Page images
PDF
EPUB

vanquished tories. His kindness was soothing and though he acknowledged that the Free. to the proud and cruelly wounded spirit of holder was excellently written, complained that Swift; and the two great satirists resumed the ministry played on a lute when it was netheir habits of friendly intercourse.

cessary to blow the trumpet. He accordingly Those associates of Addison, whose political determined to execute a flourish after his own opinions agreed with his, shared his good for- fashion ; and tried to rouse the public spirit of tone. He took Tickell with him to Ireland. the nation by means of a paper called the Town He procured for Budgell a lucrative place in Talk, which is now as utterly forgotten as his the same kingdom. Ambrose Phillipps was Englishman, as his Crisis, as his Letter to the provided for in England. Steele had injured Bailiff of Stockbridge, as his Reader-in short, himself so much by his eccentricity and per- as every thing that he wrote without the help verseness, that he obtained but a very small of Addison. part of what he thought his due. He was, In the same year in which the Drummer was however, knighted. He had a place in the acted, and in which the first numbers of the household; and he subsequently received other Freeholder appeared, the estrangement of Pope marks of favour from the court.

and Addison became complete. Addison had Addison did not remain long in Ireland. In from the first seen that Pope was false and ma1715 he quitted his secretaryship for a seat levolent. Pope had discovered that Addison at the Board of Trade. In the same year his was jealous. The discovery was made in a comedy of the Drummer was brought on the strange manner. Pope had written the Rape stage. The name of the author was not an of the Lock, in two cantos, without supernatunounced; the piece was coldly received; and ral machinery. These two cantos had been some critics have expressed a doubt whether loudly applauded, and by none more loudly it were really Addison's. To us the evidence, than by Addison. Then Pope thought of the both external and internal, seems decisive. It Sylphs and Gnomes, Ariel, Momentilla, Crisis not in Addison's best manner; but it con- pissa, and Umbriel; and resolved to interweave tains numerous passages which no other writer the Rosicrucian mythology with the original known to us could have produced. It was fabric. He asked Addison's advice. Addison again performed after Addison's death, and, said that the poem as it stood was a delicious being known to be his, was loudly applauded. little thing, and entreated Pope not to run the

Towards the close of the year 1715, while risk of marring what was so excellent in trythe Rebellion was still raging in Scotland,* ing to mend it. Pope afterwards declared that Addison published the first number of a paper this insidious counsel first opened his eyes to called the “Freeholder.”. Among his political the baseness of him who gave it. works the Freeholder is entitled to the first Now there can be no doubt that Pope's plan place. Even in the Spectator there are few was most ingenious, and that he afterwards serious papers nobler than the character of his executed it with great skill and success. But friend Lord Somers; and certainly no satiri- does it necessarily follow that Addison's advic cal papers superior to those in which the tory was bad? And if Addison's advice was bad, fox-hunter is introduced. This character is the does it necessarily follow that it was given from original of Squire Western, and is drawn with bad motives? If a friend were to ask us whe. all Fielding's force, and with a delicacy of ther we would advise him to risk a small comwhich Fielding was altogether destitute. As petence in a lottery of which the chances were none of Addison's works exhibits stronger ten to one against him, we should do our best marks of his genius than the Freeholder, so to dissuade him from running such a risk. none does more honour to his moral character. Even if he were so lucky as to get the thirty It is difficult to extol too highly the candour thousand pound prize, we should not admit that and humanity of a political writer, whom even we had counselled him ill; and we should certhe excitement of civil war cannot hurry into tainly think it the height of injustice in him to unseemly violence. Oxford, it is well known, accuse us of having been actuated by malice. was then the stronghold of toryism. The High We think Addison's advice good advice. It street had been repeatedly lined with bayonets rested on a sound principle, the result of long in order to keep down the disaffected gowns- and wide experience. The general rule unmen; and traitors pursued by the messengers doubtedly is, that, when a successful work of of the government had been concealed in the imagination has been produced, it should not garrets of several colleges., Yet the admoni- be recast. We cannot at this moment call to tion which, even under such circumstances, mind a single instance in which this rule has Addison addressed to the university, is singu- been transgressed with happy effect, except the larly gentle, respectful, and even affectionate. instance of the Rape of the Lock. Tasso reIndeed, he could not find it in his heart to deal cast his Jerusalem. Akenside recast his Pleaharshly even with imaginary persons. His sures of the Imagination, and his Epistle to fox-hunter, though ignorant, stupid, and vio- Curio. Pope himself, emboldened no doubt by lent, is at heart a good fellow, and is at last the success with which he had expanded and reclaimed by the clemency of the king. Steele remodelled the Rape of the Lock, made the was dissatisfied with his friend's moderation, same experiment on the Dunciad. All these

