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INSCRIPTION TO MR. ADDISON,
WRITTEN IN 1805.
HAUD IGNOBILI POETÆ;
RES ETIAM SERIAS
HOC EST, CHRISTIANÆ,
FIDE, VITA, SCRIPTIS
R. W. 1805, Sept. 5.
JOHN CHILDS AND SON, BUNGAY
RIGHT HONOURABLE JAMES CRAGGS,
HIS MAJESTY'S PRINCIPAL SECRETARY OF STATE.
DEAR SIR, I CANNOT wish that any of my writings should last lon the memory of our friendship, and therefore I thus pub queath them to you, in return for the many valuable ins
That they may come to you with as little disadvantage sible, I have left the care of them to one, whom, by the ex of some years, I know well qualified to answer my intentio has already the honour and happiness of being under y tection;
and, as he will very much stand in need of it, I wish him better, than that he may continue to deserve the and countenance of such a patron.
I have no time to lay out in forming such compliments, a but ill suit that familiarity between us, which was once my pleasure, and will be my greatest honour hereafter. In them, accept of my hearty wishes, that the great reputat have acquired so early may increase more and more: a you may long serve your country with those excellent tale unblemished integrity, which have so powerfully recommen to the most gracious and amiable monarch that ever filled a May the frankness and generosity of your spirit continue t and subdue your enemies, and gain you many friends, if pos: sincere as yourself. When you have found such, they can you more true happiness than I, who am, with the greatest DEAR SIR, your most entirely affectionate Friend,
And faithful obedient Servant, June 4, 1719.
JOSEPH ADDISON, the son of Lancelot Addison, D. D. and of Jane, the daughter of Nathaniel Gulston, D. D., and sister of Dr. William Gulston, bishop of Bristol, was born at Milston, near Ambrosebury, in the county of Wilts, in the year 1671. His father, who was of the county of Westmoreland, and educated at Queen's College in Oxford, passed many years in his travels through Europe and Africa, where he joined, to the uncommon and excellent talents of nature, a great knowledge of letters and things; of which several books published by him are ample testimonies. He was rector of Milston above-mentioned when Mr. Addison, his eldest son, was born; and afterwards became archdeacon of Coventry, and dean of Lichfield.
Mr. Addison received his first education at the Chartreux, from whence he was removed very early to Queen's College in Oxford. He had been there about two years, when the accidental sight of a paper of his verses, in the hands of Dr. Lancaster, then dean of that house, occasioned his being elected into Magdalen College. He employed his first years in the study of the old Greek and Roman writers; whose language and manner he caught at that time of life, as strongly as other young people gain a French accent or a genteel air. An early acquaintance with the classics is what may be called the good-breeding of poetry, as it gives a certain gracefulness which never forsakes a mind that contracted it in youth, but is seldom or never hit by those who would learn it too late. He first distinguished himself by his Latin compositions, published in the Muse Anglicanæ, and was admired as one . of the best authors since the Augustan age, in the two universities and the greatest part of Europe, before he was talked of as a poet in town. There is not, perhaps, any
harder task than to tame the natural wildness of wit, and civilize the fancy. The generality of our old English po abound in forced conceits and affected phrases; and ev those who are said to come the nearest to exactness, are b too often fond of unnatural beauties, and aim at somethi better than perfection. If Mr. Addison's example and p cepts be the occasion that there now begins to be a gre demand for correctness, we may justly attribute it to 1 being first fashioned by the ancient models, and familiariz to propriety of thought and chastity of style. Our count owes it to him, that the famous Monsieur Boileau first co ceived an opinion of the English genius for poetry, by pery ing the present he made him of the Muse Anglicana. has been currently reported, that this famous French pod among the civilities he showed Mr. Addison on that occ sion, affirmed, that he would not have written against Pe rault, had he before seen such excellent pieces by a mode, hand. Such a saying would have been impertinent and u worthy Boileau, whose dispute with Perrault turned chief upon some passages in the ancients, which he rescued fro the mis-interpretations of his adversary. The true and n tural compliment made by him was, that those books ha given him a very new idea of the English politeness, an that he did not question but there were excellent comp sitions in the native language of a country, that possesse the Roman genius in so eminent a degree.
The first English performance made public by him, is short copy of verses to Mr. Dryden, with a view particular) to his translations. This was soon followed by a version the fourth Georgic of Virgil, of which Mr. Dryden make very honourable mention, in the postscript to his own tran: lation of all Virgil's works ; wherein I have often wondere that he did not at the same time acknowledge his obligatio to Mr. Addison, for giving him the Essay upon the Georgic prefixed to Mr. Dryden's translation. Lest the honour so exquisite a piece of criticism should hereafter be trans ferred to a wrong author, I have taken care to insert it i this collection of his works.
Of some other copies of verses, printed in the Miscellanie: while he was young, the largest is An Account of the greates English Poets; in the close of which he insinuates a desig he then had of going into holy orders, to which he wa