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personal, to his lady ; at their marriage, instead of being enriched by the connection, he had settled property on her ; his
6 I do make and ordain my dear wise executrix of this my last will ; and I do appoint her to be guardian of my dear child Charlotte Addison, until she attain the age of one-and-twenty ; being well assured that she will take good care of her education and maintenance, and provide for her in case she live to be married.” Any body who chooses may believe that such a man would intrust his only child to the care of one who had made his home so miserable that he was driven to spend his evenings in a tavern ; but with us, this undoubted expression of confidence weighs more in her favor than any amount of conjecture on the other side. For this woman, it must be remembered, had a son and daughters by her former marriage ; and a father must have been more unnatural than we think he was, if he had left his own child a helpless prisoner in a house which is said to have been intolerable to himself.
There is one passage in Addison's history on which we cannot dwell with satisfaction, though the only reproach which it brings is that of yielding for a moment to the exasperation of feeling into which the best men may sometimes fall. When he left office for ever, parties were raging high, and Steele, whose reputation and fortunes had been shattered by his follies, undertook the management of a paper which he called the Plebeian, in opposition to the Peerage bill, which was intended to abridge that power of the crown which had created twelve peers at once in Harley's administration, to secure a majority in the House of Lords. Some of the Whigs opposed the measure, and among them Steele; who was answered in the Old Whig, in a paper written with such force of thought and style, that Addison was known at once to be the writer. It contained no personal allusions, and though earnest in its argument, had nothing in it meant to inflict a personal wound. Not so with Steele's reply ; it was angry and bitter, accusing the Old Whig of deserting his principles, and treating him in a manner which seems unaccountable to those who have never seen kind hearts possessed with the devil of party. In his retort, Addison was provoked to some personal and contemptuous expressions, such as he had never used before. The next number of the Plebeian showed that Steele was deeply wounded by the
VOL. LXIV. - No. 135.
treatment which he had brought upon himself; and as Johnson says, — “Every reader must regret that these two illustrious friends, after so many years passed in confidence and endearment, in unity of interest, conformity of opinion, and fellowship of study, should finally part in acrimonious opposition." But so unfortunately it was ; and yet we cannot believe that Steele would have written as he did, could he have thought that his former friend would read it almost with bis dying eyes. We are authorized to believe that Addison regretted his share in it, from the circumstance that Tickell did not mention this paper in bis works, nor insert it among his other writings ; and that Steele's resentment was momentary, we may infer from his afterwards mentioning Addison in a letter to Congreve as “ the man that he loved best.
The dying scene of Addison was an appropriate close to such a life; the support of that religion which he had followed through all his days was present to brighten the deathbed in his closing hour. Miss Aikin inclines, from internal evidence, to distrust the story told by Dr. Young, of his sending for the young Earl of Warwick, that he might see how a Christian could die. She thinks that it appears too much like display to be consistent with his humble and retiring spirit ; but it is going quite too far to discredit a circumstantial statement made on such authority, merely because it does not agree with our notions of what beseems such a place and hour. We can see no such aiming at effect, nor does it savour in the least of ostentation. man probably, like too many persons of his rank and age, had no faith in religious feeling; like others, who have known nothing of it from their own experience, he did not believe in its existence, not reflecting that he could not pronounce upon the genuineness of that which he did not know. To us, it seems perfectly natural that Addison, earnest to undeceive him, should have taken that course to show him that religion was not a name and a profession, but a real and substantial thing, which, though unseen, has power to sustain the dying when the shadows of death are falling and the world is passing away.
Before his death, he sent for Gay, with whom he had not been familiar, and, after receiving him with great kindness, asked his forgiveness of some former wrong; he did not say what it was, and Gay never was able to conjecture what it
could possibly have been. But the incident is important ; for, certainly, if the dying man was so anxious to make reparation for an injury which the subject of it was never conscious of receiving, he must, beyond all question, have taken the saine opportunity to clear his mind from the shade of those greater offences with which he has been charged, if there were any such to remember. Were there nothing else, this would be sufficient to prove to our satisfaction, that he had never been guilty of that fraud, falsehood, and intemperance, of which an enemy accused him, and which have left à reproach upon his memory that it is high time to remove, wherever the condemnation may fall.