attempts failed. Who was to foresee that Pepe Miss Aikin has been most unfortunate in her account

would, once in his life, be able to do what he or this Rebellion. We will notice only two errors which could not himself do twice, and what nobody occur in one page. She

says that the Rebellion was un- else has ever done? dertaken in favour of James II., who had been fourteen years dead, and that it was headed by Charles Edward,

Addison's advice was good. But had it been who was not born. (ii. 172.)

bad, why should we pronounce it dishonest? VOL V -78

3F:

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Scott tells us that one of his best friends pre Is there any external evidence to support
dicted the failure of Waverley. Herder adjured this grave accusation? The answer is short.
Göthe not to take so unpromising a subject as There is absolutely none.
Faust. Hume tried to dissuade Robertson from Was there any internal evidence which
writing the History of Charles V. Nay, Pope proved Addison to be the author of this ver.
himself was one of those who prophesied that sion? Was it a work which Tickell was in.
Cato would never succeed on the stage ; and capable of producing? Surely not. Tickell
advised Addison to print it without risking a was a fellow of a college at Oxford, and must
representation. But Scott, Göthe, Robertson, be supposed to have been able to construe the
Addison, had the good sense and generosity to Iliad; and he was a better versifier than his
give their advisers credit for the best inten- friend. We are not aware that Pope pretend-
tions. Pope's heart was not of the same kind ed to have discovered any turns of expression
with theirs.

peculiar to Addison. Had such turns of ex.
In 1715, while he was engaged in translating pression been discovered, they would be suffi-
the Iliad, he met Addison at a coffee-house. ciently accounted for by supposing Addison to
Phillipps and Budgell were there. But their have corrected his friend's lines, as he owned
sovereign got rid of them, and asked Pope to that he had done.
dine with him alone. After dinner, Addison Is there any thing in the character of the ac-
said that he lay under a difficulty which he had cused persons which makes the accusation
for some time wished to explain. “Tickell," probable? We answer confidently-nothing.
he said, " translated some time ago the first Tickell was long after this time described by
book of the Iliad. I have promised to look it Pope himself as a very fair and worthy man.
over and correct it. I cannot, therefore, ask to Addison had been, during many years, before
see yours; for that would be double-dealing," the public. Literary rivals, political opponents,
Pope made a civil reply, and begged that his had kept their eyes on him. But neither envy
second book might have the advantage of Addi- nor faction, in their utmost rage, had ever im.
son's revision. Addison readily agreed, looked puted to him a siogle deviation from the laws
over the second book, and sent it back with of honour and of social morality. Had he
warm commendations.

been indeed a man meanly jealous of fame, Tickell's version of the first book appeared and capable of stooping to base and wicked soon after this conversation. In the preface arts for the purpose of injuring his competiall rivalry was earnestly disclaimed. Tickell tors, would his vices have remained latent so declared ihat he should not go on with the Iliad. long? He was a writer of tragedy; had he That enterprise he should leave to powers ever injured Rowe? He was a writer of cowhich he admitted to be superior to his own. medy: had he not done ample justice to ConHis only view, he said, in publishing this spe- greve, and given valuable help to Steele? He cimen was to bespeak the favour of the public was a pamphleteer: have not his good-nature to a translation of the Odyssey, in which he and generosity been acknowledged by Swift, had made some progress.

