, Pope, whom he visited familiarly, published his * Essay on Man, but concealed the author ; and when Mallet entered one day, Pope asked him slightly what there was new. Mallet told him that the newest piece was something called an

Essay on Man,' which he had inspected idly, and seeing the utter inability of the author, who had neither skill in writing nor knowledge of his subject, had tossed it away. Pope, to punish his selfconceit, told him the secret."

A new edition of the works of Bacon being prepared (1740) for the press, Mallet was employed to prefix a Life, which he has written with elegance, perhaps with some affectation ; but with so much more knowledge of history than of science, that when he afterwards undertook the Life of Marlborough, Warburton remarked that he might perhaps forget that Marlborough was a general, as he had forgotten that Bacon was a Philosopher.

When [1737] the Prince of Wales was driven from the palace, and setting himself at the head of the Opposition, kept a separate court, he endeavoured to increase his popularity by the patronage of literature, and made (June, 1742] Mallet his under-secretary, with a salary of two hundred pounds a year. Thomson likewise had a pension, and they were associated in the composition of the

11 In the octavo Abridgment of his Dictionary, published in 1756, Johnson has given, under the article Alias, 'Mallet alias Malloch.' (See ‘Boswell by Croker,' p. 780.)

The change occurred in 1726; for the verses to Thomson in this year are signed Malloch, while his name is found among the subscribers to Savage's Miscellany of the same year as Mallet. He had thought of this renouncement of name as early as September, 1724. “My cousin Paton," he says to Ker, “would have me write my name Mall-l, for there is not one Englishman that can pronounce it."

Johnson was evidently ignorant of the proper pronunciation. To a Scottish ear there is a considerable difference of name between Mallock and Malloch, and to an English ear, when pronounced by a Scot, a difference in sound.

12 “ This volume of Gascoigne's Works was bought for 1l. 188. at Mr. Mallet's, allas Mallock's, alias M'Gregor's sale, March 14, 1776. He was the only Scotchman who died in my memory unlamented by an individual of his own nation.”—GEO. STEEVENS (Book sold at Heber's sale).

18 This story is first told in Ayre's 'Life of Pope' (% vols., 12mo. 1745), but without naming Mallet.

« AnteriorContinua »