1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Tobias Smollett

John Aikin, in Select Works of the British Poets (1820) 663.



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.