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has been rescued from oblivion by the ex- two hundred pounds a-year, and was asquisite absurdity of three lines.
Think of two thousand gentlemen at least, And each man mounted on his capering beast; Into the Danube they were pushed by shoals.' Where to procure better verses the Treasurer did not know. He understood how to negotiate a loan, or remit a subsidy. He was also well versed in the history of running horses and fighting cocks; but his acquaintance among the poets was very small. He consulted Halifax; but Halifax affected to decline the office of adviser. He had, he said, done his best, when he had power, to encourage men whose abilities and acquirements might do honor to their country. Those times were over. Other maxims had prevailed. Merit was suffered to pine in obscurity; the public money was squandered on the undeserving. I do know," he added, "a gentleman who would celebrate the battle in a manner worthy of the subject. But I will not name him." Godolphin, who was expert at the soft answer which turneth away wrath, and who was under the necessity of paying court to the Whigs, gently replied, that there was too much ground for Halifax's complaints, but that what was amiss should in time be rectified; and that in the mean time the services of a inan such as Halifax had described should be liberally rewarded. Halifax then mentioned Addison, but, mindful of the dignity as well as of the pecuniary interest of his friend, insisted that the Minister should apply in the most courteous manner to Addison himself; and this Godolphin promised to do.
Addison then occupied a garret up three pair of stairs, over a small shop in the Hay. market. In this humble lodging he was surprised, on the morning which followed the conversation between Godolphin and Halifax, by a visit from no less a person than the Right Honorable Henry Boyle, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and af. terwards Lord Carleton. This high-born minister had been sent by the Lord-Treasurer as ambassador to the needy poet. Addison readily undertook the proposed task, a task which, to so good a Whig, was probably a pleasure. When the poem was little more than half finished, he showed it to Godolphin, who was delighted with it, and particularly with the famous similitude of the Angel. Addison was instantly ap pointed to a Commissionership with about
Miss Aikin says that he was afterwards Lord
Orrery. This is a mistake.
sured that this appointment was only an earnest of greater favors.
The Campaign' came forth, and was as much admired by the public as by the Minister. It pleases us less on the whole than the 'Epistle to Halifax.' Yet it undoubtedly ranks high among the poems which appeared during the interval between the death of Dryden and the dawn of Pope's genius.
The chief merit of the Campaign,' we think, is that which was noticed by Johnson-the manly and rational rejection of fiction. The first great poet whose works have come down to us sang of war, long before war became a science or a trade. If, in his time, there was enmity between two little Greek towns, each poured forth its crowd of citizens, ignorant of discipline, and armed with implements of labor rudely turned into weapons. On each side appeared conspicuous a few chiefs, whose wealth had enabled them to procure good armor, horses, and chariots, and whose leisure had enabled them to practise military exercises. One such chief, if he were a man of great strength, agility, and courage, would probably be more formidable than twenty common men; and the force and dexterity with which he hurled his spear might have no inconsiderable share in deciding the event of the day. Such were probably the battles with which Homer was familiar. But Homer related the actions of men of a former generation-of men who sprang from the Gods, and communed with the Gods face to face-of men, one of whom could with ease hurl rocks which two sturdy hinds of a later period. would be unable even to lift. He therefore naturally represented their martial exploits as resembling in kind, but far surpassing in magnitude, those of the stoutest and most Achilexpert combatants of his own age. les, clad in celestial armor, drawn by celestial coursers, grasping the spear which none but himself could raise, driving all Troy and Lycia before him, and choking Scamander with dead, was only a magnificent exaggeration of the real hero, who, strong, fearless, accustomed to the use of weapons, guarded by a shield and helmet of the best Sidonian fabric, and whirled along by horses of Thessalian breed, struck down with his own right arm foe after foe. In all rude societies similar notions are found. There are at this day countries where the Life-guardsman Shaw would be considered as a much greater warrior than the Duke of Wellington. Buonaparte loved to describe the astonishment with which
the Mamelukes looked at his diminutive which, in the midst of confusion, uproar, figure. Mourad Bey, distinguished above and slaughter, examined and disposed all his fellows by his bodily strength, and every thing with the serene wisdom of a by the skill with which he managed his higher intelligence. horse and his sabre, could not believe that a man who was scarcely five feet high, and rode like a butcher, was the greatest soldier in Europe.
