Or David Mallet, having no written me- then in their full blossom of reputation. He morial, I am able to give no other account has Thomson's beauties and his faults. than such as is supplied by the unauthorised lo His poem on “ Verbal Criticism” (1733) was quacity of common fame, and a very slight per- written to pay court to Pope, on a subject sonal knowledge.

which he either did not understand, or willingly He was by his original one of the Macgregors, misrepresented; and is little more than an ima clan, that became, about sixty years ago, under provement, or rather expansion, of a fragment the conduct of Robin Roy, so formidable and so which Pope printed in a Miscellany long before infamous for violence and bery, that the he engrafted it into a regular poem. There is in name was annulled by a legal abolition; and this piece more pertness than wit, and more conwhen they were all to denominate themselves fidence than knowledge. The versification is toanew, the father, I suppose, of this author, called lerable, nor can criticism allow it a higher praise. himself Malloch.

His first tragedy was “ Eurydice,” acted at David Malloch was, by the penury of his pa- Drury-lane, in 1731 ; of which I know not the rents, compelled to be janitor of the high school reception nor the merit, but have heard it menat Edinburgh; a mean office, of which he did tioned as a mean performance. He was not not afterwards delight to hear. But he sur- then too high to accept a prologue and epilogue mounted the disadvantages of his birth and for- from Aaron Hill, neither of which can be much tune; for when the Duke of Montrose applied commended. to the College of Edinburgh for a tutor to edu Having cleared his tongue from his native cate his sons, Malloch was recommended ; and pronunciation so as to be no longer distinguished I never heard that he dishonoured his creden- as a Scot, he seems inclined to disencumber himtials.

self from all adherences of his original, and touk When his pupils were sent to see the world, upon him to change his name from Scotch Malthey were entrusted to his care; and having loch to English Mallet, without any imaginable conducted them round the common circle of reason of preference which the eye or ear can modish travels, he returned with them to Lon- discover. What other proofs he gave of disredon, where by the influence of the family in spect to his native country, I know not; but it which he resided, he naturally gained admission was remarked of him, that he was the only Scot to many persons of the highest rank and the whom Scotchmen did not commend. highest character, to wits, nobles, and statesmen. About this tirne Pope, whom he visited fami.

Of his works, I know not whether I can liarly, published his “ Essay on Man," but trace the series. His first production was concealed the author; and when Mallet entered “ William and Margaret;"'* of which, though one day, Pope asked him slightly what there it contains nothing very striking or difficult, he

Mallet told him, that the newest has been envied the reputation ; and plagiarism piece was something called an “ Essay on Man,' has been boldly charged, but never proved. which he had inspected idly, and seeing the uta

Not long afterwards he published “ The Ex- ter inability of the author, who had neither skill cursion;" (1728) a desultory and capricious view in writing nor knowledge of the subject, had of such scenes of nature as his fancy led him, tossed it away. Pope, to punish his self-conor his knowledge enabled him to describe. It ceit, told him the secret. is not devoid of poetical spirit. Many of his A new edition of the works of Bacon being 'images are striking, and many of the paragraphs prepared (1750) for the press, Mallet was emare elegant. The cast of diction seems to be ployed to prefix a life, which he has written copied from Thomson, whose “ Seasons” were with elegance, perhaps with some affectation ;

but with so much more knowledge of history

than of science, that when he afterwards under* Mallet's “ William aud Margaret” was printed

took the Life of Marlborough, Warburton rein Aaron Hill's “ Plain Dealer,” No. 36, July 24

marked, that he might perhaps forget that Marl. 1724. In its original state it was very different from beinnigh was a general, as he had forgotten that what it is in the last edition of his works.

Eacon was a philosopher.

was new.


