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extolled him altogether on the account of these titles; but others, who knew him better, could not forbear doing him justice as a prodigy in both kinds. He had signalized himself, in the schools, as a philosopher and pole
mick of extensive knowledge and deep penetration; and went through all the · courses with a wise regard to the dignity and importance of each science.
I remember him in the Divinity-school responding and disputing with a perspicuous chergy, a ready exactness, and commanding force of argument, Woben Dr. Jarie worthily presided in the chair;, whose condescending and disinterested commendation of him gave him such a reputation as silenced the envious malice of his enemies, who durst: not contradict the approbation of so profound a master in theology. None of those self-sufficient creatures, who have either trified with philosophy, by attempting to ridicule it, or haye encumbered it with novel terms, and burdensome explanations, understood its real weight and purity half so well as Mr. Smith. He was too discerning to allow of the character of unprofitable, rugged, and abstruse, which some superficial sciolists (so very smooth and polite as to admit of no impression), either out of an unthinking indolence, or an ill-grounded prejudice, had afixed to this sort of studies. He knew the rhorny terms of philosophy served well to fence-in the true doctrines of religion; and looked upon a school-divinity as upon a rough but well-wrought army, which might at once adorn and defend the Christian hero, and equip him for the combat.
Mr. Smith had a long and perfect intimacy with all the Greek and Latin Classicks; with whom he had carefully compared whatever was worth peTusing in the French, Spanish, and Italian, (to which languages he was no stranger), and in all the celebrated writers of his own country. But then, according to the curious observation of the late earl of Shaftesbury, he kept the poet in awe by regular criticism ; and, as it were; married the two arts for their mutual support and improvement. There was not a track of credit, upon that subject, which he had not diligently examined, from Aristotle down to Hedelin and Bossu; so that, having each rule constantly before him, he could carry the art through every poem, and at once point out the graces and deformities. By this means he seemed to read with a design to correct, as well as imitate.
Being thus prepared, he could not but taste every little delicacy that was set before him ; though it was impossible for him at the same time to be fed and nourished with any thing but what was substantial and lasting. He considered the ancients and moderns not as parties or rivals for fame, but 25 architects upon one and the same plan, the Art of Poetry; according to which he judged, approved, and blamed, without flattery or detraction. If he did not always commend the composition of others, it was not ill-nature (which was not in his temper), but strict justice that would not let him call
. a few
a few Aowers set in ranks, a gilb measure, and so many couplets, by the name of poetry: he was of Ben Johnson's opinion, who could not admire :
Verses as smooth and soft as cream,
And therefore, though his want of complaisance for some men's overbearing vanity made him enemies, yet the better part of mankind were obliged by the freedom of his reflections.
His Bodleian Speech, though taken from a remote and imperfect copy) bath shewn the world how great a master he was of the Ciceronian elox quence, mixed with the consciousness and force of Demosthenes, the elegant and moving turns of Pliny, and the acute and wise reflections of Tacitus.
Since Temple and Roscommon, no man understood Horace bétter, especi: ally as to his happy diction, rolling numbers, beautiful imagery, and alternate mixture of the soft and the sublime. This endeared Dr. Hannes's odes to him, the finest génius for Latin lyrick since the Augustan Age. His friend Mr. Philips's ode to Mr. St. John (late lord Bolingbroke), after the manner of Horace's Lusory or Amatorian Odes, is certainly a master-piece: but Mr. Smith's Pocockius is of the sublimer kind, though, like Waller's writings upon Oliver Cromwell, it wants not the most delicate and surprising turns peculiar to the person praised, I do not remember to have seen any thing like it in Dr. Bathurst, who had made some attempt this way with applause. He was an excellent judge of humanity ; and so good an historian, that in familiar discourse he would talk over the most memorable facts in antiquity, the lives, actions, and characters, of celebrated men, with amazing facility and accuracy. As he had thoroughly read and digested Thuanus's works, so he was able to copy after him: and his talent in this kind was so well known and allowed, that he had been singled out by some great men to write a history, which it was for their interest to have done with the utmost art and dexterity, I shall not mention for what reasons this · design was dropped, though they are very much to Mr. Smith's honour.
The truth is, and I speak it before living witnesses, whilst an agreeable com pany could fix him upon a subject of useful literature, nobody shone to greater advantage: he seemed to be that Memmius whom Lucretius speaks of;
Quem tu, Dea, tempore in omni
His works are not many, and those scattered up and down in Miscellanies and Collections, being wrested from him by his friends with great difficulty and reluctance. All of them together make but a small part of that much
greater body, which lies dispersed in the possession of a numerous acquaintance ; and 'caunot perhaps be made intire, without, great injustice to him, because few of them had his last hand, and the transcriber was often obliged to take the liberties of a friend. His condolence for.the death of Mr. Philips is full of the noblest beauties, and hath done justice to the ashes of that second Milton, whose writings will last as long as the English language, gencrosity, and valour. For him Mr. Sinith had contracted a perfect friendship; a passion he was most susceptible of, and whose laws he looked upon as sacred and 'inviolable.
Every subject that passed under his pen had all the life, proportion, and embellishments bestowed on it, which an exquisite skill, a warm imagination, and a cool judgement, could possibly bestow on it. The epique, lyrick, elegiac, every sort of poetry, he touched upon (and he had touched upon a great variety), was raised to its proper height, and the differences between each of them observed with a judicious accuracy. We saw the old rules and new beauties placed in admirable order by each other; and there was a predominant fancy and spirit of his own infused, superior to what some draw off from the ancients, or from poesies here and there culled out of the moderns, by a painful industry and servile imitation. His contrivances were adroit ' and magnificent; his images lively and adequate ; his sentiments charming and majestick, his expressions natural and bold; his numbers various and sounding; and that enameled mixture of classical wit, which, without redundance and affection, sparkled through his writings, and were no less pertinent and agreeable.
