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now added to some other fragments in the present edition of his poems. Mickle appears to have been greatly affected by this event, and to have sought consolation where only it can be found.
Living now in a society from which some of the ablest defenders of Christianity bave risen, he was induced to take up his pen in its defence by attacking a Translation of the New Testament published by the late Dr. Harwood, Mickle's pamphlet was entitled A Letter to Dr. Harwood, wherein some of his evasive glosses, false translations, and blundering criticisms, in support of the Arian heresy, contained in his literal translation of the New Testament, are pointed out and confuted. Harwood had laid himself so open to ridicule as well as confutation by his foolish translation, that perhaps there was no great merit in exposing what it was scarcely possible to read with gravity; but our author, while he employed rather more severity than was necessary on this part of his subject, engaged in the vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity with the acuteness of a man who had carefully studied the controversy, and considered the established opinion as a matter of essential importance. This was followed by another attempt to vindicate revealed religion from the hostility of the Deists, entitled Voltaire in the Shades, or Dialogues or the Deistical Controversy.
In 1772, he formed that collection of fugitive poetry, which was published in four volumes by George Pearch, bookseller, as a continuation of Dodsley's collection. In this Mickle inserted his Hengist and Mey, and the Elegy on Mary Queen of Scots. He contributed about the same time other occasional pieces, both in prose and verse, to the periodical publications, when he could spare leisure from his engagements at the Clarendon press, and from a more important design which he had long revolved in his mind, and had now the resolution to carry into execution in preference to every other employment.
This was his justly celebrated translation of The Lusiad of Camoens, a poem which he is said to have read when a boy in Castera's French translation, and which at no great distance of time he determined to familiarize to the English reader. For this purpose he studied the Portuguese language, and the history of the poem and of its author, and without greatly over-rating the genius of Camoens, dwelt on the beauties of the Lusiad, until he caught the author's spirit, and became confident that he could transfuse it into English with equal honour to his original and to himself. But as it was necessary that the attention of the English public should be drawn to a poeip at this time very little known, he first published proposals for bis translation to be printed by subscription, and afterwards sent a small specimen of the fifth book to be inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine, which was then, as now, the common vehicle of literary communications. This appeared in the Magazine for March, 1771, and a few months after he printed at Oxford the first book of The Lusiad. These specimens were received with indulgence sufficient to encourage him to prosecute his undertaking with spirit, and that he might enjoy the advantages of leisure and quiet, he relinquished his situation at the Clarendon press, and retired to an old mansion occupied by a Mr. Tomkins, a farmer at Forest Hill, about five miles from Oxford. Here he remained until the end of 1775, at which time
3 A correspondent in the Gentleman's Magazine (vol. Ixi. p. 402) asserted that Mickle was employed by Evans, bookseller in the Strand, to fabricate some of the old ballads published by him. This calumny, however, was fully refuted in a subsequent letter in p. 504, written as I suppose by Mr. Isaac Reed, who knew Mickle well, and drew up the first account published of his life in the European Magazine, 1789. C.
he was enabled to complete his engagement with his numerous subscribers, and publish the work complete in a quarto volume, printed at Oxford.
With the universal approbation bestowed on this work by the critical world he had every reason to be satisfied, and the profits he derived from the sale were far from being inconsiderable a man in his circumstances; yet the publication was attended by some unforeseen circumstances of a less pleasing kind, for he had again the misfortune to be teased by the prospect of high patronage, which again ended in disappointment. It had at first been suggested to him that he might derive advantage from dedicating his translation of The Lusiad to some person of rank in the East India department, but before he had made a choice, his friend the late commodore Johnstone persuaded him to inscribe it to a Scotch nobleman of the highest rank. This nobleman, however, we are told, had been a pupil of Dr. Adam Smith, some of whose doctrines respecting the eastern trade, Mickle had controverted, and upon this account the nobleman is said to have treated the dedication and the poem with neglect. Mickle's biographers have expatiated on this subject at great length, and with much acrimony; but as the nobleman is yet alive, and, what is of more importance, is universally esteemed for his public and private worth, and above all for his liberality, it does not seem respectful to perpetuate a story of which probably one half only can ever be known. Still the treatment Mickle met with, according to Ireland and Sims, was such that we must regret that he had been advised to seek any other patronage than that of the public, or that he should need any other than what he might reasonably expect from the exertion of talents so various and original, united at the same time with such integrity and principle as are rarely found among those who are thrown upon the world in circumstances like his.
