« AnteriorContinuar »
Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his
throat, To persuade Tommy Townsend to lend him a vote; Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining, And thought of convincing, while they thought of
dining. Though equal to all things, for all things unfit ; Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit: For a patriot too cool ; for a drudge disobedient, And too fond of the right to pursue the expedient. In short, 'twas his fate, unemployed, or in place, sir, To eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a razor.
My father lived beside the Tyne,
A wealthy lord was he;
He had but only me.
Unnumbered suitors came;
And felt, or feigned, a flame.
With richest proffers strove ;
But never talked of love.
No wealth nor power had he ;
But these were all to me.
The dews of heaven refined,
To emulate his mind.
With charms inconstant shine;
Their constancy was mine. For still I tried each fickle art,
Importunate and vain ;
I triumphed in his pain.
He left me to my pride ;
In secret, where he died !
And well my life shall pay :
And stretch me where he lay. And there, forlorn, despairing, hid,
I'll lay me down and die : 'Twas so for me that Edwin did,
And so for him will l.' • Forbid it, Heaven !' the hermit cried,
And clasped her to his breast : The wondering fair one turned to chide :
'Twas Edwin's self that prest! ‘Turn, Angelina, erer dear,
My charmer, turn to see
Restored to love and thee.
And every care resign ;
My life-my all that's mine?
We'll live and love so true ;
Shall break thy Edwin's too.'
Here lies David Garrick, describe him who can,
gave! How did Grub Street re-echo the shouts that you raised, While he was be-Rosciused, and you were be-praised ! But peace to his spirit, wherever it flies, To act as an angel, and mix with the skies : Those poets who owe their best fame to his skill, Shall still be his flatterers, go where he will; Old Shakspeare, receive him with praise and with love, And Beaumonts and Bens be his Kellys above.
Here Reynolds* is laid ; and, to tell you my mind,
hearing : When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios, and
etuff, He shifted his trumpet,t and only took snuff.
TOBIAS GEORGE SMOLLETT.
[Extracts from Retaliation.] [Goldsmith and some of his friends occasionally dined together at the St James's coffee-house. One day it was proposed ist, scarcely recollect him as a poet, though he has
Many who are familiar with Smollett as a novelto write epitaphs upon him. His country, dialect, and wisdom, furnished subjects for witticism. He was called on for retalia: scattered some fine verses amidst his prose fictions, tion, and, at the next meeting, produced his poem bearing that and has written an Ode to Independence, which name, in which we find much of the shrewd observation, wit, possesses the masculine strength of Dryden, with and liveliness which distinguish his prose writings.]
an elevation of moral feeling and sentiment rarely
attempted or felt by that great poet. TOBIAS Here lies our good Edmund," whose genius was such, GEORGE SMOLLETT was born in Dalquhurn-house, We scarcely can praise it or blame it too much ; near the village of Renton, Dumbartonshire, in Who, born for the universe, narrowed his mind,
* Sir Joshua Reynolds. And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.
Sir Joshua was so remarkably deaf, as to be under the * Burke. necessity of using an ear-trumpet in company.
1721. His father, a younger son of Sir James with her son. The better to support his assumed Smollett of Bonhill, having died early, the poet character, he endeavoured to preserve a serious was educated by his grandfather. After the usual countenance approaching to a frown; but, while his
mother's eyes were rivetted on his countenance, he could not refrain from smiling. She immediately sprung from her chair, and throwing her arms around his neck, exclaimed, " Ah, my son! my son! I have found you at last.” She afterwards told him that if he had kept his austere looks, and continued to gloom, he might have escaped detection some time longer ; " but your old roguish smile," added she, “ betrayed you at once.” On this occasion Smollett visited his relations and native scenes in Dumbartonshire, and spent two days in Glasgow, amidst his boyish companions. Returning to England, he resumed his literary occupations. He unfortunately became editor of the Critical Review, and an attack in that journal on Admiral Knowles, one of the commanders at Carthagena (which Smollett acknowledged to be his composition), led to a trial for libel; and the author was sentenced to pay a fine of £100, and suffered three months imprisonment. He consoled himself by writing, in prison, his novel of Launcelot Greaves. Another proof of his fertility and industry as an author was afforded by his History of England, written, it is said, in fourteen months. He engaged in political discussion, for which he was ill qualified by temper, and, taking the unpopular side, he was completely vanquished by the truculent satire and abuse of Wilkes. His health was also shattered by close application to his studies, and by private misfortune. In his early
days Smollett had married a young West Indian Birthplace of Smollett.
lady, Miss Lascelles, by whom he had a daughter.