Here it was that he introduced the famous comparison of Marlborough to an Angel guiding the whirlwind. We will not dispute the general justice of Johnson's Homer's descriptions of war had there- remarks on this passage. But we must fore as much truth as poetry requires. But point out one circumstance which appears truth was altogether wanting to the per- to have escaped all the critics. The extraformances of those who, writing about bat- ordinary effect which this simile produced tles which had scarcely any thing in com- when it first appeared, and which to the mon with the battles of his times, servilely following generation seemed inexplicable, imitated his manner. The folly of Silius is doubtless to be chiefly attributed to a Italicus, in particular, is positively nauseous. line which most readers now regard as a He undertook to record in verse the vi- feeble parenthesiscissitudes of a great struggle between
'Such as, of late, o'er pale Britannia pass'd.'
Generals of the first order: and his narrative is made up of the hideous wounds Addison spoke, not of a storm, but of the which these Generals inflicted with their storm. The great tempest of November own hands. Asdrubal flings a spear which 1703, the only tempest which in our latigrazes the shoulder of the consul Nero; tude has equalled the rage of a tropical but Nero sends his spear into Asdrubal's hurricane, had left a dreadful recollection side. Fabius slays Thuris and Butes and in the minds of all men. No other tempest Maris and Arses, and the long-haired was ever in this country the occasion of a Adherbes, and the gigantic Thylis, and parliamentary address or of a public fast. Sapharus and Monæsus, and the trumpeter Whole fleets had been cast away. Large Morinus. Hannibal runs Perusinus through mansions had been blown down. One Prethe groin with a stake, and breaks the back-late had been buried beneath the ruins of bone of Telesinus with a huge stone. This his Palace. London and Bristol had predetestable fashion was copied in modern sented the appearance of cities just sacked. times, and continued to prevail down to the Hundreds of families were still in mourning. age of Addison. Several versifiers had de- The prostrate trunks of large trees, and the scribed William turning thousands to flight ruins of houses, still attested, in all the by his single prowess, and dyeing the Boyne southern counties, the fury of the blast. with Irish blood. Nay, so estimable a wri- The popularity which the simile of the ter as John Phillips, the author of the angel enjoyed among Addison's contempo'Splendid Shilling,' represented Marlbo- raries, has always seemed to us to be a rough as having won the battle of Blenheim remarkable instance of the advantage which, merely by strength of muscle and skill in in rhetoric and poetry, the particular has fence. The following lines may serve as over the general. an example:
'Churchill, viewing where
He dyes his reeking sword, and strews the ground
Addison, with excellent sense and taste, departed from this ridiculous fashion. He reserved his praise for the qualities which made Marlborough truly great, energy, sagacity, military science. But, above all, the poet extolled the firmness of that mind
Soon after the Campaign, was published Addison's Narrative of his Travels in Italy. The first effect produced by this Narrative was disappointment. The crowd of readers who expected politics and scandal, speculations on the projects of Victor Amadeus, and anecdotes about the jollities of convents and the amours of cardinals and nuns, were confounded by finding that the writer's mind was much more occupied by the war between the Trojans and Rutulians than by the war between France and Austria; and that he seemed to have heard no scandal of later date than the gallantries of the Empress Faustina. In time, however, the judgment of the many was overruled by that of the few; and, before the book was reprinted, it was so eagerly sought that it sold for five times the original price.
to Rowe, and had employed himself in writ ing airy and spirited songs, his reputation as a poet would have stood far higher than it now does. Some years after his death, Rosamond' was set to new music by Dr. Arne; and was performed with complete success. Several passages long retained their popularity, and were daily sung, during the latter part of George the Second's reign, at all the harpsichords in England.
