Imagens das páginas

annum, and during his retirement, engaged himself in writing a work on the 'Evidences of the Christian Religion, which he did not live to complete. He was oppressed by asthma and dropsy, and was conscious that he should die at comparatively an early age. Two anecdotes are related of his death-bed. He sent, as Pope relates (but Pope is a very bad authority for any circumstance reflecting upon Addison, or indeed for any question of fact), a message by the Earl of Warwick to Gay, desiring to see him. Gay obeyed the summons; and Addison begged his forgiveness for an injury he had done bim, for which, he said, he would recompense bim if he recovered. The nature or extent of the injury he did not explain, but Gay supposed it referred to his having prevented some preferment designed for him by the court. At another time, he requested an interview with the Earl of Warwick, whom he was anxious to reclaim from a dissipated and licentious life. 'I have sent for you,' he said, 'that you may see in what peace a Christian can die.' The event thus calmly anticipated took place in Holland House on the 17th June, 1719.

A minute or critical review of the daily life of Addison, and bis intercourse with his literary associates, is calculated to diminish our reverence and affection. He appears to have been jealous and taciturn, until thawed by wine; and the fact of bis putting an execution into Steele's house to recover a sum of money he had lent him--a fact which seems to rest on good authority-forms a disagreeable incident in his life. Though reserved in general society, his conversation was peculiarly fascinating among his friends, and he was highly popular with the public. With Swift he maintained throughout life, notwithstanding their political differences, a warm and cordial friendship. The quarrel between Addison and Pope is well known. Addison preferred Tickell's version of the first book of the Iliad,' and sought to make the fortune of the translator. Pope resented this as a personal injury, and wrote his memorable satire on Atticus, in which some truth is mingled with bitterness and malignity. The charge that Addison could bear no rival near the throne' seems to bave had some foundation in fact, but as respects Pope's insinuations against his illustrious contemporary, recent investigations have considerably shaken that poet's character for veracity. With all deductions from the idolatry of friends and the servility of flatterers, enough remains to establish Addison's title to the character of a good man and a sincere Christian. The uniform tendency of all bis writings is his best and highest eulogium. No man can dissemble upon paper tbrough years of literary exertion, or on topics calculated to disclose the nature of his tastes and feelings, and the qualities of his heart and temper. The display of these by Addison is so fascinating and un. affected, that the impression made by his writings, as has been finely remarked, is like being recalled to a sense of something like that original purity from which man has been long estranged.'

Å Life of Ăddison,' in two volumes, by Lucy Aiken, published in


1813, contains several letters supplied by a descendant of Tickcll. The most interesting of the letters were written by Addison during his early travels; and though brief, and careless, contain toucles of bis inimitable pen. He thus records his impressions of France :

The French People in 1699. Truly, by what I have yet seen, they are the happiest nation in the world. 'Tis not in the power of want or slavery to make 'em miserable. There is nothing to be met with in the country but mirth and poverty. Every one sings, laughs, and starves. Their conversation is generally agreeable ; for if they have any wit or sense, they are sure to shew it. They never mend upon a second meeting, but use all the freedom and familiarity at first sight that a long intimacy or abundance of wine can scarce draw from an Englishman. Their women are perfect mistresses in this art of shewing themselves to the best advantage. They are always gay and sprightly, and set off the worst faces in Europe with the best airs. Every one knows how to give herself as charming a look and posture as Sir Godfrey Kneller could draw her

I have already seen, as I informed you in my last, all the king's palaces, and have now seen a great part of the country; I never thought there had been in the world such an excessive magnificence or poverty as I have met with in both together. One can scarce conceive the pomp that appears in everything about the king; but at the same tiine it makes half his subjects go barefoot. The people are, however, the happiest in the world, and enjoy, from the benefit of their climate and natural constitution, such a perpetual mirth and easiness of temper, as even liberty and plenty cannot bestow on those of other nations. Devotion and loyalty are everywhere at their greatest height, but learning seems to run very low, especially in the younger people; for all the rising geniuses have turned their ambition another way, and endeavoured to make their fortunes in the army. The belles-lettres in particular seem to be but short-lived in Franee.