his rival in fame and his adversary in poliAddison, and Addison's devoted followers, tics? pronounced both the versions good, but main That Tickell should have been guilty of a iained that Tickell's had more of the original. villany seems to us highly improbable. That The town gave a decided preference to Pope's. Addison should have been guilty of a villany We do not think it worth while to settle such seems to us highly improbable. But that these a question of precedence. Neither of the rivals two men should have conspired together to can be said to have translated the Iliad, unless, commit a villany seems to us improbable in a indeed, the word translation be used in the tenfold degree. All that is known to us of sense which it bears in the Midsummer Night's their intercourse tends to prove that it was Dream. When Botlom makes his appearance not the intercourse of two accomplices in with an ass's head instead of his own, Peter crime. These are some of the lines in which Quince exclaims, “ Bless thee! Bottom, bless Tickell poured forth his sorrow over the coffin thee! thou art translated.” In this sense, un- of Addison :doubledly, the readers of either Pope or Tickeli

“Or dost thou warn poor mortals left behind, may very properly exclaim, “ Bless thee! Ho

A task well suited to thy gentle mind? mer; thou art translated indeed."

Oh, if sometimes thy spotless form descend, Our readers will, we hope, agree with us in

To me thine aid, thou guardian genius, lend,

When rage misguides me, or when fear alarms, thinking that no man in Addison's situation

When pain distresses, or when pleasure charms, could have acted more fairly and kindly, both In silent whisperings purer thoughts impart, towards Pope and towards Tickell, than he

And turn from ill a frail and feeble heart;

Lead through the paths thy virtue trod before, appears to have done. But an odious suspi Till bliss shall join, nor death can part us more.' cion had sprung up in the mind of Pope. He fancied, and he soon firmly believed that there In what words, we should like to know, did was a deep conspiracy against his fame and this guardian genins invite his pupil to join in his fortunes. The work on which he had a plan such as the editor of the Satirist would slaked his reputation was to be depreciated. hardly dare to propose to the editor of the The subscription, on which rested his hopes Age? of a competence, was to be defeated. With We do not accuse Pope of bringing an ac. this view Addison had made a rival transla- cusation which he knew to be false. We have tion; Tickell had consented to father it; and not the smallest doubt that he believed it to be the wils of Button's had united to puff it. true; and the evidence on which he believed

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

it he found in his own bad heart. His own know by heart, and sent them to Addison. One life was one long series of tricks, as mean charge which Pope has enforced with great and as malicious as that of which he suspect skill is probably not without foundation. Aded Addison and Tickell. He was all stiletto dison was, we are inclined to believe, tvo fond and mask. To injure, to insult, to save him- of presiding over a circle of humble friends. self from the consequence of injury and insult of the other imputations which these famous by lying and equivocating, was the habit of lines are intended to convey, scarcely one has his life. He published a lampoon on the Duke ever been proved to be just, and some are cer of Chandos; he was taxed with it; and he lied tainly false. That Addison was not in the and equivocated. He published a lampoon on habit of “ damning with faint praise," appears Aaron Hill; he was taxed with it; and he lied from innumerable passages in his writings; and equivocated. He published a still fouler and from none more than from those in which lampoon on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; he he mentions Pope. And it is not merely unwas taxed with it; and he lied with more than just, but ridiculous, to describe a man who usual effrontery and vehemence. He puffed made the fortune of almost every one of his himself and abused his enemies under feigned intimate friends, as “so obliging ihat he ne'er names. He robbed himself of his own letters, obliged." and then raised the hue and cry after them. That Addison felt the sting of Pope's satire Besides his frauds of malignity, of fear, of in- | keenly, we cannot doubt. That he was con terest, and of vanity, there were frauds which scious of one of the weaknesses with which he seems to have committed from love of fraud he was reproached, is highly probable. But alone. He had a habit of stratagem-a plea- his heart, we firmly believe, acquitted him of sure in outwitting all who came near him. the gravest part of the accusation. He acted Whatever his object might be, the indirect like himself. As a satirist he was, at his own road to it was that which he preferred. For weapons, more than Pope's match; and he Bobingbroke Pope undoubtedly felt as much would have been at no loss for topics. A dislove and veneration as it was in his nature to torted and diseased body, tenanted by a yet feel for any human being. Yet Pope was more distorted and diseased mind-spite and scarcely dead when it was discovered that, envy thinly disguised by sentiments as benevofrom no motive except the mere love of arti- lent and noble as those which Sir Peter Teazle fice, he had been guilty of an act of gross per- admired in Mr. Joseph Surface-a feeble, sickly fidy to Bolingbroke.