It is a matter of deep interest to the cause of letters to clear from unmerited reproach one of the sew, who, with high literary eminence, have labored to maintain not so much the reputation as the character of a Christian. It is the glory of Addison, that in an age when lawless ridicule was sometimes applied to subjects the most important, and when religion was neither valued nor understood by many of the leaders of taste, when Sir William Temple had reason to say, “The fools of David's time, who said in their hearts, There is no God, are the wits of ours,” he never was ashamed of the gospel, but quietly opened bis heart to its influences, and endeavoured to keep its commands. He was also free from that narrowness with which religious principle is sometimes attended. Sometimes he speaks with severity of those who differed from him ; for the virtue of toleration had then hardly dawned upon the public mind ; but that he was free from all bigotry is manisest from his patronage of Whiston, and bis respect for Thomas Burnet, and the “reasoning mill,” as Voltaire called him, Dr. Samuel Clarke. Without any compromise of his faith or feeling, he associated with such men as Garth, who, when dying, sent to him to ask if Christianity was true ; and under all circumstances and in all associations, be kept the whiteness of his soul undefiled, except by the stains and shadows thrown upon it by the wretched hostility of Pope. How this was requited we happily are able to tell. After their separation, brought on by the insolent letter mentioned above, having occasion to speak of the manner in which the language was enriched by translations of classical authors, Addison, in the Freeholder, mentions Pope's Homer, not cordially, as if it was meant for a peace-offering, but in terms of respect perfectly natural, kind, and such as, though they would not equal the demands of the poet, all disinterested persons would allow to be just.
But we do not mean to represent Addison as faultless ; neither was Pope destitute of virtues, though afflicted with that disease of the spirit which made him see all things yellow. To us it seems clear, that the great failing in Addison's character was his fastidiousness ; excellent as his heart was, this difficulty prevented his sympathies from extending as widely as religion would bave them. It made him shrink from near approach to mankind in general, though warmhearted to bis friends and companions ; and thus it often happens, that literary habits and a sensitive nature, though they have their own ways of manifestation, do something to until men for active usefulness; as the marble, though excellent for sculpture, is less adapted for works of public improvement than coarser varieties of stone.
But after making all possible abatement, enough will remain to establish the character of Addison on the highest ground. As a writer, we look through the history of letters,
and we find very few before him ; as a man and a Christian, we know of none.
If we have exceeded our usual bounds in enlarging on this subject, it is because we are fully persuaded that justice has never been done to Addison. Those who look into the matter are surprised to see how little foundation there is for many things which go down from generation to generation ; it is sometimes alarming to think how long the effect of a calumny may last. But it is consoling to see, that, where the life has been ordered in principle and faithfulness, the general character bears witness for itself which none can deny. The world may charge the man with weaknesses and frailties, but they cannot misrepresent him so far as to overcloud the brightness of his fame. So it has been with Addison ; those who credited the slander have not denied his excellence; they have tenderly lamented these darkening stains, as those infirmities which may be expected from poor human nature. But in truth, he needs no such forgiveness, and we believe that those who investigate the matter without having made up their minds beforehand will bring in a verdict of “not guilty,” and be ready to exalt him to one of the highest places among the lights of the world.
Art. IV. - 1. A Comprehensive Lexicon of the Greek
Language, adapted to the Use of Colleges and Schools in the United States. Third Edition, greatly enlarged and improved. By John PICKERING. Boston: Wilkins, Carter, & Co. 1846.
1846. 8vo. 2. A Greek-English Lexicon, based on the German
Work of Francis Passow. From the English Edition of Liddell and Scott, with Additions. By Henry Drisler, A. M. New York : Harper & Brothers. 1846. 8vo. pp. 1705.
A COMPLETE lexicon of an extensive language, like the Greek, deserves to be ranked, in some points of view, among the rarest monuments of human toil and perseverance. Unpretending as it may be in its appearance, it requires ages for its completion. A pyramid or a temple may be erected in a single generation ; for after the plan of it is once formed, it requires only a sufficient array of physical force to speed the work to its conclusion. But no combination of effort in a single generation can form a complete lexicon of an extensive language. The labors of one generation of scholars form but the scaffolding on which the next generation must stand; it is by slow approximations only that the work can be brought to a complete state. As it advances, moreover, the contributions required from other branches of knowledge become more and more extensive. Not to speak of the general advance in the science of language, the results of which the lexicographer is expected to embody in his work, each successful investigator in the history or archæology of an ancient nation imposes a new duty on the interpreter of its language. The labors of a Niebuhr, a Müller, or a Becker, require the lexicographer to readjust his materials, and to reconsider in a thousand wearisome particulars the dicta which he or other laborers in the same field have before uttered.
Not only, therefore, must a lexicon be an imperfect record of the language of which it treats (for so much is implied in the fact that all knowledge is progressive), but it will ever come short, more or less, of representing fully the state of learning in its own time. It will require a whole generation to embody in a lexicon the knowledge possessed.