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composition would exactly tell all its faults and beauties.
He was remarkable for the power of reading with great rapidity, and of retaining with great fidelity what he so easily collected.
He therefore always knew what the present question required; and when his friends expressed their wonder at his acquisitions, made in a state of apparent negligence and drunkenness, he never discovered his hours of reading or method of study, but involved himself in affected silence, and fed his own vanity with their admiration and conjectures.
One practice he had, which was easily observed: if any thought or image was presented to his mind, that he could use or improve, he did not suffer it to be lost; but, amidst the jollity of a tavern, or in the warmth of conversation, very diligently committed it to paper.
Thus it was that he had gathered two quires of hints for his new tragedy; of which Howe,. when they were put into his hands, could make, as he says, very little use, but which the collector considered as a valuable stock of materials.
When he came to London, his way of life connected him with the licentious and dissolute; and he affected the airs and gaiety of a man of pleasure j but his dress was always deficient: scholastick cloudiness still hung about him, and his merriment was sure to produce the scorn of his companions.
With all his carelessness, and all his vices, he was one of the murmurers at Fortune j and
wondered 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 six 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 j 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 Walmstey, late register of the ecclesiastical court of Litchfield, who was acquainted both with Smith and Ducket j and declared, that, if the tale concerning Clarendon were forged, he mould suspect Ducket of the falsehood; for Rag was a man of great veracity.
Of Gilbert Walmstey, 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 amplify sime, in lucem proferre hactenus distuli, judieiitui acumen fubveritus magis quam bipennis. Tandem aliquando Oden hanc ad te mitto sublimem, teneram, flebilem, suavem, qualem demum divinus (fi mufis vacaret) icripsisset Gastrellus. Adeo scilicet sublimem ut inter legendum dormire, adeo flebilem ut ridere velis. Cujus elegantiam ut melius inspicias, versum, ordinem & materiam breviter referam. imuS versus de duobus præliis decantatis. 2dus & 3US de Lotharingio, cuniculis subterraneis, saxis, ponto, hostibus, & Asia. 4tus & 5US de catenis, sudibus, uncis, draconibus, tigribus & crocodilis. 6US, yu\ 8UJ, ous, de Gomorrha, de Babylone, Babele, & quodam domi suæ peregrino. ioUS aliquid de quodam Pocockio. i iu', i2us, deSyria, Solyma. 13"*, i4us, Hosca & quercu & de juvene quodam valde sene. 15"*, i6US, de Ætna & quomodo Pocockio sit valde similis. 17"*, 18US, de tuba, astro, umbra, flammis, rotis, Pocockio non neglecto. Cætera de Christianis. Ottomanno, Babyloniis, Arabibus, & gravissima agrorum melancholia, de Cæsare, Flacco, Nestore, & miserando juvenis cujusdam florentiflimi fato, anno ætatis suæ cente
simo præmature abrepto. Quæ omnia cum accurate expenderis, necesse est ut Oden hanc meam admiranda plane varietati constare fatearis. Subito ad Batavos proficiscor lauro ab illis donandus. Prius vero Pembrochienses voco ad certamen Poeticum. Vale.
Illustrisiima tua deosculor crura.