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but deliberate intrepidity, a calm command of his passions, and the power of tonsulting his own mind in the midst of danger. The rejection and contempt of fiction is rational and manly.
It may be observed that the last line is imitated by Pope;
Marlb'rough's exploits appear divinely bright—
This Pope had in his thoughts; but, not knowing how to use what was not his own, he spoiled the thought when he had borrowed it:
The well-sung woes shall soothe my ghost ;
Martial exploits may be painted ; perhaps woes may be painted: but they are surely not painted by being well-sung : it is not easy to paint in song, or to sing in colours. No passage in the Campaign has been more often mentioned than the simile of the Angel, which is said in the Tatler to be “ one of the noblest “ thoughts that ever entered into the heart of man,” and is therefore worthy of attentive consideration. Let it be first enquired whether it be a simile. A poetical simile is the discovery of likeness between two actions, in their general nature dissimilar, or of causes terminating by different operations in some resemblance of effect. But the mention of another like Consequence from a like cause, or of a like performance by a like agency, is not a simile, but an exemplification. It is not a simile to say that the Thames waters fields, as the Po waters fields; or that as Hecla vomits flames in Iceland,so Ætna vomits flames in Sicily. When Horace says of Pindar, that he pours his violence and rapidity of verse, as a riverswoln with rain rushes from the mountain ; or of himself, that his genius wanders in quest of poetical decorations, as the bee wanders to collect honey; he, in either case, produces a simile ; the mind is impressed with the resemblance of things generally unlike, as unlike as intellect and body. But if Pindar had been described as writing with the copiousness and grandeur of Homer, or Horace had told that he reviewed and finished his own poetry with the same tare as Isocrates polished his orations, instead of similitude, he would lave exhibited almost identity; he would have given the same portraits with difforent names. In the poem now examined, when the English are repre“nted as gaining a fortified pass, by repetition of attack and perseverance of resolution; their obstinacy of courage and vigour of onset is well illustrated by the sea that breaks, with incessant battery, the dikes of Holland. This * A simile: but when Addison, having celebrated the beauty of Marlbo*gh's person, tells us, that “Achilles thus was formed with every grace,” here in no simile, but a mere exemplification. A simile may be compared to lines converging at a point, and is more excellent as the lines approach from greater distance; an exemplification may be considered as two parallel lines, which run on together without approximation, never far separated, and never joined. Marlborough is so like the angel in the poem, that the action of both is almost the same, and performed by both in the same manner. Marlborough “ teaches the battle to rage;” the angel “ directs the storm; Marlborough “ is unmoved in peaceful thought;" the angel is “calm and serene;” Marlborough stands “unmoved amidst the shock of hosts;” the angel rides “calm in the whirlwind.” The lines on Marlborough are just and noble ; but the simile gives almost the same images a second time. But perhaps this thought, though hardly a simile, was remote from vulgar conceptions, and required great labour of research, or dexterity of application. Of this, Dr. Madden, a name which Ireland ought to honour, once ; gave me his opinion. “If I had set,” said he, “ten school-boys to write “ on the battle of Blenheim, and eight had brought me the Angel, I should “ not have been surprised.” The opera of Rosamond, though it is seldom mentioned, is one of the first of Addison's compositions. The subject is well chosen, the fiction is pleasing, and the praise of Marlborough, for which the scene gives an opportunity, is, what perhaps every human excellence must be, the product of good-luck improved by genius. The thoughts are sometimes great, and sometimes tender ; the versification is easy and gay. There is doubtless some advantage in the shortness of the lines, which there is little temptation to load with expletive epithets. The dialogue seems commonly better than the songs. The two comic characters of Sir Trusty and Grideline, though of no great value, are yet such as the poet intended. Sir Trusty's account of the death of Rosamond is, I think, too grossly absurd. The whole'drama is airy and elegant; engaging in its process, and pleasing in its conclusion. If Addison had cultivated the lighter parts of poetry, he would probably have excelled. The tragedy of Cato, which, contrary to the rule observed in selecting the works of other poets, has by the weight of its character forced its way into the late collection, is unquestionably the noblest production of Addison's genius. Of a work so much read it is disficult to say any thing new. About things on which the public thinks long, it commonly attains to think right; and of Cato it has been not unjustly determined, that it is rather a poem in dialogue than a drama, rather a succession of just sentiments in elegant language, than a representation of natural affections, or of any state probable or possible in human life. Nothing here “ excites or assuages “' emotion;" “emotion :” here is “no magical power of raising phantastick terror or wild “ anxiety.” The events are expected without solicitude, and are remembered without joy or sorrow. Of the agents we have no care: we consider not what they are doing, or what they are suffering; we wish only to know what they have to say. Cato is a being above our solicitude; a man of whom the gods take care, and whom we leave to their care with heedless tonfidence. To the rest, neither gods nor men can have much attention; for there is not one amongst them that strongly attracts either affection or esteen. But they are made the vehicles of such sentiments and such expression, that there is scarcely a scene in the play which the reader does not wish to impress upon his memory. - When Cato was shewn to Pope *, he advised the author to print it, without any theatrical exhibition; supposing that it would be read more favourably than heard. Addison declared himself of the same opinion ; but urged the importunity of his friends for its appearance on the stage. The emulation of parties made it successful beyond expectation, and its success has introduced or confirmed among us the use of dialogue too declamatory, of inaffecting elegance, and chill philosophy. * The universality of applause, however it might quell the censure of common mortals, had no other effect than to harden Dennis in fixed dislike; but his dislike was not merely capricious. He found and shewed many faults; he shewed them indeed with anger, but he found them with acuteness, Much as ought to rescue his criticism from oblivion; though, at last, it will t no other life than it derives from the work which it endeavours to teSS.
