« السابقةمتابعة »
Cato and Decius, are equally well-known; but the Soliloquy of Cato is the grand quotation.-It were a sort of derogation to omit it.
It must be so—Plato, thou reasonest well--
(Lays his hand on his Sword)
To the works of Addison already mentioned, the following are to be added as deserving particular notice. Rosamond, an opera, and his first dramatic essay, exhibited in 1707, and written with a laudable view of naturalising amongst us the musical drama of Italy, in a manner combining intellect and harmony. It failed of success, however, principally in consequence of the miserable assistance it derived from the music of Clayton, the composer. - The Drummer,” a comedy, though played and
printed anonymously, is now universally ascribed to Addison, and with sufficient reason; it was also a failure, and on that account, in all probability, never owned by the author. Of other projects which, though he did not live to complete, he nevertheless left an interesting portion executed, the following appeared after his death : The Evidences of the Christian Religion, Translations from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and a few rhythmal Versions of the Psalms.
Hitherto honour and happiness had grown upon Addison, as his days increased; but there remain, unfortunately, some circumstances to be told, which detracted a little from both those enjoyments. The first was, his marriage, in 1716, with the Countess Dowager of Warwick, by whom he left a daughter. This lady he is said to have first known as tutor to her son, and to have long courted with singular modesty ; yet when gained, to have acquired but little satisfaction with the alliance. She was too proud to consider him as her equal, and too cold to feel his love; the consequence was that Addison, in this respect verily a poet, sought refuge from the asperities of home in the amenities of a bottle at the tavern.
The breach of his friendship with Steele is still more to be regretted. The latter, who, like a true Irishman, vain and generous to profusion, was almost always in the greatest want of money, had the misfortune to borrow a hundred pounds from his friend, and, what was worse, to neglect the repayment of it; upon which Addison recovered his money by the arbitrary means of a sheriff's writ, and bailiff's execution. This act naturally damped the warmth of an intimacy, which continued, however, under promising appearances, until a pamphlet controversy, carried on with great violence, separated a friendship of memorable length. The origin of this difference was, the publication, by Steele, of the Plebeian, a pamphlet in support of a bill brought into the House of Lords by the Earl of Sunderland, for the purpose of preventing the crown from creating any new peers, unless upon the demise of an old title. This production was followed by an answer from Addison, under the title of the Old Whig. Steele, in his reply, was gentlemanly enough to confine himself to his subject, while Addison, in his rejoinder, was so ill-tempered as to begin to reproach his opponent with trading in pamphlets from poverty. The only notice taken of such language was by a happy quotation from Cato, which was the reproof of a friend and a scholar. The bill was dropped by Parliament, and the controversy ceased: but the friends never met again. Steele all along preserved an honourable feeling of respect and tenderness for Addison, and his genius; but the latter was jealous and proud; he knew he had offered the wrong, and, naturally enough, could not bring himself to ask his friend to pardon what his own conscience was not likely to forgive.
The quarrel between Addison and Pope is a still stronger exemplification of the feelings to which the former enmity has been generally ascribed. In this case, it is hard to conceive what could have actuated Addison, unless it was some ascetic repugnance of jealousy naturally inflicted on his character. Pope certainly did nothing to offend him; on the contrary, he had written the prologue to Cato, and a pamphlet against that common snarl of a critic, Dennis, who had impotently abused the tragedy. Notwithstanding, Addison felt dislike, and shunned his young friend; several exertions were made to reconcile them, but Pope would not become abject, and the meetings only increased former bitterness. But a weightier charge deepens the regret of every liberal reader over this difference ; for it cannot now be doubted, that, if Addison did not actually compose the greater part of Tickell's book of the Iliad, he at least started the idea of it, and, by direct patronage, endeavoured to run down Pope's translation into a failure. This was a conduct not likely to be forgotten or defended: it was a conspiracy against a man's fortune, through his reputation, and has deservedly subjected Addison to more censure than any other act of his life.
Such were the circumstances under which Addison began to feel a gradual decay of nature, which turned into a dropsy, and terminated his life at Holland House, on the 17th of June, 1719.
One scene of his death-bed is often described with the ostentation that characterises it. When given over by the doctors, he sent for his step-son the Earl of Warwick, a dissolute young nobleman, and while he grasped his hands with fervour, emphatically exclaimed, “See how a Christian can die !" But in the impressiveness of this display, the counterpart to it is generally overlooked; for, at the same time, he sent for Gay the poet, from
whom he had lately estranged himself, confessed that he had injured him, and promised to make amends, if he lived. Now it is hard to conceive how a man, sensibly religious, could thus abandon justice, to hang upon chances ; and it is impossible to give him the praise of Christian charity who lived at warm enmity with his oldest friends, and in death persisted in hostility. .
If the character of Addison is to be estimated by his writings, few men possesssed more charitable feelings, or more virtuous principles ; in this respect, he was eminently happy, for the world gåve him credit for all he wrote, and held but a partial heed of his actions. Few men can be said to have done as much good to the English language as he did :-if in poetry he has many superiors, he can only be said to have equals in prose ; and if Dryden was our first critic in point of time, Addison is our first in point of merit.
THE DUKE OF ALBEMARLE, K. G.
GEORGE Monk, whose name must continue cherished so long as England enjoys a monarchy, and Englishmen boast a blessing under it, was born on the 6th of December, in the year 1608. He was the second son of a gentleman of ancient family in Devonshire, who had considerably reduced his estate by generous hospitality and a free fashion of livelihood. This decay of fortune led him to bring young George up to the profession of arms, in which men of gentle blood were at that period greatly caressed, and if at all deserving, seldom failed to secure a handsome competence. George Monk accordingly entered the naval service of his country in his seventeenth year; but ere yet he parted from land, gave the following earnest of his decision and courage. The young King Charles I. having determined upon a war with Spain, had just come down to Plymouth, in order to satisfy himself of the condition of the navy there. Upon such an occasion, old Mr. Monk naturally desired to pay his respects to his Sovereign in a manner worthy of the family ; but so great was the pressure of his embarrassments, that to appear in public would also be, to suffer arrest, and be handed into jail. In this distress, he sent his son George to the Sheriff with a round present, and a request that his person might be free from molestation while he waited with his duty upon the King. The man of law pocketed the bribe, and promised favour; Mr. Monk made his appearance in public, while a creditor hastening to the Sheriff with a double bribe, procured an immediate arrest. Incensed at this baseness, George proceeded to the Sheriff; but finding remonstrances vain, he laid his cane about the fellow's shoulders, and continued the blows until he fell exhausted with pain and weakness. After administering this summary punishment, his own liberty was even more precarious than his father's