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Virgil's Georgicks, published in the Miscellanies; and a Latin encomium on Queen Mary, in the Musa Anglicana. These verses exhibit all the fondness of friendship; but, on one side or the other, friendship was afterwards too weak for the malignity of faction.
In this poem is a very confident and discriminate character of Spenser, whose work he had then never read *. So little fonetimes 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 Exchequer : Addison was then learning the trade of a courtier, and subjoined Montague 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 alleged 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 withholding Addison from it.
Soon after (in 1695) he wrote a poem to king William, with a rhyming introduction addreffed to lord Somers. 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 Somers 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 Æneid.” Praise must not be too rigorously examined ; but the performance can, not be denied to be vigorous and elegant.
Having yet no publick employment, he obtained (in 1699) a pension of three hundred pounds a 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 obfervations 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 Halifax, which is juftly 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 Somers. 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 he known that such collections had been made twice before by Italian authors
The most amusing passage of his book is his account of the minute republick of San Marino; of many parts it is not a very severe censure to say, that they might have been written at home. His elegance of language, and variegation of prose and verse, however, gains upon the reader; and the book, though a while neglected, became in time fo much the favourite of the publick, that before it. was reprinted it rose to five times its price.
When he returned to England (in 1702), with a meanness of appearance which gave testimony of the difficulties to which he had been reduced, he found his old patrons out of power, and was therefore, for a time, at full leisure for the cultivation of his mind; and a mind so cultivated gives reason to believe that little time was lost. · But he remained not long neglected or useless.
The victory at Blenheim (1704) spread triumph and confidence over the nation; and lord Godolphin, lamenting to lord Halifax, that it had not been celebrated in a manner equal to the subject, desired him to propose it to some better poet. Halifax told him, that there was no encouragement for genius ; that worthless men were unprofitably enriched with publick money, without any care to find or employ those whose appearance might do honour to their country. To this Godolphin replied, that such abuses should in time be rectified ; and that, if a
man could be found capable of the task then proposed, he should not want an ample recompense. Halifax then' named Addison, but required that the Treasurer should apply to him in his own perfon. Godolphin fent the message by Mr. Boyle, afterwards lord Carleton ; and Addison, having undertaken the work, communicated it to the Treasurer, while it was yet advanced no further than the finile of the Angel, and was immediately rewarded by succeeding Mr. Locke in the place of Commissioner of Appeals..
In the following year he was at Hanover with lord Halifax: and the year after he was made under-fecretary of state, first to Sir Charles Hedges, and in a few months more to the earl of Sunderland.
About this time the prevalent taste for Italian operas inclined him to try what would be the effect of a musical Drama in our own language. He therefore wrote the opera of Rosamond, which, when exhibited on the stage, was either hissed or neglected; but, trusting that the readers would do him more justice, he published it, with an inscription to the dutchess of Marlborough ; a woman without skill, or pretensions to skill, in poetry or literature. His dedication was therefore an instance of servile absurdity, to be exceeded only by Joshua Barnes's dedication of a Greek Anacreon to the Duke.
His reputation had been somewhat advanced by The Tender Husband, a comedy which Steele dedicated to him, with a confeffion that he owed to him feveral of the most successful scenes. To this play Addison fupplied a prologue.
When the marquis of Wharton was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, Addison attended him as his secretary; and was made keeper of the records in Vol. X.
Birmingham's Tower, with a falary of three hundred pounds a year. The office was little more than nominal, and the salary was augmented for his accommodation.
Interest and faction allow little to the operation of particular dispositions, or private opinions. Two men of personal characters more opposite than those of Wharton and Addison could not easily be brought together. Wharton was impious, profligate, and shameless, without regard, or appearance of regard, to right and wrong * : whatever is contrary to this may be said of Addison; but as agents of a party they were connected, and how they adjusted their other sentiments we cannot know. · Addison must however not be too hastily condemned. It is not necessary to refuse benefits from a bad man, when the acceptance implies no approbation of his crimes ; nor has the subordinate officer. any obligation to examine the opinions or conduct of those under whom he acts, except that he may not be made the instrument of wickednessl. It is reasonable to suppose that Addison counteracted, as far as he was able, the malignant and blasting influence of the Lieutenant; and that at least by his intervention some good was done, and some mischief prevented.
When he was in office, he made a law to himself, as Swift has recorded, never to remit his regular fees in civility to his friends : “ for,” said he, “ I 6 may have a hundred friends; and, if my fee. be so two guineas, I Thall, by relinquishing my right; “ lose two hundred guineas, and no friend gain more
* Dr. Johnson appears to have blended the character of the Marquis with that of his fon the Duke. N.