In acknowledging a present of a snuff-box, we see traces of the easy wit and playfulness of the 'Spectator :' ‘About three days ago, Mr. Bocher put a very pretty snuff-box in my hand. I was not a little pleased to hear that it belonged to myself, and was much more so when I found it was a present from a gentleman that I have so great an honour for. You do not probably foresee that it would draw on you the trouble of a letter, but you must blame yourself for it. For my part, I can no more accept of a snuff-box without returning my acknowledgements, than I can take snuff without sneezing after it

. This last, I must own to you, is so great an absurdity, that I should be ashamed to confess it, were not I in hopes of correcting it very speedily. I am observed to have my box oftener in my hand than those that have been used to one these twenty years, for I can't forbear taking it out of my pocket whenever I think of Mr. Dashwood. You know Mr. Beyes recommends snuff as a great provocative to wit, but you may produce this letter as a standing evidence against him. I have, since the beginning of it, taken above a dozen pinches, and still find myself much more inclined to sneeze than to jest. From whence I conclude, that wit and tobacco are not inseparable; or, to make a pun of it, though a man may be master of a snuff-box,

Non cuicunque datum est habere Nasam. I should be afraid of being thought a pedant for my quotation, did not I know that the gentleman I am writing to always carries a Horace in his pocket.'

The same taste which led Addison, as we have seen, to censure as fulsome the wild and gorgeous genius of Spenser, made him look with indifference, if not aversion, on the splendid scenery of the Alps. 'I am just arrived at Geneva,' he says, 'by a very troublesome journey over the Alps, where I have been for some days together shivering among the eternal snows. My head is still giddy with mountains and precipices, you can't imagine how much I am pleased with the sight of a plain, that is as agreeable to me at present as a shore was about a year ago, after our tempest at Genoa.'

The matured powers of Addison shew less of this tame prosaic feel. ing. The higher of his essays, and his criticism on the ‘Paradise Lost,' evince no insensibility to the nobler beauties of creation, or the sublime effusions of genius. His conceptions were enlarged, and his mind expanded by that literary study and reflection from which his political ambition never divorced him, even in the busiest and most engrossing period of his life.

From the 'Letter from Italy.'
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravished eyes,
Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise ;
Poetic fields encompass me around,
And still I seem to tread on classic ground; (1)
For here the muse so oft her harp has strung,
That not a mountain rears its head unsung;
Renowned in verse each shady thicket grows,
And every stream in heavenly numbers flows.

See how the golden groves around me smile,
That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle;
Or when transpianted and preserved with care,
Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air.
Here kindly warmth their mountain juice ferments
To nobler tastes, and more exalted scents;
Even the

rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom,
And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume.
Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats,
Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats ;
Where western gales eternally reside,
And all the seasons lavish all their pride;
Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise,
And the whole year in gay confusion lies.

How has kind heaven adorned the happy land,
And scattered blessings with a wasteful band !
But what avail her unexhausted stores,
Her blooming mountains, and her sunny shores,
With all the gifts that heaven and earth impart,
The smiles of nature and the charms of art,
While prond oppression in her valleys reigns,
And tyranny usurps her happy plains ?
The poor inhabitant beholds in vain
The redd'ning orange, and the swelling grain :


1 Malone states that this was the first time the phrase classic ground, since was ever used. It was ridiculed by some contemporaries as very quaint and affocted.

Joyless he sees the growing oils and wines,
And in the myrtle's fragrant shade repines :
Starves in the midst of nature's bounty curst,'
And in the loaded vineyard dies for thirst.

O Liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
Profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight!
Eternal pleasures in thy presence reign,
And smiling plenty leads thy wanton train ;
Eased of her load, subjection grows more light,
And poverty looks cheerful in thy sight;
Thou mak'st the gloomy face of nature gay,
Giv'st beauty to the sun, and pleasuie to the day.

Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's isle adores ;
How has she oft exhausted all her stores,
How oft in fields of death thy presence sought,
Nor thinks the mighty prize too dearly bought ?
On foreign mountains may the sun refine
The grape's soft juice and mellow it to wine;
With citron groves adoru a distant soil,
And the fat olive swell with floods of oil:
We envy not the warmer clime, that lies
In ten degrees of more indulgent skies ;
Nor at the coarseness of our heaven repine,
Though o'er our heads the frozen Pleiads shine:
'Tis liberty that crowns Britannia’s isle,
And makes her barren rocks and her bleak mountains smilo.

