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6 Enter the Princess Perriwinkle sola, attended by fourteon maids of great honour.
« Sure such a wretch as I was never born,
By all the world deserted and forlorn;
" The play was called “A Trip to Cambridge, or the Grateful Fair.' The business of the drama was laid in bringing up an old country baronet to admit his nephew a fellow commoner at one of the colleges ; in which expedition, a daughter or niece attended. In their approach to the seat of the Muses, the waters from a heavy rain happened to be out at Fenstanton, which gave a young student of Emmanuel an opportunity of shewing his gallantry as he was riding out, by jumping from his horse and plunging into the flood to rescue the distressed damsel, who was near perishing in the stream, into which she had fallen from her poney, as the party travelled on horseback. The swain being lucky enough to effect his purpose, of course gained an interest in the lady's heart, and an ac. quaintance with the rest of the family, which he did not fail to cultivate on their arrival at Cambridge, with success as far as the fair one was concerned. To bring about the consent of the father, (or guardian, fór my memory is not accurate) it was contrived to have a play acted, of which entertainment he was highly fond; and the Norwich company luckily came to Cambridge just at the time; only one of the actors had been detained on the road; and they could not perform the play that night, unless the baronet would consent to take a part; which, rather than be disappointed of his favourite amusement, he was prevailed upon to do,especially as he was assured that it would amount to nothing more than sitting at a great table, and signing an instrument, as a justice of peace might sign a warrant; and having been some years of the quorum, he felt himself quite equal to the undertak. ing. The under-play to be acted by the Norwich company on this occasion, was the “ Bloody War of the King of Diamonds with the King of Spades ;” and the actors in it came on with their respective emblems on their shoulders taken from the suits of the cards they represented. The baronet was the king of one of the parties, and in signing a declaration of war, signed his consent to the marriage of
bis niece or daughter, and a surrender of all her fortune.—This farce was acted at Pembroke College-Hall, the parlour of which made the Green Room.”
In 1747, Smart took the degree of master of arts, and became a candidate for the Seatonian prize, which was adjudged to him for five years, four of them in succession. The subjects of his poems were–The Eternity-March 25, 1750;—The Immensity-April 20, 1751 ;—The Omniscience-Nov. 2, 1752;—The PowerDec. 5, 1753; and the Goodness of the Supreme Being-Oct. 28, 1755.
It is probable he might have succeeded in the year 1754, but his thoughts were for some time diverted by an important change in his situation. In 1753 he quite ted college, on his marriage with Miss Ann Maria Carnan, the daughter by a for. mer husband of Mary, wife of the late worthy Mr. John Newbery. He had been introduced to this gentleman's family by Dr. Burney, the celebrated author of the History of Music, who composed several of Smart's songs, and enriched the collection of his works published in 1791, with some original compositions not geDerally known to belong to our poet.
Before this time Smart had occasionally visited London, and had relinquished the prospects of any regular profession. In 1751 he published his Seatonian poem on the Immensity of the Supreme Being; and about the same time appears to have been engaged with Newbery in a general scheme of authorship. He had a ready turn for original compositions both in prose and verse, and as Newbery projected many works in the form of periodical miscellanies, must have been an useful coadjutor. During the years 1750 and 1751, he was a frequent contributor to the Student, or Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany, and carried on at the same time The Midwife, or the Old Woman's Magazine, a small periodical pamphlet, which was published in threepenny numbers, and was afterwards collected into three vo. lumes 12o. Smart and Newbery were almost the sole writers in this last work, which consists of short pieces in prose and verse, mostly of the humorous kind, and generally in a style of humour which in our more polished days would be reckoned somewhat coarse.
During the publication of the Midwife, he wrote the prologue and epilogue to Othello, when acted at Drury-lane theatre by the Delaval family and their friends, Of the importance of this prologue and epilogue he had so high an opinion, that when he published them in March 1751, he added a solemn notice of their being entered in the hall-book of the Stationers' Company, and threatened to prosecute all persons who shoald pirate them, or any part of them. As he affected to conceal his share in the Midwife, he permits the old lady to copy these articles “ because a work of merit printed in that magazine is as a brilliant set in gold, and increased pot diminished in its lustre.” It would be trifling to notice these little matters, did they not throw some light on the character and pursuits of our author. Ile was now fast acquiring the various arts of puffing, and he ever preserved a much higher opinion of his works, than even his best friends could allow to be just.Among other schemes to which it is to be regretted a man of talents should des scend, we find him about the beginning of the year 1752, endeavouring to amuse the town with a kind of farcical performance, called The Old Woman's Oratory, intended partly to ridicule Orator Henley's buffooneries, and partly to promote
the sale of the Old Woman's Magazine. In neither of these was he very successe ful: the magazine was soon discontinued for want of encouragement, and Henley was a man whose absurdities could be heightened only by himself.