Soon after the publication of The Lusiad, he returned to London, and was advised by some, who probably in this instance consulted his fame less than his immediate interest, to write a tragedy. The profits of a play, although its merit may not be very high, are generally so great that we ought not to be surprised at his acquiescing in this scheme, and that when he began to execute his task he became fond of it, and conceived very sanguine expectations. The story of his tragedy, which was entitled The Siege of Marseilles, was taken from the French history in the reign of Francis I. When completed, his friends recommended it to Garrick, who allowed its general merit, but complained of the want of stage effect, and recommended him to take the advice of Dr. Warton. This able critic was accordingly called in, with his brother Thomas, and with Home the author of Douglas. In compliance with their opinion, Mickle made great alterations, and Thomas Warton earnestly recommended the tragedy to Garrick, but in vain“, and Mickle, his biographers inform us, was so incensed at this, that he resolved to appeal to the judgment of the public by printing it.
His conduct on this occasion must be ascribed to irritation arising from other disap
4 Garrick's objections, we must suppose, were, in his own opinion, unanswerable. When Thomas Warton offered to read it, and send it to Garrick with his recommendation, Garrick answered, in a letter, dated April 30, 1771, " I shall consider it now as a new drama, and with great partiality in its favour, as it comes recommended by you; but should I approve, as I wish and expect, it will not be in my power to produce it the next winter: I am more than full for the next season, however, if the author will trust it with me, should it be thought fit for representation, I will bring it out as soon as I can: but unless some of my present engagements are withdrawn, it cannot make its appearance until the winter after Dext-My best compliments to Mr. Mickle-Has the Dr. (Joseph Warton) at Winchester seen it?-A play underwritten by the two Wartons would certainly merit every attention.” Wooll's Memoirs of Dr. J. Warton. C.
pointments. The mere printing would have been a harmless, and might have been a profitable, experiment. The public are not sorry to be constituted the judges in a matter where their judgment can seldom be of much use, since a play may be very pleasing in the closet, and yet very unfit for the stage. But Mickle threatened to go further. Haring been told by some officious person that Garrick had followed his refusal by sentiments of personal disrespect, he was so enraged as to threaten to write a new Dunciad, of which Garrick should be the hero; but his more sensible friends naturally took the alarm at a threat so impotent, and persuaded him to lay aside his design. Let us hope that it was but a threat, and that a man of so many virtues would not have deliberately stained his character by an act of revenge. Yet he drew up an angry preface, and sent a copy of it to Mr. Garrick. It is unnecessary to say more of this play, than that it was afterwards rejected by Mr. Harris and Mr. Sheridan. It is now added to his works, agreeably to his own intention, and as it contains many pathetic passages and interesting situations, every reader will yet wonder that when the author's fame became established, and when a trial on the stage might have been made with no great risk, a succession of managers persisted in rejecting it.
