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himself (if any could excel him) as industrious to excel others.
'Twere to be wished he had confined himself to a particular profession who was capable of surpassing in any ; but, in this, his want of application was in a great measure owing to his want of due encouragement.
He passed through the exercises of the college and university with unusual applause ; and though he often suffered his friends to call him off from his retirements, . and to lengthen out those jovial avocations, yet his return to his studies was so much the more passionate, and his intention upon those refined pleasures of reading and thinking so vehement (to which his facetious and unbended intervals bore no proportion) that the habit grew upon him, and the series of meditation and reflection being kept up whole weeks together, he could better sort his ideas, and take in the sundry parts of a science at one view, without interruption or confusion. Some indeed of his acquaintance, who were pleased to distinguish between the wit and the scholar, extolled him altogether on the account of these titles ; but others, who knew him better, could not forbear doing him justice as a prodigy in both kinds. He liad signalized himself, in the schools, as a philosopher and polemic of extensive knowledge and deep penetration; and went through all the courses with a wise regard to the dignity and importance of each science. I remember him in the Divinity-school responding and disputing with a perspicuous energy, a ready exactness, and commanding force of argument when Dr. Jane worthily presided in the chair ; whose condescending and disinterested commendation of him gave him such a reputation as silenced the envious malice of his enemies, who durst not contradict the approbation of so profound a master in theology None of those self
sufficient creatures who have either trifled with philosophy, by attempting to ridicule it, or have encumbered it with novel terms and burdensome explanations, understood its real weight and purity half so well as Mr. Smith. He was too discerning to allow of the character of unprofitable, rugged, and abstruse, which some superficial sciolists (so very smooth and polite as to admit of no impresssion) either out of an unthinking indolence or an ill-grounded prejudice had affixed to this sort of studies. He knew the thorny terms of philosophy served well to fence in the true doctrines of religion ; and looked upon school-divinity as upon a rough but well-wrought armour, which might at once adorn and defend the Christian hero, and equip him for the combat.
Mr. Smith had a long and prefect intimacy with all the Greek and Latin classics ; with which he had carefully compared whatever was worth perusing in the French, Spanish, and Italian (to which languages he was no stranger) and in all the celebrated writers of his own country. But then, according to the curious observation of the late carl, of Shaftesbury, he kept the poet in awe by regular criticism ; and, as it were, married the two arts for their mutual support and improvement. There was not a tract of credit upon that subject which he had not diligently examined, from Aristotle down to Hedelin and Bossu ; so that, having each rule constantly before him, he could carry the art through every poem, and at once point out the graces and deformities. By this means he seemed to read with a design to correct as well as imitate. · Being thus prepared, he could not but taste every little delicacy that was set before him ; though it was impossible for him at the same time to be fed and nourished with any thing but what was substantial and lasting. He considered the ancients and moderns not as parties or rivals for fame, but as architects upon one and the same plan, the art of poetry ; according to which he judged, approved, and blamed, without flattery or detraction. If he did not always commend the compositions of others, it was not ill-nature (which was not in his temper) but strict justice would not let him call a few flowers set in ranks, a glib measure, and so many couplets, by the name of poetry; he was of Ben Johnson's opinion, who could not admire
- Verses as smooth and soft as cream,
And therefore, though his want of complaisance for some men's overbearing vanity made him enemies, yet the better part of mankind were obliged by the freedom of his reflections.
His Bodlean speech, though taken from a remote and imperfect cupy, hath shewn the world how great a master he was of the Ciceronean eloquence, mixed with the conciseness and force of Demostheness, the elegant and moving turns of Pliny, and the acute and wise reflections of Tacitus.
Since Temple and Roscommon, no man understood Horace better, especially as to his happy diction, rolling numbers, beautiful imagery, and alternate mixture of the soft and the sublime. This endeared Dr. Hanne's odes to him, the finest genius for Latin lyric since the Augustan age. His friend Mr. Philips's ode to Mr St. John (late lord Bolingbroke) after the manner of Horace's Lusory or Amatorean odes, is certainly a master piece; but Mr. Smith's Pocockius is of the sublimer kind, though, like Waller's writings upon Oliver Cromwell, it wants not the most delicate and surprising turns peculiar to the person praised. I do not remember to have seen any thing like it in Dr. Bathurst,* who had made some attempts this way with applause. He was an excellent judge of humanity; and so good a historian, that in familiar discourse he would talk over the most memorable facts in antiquity, the lives, actions, and characters of celebrated men, with amazing facility and accuracy. As he had thoroughly read and digested Thuanus's works, so he was able to copy after him ; and his talent in this kind was so well known and allowed that he had been singled out by some great men to write a history which it was their interest to have done with the utmost art and dexterity.
I shall not mention for what reasons this design was dropped, though they are very much to Mr. Smith's honour. The truth is and I speak it before living witnesses, whilst an agreeable company could fix himn upon a subject of useful literature nobody shone to greater advantage; he seemed to be that Memius whom Lucretius speaks of:
-Quem tu dea, tempore in omni :
Omnibus ornatum volusiti excellere rebus.
His works are not many, and those scattered up and down in miscellanies and collections, being wrested from him by his friends with great difficulty and reluctance. All of them together make but a small part of that much greater body which lics dispersed in the possession of numerous acquaintance; and cannot perhaps be made entire, without great injustice to him, because few of them had his last hand, and the transcriber was often obliged to take the liberties of a friend.
• Dr. Ralph Bathurst, whose life and literary remains where published in 1761, by Mr. Thomas Warton.
His condolence for the death of Mr. Philips is full of the noblest beauties, and hath done justice to the ashes of that second Milton, whose writings will last as long as the English language, generosity, and valour. For him Mr. Smith had contracted a perfect friendship; a passion he was most susceptible of, and whose laws he looked upon as sacred and inviolable.
Every subject that passed under his pen had all the life, proportion, and embellishments, bestowed on it which an exquisite skill, a warm imagination, and a cool judgment, possibly could bestow on it. The epique, lyric, elegiac, every sort of poetry he touched upon, (and he touched upon a great variety) was raised to its proper height, and the differences between each of them observed with a judicious accuracy. We saw the old rules and new beauties placed in admirable order by each other; and there was a predominant fancy and spirit of his own infused, superior to what some draw off from the ancients, or from poesies here and there culled out of the moderns, by a painful industry and servile imitation. His contrivances were adroit and magnificent ; his images lively and adequate ; his sentiments charming and majestic ; his expressions natural and bold;, his numbers various and sounding ; and that enamelled mixture of classical wit, which without redundance and affectation sparkled through his writings, and were no less pertinent and agreeable.
His. Phadra is a consummate tragedy, and the success of it was as great as the most sanguine expectations of his friends could promise or foresee. The number of nights, and the common method of filling the house, are not always the surest marks of judging what encouragement a play meets with; but the generosity of all the persons of a refined taste about town was remarkable on this occasion ; and it must not be