Tobias Smollett Memorial


This evening, I am posting information on the 18th century medical doctor and author, Tobias Smollett. This follows my discovery of a huge monument to the gentleman in the small town of Renton in West Dumbartonshire, West of Scotland.

Tobias Smollett had an interesting life encompassing medicine, military and the literary world. Key features:

  • Born Dalquhurn, now part of Renton, in 1721, the fourth son of Archibald Smollett of Bonhill, a Judge and landowner.
  • Educated at Dumbarton Grammar School and Glasgow University.
  • Served as Surgeon’s Apprentice in Glasgow from age 14 yrs.
  • Left for London in 1739 to pursue a career in drama but was unsuccessful.
  • Joined the Royal Navy as Surgeon’s Mate and saw action at the bloody battle for Cartagena ( in modern day Columbia) in 1741.
  • Post 1741 returned to London and practised as a surgeon whilst endeavouring to get established as a playwright and poet.
  • Married a wealthy heiress, Anne Lascelles in 1747.
  • Obtained medical degree from Aberdeen university in 1750.
  • Achieved literary success with a series of novels in the picaresque style:
    • Adventures of Roderick Random, 1748.
    • Adventures of Peregrine Pickle.
    • Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom, 1753.
    • Life and Times of Sir Launcelot Greaves, 1760.
    • History and Adventures of an Atom, 1769.
    • Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771.
  • Died in Italy, 1771.

During his life he rose to high standing in the literary circles of the day and became editor of The Critical Review in 1756. The inscription on his monument was written by Dr. Johnson but is in Latin. The translation (below) has been obtained from Google Translate. This is clearly not perfect but the gist of the underlying accolade is evident.

Tobias Smollett Memorial, Renton, Scotland

 Translation of inscription on memorial


Tourist stops! A rabbit. Genius vein kindly manners were experienced painters, you ever wondered bother somewhat Tobias Smollett memory man marked in these virtues as a man and citizen, and praise, and in design. No ordinary ornament: In different phases letters after her own happiness self later recommended. Untimely death at the age of 51 ah-up! How far from home! Near Italy Leghorn harbor, lies buried. Dice man brings his cousin, with whom, in the course of the bowl rather handed Fair column this love, ah: empty tomb, in the very banks of Lennox, as illustrated in the verses at the close of life, the first baby cries rang, putting cured Smollett of  James Bonhill go, and remember, this not only even honor of the deceased, memory, but also an example, a view of being: For others, if only to be worthy of the reward of virtue will be the same! ( Translation from Latin via Google Translate).

More information

The publication, Visitors’ Guide to Scotland provides an extensive range of information for the visitor. ISBN of the publication is 978-1-09161332-0-4. Also available via Kindle.




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