praise is very scanty. I don't think the great Mr. Addison liked young Mr. Pope, the Papist, much ; I don't think he abused him. But when Mr. Addison's men abused Mr. Pope, I don't think Addison took his pipe out of his mouth to contradict them. *

Addison's father was a clergyman of good repute in Wiltshire, and rose in the church.† His famous son never lost his clerical training and scholastic gravity, and was called "a parson in a tye-wig" in London afterwards at a time when tye-wigs were only worn by the laity, and the fathers of theology did not think it decent to appear except in a full bottom. Having been at school at Salisbury, and the Charterhouse, in

“If I were to name a poet that is a perfect master in all these arts of working on the imagination, I think Milton may pass for one.”Ibid. No. 417.

These famous papers appeared in each Saturday's Spectator, from January 19th to May 3rd, 1712. Beside his services to Milton, we may place those he did to Sacred Music.

* “Addison was very kind to me at first, but my bitter enemy afterwards."Pope. Spence's Anecdotes.

«« « Leave him as soon as you can,' said Addison to me, speaking of Pope ; 'he will certainly play you some devilish trick else : he has an appetite to satire.'” LADY WORTLEY MONTAGU. Spence's Anecdotes..

+ Lancelot Addison, his father, was the son of another Lancelot Addison, a clergyman in Westmoreland. He became Dean of Lichfield and Archdeacon of Coventry.

“The remark of Mandeville, who, when he had passed an evening in his company, declared that he was ' a parson in a tye-wig,' can detract little from his character. He was always reserved to strangers, and was not incited to uncommon freedom by a character like that of Mandeville.”—JOHNSON : Lives of the Poets.

“Old Jacob Tonson did not like Mr. Addison : he had a quarrel with him, and, after his quitting the secretaryship, used frequently to say of him—'One day or other you'll see that man a bishop—I'm sure he looks that way; and indeed I ever thought him a priest in his heart.'”—POPE. Spence's Anecdotes.

“Mr. Addison stayed above a year at Blois. He would rise as early as between two and three in the height of summer, and lie abed till between eleven and twelve in the depth of winter. He was untalkative whilst here, and often thoughtful: sometimes so lost in thought, that I have come into his room and stayed five minutes there before he has known anything of it. He had his masters generally at supper with him ; kept very little company beside ; and had no amour that I know of; and I think I should have known it if he had had any."--ABBÉ PHILIPPEAUX OF Blois. Spence's Anecdotes.

1687, when he was fifteen years old, he went to Queen's College, Oxford, where he speedily began to distinguish himself by the making of Latin verses. The beautiful and fanciful poem of “ The Pigmies and the Cranes," is still read by lovers of that sort of exercise ; and verses are extant in honour of King William, by which it appears that it was the loyal youth's custom to toast that sovereign in bumpers of purple Lyæus: many more works are in the Collection, including one on the Peace of Ryswick, in 1697, which was so good that Montague got him a pension of 300l. a year, on which Addison set out on his travels.

During his ten years at Oxford, Addison had deeply imbued himself with the Latin poetical literature, and had these poets at his fingers' ends when he travelled in Italy.* His patron went out of office, and his pension was unpaid : and hearing that this great scholar, now eminent and known to the literati of Europe (the great Boileau,+ upon perusal of Mr, Addison's elegant hexameters, was first made aware that England was not altogether a barbarous nation) -hearing that the celebrated Mr. Addison, of Oxford, proposed to travel as governor to a young gentleman on the grand tour, the great Duke of Somerset proposed to Mr. Addison to accompany his son, Lord Hartford.

Mr. Addison was delighted to be of use to his Grace, and his lordship his Grace's son, and expressed himself ready to set forth.

His Grace the Duke of Somerset now announced to one of the most famous scholars of Oxford and Europe that it was his gracious intention to allow my Lord Hartford's tutor one hundred guineas per annum. Mr. Addison wrote back that his services were his Grace's, but he by no means found his account in the recompence for them.

* His knowledge of the Latin poets, from Lucretius and Catullus down to Claudian and Prudentius, was singularly exact and profound.”—MACAULAY.

“Our country owes it to him, that the famous Monsieur Boileau first conceived an opinion of the English genius for poetry, by perusing the present he made him of the 'Musæ Anglicanæ.' ”—TICKELL : Preface to Addison's Works.

The negotiation was broken off. They parted with a profusion of congées on one side and the other.

Addison remained abroad for some time, living in the best society of Europe. How could he do otherwise ? He must have been one of the finest gentlemen the world ever saw : at all moments of life serene and courteous, cheerful and calm.* He could scarcely ever have had a degrading thought. He might have omitted a virtue or two, or many, but could not have had many faults committed for which he need blush or turn pale. When warmed into confidence, his conversation appears to have been so delightful that the greatest wits sat rapt and charmed to listen to him. No man bore poverty and narrow fortune with a more lofty cheerfulness. His letters to his friends at this period of his life, wben he had lost his Government pension and given up his college chances are full of courage and a gay confidence and philosophy: and they are none the worse in my eyes, and I hope not in those of his last and greatest biographer (though Mr. Macaulay is bound to own and lament a certain weakness for wine, which the great and good Joseph Addison notoriously possessed, in common with countless gentlemen of his time), because some of the letters are written when his honest hand was shaking a little in the morning after libations to purple Lyæus over-night. He was fond of drinking the healths of his friends : he writes to Wyche, t

* “It was my fate to be much with the wits; my father was acquainted with all of them. Addison was the best company in the world. I never knew anybody that had so much wit as Congreve.”—LADY WORTLEY MONTAGU. Spence's Anecdotes.