Notwithstanding these pursuits, Smart's pleasing manners and generally idoffen. sive conduct procured him the friendship of Johnson, Garrick, Dr. James, Dr. Burney, and other men of literary eminence in that day. Garrick afterwards evinced his liberality, when Smart was in distress, by giving him the profits of a free benefit at Drury-lane theatre, and that it might be the more productive, introduced for the first time the short drama of the Guardian, in which he appeared in a principal character. Lord Delaval also, to whom Smart had been private tutor at . Cambridge, and his brother Sir Francis, were among his friends, and it was at their request he wrote the prologue and epilogue to Othello.
In 1759, he published a collection of his poems, in 4to. in an elegant and rather expensive form; and although they not only received the praise due to them, but the very flattering decision, that in point of genius he might rank with Gray and Masou, yet as this opinion was qualified by some objections, he immediately became the implacable enemy of reviews and reviewers. He supposed at the same time, what we believe is very improbable, that Dr, afterwards Sir John Hill, was the author of the criticism on his poems, in the Monthly Review, and detormined to take his revenge for this and the other offences committed by Hill, by publishing a poem which had licen written previously to this affair, entitled the Hilliad. Of this Book First made its appearance accordingly in the beginning of the year 1753'
The Hilliad, which is perhaps one of the most bitter satires ever published, would afford a very unfavourable opinion of our author's character, had it not been an at. tack on a man who had rendered himself ridiculous and contemptible by practising with unblushing effrontery every species of literary and medical quackery. Ac. cording to Smart, Hill gave the first public provocation in one of his Inspectors, where he accuses Smart of ingratitude. Hili alleged that he had been the cause of Smart's being brought up to town: that he had been at all times his friend, and had supported his character; and, that long before he appeared as Inspector, he spoke well of those pieces, on the merit of which Smart's fortune at that time depended : he hints also among other favours, that he had been the means of introducing him to Newbery ; and for all this, the only return Smart made was by an abusive poem, 16 a long elaborate work, which he has read at alehouses and cyder cellars, and if any bookseller will run the risk, will publishe.”
To this heavy accusation, Smart pleaded not guilty in toto, solemnly declaring in an advertisement in the Daily Gazetteer, that he never received the least favour from Hill, directly or indirectly, unless an invitation to dinner which he never accepted, might be reckoned such. He denied at the same time ever having been in his company but twice, the first time at Mr. Newbery's, the second at Vauxhall gardens; and asserts that Hill had been his enemy as much as it was in his power, particularly in the impertinents, another of his papers, in which he abuses
3 About the end of 1752, be published the Seatonian prize on the Omniscience.-C.
not only Smart, but Fielding, who was his particular friend. This declaration was corroborated by an advertisement from honest Newbery, who adds that he in. troduced Smart to Hill, six months after the former had engaged with himself (Newbery) in business, when they met as perfect strangers. With respect to Hill's assertion that he had been the means of introducing Smart to Mr. Newbery, the latter declares it to be an absolute falsehood.
The truth was, that Hill pretended to take the part of our poet in the Inspector, which he was known to write while he abused bim in the Impertinent, the author of which, he flattered himself, was not known. But it was among the misfortunes of this archquack, although advantageous to the public, that whatever disguise he put on was always too thin to elude the penetration of his contemporaries. This trick in particular had been discovered by the reviewer of books in the Gentleman's Blagazine, five months before the Inspector appeared, in which he accused Smart of ingratitude. We are not therefore to wonder that the discovery of such malignant hypocrisy stimulated Smart to write the Hilliad, which it appears he first read or circulated in manuscript among his friends. But whatever praise they bestowed on the genius displayed in this satire, they were not pleased that he had involved himself in a war of obloquy with one whom to conquer was to exceed in the worst part of his character ; and Smart probably listened to their opinions, for he published no more of the Hilliad . Hill had the credit of writing a Smartiad, which served no other purpose than to set off the merit of the other.
