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dramatic representation ; and in the bowers and ment. He is also said to liave been slow and fasshades of Woodstock, the poet had materials for tidious in the discharge of the ordinary duties of scenic description and display. The genius of office. When he held the situation of under secretary, Addison, however, was not adapted to the drama; he was employed to send word to Prince George at and his opera being confined in action, and written Hanover of the death of the queen, and the vacancy wholly in rhyme, possesses little to attract either of the throne ; but the critical nicety of the author readers or spectators. He wrote also a comedy, overpowered his official experience, and Addison was The Drummer, or the Haunted House, which Steele so distracted by the choice of expression, that the brought out after the death of the author. This task was given to a clerk, who boasted of having play contains a fund of quiet natural humour, but done what was too hard for Addison. The love of has not strength or breadth enough of character or vulgar wonder may have exaggerated the poet's action for the stage. Addison next entered upon his inaptitude for business, but it is certain he was no brilliant career as an essayist, and by his papers in orator. He retired from the principal secretaryship the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, left all his con- with a pension of £1500 per annum, and during his temporaries far behind in this delightful department retirement, engaged himself in writing a work on the of literature. In these papers, he first displayed that chaste and delicate humour, refined observation, and knowledge of the world, which now form his most distinguishing characteristics ; and in his Vision of Mirza, his Reflections in Westminster Abbey, and other of his graver essays, he evinced a more poetical imagination and deeper vein of feeling than his previous writings had at all indicated. In 1713, his tragedy of Cato was brought upon the stage. Pope thought the piece deficient in dramatic interest, and the world has confirmed his judgment; but he wrote a prologue for the tragedy in his happiest manner, and it was performed with almost unexampled success. Party spirit ran high : the Whigs applauded the liberal sentiments in the play, and their cheers were echoed back by the Tories, to show that they did not apply them as censures on themselves. After all the Whig enthusiasm, Lord Bolingbroke sent for Booth the actor, who personated the character of Cato, and presented him with fifty guineas, in acknowledgment, as he said, of his defending the cause of liberty so well against a perpetual dictator (a hit at the Duke of Marlborough). Poetical eulogiums were showered upon the author, Steele, Hughes, Young, Tickell, and Ambrose Philips, being among the writers of these encomiastic verses. The queen expressed a wish that the tragedy should be dedicated to her, but Addison had previously designed this honour for his friend Tickell; and to avoid giving offence either to his loyalty or his friendship, he published it without any dedication. It was translated into French, Italian, and German, and was performed by the Jesuits in their college at St Omers. Being,' says Sir Walter Scott, 'in form and essence rather a French than an English
Addison's Walk, Magdalen College, Oxford. play, it is one of the few English tragedies which Evidences of the Christian Religion, which he did not foreigners have admired.' The unities of time and live to complete. He was oppressed by asthma and place have been preserved, and the action of the dropsy, and was conscious that he should die at play is consequently much restricted. Cato abounds comparatively an early age. Two anecdotes are in generous and patriotic sentiments, and contains related of his deathbed. He sent, as Pope relates, a passages of great dignity and sonorous diction; but message by the Earl of Warwick to Gay, desiring to the poet fails to unlock the sources of passion and see him. Gay obeyed the summons; and Addison natural emotion. It is a splendid and imposing begged his forgiveness for an injury he had done work of art, with the grace and majesty, and also him, for which, he said, he would recompense him if the lifelessness, of a noble antique statue. Addison he recovered. The nature or extent of the injury was now at the height of his fame. He had long he did not explain, but Gay supposed it referred to aspired to the hand of the countess-dowager of his having prevented some preferment designed for Warwick, whom he had first known by becoming him by the court. At another time, he requested an tutor to her son, and he was united to her in 1716. interview of the Earl of Warwick, whom he was The poet married discord in a noble wife.' His anxious to reclaim from a dissipated and licentious marriage was as unhappy as Dryden's with Lady life. I have sent for you,' he said, 'that you may Elizabeth Howard. Both ladies awarded to their see in what peace a Christian can die.' The event husbands ‘the heraldry of hands, not hearts,' and the thus calmly anticipated took place in Holland fate of the poets should serve as beacons to warn house on the 17th of June 1719. A minute or ambitious literary adventurers. Addison received critical review of the daily life of Addison, and his his highest political honour in 1717, when he was intercourse with his literary associates, is calculated made secretary of state ; but he held the office only to diminish our reverence and affection. The for a short time. He wanted the physical boldness quarrels of rival wits have long been proverbial, and and ready resources of an effective public speaker, Addison was also soured by political differences and and was unable to defend his measures in parlia- contention. His temper was jealous and taciturn
(until thawed by wine); and the satire of Pope, that After some further experience, he recurs to the
turned their ambition another way, and endeavoured
In acknowledging a present of a snuff-box, we see
inseparable; or to make a pun of it, tho' a man may Holland House.
