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of innocent persons by the guillotine during what is called the reign of Terror, under the new republican Government, during the power of Robespierre,-opened their eyes to the miserable consequences of those mad innovations, and taught them to know and to value the more certain and sober sort of Liberty which they themselves had constantly enjoyed under the protection of the limited Monarchy of England. There were, however, several noblemen and gentlemen of rank and consequence, in both Houses of Parliament, who, (though they had acted in conjunction with Mr. Fox for some years before the breaking-out of the disastrous French Revolution,) thought fit to differ from him upon this great occasion, and to declare, even in the beginning of the French Revolution, that they agreed with Mr. Burke in his opinions upon this subject. Of these judicious and patriotick perfons, one of the most eminent in the House of Lords was the duke of Portland, and one of the most distinguished in the House of Com, mons was Mr. William Windham, who has since been one of the King's Secretaries of state. It is, perhaps, owing 10 the efforts of these worthy persons who adopted Mr. Burke's opinions upon this subject, that England has not been thrown into confusion and misery by a change of our happy form of Government into a Republick in imitation of the French Revolution,
ANECDOTES AN ACCOUNT OF THE OPINIONS OF THE LATE ADAM
SMITH, LL. D. AUTHOR OF “ THE WEALTH OF NA.
To the PRINTER of the WHITEHALL EVENING
SIR, IN the year 1780, I had frequent occafion to be in company with the late well-known Dr. Adam Smith. When business ended, our conversation took a literary turn; I was then young, inquisitive, and full of respect for his abilities as an author. On his part he was extremely communicative, and delivered himself, on every subject, with a freedom, and even boldness, quite oppofite to the apparent referve of his appearance. I took-down notes of his conversation, and have here sent you an abstract of them. I have neither added, altered, nor diminished them, but merely put them into fuch a fhape as may fit them for the eye of your readers.
Of the late Dr. Samuel Johnson, Dr. Smith had a very contemptuous opinion. “ I have seen that creature,” said he, “ bolt-up in the midst of a mixed company; and, without any previous notice, fall upon his knees behind a chair, repeat the Lord's Prayer, and then resume his seat at table. He has played this freak over and over, perhaps five or fix times, in the course of an evening: It is not hypocrisy, but madness. Though an honest fort of man himself, he is always patronising scoundrels. Savage, for instance, whom he so Loudly praises, was but a worthless fellow; his pension of fifty
pounds a year never lafted him longer than a few days. As a sample of his economy, you may take a circumstance, that Johnson himself once told me. It was, at that period, falhionable to wear fcarlet cloaks trimmed with gold lace; and the Doctor met him one day, just after he had got his pension, with one of these cloaks upon his back, while, at the same time, his naked toes were sticking through his Thoes.”
He was no admirer of the Rambler or the Idler, and hinted, that he had never been able to read them. He was averse to the contest with America; yet he spoke highly of Johnson's political pamphlets : but, above all, he was charmed with that respecting Falkland's Islands, as it displayed, in such forcible language, the madness of modern wars.
I enquired his opinion of the late Dr. Campbell, author of the Political Survey of Great Britain. He told me, that he never had been above once in his company; that the Doctor was a voluminous writer, and one of those authors who write from one end of the week to the other, without interruption. A gentleman, who happened to dine with Dr. Campbell in the house of a common acquaintance, remarked, that he would be glad to poffefs a complete set of the Doctor's works. The hint was not lost; for next morning he was surprised at the appearance of a cart before his door. This cart was loaded with the books he had asked for; the driver's bill amounted to seventy pounds! As Dr. Campbell composed a part of the Universal History, and of the Biographia Britannica, we may fuppofe, that these two ponderous articles formed a great part of the car. go. The Doctor was in use to get a number of copies of his publications from the printer, and keep them in his house for such an opportunity. A gentleman, who came-in one day, exclaimed, with surprise, “ Have you ever read all these books?"_56 Nay,” replied Dr. Campbell, laughing, « I have written them.”
Of Swift, Dr. Smith made frequent and honourable mention. He denied that the Dean could have written the Pindarics printed under his name. He affirmed, that he wanted nothing but inclination to have become one of the greatest of all poets. “ But, in place of this, he is only a gosiper, writing merely for the entertainment of a private circle.” He regarded Swift, both in style and sentiment, as a pattern of correctness. He read to ine some of the short poetical addresses to Stella, and was particularly pleafcd with one couplet
Say, Stella, feel you no content, “ Reflecting on a life well-spent " Though the Dean's verses are remarkable for ease and fimplicity, yet the composition required an effort. Το express this difficulty, Swift used to say, that a verse came from him like a guinea. Dr. Smith considered the lines on his own death, as the Dean's poetical masterpiece: He thought that, upon the whole, his poetry was correct, after he settled in Ireland, when he was, as he himself faid, surrounded “ only by humble friends.”
The Doctor had some singular opinions. I was surprised at hearing him prefer Livy to all other historians, ancient and modern. He knew of no other who had even a pretence to rival him, if David Hume could not claim that honour. He regretted, in particular, the loss of his account of the civil wars in the age of Julius Cæsar; and when I attempted to comfort him by the library at Fez, he cut me short. I would have expected Polybius to stand much higher in his esteem than Livy, as having a much nearer resemblance to Dr. Smith's own manner of writing. Besides his miracles, Livy contains an immense number of the most obvious and gross falsehoods.
He was 110 sanguine admirer of Shakespeare. “Voltaire, you know,” says he, “calls Hamlet the dream of a drunken favage.”—“ He has good scenes, but not one good play." The Doctor, however, would not have permitted any body else to pass this verdict with impunity. For when I once afterwards, in order to found him, hinted a disrespect for Hamlet, he gave a smile, as if he thought I would detect him in a contradiction, and replied,
6 Yes! but still Hamlet is full of fine passages.”
He had an invincible contempt and averfion for blank verse ; Milton's always excepted. “They do well,” he said, “to call it blank, for blank it is; I myself, even I, who never could find a single rhyme in my life, could make blank verse as fast as I could speak; nothing but laziness hinders our tragic poets from writing, like the French, in rhyme. Dryden, had he possessed but a tenth part of Shakespeare's dramatic genius, would have brought rhyming tragedies into fashion here as well as they are in France, and then the mob would have admired thein just as much as they now pretend to despise them.
Beattie's Minstrel he would not allow to be called a poem; for it had, he said, no plan, no beginning, middle, or end. Fle thought it only a series of verses ; but a few of them very happy. As for the trandlation of the Iliad, “They do well,” he said, “ to call it Pope's Homer; for it is not Homer's Homer. It has no resemblance to the majesiy and fimplicity of the Greek." He read-over to me l'Allegro and Il Penseroso, and explained the l'espedive beauties of each, but added, that all the rest of Milton's short poems were trash. He could not imagine what had made John on praise the poem on the Death of Mrs. Killigrew, and compare it with Alexander's Feast. The criticisin had induced him to read it over, and with attention, twice; and he could not discover even a spark of merit. At the same time, he mentioned