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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 perfonal knowledge. · He was by his original one of the Macgregors, a clan that became, about fixty 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 aboli. tion; and when they were all to deno. minate 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. 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 fons, Malloch was recommended; and I never heard that he dishonoured his credentials.
When his pupils were sent to see the world, they were intrusted to his care; and having conducted them round the common circle of modifh 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 statesmen.
Of his works, I know not whether I can trace the series. His 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.
Not long afterwards he published the Excursion (1728); a desultory and capri
* 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 this Collection, A 2
cious 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 Seafons were then in their full blossom of reputation. He has Thomson's beauties and his faults.
His poem on Vcrbal Criticism (1733) was written to pay 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 Miscellany 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 eriticism allow it a higher praise.
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 performance. 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 tongne 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