When the Prince of Wales was driven from mentioned, “ The Mask of Alfred," in conjunc. the palace, and, setting himself at the head of tion with Thomson. the opposition, kept a separate court, he en For some time afterwards he lay at rest. deavoured to increase his popularity by the pat- After a long interval, his next work was ronage of literature, and made Mallet his under “ Amyntor and Theodora,” (1747) a long story secretary, with a salary of two hundred pounds in blank verse; in which it cannot be denied a year; Thomson likewise had a pension; and that there is copiousness and elegance of lanthey were associated in the composition of “ The guage, vigour of sentiment, and imagery well Mask of Alfred,” which in its original state adapted to take possession of the fancy. But it was played at Cliefden in 1740; it was after- is blank verse. This he sold to Vaillant for one wards almost wholly changed by Mallet, and hundred and twenty pounds. The first sale brought upon the stage at Drory-Lane, in 1751, was not great, and it is now lost in forgetfulbut with no great success.

Mallet, in a familiar conversation with Gar Mallet, by address or accident, perhaps by his rick, discoursing of the diligence which he was dependence on the Prince, found his way to then exerting upon the Life of Marlborough, let Bolingbroke; a man whose pride and petulance him know, that, in the series of great men made his kindness difficult to gain, or keep, and quickly to be exhibited, he should find a niche whom Mallet was content to court by an act, for the hero of the theatre. Garrick professed which, I hope, was unwillingly performed. to wonder by what artifice he could be intro- When it was found that Pope had clandestinely duced; but Mallet let him know, that, by a printed an unauthorized number of the pamdexterous anticipation, he should fix him in a phlet called “ The Patriot King,” Bolingbroke, conspicuous place. • Mr. Mallet,” says Gar- in a fit of useless fury, resolved to blast his rick, in his gratitude of exaltation, “ have you memory, and employed Mallet (1749) as the left off to write for the stage ?” Mallet then executioner of his vengeance. Mallet bad not confessed that he had a drama in his hands. virtue, or had not spirit,'to refuse the office; Garrick promised to act it; and “ Alfred” was and was rewarded, not long after, with the let produced.

acy of Lord Bolingbroke's works. The long retardation of the Life of the Duke Many of the political pieces had been written of Marlborough, shows, with strong conviction, during the opposition to Walpole, and given to how little confidence can be placed in posthumous Franklin, as he supposed, in perpetuity. These, renown. When he died, it was soon determined among the rest, were claimed by the will. The that his story should be delivered to posterity; question was referred to arbitrators; but, when and the papers supposed to contain the necessary they decided against Mallet, he refused to yield information were delivered to Lord Molesworth, to the award; and by the help of Millar the who had been his favourite in Flanders. When bookseller, published all that he could find, but Molesworth died, the same papers were trans- with success very much below his expectation. ferred with the same design to Sir Richard In 1755, his mask of “ Britannia” was acted Steele, who in some of his exigences put them at Drury-Lanc; and his tragedy of “ Elvira" in pawn. They then remained with the old in 1763 ; in which year he was appointed keeper Dutchess, who in her will assigned the task to of the book of entries for ships in the port of Glover and Mallet, with a reward of a thousand, London. pounds, and a prohibition to insert any verses. In the beginning of the last war, when the Glover rejected, I suppose with disdain, the nation was exasperated by ill success, he was legacy, and devolved the whole work upon Mal-employed to turn the public vengeance upon let; who had from the late Duke of Marl Byng, and wrote a letter of accusation under borough a pension to promote his industry, and the character of a “ Plain Man.” The paper who talked of the discoveries which he had was with great industry circulated and dis. made; but left not, when he died, any historical persed ; and he, for his seasonable intervention, labours behind him.

had a considerable pension bestowed upon him, While he was in the Prince's service he pub- which he retained to his death. Jished “ Mustapha,” with a Prologue by Thom Towards the end of his life he went with his son, not mean, but far inferior to that which he wife to France; but after a while, finding his received from Mallet for “ Agamemnon.” The health declining, he returned alone to England, Epilogue, said to be written by a friend, was and died in April, 1765. composed in haste by Mallet, in the place of one He was twice married, and by his first wife promised which was never given. This tragedy had several children. One daughter, who mar. was dedicated to the Prince his master. It was ried an Italian of rank named Cilesia, wrote a acted at Drury-Lane in 1739, and was well re-| tragedy called “ Almida,” which was acted at ceived, but was never revived.

