« הקודםהמשך »
the largest expectations, and is sufficient to make the town an agreeable invitation.
Ilis greatest and noblest undertaking was Longinus. He had finished an entire translation of the Sublime, which he sent the reverend Mr. Richard Parker, a friend of his, late of Merton College, an exact critick in the Greek tongue, from whom it came to my hands. The French version of Monsieur Boileau, though truly valuable, was far short of it. ' He 'proposed a large addition to this work, of notes and observations of his own, with an entire system of the Art of Poetry, in three books, under the titles of Thought, Diction, and Figure. I saw the last of these perfect, and in a fair, copy, in which he shewed prodigious judgement and reading ; and particularly had reformed the art of Rhetorick, by reducing that vast and confused hcap of terms, with which along succession of pedants had encumberedtheworld, to a very narrow compass, comprehending all that was useful and ornamental in poetry. Under each head and chapter, he intended to make remarks upon all the ancients and moderns, the Greek, Latin, English, French, Spanish, and Italian poets, and to note their several beauties and defects..
What remains of his works is left, as I am informed, in the hands of men of worth and judgement, who loved him. It cannot be supposed they would suppress any thing that was his, but out of respect to his memorya and for want of proper bands to finish what sa great a genius had begun.
SUCH is the declamation of Oldisworth, written while his admiration was yet fresh, and his kindness warm ; and therefore such as, without any criminal purpose of deceiving, shew's a strong desire to make the most of all favourable truth. I cannot much commend the performance. The praise is often indistinct, and the sentences are loaded with words of more pomp than use.' There is little, however, that can be contradicted, even when a plainer tale comes to be told.
EDMUND NEALE, known by the name of Smith, was born at Handley, the seat of the Lechmeres, in Worcestershire. The year of his birth iz uncertain *
He was educated at Westmitter. It is known to have been the practice of Dr. Busby to detain those youths long at school, of whom he had formed the highest expectations. Smith took his Master's degree on the 8th of July 1696: he therefore was probably admitted into the university in 1689, when we may suppose him twenty years old.
* By his epitaph he appears to have been 42 years old when he died. He was consequeutly bom in the year 1668. E
His reputation for literature in his college was such as has been told; but the indecency and licentiousness of his behaviour drew upon him, Dec. 24,, 1694, while he was yet only Batchelor, a public admonition, entered upon record, in order to his expulsion. Of this reproof the effect is not known. He was probably less notorious. At Oxford, as we all know, much will be forgiven to literary merit; and of that he had exhibited sufficient evidence by his excellent ode on the death of the great Orientalist, Dr. Pocock, who died in 1691, and whose praise must have been written by Smith, when he had been but two years in the university.
This ade, which closed the second volume of the Musæ Anglicanæ, though perhaps some.objections may be made to its Latinity, is by far the best Lyrick composition in that collection ; nor do I know where to find it equalled among the modern writers. It expresses, with great felicity, images not classical in classical diction : its digressions and returns have been deservedly recommended by Trapp as models for imitation. He had several imitations af Cowley:
Testitur hinc tot sermo coloribus
Orator effers, quot vicissim
I will not commend the figure which makes the orator pronounce the colours or give to colours memory and delight, I quote it, however, as an imitation of · these lines ;
The simile, by which an old man, retaining the fire of his youth, is compared to Ætna flaming through the snow, which Smith has used with great pomp, is stolen from Cowley, however little worth the labour of conveyance.
He proceeded to take his degree of Master of Arts, July 8, 1696. Of the exercises which he performed on that occasion, I have not heard any thing memorable.
As his years advanced, he advanced in reputation : for he continued to culţivate his mind, though he did not amend his irregularities, by which he gave so much offence, that, April 24, 1700, the Dean and Chapter declared, '“ the place of Mr. Smith void, he having been convicted of riotous "misbehaviour in the house of Mr. Cole an apothecary ; but it was referred " to the Dean when and upon what occasion the sentence should be put in “ execution." "
Thus tenderly was he treated: the governors of his college could hardly kecp him, and yet wished that he would not force them to drive him away.
Some Some time afterwards he assumed an appearance of decency; in his own phrase, he whitened himself, having a desire to obtain the censorship, an of fice of honour and some proft in the college ; but, when the election came, the preference was given to Mr. Foulkes, his junior: the same, I suppose, that joined with Freind in an edition of part of Demosthenes. The censor is. a tutor; and it was not thought proper to trust the superintendance of others to a man who took so little care of himself.
From this time Smith employed his malice and his wit against the Dean, Dr. Aldrich, whom he considered as the opponent of his claim. Of his lampocn upon him, I once heard a single line too gross to be repeated. ..
But he was still a genlus and a scholar, and Oxford uas unwilling to lose 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. - The execution was, I believe, silent and tender ; 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.
There was once a design, hinted at hy 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 staid some time below, came up thoughtfa!. 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 intend" ed, 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 Reg 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.
Such scruples might debar him from some profițe ble employments; but, as they could not deprive him of any real esteem, they left him many friends i 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. His play pleased the criticks, and the criticks only. It was, as Addison has recorded, hardly heard the third night. Smith haŭ indeed trusted entirely ta
his merit, had ensured no band of applauders, nor used any artifice to force success, and found that naked excellence was not sufficicns 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 dedication, till Lintot, a!ter fruitless importunity, gave notice that he would publish the play without it. 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 impuies it to the fondness for operas then prevailing. The authority of Addison is great ; yet the voice of the people, when to piease 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 false, and the manners are só 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 school-boy'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 rathor than displease them. It is a scholars 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 Priceira; but was convinced that the action was ,'too mytholical.
In 1709, a year after the exhibition of Phætra, died John Philips, the friend and fellow-collegian of Smith, who, on that occasion, wrote a pcem, which justice must place among the best elegies which our language can sheir, an elegant mixture of fondness and admiration, of dignity and soitnes3. There are some passages too ludicrous; but every human performance haz 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. . Of his Pindar, mentioned by Oldisior:), Itave never otherwise heard.
His Longinus he intended to accompany with some illustrations, and had som lected his instances of the false Sublime from the work 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 operations of known characters.
A subject will not easily occur that can give more opportunities of inform ing the understanding, for which Smith was unquestionably qualified; or for moving the passions, in which I suspect him to have had less power.
Having formed his plan and collected materials, he declared that a fete months wuuld 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 oppor.tunities of indulgence as did not much forward his studies, and particularly some strong ale, too delicious to be résisted. He eat and drank till he found himself plethorick : 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 given 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 bistorian, an account pretended to have been received from Smith, that Clarendon's History was, in its publication, corrupted by Aldrich, Smaldridge, and Atterbury ; and that Smith was employed to forge and insert the alterations, . . .
This story was published triumphantly by Oldmixon, and may be supposed to have been eagearly received ; but its progress was soon checked; for finding its way into the Journal of Trevoux, it fell under the eye of Aiterbury 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 accopted by those who attended to their characters.
The charge was afterwards very diligently refuted by Dr. Burton of Eaton, 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 con