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the declared antagonist of Hume; he had written against him, and could not hear his name mentioned with temper: but there is not the slightest evidence that the hatred was mutual. That Adam Smith should have done him a mean injury, no one will believe probable, who is acquainted with the traditional private character of that philosopher, But Mickle was also the antagonist of Smith's doctrines on political economy, as may be seen in his “ Dissertation on the Charter of the East India Company.” The author of the “ Wealth of Nations," forsooth, was jealous of his opinions on monopolies! Even this paltry supposition is contradicted by dates, for Mickle's tract upon the subject of Monopolies was published several years after the preface to the Lusiad. Upon the whole, the suspicion of his philosophical enemies having poisoned the ear of the Duke of Buccleugh, seems to have proceeded from the same irritable vanity, which made him threaten to celebrate Garrick as the hero of a second Dunciad, when he refused to accept of his tragedy, “ The Siege of Marseilles.”
Though the Lusiad had a tolerable sale, his cir. cumstances still made his friends solicitous that he should obtain some settled provision. Dr. Lowth offered to provide for him in the church. He refused the offer with honourable delicacy, lest his former writings in favour of religion should be attributed to the prospect of reward. At length the friendship of his kinsman, Commodore Johnstone, relieved him
from unsettled prospects. Being appointed to the command of a squadron destined for the coast of Portugal, he took out the translator of Camoens as his private secretary Mickle was received with distinguished honours at Lisbon. The Duke of Braganza, in admitting him a member of the Royal Academy of Lisbon, presented him with his own picture. .
He returned to England in 1780, with a considerable acquisition of prize money, and was appointed an agent for the distribution of the prize profits of the cruize. His fortune now enabled him to discharge the debts of his early and mercantile life. He married the daughter of Mr. Tomkins, with whom he had resided while translating the Lusiad ; and, with every prospect of spending the remainder of his life in affluence and tranquillity, purchased a house, and settled at Wheatley, near Oxford. So far his circumstances have almost the agreeable air of a concluding novel; but the failure of a banker, with whom he was connected as prize agent, and a chancery suit in which he was involved, greatly diminished his finances, and disturbed the peace of his latter years. He died at Forest Hill, after a short illness.
His reputation principally rests upon the translation of the Lusiad, which no Englishman had attempted before him, except Sir Richard Fanshawe. Sir Richard's version is quaint, flat, and harsh ; and he has interwoven many ridiculously conceited ex
pressions, which are foreign both to the spirit and style of his original; but in general it is closer than the modern translation to the literal meaning of Camoens. Altogether, Fanshawe's representation of the Portuguese poem may be compared to the wrong side of the tapestry. Mickle, on the other hand, is free, flowery, and periphrastical; he is incomparably more spirited than Fanshawe; but still he departs from the majestic simplicity of Camoens' diction as widely as Pope has done from that of Homer'. The sonorous and simple language of the
1 A happy example of this occurs in the description of De Gama's fleet anchoring by moonlight in the harbour of Mozambique.
« The moon, full orb'd, forsakes her watery cavé,
“Alone, at times, awakes the still repose.” In this beautiful sea-piece, the circumstance of “ the mast's tall shadow trembling on the deep,” and of the “ carol of the watchman echoed from the prows,' are touches of the translator's addition. Mickle has, however, got more credit for improving the Lusiad than he deserves.
Lusitanian epic is like the sound of a trumpet; and Mickle's imitation like the shakes and flourishes of the flute.
Although he was not responsible for the faults of the original, he has taken abundance of pains to defend them in his notes and preface. In this he has not been successful. The long lecture on geography and Portuguese history, which Gama delivers to the King of Melinda, is a wearisome interruption to the narrative; and the use of Pagan mythology is a radical and unanswerable defect. Mickle informs us, as an apology for the latter circumstance, that all this Pagan machinery was allegorical, and that the gods and goddesses of Homer were allegorical also ; an assertion which would require to be proved, before it can be admitted. Camoens himself has said something about his concealment of a moral meaning under his Pagan deities; but if he has any such morality, it is so well hidden that it is impossible to discover it. The Venus of the Lusiad, we are told, is Divine Love; and how is this Divine Love employed ? For no other end than to give the poet an opportunity of displaying a scene of sensual gratification, an island is purposely raised up in the ocean; and Venus conducts De Gama and his fole. lowers to this blessed spot, where a bevy of the nymphs of Venus are very goodnaturedly prepared to treat them to their favours; not as a trial, but as a reward for their virtues! Voltaire was certainly justified in pronouncing this episode a piece of
gratuitous indecency. In the same allegorical spirit no doubt, Bacchus, who opposes the Portuguese discoverers in the councils of Heaven, disguises himself as a popish priest, and celebrates the rites of the catholic religion. The imagination is somewhat puzzled to discover, why Bacchus should be an enemy to the natives of a country, the soil of which is so productive of his beverage ; and a friend to the Mahometans, who forbid the use of it: although there is something amusing in the idea of the jolly god officiating as a Romish clergyman.
Mickle's story of Syr Martyn is the most pleasing of his original pieces. The object of the narrative is to exhibit the degrading effects of concubinage, in the history of an amiable man, who is reduced to despondency and sottishness, under the dominion of a beldam and a slattern. The defect of the moral is, that the same evils might have happened to Syr Martyn in a state of matrimony. The simplicity of the tale is also, unhappily, overlaid by a weight of allegory and of obsolete phraseology, which it has not importance to sustain. Such a style, applied to the history of a man and his housekeeper, is like building a diminutive dwelling in all the pomp of Gothic architecture.