This only child died at the age of fifteen, and the course of instruction in the grammar school of disconsolate father tried to fly from his grief by a Dumbarton, and at the university of Glasgow, tour through France and Italy. He was absent two Tobias was placed apprentice to a medical prac- years, and published an account of his travels, which, titioner, Mr Gordon, Glasgow. He was nineteen amidst gleams of humour and genius, is disfigured when his term of apprenticeship expired, and, at by the coarsest prejudices. Sterne has successfully this early age, his grandfather having died with- ridiculed this work in his Sentimental Journey. out making any provision for him, the young and Some of the critical dicta of Smollett are mere sanguine adventurer proceeded to London, his chief ebullitions of spleen. In the famous statue of the dependence being a tragedy, called the Regicide, Venus de Medici
, 'which enchants the world,' he which he attempted to bring out at the theatres. could see no beauty of feature, and the attitude he Foiled in this effort of juvenile ambition, Smollett considered awkward and out of character! The became surgeon's mate on board an eighty-gun ship, Pantheon at Rome-that “glorious combination of and was present at the ill-planned and disastrous beauty and magnificence'-he said looked like a expedition against Carthagena, which he has de- huge cock-pit, open at the top. Sterne said justly, scribed with much force in his Roderick Random. that such declarations should have been reserved He returned to England in 1746, published two for his physician; they could only have sprung satires, Advice and Reproof, and in 1748 gave to the from bodily distemper. Yet, be it said,' remarks world his novel of 'Roderick Random.' Peregrine Sir Walter Scott, without offence to the memory Pickle appeared three years afterwards. Smollett of the witty and elegant Sterne, it is more easy to next attempted to practise as a physician, but failed, assume, in composition, an air of alternate gaiety and, taking a house at Chelsea, devoted himself to and sensibility, than to practise the virtues of geneliterature as a profession. Notwithstanding his rosity and benevolence, which Smollett exercised
facility of composition, his general information and during his whole life, though often, like his own talents, his life was one continual struggle for exist- Matthew Bramble, under the disguise of peevishence, embittered by personal quarrels, brought on ness and irritability. Sterne's writings show much partly by irritability of temper. In 1753, his ro- flourish concerning virtues of which his life is mance of Ferdinand Count Fathom was published, understood to have produced little fruit; the temper and in 1755 his translation of Don Quixote. The of Smollett was version of Motteux is now generally preferred to that of our author, though the latter is marked by
like a lusty winter, his characteristic humour and versatility of talent.
