« ZurückWeiter »
his favourite: 'They for kindness hate,' and 'because she's right, she's ever in the wrong 2.
His versification is his own 3, neither his blank nor his rhyming 167 lines have any resemblance to those of former writers: he picks up no hemistichs 5, he copies no favourite expressions; he seems to have laid up no stores of thought or diction, but to owe all to the fortuitous suggestions of the present moment. Yet I have reason to believe that, when once he had formed a new design,' he then laboured it with very patient industry, and that he composed with great labour and frequent revisions.
His verses are formed by no certain model, for he is no more 168 like himself in his different productions than he is like others. He seems never to have studied prosody, nor to have had any direction but from his own ear. But, with all his defects, he was a man of genius and a poet
The Universal Passion, v. 551. 2 lb. vi. 200.
3 For Swift's prevailing with him to exclude alexandrines see ante, POPE, 376 n.
4 Johnson says the same of Thomson's blank verse. Ante, THOMSON, 46.
5 Ante, COWLEY, 198; PRIOR, 71. 6 Johnson, after being 'forced to prefer Young's description of Night to those of Dryden and Shakespeare,' continued:-This is true; but remember that taking the compositions of Young in general, they are but like bright stepping-stones over a miry road: Young froths, and foams, and bubbles sometimes very vigorously; but we must not compare the noise made by your tea-kettle here with the roaring of the ocean.' John. Misc. i. 186.
To Young's son he spoke of him as 'that great man your father.' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 120. For his meeting the poet see ib. v. 269.
For a coarse criticism by Pope on Young's 'being always on the strain and labouring for expression' see Warburton's Pope, iv. 224. In Warton's Pope, iv. 233, it is said that he was criticizing Night Thoughts. See also ante, YOUNG, 13.
For Young's condemnation of Pope's Iliad see ante, POPE, 349 n. His admiration of Shakespeare is far higher than would be expected from his own dramas. In his Conjectures on Original Composition (Works, 1770, iv. 289) he says:-'Shakespeare mingled no water with his wine, lowered his genius by no vapid imitation; Shakespeare gave us a Shakespeare, nor could the first in ancient fame have given us more. Shakespeare is not their son, but brother; their equal; and that in spite of all his faults.'
Coleridge said that 'Young was not a poet to be read through at once. His love of point and wit had often put an end to his pathos and sublimity; but there were parts in him which must be immortal. He loved to read a page of Young, and walk out to think of him.' Table Talk, 1884, p. 297.
[Since Sir Leslie Stephen contributed his admirable life of Young to the Dict. of Nat. Biog. fresh material has been made available by the publication of the poet's letters to the Duchess of Portland, 1740-65. Hist. MSS. Com., 1904, Report on MSS. of Marquis of Bath, i. 254-300.]
F DAVID MALLET, having no written memorial, I am able to give no other account than such as is supplied by the unauthorised loquacity of common fame and a very slight personal knowledge 1.
2 He was by his original one of the Macgregors, a clan that became, about sixty years ago, under the conduct of Robin Roy, so formidable and so infamous for violence and robbery, that the name was annulled by a legal abolition 2; and when they were all to denominate themselves anew the father, I suppose, of this author called himself Malloch.
David Malloch was, by the penury of his parents, compelled to be Janitor of the High School at Edinburgh; a mean office, of which he did not afterwards delight to hear 3. But he surmounted the disadvantages of his birth and fortune; for when the Duke of Montrose applied to the College of Edinburgh for a tutor to educate his sons Malloch was recommended; and I never heard that he dishonoured his credentials 5.
When his pupils were sent to see the world they were entrusted to his care; and having conducted them round the common circle of modish travels he returned with them to London, where, by the influence of the family in which he resided, he naturally gained admission to many persons of the highest rank and the highest character, to wits, nobles, and
He was born about the year 1705. Dict. Nat. Biog.
* Scott, in the Introduction to Rob Roy, says that the name was abolished in 1603; it was restored at the Restoration, and a second time abolished after the Revolution. Johnson refers to the exception of the clan from the Act of Grace of 1717. Ante, PRIOR, 39 n.
Horace Walpole, on Feb. 3, 1781, mentioning Governor Johnstone, and having Dr. Johnson in mind, continues:-'With or without a that is
a detestable name and a corrupt one. I would as soon be a Macgregor.' Letters, vii. 508.
3 I have seen it stated-where I forget-that as janitor he had to 'horse' the boys when they were flogged.
Ante, THOMSON, 7.
