1762 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Tobias Smollett

William Rider, in Living Authors of Great Britain (1762) 11-12.



Tobias Smollet, M.D. is a Native of Scotland. He was a Sea Surgeon at the Time of the Expedition to Carthagena. It does not appear that he had ever much practice as a Physician. The first Work by which he acquired a Reputation in the Republic of Letters, was his Romance of Roderick Random, which must be acknowledged to be the best Work of the Kind in our Language, next to those of the late ingenious Mr. Fielding. He after this published the Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, which, tho' it is wrote with some Spirit, has been justly censured, because it in the Incidents bears too strong a Resemblance to Roderick Random; as also, because the Account given in it of the Manners and Customs of the French in many Particulars deviates from the Truth. Count Fathom, another Romance of the Doctor's, seems to be superior to the foregoing. The History of England, which is his Master piece, entitles him to a Place amongst Authors of the first Rank, as it is but doing Justice to say of it, that it is the best History of England that ever was wrote. It is a stong Proof of its Merit, that it has been translated into all the Languages of Europe. The Doctor, encouraged by his Success, continues to give a Continuation of it; but some have complained that the Continuation falls short of the first Part. No Author has been concerned in a greater Variety of Publications than Dr. Smollet, as indeed no Author has a greater Variety of Talents. He is not, however, universal, having attempted dramatic Poetry, and failed in it. He wrote a Tragedy called the Regicide, which was never acted, and a Farce called the Tars of Old England, which was acted at Drury Lane without Success.