Frosty, but kindly.' After he had finished this task, Smollett paid a visit The native air of the great novelist was more cheerto his native country. His fame had gone before ing and exhilarating than the genial gales of the him, and his reception by the literati of Scotland south. On his return from Italy he repaired to was cordial and flattering. His filial tenderness and Scotland, saw once more his affectionate mother, and affection was also gratified by meeting with his sojourned a short time with his cousin, Mr Smollett surviving parent. On Smollett's arrival,' says Dr of Bonhill, on the banks of the Leven. Moore, he was introduced to his mother, with the "The water of Leven,' he observes in his Humconnivance of Mrs Telfer (bis sister) as a gentleman phry Clinker, “though nothing near so considerable from the West Indies, who was intimately acquainted | as the Clyde, is much more transparent, pastoral,
and delightful. This charming stream is the outlet in a cottage which Dr Armstrong, then abroad, enof Loch Lomond, and through a track of four miles gaged for him in the neighbourhood of Leghorn. pursues its winding course over a bed of pebbles, till | The warm and genial climate seems to have it joins the Firth of Clyde at Dumbarton. On this awakened his fancy, and breathed a temporary anispot stands the castle formerly called Alcluyd, and mation into his debilitated frame. He here wrote washed by these two rivers on all sides except a his Humphry Clinker, the most rich, varied, and narrow isthmus, which at every spring-tide is over- agreeable of all his novels. Like Fielding, Smolflowed; the whole is a great curiosity, from the lett was destined to die in a foreign country. He quality and form of the rock, as from the nature of had just committed his novel to the public, when its situation. A very little above the source of the he expired, on the 21st of October 1771, aged 51. Leven, on the lake, stands the house of Cameron, Had he lived a few years longer, he would have inbelonging to Mr Smollett (the late commissary), so herited, as heir of entail, the estate of Bonhill, embosomed in oak wood, that we did not perceive it worth about £1000 a-year. His widow erected a till we were within fifty yards of the door. The plain monument over his remains at Leghorn, and lake approaches on one side to within six or seven his relations, who had neglected him in his days of yards of the windows. It might have been placed suffering and distress, raised a cenotaph to his meon a higher site, which would have afforded a more mory on the banks of the Leven. The prose works extensive prospect, and a drier atmosphere; but of Smollett will hereafter be noticed. He wrote no this imperfection is not chargeable on the present poem of any length ; but it is evident he could have proprietor, who purchased it ready built, rather than excelled in verse had he cultivated his talents, and be at the trouble of repairing his own family house enjoyed a life of greater ease and competence. Sir of Bonhill, which stands two miles hence, on the Walter Scott has praised the fine mythological comLeven, so surrounded with plantations, that it used mencement of his Ode; and few readers of taste or to be known by the name of the Mavis (or Thrush) feeling are unacquainted with his lines on Leven Nest. Above the house is a romantic glen, or cleft Water, the picturesque scene of his early days. The of a mountain, covered with hanging woods, having latter were first published in ‘Humphry Clinker, at the bottom a stream of fine water, that forms a after the above prose description of the same landnumber of cascades in its descent to join the Leven, scape, scarcely less poetical. When soured by misso that the scene is quite enchanting.
fortune, by party conflicts, and the wasting effects of I have seen the Lago di Gardi, Albano di Vico, disease, the generous heart and warm sensibilities of Bolsena and Geneva, and I prefer Loch Lomond to Smollett seem to have kindled at the recollection of them all—a preference which is certainly owing to his youth, and at the rural life and manners of his the verdant islands that seem to float upon its sur-native country. face, affording the most enchanting objects of repose to the excursive view. Nor are the banks destitute
Ode to Independence. of beauties which can partake of the sublime. On this side they display a sweet variety of woodland,
Strophe. corn field, and pasture, with several agreeable villas, Thy spirit, Independence, let me share, emerging as it were out of the lake, till at some dis- Lord of the lion-heart and eagle-eye ; tance the prospect terminates in huge mountains, Thy steps I follow, with my bosom bare, covered with heath, which, being in the bloom, Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky. affords a very rich covering of purple. Everything Deep in the frozen regions of the north, here is romantic beyond imagination. This country A goddess violated brought thee forth, is justly styled the Arcadia of Scotland; I do not Immortal Liberty, whose look sublime doubt but it may vie with Arcadia in everything Hath bleached the tyrant's cheek in every varying clime. but climate. I am sure it excels it in verdure, wood, What time the iron-hearted Gaul, and water.'
