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the lords, the people had no wish to increase their power. The tendency of the bill, as Steele obferved in a letter to the earl of Oxford, was to introduce an aristocracy; for a majority in the house of lords, fo liniited, would have been despotick and irresistible. .
To prevent this fubversion of the ancient eftablishment, Steele, whose pen readily seconded his political passions, endeavoured to alarm the nation by a pamphlet called The Plebeian. To this an answer was published by Addison, under the title of The Old Whig, in which it is not discovered that Steele was then known to be the advocate for the commons. Steele replied by a second Plebeian; and, whether by ignorance or by courtesy, confined himself to his question, without any personal notice of his opponent. Nothing hitherto was committed against the laws of friendship, or proprieties of decency; but controvertists cannot long retain their kindness for each other. The Old Whig answered the Plebeian, and could not forbear some contempt of “little Dicky, whole trade it was to write pain“phlets.” Dicky, however, did not lose his settled veneration for his friend ; but contented himself with quoting some lines of Cato, which were at once detection and reproof. The bill was laid aside during that session; and Addison died before the next, in which its commitment was rejected by two hundred and sixty-five to one hundred and seventyfeven.
Every reader surely must regret that these two illustrious friends, after so many years past in confidence and endearinent, in unity of Interest, confor• H 4
mity of opinion, and fellowship of study, should finally part in acrimonious oppofition. Such a controversy was “ Bellum plufquam civile,” as Lucan expresses it. Why could not faction find other advocates ? but among the uncertainties of the human state, we are doomed to number the instability of friendship.
Of this dispute I have little knowledge but from the Biographia Britannica. The Old Whig is not inserted in Addison's works; nor is it mentioned by Tickell in his Life; why it was omitted, the biographers doubtless give the true reason; the fact was too recent, and those who had been heated in the contention were not yet cool.
The necessity of complying with times, and of sparing persons, is the great impediment of biography. History may be formed from permanent moe numents and records ; but Lives can only be written from personal knowledge, which is growing every day less, and in a short time is lost for ever. What is known can seldom be immediately told ; and when it might be told, it is no longer known. The delicate features of the mind, the nice discriminations of character, and the minute peculiarities of conduct, are foon obliterated; and it is surely better that çaprice, obstinacy, frolick, and folly, however they might deliglit in the description, should be silently forgotten, than that, by wanton merriment. and unseasonable detection, a pang should be given to a widow, a daughter, a brother, or a friend, As the process of these narratives is now bringing me among my contemporaries, I begin to feel myself Be walking upon afhes under which the fire is not
“ extinguished,” and coming to the time of which it will be proper rather to say “nothing that is false, “ than all that is true.”
The end of this useful life was now approaching, -Addison had for some time been oppressed by shortness of breath, which was now aggravated by a dropsy; and, finding his danger pressing, he prepared to die conformably to his own precepts and profes. fions.
During this lingering decay, he sent, as Pope relates *, a message by the earl of Warwick to Mr. Gay, defiring to see him. Gay, who had not visited him for some time before, obeyed the summons, and found himself received with great kindness. The purpose for which the interview had been solicited was then discovered. Addison told him, that he had injured him; but that, if he recovered, he would recompense him. What the injury was he did not explain ; nor did Gay ever know, but supposed that some preferment designed for him had, by Addison's intervention, been withheld.
Lord Warwick was a young man of very irregular life, and perhaps of loose opinions. Addison, for whom he did not want respect, had very diligently endeavoured to reclaim him; but his arguments and expoftulations had no effect. One expe; riment, however, remained to be tried : when he found his life near its end, he directed the young lord to be called ; and when he desired, with great tenderness, to hear his last injunctions, told him, “I have sent for you, that you may see how a 5. Christian van die.” What effect this awful scene
had on the earl, I know not: he likewise died him, felf in a short time.
In Tickell's excellent Elegy on his friend are these lines :
He taught us how to live ; and, oh! too high
The price of knowledge, taught us how to diein which he alludes, as he told Dr. Young, to this moving interview.
Having given directions to Mr. Tickell for the publication of his works, and dedicated them on his death-bed to his friend Mr. Craggs, he died June 17, 1719, at Holland-house, leaving no child but a daughter *.
Of his virtue it is a sufficient testimony, that the resentment of party has transmitted no charge of any crime. He was not one of those who are praised only after death; for his merit was so generally acknowledged, that Swift, having observed that his election passed without a contest, adds, that, if he proposed himself for king, he would hardly have been refused.
His zeal for his party did not extinguish his kindness for the merit of his opponents : when he was secretary in Ireland, he refused to intermit his acquaintance with Swift.
Of his habits, or external manners, nothing is so often inentioned as that timorous or fullen taciturnity, which his friends called modesty by too mild a name. Steele mentions with great tenderness that remark« able bashfulness, which is a cloak that hides and « muffles merit ;” and tells us, " that his abilities
'* Who died at Bilton, in Warwickshire, at a very advanced age, in 1797. See Gent. Mag. vol. LXVII. p. 256. 385. N.
gs were covered only by mødesty, which doubles the $6 beauties which are seen, and gives credit and esteem
to all that are concealed.” Chesterfield affirms, that “ Addison was the most timorous and aukward " man that he ever saw.” And Addison, speaking of his own deficience in conversation, used to say of himself, that, with respect to intellectual wealth, ( he could draw bills for a thousand pounds, though " he had not a guinea in his pocket.”
That he wanted current coin for ready payment, and by that want was often abstructed and distressed; that he was often oppressed by an improper and ungraceful timidity ; every testimony concurs to prove : but Chesterfield's representation is doubtless hyperbolical. That man cannot bę supposed very unexpert in the arts of conversation and practice of life, who, without fortune or alliance, by his usefulness and dexterity, became secretary of state ; and who died at forty-seven, after having not only stood long in the highest rank of wit and literature, but filled one of the most important offices of state.
The time in which he lived had reason to lament his obstinacy of filence; “ for he was,” says Steele,
above all men in that talent called humour, and “ enjoyed it in such perfection, that I have often re© flected, after a night spent with him apart from “ all the world, that I had had the plealure of con“ versing with an intimate acquaintance of Terence 5 and Catullus, who had all their wit and nature, “ heightened with humour more exquisite and dee. "lightful than any other man ever possessed.” This is the fondness of a friend ; let us hear what is told is by a rival: " Addison's conversation * " says