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the bachelor's and master's degree. As a writer of Latin poetry, Addisou became eminent before he left Oxford; and the peculiar merit of his compositions in that language consisted in their entire originality. He did not confine himself to the imitation of any ancient author, but formed his style from the general language, such as a diligent perusal of the productions of different ages would naturally produce. His three principal pieces are, The Battle of the Pigmies and Cranes, The Barometer, and A Bowling-green.
In his twenty-second year, Addison produced his first English poem in the form of an address to Dryden; and soon after published a translation of the greater part of Virgil's Fourth Georgic, upon Bees, with which Dryden was so much pleased, that he paid the youthful poet the compliment to say, in allusion to his own translations, ' my latter swarm is hardly worth tho hiving. The address to Dryden opens with the following lines :
How long, great poet! shall thy sacred lays
The Roman genius in its last decays. These performances created an intimacy between the veteran poet and the youthful aspirant, and the latter was accordingly induced to compose the arguments prefixed to the several books of the former's translation of Virgil, and also to write an essay on the Georgics. Neither of these productions though elegantly written, exhibit much of the scholar's learning, or the critic's penetration. In the following year, Addison published An Account of the Greatest English Poets, in a poem of about one hundred and fifty lines, addressed to Dr. Sacheverell, and containing sketches of Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Cowley, Waller, and others. The subdued and frigid character of Spenser in this Account,' plainly shows that Addison wanted both the fire and the fancy of the poet.
About this time Addison was introduced to Montague, then chancellor of the Exchequer; and through his influence, according to Tickell, he was diverted from his original design of entering into holy orders. Montague al leged as his reason the corruption of men who engaged in civil employments without liberal education, and declared that though he was represented as an enemy to the church, he would never do it any injury but by withhold. ing Addison from it.' In 1695, Addison addressed A Poem to His Majesty, Presented to the Lord Keeper. This must be confessed to be a tame and common-place production; but Lord Somers, then the keeper of the great seal, was gratified with the compliment, and thenceforth became one of the poet's steadiest patrons. Soon after appeared his Latin verses on the treaty of Ryewick, which he dedicated to Montague, and which is really a vigorous and elegant performance.
In 1699, Addison obtained, through the influence of Somers, an annual pension of three hundred pounds, to enable him to travel on the continent. Having spent a year at Blois, in order to learn the French language, he thence passed to Italy, which he surveyed with the eye of a poet. While he was travelling in the latter country, apparently at leisure, he was far from being idle ; for he not only collected the observations which he afterward published, but found time to write his Dialogues on Medals, to store his mind with the materials which he afterward so beautifully elaborated in his Cato, and to address to Lord Halifax, A Letter from Italy, which is the most elegant and animated of all his poetical productions. The classic ruins of Rome, the heavenly figures of Raphael, the river Tiber, and the streams 'immortalized in song,' and all the golden groves and flowery meadows of Italy, seemed to have raised his fancy and brightened his expressions. There is, also, a strain of political thinking in the Letter, that was then new to English poetry. To sustain these remarks, we present the following extract :
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
1 Malone states that this was the first time the phrase classic ground, since so common, was ever used. It was ridiculed by some contemporaries as very quaint and affected.
The poor inhabitant beholds in vain
O liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's isle adores;
Addison returned to England in 1702, but by the death of King William, which had just previously occurred, he was deprived of his pension, and left entirely unprovided for. In 1705 he published his Travels in Italy, the first reception of which was any thing but flattering. The elegance of the language, and the pleasing alternation of prose and verse, soon, however, won for it so great favor with the public, that before it was reprinted it rose to five times the original price. The victory of Blenheim, in 1704, spread delight through every part of England; and the lord treasurer Godolphin, in order to perpetuate the fame of that great event, desired Addison to gazette it in verse. Addison immediately entered upon the task, and when he had advanced as far as the simile of the angel, he communicated it to the treasurer, who was so much pleased with the work, that he at once appointed the poet to the place of commissioner of appeals, just then vacated by the promotion of Locke. This poem placed Addison upon the very pinnacle of fame; and the following extract will show that the performance is certainly not without merit:
The fatal day its mighty course began,
Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
Behold, in awful march and dread array
But 0, my muse, what numbers wilt thou find
In the following year Addison accompanied Lord Halifax to Hanover, and the year after was made under-secretary to Sir Charles Hedges, and afterward to the Earl of Sunderland. While thus occupied he found leisure to compose his opera of Rosamond, and soon after produced his comedy of The Drummer ; but neither of these pieces show a genius adapted to the stage. In 1709, the Marquis of Wharton was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Addison accompanied him as his secretary: he was also made keeper of the Irish records, with an annual salary of three hundred pounds. The office was little more than nominal, and the salary was augmented for his accommodation,
While Addison was thus employed in Ireland, Steele, without communicating his design, began the publication of the “ Tatler,' which, after a brief space, was succeeded by the “Spectator. It was now that Addison entered upon his brilliant career as an essayist; and by his papers in the Tatler, Spectator, and 'Guardian,' left, in this delightful field of literature, all his contemporaries far behind him. In these papers he first displayed that chaste and delicate humor, refined observation, and knowledge of the world, which form his most distinguishing characteristics; and in his Vision of Merza, his Reflections in Westminster Abbey, and other of his graver essays, he evinced a more poetical imagination, and deeper vein of feeling, than his previous writings had at all indicated.
In 1713, Addison finished his tragedy of Cato, and immediately brought it upon the stage. Though deficient in dramatic interest, yet in consequence of the peculiar state of party feelings at the time, its popularity was unbounded. Steele, Hughes, Young, Tickell, and Philips, vied with each other in the bestowment of their encomiastic verses upon the author; and the queen even, expressed a wish that the tragedy should be dedicated to her : but Addison had previously designed this honor for his friend Tickell, and, therefore, to avoid giving offence, either to his loyalty or his friendship, he published it without any dedication. The popularity of Cato' was not confined to the author's own country: the play was soon translated into French, Italian, and German, and was performed by the Jesuits in their college of St. Omers. The structure of this tragedy is, perhaps, more nearly perfect than that of any other in the language. The unities of time and place are perfectly preserved, and the entire outline is complete ; but, unfortunately, the action of the drama is proportionately retarded. "Cato, abounds in generous and patriotic sentiments, is sonorous in diction, and contains passages of great dignity; but the poet entirely fails to unlock the sources of human passion. It is a splendid and imposing work of art, with the grace, the majesty, and the coldness also, of a noble antique statue. The following soliloquy, in the first scene of the fifth act, is, perhaps, the best passage in the whole tragedy. The last nine lines, however, are exceedingly tame. Cato is alone, sitting in a thoughtful posture, with Plato's hook on the immortality of the soul in his hand, and a drawn sword on the table before him :
It must be so-Plato, thou reason'st well!