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In the construction of his dramas, there is not much ant; he is not a nice observer of the Unities, He extends time and varies place as his convenience Jequires. To vary the place is not, in my opinion, any violation of nature, if the change be made between the acts; for it is no less easy for the spectator to suppose himself at Athens in the second act, than at Thebes in the first; bilt to change the scene, as is done by Rowe, in the middle of an act, is to add more acts to the play, since an act is so much of the business as is transacied without interruption. Rowe, by this licence, easily, extricates himself from difficulties; as in Jane Grey, when we have been terrified with all the dreadful pomp of publick execution, and are wondering how the heroine or the poet will proceed, no sooner has Jane pronounced some prophetick Thymes, than-pass and be gone- the scene closes, and Pembroke and Gardiner are turned out upon the stage.
I know not that the:e can be found in his plays any deep search into nature, any accurate discriminations of kindred qualities, or nice display of passion in its progress; all is general and undefined. Nor does he much interest or affect the auditor, except in Fane Shore, who is always seen and heard with pity. Alicia is a character of empty noise, with no resemblance to real sorrow or to natural madness.
Whence, then, has Rowe his reputation? From the reasonableness and propriety of scme of his scenes, from the elegance of his diction, and the suavity of his verse. He seldom moves either pity or terrour, but he often e.evates the sertiments; he seldom pierces the breast, but be always delights the ear, and often improves the understanding.
His translation of the Goldere Verses, and of the first book of Quillet's Poem, have nothing in them remarkiable. The Golden Verses are tedious.
The version of Lucan is one of the greatest productions of English poetry; for there is perhaps none that so completely exhibits the genius and spirit of the original. Lucan is distinguished by a kind of dictatorial or philosophic dignity, rather, as Quintilian observes, declamatory than poetical ; full of ambitious morality and pointed sentences, comprised in vigorous and animated lincs. This character Rowe bas very diligently and successfully preserved. His versification, which is such as his contemporaries practised, without any attempt at innovation or imsrovement, seldom wants either melody or force. His author's sense is sometimes a little diluted by additional infusions, and sometimes weakered by two much expansion. But such faults are to be expected in all translations, from the constraint of measures and dissimilitude of language. The Pharsalia of Rowe deserves more notice than it obtains, and as it is more read will be more estcemed.
A DD I S O N.
which bis father, Lancelot Addison, was then rector, near Ambrosebury in Wiltshire, and appearing weak and unlikely to live, he was christened the same day. After the usual domestic education, wbich, from the character of his father, may be reasonably supposed to have given him strong impressions of piety, he was committed to the care of Mr, Naish at Ambrosebury and afterwards of Mr. Taylor at Salisbury.
Not to name the school or the masters of men illustrious for literature, is a kind of historical fraud, by which honest fame is injuriously dininished: I would therefore trace him through the whole process of his education. In 1683, in the beginning of his twelfth year, his father, being made dean of Litchfield, naturally carried his family to his new residence, and, I believe, placed him for some time, probably not long, under Mr Shaw, then master of the school at Litchfield, father of the late Dr. Peter Shaw. Of this interval his biographers have given no account, and I know it only from a story of a barring-out, told me, when I was a boy, by Andrew Corbet of Shropshire, who had heard it from Mr. Pigot his uncle.
The practice of barring-out was a savage licence, practised in many schools to the end of the last century, by which the boys, when the periodieal vacation drew near, growing petulant at the approach of liberty, some days before the time of regular recess, took possession of the school, of which they barred the doors, and bade their master defiance from the windows. It is not easy to suppose that on such occasions the master would do. more than laugh; yet, if tradition may be credited, he often struggled hard to force or surprise the garrison. The master when Pigot was a school-boy, was barred-out at Litchfield, and the whole cperation, as he said, was planned and conducted by Addison.
To judge better of the probability of this story, I have enquired when he was sent to the Chartreux; but, as he was not one of those who enjoyed the Founder's benefaciion, there is no account preserved of his admission. At the school of the Chartreux, to which he was removed either from that of
Salisbury or Litchfield, he pursued his juvenile studies under the care of Dr. Ellis, and contracted that intimacy with Sir Richard Steele, which their joint labours have so effectually recorded.
Of this memorable friendship the grcaier praise must be given to Steele. It is not hard to love those from whom nothing can be feared; and Addison eyer considered Steele as a rival; but Steele lived as he confesses, under an habitual subjection to the predominating genius of Addison, whom he always mentioned with reverence, and treated with obsequiousness.
Addison *, who knew his own dignity, could not always forbear to shew it, by playing a little upon his admirer ; but he was in po danger of retait: luis jests were endured without resistance or resentment..
But the sneer of socularity was not the worst. Steele, whose im prudence of generosity, or vanity of profusion, kept him always incurably necessitous, upon some pressing exigence, in an evil hour, borrowed an hundred pounds of his friend, probably without much purpose of re-payment; but Addison, who seems to have had other notions of a hundred pounds, grew impatient of delay, and reclaimed his loan by an execution. Steele felt with great Sensibility the obduracy of his creditor ; but with emotions of sorrow rather tan of anger t.
In 1687 he was entered into Queen's College in Oxford, where, in 1699, the accidental perusal of some Latin verses gained him the patronage of Di. Lancaster, afterwards provost of Queen's College ; by whose recommendati in he was elected into Magdalen College as a Demy, a terın by which
ibat society denominates those which are elsewhere called Scholars; young ,w.cn, who partake of the founder's benefaction, and succeed in their order to vacant fellowships I.
