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“ — Ego nec studium fine divite venâ,
He was endowed by Nature with all those excellent and necessary qualifications which are previous to the accomplishment of a great man. His memory was large and tenacious, yet by a curious felicity chiefly susceptible of the finest impressions it received from the best authors he read, which it always preferred in their primitive strength and amiable.. order.
He had a quickness of apprehension, and vivacity of understanding, which easily took-in and furmounted the most subtle and knotty parts of mathematicks and metaphysicks. His wit was prompt and flowing, yet solid and piercing; his taste delicate, his head clear, and his way of expressing his thoughts perspicuous and engaging. I shall say nothing of his person, which yet was so well turned, that no neglect of himself in his dress could render : it disagreeable; insomuch that the fair sex, who observed and esteemed him, at once commended and reproved him by the name of the handsome sloven. An eager but generous and noble emulation grew up with him; which (as it were a rational sort of instinct) pushed him upon striving 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 university; and it was his happi. ness to have several contemporaries and fellowstudents who exercised and excited this virtue in themselves and others, thereby becoming so deserve
edly in favour with this age, and so good a proof of its nice discernment. His judgement, naturally good, foon ripened into an exquisite fineness and distinguishing sagacity, which as it was active and busy, so it was vigorous and manly, keeping even paces with a rich and strong imagination, always upon the wing, and never tired with aspiring. Hence it was, that, though he writ as young as Cowley, he had no puerilities; and his earliest productions were so far from having any thing in them mean and trifling, that, like the junior compositions of Mr. Stepney, they may make grey authors blush. There are many of his first eslays in oratory, in epigram, elegy, and epique, still handed about the university in manufcript, which shew a masterly hand; and, though mained and injured by frequent transcribing, make their way into our most celebrated miscellanies, where they shine with uncommon luftre. Befides thofe verses in the Oxford books, which he could not help fetting his name to, several of his compositions came abroad under other names, which his own fingular modefty, and faithful filence, ftrove in vain to conceal. The Encenia and publick Collections of the Univerfity upon State Subjects were never in such esteem, either for elegy and congratulation, as when he contributed most largely to them; and it was natural for thofe, who knew his peculiar way of writing, to turn to his share in the work, as by far the most relishing part of the entertainment. As his parts were extraordinary, so he well knew how to improve them ; and not only to polith the diamond, but enchase it in the most folid and durable metal. Though he was an academick the greatest
part part of his life, yet he contracted no fournefs of temper, no spice of pedantry, no itch of disputation, or obftinate contention for the old or new philofophy, no assuming way of dictating to others, which are faults (though excusable) which some are infenfibly led into, who are constrained to dwell long within the walls of a private college. His converfation was pleasant and instructive; and what Horace faid of Plotius, Varios, and Virgil, might juftly be applied to him : “ Nil ego contulerim jucundo fanus Amico."
Sat. v. 1. 1.
As correct a writer as he was in his most elaborate pieces, he read the works of others with candour, and referred his greatest severity for his own compofitions ; being readier to cherish and advance, than đamp or depress, a rifing genius, and as patient of being excelled himfelf (if any could excel him) as industrious to excel others.
'Twere to be wished he had confined himself to a particular profession, who was capable of surpassing in any; but, in this, his want of application was in a great meafure owing to his want of due encouragement.
He passed through the exercises of the college and university with unufual applaufe ; and though he often suffered his friends to call him off from his retirements, and to lengthen out thofe jovial avocations, yet his return to his studies were fo much the more pafsionate, and his intention upon chofe refined pleasures of reading and thinking fo vehenient (to which his facetious and unbended intervals bore no
proportion), that the habit grew upon him, and the series of meditation and reflection being kept up whole weeks together, he could better fort his ideas, and take in the fundry parts of a science at one view, without interruption or confusion. Some indeed of his acquaintance, who were pleased to distinguish between the wit and the scholar, extolled him altogether on the account of these titles ; but others, who knew hinı better, could not forbear doing him juftice as a prodigy in both kinds. He had signalized himself, in the schools, as a philosopher and polemick 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 energy, a ready exactness, and commanding force of argument, when Dr. Jane worthily presided in the chair; whofe condescending and disinterested commendation of him gave him such a reputation as filenced 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 have encumbered it with novel terms and burdenfome explanations, understood its real weight and purity half so well as Mr. Smith. He was too difcerning to allow of the character of unprofitable, rugged, and abstruse, which some superficial sciolists (so very smooth and polite as to admit of no impresfion), either out of an unthinking indolence, or an illgrounded prejudice, had affixed to this sort of studies. He knew the thorny terms of philosophy
ferved well to fence-in the true doctrines of religion ; and looked upon 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 perusing 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 tract of credit, upon that subject, which he had not diligently examined, from Aristotle down to Hedelin and Boffu; so that, having each rule constantly before him, he could carry the art through every poem, and at once point out the graces and deforinities. By this means he seemed to read with a de: sign 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 as 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 compositions of others, it was not ill-nature (which was not in his temper), but B 4