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Lecture the Twenty-Fifth.
JOSEPH ADDISON-AMBROSE PHILIPS- JOHN PHILIPS-THOMAS PARNELL
WILLIAM SOMERVILLE-THOMAS TICKELL.
\HE authors with whom we are at present engaged, were considered,
during the whole of the eighteenth century, the best that England ever produced. The reign of Queen Anne was styled the Augustine Era of English Literature, on account of its supposed resemblance, in intellectual opulence, to the reign of the Emperor Augustus. This opinion is not, however, followed in the present age. The praise due to good sense, and a correct and polished style, is allowed to the prose writers, and that due to a felicity in painting artificial life, is awarded to the poets; but modern critics seem to have agreed to pass over these qualities as of secondary moment, and to hold in greater estimation the writings of the times preceding the Restoration, as being more boldly original, both in style and in thought, more imaginative and more sentimental. The sentiment to which we here allude is stated in the Edinburgh Review in the following passage :-'Speaking generally of that generation of authors, it may be said that, as poets, they had no force or greatness of fancy, no pathos, and no enthusiasm; and as philosophers, no comprehensiveness, depth, or originality. They are sagacious, no doubt, and seasonable ; but for the most part, cold, timid, and superficial. Writing with infinite good sense, and great grace and vivacity, and above all, writing for the first time in a tone that was peculiar to the upper ranks of society, and upon subjects that were almost exclusively interesting to them, they naturally figured as the most accomplished, fashionable, and perfect writers which the world had ever seen, and made the wild, luxuriant, and humble sweetness of our earlier authors appear rude and untutored in the comparison.'
While there is general truth in these remarks, it must, at the same time, be observed that the age produced several writers, who, each in his own line, may be called extraordinary. Satire, expressed in forcible and copious language, was certainly, as we have already observed, carried to its utmost height of excellence, by Swift. The art of describing the manners, and discussing the morals of the passing age, was practiced for the first time, with
unrivalled felicity, by Addison. The poetry of elegant and artificial life was exhibited, with a degree of perfection never since attained, by Pope. And with all the licentiousness of Congreve and Farquhar, it may be fairly said that pure English comedy was, in their hands, what it had never been before, and has scarcely, in any instance, been since. It was, in some respects, a disadvantage to the poets of this period that most of them enjoyed a considerable degree of worldly prosperity and importance, such as has rarely blessed the community of authors. Some filled high diplomatic and other official stations, and others were engaged in schemes of political ambition, where offices of state and the supremacy of rival parties, not poetical or literary laurels, were the prizes contended for. Constant and familiar intercourse with the great on the part of authors, has a tendency to fix the mind on the artificial distinctions and pursuits of society, and to induce a tone of thought and study adapted to such associates. It is certain that high thoughts and imaginings can be nursed only in solitude; and though poets may gain in taste and correctness by mixing in courtly circles, the native vigor and originality of genius, and the steady worship of truth and nature, must be impaired by such a course of refinement. It is evident that most of the poetry of this period, exquisite as it is in gayety, polish, and sprightliness of fancy, possesses none of the lyrical grandeur and enthusiasm which redeem so many errors in the older poets. The French taste is visible in most of its strains; and where excellence is attained, it is not in the delineation of strong passions, or in bold fertility of invention, but in the lesser graces and excellencies of art. Of this school Addison was one of the most prominent members.
Joseph Addison was born at Milston, in Wiltshire, on the first of May, 2872, and was the son of the Reverend Lancelot Addison, rector of that parisk. othérudiments of his education he received at home under his Father's own inundalate'supervision and in the tenth year of his age he was SENT to Sahishary, whid Cottimitted to the care'6f Mr: Taylor, master of the Balisbargit grammar school! Th 1089;r wheb Addison was show the twelfth year of Wisage, les father, being made dean of Literfield, Fethoved thither,
"1 and placed his soil with a Mr. Shaw' oni whose school, However,' He soon after renoved to the school of the Chartreux, where ble remamed untill be hat p contpletea Hispreparation for the universityłud At Chartreut, las Jólihsoh Desar vega che contracted that intiiniacy with Sir Richard Steele, which their goint labors have is effectuully recorded. oldal bustasin
In 1687, Addison entered Queen's College, OxPOHIJ and ithintediately applied kitise with steh 'Arethitting devotion to 'classieal' studies, that he goot reine excelled allWis claymates. Before he had been in college two years, He pwodtreed boatiet Latin Ferses; whick, by accident, fell into the hands of Dr. Lancaster, afterwana provost of the collégre, and were By Hith regarded to be of suck vare excellence, that he recommended the youtirful author to a scholarship in Magdalen College, where he remained til he had take both
How long, great
the bachebor's and master's degree) As a writer of Latin poetry, Addison became emirlent before he left Oxford, and the peculian merit of his compo sitiong in that donggelconsisted in their tentárd (originality, He did not contihe himself toithe imitatiobiof an ancient author, butI forbed baise style from the generalolanguage, such as a diligent pornsub of the productions of different anges would naturally prodube. His threb principal pieces Bre, The Battle of the Pendlessand Craness, Phe hanoweton, andud Boudino stretto
i In his twenty-edded yeat, Addisoniprodhuded 1 his first English/pigeon the form of maddess to Drydeh apd sbobl after published a translation of the greater part of Virgil's Fourth Georgic luponi Bues, i with which Dryden #much fplensed that he paitl, this youthful poet the coxopliment to say, ito alision to his own translations of hoy latter swarm is hardly worth italie hiving. The addressilto Dryden opens with the following lines ofta , vt at won}_Esu tot 13191 uut nimicluilt lepitiloq to nikije S 2008
sacred lays TOSTI
poet and that is een Provoke our wonder,
Transcend out praise; oT .711909 f-fyra?
