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as supremely excelling both in poetry and criticism. Part of his reputation may be probably ascribed to the advancement of his fortune ; when, as Swift observes, he became a statesman, and saw poets waiting at his levee, it was no wonder that praise was accuinulated upon him. Much likewise may be more honourably ascribed to his personal character : he who, if he had claimed it, might have obtained the diadem, was not likely to be denied the laurel.
But tiine quickly puts an end to artificial and accidental fame ; and Addison is to pass through futurity protected only by his genius. Every name which kindness or interest once raised too high is in danger, left the next age 1hould, by the vengeance of criticism, fink it in the same proportion. A great writer has lately styled him “ an indifferent poet, " and a worse critick.”
His poetry is first to be considered ; of which it must be confessed that it has not often those felicities of diction which give luftre to sentiments, or that vigour of sentiment that animates diction : there is little of ardour, vehemence, or transport; there is very rarely the awfulness of grandeur, and not very often the splendour of elegance. He thinks justly; but he thinks faintly. This is his general character ; to which, doubtless, many single passages will furnish exception..
Yet, if he seldoin reaches fupreme excellence, he rarely finks into dulness, and is still more rarely entangled in absurdity. He did not trust his powers enough to be negligent. There is in most of his compositions a calmness and equability, deliberate
and cautious, sometimes with little that delights, but feldom with any thing that offends.
Of this kind seem to be his poems to Dryden, to Sommers, and to the King. His ode on St. Cecilia has been imitated by Pope, and has something in it of Dryden's vigour. Of his Account of the English Poets, he used to speak as a “poor thing* ;” but it is not worse than his usual strain. He has said, not very judiciously, in his character of Waller,
Thy verse could shew ev’n Cromwell's innocence; And compliment the storms that bore him hence, O! had thy Muse not come an age too soon, But seen great Nassau on the British tiirone, How had his triumph glitter'd in thy page! What is this but to say, that he who could compliment Cromwell had been the proper poet for king William? Addison, however, never printed the piece.
The Letter from Italy has been always praised, but has never been praised beyond its merit. It is more correct, with less appearance of labour, and more elegant, with less ambition of ornament, than any other of his poems. There is, however, one broken metaphor, of which notice may properly be taken :
Fir'd with that name-
That longs to launch into a nobler ftrain. To bridle. a goddess is no very delicate idea ; but why must she be bridled? because she longs to launch; an act which was never hindered by a bridle : and whither will she launch? into a nobler strain. She is
in the first line a borse, in the second a boat; and the care of the poet is to keep his horse or his boat from singing.
The next composition is the far-famed campaign, which Dr. Warton has termed a “ Gazette in “ Rhyme," with harshness not often used by the good-nature of his criticisin. Before a censure so severe is admitted, let us consider that War is a frequent subject of Poetry, and then enquire who has described it with more justness and force. Many of our own writers tried their powers upon this year of victory : yet Addison's is confessedly the best performance ; his poem is the work of a man not blinded by the dust of learning; his images are not borrowed merely from books. The superiority which he confers upon his hero is not personal prowess, and "mighty bone," but deliberate intrepidity, a calm command of his passions, and the power of consulting his own mind in the midst of danger. The rejection and contempt of fiction is rational and manly.
It may be observed that the last line is imitated by Pope : .
Marlb'rough's exploits appear divinely bright-
And those that paint them trueft, praise them most. This Pope had in his thoughts ; but, not knowing how to use what was not his own, he spoiled the thought when he had borrowed it:
The well-sung woes shall soothe my pensive ghoft;
He best can paint them who shall feel thein most. Martial exploits may be painted; perhaps woes may be painted; but they are surely not painted by being
well- Jing: it is not easy to paint in song, or to fing in colours.
No passage in the Campaign has been more often mentioned than the fimile of the angel, which is said in the Tatler to be " one of the noblest or thoughts that ever entered into the heart of man," and is therefore worthy of attentive consideration. Let it be first enquired whether it be a simile. A poetical fimile is the discovery of likeness between two actions, in their general nature diffimilai, or of causes terininating by different operations in some resemblance of effect. But the mention of atiother like consequence from a like cause, or of a like performance by a like agency, is not a fimile, but an exemplification. It is not a fimile to say that the Thames waters fields, as the Po waters fields; or that as Hecla vomits flames in Iceland, so Ætna vomits flames in Sicily. When Horace says of Pindar, that he pours his violence and rapidity of verse, as a river swoln with rain ruihes from the mountain ; or of himself, that his genius wanders in quest of poetical decorations, as the bee wanders to collect honey; he, in either case, produces a fimile ; the mind is impressed with the resemblance of things generally unlike, as unlike as intellect and body. But if Pindar had been described as writing with the copiousness and grandeur of Homer, or Horace had told that he reviewed and finished his own poetry with the same care as Isocrates polished his orations, instead of fimilitude, he would have exhibited almost identity; he would have given the same portraits with different names. In the poem now examined, : 5.
when the English are represented as gaining a fortified pass, by repetition of attack, and perseverance of resolution ; their obstinacy of courage and vigour of onset is well illustrated by the sea that breaks, with incessant battery, the dikes of Holland. This is a simile : but when Addison, having celebrated the beauty of Marlborough's person, tells us, that “ Achilles thus was formed with every grace," here is no fimile, but a mere exemplification. A fimile may be compared to lines converging at a point, and is more excellent as the lines approach from greater distance: an exemplification may be considered as two parallel lines, which run on together without approximation, never far separated, and never joined.
Marlborough is so like the angel in the poem, that the action of both is almost the fame, and performed by both in the same manner. Marlborough “ teaches the battle to rage;" the angel “ directs 66 the storm :" Marlborough is “ unmoved in peace“ ful thought;" the angel is « calm and serene ;" Marlborough stands “ unmoved amidst the shock çe of hosts ;" the angel rides “ calm in the whirl"ę wind." The lines on Marlborough are just and noble; but the fimile gives almost the same iinages a second time.
But perhaps this thought, though hardly a simile, was remote from vulgar conceptions, and required great labour of research, or dexterity of application. Of this Dr. Madden, a name which Ireland ought to honour, once gave me his opinion. « If I had fet," said he, " ten school-boys to write on the