His Phædra is a consummate tragedy, and the success of it was as great as the most sanguine expectations of his friends could promise or foresce. The number of nights, and the common method of filling the house, are not always the surest marks of judging what encouragement a play meets with: but the generosity of all the persons of a refined taste about town was remarkable on this occasion ; and it must not be forgotten how zcalously Mr. Addison espoused his interest, with all the elegant judgement and difusive good-nature for which that accomplished gentleman and author is so justly valued by mankind. But as to Phadra, she has certainly made a finer figure under Mr. Smith's conduct, upon the English stage, than cither in Rome or Athens : and if she excels the Greek and Latin Phædra, I need not say she surpasses the French one, though embellished with whatever regular beauties and moving softness Racine himself could give her.
No man had a juster notion of the difficulty of composing than Mr. Smith, and he sometimes would create greater difficulties than ha had reason to apprehend. Writing with ease, what (as Mr. Wycherley speaks) may be easily written, moved his indignation. When he was writing upon a subject, Vol. 1.
he would seriously consider what Demosthenes, Homer, Virgil, or Horace, if alive, would say upon that occasion, which whetted him to exceed himself as well as others. Nevertheless, he could not, or would not, finish sex veral subjects he undertock; which may be imputed either to the briskness of his fancy, still hunting after new matter, or to an occasional indolence which spleen and lassitude brought upon him, which, of all his foibles, the world was least inclined to forgive. That this was not owing to conceit or vanity, or a fulness of himself (a frailty which has been imputed to no less men than Shakespeare and Johnson), is clear from hence ; because he left his works to the entire disposal of his friends, whose mcst rigorous censures lic even courted and solicited ; submitting to their animadversions, and the freedom they took with them, with an unreserved and prudent jesignation.
I have seen sketches and rough draughts of some poems he designed, cci out analytically : wherein the fable, structure, and connexion, the images, incidents, moral, episodes, and a great variety of ornaments, were so finely laid out, so well fitted to the rules of art, and squared so exactly to the precedents of the ancients, that I have often looked on these poetical elements with the same concern, with which curious men are affected at the sight of the most entertaining remains and ruins of an antique figure or building. Those fragınents of the learned, which some men have been so proud of their pains in collecting, are useless rarities, without form and without life, when compared with these embryos which wanted not spirit enough to preserve them ; so that I cannot help thinking, that, if some of them were to come abroad, they would be as highly valued by the poets, as the sketches of Julio and Titian are by the painters; though there is nothing in them but a few outlines, as to the design and proportion.
It must be confessed, that Mr. Smith had some defects in his conduct, which those are most apt to remember who could imitate him in nothing else. His freedom with himself drew sevère acknowledgements from him than all the malice he ever provoked was capable of advancing, and bę did not scruple to give even his misfortunes the hard name of faulis : but, if the world had half his good nature, all the shady parts would be entirely. struck out of his character.
A man, who, under poverty, calamities and disappointments, could make so many friends, and those so truly valuable, must have just and noble ideas of the passion of friendship, in the success of which consisted the greatest, if not the only happiness of his life. He knew very well what. was due to his birth, though fortune threw hin short of it in every other circumstance of life. He avoided making any, though perhaps reasonable, complaints of her dispensations, under which he had lionour enough to be easy, without touching the favours shie fung in his way when offered to him
ai the price of a more durable reputation. He took care to have no dealings with mankind, in which he could not be just; and he desired to be at no other expence in his pretensions than that of intrinsic merit, which was the only burthen and reproach he ever brought upon his friends. He could say, as Horace did of himself, what I never yet saw translated ; .
At his coming to town, no man was more surrounded by all those who really had or pretended to wit, or more courted by the great men, who had then a power and opportunity of encouraging arts and sciences, and gave proofs of their fondness for the name of Patron in many instances, which will eyer be remembered to their glory. Mr. Smith's character grew upon his friends by intimacy, and out-went the strongest prepossessions which had been conceived in his favour. Whatever quarrel a few sour creatures, whose obscurity is their happiness, may possibly have to the age ; yet amidst a studied neglect, and total disuse of all those ceremonial attendances, fashionable equipments, and external recommendations, which are thought necessary introductions into the grande monde, this gentleman was so happy, as still to please ; and whilst the rich, the gay, the noble, and honourable, saw how much he excelled in wit and learning, they easily forgave him all other differences. Hence it was that both his acquaintance and retirements were his own free choice. What Mr. Prior observes upon a very great character, was true of him ; that most of his faults brought their excuses with them.
Those who blamed him most, understood him least, it being the custom of the vulgar to charge an excess upon the most complaisant, and to form a character by the morals of a few ; who have sometimes spoiled an hour or Ixo- in good company. Where only fortune is wanting to make a great name, that single exception can never pass upon the best judges and most equitable observers of mankind; and when the time comes for the world to spare their pity, we may justly enlarge our demands upon them for their admiration.
Some few years before his death, he had engaged himself in several considerable undertakings; in all which he had prepared the world to ex- . pect mighty things from him. I have seen about ten sheets of his Englis Pindar, which exceeded any thing of that kind I could ever hope for in our own language. He had drawn out a plan of a tragedy of the Lady Jane Grey, and had gone through several scenes of it. - But he could mis vell have bequeathed that work to better hands than where. I hear, it is # present lodged; and the bare mention of two such names inay justify Kk %