Tobias George Smollett (1721-1771), Scottish novelist, was born in Dalquhurn,
Dumbarton County Scotland. Smollett was born beneath a plane tree at Dalquharn
House on the family estate of Bon hill in the Vale of Leven, near the village of
Renton, Dumbartonshire. At fourteen Smollett was apprenticed to a Glasgow
doctor. He studied medicine at Glasgow University and moved to London in 1740.
He was a ship's surgeon in the Carragena expedition against the Spanish in the
West Indies, and lived in Jamaica until 1744 when he returned to London and
renewed his earlier attempts to stage a play he had written The Regicide, but
still met with no success. He also failed to set up his own medical practice.
His first novel, the partly autobiographical Roderick Random (1748), was an
immediate success. His best novel, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771), has
become a classic. It is a story, told in a series of letters, about the travels
of a family through England and Scotland. Smollett was troubled by lack of
money. He spent his last years in poor health, and died in Livorno, Italy, on
October 21, 1771. Two years later, Johnson and Boswell stayed at Cameron House
with Smollett's cousin James, who was preparing to erect a Tuscan column in
Smollett's memory at Renton.
Johnson helped compose the Latin obituary on the
plinth, and the column stood in what subsequently became the playground of a
school. Some of Tobias Smollett's work consists of The Tears of Scotland (1746).
Poem on the defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Culloden. The Adventures of
Roderick Random ( 1748 ). Gil Blas. Translation of LeSage's novel. ( 1749 ). The
Adventures of Peregrine Pickle ( 1751 ). The Adventures of Ferdinand, Count
Fathom ( 1753 ). Don Quixote. Translation of Cervantes' novel. ( 1755). The
Adventures of Sir Lancelot Greaves ( 1760 ). Travels through France and Italy (
1766 ). The History and Adventures of an Atom ( 1769 ). The Expedition of
Humphrey Clinker ( 1771 ). Some critics regard Tobias Smollet as more satirist
meaning that a work of literature or art that, by inspiring laughter, contempt,
or horror, seeks to correct the follies and abuses it uncovers. I don't know
what that means though. This is a paragraph from Tobias Smollett's book The
Adventures of Roderick Random. Roderick Random is the orphaned, unwanted
grandson of a severe old Scots magistrate, exposed by his grandfather’s known
neglect to the malice of the community. His principal enemies are the
schoolmaster and the young heir. It is not long before a deus ex machina appears
in the form of a sailor uncle: He was a strongly built man, somewhat
bandy-legged, with a neck like that of a bull, and a face which had withstood
the most obstinate assaults of the weather.
His dress consisted of a soldier’s
coat, altered for him by the ship’s tailor, a striped flannel jacket, a pair of
red breeches japanned with pitch, clean grey worsted stockings, large silver
buckles that covered theree-fourths of his shoues, a silver laced hat whosecrown
overlooked the brim about an inch and a half, a black bob wig in buckle, a check
shirt, a silk hankerchief, a henger with a brass handle girded on his thigh by a
tarnished laced belt, and a good oak plant under his arm. I picked this
paragraph because here Smollett is describing the hero of the story Roderick
Random. I believe it is important to have a brief if not full description of
characters, so that you can imagine seeing them maybe even being there, in your
mind, while they are doing what is described in the book.