! Why he pays no regard to the opinion of the audience, he gives his reaon, by remarking, that i. A deference is to be paid to a general applause, when it appears tha: “ that applause is natural and spontaneous; but that little regard is to be " had to it, when it is affected and artificial. Of all the tragedies which in * his memory have had vast and violent runs, not one has been excellent, few have been tolerable, most have been scandalous. When a poet writes " a tragedy, who knows he has judgment, and who feels he has genius, ‘ that poet presumes upon his own merit, and scorns to make a cabal. ‘That people come cooly to the representation of such a tragedy, without “any violent expectation, or delusive imagination, or invincible preposseso sion ; that such an audience is liable to receive the impressions which the poem shall naturally make on them, and to judge by their own reason, " and their own judgments, and that reason and judgment are calm and “serene, not formed by nature to make proselytes and to controul and 3I 2 A D D I S O N. “ lord it over the imaginations of others. But that when an author “ writes a tragedy, who knows he has neither genius nor judgment, he has
“ dustry what is wanting in talent, and to supply by poetical craft the “ absence of poetical art; that such an author is humbly contented to “raise men's passions by a plot without doors, since he despairs of doing “ it by that which he brings upon the stage. That party and passion, “ and prepossession, are clamorous and tumultuous things, and so much “ the more clamorous and tumultuous by how much the more erroneous: “ that they domineer and tyrannize over the imaginations of persons
recourse to the making a party, and he endeavours to make up in in
“ who want judgment, and sometimes too of those who have it; and,
“ like a fierce and outrageous torrent, bear down all opposition before “ them.” his favourite principles. “'Tis certainly the duty of every tragick poet, by the exact distribution “ of poetical justice, to imitate the Divine Dispensation, and to inculcote “ a particular Providence. 'Tis true, indeed, upon the stage of the world, “ the wicked sometimes prosper, and the guiltless suffer. But that is per“mitted by the Governor of the world, to shew, from the attribute of his
He then condemns the neglect of poetical justice; which is always one of
“ infinite justice, that there is a compensation in futurity, to prove the im
“ mortality of the human soul, and the certainty of future rewards and pu“nishments. But the poetical persons in tragedy exist no longer than the
“ reading, or the representation; the whole extent of their entity is circum“ scribed by those ; and therefore, during that reading or representation,
according to their merits or demerits, they must be punished or rewarded “If this is not done, there is no impartial distribution of poetical justice, “ no instructive lecture of a particular Providence, and no imitation of the
“ Divine Dispensation. And yet the author of this tragedy does not only
“ run counter to this, in the fate of his principal character; but every “ where, throughout it, makes virtue suffer, and vice triumph : for no “ only Cato is vanquished by Caesar, but the treachery and perfidiousness of “Syphax prevail over the honest simplicity and the credulity of Juba; and “ the sly subtlety and dissimulation of Portius over the generous frankness “ and open-heartedness of Marcus.” . Whatever pleasure there may be in seeing crimes punished and virtue re
warded, yet, since wickedness often prospers in real life, the poet is certainly
at liberty to give it prosperity on the stage. For if poetry has an imitation of reality, how are its laws broken by exhibiting the world in its true form 2 The Stage may sometimes gratify our wishes; but, if it be truly the “mirror “ of lift,” it ought to shew us sometimes what we are to expect.
Dennis objects to the characters, that they are not natural, or reasonable; but as heroes and heroines are not beings that are seen every day, it is hard to find upon what principles their conduct shall be tried. It is, however, not useless to consider what he says of the manner in which Cato receives the account of his son's death. - o “Nor is the grief of Cato, in the fourth act, one jot more in nature than that of his son and Lucia in the third. Cato receives the news of his son's death not only with dry eyes, but with a sort of satisfaction; and in the same page sheds tears for the calamity of his country, and does the same thing in the next page upon the bare apprehension of the danger “ of his friends. Now, since the love of one's country is the love of one's “ countrymen, as I have shewn upon another occasion, I desire to ask these questions: Of all our countrymen, which do we love most, those whom we know, or those whom we know not And of those whom we know, which do we cherish most, our friends or our enemies? And of our friends, who are the dearest to us, those who are related to us, or those who are not? And of all our relations, for which have we most tenderness, for those who are near to us, or for those who are remote And of our near relations, which are the nearest, and consequently the dearest to us, our offspring or others? Our offspring, most certainly ; as nature, or in other words providence, has wisely contrived for the preservation of mankind. Now, does it not follow, for what has been said, that for a man, to receive the news of his son's death with dry eyes, and to weep at the same time for the calamities of his country, is a wretched affectation, and a miserable inconsistency Is not that, in plain English, to receive with dry eyes the news of the deaths of those for whose sake our country is a name so dear to us, and at the same time to shed tears for those for whose sakes our country is not a name so dear to us?” But this formidable assailant is less resistable when he attacks the probability of the action, and the reasonableness of the plan. Every critical reader must remark, that Addison has, with a scrupulosity almost unexampled on the English stage, confined himself in time to a single day, and in place to rigorous unity. The scene never changes, and the whole action of the play passes in the great hall of Cato's house at Utica. Much therefore is done in, the hall, for which any other place had been more fit; and this impropriety affords Dennis many hints of merriment, and opportunities of triumph. The passage is long; but as such disquisitions are not common, and the objections are skilfully formed and vigorously urged, those who delight in critical controversy will not think it tedious.
“Upon the departure of Portius, Sempronius makes but one soliloquy, " *nd immediately in comes Syphax, and then the two politicians are at
Vol. I. S s “ it