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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 superstitious: 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 occasions not grovelling; pure without scrupulosity, and exact without apparent elaboration ; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed sentences. 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 but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.
* But, says Dr. Warton, he sometimes is so; and in another MS note, he adds, often so. C.
H U G H E S.
JOHN HUGHES, the son of a citizen in London, and of Anne Burgess, of an ancient family in Wiltshire, 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 ostentatiously 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 studies did not withdraw him wholly from business, nor did business hinder him from study. He had a place in the office of ordnance; and was
* He was educated in a dissenting academy, of which the Revs Mr. Thomas Rowe was tutor; and was a fellow student there with Dr. Isaac Watts, Mr. Samuel Say, and other persons of emi
In the “ Horæ Lyrica” of Dr. Watts is a poem to the memory of Mr. Rowe. H.
secretary to several commissions for purchasing lands necessary to secure the royal docks at Chatham and Portsmouth ; yet found time to acquaint himself with modern languages.
In 1697 he published a poem on the Peace of Ryswick : and 1699 another piece, called The Court of Neptune, on the return of king William, which he addressed to Mr. Montague, the general patron of the followers of the Muses. The same year he produced a song on the duke of Gloucester's birthday.
He did not confine himself to poetry, but cultivated other kinds of writing with great success; and about this time shewed his knowledge of human nature by an Essay on the Pleasure of being deceived. In 1702 he published, on the death of king William, a Pindaric ode, called The House of Nassau ; and wrote another paraphrase on the Otium Divos of Horace.
In 1703 his ode on Musick was performed at Stationers' Hall; and he wrote afterwards six cantatas, which were set to musick by the greatest master of that time, and seem intended to oppose or exclude the Italian opera, an exotick and irrational entertainment, which has been always combated, and always has prevailed.
His reputation was now so far advanced, that the publick began to pay reverence to his name; and be was solicited to prefix a preface to the translation of Boccalini, a writer whose satirical vein cost him his life in Italy, and who never, I believe, found many readers in this country, even though introduced ky such powerful recommendation.
He translated Fontenelle's Dialogues of the Dead; and his version was perhaps read at that time, but is now neglected; for by a book not necessary, and owing its reputation wholly to its turn of diction, little notice can be gained but from those who can enjoy the graces of the original. To the Dialogues of Fontenelle he added two composed by himself; and, though not only an honest but a pious man, dedicated his work to the earl of Wharton. He judged skilfully enough of his own interest; for Wharton, when he went lord lieutenant to Ireland; offered to take Hughes with him, and establish him; but Hughes, having hopes or promises, from another man in power, of some provision more suitable to his inclination, declined Wharton's offer, and obtained nothing from the other.
He translated The Miser of Moliere, which he never offered to the stage; and occasionally amused himself with making versions of favourite scenes in other plays.
Being now received as a wit among the wits, he paid his contributions to literary undertakings, and assisted both the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian. In 1712 he translated Vertot's History of the Revolution of Portugal; produced an Ode to the Creator of the World, from the Fragments of Orpheus ; and brought upon the stage an opera called Calypso and Telemachus, intended to shew that the English language might be very happily adapted to musick. This was impudently opposed by those who were employed in the Italian opera ; and, what cannot be told without indignation, the intruders had such interest with the duke of Shrewsbury, then lord