« AnteriorContinuar »
OR, MONTHLY REPORT OF
- This very great ornament to the age he lived in, his own country in particular, and to the cause of polite literature in general, was son of the Rev. Dr. Launcelot Addisong who afterwards became Deari of Lichfield and Coventry, but; at the time of this son's birth, Rector of Mileston, near Amb-osbury, Wilts, at which place the subject of our present consideration received his vital breath, on the 1st day of May, 167 2. He was very early sent to school to Ambrosbury, being put under the care of the Rev. Mr. Naish, then master of that school ; from thence, as soon as he had received the first rudiments of literature, he was removed to Salisbury school, taught by the Rev. Mr. Taylor, and after that to the Charter-house, where he was under the tuition of the learned Dr. Ellis.-Here he first contracted an intimacy with Mr. Steele, afterwards Sir Richard, which continued almost till his death. At about fifteen years of age he was entered of Queen's College, Oxford ; and in about two years afterwards, through the interest of Dr, Lancaster, Dean of Magdalen, elected into that college, and admitted to the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts.
While he was at the university, he was repeatedly solicited by his father and other friends to enter into holy orders, which, although froin his extreme modesty and natural difidence he would gladly have declined, yet,
in compliance with his father's desires, he was once very near concluding on; when having, through Mr. Cono greve's means, become a great favourite with that universal patron of poetry and the polite arts, the famous Lord Halifax, that nobleman, who had frequently regretted that so few men of liberal education and great abilities applied themselves to affairs of public business, in which their country might reap the advantage of their talents, earnestly persuaded him to lay aside this design; and as an encouragement for him so to do, and an indulgence to an inclination for travel, which shewed itself in Mr. Addison, procured him an annual pension of 3001, from the crown, to enable him to make the tour of France and Italy.
On this tour then he set out at the latter end of the year 1699, aud did his country great honour by his extraordinary abilities, receiving in his turn every mark of esteenu. that could be shewn to a man of exalted genius, particularly from M. Boileau, the famous French poet, and the Abbé Salvini, Professor of the Greek tongue in the University of Florence, the former of whom declared that he first conceived an opinion of the English genius for poetry from Mr. Addison's Latin Poems, printed in the Musa Anglicanæ, and the latter translated into elegant Italian verse his Epistolary Poem to Lord Halifax, wbich is esteemed a master-piece in its kind.
In the year 1702, as he was about to return home, he was informed from his friends in England, by letter, that King William intended him the post of Secretary to attend the Army under Prince Eugene in Italy.--This was an office that would have been extremely acceptable to Mr. Addison ; but his Majesty's death, which happened before he could get his appointment, put a stop to that, together with his pension. This news came to him at Geneva; he therefore chose to make the tour of Germany in his way home, and at Vienna composed his Treatise on Medals, which, however, did pot make its appearance until after his death.
A different set of ministers coming to the manage. ment of affairs in the beginning of Queen Anne's reign, and consequeytly the interest of Mr. Addison's friends being considerably weakened, be coltioued unemployed and in obscurity until 1704, when an accident called hien again into notice.
The amazing victory gained by the great Duke of
Marlborough, at Blenheini, exciting a desire in the Ear) of Godolphin, then Lord High Treasurer, to have it celebrated in verse, Lord Halifax, to whom that noble. man had communicated this his wish, recommended Mr. Addison to him, as the only person who was likely to execute such a task in a manner adequate to the subject, in which he succeeded so happily, that when the poem he wrote, viz. The Campaign, was finished no further than to the celebrated simile of the angel, the Lord High Treasurer was so delighted with it, that he immediately presented the author with the place of one of the Coin. -missioners of Appeals in the Excise, in the room of Mr. Locke, then lately deceased.
In the year 1705 he attended Lord Halifax to Hanover, and in the succeeding year was appointed UnderSecretary to Sir Charles Hedges, then Secretary of State; nor did he lose this post on the removal of Sir Charles, the Earl of Sunderland, who succeeded to tbạt gentlenan, willingly continuing Mr. Addison as his UnderSecretary.
In 1709, Lord Wharton, being appointed Lord Lieutepant of Ireland, nominated our author Secretary for that kmgdom, the Queen at the same time bestowing on him also the post of Keeper of the Records in Ireland.-But wher, in the latter end of her Majesty's reign, the ministry was again changed, and Mr. Addison expected no further employment, he gladly submitted to a retirement, in which he had formed a design, which it is much to be regretted that he never had in his power to put in execu- ' tion, viz. the compiling a dictionary to fix the standard of the English language, upon the same kind of plan with the famous Dittionario della Crusca of the Italians. .