Drury-lane. His second wife was the daughter In 1740, he produced, as has been already of a nobleman's steward, who had a considerable

fortune, which she took care to retain in her day, a short day, and are forgotten ; his blank own hands.

verse seems to my ear the echo of Thomson. His stature was diminutive, but he was regu- His “Life of Bacon” is known as it is appended larly formed; his appearance, till he grew cor to Bacon's volumes, but is no longer mentioned. pnlent, was agreeable, and he suffered it to want His works are such as a writer, bustling in the no recommendation that dress could give it. world, showing himself in public, and emergHis conversation was elegant and easy. The ing occasionally, from time to time, into notice, rest of his character may, without injury to his might keep alive by his personal influence; but memory, sink into silence.

which, conveying little information, and giving As a writer, he cannot be placed in any high no great pleasure, must soon give way, as the lass. There is no species of composition in succession of things produces new topics of conwhich he was eminent. His dramas had their | versation, and other modes of amusement.


MARK AKENSIDE was born on the ninth of No- | heard Dodsley, by whom it was published, revember, 1721, at Newcastle upon Tyne. His / late, that when the copy was offered him, the father Mark was a butcher, of the presbyterian price demanded for it, which was a hundred and sect; his mother's name was Mary Lumsden. twenty pounds, being such as he was not in. He received the first part of his education at clined to give precipitately, he carried the work the grammar-school of Newcastle; and was af- to Pope, who, having Jooked into it, advised him terwards instructed by Mr. Wilson, who kept not to make a niggardly offer ; for “ this was no a private academy.

every day writer.” At the age of eighteen he was sent to Edin In 1741 he went to Leyden, in pursuit of meburgh, that he might qualify himself for the of- dical knowledge; and three years afterwards fice of a dissenting minister, and received some (May 16, 1744) became doctor of physic, have assistance from the fund which the dissenters ing, according to the custom of the Dutch Uniemploy in educating young men of scanty for-versities, published a thesis or dissertation. The tune. But a wider view of the world opened subject which he chose was “ The Original and other scenes, and prompted other hopes: he Growth of the Human Fætus ;' in which he is determined to study physic, and repaid that said to have departed, with great judgment, contribution, which, being received for a differ from the opinion then established, and to have ent purpose, he justly thought it dishonourable delivered that which has been since confirmed to retain.

and received. Whether, when he resolved not to be a dis Akenside was a young man,

warm with every senting minister, he ceased to be a dissenter, I notion that by nature or accident had been conknow not. He certainly retained an unneces nected with the sound of liberty, and, by an ecsary and outrageous zeal for what he called and centricity which such dispositions do not easily thought liberty; a zeal which sometimes dis- avoid, a lover of contradiction, and no friend to guises from the world, and not rarely from the any thing established. He adopted Shaftesmind which it possesses, an envious desire of bury's foolish assertion of the efficacy of ridiculo plundering wealth or degrading greatness ; and for the discovery of truth. For this he was of which the immediate tendency is innovation attacked by Warburton, and defended by Dyand anarchy, an impetuous eagerness to subvert son : Warburton afterwards reprinted his re. and confound, with very little care what shall marks at the end of his dedication to the Freebe established.