It is still read with pleasure: the style is pure and flowing; the classical quotations and allusions are numerous and happy; and we are now and then charmed by that singularly humane and delicate humor in which Addison excelled all men. Yet this agreeable work, even when considered merely as the history of a literary tour, may justly be censured on account of its faults of omission. We have already said that, though rich in extracts from the While Addison thus amused himself, his Latin poets, it contains scarcely any refer- prospects, and the prospects of his party, ences to the Latin orators and historians. were constantly becoming brighter and We must add that it contains little, or ra- brighter. In the spring of 1705, the minis ther no information, respecting the history ters were freed from the restraint imposed and literature of modern Italy. To the by a House of Commons, in which Tories best of our remembrance, Addison does of the most perverse class had the ascendnot mention Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, ency. The elections were favorable to Boiardo, Berni, Lorenzo de' Medici, or the Whigs. The coalition which had been Machiavelli. He coldly tells us, that at tacitly and gradually formed was now Ferrara he saw the tomb of Ariosto, and openly avowed. The Great Seal was given that at Venice he heard the gondoliers sing to Cowper. Somers and Halifax were verses of Tasso. But for Tasso and Ari- sworn of the Council. Halifax was sent in osto he cared far less than for Valerius the following year to carry the decorations Flaccus and Sidonius Apollinaris. The of the order of the garter to the Electoral gentle flow of the Ticin brings a line of Silius to his mind. The sulphurous steam of Albula suggests to him several passages of Martial. But he has not a word to say of the illustrious dead of Santa Croce; he crosses the wood of Ravenna without recollecting the Spectre Huntsman; and wanders up and down Rimini without one thought of Francesca. At Paris, he eagerly sought an introduction to Boileau; but he seems not to have been at all aware, that at Florence he was in the vicinity of a poet with whom Boileau could not sustain a comparison, of the greatest lyric poet of modern times, of Vincenzio Filicaja. This is the more remarkable, because Filicaja was the favorite poet of the all-accomplished Somers, under whose protection Addison travelled, and to whom the account of the Travels is dedicated. The truth is, that Addison knew little, and cared less, about the literature of modern Italy. His favor. ite models were Latin. His favorite critics were French. Half the Tuscan poetry for the most part in a state of torpor, which that he had read seemed to him monstrous, and the other half tawdry.
Prince of Hanover, and was accompanied on this honorable mission by Addison, who had just been made under Secretary of State. The Secretary of State under whom Addison first served was Sir Charles Hedges, a Tory. But Hedges was soon dismissed to make room for the most vehement of Whigs, Charles, Earl of Sunderland. In every department of the state, indeed, the High Churchmen were compel led to give place to their opponents. At the close of 1707, the Tories who still remained in office strove to rally, with Harley at their head. But the attempt, though favored by the Queen, who had always been a Tory at heart, and who had now quarrelled with the Duchess of Marlborough, was unsuccessful. The time was not yet. The Captain-General was at the height of popularity and glory. The LowChurch party had a majority in Parliament. The country Squires and Rectors, though occasionally uttering a savage growl, were
lasted till they were roused into activity, and indeed into madness, by the prosecu His Travels were followed by the lively tion of Sacheverell. Harley and his adherOpera of 'Rosamond.' This piece was illents were compelled to retire. The vicset to music, and therefore failed on the stage; but it completely succeeded in print, and is indeed excellent in its kind. The smoothness with which the verses glide, and the elasticity with which they bound, is, to our ears, at least, very pleasing. We are inclined to think that if Addison had left heroic couplets to Pope, and blank verse
tory of the Whigs was complete. At the general election of 1708, their strength in the House of Commons became irresistible; and, before the end of that year, Somers was made Lord President of the Council, and Wharton Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.'
