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Pope, “ had something in it more charming than I “ have found in any other man. But this was only “ when familiar : before strangers, or, perhaps, a “ single stranger, he preserved his dignity by a stiff “ filence.”
This modefty was by no means inconsistent with a very high opinion of his own merit. He demanded to be the first name in modern wit ; and, with Steele to echo him, used to depreciate Dryden, whom Pope and Congreve defended against them *. There is no reafon to doubt that he suffered too much pain from the prevalence of Pope's poetical reputation; nor is it without strong reason suspected, that by fome disingenuous acts he endeavoured to obstruct it; Pope was not the only man whom he insidiously injured, though the only man of whom he could be afraid. · His own powers were such as might have fatisfied him with conscious excellence. Of very extensive learning he has indeed given no proofs. He seems to have had small acquaintance with the sciences, and to have read little except Latin and French; but of the Latin poets his Dialogues on Medals Thew that he had perused the works with great diligence and skill. The abundance of his own mind left him little indeed of adventitious sentiments; his wit always could suggest what the occasion demanded. He had read with critical eyes the important volume of human life, and knew the heart of man from the depths of stratagem to the surface of affectation.
What he knew he could easily communicate. “ This,” says Steele, “ was particular in this writer,
* Tonson and Spence.
" that, when he had taken his resolution, or made “his plan for what he designed to write, he would “ walk about a room, and dictate it into language " with as much freedom and ease as any one could “ write it down, and attend to the coherence and “ grammar of what he dictated.”.
Pope *, who can be less suspected of favouring his memory, declares that he wrote very fluently, but was slow and scrupulous in correcting; that many of his Spectators were written very fast, and fent immediately to the press; and that it seemed to be for his advantage not to have time for much revisal.
“ He would alter,” says Pope, “ any thing to 66 please his friends, before publication; but would « not retouch his pieces afterwards; and I believe "s not one word in Cato, to which I made an objec“ tion, was suffered to stand.”
The last line of Cato is Pope's, having been originally written
And oh ! 'twas this that ended Cato’s life. Pope might have made more objections to the six concluding lines. In the first couplet the words “ from hence” are improper; and the second line is taken from Dryden's Virgil. Of the next couplet, the first verse, being included in the second, is therefore useless; and in the third Discord is made to produce Strife.
Of the course of Addison's familiar day *, before his marriage, Pope has given a detail. He had in
the house with him Budgell, and perhaps Philips: His chief companions were Steele, Budgell, Philips, Carey, Davenant, and colonel Brett. With one of other of these he always breakfasted. He studied all morning ; then dined at a tavern; and went afterwards to Button's.
Button had been a fervant in the countess of Warwick's family, who, under the patronage of Addi- ! fon, kept a coffee-house on the south fide of Rusfelstreet; about two doors from Covent-garden. Here it was that the wits of that time used to assemble. It is said, when Addison had saffered any vexation from the countess, he withdrew the company from Button's house.
From the coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often fat late, and drank too much wine.
In the bottle, discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice : for courage, and bashfulnefs for confidence. It is not unlikely that Addison was firft seduced to excess by the manumiffion which he obtained from the servile timidity of his sober hours. He that feels oppression from the presence of those to whom he knows himself superior, will defire to set loose his powers of converfation; and who, that ever asked fuccours from Bacchus, was able to preserve himself from being enslaved by his auxiliary?
Among those friends it was that Addison displayed the elegance of his colloquial accomplishments, which may easily be supposed such as Pope represents them. The remark of Mandeville, who, when he had paffed an evening in his company, declared that he was a parson in a tye-wig, can detract little from his character ; he was always reserved to
i ftrangers, and was not incited to uncommon freedom by a character like that of Mandeville.
From any minute knowledge of his familiar manners, the intervention of fixty years has now debarred us. Steele once promised Congreve and the publick a complete description of his character ; but the promises of authors are like the vows of lovers. Steele thought no more on his design, or thought on it with anxiety that at last disgusted him, and left his friend in the hands of Tickell.
One Night lineament of his character Swift has preserved. It was his practice, when he found any man invincibly wrong, to flatter his opinions by acquiescence, and sink him yet deeper in absurdity. This artifice of mischief was admired by Stella; and Swift seems to approve her admiration. - His works will supply some information. It ap. pears, from his various pictures of the world, that, with all his bashfulness, he had conversed with many distinct classes of men, had surveyed their ways with very diligent observation, and marked with great acuteness the effects of different modes of life. He was a man in whose presence nothing reprehensible was out of danger; quick in difcerning whatever was wrong or ridiculous, and not unwilling to expose it. “ There are,” says Steele,“ in his writings many « oblique strokes upon some of the wittiest men of " the age.” His delight was more to excite merriment than detestation; and he detects follies rather than crimes. :
If any judgement be made, from his books, of his moral character, nothing will be found but purity and excellence. Knowledge of mankind, indeed,
less extensive than that of Addison, will shew, that to write, and to live, are very different. Many who praise virtue, do no more than praise it. Yet it is reasonable to believe that Addison's professions and practice were at no great variance, since amidst that ftorm of faction in which most of his life was passed, though his station made him confpicuous, and his activity made him formidable, the character given him by his friends was never contradicted by his enemies : of those, with whom interest or opinion united him, he had not only the esteem, but the kindness; and of others, whom the violence of opposition drove against him, though he might lose the love, he retained the reverence.
It is justly observed by Tickell, that he employed wit on the side of virtue and religion. He not only made the proper use of wit himself, but taught it to others; and from his time it has been generally fubfervient to the cause of reason and of truth. He has diffipated the prejudice that had long connected gaiety with vice, and easiness of manners with laxity of principles. He has restored virtue to its dignity, and taught innocence not to be ashamed. This is an elevation of literary character, “ above all Greek, “ above all Roman fame." No greater felicity can genius attain, than that of having purified intellectual pleasure, separated mirth from indecency, and wit from licentiousness; of having taught a succession of writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the aid of goodness; and, if I may use expressions yet more awful, of having “ turned many to righteousness."
Addison, in his life, and for some time after: wards, was confidered by a greater part of readers