With frantic superstition for his guide, All who have traversed the banks of the Leven, Armed with the dagger and the pall, or sailed along the shores of Loch Lomond, in a
The sons of Woden to the field defied calm clear summer day, when the rocks and islands The ruthless hag, by Weser's flood, are reflected with magical brightness and fidelity in In Heaven's name urged the infernal blow; its waters, will acknowledge the truth of this de- And red the stream began to flow : scription, and can readily account for Smollett's The vanquished were baptised with blood ! preference, independently of the early recollections
Antistrophe. which must have endeared the whole to his feelings The Saxon prince in horror fled, and imagination. The extension of manufactures in From altars stained with human gore, Scotland has destroyed some of the pastoral charms And Liberty his routed legions led and seclusion of the Leven, but the course of the In safety to the bleak Norwegian shore. river is still eminently rich and beautiful in sylvan There in a cave asleep she lay, scenery: Smollett's health was now completely Lulled by the hoarse-resounding main, gone. His pen, however, was his only resource, When a bold savage passed that way, and on his return to England he published a politi- Impelled by destiny, his name Disdain. cal satire, The Adventures of an Atom, in which he Of ample front the portly chief appeared : attacks his former patron, Lord Bute, and also the The hunted bear supplied a shaggy vest ; Earl of Chatham. As a politician, Smollett was far The drifted snow hung on his yellow beard, from consistent. His conduct in this respect was And his broad shoulders braved the furious blast. guided more by personal feelings than public prin- He stopt, he gazed, his bosom glowed, ciples, and any seeming neglect or ingratitude at And deeply felt the impression of her charms : once roused his constitutional irritability and indig. He seized the advantage Fate allowed, nation. He was no longer able, however, to con
And straight compressed her in his vigorous arms. tend with the sea of troubles' that encompassed
Strophe. him. In 1770, he again went abroad in quest of The curlew scr the tritons blew health. His friends endeavoured, but in vain, to Their shells to celebrate the ravished rite ; procure him an appointment as consul in some port Old Time exulted as he flew; in the Mediterranean; and he took up his residence | And Independence saw the light.
Antistrophe. Nature I'll court in her sequestered haunts, By mountain, meadow, streamlet, grove, or cell; Where the poised lark his evening ditty chaunts, And health, and peace, and contemplation dwell. There, study shall with solitude recline, And friendship pledge me to his fellow-swains, And toil and temperance sedately twine The slender cord that fluttering life sustains : And fearless poverty shall guard the door, And taste unspoiled the frugal table spread, And industry supply the humble store, And sleep unbribed his dews refreshing shed ; White-mantled Innocence, ethereal sprite, Shall chase far off the goblins of the night; And Independence o’er the day preside, Propitious power! my patron and my pride.
The light he saw in Albion's happy plains,
Strophe. In Fortune's car behold that minion ride, With either India's glittering spoils oppressed, So moves the sumpter-mule in harnessed pride, That bears the treasure which he cannot taste. For him let venal bards disgrace the bay, And hireling minstrels wake the tinkling string; Her sensual snares let faithless pleasure lay, And jingling bells fantastic folly ring : Disquiet, doubt, and dread, shall intervene ; And nature, still to all her feelings just, In vengeance hang a damp on every scene, Shook from the baleful pinions of disgust.
Ode to Leven-Water.
Pure stream, in whose transparent wave
Still on thy banks so gaily green,
The Tears of Scotland. (Written on the barbarities committed in the Highlands by order of the Duke of Cumberland, after the battle of Culloden, 1746. Smollett was then a surgeon's mate, newly returned from service abroad. It is said that he originally finished the poem in six stanzas; when, some one representing that such a diatribe against government might injure his prospects, he sat down and added the still more pointed invective of the seventh stanza.]
Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn
What boots it, then, in every clime,
To groves of pine and broad o'ershadowing oak; Through the wide-spreading waste of time, There, inly thrilled, he wandered all alone, Thy martial glory, crowned with praise,
And on himself his pensive fury wroke, Still shone with undiminished blaze ?
Nor ever uttered word, save when first shone Thy towering spirit now is broke,
The glittering star of eve-Thank Heaven, the day is Thy neck is bended to the yoke.
done ! What foreign arms could never quell,
Warton has praised the 'Art of Preserving Health' By civil rage and rancour fell.
for its classical correctness and closeness of style, The rural pipe and merry lay
and its numberless poetical images. In general, No more shall cheer the happy day:
however, it is stiff and laboured, with occasional No social scenes of gay delight
passages of tumid extravagance; and the images Beguile the dreary winter night:
are not unfrequently echoes of those of Thomson and No strains but those of sorrow flow,
other poets. The subject required the aid of ornaAnd nought be heard but sounds of wo,
ment, for scientific rules are in general bad themes While the pale phantoms of the slain
for poetry, and few men are ignorant of the true Glide nightly o’er the silent plain.
