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was steeping himself in the Latin poets and tagging Latin verses under the elms of Magdalen ; and on the eve of the last great struggle with France, from the summer of 1699 to the close of 1703, he was traversing Europe in the leisurely fashion of the day, a fashion that suffered men to come into real contact with the society of the land which they traversed, sauntering through France and through Italy, or wandering with a pupil over Switzerland, Germany, and the Low Countries. The practical' man may well be impatient of so desultory and unpractical a prelude to life as this ; but to Addison at least it seemed no small gain that in an age of tumult and faction his converse should have been with literature, with the “humanities' as men called them then, in their highest and serenest form, and that this converse with books should have been quickened and enlarged by a liberal contact with men.

When he returned at last to England it was to take his place at once among the wits; and after a few months of quiet poverty to enjoy a strange success. A poem on Blenheim lifted him into fame : in a couple of years he was Under-Secretary of State : by 1708 he had a seat in Parliament, was rich enough to lend Steele a thousand pounds, and became Chief Secretary for Ireland. His career of dignity and good fortune went on with hardly a check till, eleven years later, his body was laid in that sacred resting-place of poets and heroes, where he had so often mused amidst the memories of the past on ‘that great day

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when we shall all be contemporaries together.' But it was not as statesman or man of fortune that England honoured him with that grave in Westminster Abbey. True as he was to his party he was yet truer to letters; and the years that saw him rise so suddenly into a Minister of State saw him as suddenly take his rank as the greatest of the Essayists.

I do not propose here to dwell on the characteristics of Addison's genius, or the peculiar turn of his humour or of his style. I would rather say briefly why in this little book I have attempted to select from his Works what seemed to me the most fitted to give readers of to-day a sense of the grace and ease of the one, and of the indefinable sunshiny charm of the other. If selection is proper in the work of any great writer, it is proper in the work of Addison. Merely to gather what is his work together, indeed, an editor has to do a work of selection. As it has come down to us in ‘Tatlers' and 'Spectators' and the like, it is mixed up with a huge mass of inferior matter from the pens of other men. Time has shown how high Addison rises above his fellow essayists; but when he actually wrote he wrote as one of a group of journalists, and the bulk of these journalists were very poor writers indeed. Steele, indeed, has a real vein of gaiety and pathos—if not a very rich one—but who can read now-a-days the work of the Tickells or the Budgells ! To reprint the “Tatler,' or the Guardian,' or the 'Spectator,' that we may enjoy the essays of Addison seems to

me much as if we were to reprint the 'London Magazine' in order to enjoy the essays of Elia, or the “Morning Post' in order to enjoy the essays of Coleridge. It is only by selection then that we can read Addison at all. But even a selection from this mass of rubbish which gives us Addison alone hardly does justice to Addison. The needs of periodical literature are in some ways, no doubt, helps to a really great writer: the demand for 'copy,' the printer's devil waiting in the hall, often give the needful stimulus for production. But such necessities are hindrances as well as helps ; and if the printer's devil wrings good work out of a well stored brain, we cannot always reckon on his wringing the best work. Even with the greatest writers periodical work must have its inequalities ; and Addison's work is sometimes unequal. When he is humourous he is always at his best : I do not know a single instance where his humour loses its distinguishing delicacy and refinement. But in his more serious papers we can detect now and then the pressure of the printer. His morality is sometimes dull, his criticism sometimes commonplace, his wit-here and there—is a little verbal and thin.

Most of my readers will probably grant that in passing by papers of this sort I am only taking out of their path what are hindrances in any real appreciation of Addison. But these are far from being the most serious obstacles to an appreciation of his work by readers of to-day. A greater difficulty arises from the very width of his range. Addison aimed at popularizing a far wider world of thoughts and things than Steele would have ventured on. He takes the whole range of human thought and human action for the Essayist's province. He chats with the little group around the tea-table over the last new play or the last new head-dress ; but he chats with them too over poetry and literature and politics and morals and religion. In his hand the Essay is not the mere man of wit and fashion who mingles with the crowd to amuse it with sprightly talk and with passing allusions to deeper things; it is the critic who quits his desk, and the statesman his office, and the philosopher his study, and the preacher his pulpit, to chat as freely as the wit himself with the men and women about them. Such a range of subjects gave a variety which is still one of the charms of the 'Spectator'; and to any enquirer into the thought of the time it is perhaps the most valuable feature of Addison's work. But viewed, as we are viewing them here, from a purely literary stand-point, it must be owned that a large number of these Essays have lost all freshness and interest now. Addison's political speculations, for instance, cannot fail to seem shallow to readers who are children of a revolution far wider and deeper than the Revolution of 1688. To him, as to the wisest political thinkers of his day, to Locke or to Somers, that 'glorious revolution' marked a final settlement and ordering of the national life, and the establishment of relations between the people and its rulers which were as nearly perfect as any human relations could be. The struggle of centuries was over ; liberty— political, social, intellectual alike, was secured ; and what remained for the political philosopher to do was simply to expound the constitution of things which had thus come into being, to bring home its perfections to the devotees of a vanished past, and to make wiser folk understand the true workings and balance of this wonderful order. The change was really so great, the improvement that had been wrought so vast and important, that we can understand this attitude of rest, of acquiescence, of simple contemplative enjoyment. But we can do no more than understand it. A modern reader turns from Addison's patient and methodical expositions of the Constitution of 1688 with a mingled sense of boredom and amusement, as a railway traveller turns from an exposition of the merits and arrangement of a stage-coach. And, again, if we pass from his political to his literary speculations, the amusement vanishes, while I fear the boredom remains. As landmarks in the intellectual history of Englishmen such papers as those on Paradise Lost and Chevy Chase will always have their value. In reading them we cannot but feel how far Addison was in advance of the critical feeling of his age, by what a surprising effort he rose above its canons of judgment, with what a freshness of mind he felt forward towards a world of poetic feeling which he never was fated absolutely to touch. But here again the interest of such papers is historical

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