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WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE.
Edit. of - Goldsmith's Poems"; Beeton's “Dict. Univ. Biog."; Maunder's “ Biog. Diet."; Alibone's “Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.”
TOBIAS SMOLLETT. "Tobias Smollett, well known in his time for the variety and multiplicity of his publications, was born in 1720, at Dalquhurn, in the county of Dumbarton. He was educated under a surgeon in Glasgow, where he also attended the medical lectures of the University; and at this early period he gave some specimens of a talent for writing verses. As it is on this ground that he has obtained a place in the present collection, we shall pass over his various characters of surgeon's mate, physician, historiographer, politician, miscellaneous writer, and especially novelist, and consider his claims as a minor poet of no mean rank. He will be found, in this collection, as the author of The Tears of Scotland,' the "Ode to Leven-Water,' and some other short pieces, which are polished, tender, and picturesque ; and, especially, of an Ode to Independence, which aims at a loftier flight, and perhaps has few superiors in the lyric style.
"Smollett married a lady of Jamaica : he was, unfortunately, of an irritable disposition, which involved him in frequent quarrels, and finally shortened his life. He died in the neighbourhood of Leghorn, in October, 1771, in the fifty-first year of his age.”—Aikin's "Select Brit. Poets." See Gilfillan's Edit. of "Smollett's Poems."
“ William Julius Mickle was born at Lang. holm, in Dumfriesshire, in 1734. His father, who was a clergyman of the Scottish church, had lived for some time in London, and had preached in the dissenting meetinghouse of the celebrated Dr. Watts. He returned to Scotland, on being presented to the living of Langholm, the duties of which he fulfilled for many years; and, in consideration of his long services, was permitted to retain the stipend after he had removed to Edinburgh, for the better education of his children. His brother-in-law was a brewer in Edinburgh, on whose death the old clergyman unfortunately embarked his property, in order to continue his business, under the name of his eldest son. William, who was a younger son, was taken from the High-School of Edinburgh, and placed as a clerk in the concern; and, on coming of age, took the whole responsibility of it upon himself. When it is mentioned, that Mickle had, from his boyish years, been an enthusiastic reader of Spenser, and that, before he was twenty, he had composed two tragedies and half an epic poem, which were in due time consigned to the flames, it may be easily conceived that his habits of mind were not peculiarly fitted for close and minute attention to a trade which required incessant superintendence. He was, besides, unfortunate, in becoming security for an insolvent acquaintance. In the year 1763 he became a bankrupt; and, being apprehensive of the severity of one of his creditors, he repaired to London, feeling the misery of his own circumstances aggravated by those of the relations whom he had left behind him.
“Before leaving Scotland, he had corresponded with Lord Lyttelton, to whom he had submitted some of his poems in MS., and one, entitled Providence,' which he had printed in 1762. Lord Lyttelton patronized his Muse rather than his fortune. He undertook (to use his lordship's own phrase) to be his 'schoolmaster in poetry ;' but his fastidious blottings could be of no service to any man who had a particle of genius: and the only personal benefit which he attempted to render him was to write to his brother, the governor of Jamaica, in Mickle's behalf, when our poet had thoughts of going out to that island. Mickle, however, always spoke with becoming liberality of this connexion. He was pleased with the suavity of Lord Lyttelton's manners, and knew that his means of patronage were very slender. In the mean time, he lived nearly two years in London, upon remittances from his friends in Scotland, and by writing for the daily papers.
“After having fluctuated between several schemes for subsistence, he at length accepted of the situation of corrector to the Clarendon press, at Oxford,
Whilst he retained that office, he published a poem, which he at first
JOHN ARMSTRONG. “John Armstrong, a Scotch poet and physician, who, in 1732, took his degree of M.D. at Edinburgh. In 1744 he published the Art of Preserving Health,' one of the best didactic poems in our language, and shortly afterwards received the appointment of physician to the military hospital. In 1760 he was appointed physician to the army in Germany, and the next year wrote a poem called Day, an Epistle to John Wilkes, of Ayles
In this letter he threw out a reflection upon Churchill, which drew on him the resentment of that satirist. He published several other works of a miscellaneous cha
Born at Castleton, Roxburghshire, 1709; died at London, 1779.”-—Beeton's “ Dict. Univ. Biog." See Allibone's " Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit.", Gilfillan's Edit. of “ Armstrong's Poems.”
named The Concubine;' but on finding kinsman, Commodore Johnstone, relieved him that the title alarmed delicate ears, and sug from unsettled prospects. Being appointed gested a false idea of its spirit and contents, to the command of a squadron destined for he changed it to 'Syr Martyn. At Oxford the coast of Portugal, he took out the tranhe also engaged in polemical divinity, and slator of Camoens as his private secretary. published some severe animadversions on Mickle was received with distinguished Dr. Harwood's recent translation of the New honours at Lisbon. The Duke of Braganza, Testament. He also showed his fidelity to in admitting him a member of the Royal the cause of religion in a tract, entitled · Vol Academy of Lisbon, presented him with his taire in the Shades; or, Dialogues on the own picture. Deistical Controversy.'
