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putation of wrong; and he not only supposed, that his whole celebrity depended upon each particular effort,--but that the success of each effort depended upon the perfection of every minute part. The world, to him, was a stern and merciless judge; and he was sometimes contented to win his cause by other artifices than those of composition. It was not enough, that every line of Cato had been polished to faultless elegance. No measure was left untried, to smooth its way to success; and, after its success was complete, the author was alarmed at the slightest indications of dïsfavour. In the first place, one of the Spectators instructed the town in the principles of criticism; and laboured to prove, that, to make virtue unsuccessful, is by no means a violation of poetical justice. Next, he trained the actors. 'I was this morning,' says Swift, at the rehearsal of Mr. Addison's play, called Cato, which is to be acted on Friday. There were not above half a score of us. We stood on the stage, and it was foolish enough to see the actors prompted every moment, and the poet directing them; and the drab that acted Cato's daughter out in the midst of a passionate part, and then calling out “what's next?'* Pope, in writing the prologue, had apostrophised the audience with, ‘Britons arise!' But this seemed too much like the line, * Rise, fathers ! rise;' and, lest the Britons should think, that an insurrection was intended, the line was altered as it stands now: 'Britons attend!' At last, the important Friday came. Steele had packed an audience, that there might be no possibility of failure; and the piece, as we have seen, was received with unexampled applause. It was not, however, a happy night to the author; who traversed the boards behind the scenes, and sweat with anxiety, during the whole performance.f Nor
Scot. Sw.vol. üi. p. 200. † Ana, vol. i. p. 189. Letter from Pope to Sir William Trumbull.
did his perspiration stop here. After the tragedy was published, some person wrote a burlesque of eight or ten lines; and Addison did not rest, until he procured their suppression.
He was equally scrupulous in all his pecuniary dealings. What he owed, he always paid; and what' was due to himself, he never released. He was obliged to leave the university with many debts; but he afterwards discharged them all, with interest. In his office, he would never receive a penny beyond the legal fees; and those he exacted from his most intimate friends. For,' said he 'I may have a hundred friends; and, if my fee be two guineas, I shall, by relinquishing my right, lose two hundred guineas, and no friend gain more than two; there is, therefore, no proportion between the good imparted and the evil suffered.' Colonel Dunbar sent him a bank-note of three hundred pounds, to purchase his influence, in obtaining a commission. 'Believe me, sir,' said Addison, in his answer, when I assure you, I never did, nor ever will, on any pretence whatsoever, take more than the stated and customary fees of my office.' Col. Dunbar then invested the 300 pounds in a diamond ring; and was so little acquainted with Addison as to suppose, that he would accept it.
It would scarcely be supposed, that the writer of the Spectator, should lack words in his intercourse with mankind. But Lord Chesterfield pronounced him, the most timorous and awkward man he ever saw;' and Addison himself, conscious of his stupidity among strangers, used to say, that, though he could draw bills for a thousand pounds, he had not a guinea in his pocket.' This impotence arose from no real defect of powers, but from a settled awe of the world,-a fearful apprehension, that he must always say something important, and that without time for preparation, he might appear mean or frivolous. Ilis intimates never found him
dull. Steele tells us, that he was above all other men in that talent called humour:' Swift says, he never knew any man so agreeable; and the Tatler, No. 252, is supposed to have been intended to depict his singular qualities as a companion.*
Swift has remarked one peculiarity in Addison's conversation. When lie had to deal with a man, whom he thought in the wrong, and whose obstinacy defied argument, he would not only suffer himself to be led from assertion to assertion,-but continually pretend to go one step beyond his conductor, till at last, he betray him into such gross absurdity, that he was willing to acknowledge his error.f Practising this artifice himself, he was ever ready to suspect it in others; and he soon grew impatient of a man, who assented to every thing he said. Mr. Temple Stanyan, a person of considerable importance in that age, lived upon terms of friendship with him, and had been accustomed to controvert his opinions with freedom and keenness : but, happening in an evil hour, to borrow from him a sum of money, he afterwards concurr
• • I have the good fortune now to be intimate with a gentle. man remarkable for this temper, wlio has an inexhaustible source of wit to entertain the curious, the grave, the humorous, and the frolic. He can transform himself into different shapes, and adapt himself to every company ; yet in a coffee house, or in the ordinary course of affairs, he appears rather dull than sprightly. You can seldom get him to the tavern; but when once he is arrived to his pint, and begins to look about and like his company, you admire a thousand things in him, which before lay buried. Then you discover the brightness of his mind, and the strength of his judg. ment, accompanied with the most grateful mirth. "In a word, by this enlivening aid, he is whatever is polite, instructive, and diveri. ing. What makes him still more agreeable is, that he tells a story serious or comical, with as much delicacy of humour as Cervantes himself. And for all this, at other times, even after a long know. ledge of him, you shall scarce discern in this incomparable person a whit more, than wbat might be expected from one of a common capacity. Doubtless there are men of great parts that are guilty of downright bashfulness, that by a strange hesitation or reluctance to speak, murder the finest and most elegant thoughts, and rendes the most lively conceptions flat and heavy,'-Tatier, No. 252. † Scot, Sw. vol. ix. p. 499. VOL. XIV.
ed in every thing, that his creditor was pleased to
On one occasion, a subject was introduced, which they had formerly disputed with much warmth. Mr. Stanyan had no longer any power of resistance; but continued to acquiesce in every assertion ; till, at length, Addison, enraged at such servility, cut short the conversation, by exclaiming, “Sir, either contradict me, or pay me my money.'
: Ana. vol. i. p. 51. On the authority of Dr. Birch. See Gen. Dict.
TO MR. DRYDEN,
THE AUTHOR'S AGE TWENTY-TWO,
How long, great poet! shall thy sacred lays
Prevailing warmth has still thy mind possest,