How are thy servants blest, O Lord !

How sure is their defence! Eternal wisdom is their guide,

Their help Omnipotence.

Yet then from all my griefs, O Lord !

Thy mercy set me free;
Whilst in the confidence of prayer

My soul took hold on thee.

Iu foreigu realms, and lands remote, For though in dreadful whirls we hung Supported by thy care,

High on the broken wave, * Through burning climes I passed unhurt, I knew thou wert not slow to hear, And breathed in tainted air.

Not impotent to save.

Thy mercy sweetened every soil,

Made every region please ;
The hoary Alpine hills it warmed,

And smoothed the Tyrrhene seas,

The storm was laid, the winds retired,

Obedient to thy will;
The sea that soared at thy command,

At thy command was still.

Think, O my soul devoutly think,

How with affrighted eyes,
Thou saw'st the wide-extended deep

In all its horrors rise.

In midst of dangers, fears, and death,

Thy goodness I'll adore :
I'll praise thee for for thy mercies past,

And humbly hope for more.

Confusion dwelt on every face,.

My life, if thou preserv'st my life, And fear in every heart,

Thy sacrifice shall be ; When waves on waves, and gulfs on gulfs, And death, if death must be my doom, O’ercame the pilot's art.

Shall join my soul to thee.


Mirza, and a hymn of Addison's, beginning: "How are thy servants blest. O Lord !" particularly remember one half-stanza, which was music to my boyish ear:

For though in dreadful whirls we bung
High on the broken wave.

BURNS-Letter to Dr. Voore,

Ode. The spacious firmament on high,

While all the stars that round her burn, With all the blue ethereal sky,

And all the planets in their turn, And spangled heavens, a shining frame,

Confirm the tidings as they roll, Their great Original proclaim :

And spread the truth from pole to pole. Th’unwearied sun, írom day to day, Does his Creator's power display, What thongh, in solemn silence, all And publishes to every land

Move round the dark terrestrial ball ? The work of an Almighty hand.

What though no real voice, nor sound,
Amid their

radiant orbs be found ?
Soon as the evening shades prevail, In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale, And utter forth a glorious voice;
And, nightly to the list'ning earth, For ever singing as they shine,
Repeats the story of her birth :

The hand that made us is divine."
The Battle of Blenheim.From 'The Campaign.'

But now the trumpet terrible from far,
In shriller clangours animates the war;
Confed'rate drums in fuller concert beat,
And echoing hills the loud alarm repeat:
Gallia's proud standards to Bavaria's joined,
Unfurl their gilded lilies in the wind ,
The daring prince his biasted hopes renews,
And while the thick embattled host he views
Stretched out in deep array, and dreadful length,
His heart dilates, and glories in his strength.

The fatal day its mighty course began,
That the grieved world had long desired in vain ;
States that their new captivity bemoaned,
Armies of martyrs that in exile groaned,
Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
And prayers in bitterness of soul preferred;
Earope's loud cries, that Providence assailed,
And Anna's ardent vows, at length prevailed;
The day was come when Heav'u designed to shew
His care and conduct of the world below.

Behold, in awful march and dread array
Tae long extended squadrons shape their way!
Death, in approaching, terrible, imparts
An anxious horror to the bravest hearts ;
Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
And thirst of glory quells the love of life.
No vulgar fears can British minds control;
Heat of revenge, and noble pride of soul,

* A fine passage in Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici (Part II. sec. 9) resembles this, and probably suggested it: There is a music wherever there is a harmony, order, or proportion; and thus far we may maintain the imusic of the spheres: for those wellordered motions, and regular paces. though they give no sound unio the ear, yet to the understanding they strike a note most full of harmopy, Whatsuever is harmonically composed delights in harınony, which makes me much distrust the symmetry of those heads which declaim against all church music. For myself, not only from my obedience but my particular genius I do embrace it: for even that vulgar and tavern music, which makes one inan merry, another mad, strikes in me a deep fit of devotion, and a profound contemplation of the first composer. There is something in it of divinity more than the ear discovers : it is an hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole world and crea; trres of God-such a melody to the ear as the whole world. well understood, would prd the understanding. In brict, it is a sensible fit of that harmony which intellectu.

sounds in the ears of God.

« AnteriorContinuar »