“He returned to England in 1780, with a “ His greatest poetical undertaking was the considerable acquisition of prize-money, and translation of The Lusiad,' which he began was appointed an agent for the distribution in 1770, and finished in five years. For the of the prize profits of the cruise. His fortune sake of leisure and retirement, he gave up his now enabled him to discharge the debts of his situation at the Clarendon press, and resided early and mercantile life. He married the at the house of a Mr. Tomkins, a farmer, at daughter of Mr. Tomkins, with whom he had Forest Hill, near Oxford. The English resided while translating the Lusiad ; and, Lusiad was dedicated, by permission, to the with every prospect of spending the remainder Duke of Buccleuch ; but his Grace returned of his life in affluence and tranquillity, purnot the slightest notice or kindness to his chased a house, and settled at Wheatley, near ingenious countryman. Whatever might be Oxford. So far his circumstances have almost the duke's reasons, good or bad, for this the agreeable air of a concluding novel ; but neglect, he was a man fully capable of acting the failure of a banker with whom he was on his own judgment; and there was no connected as prize agent, and a chancery suit necessity for making any other person respon in which he was involved, greatly diminished sible for his conduct. But Mickle, or his his finances, and disturbed the peace of his friends, suspected that Adam Smith and latter years. He died at Forest Hill, after a David Hume had maliciously stood between short illness. him and the Buccleuch patronage. This was “His reputation principally rests upon the a mere suspicion, which our author and his translation of the Lusiad, which no Englishfriends ought either to have proved or sup man had attempted before him, except Sir pressed. Mickle was indeed the declared Richard Fanshawe. Sir Richard's version is antagonist of Hume ; he had written against quaint, flat, and harsh ; and he has interwoven him, and could not hear his name mentioned many ridiculously conceited expressions which with temper : but there is not the slightest are foreign both to the spirit and style of his evidence that the hatred was mutual. That original, but in general it is closer than the Adam Smith should have done him a mean modern translation to the literal meaning of injury, no one will believe probable, who is Camoens. Altogether, Fanshawe's represenacquainted with the traditional private cha tation of the Portuguese poem may be comracter of that philosopher. But Mickle was pared to the wrong side of the tapestry. also the antagonist of Smith's doctrines on Mickle, on the other hand, is free, flowery, and political economy, as may be seen in his periphrastical; he is incomparably more spi
Dissertation on the Charter of the East rited than Fanshawe ; but still he departs from India Company. The author of the Wealth the majestic simplicity of Camoens' diction as of Nations,' forsooth, was jealous of his widely as Pope has done from that of Homer. opinions on monopolies! Even this paltry The sonorous and simple language of the supposition is contradicted by dates, for Lusitanian epic is like the sound of a trumpet; Mickle's tract upon the subject of Monopolies and Mickle's imitation like the shakes and was published several years after the preface flourishes of the flute. to the Lusiad. Upon the whole, the suspicion “ Although he was not responsible for the of his philosophical enemies having poisoned faults of the original, he has taken abundance the ear of the Duke of Buccleuch seems to of pains to defend them in his notes and have proceeded from the same irritable vanity preface. In this he has not been successful. which made him threaten to celebrate Garrick The long lecture on geography and Portuguese as the hero of a second Dunciad when he re history, which Gama delivers to the King of fused to accept of his tragedy, "The Siege of Melinda, is a wearisome interruption to the Marseilles.'