be master of a snuff-box, A Life of Addison,' in two volumes, by Lucy Aiken, published in 1843, contains several letters “Non cuicunque datum est habere Nasam.” supplied by a descendant of Tickell. This work is written in a strain of unvaried eulogium, and is I should be afraid of being thought a pedant for my frequently unjust to Steele, Pope, and the other quotation, did not I know that the gentleman I am contemporaries of Addison. The most interesting writing to always carrys a Horace in his pocket.' of the letters were written by Addison during his The same taste which led Addison, as we have early travels; and though brief, and often incorrect, seen, to censure as fulsome the wild and gorgeous contain touches of his inimitable pen. He thus re- genius of Spenser, made him look with indifference, cords his impressions of France : Truly, by what if not aversion, on the splendid scenery of the Alps : I have yet seen, they are the happiest nation in the I am just arrived at Geneva,' he says, 'by a very world. 'Tis not in the power of want or slavery to troublesome journey over the Alps, where I have make 'em miserable. There is nothing to be met been for some days together shivering among the with in the country but mirth and poverty. Every eternal snows. My head is still giddy with mounone sings, laughs, and starves. Their conversation tains and precipices, and you can't imagine how is generally agreeable; for if they have any wit or much I am pleased with the sight of a plain, that is sense, they are sure to show it. They never mend as agreeable to me at present as a shore was about upon a second meeting, but use all the freedom and a year ago, after our tempest at Genoa.' familiarity at first sight that a long intimacy or The matured powers of Addison show little of abundance of wine can scarce draw from an English- this tame prosaic feeling. The higher of his essays, man. Their women are perfect mistresses in this and his criticism on the Paradise Lost, betray no inart of showing themselves to the best advantage. sensibility to the nobler beauties of creation, or the They are always gay and sprightly, and set off the sublime effusions of genius. His conceptions were worst faces in Europe with the best airs. Every enlarged, and his mind expanded, by that literary one knows how to give herself as charming a look study and reflection from which his political ambiand posture as Sir Godfrey Kneller could draw tion never divorced him even in the busiest and most her in.'
engrossing period of his life.
[From the Letter from Italy.]
O liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's isle adores;
Thy mercy sweeten'd every soil,
Made every region please ;
And smooth'd the Tyrrhene seas.
How, with affrighted eyes,
In all its horrors rise.
And fear in every heart,
O’ercame the pilot's art.
Thy mercy set me free;
My soul took hold on thee.
High on the broken wave,*
Nor impotent to save.
Obedient to thy will;
Thy goodness I'll adore ;
And humbly hope for more.
Thy sacrifice shall be ;
Shall join my soul to thee.
Ode. The spacious firmament on high, With all the blue ethereal sky, And spangled heavens, a shining frame, Their great original proclaim : Th' unwearied sun, from day to day, Does his Creator's power display, And publishes to every land The work of an Almighty hand. Soon as the evening shades prevail, The moon takes up the wond'rous tale, And nightly to the list’ning earth Repeats the story of her birth : Whilst all the stars that round her burn, And all the planets in their turn, Confirm the tidings as they roll, And spread the truth from pole to pole. What, though in solemn silence, all Move round the dark terrestrial ball ? What though nor real voice nor sound Amid their radiant orbs be found ? In reason's ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious voice, For ever singing, as they shine, The hand that made us is divine.
How sure is their defence !
Their help Omnipotence.
Supported by thy care,
And breathed in tainted air.
*The earliest composition that I recollect taking any pleasure in was the Vision of Mirza, and a hymn of Addison's, beginning, “ How are thy servants blest, O Lord !" I particularly remember one half-stanza, which was music to my boy. ish ear:
" For though in dreadful whirls we hung
" Malone states that this was the first time the phrase classic ground, since so common, was ever used. It was ridiculed by some contemporaries as very quaint and affected.
[The Battle of Blenheim.]
Portius. Scarce had I left my father, but I met him
Borne on the shields of his surviving soldiers, [From The Campaign.')