licenciousness-an odious love of filihy and Nothing was more natural than that such a noisome images-these were things which a man as this should attribute to others that genius less powerful than that to which we which he felt within himself. A plain, proba- owe the Spectator could easily have held up to ble, coherent explanation is frankly given to the mirth and hatred of mankind. Addison him. He is certain that it is all a romance. A had, moreover, at his command other means line of conduct scrupulously fair, and eren of vengeance which a bad man would not have friendly, is pursued towards him. He is con- scrupled 10 use. He was powerful in the state. vinced that it is merely a cover for a vile in- Pope was a Catholic; and, in those times, a trigue by which he is to be disgraced and minister would have found it easy to barass ruined. It is vain to ask him for proofs. the most innocent Catholic by innumerable He has ncne, and wants none, excepi those petly vexations. Pope, near twenty years later, which he carries in his own bosom.

said, that "through the lenity of the govern. Whether Pope's malignity at lengih pro- ment alone he could live with comfort." “ Con. voked Addison to retaliate for the first and sider,” he exclaimed, “ the injury that a man last time, cannot now be known with certain- of high rank and credit may do to a private ty. We have only Pope's story, which runs person, under penal laws and many other disthus. A pamphlei appeared containing some advantages." It is pleasing to reflect that the reflections which stung Pope to the quick. only revenge which Addison took was to insert What those reflections were, and whether they in the Freeholder a warm encomium on the were reflections of which he had a right to translation of the Iliad; and to exhort all complain, we have now no means of deciding. lovers of learning to put down their names as The Earl of Warwick, a foolish and vicious subscribers. There could be no doubt, he lad, who regarded Addison with the feelings said, from the specimens already published. with which such lads generally regard their that the masterly hand of Pope would do as best friends, told Pope, truly or falsely, that much for Homer as Dryden had done for Virthis pamphlet had been written by Addison's gil. From that time to the end of his life, he direction. When we consider what a tendency always treated Pope, by Pope's own acknowstories have to grow, in passing even from ledgment, with justice. Friendship, was, of one honest man to another honest man, and course, at an end. when we consider tha: to the name of honest One reason which induced the Earl of War man neither Pope nor the Earl of Warwick wick to play the ignominious part of the talehad a claim, we are not disposed to attach bearer on this occasion, may have been his much importance to this anecdote.

dislike of the marriage which was about to It is certain, however, that Pope was furious. take place between his mother and Addison He had already sketched the character of Atti- The countess-dowager, a daughter of the old cus in prose. In his anger he turned this and honourable family of the Myddletons of prose into the brilliant and energetic lines Chirk, a family which, in any country but ours, which everybody knows by heart, or ought to I would be called noble, resided at Hulland

mons.

House. Addison had, during some years, oc- clined by him. Men equally versed in official cupied at Chelsea a small dwelling, once the business might easily have been found; and abode of Nell Gwyn. Chelsea is now a dis- his collegues knew that they could not expect trict of London, and Holland House may be assistance from him in debate. He owed his called a town residence. But, in the days of elevation to his popularity ; to his stainless Anne and George I., milkmaids and sportsmen probity, and to his literary fame. wandered, between green hedges and over But scarcely had Addison entered the cabifields bright with daisies, from Kensington net when his health began to fail. From one almost to the shore of the Thames. Addison serious attack he recovered in the autumn;

and Lady Warwick were.country neighbours, and his recovery was celebrated in Latin verses, • and became intimate friends. The great wit worthy of his own pen, by Vincent Bourne,

and scholar tried to allure the young lord from who was then at Trinity College, Cambridge. the fashionable amusements of beating watch. A relapse soon took place; and, in the followmen, breaking windows, and rolling women in ing spring, Addison was prevented by a severe hogsheads down Holborn Hill, to the study of asthma from discharging the duties of his post. letters and the practice of virtue. These well He resigned it, and was succeeded by his meant exertions did little good, however, either friend Craggs; a young man whose natural to the disciple or to the master. Lord War-parts, though little improved by cultivation, wick grew up a rake, and Addison fell in love. were quick and showy, whose graceful person The mature beauty of the countess has been and winning manners had made him generally celebrated by poets in language which, after a acceptable in society, and who, if he had lived, very large allowance has been made for flat- would probably have been the most formidable tery, would lead us to believe that she was a of all the rivals of Walpole. fine woman; and her rank doubtless heighten As yet there was no Joseph Hume. The ed her attractions. The courtship was long. ministers therefore, were able to bestow on The hopes of the lover appear to bave risen Addison a retiring pension of £1500 a year. and fallen with the fortunes of his party. His In what furm this pension was given we are attachment was at length matter of such noto- not told by his biographers, and have not time riety that, when he visited Ireland for the last to inquire. But it is certain that Addison did tine, Rowe addressed some consolatory verses not vacate his seat in the House of Comto the Chloe of Holland House. It strikes us as a little strange that, in these verses, Addi Rest of mind and body seemed to have reson should be called Lycidas; a name of sin- established his health ; and he thanked God, gularly evil omen for a swain just about to with cheerful piety, for having set him free cross St. George's Channel.