narrative; and the use of Pagan mythology “Though the Lusiad had a tolerable sale, his is a radical and unanswerable defect. Mickle circumstances still made his friends solicitous informs us as an apology for the latter cirthat he should obtain some settled provision. cumstance, that all this Pagan machinery was Dr. Lowth offered to provide for him in the allegorical, and that the gods and goddesses Church. He refused the offer with honourable of Homer were allegorical also; an assertion delicacy, lest his former writings in favour of which would require to be proved, before it religion should be attributed to the prospect can be admitted. Camoens himself has said of reward. At length the friendship of his something about his concealment of a moral
meaning under his Pagan deities; but if he Inn Chapel, where he had a very intellectual | has any such morality, it is so well hidden audience to address, and bore a somewhat
that it is impossible to discover it. The trying ordeal with complete success. He conVenus of the Lusiad, we are told, is Divine tinued for a number of years in London, Love; and how is this Divine Love employed ? | maintaining his reputation both as a preacher For no other end than to give the poet an and writer. His most popular works were opportunity of displaying a scene of sensual the · Letters of Theodosius and Constantia,' gratification, an island is purposely raised up and a translation of Plutarch's Lives, which in the ocean ; Venus conducts De Gama and Wrangham afterwards corrected and imhis followers to this blessed spot, where a proved, and which is still standard. He was bevy of the nymphs of Venus are very good twice married, and survived both his wives. He naturedly prepared to treat them to their obtained the living of Blagden in Somersetfavours; not as a trial, but as a reward for shire, and in addition to it, in 1777, a prebend their virtues! Voltaire was certainly justified
in the Cathedral of Wells. He died in 1779, in pronouncing this episode a piece of gra aged only forty-four; his death, it is supposed, tuitous indecency. In the same allegorical being accelerated by intemperance, although spirit no doubt, Bacchus, who opposes the it does not seem to have been of a gross or Portuguese discoverers in the councils of aggravated description. Heaven, disguises himself as a Popish priest, “Langhorne, an amiable man, and highly and celebrates the rites of the Catholic religion. popular as well as warmly beloved in his day, The imagination is somewhat puzzled to dis survives now in memory chiefly through his cover why Bacchus should be an enemy to Plutarch's Lives, and through a few lines in the natives of a country the soil of which is his Country Justice,' which are immor80 productive of his beverage; and a friend talised by the well-known story of Scott's to the Mahometans who forbid the use of it:
interview with Burns. Campbell puts in a although there is something amusing in the plea besides for his Owen of Carron,' but idea of the jolly god officiating as a Romish the plea, being founded on early reading, is clergyman.
partial, and has not been responded to by the "Mickle's story of Syr Martyn is the most public.” Gilfillan's “Less-Known Brit. pleasing of his original pieces. The object of Poets," pp. 220, 221. the narrative is to exhibit the degrading
effects of concubinage in the history of an ! amiable man, who is reduced to despondency
and sottishness, under the dominion of a ! beldam and a slattern. The defect of the
SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE. moral is, that the same evils might have happened to Syr Martyn in a state of matri “Sir William Blackstone, a learned English mony. The simplicity of the tale is also, judge, who, in 1738, was entered at Pembroke tnhappily, overlaid by a weight of allegory, College, Oxford, and at the age of twenty comand of obsolete phraseology, which it has not posed a treatise on the elements of architecimportance to sustain. Such a style applied ture. He also cultivated poetry, and obtained to the history of a man and his housekeeper, Mr. Benson's prize medal for the best verses is like building a diminutive dwelling in all on Milton. These pursuits, however, were the pomp of Gothicarchitecture."--Campbell's abandoned for the study of the law, when he “ Specimens," pp. 609-611.
composed his well-known effusion called “The Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse.' In 1740 he was entered at the Middle Temple, and in 1744 chosen fellow of All Souls College. In
1749 he was appointed recorder of WallingJOHN LANGHORNE.
ford, in Berkshire, and in the following year
became LL.D., and published an “Essay on " This poetical divine was born in 1735, at Collateral Consanguinity,' occasioned by the Kirkby Steven, in Westmoreland. Left father exclusive claim to fellowships made by the less at four years old, his mother fulfilled founder's kindred at All Souls. In 1758 he her double charge of duty with great ten
printed Considerations on Copyholders;' derness and assiduity.