* Miss Aikin has not informed herself accurately as to the politics of that time We give a single
an argument, is to introduce that statement or argument into a speech made in Parliament. If a political tract were to appear superior to the Conduct of the Allies, or to the best numbers of the Freeholder, the circulation of such a tract would be languid indeed when compared with the
tered in the deliberations of the legislature. A speech made in the House of Commons at four in the morning, is on thirty thousand tables before ten. A speech made on the Monday is read on the Wednesday by multitudes in Antrim and Aberdeenshire. The orator, by the help of the short-hand writer, has to a great extent superseded
It was not so in the
Addison sat for Malmsbury in the House of Commons which was elected in 1708. But the House of Commons was not the field for him. The bashfulness of his nature made his wit and eloquence useless in debate. He once rose; but could not overcome his diffidence, and ever after remained silent. Nobody can think it strange circulation of every remarkable word utthat a great writer should fail as a speaker. But many, probably, will think it strange that Addison's failure as a speaker should have had no unfavorable effect on his success as a politician. In our time, a man of high rank and great fortune might, though speaking very little and very ill, hold a considerable post. But it is inconceivable that a mere adventurer, a man who, when out of the pamphleteer. office, must live by his pen, should in a few reign of Anne. The best speech could then years become successively under Secreta produce no effect except on those who heard ry of State, chief Secretary for Ireland, and it. It was only by means of the press that Secretary of State, without some oratori- the opinion of the public without doors cal talent. Addison, without high birth, could be influenced; and the opinion of the and with little property, rose to a post public without doors could not but be of which Dukes, the heads of the great houses the highest importance in a country govof Talbot, Russell, and Bentinck, have erned by parliaments; and indeed at that thought it an honor to fill. Without open- time governed by triennial parliaments. ing his lips in debate, he rose to a post, The pen was therefore a more formidable the highest that Chatham or Fox ever reached. And this he did before he had been nine years in Parliament. We must look for the explanation of this seeming miracle to the peculiar circumstances in which that generation was placed. During the interval which elapsed between the time when the Censorship of the Press ceased, and the time when parliamentary proceedings began to be freely reported, literary talents were, to a public man, of much more importance, and oratorical talents of much less importance, than in our time. At present, the best way of giving rapid and wide publicity to a statement or
political engine than the tongue. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox contended only in Parliament. But Walpole and Pulteney, the Pitt and Fox of an earlier period, had not done half of what was necessary, when they sat down amidst the acclamations of the House of Commons. They had still to plead their cause before the country, and this they could do only by means of the press. Their works are now forgotten. But it is certain. that there were in Grub Street few more assiduous scribblers of thoughts, letters, answers, remarks, than these two great chiefs of parties. Pulteney, when leader of the Opposition, and possessed of £30,000 a specimen. We could easily give many. year, edited the Craftsman.' Walpole, Earl of Sunderland,' she says, was not suffered though not a man of literary habits, was long to retain his hard won secretaryship. In the the author of at least ten pamphlets; and last month of 1708 he was dismissed to make room retouched and corrected many more. These for Lord Dartmouth, who ranked with the Tories facts sufficiently show of how great imJust at this time the Earl of Wharton, being appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, named Mr. portance literary assistance then was to the Addison his chief secretary,' (i. 235.) Sunderland contending parties. Sunderland contending parties. St. John was, certainwas not dismissed to make room for Dartmonthly, in Anne's reign, the best Tory speaker; till June 1710; and most certainly Wharton would Cowper was probably the best Whig speak
was dismissed in 1539 from the Home Office to
But it may well be doubted whether St. John did so much for the Tories as Swift, and whether Cowper did so much for the Whigs as Addison. When these things are duly considered, it will not be thought
never have been appointed Lord Lieutenant at all. if he had not been appointed long before Sunderland's dismissal. Miss Alkin's mistake exactly resembles that of a person who should relate the history ofour times as follows: Lord John Russell make room for Sir James Graham, who ranked with the Tories; but just at this time Earl For strange that Addison should have climbed tescue was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland higher in the State, than any other Englishwith Lord Morpeth for his secretary.' Such a nar. rative would give to posterity rather a strange noman has ever by means merely of literary taltion of the ministerial revolutions of Queen Vic-ents, been able to climb. Swift would, in all probability, have climbed as high, if he had
not been encumbered by his cassock and his pudding-sleeves. As far as the homage of the Great went, Swift had as much of it as if he had been Lord-Treasurer.