5"My encouragement is £30.” Mallet to Ker, July, 1723.' Cunningham's Lives of the Poets, iii. 362.
For a letter of his dated 'Geneva, 1735,' see Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), x. 90.
Of his works, I know not whether I can trace the series. His 5 first production' was William and Margaret', of which, though it contains nothing very striking or difficult, he has been envied the reputation, and plagiarism has been boldly charged but never proved 3.
Not long afterwards he published The Excursion* (1728), 6 a desultory and capricious view of such scenes of Nature as his fancy led him, or his knowledge enabled him, to describe. It is not devoid of poetical spirit. Many of the images are striking, and many of the paragraphs are elegant. The cast of diction seems to be copied from Thomson, whose Seasons were then in their full blossom of reputation. He has Thomson's beauties and his faults 5.
His poem on Verbal Criticism (1733) was written to pay 7
'His first printed production was a Pastoral in the Edinburgh Miscellany, 1720. Cunningham's Lives of the Poets, iii. 362; Tovey's Thomson, Preface, p. 16.
Mallet's William and Margaret was printed in Aaron Hill's Plain Dealer, No. 36, July 24, 1724. In its original state it was very different from what it is in the last edition of his works. JOHNSON.
In The Plain Dealer the opening
"When hope lay hush'd in silent night,
And woe was wrapp'd in sleep,
Now all was wrapt in dark mid-night
When night and morning meet,
3 Captain Edward Thompson, in an edition of Marvell in 1776, charged Mallet with plagiarism from that poet. See Gent. Mag. 1776, pp. 355, 401. On p. 559 it is asserted that the ballad was written in 1622, and is quoted by Fletcher in The Knight
of the Burning Pestle [Act ii. sc. 8]
And all were fast asleep,
Gibbon wrote on May 24, 1776:'Poor Mallet! I pity his misfortune, and feel for him probably more than he does for himself at present. His William and Margaret, his only good piece of poetry, is tom from him.' Gibbon's Corres. 1896, i. 283.
Professor F. J. Child says that ‘a copy of the date 1711, with the title William and Margaret, an Old Ballad, turns out to be substantially the piece which Mallet published as his own in 1724. ... William and Margaret is simply Fair Margaret and Sweet William rewritten in what used to be called an elegant style.' Eng. and Scot. Popular Ballads, 1882-98, ii. 199.
Eng. Poets, lxiii. 41.
5 Mallet was writing this poem when Thomson was writing Summer, as Thomson's letters to him show. Philobiblon Misc. vol. iv.
"Of Verbal Criticism, an Epistle to Mr. Pope, occasioned by Theobald's Shakespeare and Bentley's Milton. Gent. Mag. March, 1734, p. 167; Eng. Poets, Ixiii. 7.
On Nov. 7, 1733, Pope wrote to Mallet:-'The Epistle I have read over and over with great and just
court to Pope, on a subject which he either did not understand or willingly misrepresented; and is little more than an improvement, or rather expansion, of a fragment which Pope printed in a Miscellany1 long before he engrafted it into a regular poem. There is in this piece more pertness than wit, and more confidence than knowledge. The versification is tolerable, nor can criticism allow it a higher praise.
8 His first tragedy was Eurydice, acted at Drury-Lane in 1731; of which I know not the reception nor the merit, but have heard it mentioned as a mean performance3. He was not then too high to accept a Prologue and Epilogue from Aaron Hill, neither of which can be much commended.
Having cleared his tongue from his native pronunciation so as to be no longer distinguished as a Scot, he seems inclined to disencumber himself from all adherences of his original, and took upon him to change his name from Scotch Malloch to English Mallet, without any imaginable reason of preference which the eye or ear can discover. What other proofs he gave of dis
delight. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), x. 86. He mentions it also in a letter to Richardson, written, I believe, in the same month, but dated Nov. 2, 1732. Ib. ix. 498. For a quotation from it see John. Misc. i. 358.
[The 'fragment' of which Verbal Criticism is an 'expansion' was inserted by Pope in his Miscellany of 1727 under the title of Fragment of a Satire. The 'regular poem' into which Pope engrafted it is The Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, being the Prologue to the Satires, published in 1735. The Fragment of a Satire, consisting of sixty-eight lines, contains the celebrated attack on Addison, preceded by some lines in disparagement of critics and commentators which, like Mallet's Verbal Criticism, are aimed especially at Bentley and Theobald. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iii. 236. For the Fragment of a Satire from the Miscellany see ib. 538.]
Dr. Warton describes it as 'stuffed with illiberal cant about pedantry and collators of manuscripts. Essay on Pope, ii. 299.
