1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Tobias Smollett

Alexander Campbell, in Introduction to the History of Poetry in Scotland (1798) 229.



TOBIAS SMOLLET, M. D. was suspected, and not without some reason, of being a favourer of the Stuart cause. His pathetic lamentation on the dire events of 1745 and 1746, poured forth in his "ears of Scotland, may be mentioned at this distance of time, without injury to the dead. — The following quotation breathes all the tenderness of sorrow, and beauty of poetical description.

The pious mother doom'd to death,
Forsaken wanders o'er the heath;
The black wind whistles round her head,
The helpless orphans cry for bread;
Bereft of shelter, food, and friend,
She views the shades of night descend,
And stretch'd beneath th' inclement skies,
Weeps o'er her tender babes, and dies.

Smollet was born in 1720, on the banks of the Leven, which issues from Lochlomond, and meets the Clyde at Dunbarton. He studied at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Having practiced as a physician with little success in different parts of England, he relinquished the profession, and commenced author. His active mind embraced almost every department of literature. As a journalist of travels, a novelist, a dramatist, an historian, and a poet, he supported his well-earned reputation with dignity and honour. He died in the 51st year of his age, at Leghorn, whither he had gone for the recovery of his health, in 1771.