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ringleader in a "barring out." The two legends seem inconsistent with each other, and yet they may both be true. The former does not show, as Miss Aikin believes, the elements of that bashful spirit which afflicted him so much in his manhood. The fact is, that all boys grow retiring in their manner, when they are threatened with a whipping; and though it is not always the case, as Goldsmith says, that your modest people are the most impudent in the world, it is true, that many are bold and free with their associates, who are subdued in the presence of others.

Addison was never able, through a life spent in the daylight of the world, to throw off that embarrassment which paralyzed the action of his mind in company, and made him appear distant, cold, and still. Chesterfield, in whose presence he was not likely to thaw, described him as an awkward man, while those whose company he enjoyed received a very different impression of his manners and social powers. Swift, who was not apt to err by excess of praise, said that he never saw a man half so agreeable. Lady Mary Montague, who had a tolerable acquaintance with society, described him as the best company in the world. Pope, who, in his very eulogy, shows something of pique, allows that his company was more charming than that of any other man, though with strangers he preserved his dignity by a stiff silence; thus ascribing to hauteur that coldness which was evidently owing to natural diffidence and reserve. Dr. Young says, that he was rather mute on some occasions; but when he felt at ease, he went on in a noble strain of thought and language, which enchained the attention of all.

There are many such testimonials to the richness and variety of his conversation; and if any received a different impression, it is plainly owing to the constitutional, or rather English, reserve, which hung like a mill-stone about him all his days. It is thought to be less common in our country; here, old and young, the latter especially, have in general quite as much confidence as the case requires. Still, there are examples of those who labor and suffer under this disease, which renders them in company "afraid to sit, afraid to fly," unable to say the right thing, and, if they say any thing, sure to say the wrong; but generally so oppressed with the necessity of speaking, that, through fear of being silent, they dare not open their lips, and causing epicures in conversation to say, VOL. LXIV. — - No. 135.


that, however much they might like the oyster, if accessible, they cannot submit to the trouble of opening the shell.

It was while at school that Addison formed that friendship with Steele which gave so decided a direction to his future life. Steele, who, though his parents were English, contrived to be born in Dublin, as the appropriate birthplace for one of such an Irish nature, was, as the world knows full well, a thoughtless, inconsistent, rantipole person, full of talent and good feeling, which were made of small effect by his total want of discretion in common affairs. If it was possible for him to get into difficulty, he was sure to improve the chance; but at the same time, so amiable was his disposition, that he always found friends, who, though out of patience with his folly, were ready to get him out of the scrape. Early in life, being sensible of his own frailty, he endeavoured to put himself under the necessity of living religiously, by writing a book called The Christian Hero; but as there was no basis of principle, nor even taste, under his conversion, the inconsistency which soon appeared between his life and his profession made it worse for him in every respect than if his banner had not been lifted quite so high. Then, to enliven himself under the depression brought on by ridicule and reproach, he wrote a comedy called The Funeral, with which the public were entertained, as might be expected from so sprightly a subject, and which, of course, was in the same degree refreshing to the writer.

A literary life commencing thus would hardly be expected to lead to propitious results; and he would have done nothing to establish his reputation as a writer, had it not been for his illustrious friend. It was not unnatural that the shy and delicate Addison should take a fancy to the bold and openhearted Steele; and the latter had sufficient discernment to understand the merits and abilities of his companion. The attachment thus formed continued nearly through life; and only the exasperation of political feeling, which spares nothing that is sacred, could have alienated them from each other; for it is unfortunately true, that the bands were broken at last.

Few particulars of Addison's life during the years spent at Oxford have been recorded; but there is enough to show, even if his writings afforded less ample testimony, that he made good use of his time. One circumstance is remem

bered, which implies that he had not fallen into the way of drinking that is so common in the great English Universities, and is not suppressed by right moral feeling as it should be in ours; most of his studies were after dinner, a time when the levee of the Muses is not apt to be best attended. Such associations of young men are in the habit among themselves of manufacturing a public sentiment for their own use; it is often very unlike any other which can be found in the earth below. It maintains, that lounging, reading novels and similar picture-books, together with a certain coarse defiance of authority, are proofs of genius, and that good-fellowship, like religious character among the ancient Jews, is determined not by what cometh out of the mouth, but rather by that which goeth in. The tendency to these corruptions was strong in his day; for drinking to excess was too common in the high and low places of society to excite the disgust which it deserves; and that he should be able to pursue his studies, at a time when those about him were taking stronger potations than the Castalian fountain supplies, is an evidence that the taste for excess, which has been charged upon him, as we apprehend without reason, certainly did not exist at a period of life when the foundations of that habit are most likely to be laid.