What prevented Mr. Addison's pursuing this design was his being again called out into public business ; for, on the death of the Queen, he was appointed Secretary to the Lords Justices; then again, in 1715, Secretary for Ireland; and, on Lord Sunderland's resignation of the Lord-Lieutenancy, he was made one of the Lords Com, missioners of Trade.
In 1716 he married the Countess of Warwick, and in the ensuing year was raised to the high dignity of one of her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State.—The fatigues of this important post being too much for Mr. Addison's constitution, which was naturally not an extraordinary one, he was very soon obliged to resign it, intending for
the remainder of his life to pursue the completion of some literary designs which he had planned out: but this he had no long time allowed him for the doing, an asthma, attended with a dropsy, carrying him off the stage of this world before he could finish any of his schemes.He departed this life at Holland-house, near Kensington, on the 17th of June, 1719, having then just entered into his 48th year, and left behind him one only daughter. · " After a long and manly, but vain struggle with his distemper,” says Dr. Young, “ he dismissed his physia cians, and with them all hopes of life: but with his hopes of life he dismissed not his concern for the living, but sent for a youth (Lord Warwick) nearly related, and finely accomplished, but not above being the better for good impressions from a dying friend : he came; but life now glimmering in the socket, the dying friend was silent. After a decent and proper pause, the youth said, Dear Sir! you sent for me : I believe, and I hope, that you have some commands; I shall hold them most sacred.-May distant ages," proceeds the Doctor, “ not only hear, but feel, the reply !--Forcibly grasping the youth's hand, he softly said, See in what peace a Christian can die.--He spoke with difficulty, and soon expired."
A WINTER'S NIGHT IN LONDON. • It was December--the north wind, in stormy gusts, blew right in my face, which I now and then attempted to raise, to mark the dark murky clouds, as they were carried rapidly past the moon. I wrapped myself in my great coat; fastened the highest button ; and, getting warm, began to feel pity for others in the inverse ratio that I felt it for myself. “ Heaven shield the houseless," seid I, “and guard the traveller and guide the mariner !" A poor shivering wretch prayed for a halfpenny.-" Indeed, Sir,” said he “ I require it-I am very cold-and my dear wife and her poor babes-". " Say no more,” said I, “ would it were a guinea, for your sake! If it were, it would be dearly earned, in such a coat as yours, and such a night as this."
I walked onwards the sound of music next attracted my notice. It came, not as the breath of Apollo, murmured from the harp of Æolus ; but, loud and full, it
swelled with the blast, and almost drowned, in its noise, the bellowing of the storm. I raised my head-It came from the dwelling of Prospero. “ He has been giving a masquerade," said a listener under the porch, "and this is the music of the ball,” said he ;_" these are the footmen, those the carriages of his guests.”_" Wonld that my poor shivering friend, with his wife and bis babes, were in one of them !” said I, as I walked has tily forward. “ Heaven and earth! are men really equals ?” This was food for the imagination for a winter's night.
It was now past one. The moon was totally obscured by a dark cloud, which had swallowed up a dozen of others, and covered the half of the horizon. The wind was more furious than ever, and carried sharp half-frozen drops of rain along with it. I turned Pall-mall, passed through Stable-yard, and entered the Park, through which I had to pass on my way to Chelsea : all seemed desolation-even the sentinel appeared afraid to open his mouth, and refrained froin the usual “ Who goes there?"
* It is a pity," said I, thinking still of the beggar and the masquerade, it is a pity that it is so; yet some men are provident, and others the reverse, so I believe it must be as it is. And,” added I, wishing still more to prove to myself that it is the best of all possible worlds, as it is better that it is so, else man would want a spur to exertion, and a lesson to be prudent.” So I hugged myself close, and walked on. “ Yet that is a vile supe position, after all; is it necessary that man should be so wretched as to beg his fellow-creature for a halfpenny, in such a night as this, and all the time hear the music of masqueraders mocking his distresses and reviling his poverty? If fortune had made me a Nobleman now" A sigh interrupted my soliloquyếit caine from a bench below an old tree, on my right hand; a groan followed, and was repeated. A “ male figure lay stretched along the bench, half-sheltered by the tree, and half-covered with a shawl. I started, yet stirred not, I knew not why. “ Who is there?” I exclaimed: a sound betwixt a sob and a groan was the reply. I flew to the bench, and raised the figure in my arms. " Good God! you are starved to death,” I cried; “ leave this place instantly I shall help you," said I, finding she could not stand; her shawl fell off in the attempt; her naked bosom was exposed to the piercing blast ; and she sank, apparently