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Gay, who had not visited him for some time before, obeyed the summons, and found himself received with great kindness. Addison then told him that he had injured him, but that, if he recovered, he would recompense him.
What the injury was, he did not explain, nor did Gay ever know; but supposed that some preferment designed for him, had by Addison's intervention been withheld.
Lord Warwick was a young man of very irregular life, and perhaps of loose opinions. Addison, for whom he did not want respect, had very diligently endeavoured to reclaim him; but his arguments and expostulations had no effect: One experiment however remained to be tried. When he found his life near its end, he directed the young lord to be called ; and when he desired, with great tenderness to hear his last injunctions, told him, I have sent for you that you may see how a chRISTIAN CAN DIE.
Having given directions to Mr. Tickel for the publication of his works, and dedicated them on his death-bed to his friend Mr. Craggs, he died June 17, 1719, at Holland-house, leaving no child but a daughter.
Of his virtue it is a sufficient testimony, that the resentment of party has transmitted no charge of any crime. He was not one of those who are praised only after death; for his merit was so generally acknowledged, that Swift, having observed that his election passed without a contest, added, that if he had proposed himself for king, he would hardly have been refused.
His zeal for his party did not extinguish his kindness for the merit of his opponents: When he was secretary in Ireland, he refused to intermit his acquaintance with Swift.
Of his habits, or external manners, nothing is so often mentioned as that timorous or sullen taciturnited
which lis friends called modesty by too mild a name Steele mentions with great tenderness, " that remark“ able bashfulness, which is a cloak that hides and " muffles merit:" Chesterfield affirms that “ Addison
was the most timorous and awkward man that he
ever saw :" And Addison, speaking of his own deficience in conversation, used to say of himself, that with respect to intellectual wealth, “ he could draw 66 bills for a thousand pounds, though he had not a " guinea in his pocket."
That he wanted current coin for ready payment, and by that want was often obstructed and distressed; that he was oppressed by an improper and ungraceful timidity, every testimony concurs to prove, but Chesterfield's representation is doubtless hyperbolical. That man cannot be supposed very unexpert in the arts of conversation and practice of life, who, without fortune or alliance, by his usefulness and dexterity, became secretary of state ; and who died at fortyseven, after having not only stood long in the highest rank of wit and literature, but filled one of the most important offices of state.
The time in which he lived had reason to lament his obstinacy of silence; “ for he was,” says Steele, « above all men in that talent called humour, and “ enjoyed it in such perfection, that I have often re“ flected after a night spent with him apart from all “ the world, that I had the pleasure of conversing “ with an intimate acquaintance of Terence and Ca« tullus, who had all their wit and nature, heightened 56 with humour more exquisite and delightful than
any other man ever possessed.” This is the fondness of a friend ; let us hear what is told us by a rival. " Addison's conversation,” says Pope, “ had some*** thing in it more charming than I have found in any 06 other man. But this was only when familiar: Be6 fore strangers, or perhaps a single stranger, he pre6 served his dignity by a stiff silence.”
This modesty was by no means inconsistent with a very high opinion of his own merit. There is no reason to doubt that he suffered too much pain from the prevalence of Pope's poetical reputation; nor is it without strong reason suspected that by some disingenuous acts he endeavoured to obstruct it. Pope was not the only man whom he insidiously injured, though the only man of whom he could be afraid.
Of very extensive learning he has indeed given no proofs. He seems to have had small acquaintance with the sciences, and to have read little except Latin and French. The abundance of his own mind left him little need of adventitious sentiments; his wit always could suggest what the occasion demanded. He had read with critical eyes the important volume of human life, and knew the heart of man from the depths of stratagem to the surface of affectation.
Pope declares that he wrote very fuently, but was slow and scrupulous in correcting; that many of the Spectators were written very fast, and sent immediately to the press ; and that it seemed for his advantage not to have time for much perusal.
Of the course of Addison's familiar day, before his marriage, Pope has given a detail. He had in his house with him Budgell, and perhaps Philips. His chief companions were Steele, Budgell, Phillips, Carey, Davenant, and colonel Brett. With one or other of these, he always breakfasted. He studied all morning then dined at a tavern, and went afterwards to Button's.
Button had been a servant in the countess of Warwick's family, who, under the patronage of Addison, kept a coffee-house on the south side of Russel-street, about two doors from Covent-Garden. Here it was that the wits of that time used to assemble. It is said, that when Addison had suffered any vexation from
the countess, he withdrew the company from Button's house.
From the coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often sat late, and drank too much wine. In the bottle, discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice for courage, and bashfulness for confidence. It is not - unlikely that Addison was first seduced to excess by the manumission which he obtained from the servile timidity of his sober hours. He that feels oppression from the presence of those to whom he knows himself superior, will desire to set loose his powers of conversation; and who, that ever asked succour from Bacchus, was able to preserve himself from being enslaved by his auxiliary?
If any judgment máy be made, from his books, of his moral character, nothing will be found but purity and excellence. Knowledge of mankind indeed, less extensive than that of Addison, will shew that to write and to live are very different. Many who praise virtue do no more than praise it. Yet it is reasonable to believe that Addison's professions and practice were at no great variance, since amidst that storm of faction in which most of his life was passed, though his station made him conspicuous, and his activity made him formidable, the character given him by his friends was never contradicted by his enemies. Of those with whom interest of opinion united him, he had not only the esteem but the kindness; and of others, whom the violence of opposition drove against him, though he might lose the love, he retained the reve
He has employed wit on the side of virtue and religion. He not only made the proper use of wit himself, but taught it to others; and from his time it has been generally subservient to the cause of truth. He has dissipated the prejudice that had long connected gaiety with vice, and easiness of manners with laxity of principles. He has restored virtue to its dignity, and taught innocence not to be ashamed. This is an elevation of literary character, above all Greek, above all Roman fame. No greater felicity can genius attain than that of having purified intellectual pleasure, separated mirth from indecency, and wit from licentiousness; of having taught a sucession of writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the end of goodness; and, to use expressions yet more awful, of having turned many to righteousness.
THE poetry of Addison is polished and pure; the product of a mind too judicious to commit faults, but not sufficiently vigorous to attain excellence. He has sometimes a striking line, or a shining paragraph, but in the wh is warm rather than fervid, and shews more dexterity than strength. He was, however, one of our earliest examples of correctness.
The present generation is scarcely willing to allow him the name of a critic; his criticism is condemned as tentative or experimental, rather than scientific ; and he is considered as deciding by taste rather than by principles.
It is not uncommon for those who have grown wise by the labour of others, to add a little of their own, and overlook their masters. Addison is now despised by some who perhaps would never have seen his defects, but by the lights which he afforded them. But before the profound observers of the present race repose too securely on their superiority to Addison, let them consider his remarks on Ovid, in which may be found specimens of criticism suficiently subtle and refined; let them peruse likewise his Essays on Wit, and on the Pleasures of the Imagination, in which he founds art on the base of nature, and draws the prin