when Addison was at his ease, he went on in a noble strain of thought and language, so as to chain the attention of every hearer. Nor were his great colloquial powers more admirable than the courtesy and softness of heart which appeared in his conversation. At the same time, it would be too much to say that he was wholly devoid of the malice which is, perhaps, inseparable from a keen sense of the ludicrous. He had one habit which both Swift and Stella applauded, and which we hardly know how to blame. If his first attempts to set a presuming dunce right were ill received, he changed his tone, assented with civil leer,' and lured the flattered coxcomb deeper and deeper into absurdity. That such was his practice we should, we think, have guessed from his works. The Tatler's criticisms on Mr. Softly's sonnet, and the Spectator's dialogue with the politician, who is so zealous for the honor of Lady Q-p-t-s, are excellent specimens of this innocent mischief.
Such were Addison's talents for conversation. But his rare gifts were not exhibited to crowds or to strangers. As soon as he entered a large company, as soon as he saw an unknown face, his lips were sealed, and his manners became constrained. None
To the influence which Addison derived from his literary talents, was added all the influence which arises from character. The world, always ready to think the worst of needy political adventurers, was forced to make one exception. Restlessness, violence, audacity, laxity of principle, are the vices ordinarily attributed to that class of men. But faction itself could not deny that Addison had, through all changes of fortune, been strictly faithful to his early opinions, and to his early friends; that his integrity was without stain; that his whole deportment indicated a fine sense of the becoming; that, in the utmost heat of controversy, his zeal was tempered by a regard for truth, humanity, and social decorum; that no outrage could ever provoke him to retaliation unworthy of a Christian and a gentleman; and thathis only faults were a too sensitive delicacy,and a modesty which amounted to bashfulness. He was undoubtedly one of the most popular men of his time; and much of his popularity he owed, we believe, to that very timidity which his friends lamented. That who met him only in great assemblies, timidity often prevented him from exhibiting his talents to the best advantage. But it propitiated Nemesis. It averted that envy which would otherwise have been excited by fame so splendid, and by so rapid an elevation. No man is so great a favorite with the public, as he who is at once an object of admiration, of respect, and of pity; and such were the feelings which Addison inspired. Those who enjoyed the privilege of hearing his familiar conversation, declared with one voice that it was superior even to his writings. The brilliant Mary Montagu said, that she had known all the wits, and that Addison was the best company in the world. The malignant Pope was forced to own, that there was a charm in Addison's talk, which could be found nowhere else. Swift, when burning with animosity against the Whigs, could not but confess to Stella, that, after all, he had never known any associate so agreeable as Addison. Steele, an excellent judge of lively conversation, said that the conversation of Addison was at once the most polite, and the most mirthful, that could be imagined; that it was Terence and Catullus in one, heightened by an exquisite something which was neither Terence nor Catullus, but Addison alone. Young, an excellent judge of serious conversation, said, that
would have been able to believe that he was the same man who had often kept a few friends listening and laughing round a table, from the time when the Play ended, till the clock of St. Paul's in Covent-Garden struck four. Yet, even at such a table, he was not seen to the best advantage. To enjoy his conversation in the highest perfection, it was necessary to be alone with him, and to hear him, in his own phrase, think aloud. There is no such thing,' he used to say, as real conversation, but between two persons.'
This timidity, a timidity surely neither ungraceful nor unamiable, led Addison into the two most serious faults which can with justice be imputed to him. He found that wine broke the spell which lay on his fine intellect, and was therefore too easily seduced into convivial excess. Such excess was in that age regarded, even by grave men, as the most venial of all peccadilloes; and was so far from being a mark of illbreeding, that it was almost essential to the character of a fine gentleman. But the smallest speck is seen on a white ground; and almost all the biographers of Addison have said something about this failing. Of any other statesman or writer of Queen Anne's reign, we should no more think of saying that he sometimes took too much