thinkers. Akenside was one of those poets who have The result of all the arguments, which have felt very early the motions of genius, and one been produced in a long and eager discussion of of those students who have very early stored this idle question, may easily be collected. It their memories with sentiments and images. ridicule be applied to any position as the test of Many of his performances were produced in his truth, it will then become a question whether youth ; and his greatest work, “ The Pleasures such ridicule be just ; and this can only be deof Imagination," appeared in 1744. I have cided by the application of truth, as the test of

ridicule. Two men fearing, one a real and the notice by an ambitious ostentation of elegance other a fancied danger, will be for awhile and literature. equally exposed in the inevitable consequences His Discourse on the Dysentery (1764) was of cowardice, contemptuous censure, and ludi- considered as a very conspicuous specimen of crous representation ; and the true state of Latinity; which entitled him to the same height both cases must be known, before it can be of place among the scholars as he possessed bedecided whose terror is rational, and whose is fore among the wits; and he might perhaps ridiculous ; who is to be pitied, and who to be have risen to a greater elevation of character, despised. Both are for awhile equally exposed but that his studies were ended with his life, by to laughter, but both are not therefore equally a putrid fever, June 23, 1770, in the forty-ninth contemptible.

year of his age. In the revisal of his poem, though he died before he had finished it, he omitted the lines AKENSIDE is to be considered as a didactic and which had given occasion to Warburton's objec- lyric poet. His great work is “ The Pleasures tions.

of Imagination ;" a performance which, pubHe published, soon after his return from Ley-lished as it was, at the age of twenty-three, den, (1745) his first collection of odes: and was raised expectations that were not very amply impelled, by his rage of patriotism, to write a satisfied. It has undoubtedly a just claim to very acrimonious epistle to Pulteney, whom he very particular notice, as an example of great stigmatizes, under the name of Curio, as the be- felicity of genius, and uncommon amplitude of trayer of his country.

acquisitions, of a young mind stored with im. Being now to live by his profession, he first ages, and much exercised in combining and comcommenced physician at Northampton, where paring them. Dr. Stonehouse then practised, with such repu With the philosophical or religious tenets of tation and success, that a stranger was not likely the author I have nothing to do; my business is to gain ground upon him. Akenside tried the with his poetry. The subject is well chosen, as contest awhile; and having deafened the place it includes all images that can strike or please, with clamours for liberty, removed to Hamp- and thus comprises every species of poetical destead, where he resided more than two years, light. The only difficulty is in the choice of and then fixed himself in London, the proper examples and illustrations; and it is not easy, place for a man of accomplishments like his. in such exuberance of matter, to find the middl3

At London he was known as a poet, but was point between penury and satiety. The parts still to make bis way as a physician ; and would seem artificially disposed, with sufficient cobeperhaps have been reduced to great exigences, rence, so as that they cannot change their places but that Mr. Dyson, with an ardour of friend without injury to the general design. ship that has not many examples, allowed him His images are displayed with such luxurithree hundred pounds a year. Thus supported, ance of expression, that they are hidden like he advanced gradually in medical reputation, Butler's moon, by a “ veil of light;" they are but never attained any great extent of practice, forms fantastically lost under superfluity of or eminence of popularity. A physician in a dress. Pars minima est ipsa puella sui. The great city seems to be the mere plaything of for-words are multiplied till the sense is bardly tune; his degree of reputation is, for the most perceived ; attention deserts the mind, and setpart, totally casual : they that employ him know tles in the ear. The reader wanders through not his excellence; they that reject him know the gay diffusion, sometimes amazed, and somenot his deficience. By any acute observer, who times delighted, but, after many turnings in the had looked on the transactions of the medical flowery labyrinth, comes out as he went in. He world for half a century, a very curious book remarked little, and laid hold on nothing. might be written on the “ Fortune of Physi To his versification justice requires that praise cians.”

should not be denied. In the general fabricaAkenside appears not to have been wanting to 'tion of his lines he is, perhaps, superior to any his own success : he placed himself in view by other writer of blank verse; his flow is smooth, all the common methods; he became á Fellow and his pauses are musical; but the concatenaof the Royal Society; he obtained a degree at tion of his verses is commonly too long contiCambridge ; and was admitted into the College nued, and the full close does not recur with sufof Physicians; he wrote little poetry, but pub- ficient frequency. The sense is carried on ished, from time to time, medical essays and ob through a long intertexture of complicated servations : he became physician to St. Tho- clauses, and, as nothing is distinguished, nomas's Hospital; he read the Gulstonian Lec- thing is remembered. tures in Anatomy; but began to give, for the The exemption which blank verse affords from Crounian Lecture, a history of the revival of the necessity of closing the sense with the couplearning, from which he soon desisted ; and, in let betrays luxuriant and active minds into such conversation, he very eagerly forced himself into self-indulgence, that they pile image upon image,

