« הקודםהמשך »
now circulates in common talk, was in his zime rarely to be found. Men not professing learning were not ashamed of ignorance ; and in the female world, any acquaintance with books was distinguished only to be cenzúred. Ilis purpose was to infuse literary curiosity, by gentle and unsuspected conveyance, into the gay, the idle, and the wealthy; he therefore presented knowledge in the most álluring form, not lofty and austere, but accessible and familiar. When he shewed them their defects, he shewed them likewise that they might be easily supplied. His attempt succeeded; enquiry was awakened, and comprehension expanded. An emulation of intellectual elegance was excited, and from this timed our own, life has been gradually exalted, and conservation purified and enlarged. · Dryden had, not many years before, scattered criticism over his Preface's with very little parsimony; but, though he sometimes condescended to be somewhat familiar, his manner was in general too scholastick for those who had yet their rudiments to learn, and found it not easy to understand their master. His observations were framed rather for those that were learning to write, than for those that read only to talk.
An instructor likę Addison was now wanting, whose remarks being superficial might be easily understood, and being just might prepare the mind for more attainments. Had he presented Paraci:e Lost to the publick with all the pomo of system and severity of science, the criticism would perhaps have ' been admired, and the poem still have been neglected; but by the blandishments of gentleness and facility, he has made Milton an üniversal favourite with whom readers of every class think it necessary to be pleased. .
He descended now and then to lower disquisitions; and by a serious display of the beauties of Chevy Chase, exposed himself to the ridicule of Wagstaff, who bestowed a like pompous character cn Tom Thumb; and to the contempt of Dennis, who considering the fundamental position of his criticism, that Chevy Chase pleases, and ought to please, because it is natural, observés, “ that there is a way of deviating from nature, by bombast or tumour, which soars above nature, and enlarges images beyond their real bulk; by affećtation, which forsakes nature in quest of something unsuitable; and by imbezi cillity, which degrades nature by frintness and diminution, by obscuring its appearances, and weakening its effects.” In Chery Chase there is not much of either bombast or affectation ; but there is chill and liseless imbecillity. The story cannot possibly be told in a manner that shall make less impression on the mind.
Before the profound observers of the present race repose too securely on ihe consciousness of their superiority tó Addison, let them consider his Re
marks on Oyid, in which may be found specimens of criticism sufficiently şuhtle and refined ; let them perụse likewise his Essays on Wit, and on the Pleasures of Imagination, in which he founds art on the base of nature, and draws the principles of invention from dispositions inherent in the mind of man, with skill and elegance, such as his contemners will not easily attain.
As a describer of life and manners, 'he must be allowed to stand perhaps the first of the first rank. His humour, which, as Steele observes, is peculiar to himself, is so happily diffused as to give the grace of novelty to domesrick scenes and daily occurrences. He never “ outsteps the modesty of “ narure," nor raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures neither divert by distortion, nor amaze by aggravation. He copies life with so much fidelity, that he can be hardly said to invent: yer his exhibitions have an air so much original, that it is difficult to suppose them not merely the product of imagination.
As a teacher of wisdom, he may be confidently followed. His religion has nothing in the enthusiastick or superstitious : he appears neither weakly credulous nor wantonly sceptical'; his morality is neither dangerously lax, nor impracticably rigid. All the enchantment of fancy, and all the cogency of arguřent, are employed to recommend to the reader his rcal interest, the care of pleasing the Author of his being. Truth is shewn sometimes as the phantom of a vision; sometimes appears half-veiled in an allegory ; sometimes attracts regard in the robes of fancy i and sometimes steps forth in the confidence of reason. She wears a thousand dresses, and in all is pleasing. :
Mille habet ornatus, mille decenter habet.
His prose is the model of the middle style ; on grave subjects not formal, on light occasions not grovelling; pure without scrupulosity, and exact without apparent elaboration ; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed sentences. Addison never deviates from his track to snatch 'a grace; he seeks no ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous innovations. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected splendour.
It was apparently his principal: endeavour to avoid all harshness and severity of diction; he is thereforę si metimes verbose in his transitions and connections, and sometimes descends too much to the langliage of conversation ; yet if his language had been less idiomatical, it might have lost somewhat of its genuine Anglicism. What he attempted, he - Tt %
performed; performed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish to be energetick; he is never rapid, and he never stagnates. His sentences have neither studied amplitude, nor affected brevity : his periods, though not diligently rounded, are voluble and easy. Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, pust give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.
