« ПредишнаНапред »
ance of Terence and Catullus, who had all their wit and nature, heightened with humour, more exquisite and delightful than
any other man ever possessed.” This is the fondness of a friend: let us hear what is told us by a rival—“Addison's conversation,” says Pope, “ had something in it more charming than I have found in any other man. But this was only when familiar: before strangers, or perhaps a single stranger, he preserved his dignity by a stiff silence."
STEELE'S PORTRAIT OF ADDISON. STEELE, in his Tatler 252, in speaking of the utility of wine to the bashful, draws a portrait evidently meant for our author: “I have the good fortune” (says he) “ to be intimate with a gentleman remarkable for this temper, (bashfulness,) who 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 suit 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 discern the brightness of his mind, and the strength of his judgment, accompanied with the most graceful mirth. In a word, by this enlivening aid, he is whatever is polite, instructive, and diverting. What makes him still more agreeable is, that he tells a story, $erious or comical, with as much delicacy of humour as Cervantes himself.”
ADDISON'S MODE OF COMPOSITION. STEELE used to say, that when Addison had taken his resolution, or made his plan for what he designed to write, he would walk about a room, and dictate it into language with as much freedom and ease as any one could write it down, and attend to the coherence and grammar of what he dictated.
Even Pope declared that he wrote very fluently, but was slow and scrupulous in correcting; that many of his Spectators were written very fast, and sent immediately to the press; ; and that it seemed to be for his advantage not to have time for much revisal. “He would alter," says he, "anything to
please his friend before publication, but would not retouch his pieces afterwards; and I believe not one word of Cato, to which I made an objection, was suffered to stand.”
ADDISON'S HUMOROUS ACQUIESCENCE. ONE slight lineament of the character of Addison Swift has preserved. It was his practice, when he found any man invincibly wrong, to flatter his opinions by acquiescence, and sink him yet deeper in absurdity. This artifice of mischief was admired by Stella.
ADDISON'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN CHARACTER. It appears, notwithstanding his bashfulness and timidity, that Addison had conversed with many distinct classes of men, had surveyed their ways with very diligent observation, and marked, with great acuteness, the effect of different modes of life.
He was a man in whose presence nothing reprehensible was out of danger ; quick in discerning whatever was wrong or ridiculous, and not unwilling to expose it. says Steele,“ in his writings many oblique strokes upon some of the wittiest men of the age.' His delight was more to excite merriment than detestation ; and he detects follies rather than crimes.
Dr. Johnson beautifully says of him, “He had read with critical
eyes the important volume of Human Life, and knew the heart of man from the depths of stratagem to the surface of affectation.”
6. There are,
ADDISON'S DEFINITION OF CONVERSATION. Eustace Budgell reports of Addison that he used to say, “There was no such thing as real conversation between more than two persons.” He defined a man's talking to a friend, in whom he had entire confidence, thinking aloud."
FASTIDIOUSNESS OF ADDISON, NEGLIGENCE OF STEELE.
THE fastidiousness of Addison, in regard to his literary compositions, is no less remarkable than the general negli. gence of his friend and coadjutor Steele.
Mr. Richard Nutt, one of the first printers of the Tatler, remembered that the press was stopped, and not seldom; but not always by Addison, as has been affirmed, solely for the sake of inserting new prepositions or conjunctions; it was often stopped, he said, for want of copy. In these cases he had sometimes a hard task to find out Steele, who frequently furnished him with the needful supply, written hastily in a room adjoining to the printing-office. Mr. Nutt mentioned one particular paper which he saw rapidly written by Steele, at midnight, and in bed, whilst he waited to carry it to the press.
LORD BOLINGBROKE'S PRINCIPLES. OF Lord Bolingbroke Mr. Addison said to a friend for whom he had no secrets, that he was heartily sorry his principles forced him to oppose one of the greatest and most accomplished men he had ever seen ; and in whose conversation he could have thought himself so truly happy.
COMPARISON OF ADDISON, BOLINGBROKE, AND SWIFT.
“THE triumvirate to whom we owe an elegance and propriety unknown to our forefathers are, (says Lord Orrery,) Swift, Addison, and Bolingbroke. At the sight of such names, no dispute can arise in preferring the English moderns to the English ancients. The present century, and indeed all future generations, may be congratulated upon the acquisition of three such men.”