He was educated and the same year was appointed Vinerian at Appleby, and subsequently became assistant professor of the common law, his lectures in at the Free-school of Wakefield, took deacon's which capacity gave rise to his celebrated orders, and gave promise, although very
Commentaries.' In 1759 he published young, of becoming a popular preacher. After * Reflections on the Opinions of Messrs. Pratt, various vicissitudes of life and fortune, and Moreton, and Wilbraham,' relating to Lord publishing a number of works in prose and Lichfield's disqualification; his lordship being Verse, Langhorne repaired to London, and then candidate for the chancellorship. The obtained, in 1764, the curacy and lectureship same year appeared his edition of The Great of St. John's, Clerkenwell. He soon after Charter, and Charter of the Forest.' Of this wards became assistant-preacher in Lincoln's | work it has been said that there is not a
sentence in the composition that is not neces taste of a true poet. His publication in 1765, sary to the whole, and that should not be under the title of 'Reliques of Ancient Engperused. In 1761 he was made king's counsel, lish Poetry,' of a collection of such ballads, and chosen member of parliament for Hindon, many of which had been preserved only in in Wilts. The same year he vacated his manuscript, while others, having originally fellowship by marriage, and was appointed been printed in the rudest manner on flying principal of New-inn Hall. In 1763 he was sheets for circulation among the lower orders appointed solicitor-general to the Queen, and of the people, had owed their preservation bencher of the Middle Temple. In the next only to the care of collectors, must be conyear appeared the first volume of his "Com sidered as a critical epoch in the history of mentaries,' which was followed by three our literature. Many authors before him, as, others. It is upon these that his fame now for example, Addison and Sir Philip Sydney, principally rests; and, although opinion is had expressed the admiration which a cultidivided as to the correctness and depth of the vated taste must ever feel for the rough but matter they contain, the beauty, precision, inimitable graces of our old ballad-poets ; but and elegance of their style have called forth Percy was the first who undertook an examiuniversal admiration. In 1766 he resigned nation, at once systematic and popular, of his places at Oxford ; and in 1768 was chosen those neglected treasures. His Essay on the member for Westbury, in Wiltshire. In 1770 Ancient Minstrels,' prefixed to the pieces he he became one of the judges in the court of selected, exhibits considerable research, and King's Bench, whence he removed to the is written in a pleasing and attractive manner; Common Pleas. He now fixed his residence and the extracts are made with great taste, in London, and attended to the duties of his and with a particular view of exciting the office with great application, until overtaken public sympathy in favour of a class of compoby death. Born in London, 1723; died 1780. sitions, the merits of which were then new
- The fundamental error in the Commen and unfamiliar to the general reader. It is taries' is thus pointed out by Jeremy Ben true that he did not always adhere with scrutham. "There are two characters,' says he, pulous fidelity to the ancient texts, and where one or other of which every man who finds the poems were in a fragmentary and imper. anything to say on the subject of law may be fect condition, he did not hesitate, any more said to take upon him,—that of the expositor, than Scott after him in the Border Minand that of the censor. To the province of strelsy,' to fill up the rents of time with the expositor it belongs to explain to us what matter of his own invention. This, however, he supposes the law is; to that of the censor, at a period when his chief object was to excite to observe to us what he thinks it ought to among general readers an interest in these
Of these two perfectly distinguishable fine old monuments of mediæval genius, was funetions, the former alone is that which it no unpardonable offence, and gave him the fell necessarily within our author's province opportunity of exhibiting his own poetical to discharge.' Blackstone, however, makes powers, which were far from contemptible, use of both these functions throughout his and his skill in imitating, with more or less work, and hence the confusion. His produc success, the language and manner of the tions have found several translators on the ancient Border poets. Percy found, in colContinent."--Beeton's "Dict. Univ. Biog." lecting these old compositions, that the majoSee Maunder's “ Dict. Biog."; Allibone's rity of those most curious from their antiquity “Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit."
and most interesting from their merit were distinctly traceable, both as regards their subjects and the dialect in which they were written, to the North Countrée; that is, to
the frontier region between England and ScotBISHOP PERCY.
