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strict justice would not let him call a few flowers fet in ranks, a glib measure, and so many couplets, by the name of poetry : he was of Ben Jonson'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, hath Thewn the world how great a master he was of the Ciceronian eloquence, mixed with the conciseness 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 better, especially as to his happy diction, rolling numbers, beautiful imagery, and al. ternate mixture of the soft and the sublime. This endeared Dr. Hannes's odes to him, the finest genius for Latin lyrick since the Auguftan 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-piete ; 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 surprifing turnis peculiar to the person praised. I do not remember to have seen any thing like it in Dr. Bathurst, who had made fome attempts this way with applause. He was an excellent judge of hunianity; and so good
an 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 reafons 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 company could fix him upon a subject of useful literature, nobody shone to greater advantage; he feemed to be that Memmius whom Lucretius speaks
-Quem tu, Dea, tempore in omni Omnibus ornatum voluisti excellere rebus.
· 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 numerous acquaintance ; and cannot 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, generosity, and valour. For hiin Mr. Smith 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 embellithments bestowed on it, which an exquisite skill, a warm imagination, and a cool judgement, poffibly could 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 thein 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 soine draw off from the ancients, or from poefies 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 founding; and that enameled mixture of classical wit, which, without redundance and affectation, 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 foresee. The number of nights, and the common method of filling the house, are not always the furest 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 occafion; and it must not be forgotten how zealously Mr. Addison espoused his interest, with all the elegant judgement and diffusive good-nature for which that accomplished gentlenian 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 either in Rome or Athens; and if she excels the Greek and Latin Phædra, I need not say The 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 he 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, he would seriously consider what Demosthenes, Homer, Virgil, or Horace, if alive, would say upon that occasion, wliich whetted him to exceed himself as well as others. Nevertheless, he could not, or would not, finish several subjects he undertook; which may be imputed either to the briskness of his fancy, still hunting after new matter, or to an occafional indoJence, 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 Shakspeare and Jonson), is clear from hence; because he left his works to the entire disposal of his friends, whose most rigorous censures he even courted and solicited,
submitting to their animadversions, and the freedoni they took with them, with an unreserved and prudent resignation. . I have seen sketches and rough draughts of fome poems to be designed, set out analytically; wherein the fable, structure, and connexion, the images, incidents, moral, episodes, and a great variety of ornamients, were fo finely laid out, so well fitted to the rules of art, and squared fo exactly to the precedents of the ancients, that I lave 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 fragments of the learned, which fome 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 fpirit 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 fketches 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 freedoin with himself drew severer acknowledgements from him than all the malice he ever. provoked was capable of advancing, and he did not fcruple to give even his misfortunes the hard name of faults; but, if the world had half his good-nature, all the shady parts would be entirely struck out of his character.