It is quite clear that he must have disciplined his mind at this time, in preparation for that easy and graceful criticism in which he excelled, and in which no one without deep thought, as well as study, can ever attain success. He was also versed in some branches of natural history, as his pleasing remarks on instinct, and some of his letters, imply; and that he acquired this knowledge at this period of life may be inferred from the well known "Addison's Walk," which is still pointed out to visiters at Oxford, as his favorite resort. By his Latin verse he acquired reputation, and with it some substantial advantage. His first attempt in English verse was an address to Dryden, then going down into the cold evening of his day, uncheered even by that patronage which considers itself more blessed to receive the homage of genius than to furnish it with the means of subsistence. Miss Aikin calls it the age of Mæcenases, we hardly know why; they certainly showed that kind of patronage which bestows little and exacts much, which requires the sacrifice of manliness and independence in those on whom it smiles, and parts

with its guineas only on receiving a heavier golden weight of glory. This kind of liberality may be found in any age; any one will trade on those advantageous terms. But if genius, even in Addison's time, expected a more disinterested bounty, it was apt to be disappointed; it was well if its demand for bread was answered with a single stone; it might consider itself too happy if it was not pelted with them.

Addison appears to have been originally destined for the church, and his thoughtful and contemplative spirit might have found a home in the sacred profession, where it is not, as in England, dependent on patronage, and therefore married to worldliness by law. For some reason now unknown, perhaps by unconsciously yielding to circumstances, he inclined to the paths of literature; and while yet at Oxford, he is found in communication with Tonson, the bookseller, whose name is as familiar in the annals of the time as that of Monsieur Tonson at a later day. His essay on the Georgics, which he affixed to the translation of Dryden, who appears to have been pleased and flattered by his attentions, was not considered as promising much strength and originality, though its style was unexceptionable, and its criticism just. Of a translation of the fourth Georgic, which he attempted, the elder poet courteously observed, that, after it, his own swarm would not be worth the hiving. He engaged also in a translation of Herodotus, to be superintended and partly executed by himself; which implies that he had more acquaintance with Greek than Johnson was disposed to allow. This work never reached the press, but his translations from Ovid were published, with notes which eclipse the poetry, and, as the great critic admitted, gave full promise of that discriminating taste and talent which were afterwards so brightly manifested, and admired as widely as they were known. He also produced a work which, at a later period, he seemed very willing to suppress. It was an account of English poets from Chaucer to Dryden, in which he treats the patriarch and his successor, Spenser, without the reverence which they so well deserve, and which is clamorously asserted for them by some, who, admiring without having read, are vengeful against those who have read without admiring.

The truth was, that the French classical taste was then coming into England, teaching its poets to care rather more

for polished elegance of language and measure than for the more substantial elements of truth and nature. The new fashion prevailed, and, as usual, the fashion which it displaced was treated with unmerited scorn. In this way it is that the public taste is always swinging, like a pendulum, far on one side or the other. This fancy came to its height of finish and excellence in Pope; another age has seen him, with all his beauty and power, treated with profane derision, while a passion for infantine simplicity rises and reigns for a time; this, too, after keeping the stage for its permitted season, is destined to give place to some other excess. But sufficient to the day is its own evil; what this excess is to be we are not yet unfortunate enough to know.


Addison, with no small share of talent for poetry, was of course under the influence of the day, and, while his natural tendency was to nature, he was drawn aside by cultivation, and thus inclining one way while he walked in another, he could not be expected to reach the height of success. is a little remarkable, that the effort which brought him at once into notice was made to order. Such productions generally have small attraction, except to those whose exploits they commemorate and flatter; if they betray any other inspiration than that of necessity or ambition, their flame, like a fire of shavings, is soon spent, leaving no permanent brightness in the literary sky. His courtly career commenced with lines on the king's return from his European campaign in 1695, which gained him the favorable regard of Lord Somers, whose approbation was an honor. In 1697, he again sang the praise of William, who had no ear for such matters, in some lines on the Peace of Ryswick. These were addressed to Montagu, then a leading public character, eminent in literature as well as in the public councils. statesman, in acknowledgment of the attention, procured him a grant of three hundred pounds a year, to give him the means of travelling, a favor which would have been more to the purpose, had the money ever been paid; but the king died soon after, and the little which he ever did for literature came at once to a close.


The young poet also gained reputation by Latin verses on the Peace. Johnson allows them to have been vigorous and elegant; and when Addison went abroad, the volume, published with a preface of his own writing, served as an intro

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