bue 290992 boblin
i ens hem ei 2109T WISHOH s tou to!T These performances created an intimacy between the veteran poet and the youthful aspirant, and the latter das acoordingly induced to compose the arguments prefixed to the several books of the former's translation of Virgil, and also to write an essay oxid Coorsted. "Neither" op'třede" froductions
" though elegantly written, exhibit much of the scholar's learning, or the critic's penetration. In the following year, Adelispuu poblished an Account of the Greatest English Poets, inek poemsbf about one hundred and fifty lines, addressed to Dr. Sacheverélp, and containing sketches of Chaucer, Spenser,
& Milton, Cowley, Waller, and others. The subdued”and frigid character of
a Spenser in this Account,' plainly shows that Addison wanted both the fire and the fancy of the poet. bizit VIII 9 les 1099 W
About this time Addison was Ihittoduced to Montague, then! ¢kancellor of the Exchequer; and through hist
akis Infrience, to Tickell, he was diverted from his original design of entering into holy orders. Mor al stop 09. 10. 14% lyos La
Montague alleged as his reason the corruption of ngen;who engaged in civiljemployments without liberal education; and deelareely that though he was represented as an enemy to the church, it any'iräfting Pitt Be withhold'
A Poem to His Majesty, Presented to the Lord Keeper. This must be confessed to be a tame and 2491
, common-place production; bute. Lord Somersyithens the keeperi of the great seal, was gratified with the compliment, and thenceforth became one of the poot's steadiest patrons... $pon after appeared his Latin verses on the treaty of Ryewiek, whiéb he dedicated to Montague, and which is really a vigorous and elegant performance.
ing Addison from it
In 1699, Addison obtained, through the influence of Somers, an annual pension of three hundred pounds, to enable him to travel on the continent. Having spent a year at Blois, in order to learn the French language, he thence passed to Italy, which he surveyed with the eye of a poet. While he was travelling in the latter country, apparently at leisure, he was far from being idle ; for he not only collected the observations which he afterward published, but found time to write his Dialogues on Medals, to store his mind with the materials which he afterward so beautifully elaborated in his Cato, and to address to Lord Halifax, A Letter from Italy, which is the most elegant and animated of all his poetical productions. The classic ruins of Rome, the heavenly figures of Raphael, the river Tiber, and the streams 'immortalized in song,' and all the golden groves and flowery meadows of Italy, seemed to have raised his fancy and brightened his expressions. There is, also, a strain of political thinking in the Letter, that was then new to English poetry. To sustain these remarks, we present the following extract :
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
1 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 poor inhabitant beholds in vain
O liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's isle adores;
Addison returned to England in 1702, but by the death of King William, which had just previously occurred, he was deprived of his pension, and left entirely unprovided for. In 1705 he published his Travels in Italy, the first reception of which was any thing but flattering. The elegance of the language, and the pleasing alternation of prose and verse, soon, however, won for it so great favor with the public, that before it was reprinted it rose to five times the original price. The victory of Blenheim, in 1704, spread delight through every part of England; and the lord treasurer Godolphin, in order to perpetuate the fame of that great event, desired Addison to 'gazette it’ in verse. Addison immediately entered upon the task, and when he had advanced as far as the simile of the angel, he communicated it to the treasurer, who was so much pleased with the work, that he at once appointed the poet to the place of commissioner of appeals, just then vacated by the promotion of Locke. This poem placed Addison upon the very pinnacle of fame; and the following extract will show that the performance is certainly not without merit:
The fatal day its mighty course began,