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THE LIVES OF THE ENGLISH POETS.
THE SECOND VOLUME.
EDMUND SMITH is one of those lucky writers who have, without much labour, attained high reputation, and who are mentioned with reverence rather for the poffeffion than the exertion of uncommon abilities.
Of his life little is known; and that little claims no praise but what can be given to intellectual excellence, feldom employed to any virtuous purpose. His character, as given by Mr. Oldifworth with all the partiality of friendship, which is faid by Dr. Burton to fhew "what fine things one man of parts can fay of another," and which, however, comprifes great part of what can be known of Mr. Smith, it is better to tranfcribe at once than to take by pieces. I fhall
fubjoin fuch little memorials as accident has enabled me to collect.
Mr. EDMUND SMITH was the only fon of an eminent merchant, one Mr. Neale, by a daughter of the famous baron Lechmere. Some misfortunes of his father, which were foon followed by his death, VOL. II. B
were the occafion of the Ton's being left ery young in the hands of a near relation (one who married Mr. Neale's fifter), whofe name was Smith.
This gentleman and his lady treated him as their own child, and put him to Westminster-school under the care of Dr. Bufby; whence, after the lofs of his faithful and generous guardain (whofe name he affumed and retained), he was removed to Chriftchurch in Oxford, and there by his aunt handfomely maintained till her death; after which he continued a member of that learned and ingenious fociety till within five years of his own; though, fome time before his leaving Chrift-church, he was fent for by "his mother to Worcester, and owned and acknowledged as her legitimate fon; which had not been mentioned, but to wipe off the afperfions that were ignorantly caft by fome on his birth. It is to be remembered, for our author's honour, that, when at Weftminster election he ftood a candidate for one of the universities, he fo fignally diftinguifhed himfelf by his confpicuous performances, that there arofe no fmall contention, between the reprefentative electors of Trinity-college in Cambridge and Chrift-church in Oxon, which of those two royal focieties fhould adopt him as their own. But the electors of Trinitycollege having the preference of choice that year, they refolutely elected him; who yet, being invited at the fame time to Chrift-church, chofe to accept of a studentship there. Mr. Smith's perfections, as well natural as acquired, feem to have been formed. upon Horace's plan, who fays, in his “Art of
* 15 09.1
Ego nec ftudium fine divite venâ,
Nec rude quid profit video ingenium; álterius fic "Altera pofcit opem res, & conjurat amice."
He was endowed by Nature with all thofe excellent and neceffary qualifications which are previous to the accomplishment of a great man. His memory was large and tenacious, yet by a curious felicity chiefly fufceptible of the finest impreffions it received from the best authors he read, which it always preferved in their primitive ftrength and amiable order.
He had a quickness of apprehenfion, and vivacity of understanding, which eafily took-in and furmounted the moft fubtle and knotty parts of mathematicks and metaphyficks. His wit was prompt and flowing, yet folid and piercing his taste delicate, his head clear, and his way of expreffing his thoughts perfpicuous and engaging. I fhall fay nothing of his perfon, which yet was fo well turned, that no neglect of himfelf in his drefs could render it disagreeable; infomuch that the fair sex, who obferved and efteemed him, at once commended and reproved him by the name of the bandsome floven. An eager but generous and noble emulation grew up with him; which (as it were à rational fort of inftinct) pushed him upon ftriving to excel in every art and science that could make him a credit to his college, and that college the ornament of the most learned and polite univerfity; and it was his happinefs to have feveral contemporaries and fellowftudents who exercifed and excited this virtue in themselves and others, thereby becoming fo defervedly