“My hand at present begins to grow steady enough for a letter, so the properest use I can put it to is to thank ye honest gentleman that set it a shaking. I have had this morning a desperate design in my head to attack you in verse, which I should certainly have done could I have found out a rhyme to rummer. But though you have escaped for ye present, you are not yet out of danger, if I can a little recover my talent at crambo. I am sure, in whatever way I write to you, it will be impossible for me to express ye deep sense I have of ye many favours you have lately shown me. I shall only tell you that Hambourg has been

of Hamburg, gratefully remembering Wyche's “hoc.” “I have been drinking your health to-day with Sir Richard Shirley,” he writes to Bathurst. “I have lately had the honour to meet my Lord Effingham at Amsterdam, where we have drunk Mr. Wood's health a hundred times in excellent champagne," he writes again. Swift * describes him over his cups, when Joseph yielded to a temptation

the pleasantest stage I have met with in my travails. If any of my friends wonder at me for living so long in that place, I dare say it will be thought a very good excuse when I tell him Mr. Wyche was there. As your company made our stay at Hambourg agreeable, your wine has given us all ye satisfaction that we have found in our journey through Westphalia. If drinking your health will do you any good, you may expect to be as long-lived as Methuselah, or, to use a more familiar instance, as ye oldest hoc in ye cellar. I hope ye two pair of legs that was left a swelling behind us are by this time come to their shapes again. I can't forbear troubling you with my hearty respects to ye owners of them, and desiring you to believe me always,

“Dear Sir,

“Yours,” &c. “To Mr. Wyche, His Majesty's Resident at Hambourg,

“May, 1703." -From the Life of Addison, by Miss Aikin. Vol. i. p. 146.

* It is pleasing to remember that the relation between Swift and Addison was, on the whole, satisfactory from first to last. The value of Swift's testimony, when nothing personal inflamed his vision or warped his judgment, can be doubted by nobody

“Sept. 10, 1710.I sat till ten in the evening with Addison and Steele.

11.—Mr. Addison and I dined together at his lodgings, and I sat with him part of this evening. “18.–To-day I dined with Mr. Stratford at Mr. Addison's retirement near

I will get what good offices I can from Mr. Addison. 27.–To-day all our company dined at Will Frankland's, with Steele and Addison, too.

“29.—I dined with Mr. Addison,” &c.- Journal to Stella.

Addison inscribed a presentation copy of his Travels To Dr. Jonathan Swift, the most agreeable companion, the truest friend, and the greatest genius of his age.”—(Scott. From the information of Mr. Theophilus Swift.)

“Mr. Addison, who goes over first secretary, is a most excellent person ; and being my most intimate friend, I shall use all my credit to set him right in his notions of persons and things.”- Letters.

I examine my heart, and can find no other reason why I write to you now, besides that great love and esteem I have always had for you. I have nothing to

Chelsea. ..::

which Jonathan resisted. Joseph was of a cold nature, and needed perhaps the fire of wine to warm his blood. If he was a parson, he wore a tye-wig, recollect. A better and more Christian man scarcely ever breathed than Joseph Addison. If he had not that little weakness for wine-why, we could scarcely have found a fault with him, and could not have liked him as we do.*

At thirty-three years of age, this most distinguished wit, scholar, and gentleman was without a profession and an income. His book of “ Travels” had failed : his “ Dialogues on Medals” had had no particular success : his Latin verses, even though reported the best since Virgil, or Statius at any rate, had not brought him a Government place, and Addison was living up three shabby pair of stairs in the Haymarket (in a poverty over which old Samuel Johnson rather chuckles), when in these shabby rooms an emissary from Government and Fortune came and found him.† A poem was wanted about the Duke of Marlborough's victory of Blenheim. Would Mr. Addison write one? Mr. Boyle, afterwards Lord Carleton, took back the reply to the Lord Treasurer Godolphin, that Mr. Addison would. When the poem had reached a certain stage, it was carried to Godolphin ; and the last lines which he read were these :

“ But, O my Muse! what numbers wilt thou find

To sing the furious troops in battle join'd ?
Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound

The victor's shouts and dying groans confound ; ask you either for my friend or for myself.”—Swift to ADDISON (1717). Scott's Swift. Vol. xix. p. 274.

Political differences only dulled for a while their friendly communications. Time renewed them : and Tickell enjoyed Swift's friendship as a legacy from the man with whose memory his is so honourably connected.

* “Addison usually studied all the morning ; then met his party at Button's ; dined there, and stayed five or six hours, and sometimes far into the night. I was of the company for about a year, but found it too much for me : it hurt my health, and so I quitted it.”—POPE. Spence's Anecdotes.

+ “When he returned to England (in 1702), with a meanness of appearance which gave testimony of the difficulties to which he had been reduced, he found his old patrons out of power, and was, therefore, for a time, at full leisure for the cultivation of his mind."- JOHNSON: Lives of the Poets.

« VorigeDoorgaan »