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in the most alluring 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 einulation of intellectual elegance was excited, and from this time to our own life has been gradually exalted, and conversation purified and enlarged.
Dryden had, not many years before, scattered criticism over his Prefaces with very little parfimony; but though he sometimes condescended to be somewhat familiar, his manner was in general too scholaftick for those who had yet their rudiments to learn, and found it not easy to understand their inafter. His observations were framed rather for those that were learning to write, than for those that read only to talk.
An instructor like 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 Paradise Lost to the publick with all the pomp of system and feverity 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 universal favourite,
with whom readers of every class think it necessary to y be pleased. y.
He descended now and then to lower disquisitions; and by a serious display of the beauties of ChevyChase exposed himself to the ridicule of Wagstaff, who bestowed a like pompous character on Tom Thumb; and to the contempt of Dennis, who, con
sidering the fundamental position of his criticism, that Chevy-Chase pleases, and ought to please, because it is natural, observes, “ that there is a way of desc viating from nature, by bombast or tumour, which “ foars above nature, and enlarge images beyond so their real bulk; by affectation, which forsakes na“ ture in quest of something unsuitable ; and by im“ becillity, which degrades nature by faintness and so diminution, by obscuring its appearances, and “ weakening its effects.” In Chevy-Chase there is not much of either bombast or affectation; but there is chill and lifeless imbecillity. The story cannot poffibly 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 the consciousness of their superiority to Addison, let them consider his Remarks on Ovid, in which may be found specimens of criticism sufficiently subtle and refined : let them peruse 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 fo happily diffused as to give the grace of novelty to domestic scenes and daily occurrences. He never “ outsteps the modesty of nature,” 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; yet 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 it enthusiastick or superftitious: 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 argument, are employed to recommend to the reader his real 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; 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 occafions not giovelling; pure without scrupulofity, and exact without apparent elaboration ; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed fentences. 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 therefore
sometimes verbose in his transitions and connections, and sometimes descends too much to the language of conversation ; yet if his language had been less idiomatical, it might have lost somewhat of its genuine Anglicism. What he attempted, he 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 v but not oftentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.'
HU G H E S..
JOHN HUGHES, the son of a citizen in London, and of Anne Burgess, of an ancient family in WiltThire, 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 oftentatiously displayed, the name of his master is somewhat ungratefully concealed *.
At nineteen he drew the plan of a tragedy; and paraphrased, rather too profusely, 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 ftudies did not withdraw him wholly from bufiness, nor did business hinder him from study. He had a place in the office of ordnance; and was secre
* He was educated in a difsenting academy, of which the Rev. Mr. Thomas Rowe waş tutor ; and was a fellow-student there with Dr. Isaac Watts, Mr. Samuel Say, and other persons of eminence. In the “Horæ Lyricæ" of Dr. Watts is a poem to the memory of Mr. Rowe. H.