both from his office and from his asthma. At length Chloe capitulated. Addison was Many years seemed to be before him, and he indeed able to treat with her on equal terms. meditated many works-a tragedy on the death He had reason to expect preferment even of Socrates, a translation of the Psalms, a higher than that which he had attained. He treatise on the evidences of Christianity. Of had inherited the fortune of a brother who died this last performance a part, which we could governor of Madras. He had purchased an well spare, has come down to us. estate in Warwickshire, and had been wel. But the fatal complaint soon returned, and comed to his domain in very tolerable verse gradually prevailed against all the resources by one of the neighbouring squires, the poeti- of medicine. It is melancholy that the last cal fox-hunter, William Somervile. In August, months of such a life should have been over1716, the newspapers announced that Joseph clouded both by domestic and by political Addison, Esquire, famous for many excellent vexations. A tradition which began early, works both in verse and prose, had espoused which has been generally received, and to the countess-dowager of Warwick.

which we have noching to oppose, has repreHe now fixed his abode at Holland House-sented his wife as an arrogant and imperious a house which can boast of a greater number woman. It is said that till his health failed of inmates distinguished in political and literary him he was glad to escape from the countesshistory than any other private dwelling in dowager and her magnificent dining-room, England. His portrait now hangs there. The blazing with the gilded devices of the house of features are pleasing; the complexion is re- Rich, to some tavern where he could enjoy a markably fair; but, in the expression, we trace laugh, to talk about Virgil and Boileau, and a rather the gentleness of his disposition than bottle of claret, with the friends of his happier the force and keenness of his intellect.

days. All those friends, however, were not left Not long after his marriage he reached the to him. Sir Richard Steele had been gradually height of civil greatness. The whig govern- estranged by various causes. He considered ment had, during some time, been torn by in-himself as one who, in evil times, had braved ternal dissensions. Lord Townshend led one martyrdom for his pulitical principles, and desection of the cabinet; Lord Sunderland the manded, when the whig party was triumphant, other. At length, in the spring of 1717, Sun- a large compensation for what he had suffered derland triumphed. Townshend retired from when it was militant. The whig leaders took office, and was accompanied by Walpole and a very different view of his claims. They Cowper. Sunderland proceeded to reconstruct thought that he had, by his own petulance and the ministry; and Addison was appointed se- folly, brought them as well as himself into cretary of state. It is certain that the seals trouble; and though they did not absolutely were pressed upon him, and were at first de- neglect him, doled out favours to him with a

sparing land It was natural that he should | Addison reasoned well and Steele ill; and that be angry with them, and especially angry with consequently Addison brought out a false con. Addison. But what above all seems to have clusion, while Steele blundered upon the truth. disturbed Sir Richard was the elevation of In style, in wit, and in politeness, Addison Tickell, who, at thirty, was made by Addison maintained his superiority, though the Old under-secretary of state ; while the editor of Whig is by no means one of his happiest perthe Tatler and Spectator, the author of the formances.* Crisis, the member for Stockbridge who had At first, both the anonymous opponents obbeen persecuted for firm adherence to the served the laws of propriety. But at length Steele house of Hanover, was, at near fifty, forced, so far forgot himself as to throw an odious impuafter many solicitations and complaints, to tation on the morals of the chiefs of the adminis. content himself with a share in the patent of tration. Addison replied with severity; but, in Drury-lane theatre. Steele himself says, in our opinion, with less severity than was due to his celebrated letter to Congreve, that Addison, so grave an offence against morality and deco. by his preference of Tickell, “incurred the rum; nor did he, in his just anger, forget for a warmest resentment of other gentlemen;" and moment the laws of good taste and good breed. every thing seems to indicate that, of those re- ing. One calumny which has been often resentful gentlemen Steele was himself one. peated, and never yet contradicted, it is our

