Smibert, Thomas (DNB00)

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SMIBERT, THOMAS (1810–1854), minor poet, was born on 8 Feb. 1810 at Peebles, of which his father, Thomas Smibert, leather-merchant, was provost (1808–11). His mother's name was Janet Tait. Educated at Peebles, Smibert was apprenticed to a druggist, and afterwards qualified as a surgeon at Edinburgh University. He essayed the practice of his profession at Innerleithen, near Peebles, but poor business and unrequited love constrained him, after a year, to leave the place. Settling at Peebles, he contributed to ‘Chambers's Edinburgh Journal,’ of which he became sub-editor and editor between 1837 and 1842. During that time he wrote for the periodical about 650 literary articles, tales, and biographical sketches. He was also a large contributor to Chambers's ‘Information for the People.’ In 1842 he became sub-editor of the ‘Scotsman;’ but on receiving a legacy he soon afterwards abandoned journalism for literature. In his later years he was a frequent contributor to ‘Hogg's Instructor.’ He died at Edinburgh on 16 Jan. 1854.

In 1842 Smibert's historical play, ‘Condé's Wife,’ had a run of nine nights in Edinburgh Theatre Royal. His ‘Clans of the Highlands of Scotland’ (Edinburgh, 1850, 8vo) is an authoritative and sumptuous work. He collected his miscellaneous poems under the title ‘Io Anche! Poems chiefly Lyrical’ (Edinburgh, 1851, 8vo). Many of the pieces are inspired by an active fancy, and are correct and graceful in form; and one song, ‘The Scottish Widow's Lament,’ charms by its unaffected pathos.

[Information from Mr. John Smith, Peebles; Scotsman, 17 Jan. 1854; Rogers's Modern Scottish Minstrel; Hedderwick's Backward Glances; Veitch's Poets of the Scottish Border; Williamson's Glimpses of Peebles.]

T. B.