HU G H E S.
TOHN HUGHES, the son of a citizen in London, and of Anne Burgess, J of an ancient family in Wiltshire, was born at Marlborough, July 29, 1677. He was educated at a private - school ; and though his advances in literature are, in the Biographia, very ostentatiously displayed, the name of his master is somewhaungratefully concealed *,
At nineteen he drew the plan of a tragedy ; and paraphrased, rather too diffusely, the ode of Horace which begins' Integer Vitæ.” To poetry he added the science of musick, in which he seems to have attained considerable skill, together with the practice of design, or rudiments of painting.
His studies did not withdraw him wholly from business, nor did business hinder him from study. He had a place in the office of ordnance ; and was secretary to several commissions for purshasing lands necessary to secure the royal docks at Chasham and Portsmouth; yet found time. to acquaint himself with modern languages.
In 1697 he published a poem on the Peace of Ryswick; and in 1699 another piece, called The Court of Neptune, on the return of king William, which he addressed to Mr. Montague, the general patron of the followers of the Muses. The same year he produced a song on the duke of Gloucester's birth-day.
He did not confine himself to poetry, but cultivated other kinds of writing with great success; and about this time shewed his knowledge of human nature by an Essay on the Pleasure of being deceived. In 1702 he published, on the death of king William, a Pindarick ode called The House of Nassau ; and wrote another paraphrase on the Otium Divos of Horace.
In 1703 his ode on Musick was performed at Stationers Hall ; and he wrote afterwards six cantatas, which were set to musick by the greatest master of that time, and seem intended to oppose or exclude the Italian opera, an exotick and irrational entertainment, which has been always combated, and always has prevailed.
* He was educated in a dissenting academy, of which the rev. Mr. Thomas Rowe was cutar ; and was a fellow student there with Dr. Isaac Watts, Ms. Samuel Say, and other persons of erinence. ja the Horæ Lyricæ” of Dr. Watts is a poem to the messory of Mr. Rowe. H.
His reputation was now so far advanced, that the public began to pay Teverence to his name; and he was solicited to prefix a preface to the translation of Boccalini, a writer whose satirical vein cost him his life in Italy; but who never, I believe, found many readers in this country, even though introduced by such powerful recominendation,
He translated Fontenelle's Dialogues of the Dead; and his version was pe, haps read at that time, but is now neglected; for by a book not necessary, and owing its reputation wholly to its turn of diction, little notice can be gined but from those who can enjoy the graces of the original. To the dialogues of Fontenelle he added two composed by himself; and, though not only a:honest but a pious man, dedicated his work to the carl of Wharton. Ile judged skilfully enough of his own interest ; for Whaiton, wben he went ford lieutenant to Ireland, offered to take Hughes with him, and establish hiin; but Hughes, having hopes or promises, from another man in power, of some provision more suitable to his inclination, declined Wharton's offer, and obtained nothing from the other.
He translated the Miser of Moliere, which he never offered to the Stage; and occasionally amused himself with making versions of favourite scenes in other plays.
Being now received as a wit among the wirs, he paid his contributions to literary undertakings, and assisted both the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardiana In 1712 he translated Verrot's IIistory of the Revolution" of Portugal; produced aa Ode to the Creator of the World, from the Fragments of Orpheus : brought upon the stage an opera called Calypso and Telemachus, intended to shew that the English language might be very happily adapted to musick. This was impudently opposed by those who were employed in the Italian opeia; and, what cannot be told without indignation, the intreders had such interest with the duke of Shrewsbury, then lord chamberlain, who had inarried an Italian, as to obtain an obstruction of the profits, though not an inhibition of the performance.
There was at this time a project formed by Tonson for a translation of the Pharsalia, by several hands; and Hughes englished the tenth book. But this design, as must often happen where the concurrence of many is necessary, fell to the ground; and the whole work was afterwards performed ty Rowe,
His acquaintance with the great writers of his time appears to have been very general; but of his intimacy with Addison there is a remarkable proof, It is told, on good authority, that Cato was finished and played by his persuasion. It had long wanted the last act, which he was desired by Addison to supply. If the request was sincere, it proceeded from an opinion, what.