1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Smart

George Dyer, "Cantabrigiana: Mr. Christopher Smart, late of Pembroke-Hall" The Monthly Magazine 15 (June 1803) 426.



Mr. Smart, formerly Fellow of Pembroke-hall, was a man of genius, greatly admired in his day at Cambridge, for his poetical exercises. His Tripos Poems had peculiar merit, and were all accounted worthy of an English translation. He obtained the Seatonian prize five times. The poems are characterized by a religious enthusiasm quite natural to the writer, and are still further replete with the enthusiasm of poetry. They are excellent of the kind. The sensible account of Smart's Life, prefixed to his Poems, was written by Mr. Hunter, formerly fellow of Sidney.

Christopher was no less distinguished for his Latin than his English poetry. He put Pope's Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, his Essay on Criticism, and Milton's l'Allegro, into Latin verse. He also possessed great wit and sprightliness in conversation, which would readily flow off into extemporary verse. The following spondaic, on the three University Bedels, who all happened to be fat men, is an expressive effusion of this kind:

Pinguia tergeminorum abdomina Bedellorum.
Three Bedels found, with paunches fat and round.

and equal to Joshua Barnes's extemporaneous version of,

Three blue beans in a blue bladder.
[Greek characters].