Hill was present at the first re
presentation on Feb. 22, 1731. Hill's Works, 1754, i. 97. See also Gent. Mag. 1731, p. 135. It was brought out with alterations at Drury Lane in 1760. The success of it was never great.' Biog. Dram. ii. 207.
Hill's Works, iii. 334, iv. 74; ante, SAVAGE, 55; POPE, 154.
5 JOHNSON. I never catched Mallet in a Scotch accent; and yet Mallet, I suppose, was past five-andtwenty before he came to London.' Boswell's Johnson, ii. 159.
Hume got Mallet to help him in clearing his History from Scotticisms. Burton's Hume, ii. 3, 142.
[Mallet's residence in Oxford may have helped him to get rid of his accent. Together with his pupil Mr. Newsham, he matriculated from St. Mary Hall on Nov. 2, 1733, proceeding B.A. on March 15, 1734, and M.A. on April 6 of the same year. Alumni Oxonienses, 1715-1886, iii. 906, and Mallet's Ballads and Songs, ed. Dinsdale, 1857, p. 25.]
Johnson, in his Dictionary, defines alias as 'a Latin word, signifying otherwise; often used in the trials of criminals whose danger has obliged them to change their names, as
respect to his native country I know not; but it was remarked of him that he was the only Scot whom Scotchmen did not commend1.
About this time Pope, whom he visited familiarly, published 10 his Essay on Man, but concealed the author2; and when Mallet entered one day, Pope asked him slightly what there was new. Mallet told him that the newest piece was something called an Essay on Man, which he had inspected idly; and seeing the utter inability of the author, who had neither skill in writing nor knowledge of his subject, had tossed it away. Pope, to punish his self-conceit, told him the secret 3.
A new edition of the works of Bacon being prepared (1740) 11
Simpson, alias Smith, alias Baker.' In his Abridged Dictionary (published not long after Byng's execution, post, MALLET, 21) he defines it as 'a Latin word, signifying otherwise; as Mallet alias Malloch; that is otherwise Malloch.' See ante, THOMSON, 13.
In the lines prefixed to Thomson's Winter, 3rd ed. 1726 (ante, THOMSON, 13), Mallet signs himself 'D. Malloch.
'The change of name occurred in 1726. "My Cousin Paton," he says to Ker in 1724, "would have me write my name Mallet, for there is not one Englishman that can pronounce it." Johnson was ignorant of the proper pronunciation. To a Scottish ear there is a considerable difference between Mallock and Malloch.'' Cunningham's Lives of the Poets, iii. 365.
In an entry in the Register of Laureations in the University of Edinburgh, dated April 16, 1734, he is described as 'David Malloch alias Mallet, olim alumnus noster.' N. & 2. 7 S. xii. 265.
Johnson, contrasting the Irish with the Scotch, said:-'The Irish are not in a conspiracy to cheat the world by false representations of the merits of their countrymen. No, Sir, the Irish are a fair people; they never speak well of one another.' Boswell's Johnson, ii. 307.
2 In 1733. Ante, POPE, 176.
3 Johnson's authority is Ayre's Pope, ii. 215. See also Ruffhead's Pope, p. 261. Mr. Elwin, who shows that one part of Ayre's story is false,
considers the rest of it improbable. Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), ii. 262.
After the sixth verse in the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot Pope had inserted the following:
'Yet worse, vile poets rise before 'tis light,
And walk, like Marg'ret's ghost, at dead of night.'
'This,' writes Mr. Courthope, appears to be an allusion to Mallet. Pope may have intended to punish him for his depreciation of the Essay on Man. lb. iii. 241. Mr. Elwin says that Warburton 'had appended a bitter note upon Mallet; but the leaf was cancelled.' Ib.i. Introd. p. 17. For the cancelled leaf see ib. iii. 534-5, where it is shown that, 'to fill the hiatus,' Warburton invented the title of Prologue to the Satires!
'Mallet, thinking Warburton intended to write Pope's life, told him he had an anecdote which he believed nobody knew but himself. “I was sitting one day with Mr. Pope in his last illness." Mr. Mallet," said he, "I have had an odd kind of a vision; methought I saw my own head open, and Apollo come out of it; then I saw your head open, and Apollo went into it; after which our heads closed up again." Warburton replied:"Why, Sir, if I had an intention of writing your life this might, perhaps, be a proper anecdote; but I do not see that in Mr. Pope's it will be of any consequence whatever."' Ruffhead, p. 532.