While poor Sir Richard was brooding over duty to expose. It is asserted in the Biogra. what he considered as Addison's unkindness, a phia Britannica, that Addison designated Steele new cause of quarrel arose. The whig party, as “little Dicky.” This assertion was repeated already divided against itself, was rent by a by Johnson, who had never seen the Old Whig, new schism. The celebrated bill for limiting and was therefore excusable. It has also been the number of peers had been brought in. The repeated by Miss Aikin, who has seen the Old proud Duke of Somerset, first in rank of all Whig, and for whom, therefore, there is less nobles whose religion permitted them to sit in excuse. Now, it is true that the words "little Parliament, was ihe ostensible author of the Dicky” occur in the Old Whig, and that Steele's measure. But it was supported, and, in truth, name was Richard. It is equally true that the devised by the prime minister.

words "little Isaac" occur in the Duenna, and We are satisfied that the bill was most per- that Newton's name was Isaac. But we confinicious; and we fear that the motives which dently affirm that Addison's little Dicky had induced Sunderland to frame it were not ho- no more to do with Steele, than Sheridan's nourable to him. But we cannot deny that little Isaac with Newton. If we apply the it was supported by many of the best and words "iittle Dicky” to Steele, we deprive a wisest men of that age. Nor was this strange. very lively and ingenious passage, not only The royal prerogative had, within the me. of all its wit, but of all its meaning. Little mory of the generation then in the vigour Dicky was evidently the nickname of some of life, been so grossly abused, that it was comic actor who played the usurer Gomez, still regarded with a jealousy which, when then a most popular part, in Dryden's Spanish the peculiar situation of the house of Bruns. Friar.t wick is considered, may perhaps be called im The merited reproof which Steele had remoderate. The prerogative of creating peers ceived, though softened by some kind and had, in the opinion of the whigs, been grossly courteous expressions, galled him bitterly. He abused by Queen Anne's last ministry; and replied with little force and great acrimony; even the tories admitted that her majesty, in but no rejoinder appeared. Addison was fast swamping, as it has since been called, the Up-hastening to his grave; and had, as we may per House, had done what only an extreme well suppose, little disposition to prosecute a case could justify. The theory of the English quarrel with an old friend. His complaint had constitution, according to many high authori-terminated in dropsy. He bore up long and ties, was, that three independent powers, the manfully. But at length he abandoned all hope, monarchy, the nobility, and the commons, ought constantly to act as checks on each other.

* Miss Aikin says that these pieces, never having been If this theory were sound, it seemed to follow reprinted, are now of extreme rarity. This is a mistake. that to put one of these powers under the ab- They have been reprinted, and may be obtained without solute control of the other two, was absurd. I the smallest difficulty. The copy now lying before us But if the number of peers were unlimited, it + We will transcribe the whole paragraph. How it could not be denied that the Upper House was ever have been misunderstood is unintelligible under the absolute control of the crown and

“But our author's chief concern is for the poor House the commons, and was indebted only to their or Commons, whom he represents as naked and defencemoderation for any power which it might be less, when the crown, by losing this prerogative, would suffered to retain.

be less able to protect them against the power of a House

of Lords. Wbo forbears laughing when the Spanish Friar Steele took part with the opposition; Addi- represents little Dicky, under the person of Gomez, insultson with the ministers. Steele, in a paper with a single frown! This Gomez, says he, flew upon called the “Plebeian,” vehemently attacked the him like a dragon, got him down, the Devil being strong bill. Sunderland called for help on Addison, in him, and gave him bastinado on bastinado, and buffet and Addison obeyed the call. In a paper suffered with a most Christian patience. The improbacalled the “Old Whig," he answered, and in- bility of the fact never fails to raise mirth in the audideed refuted, Steele's arguments. It seems to ence; and one may venture to answer for a British House us, that the premises of both the controversial- that it will scarce be either so tame or so weak as oui. ists were unsound; that, on those premises, author supposes."

bears the date of 1789.

can

to us.

« PreviousContinue »