Imágenes de páginas

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 charcters.

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 fewer avocations, he was, in June 1710, invited by Mr. George Ducket to his house at Hartham 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 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 Hartham.

Many years afterwards, Ducket communicated to Oldmixon the historian an account, pretended to have been received from Smith, that Clarendon's History was, in its publica

wondered why he was suffered to be poor, when Addison was caressed and preferred: nor would a very little have contented him; for he estimated his wants at fix hundred pounds a year.

'In his course of reading it was particular, that he had diligently perused, and accurately remembered, the old romances of knight errantry.

He had a high opinion of his own merit, and something contemptuous in his treatment of those whom he considered as not qualified to oppose or contradict him. He had many frailties; yet it cannot but be supposed that he had great merit, who could obtain to the same play a prologue from Addison, and an epilogue from Prior; and who could have at once the patronage of Halifax, and the praise of Oldisworth.

For the power of communicating these minute memorials, I am indebted to my conversation with Gilbert Walmsley, late register of the ecclesiastical court of Litchfield, who was acquainted both with Smith and Ducket; and declared, that, if the tale concerning Clarendon were forged, he should suspect Ducket of the falsehood; for Rag was a man of great veracity.

Of Gilbert Walmsley, thus presented to my mind, let me indulge myself in the remembrance. I knew him very early; he was one of the first friends that literature procured me, and I hope that at least my gratitude made me worthy of his notice.

He was of an advanced age, and I was only not a boy, yet he never received my notions

with contempt. He was a Whig, with all the virulence and malevolence of his party; yet difference of opinion did not keep us apart. I honoured him, and he endured me.

He had mingled with the gay world, without exemption from its vices or its follies, but had never neglected the cultivation of his mind; his belief of Revelation was unshaken; his learning preserved his principles; he grew first regular, and then pious.

His studies had been so various, that I am not able to name a man of equal knowledge. His acquaintance with books was great; and what he did not immediately know, he could at least tell where to find. Such was his amplitude of learning, and such his copiousness of communication, that it may be doubted whether a day now passes in which I have not some advantage from his friendship.

At this man's table I enjoyed many chearful and instructive hours, with companions such as are not often found; with one who has lengthened, and one who has gladdened life; with Dr. James, whose skill in physick will be long remembered; and with David Garrick, whom I hoped to have gratified with this character of our common friend: but what are the hopes of man! I am disappointed by that stroke of death, which has eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impoverished the publick stock of harmless pleasure.

In the Library at Oxford is the following ludicrous Analysis of Pocockius :

Written by the Author.

OPUSCULUM hoc, Halberdarie amplis. fime, in lucem proferre hactenus distuli, judicii tui acumen subveritus magis quam bipennis. Tandem aliquando Oden hanc ad te mitto sublimem, teneram, Aebilem, suavem, qualem demum divinus (fi musis vacaret) scripsiffet Gastrellus. Adeo scilicet sublimem ut inter legendum dormire, adeo flebilem ut ridere velis. Cujus elegantiam ut melius infpicias, versum, ordinem & materiam breviter referam. imus versus de duobus præliis decantatis. 2dus & jus de Lotharingio, cuniculis fubterraneis, faxis, ponto, hoftibus, & Afia. 4tus & sus de catenis, sudibus, uncis, draconi. bus, tigribus & crocodilis. 6us, zus, gus, gus, de Gomorrha, de Babylone, Babele, & quodam domi suæ peregrino. Ious aliquid de quodam Pocockio. 11 us, 12us, de Syriâ, Solymâ. izus, 140, Hoseâ & quercu & de juvene quodam valde sene. 15", 16us, de Ætnâ & quomodo Pocockio fit valde fimilis. 1745, 18us, de tubâ, astro, umbrâ, flammis, rotis, Pocockio non neglecto. Cætera de Christianis. Ottomanno, Babyloniis, Arabibus, & gravisfimâ agrorum melancholiâ, de Cæsare, Flacco, Nestore, & miserando juvenis cujufdam florentissimi fato, anno ætatis suæ cente

simo præmaturè abrepto. Quæ omnia cum accuratè expenderis, necesse est ut Oden hanc meam admirandä planè varietati constare fatea. ris. Subito ad Batavos proficiscor lauro ab illis donandus. Prius vero Pembrochienses voco ad certamen Poeticum. Vale.

Illustrissima tua deosculor crura.




« AnteriorContinuar »