Breathless and pale, and cover'd o'er with wounds. But now the trumpet terrible from far,
Long at the head of his few faithful friends In shriller clangours animates the war;
He stood the shock of a whole host of foes ; Confed’rate drums in fuller concert beat,
Till obstinately brave, and bent on death, And echoing hills the loud alarm repeat:
Opprest with multitudes, he greatly fell. Gallia's proud standards to Bavaria’s join'd,
Cato. I'm satisfied. Unfurl their gilded lilies in the wind;
Nor did he fall before The daring prince his blasted hopes renews,
His sword had pierced through the false heart of And while the thick embattled host he views
Syphax. Stretch'd out in deep array, and dreadful length, Yonder he lies. I saw the hoary traitor His heart dilates, and glories in his strength. Grin in the pangs of death, and bite the ground.
Cato. Thanks to the gods! my boy has done his The fatal day its mighty course began,
duty. That the griev'd world had long desir'd in vain;
Portius, when I am dead, be sure thou place States that their new captivity bemoan'd,
His urn near mine. Armies of martyrs that in exile groan'd,
Long may they keep asunder! Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
Lucius. O Cato ! arm thy soul with all its patience; And prayers in bitterness of soul preferr'd ;
See where the corse of thy dead son approaches !
The citizens and senators, alarmed,
Cato. (meeting the corpse.]
Welcome, my son ! here lay him down, my friends, Behold, in awful march and dread array
Full in my sight, that I may view at leisure The long-extended squadrons shape their way!
The bloody corse, and count those glorious wounds. Death, in approaching, terrible, imparts
How beautiful is death, when earu'd by virtue ! An anxious horror to the bravest hearts;
Who would not be that youth? what pity is it Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
That we can die but once to serve our country ! And thirst of glory quells the love of life.
Why sits this sadness on your brows, my friends! No vulgar fears can British minds control;
I should have blushed if Cato's house had stood Heat of revenge, and noble pride of soul,
Secure, and flourished in a civil war. O'erlook the foe, advantag'd by his post,
Portius, behold thy brother, and remember Lessen his numbers, and contract his host;
Thy life is not thy own when Rome demands it. Though fens and floods possess'd the middle space,
Juba. Was ever man like this!
[deide. That unprovok'd they would have fear'd to pass ;
Alas ! my friends, Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands,
Why mourn you thus ? let not a private loss When her proud foe rang’d on their borders stands.
Afflict your hearts. 'Tis Rome requires our tears.
The mistress of the world, the seat of empire,
That humbled the proud tyrants of the earth,
Juba. Behold that upright man! Rome fills his And all the thunder of the battle rise.
eyes 'Twas then great Marlbro's mighty soul was prov'd, With tears that flow'd not o'er his own dead son. That, in the shock of charging hosts unmor'd,
[A side. Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
Cato. Whate'er the Roman virtue has subdued, Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war;
The sun's whole course, the day and year, are Cæsar's. In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd, For him the self-devoted Decii died, To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
The Fabii fell, and the great Scipios conquered: Inspir'd repuls'd battalions to engage,
Even Pompey fought for Cæsar. Oh! my friends! And taught the doubtful battle where to rage. How is the toil of fate the work of ages. So when an angel, by divine command,
The Roman empire fallen! O curst ambition ! With rising tempests shakes a guilty land,
Fallen into Cæsar's hands! our great forefathers Such as of late o'er pale Britannia pass’d,
Had left him nought to conquer but his country. Calm and serene he drives the furious blast,
Juba. While Cato lives, Cæsar will blush to see And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform, Mankind enslaved, and be ashamed of empire. Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
Cato. Cæsar ashamed ! has not he seen Pharsalia !
Lucius. Cato, 'tis time thou save thyself and u3. [The concluding simile of the angel has been much celebrated, and was so admired by the lord treasurer,
Cato. Lose not a thought on me, I'm out of that on seeing it, without waiting for the completion Heaven will not leave me in the victor's hand.
danger. of the poem, he rewarded the poet by appointing him, Cæsar shall never say I conquer'd Cato. in the place of Mr Locke (who had been promoted), a But oh! my friends, your safety fills my heart commissioner of appeals.]
With anxious thoughts : a thousand secret terrors [From the Tragedy of Cato.]
Rise in my soul : how shall I save my friends!
'Tis now, 0 Cæsar, I begin to fear thee !
Lucius. Cæsar has mercy, if we ask it of him.
Cato. Then ask it, I conjure you ! let him know
Whate'er was done against him, Cato did it.
The virtue of my friends may pass unpunish'd.
Juba, my heart is troubled for thy sake.
Should I advise thee to regain Numidia, Did he look tamely on, and let them pass ?
Or seek the conqueror !