philosophy of life, however they may deviate from Oh! baneful cause, oh ! fatal morn,
it in practice. That health is to be preserved by Accursed to ages yet unborn !
temperance, exercise, and cheerful recreation, is a
truth familiar to all from infancy. Armstrong, howThe sons against their father stood, The parent shed his children's blood.
ever, was no ascetic philosopher. His motto is, Yet, when the rage of battle ceased,
take the good the gods provide you,' but take it The victor's soul was not appeased :
in moderation. The naked and forlorn must feel
When you smooth Devouring flames and murdering steel !
The brows of care, indulge your festive vein
In cups by well-informed experience found
The least your bane, and only with your friends.
The effects of over-indulgence in wine he has finely Her helpless orphans cry for bread ;
described :Bereft of shelter, food, and friend,
But most too passive, when the blood runs low, She views the shades of night descend :
Too weakly indolent to strive with pain, And stretched beneath the inclement skies, And bravely by resisting conquer fate, Weeps o'er her tender babes, and dies.
Try Circe's arts; and in the tempting bowl While the warm blood bedews my veins,
Of poisoned nectar sweet oblivion swill. And unimpaired remembrance reigns,
Struck by the powerful charm, the gloom dissolves Resentment of my country's fate
In empty air; Elysium opens round, Within my filial breast shall beat ;
A pleasing phrenzy buoys the lightened soul,
And sanguine hopes dispel your fleeting care ;
And what was difficult, and what was dire,
Yields to your prowess and superior stars :
The happiest you of all that e'er were mad,
Swollen o'er its banks with sudden mountain rain, JOHN ARMSTRONG, the friend of Thomson, of Sinks from its tumult to a silent brook, Mallet, Wilkes, and other public and literary cha- | So, when the frantic raptures in your breast racters of that period, is now only known as the Subside, you languish into mortal man ; author of a didactic poem, the Art of Preserving You sleep, and waking find yourself undone. Health, which is but little read. Armstrong was For, prodigal of life, in one rash night son of the minister of Castleton, a pastoral parish You lavished more than might support three days. in Roxburghshire. He studied medicine in Edin- A heavy morning comes ; your cares return burgh, and took his degree of M.D. in 1732. He With tenfold rage. An anxious stomach well repaired to London, and became known by the May be endured; so may the throbbing head; publication of several fugitive pieces and medical But such a dim delirium, such a dream, essays. A very objectionable poem, the Economy of Involves you ; such a dastardly despair Love, gave promise of poetical powers, but marred Unmans your soul, as maddening Pentheus felt, his practice as a physician. In 1744 appeared his When, baited round Cithæron's cruel sides, * Art of Preserving Ilealth,' which was followed by He saw two suns, and double Thebes ascend. two other poems, Benevolence and Taste, and a In prescribing as a healthy situation for residence volume of prose essays, the latter indifferent enough. a house on an elevated part of the sea-coast, he In 1760 he was appointed physician to the forces indulges in a vein of poetical luxury worthy the enin Germany; and on the peace in 1763, he returned chanted grounds of the Castle of Indolence:' to London, where he practised, but with little suc: Oh! when the growling winds contend, and all cess, till his death, September 7, 1779, in the 70th The sounding forest fluctuates in the storm; year of his age. Armstrong seems to have been To sink in warm repose, and hear the din an indolent and splenetic, but kind-hearted manshrewd, caustic, and careful (he left £3000, saved Above the luxury of vulgar sleep.
Howl o'er the steady battlements, delights out of a small income), yet warmly attached to his The murmuring rivulet, and the hoarser strain friends. His portrait in the Castle of Indolence' is of waters rushing o'er the slippery rocks, in Thomson's happiest manner :
Will nightly lull you to ambrosial rest. With him was sometimes joined in silent walk To please the fancy is no trifling good, (Profoundly silent, for they never spoke)
Where health is studied; for whatever moves One shyer still, who quite detested talk;
The mind with calm delight, promotes the just Oft stung by spleen, at once away he broke
And natural movements of the harmonious frame.