The first edition of The Lusiad, consisting of a thousand copies, had so rapid a sale, that a second edition, with improvements, was published in June, 1778. About the same time, as he had yet no regular provision, some means were employed, but ineffectually, to
procure him a pension from the crown, as a man of letters. Dr. Lowth, then bishop of London, had more than once intimated that he was ready to admit him into holy orders, and provide for him; but Mickle refused the offer, lest his hitherto uniform support of revealed religion should be imputed to interested motives. This offer was highly honourable to him, as it must have proceeded from a knowledge of the excellence of his character, and the probable advantages which the church must bave derived from the accession of such a member. Nor was his rejection of it less honourable, for he was still poor. Although he had received nearly a thousand pounds from the sale and for the copyright of The Lusiad, he appropriated all of that sum which he could spare from his immediate necessities to the payment of his debts, and the maintenance of his sisters. He now issued proposals for printing an edition of his original poems, by subscription, in quarto, at one guinea each copy. For this he had the encouragement of many friends, and probably the result would have been very advantageous, but the steady friendship of the late commodore Johnstone relieved him from any further anxiety on this account.
In 1779* this gentleman being appointed commander of the Roinney man of war, and
5 Life prefixed to the quarto edition of his poems. Of his anger against Garrick the late excellent Dr. Horne, bishop of Norwich, relates the following anecdote. “ Mickle, the translator of The Lusiad, inserted in his poem an angry note against Garrick, who, as he thought, had used him ill, by rejecting a tragedy of his. Sometime afterward, the poet, who had never seen Garrick play, was asked by a friend in town to go to king Lear. He went, and during the first three acts said not a word. In a fine passage of the fourth, he fetched a deep sigh, and, turning to his friend, “I wish,” said he, “ the note was out of my book.” Life of bishop Horne, by Jones, p. 270. The reader may perceive improbabilities in this story, which, however, had some foundation. Mickle must have seen Garrick play long, and often, before he published The Lusiad. C.
In this year he published a pamphlet in quarto, entitled A candid Examination of the Reasons for depriving the East India Company of its Charter. This was written in defence of the company, and against the opinions of Dr. Adam Smith, to whose insinuations Mickle's friends have supposed that he owed the loss of the noble patron to whom he dedicated The Lusiad. C.
commodore of a squadron, immediately nominated Mickle to be his secretary, by which, though only a non-commissioned officer, he was entitled to a considerable share of prize-money. But what probably afforded him most delight, in the commencement of this new life, was the destination of the squadron to the native shores of his favourite Camoens, which the fame of his translation had already reached. On his landing at Lisbon in November, 1773, lie was received with the utmost politeness and respect by prince don John of Braganza, duke of Lafoens, and was introduced to the principal nobility, gentry, and literati of Portugal. In May, 1780, the Royal Academy of Lisbon admitted him a member, and the duke of Braganza, who presided on that occasion, presented him with his portrait as a token of his particular regard. It is almost needless to add, that the admirers of Mickle owe his beautiful, though neglected, poem of Almada Hill to this visit. He is said also to have employed some of his leisure hours in collecting materials for a history of Portugal, which he did not live to prepare for the press.
On his arrival in England, in November, 1780, he was appointed joint agent for the disposal of the valuable prizes taken during the commodore's cruize, and by the profits of this place, and his share of the prize-money, he was enabled to discharge bis debts. This had long been the ardent wish of his heart, the object of all his pursuits, and an object which he at length accomplished with the strictest honour, and with a satisfaction to his own mind the most pure and delightful. It is, indeed, among the inexplicable mysteries in human conduct, that so many men of enlightened minds can bear the weight of pecuniary obligation with perfect indifference, and can openly insult the universal opinion of mankind, by deeming the reputation of a few showy public professions an equivalent for the principles of common honesty. Mickle had nothing in common with men of this description.
In 1782, our poet published The Prophecy of Queen Emma, a ballad, with an ironical preface, containing an account of its pretended author and discovery, and hints for vindicating the authenticity of the poems of Ossian and Rowley. This irony, however, lost part of its effect by the author's pretending that a poem, which is modern both in language and versification, was the production of a prior of Durham in the reign of William Rufus, although he endeavours to account for this with some degree of humour, and is not unsuccessful in imitating the mode of reasoning adopted by dean Milles and Mr. Bryant, in the case of Chatterton.