Here he continued to cultivate poetry and criticism, and grew first eminent by, his Latin compositions, which are indeed entitled to particular praise. Ve bas not confined himself to the imitation of any ancient author, but has formed his style from the geveral language, such as a diligent perusal of the productions of different ages happened to supply.
His Latin compositions seem to have had much of his fondness; for he collected a second volume of the Musa Anglicanæ, perhaps for a convenient It ccptacle, in which ail his Latin pieces are inserted, and where his Poem & the Peace has the first place. He afterwards presented the collection to
This fact was communicated to Johnson in my hearing by a person of unquestionable veracits, part whose name I am not ac liberty to mention. He had it, as he told us, from Lady Primrose, to whom Steele related it with tears in his eyes. The late Dr. Sintra confirmed it to me, by saying, inat he had heard it from Mr. Hooke, author of the Roman History.; and be from Mt. Pape. He See Victor's Leiers, vol. I. p. 328. this transaction somewhat differently related. E, He to k the degree of M. A. Feb. 14, 1693.
Boileau, who from that sime" conceived,” says Tickell, “ an opinion of " the English genius for poetry." Nothing is better known of Boileau, than that he had an injudicious and peevish contempt of Modern Latin, and therefore his profession of regard was probably the effect of his civility rather than approbation
Three of his Latin poems are upon subjects on which perhaps he would not have ventured to have written in his own language. The battle of the Pigmies and Cranes; The Barometer; and a Bowling-green. When tlae matter is low or scanty, a dead language, in which nothing is mean because nothing is familiar, affords great conveniences; and by the sonorous magnificence of Roman syllables, the writer conceal's penary of thought, and want of novelty, often from the reader, and often from himself.
In his twenty-second year he first shewed his power of English poetry, by same verses addressed to Dryden ; and soon afterwards published a translation of the greater part of the Fourth Georgick upon Bees; after which, say's Dryden, “ my latter swarm is hardly worth the hiving."
About the same time he composed the arguments prefixed to the several books of Dryden's Virgil ; and produced an Essay on the Georgicks, juvea niie, superficial, and uninstructive, without much either of the scholar's Learning or the critick's penetration.
His next paper of verses contained a character of the principal English poets, inscribed to Henry Sacheverell, who was then, if not a poet, a writer of verses *; as is shewn by his version of a small part of Virgil's Georgicks, published in the Miscellanies, and a Latin encomium on queen Mary, in the Musæ Anglicana. These verses exhibit all the fondness of friendship; but on one side or the other, friendship was afterwards too weak for the maliger nity of faction.
In this poem is a very confident and discriminative character of Spenser, whose work he had then never read t. So little sometimes is criticism the effect of judgement. It is necessary to inform the reader, that about this time he was introduced by Congreve to Montague, then Chancellor of the
* A letter which I found among Dr. Johnson's papers, dared in January 1784, from a Lady in Wiltshire, corrains a discovery of some ita portanice in literary hi-cory, viz. that by the initials H. S. prefixed to this poern, we are not to understand the famous Dr. Henry Sachevereil, whwe trial is the most remarkable incident in his jife. The information thus cornmunicated is, that the verses in que: tion were not an address to the famous Dr. Sacheverell, but to a very ingenious eeritleman of the same name, who died young, supposed to be a Manksman, for that he wrote the Hicory of the Isle' of Mato---That this person left his papers to Mr Addisosi, and had formed a plan of a tragedy upon the death of Socrates. The lady says, she had this in.ormation from a Mr. Stephens, who was a heiluva of Merton Coileze, a coreanporary, and intimate with it. Addion in Obord, who died near 50 years ago, a prebendary of Winchester. † Spence.
Exchequer : Addison was then learning the trade of a courtier, and subjoined Montagué as a poetical name to those of Cowley and of Dryden.
By the influence of Mr. Montague, concurring, according to Tickell, with his natural modesty, he was diverted from his original design of entering into holy orders. Montague alledged the corruption of men who engaged in civil employments without liberal education; and declared, that, though he was represented as an enemy to the Church, he would never do it any injury but by with holding Addison from it.
Soon after (in 1695) he wrote a pocm to king William, with a rhyming introduction addressed to lord Sommers. King William had no regard to elegance or literature ; his study was only war; yet by a choice of ministers, whose disposition was very different from his own, he procured, without intention, a very liberal patronage to poetry. Addison was caressed both by Sommers and Montague.
In 1697 appeared his Latin verses on the peace of Ryswick, which he dedicated to Montague, and which was afterwards called by Smith “ the best “ Latin poem since the Eneid.” Praise must not be too rigorously examined; but the performance cannot be denied to be vigorous and elegant.
Having yet no public employment; he obtained (in 1699), a pension of three hundred pounds 2-year, that he might be enabled to travel. He staid a year at Blois *, probably to learn the French language ; and then proceeded in his journey to Italy, which he surveyed with the eyes of a poet.
While he was travelling at leisure, he was far from being idle ; for he not only collected his observations on the country, but found time to write his Dialogues on Medals, and four Acts of Cato. Such at least is the relation of Tickell. Perhaps he only collected his materials, and formed his plan.
Whatever were his other employments in Italy, he there wrote the letter to lord Halisax, which is justly considered as the most elegant, if not the most sublime, of his poetical productions. But in about two years he found it necessary to hasten home; being, as Swift informs us, distressed by indigence, and compelled to become the tutor of a travelling Squire, because his pension was not remitted.
At his return he published his Travels, with a dedication to lord Sommers. As his stay in foreign countries was short, his observations are such as might be supplied by a hasty view, and consist chiefly in comparisons of the present face of the country with the descriptions left us by the Roman poets, from whom he made preparatory collections, though he might have spared the trouble, had be known that such collections liad been made twice before by Italian auibors.