through the fuow, which Smith has used with great pomp, is stolen from Cowley, however little worth the labour of conveyance.

He proceeded to take his degree of Master of Arts, 357 July 8, 1696. Of the exercises which he performed on that occasion, I have not heard any thing memorable.

As his years advanced, he advanced in reputation : for he continued to cultivate his mind, though he did not åniend 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 misbehaviour in the “ house of Mr. Cole an apothecary; but it was re“ ferred to the Dean when and upon what occasion “ 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 assumed an appearance of decency ; in his own phrase, he whitened himself, having a desire to obtain the censorship, an office of honour and soine 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 so litlu care of himself.

From this time Smith employed his malice and his wit against the Dean, Dr. Aldrich, whoin he conlidered as the opponent of his claim. Of his lampoon Vol. II. Hh


upon him, I once heard a single line too gross to be repeated.

But he was still a genius and a scholar, and Oxford 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 fentence declared five years before was put in execution.

The execution was, I believe, silent 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 him, or because he was a Whig by principle, may perhaps be doubted. He was, however, careiled 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. Afier 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 “ should undertake it. I said, “What shall I do with " the character of lord Sunderland ?' and Addison im“mediately returned, “When, Rag, were you drunk “ last and went away.”

Captain Rag was a name which he got at Oxford by his negligence of dress.

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This story I heard from the late Mr. Clark of Lin- 45 coln's Inn, to whom it was told by the friend of Smith.

Such scruples might debar him froin some profitable employments; but as they could not deprive him of any real esteen, 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 Prologue and Epilogue from the firt 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 naked excellence was not sufficient for its own support.

The play, however, was bought by Lintot, who advanced the price froin 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 iinportunity, 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, negleEted to attend him, though doubtless warned and pressed by his friends, and at last miiled his reward by not going to solicit it.

Addison has, in the Spectator, 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 Hh 2


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 sympathy, but by study: the ignorant do not understand the action; the learned reject it as a fchool-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 Phædra; but was convinced that the action was too mythological.

In 1709, a year after the exhibition of Phadra, 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 some 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 resolved 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 de sign; 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 Wiltfhire. Here he found such opportunities of indulgence as did not much forward his studies, and particularly fome 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


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