In the same year he married Mary, the daughter of Mr. Robert Tomkins, with whom he resided in Oxfordshire wbile employed in translating The Lusiad, and by this lady he left a son, now a clerk in the lucia-house. The fortune which he obtained by his marriage, and wliat he acquired under commodore Johnstone, would have enabled him to pass the remainder of his days in ease and independence, and with that view he took a house at Wheatly near Oxford; but the failure and death of a banker, with whom he was connected as agent for the prizes, and a chancery suit in which he engaged rather too precipitately, in order to secure a part of his wife's fortune, involved him in many delays, and much anxiety and expense. He still, however, employed his pen on occasional subjects, and contributed essays entitled The Fragments of Leo, and some other articles, to the European Magazine. His last production was Eskdale Braes, a song in commemoration of the place of his birth.
He died after a short illness at Forest Hill, on the 28th of October, 1788, and was buried in the churchyard of that parish. His character, as drawn by Mr. Isaac Reed
and Mr. John Ireland, who knew him well, may be adopted with safety. “He was in every point of view a man of the utmost integrity, warm in his friendship, and indignant only against vice, irreligion, or meanness. The compliment paid by lord Lyttelton to Thomson, might be applied to him with the strictest truth; not a line is to be found in his works, which, dying, he would wish to blot. During the greatest part of his life, he endured the pressures of a narrow fortune without repining, never relaxing in his industry to acquire, by honest exertions, that independence which at length he enjoyed. He did not shine in conversation, nor would any person, from his appearance, have been able to form a favourable judgment of his talents. In every situation in which fortune placed him, he displayed an independent spirit, undebased by any meanness; and when his pecuniary circumstances made bim, on one occasion, feel a disappointment with some force, he even then seemed more ashamed at his want of discernment of charaeter, than concerned for his loss. He seemed to entertain with reluctance an opinion that high birth could be united with a sordid mind. He had, however, the satisfaction of reflecting, that no extravagant panegyric had disgraced his pen. Contempt certainly came to his aid, though not soon : he wished to forget his credulity, and never after conversed on the subject by choice. To conclude, his foibles were but few, and those inoffensive : his virtues were many: and his genius was very considerable. He lived without reproach, and his memory will always be cherished by those who were acquainted with him." To this Mr. Ireland adds, “ His mamers were not of that obtrusive kind by which many men of the second or third order force themselves into notice. A very close observer might have passed many hours in Mr. Mickle's company, without suspecting that he had ever written a line of poetry. A common physiognomist would have said that he had an unmasked face. Lavater would have said otherwise ; but neither his countenance nor manners were such as attract the multitude. When his name was announced, he has been more than once asked if the translator of Camoens was any relation to him. To this he usually answered, with a good natured smile, that they were of the same family. Simplicity, unaffected simplicity, was the leading feature in luis character. The philosoplıy of Voltaire and David Hume was his detestation. He could not hear their names with temper. For the Bible he had the highest reverence, and never sat silent when the doctrines or precepts of the gospel were either ridiculed or spoken of with contempt."
in 1794, an edition of his poems was published by subscription, with an account of his life by Mr. Ireland. A more full and correct collection of his poenis appeared in 1807, with a life by the rev. John Sim, who was his intimate friend when at Oxford, and has done ample justice to his memory. To the present edition I have added his tragedy, although dramatic pieces form no part of this collection. Those who still consider it as unfit for the stage, may be willing to allow of its admission as a dramatic poem. Of his poem on Providence, I have not been able to procure a copy.
Although there is no species of poetry of which he had not afforded favourable specimens, and many striking images and animated descriptions are discoverable in his ori ginal pieces, and while we allow that his imagination is considerably fertile, his language cupious, and his versification rich and various, yet it cannot be denied that there are too many marks of imitation in all his lesser poems, and that his fame must rest principally, where it is more than probable he intended it should, on his translation of the Lusiad. This work, which is now rising in reputation, is inferior only to Pope's Iliad, according to the general opinion, which perhaps may be controverted. Pope has given