In 1754, Smart published the Seatonian prize poem on the Power, and in 1756, that on the Goodness of the Supreme Being?; and in the same year his lłymn to the Supreme Being, on recovery from a dangerous fit of illness; which illness, if I miss take not, filled up the space between the years 1754 and part of 1756. “ Though the fortune," says his biographer, “as well as the constitution of Mr. Smart required the utmost care, he was equally negligent in the management of both, and his various ·and repeated embarrassments acting upon an imagination uncommonly fervid, produced temporary alienations of mind; which at last were attended with paroxysms so violent and continued as to render confinement necessary. In this melancholy state, his family, for he had now two children, must have been much embarrassed in their circumstances, but for the kind friendship and assistance of Mr. Newbery. Many other of Mr. Smart's acquaintance were likewise forward in their services; and particularly Dr. Samuel Johnson, who on the first approaches of Mr. Smart's malady, wrote several papers for a periodical publication in which that gentleman was concerned, to secure his claim to a share in the profits of
The publication alluded to was the Universal Visitor and Memorialist, published by Gardner, a bookseller in the Strand. Smart and Rolt, a much inferior writer, are said to have entered into an engagement to write for this magazine, and
In his letter prefixed to the Hilliad, he intimates that he had no intention of carrying it further; and adds that he would rather be coinmended to posterity by the clegant and amiable muses, than by the satiric sister.-C.
? His biographer informs us that he delayed so lont to undertake this poem, that there was barely opportunity to write it upon paper, and send it to Cambridge by the nust expeditious conveyance, within the time limited for receiving the composit.016..
for no other work whatever ; for this they were to have a third of the profits, and the contract was to be binding for ninety-nine years. In Boswell's Life of Johnson, we find this contract discussed with more gravity than it seems to deserve. It was probably a contrivance of Gardner's to secure the services of two irregular men for a certain period. Johnson, however, wrote a few papers for our poet; “ not then,” he added,“ knowing the terms on which Smart was engaged to write, and thinking I was doing him good. I hoped his wits would soon return to him. Mine returned to me, and I wrote in the Universal Visitor no longer.” The pub. lication ceased in about two years from its commencement.
Smart's madness, according to Dr. Johnson's account, discovered itself chiefly in unnecessary deviations from the usual modes of the world, in things that are not improper in themselves. He would fall upon his knees and say his prayers iu the street, or in any unusual place, and insisted on people praying with him. His habits were also remarkably slovenly: but he had not often symptoms of dangerous lunacy, and the principal reason of his confinement was to give his constitution a chance of recovering from the effects of intemperance.
After his release, when his mind appeared to be in some measure restored, he took a pleasant lodging in the neighbourhood of St. James's Park, and conducted his affairs for some time with prudence, lle was maintained partly by his literary occupations, and partly by the generosity of his friends, receiving among other benefactions, fifty pounds a year from the Treasury, but by whose interest his biographer was not able to discover. In 1757, he published a prose translation of the works of Horace. From this performance he could derive little fame. He professes, indeed, that he had been encouraged to think that such a translation would be useful to those who are desirous of acquiring or recovering a competent knowledge of the Latin tongue, but the injury done to learners by literal translations was at this time too generally acknowledged to allow him the full force of this apology. His sentiments on the undertaking, when he came to reflect more seriously, will appear hereafter in a letter from Dr. Hawkesworth.
In what manner he lived for some time after this, we are not told. It was in 1759 thatGarrick gave him the profits of a benefit before mentioned, when it appears that he was again involved in pecuniary distresses. In 1763, he published a song to David, in which there are some passages of more majestic animation than in any
of his former pieces, and others in which the expression is mean, and the sentiments un. worthy of the poet or the subject. These inequalities will not, however, surprize the reader when he is told that this piece was composed by him duriog his confinement, when he was debarred the use of pen, ink and paper, and was obliged to indent his lines with the end of a key, upon the wainscot. This poem was not admitted into the edition of his works published in 1791, but the grandeur and originality of the following thoughts will apologize for my introducing in this place the only part of it, I have been able to recover, and for which I am indebted to the Monthly Review.
« Sublime – invention ever young,
Of vast conception, tow'ring tongue,