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? 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 memo. rable.
As his years advanced, he advanced in reputation ; for he continued to cultivate 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 behaviour in the * house of Mr. Cole, an apothecary : but it was re* ferred to the Dean when and upon what occafion " the sentence should be put in execution.”...
Thus tenderly was he treated: the governors of his college could hardly keep him, and yet wished that he would not force them to drive him away."
Some time afterwards he affumed an appearance of decency : in his own phrase, he whitened himself, having a desire to obtain the censorship, an office of honour and some profit 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 fo little care of himself.
From this time Smith employed his malice and his · wit against the Dean, Dr. Aldrich, whom he con
sidered as the opponent of his claim. Of his lampoon : upon him, I once heard a single line too grofs to be repeated.
But he was still a genius and a scholar, and Ox. førd was 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, filent 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 hiin, or because he was a Whig by principle, may perhaps be doubted. He was, however, careffed 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 by Oldisworth, to have made him useful. One evening, as he was fitting with a friend at a tavern, he was called down by the waiter ; and, having staid some time below, came up thoughtful. 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 intended, and to propose that I 66 should undertake it. I said, “What shall I do “ with the character of Lord Sunderland ? and Ad“6 dison immediately returned, "When, Rag, were “ you drunk laft?' and went away." · * Captain Rag 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 feruples might debar him from some profitable employments; but, as they could not deprive him of any real-esteem, they left him many friends; and no man was ever better introduced to the theatre than he, who, in that violent conflict of parties, had a Prologuc 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 had indeed trusted entirely to his merit, had ensured no band of applauders, nor used any artifice to force success, and found that native excellence was not sufficient for its own support.
The play, however, was bought by Lintot, who advanced the price from fifty guineas, the current rate, to fixty; and Halifax, the general patron, accepted the dedication. Smith's indolence kept him from writing the dedication till Lintot, after 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 Speelator, mentioned the neglect of Smith's tragedy, as disgraceful to the nation, and imputes it to the fondness for operas then prevailing. The authority of Addison is great ; yet
the voice of the people, when to please 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 so distant from our own, that we know them not from fym. pathy, but by ftudy: the ignorant do not understand the actions 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 rather than displays them. It is a scholar's 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 Pbadra ; but was convinced that the action was too mythological.
In 1709, a year after the exhibition of Phedra, died John Philips, the friend and fellow-collegian of Smith, who, on that occasion, wrote a poem, which justice must place among the best elegies which our language can shew, an elegant mixture of fondness and admiration, of dignity and softness. There are fome passages too ludicrous; but every human performance has 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 Oldisworth, I have never otherwise heard. His Longinus he intended to accompany with some illustrations, and had selected his instances of the false Sublime from the works of Blackmore. . He refolved 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 operation of known characters.
A subject will not easily occur that can give more opportunities of informing 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 few months would 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 opportunities of indulgence as did not much forward his studies, and particularly some strong ale, too delicious to be refifted. He ate 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