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We have seen in Swift a humourous philosopher, whose truth frightens one, and whose laughter makes one melancholy. We have had in Congreve a humourous observer of another school, to whom
In the “Tears of Amaryllis for Amyntas ” (the young Lord Blandford, the great Duke of Marlborough's only son), Amaryllis represents Sarah Duchess !
The tigers and wolves, nature and motion, rivers and echoes, come into work here again. At the sight of her grief
Tigers and wolves their wonted rage forego,
And motion seemed suspended while she wept!” And Pope dedicated the “Iliad” to the author of these lines—and Dryden wrote to him in his great hand :
“Time, place, and action may with pains be wrought,
But Genius must be born and never can be taught.
Maintain your Post : that's all the fame you need,
You merit more, nor could my Love do less." This is a very different manner of welcome to that of our own day. In Shadwell, Higgons, Congreve, and the comic authors of their time, when gentlemen meet they fall into each other's arms, with "Jack, Jack, I must buss thee;" or, “ Fore George, Harry, I must kiss thee, lad.” And in a similar manner the poets saluted their brethren. Literary gentlemen do not kiss now ; I wonder if they love each other better?
Steele calls Congreve “Great Sir” and “Great Author ;” says “Well-dressed barbarians knew his awful name,” and addresses him as if he were a prince ; and speaks of “Pastora” as one of the most famous tragic compositions.
the world seems to have no moral at all, and whose ghastly doctrine seems to be that we should eat, drink, and be merry when we can, and go to the deuce (if there be a deuce) when the time comes. We come now to a humour that flows from a different heart and spirit-a wit that makes us laugh and leaves us good and happy ; to one of the kindest benefactors that society has ever had; and I believe you have divined already that I am about to mention Addison's honoured name.
From reading over his writings, and the biographies which we have of him, amongst which the famous article in the Edinburgh Review* may be cited as a magnificent statue of the great writer and moralist of the last age, raised by the love and the marvellous skill and genius of one of the most illustrious artists of our own; looking at that calm, fair face, and clear countenance—those chiselled features pure and cold, I can't but fancy that this great man—in this respect, like him of whom we spoke in the last lecture—was also one of the lonely ones of the world. Such men have very few equals, and they don't herd with those. It is in the nature of such lords of intellect to be solitary—they are in the world but not of it; and our minor struggles, brawls, successes, pass under them.
Kind, just, serene, impartial, his fortitude not tried beyond easy endurance, his affections not much used, for his books were his family, and his society was in public; admirably wiser, wittier,
*“To Addison himself we are bound by a sentiment as much like affection as any sentiment can be which is inspired by one who has been sleeping a hundred and twenty years in Westminster Abbey. . . . After full inquiry and impartial reflection we have long been convinced that he deserved as much love and esteem as can justly be claimed by any of our infirm and erring race.”—MACAULAY.
“Many who praise virtue do no more than praise it. Yet it is reasonable to believe that Addison's profession 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 or 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 reverence.”—JOHNSON.
calmer, and more instructed than almost every man with whom he met, how could Addison suffer, desire, admire, feel much ? I may expect a child to admire me for being taller or writing more cleverly than she; but how can I ask my superior to say that I am a wonder when he knows better than I? In Addison's days you could scarcely show him a literary performance, a sermon, or a poem, or a piece of literary criticism, but he felt he could do better. His justice must have made him indifferent. He didn't praise, because he measured his compeers by a higher standard than common people have. * How was he who was so tall to look up to any but the loftiest genius ? He must have stooped to put himself on a level with most men. By that profusion of graciousness and smiles with which Goethe or Scott, for instance, greeted almost every literary beginner, every small literary adventurer who came to his court and went away charmed from the great king's audience, and cuddling to his heart the compliment which his literary majesty had paid himeach of the two good-natured potentates of letters brought their star and riband into discredit. Everybody had his majesty's orders. Everybody had his majesty's cheap portrait, on a box surrounded with diamonds worth twopence apiece. A very great and just and wise man ought not to praise indiscriminately, but give his idea of the truth. Addison praises the ingenious Mr. Pinkethman : Addison praises the ingenious Mr. Doggett, the actor, whose benefit is coming off that night : Addison praises Don Saltero : Addison praises Milton with all his heart, bends his knee and frankly pays homage to that imperial genius. But between those degrees of his men his
“Addison was perfect good company with intimates, and had something more charming in his conversation than I ever knew in any other man ; but with any mixture of strangers, and sometimes only with one, he seemed to preserve his dignity much, with a stiff sort of silence.”—Pope. Spence's Anecdotes.
“Milton's chief talent, and indeed his distinguishing excellence, lies in the sublimity of his thoughts. There are others of the moderns, who rival him in every other part of poetry; but in the greatness of his sentiments he triumphs over all the poets, both modern and ancient, Homer only excepted. It is impossible for the imagination of man to distend itself with greater ideas than those which he has laid together in his first, second, and sixth books.”—Spectator, No. 279.