Speaking of the eminent writers in the reign of Queen Anne, his Lordship says, “ Of these Dr. Tillotson and Mr. Addison (after his favourite, Swift) are to be numbered among the most eminent. Addison has all the
that can captivate and improve: his diction is easy, his periods are well-turned, his expressions are flowing, and his humour is delicate. Tillotson is nervous, grave, majestic, and perspicuous. We must join both these characters together to form a true idea of Dr. Swift."
MR. Addison observed of Cowley, that the redundancy of his wit had done him more harm than the deficiency of it
| Bolingbroke was a Tory, and an adherent of the Pretender. His infidel principles were not much known before his death, except to his friends.
had done other poets. Nor was this the fault of Mr. Cow. ley alone, but of all the authors of that age. They were not only inspired but transported with the furor poeticus. They gave the reins to their imaginations, and swept all that could be said on a subject with a drag-net.
BAYLE'S DICTIONARY. HOWEVER highly Mr. Addison disapproved the general sceptical tendency of the writings of Bayle, it is said he was very fond of his Critical Dictionary; and old Jacob Tonson used to tell, that he seldom called upon Addison when he did not see Bayle's Dictionary lying open upon his table.
ADDISON'S REBUKE TO A BAD POET. The following story is told by a gentleman of great veracity, who, a few years since, was well known at Gray's Inn.
A certain author was introduced by a friend to Mr. Addison, who was desired to peruse and correct a copy of English verses, which were then presented to him. Addison took the verses, which he afterwards found very stupid ; and observing that above twelve lines from Homer were prefixed to them by way of motto, he only erased the Greek lines, but did not make any amendments in the poem, and returned it. The author seeing this, desired his friend who had introduced him to inquire of Mr. Addison the reason of his doing it; expecting, however, to hear that his poem was so beautiful that it had no occasion for any foreign embellishment. But his friend putting the question to Addison, he said, “that whilst the statutes of Caligula remained all of a piece, they were little regarded by the people ; but that when he fixed the beads of the gods upon unworthy shoulders he profaned them, and made himself ridiculous. I, therefore," says he,“ made no more conscience to separate Homer's verses from this
than the thief did who stole the silver head from the brazen body in Westminster Abbey.”
FEES OF OFFICE.
WHEN Addison was appointed Keeper of the Records in Ireland, we are told by Swift that he resolved not to remit the regular fees in civility to his friends. “I may (said he) 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 the two. The evil suffered therefore exceeds, beyond all proportion, the benefit done."
ADDISON'S SINGULAR OPINION OF MONTAIGNE. WHEN Addison lodged at Kensington Square, he had a particular occasion to read over some of Montaigne's Essays, but finding little or no information in the chapters of what their titles promised, he flung the book by, rather wearied and confused than satisfied. Upon which a gentleman present said, Well, what think you of this famous French author ?”' “ Think!" said he, smiling; "why, that a pair of manacles or a stone doublet would probably have been of some service to the author's infirmity. How, sir!" said the other; “ what, imprison a man for a singularity in writing ?” “Why, let me tell you, sir," replied Addison, “ if he had been a horse, he would have been pounded for straying; and why he ought to be more favoured because he's a man, I cannot understand.”
ADDISON'S PROJECTED ENGLISH DICTIONARY. In the project which Addison had formed of composing an English dictionary, he considered Archbishop Tillotson's writings as the chief standard of our language; and accordingly marked, as the groundwork of his design, the particular phrases in the sermons published during his Grace's lifetime. “ There was formerly sent to me,” says Dr. Johnson, " by Mr. Locker, clerk of the Leather-sellers’ Company, who was eminent for curiosity and literature, a collection of examples selected from Tillotson's works, as Locker said, by Addison. It came too late to be of use, so I inspected it but slightly, and remember it indistinctly. I thought the passages too short."
PHILIP YORKE, EARL OF HARDWICKE. The letter on “ Travelling,” Spectator, No. 364, was composed by the Earl of Hardwicke; who, at another time, on an occasional address to a friend upon the same subject, thus writes: "I cannot quit this head without paying my acknow.