Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Tobias Smollett combined his medical practice with an active and varied career as a man of letters. His earliest, though unsuccessful, effort was as a playwright with The Regicide: Or, James the First of Scotland, a Tragedy (pb. 1749), published by subscription a full ten years after fruitless attempts at having it staged in London. Two other disappointments followed with his inability to secure a production for Alceste (pb. 1748-1749), a combination of opera, tragedy, and masque, and with the rejection of his first comedy, The Absent Man (wr. 1751), which was never produced or published. Both of these works have now been lost. His only success on the stage came finally with The Reprisal: Or, The Tars of Old England (pr. 1757), a comedy; this farce was produced by David Garrick at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Smollett’s deep moral energy surfaced in two early verse satires, “Advice: A Satire” (1746) and its sequel, “Reproof: A Satire” (1747); these rather weak poems were printed together in 1748. Smollett’s poetry includes a number of odes and lyrics, but his best poem remains “The Tears of Scotland.” Written in 1746, it celebrates the unwavering independence of the Scots, who had been crushed by English troops at the Battle of Culloden.

As Smollett’s literary career grew, his hackwork for publishers increased with translations. His most popular work among these projects was A...

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