[ocr errors]

ornament upon ornament, and are not easily grandeur of his conceptions, and the meanness persuaded to close the sense at all. Blank verse and misery of his state ; for this reason, a few will, therefore, I fear, be too often found in de passages are selected from the · Night Thoughts,' scription exuberant, in argument loquacious, which, with those of Akenside, seem to form a and in narration tiresome.

complete view of the powers, situation, and end His diction is certainly poetical as it is not of man.”— Exercises for Improvement in prosaic, and elegant as it is not vulgar. He is Elocution.' p. 66. to be commendod as having fewer artifices of His other poems are now to be considered ; disgust than most of his brethren of the blank but a short consideration will despatch them. song. He rarely either recalls old phrases, or It is not easy to guess why he addicted himself twists his metre into harsh inversions. The so diligently to lyric poetry, having neither the sense, however, of his words is strained, when ease and airiness of the lighter, nor the vahe“ he views the Ganges from Alpine heights ;" mence and elevation of the grander ode. When that is from mountains like the Alps. And the he lays his ill-fated hand upon his harp, his pedant surely intrudes (but when was blank former powers seem to desert him; he has no verse without pedantry?) when he tells how longer his luxuriance of expression, nor variety 6. Planets absolve the stated round of Time.” of images. His thoughts are cold, and his

It is generally known to the readers of poetry words inelegant. Yet such was his love of that he intended to revise and augment this lyrics, that, having written with great vigour work, but died before he had completed his design and poignancy his “ Epistle to Curio,” he transThe reformed work as he left it, and the addi- 'formed it afterwards into an ode disgraceful tions which he had made, are very properly re- only to its author. tained in the late collection. He seems to have Of his odes nothing favourable can be said : somewhat contracted his diffusion; but I know the sentiments commonly want force, nature, not whether he has gained in closeness what he or novelty; the diction is sometimes harsh and has lost in splendour. In the additional book, uncouth, the stanzas ill-constructed and unplea« The Tale of Solon” is too long.

sant, and the rhymes dissonant, or unskilfully One great defect of his poem is very properly disposed, too distant from each other, or arcensured by Mr. Walker, unless it may be said, ranged with too little regard to established use, in his defence, that what he has omitted was and therefore perplexing to the ear, which in a not properly in his plan. His “ picture of man short composition has not time to grow familiar is grand and beautiful, but unfinished. The with an innovation. immortality of the soul, which is the natural To examine such compositions singly cannot consequence of the appetites and powers she is be required; they have doubtless brighter and invested with, is scarcely once hinted through- darker parts; but when they are once found to out the poem. This deficiency is amply sup be generally dull, all further labour may be plied by the masterly pencil of Dr. Young; spared; for to what use can the work be critiwho, like a good philosopher, has invincibly cised that will not be read ? proved the immortality of man, from the


Thomas GRAY, the son of Mr. Philip Gray, a happiness; but Gray seems to have been very scrivener of London, was born in Cornhill, little delighted with academical qualifications ; November 26th, 1716. His grammatical edu- he liked at Cambridge neither the mode of lite cation he received at Eton under the care of nor the fashion of study, and lived sullenly on Mr. Antrobus, his mother's brother, then as to the time when bis attendance on lectures sistant to Dr. George; and when he left school, was no longer required. As he interded to in 1734, entered a pensioner at Peterhouse in profess the common law, he took no degree. Cambridge.

When he had been at Cambridge about five The transition from the school to the college years, Mr. Horace. Walpole, whose friendship is, to most young scholars, the time from which he had gained at Eton, invited him to travel they date their years of manhood, liberty, and with him as his companion. They wandered

« VorigeDoorgaan »