land, which, during the long wars that had
raged almost without intermission between « Bishop Percy, born 1728, died 1811. The the Borderers on both sides of the Debateable great revolution in taste, substituting romantic Land, had necessarily been the scene of the for classical sentiment and subjects, which most frequent and striking incidents of preculminated in the poems and novels of Walter datory warfare, such as those recorded in the Scott, is traceable to the labours of Bishop noble ballads of Chevy Chase,' and the Percy. The friend of Johnson, and one of the 'Battle of Otterburn. The language in the most accomplished members of that circle in Northern marches of England, and in the which Johnson was supreme, Percy was strongly Scottish frontier-region bordering upon them, impressed with the vast stores of the beau was one and the same dialect; something betiful, though rude poetry which lay buried in tween the Lowland Scotch and the speech of obscure collections of ballads and legendary Cumberland or Westmoreland : and it is curicompositions, and he devoted himself to the ous to find the ballad-singer modifying the task of explaining and popularising the then incidents of his legend so as to suit the prejuneglected beauties of these old rhapsodists dices and flatter the national pride of his with the ardour of an antiquary, and with the listeners according as they were inhabitants
of the Northern or Southern district. In
THOMAS CHATTERTON. various independent copies or versions of the same legend, we find the victory given to the
"No name in our literature affords an example one side or to the other, and the English or
of earlier precocity or of a sadder career than Scottish hero alternately playing the nobler
that of the marvellous boy who perished in and more romantic part. Besides a very his pride,' Thomas Chatterton. He was born large number of these purely heroic ballads, at Bristol in 1752, was son of a sexton and Percy gave specimens of an immense series of parish schoolmaster, and died by suicide before songs and lyrics extending down to a compa
he had completed his eighteenth year. Yet in ratively late period of English history, em
that brief interval he gave proof of power unbracing even the Civil War and the Restora surpassed in one so young, and executed a tion: but the chief interest of his collection,
number of forgeries almost without parallel and the chief service he rendered to literature
for ingenuity and variety. The writings which by his publication, is concentrated on the he passed off as originals he professes to have earlier portion. It is impossible to exaggerate
discovered in Cannynge's Coffre,' a chest the influence exerted by Percy's Reliques ;'
preserved in the muniment-room of the old this book has been devoured with the most church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. These intense interest by generation after generation he produced gradually, generally taking adof English poets, and has undoubtedly con
vantage of some public occurrence likely to tributed to give a first direction to the youth
give them an interest. In October, 1768, a ful genius of many of our most illustrious new bridge across the Avon was opened, and writers. The boyish enthusiasm of Walter forthwith he sent an account of the ceremonies Scott was stirred, 'as with the sound of a that took place on the opening of the old trumpet,' by the vivid recitals of the old bridge-processions, tournaments, and reBorder rhapsodists; and but for Percy it is
ligious solemnities. Mr. Burguin, who was possible that we should have had neither the
fond of heraldic honours, he supplies with a 'Lady of the Lake' nor. Waverley.' Nor was
pedigree reaching back to William the Con. it upon the genius of Scott alone that is im queror. To another citizen he presents the pressed the stamp of this ballad imitation : Romaunt of the Cnyghté,' written by one of Wordsworth, Coleridge, even Tennyson him
his ancestors between four and five hundred self have been deeply modified, in the form years before. To a religious citizen he gives and colouring of their productions, by the
an ancient fragment of a sermon on the same cause : and perhaps the influence of the Holy Spirit, wroten by Thomas Rowley in
Reliques,' whether direct or indirect, near or i the fifteenth century. To another with antiremote, will be perceptible to distant ages in quarian tastes he gives an account of the English poetry and fiction."--Shaw's “ Hist.
churches of the city three hundred years Eng. Lit.," pp. 412—414.
before. And to Horace Walpole, who was busy writing the History of British Painters,' he gives a record of Carvellers and Peyncters who once flourished in Bristol. Besides all
these forgeries he sent to the Town and JAMES MACPHERSON.
Country Magazine' a number of poems which
occasioned a sharp controversy. Gray and “James Macpherson, born 1738, died 1796, Mason at once pronounced them spurious & Scotch poet, whose first work, and that imitations, but many maintained their genu. which brought him mostly into notice, was a ineness. Meanwhile, Chatterton had obtained translation of poems attributed by him to a release from the attorney's office where he Ossian. These poems possess great beauty; had served for the last three years, and had but their authenticity was disputed by Dr. come to London. Here he wrote for magaJohnson and other writers, and as zealously zines and newspapers, gaining thereby a very maintained by the editor and Dr. Blair; it is precarious subsistence. At last he grew denow, however, generally admitted that Ossian's spondent, took to drinking, which aggravated poems are a forgery. In 1773 Macpherson his constitutional tendencies, and after being published a translation of the 'Iliad' into reduced to actual want, tore up his papers, heroic prose, a work of little value. He was
and destroyed himself by taking arsenic. He also the author of an “Introduction to the was interred in the burying-ground of the History of Great Britain and Ireland,' a Shoe Lane Workhouse, and the citizens of History of Great Britain, from 1660 to the Bristol afterwards erected, in their city, a Accession of the House of Hanover,' and of monument to his memory. His poems, pubsome political pamphlets in defence of Lord lished under the name of Rowley, consist of North's administration, for which he ob
the tragedy of 'Ella,' the Ode to Ella,' a tained a place and a seat in the House of ballad entitled the ‘Bristow Tragedy, or the Commons." —Beeton's “Dict. Univ. Biog." Death of Sir Charles Bowdin,' some pastoral
poems, and other minor pieces. The Ode to Ella' has all the air of a modern poem, except spelling and phraseology. Most of the others