* * * * *
With Memoirs and Critical Dissertations,
REV. GEORGE GILFILLAN.
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ADDISON'S POETICAL WORKS.
LIFE OF JOSEPH ADDISON,
POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS:—
To Mr Dryden,
A Poem to his Majesty, presented to the Lord Keeper,
A Translation of all Virgil's Fourth
Georgic, except the Story of Aristaeus,
A Song for St Cecilia's Day,
An Ode for St Cecilia's Day,
An Account of the greatest English Poets,
A Letter from Italy,
Milton's Style Imitated, in a Translation of a Story out of the Third AEneid,
Cowley's Epitaph on Himself,
Prologue to the 'Tender Husband,'
Epilogue to the 'British Enchanters,'
Prologue to Smith's 'Phaedra and Hippolitus,'
Horace Ode III., Book III.,
The Story of Phaeton,
Phaeton's Sisters transformed into Trees,
The Transformation of Cyenus into a Swan,
The Story of Calisto,
The Story of Coronis, and Birth of AEsculapius,
Ocyrrhoe Transformed to a Mare,
The Transformation of Battus to a Touchstone,
The Story of Aglauros, transformed into a Statue,
The Story of Cadmus,
The Transformation of Actaeon into a Stag,
The Birth of Bacchus,
The Transformation of Tiresias,
The Transformation of Echo,
The Story of Narcissus,
The Story of Pentheus,
The Mariners transformed to Dolphins,
The Death of Pentheus
The Story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus,
TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCESS OF WALES,
TO SIR GODFREY KNELLER, ON HIS PICTURE OF THE KING,
ON THE LADY MANCHESTER,
PARAPHRASE ON PSALM XXIII.
THE LIFE OF JOHN GAY
The Shepherd and Philosopher
Fable I.—The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller
Fable II.—The Spaniel and the Cameleon
Fable III.—The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy
Fable IV.—The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals
Fable V.—The Wild Boar and the Ram
Fable VI.—The Miser and Plutus
Fable VII.—The Lion, the Fox, and the Geese
Fable VIII.—The Lady and the Wasp
Fable IX.—The Bull and the Mastiff
Fable X.—The Elephant and the Bookseller
Fable XI.—The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose
Fable XII.—Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus
Fable XIII.—The Tame Stag
Fable XIV.—The Monkey who had seen the World
Fable XV.—The Philosopher and the Pheasants
Fable XVI.—The Pin and the Needle
Fable XVII.—The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf
Fable XVIII.—The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody
Fable XIX.—The Lion and the Cub
Fable XX.—The Old Hen and the Cock
Fable XXI.—The Rat-catcher and Cats
Fable XXII.—The Goat without a Beard
Fable XXIII.—The Old Woman and her Cats
Fable XXIV.—The Butterfly and the Snail
Fable XXV.—The Scold and the Parrot
Fable XXVI.—The Cur and the Mastiff
Fable XXVII.—The Sick Man and the Angel
Fable XXVIII.—The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud
Fable XXIX.—The Fox at the point of Death
Fable XXX.—The Setting-dog and the Partridge
Fable XXXI.—The Universal Apparition
Fable XXXII.—The Two Owls and the Sparrow
Fable XXXIII.—The Courtier and Proteus
Fable XXXIV.—The Mastiffs
Fable XXXV.—The Barley-mow and the Dunghill
Fable XXXVI.—Pythagoras and the Countryman
Fable XXXVII.—The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
Fable XXXVIII.—The Turkey and the Ant
Fable XXXIX.—The Father and Jupiter
Fable XL.—The Two Monkeys
Fable XLI.—The Owl and the Farmer
Fable XLII.-The Jugglers
Fable XLIII.-The Council of Horses
Fable XLIV.—The Hound and the Huntsman
Fable XLV.—The Poet and the Rose
Fable XLVI.—The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog
Fable XLVII.—The Court of Death
Fable XLVIII.—The Gardener and the Hog
Fable XLIX.—The Man and the Flea
Fable L.—The Hare and many Friends
Fable I.—The Dog and the Fox
Fable II.—The Vulture, the Sparrow, and other Birds
Fable III.—The Baboon and the Poultry
Fable IV.—The Ant in Office
Fable V.—The Bear in a Boat
Fable VI.—The Squire and his Cur
Fable VII.—The Countryman and Jupiter
Fable VIII.—The Man, the Cat, the Dog, and the Fly
Fable IX.—The Jackall, Leopard, and other Beasts
Fable X.—The Degenerate Bees
Fable XI.—The Pack-horse and the Carrier
Fable XII.—Pan and Fortune
Fable XIII.-Plutus, Cupid, and Time
Fable XIV.—The Owl, the Swan, the Cock, the Spider, the Ass, and the Farmer
Fable XV.—The Cook-maid, the Turnspit, and the Ox
Fable XVI.—The Ravens, the Sexton, and the Earth-worm
Sweet William's Farewell to Black-eyed Susan
A Ballad, from the What-d'ye-call-it
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SOMERVILLE
LIFE OF JOSEPH ADDISON.
Joseph Addison, the Spectator, the true founder of our periodical literature, the finest, if not the greatest writer in the English language, was born at Milston, Wiltshire, on the 1st of May 1672. A fanciful mind might trace a correspondence between the particular months when celebrated men have been born and the peculiar complexion of their genius. Milton, the austere and awful, was born in the silent and gloomy month of December. Shakspeare, the most versatile of all writers, was born in April, that month of changeful skies, of sudden sunshine, and sudden showers. Burns and Byron, those stormy spirits, both appeared in the fierce January; and of the former, he himself says,
"'Twas then a blast o' Januar-win' Blew welcome in on Robin."
Scott, the broad sunny being, visited us in August, and in the same month the warm genius of Shelley came, as Hunt used to tell him, "from the planet Mercury" to our earth. Coleridge and Keats, with whose song a deep bar of sorrow was to mingle, like the music of falling leaves, or of winds wailing for the departure of summer, arrived in October,—that month, the beauty of which is the child of blasting, and its glory the flush of decay. And it seems somehow fitting that Addison, the mild, the quietly-joyous, the sanguine and serene, should come, with the daisy and the sweet summer-tide, on the 1st of May, which Buchanan thus hails—
"Salve fugacis gloria saeculi, Salve secunda digna dies nota, Salve vetustae vitae imago, Et specimen venientis aevi."
"Hail, glory of the fleeting year! Hail, day, the fairest, happiest here! Image of time for ever by, Pledge of a bright eternity."
Dr Lancelot Addison, himself a man of no mean note, was the father of our poet. He was born in 1632, at Maltesmeaburn, in the parish of Corby Ravensworth, (what a name of ill-omen within ill-omen, or as Dr Johnson would say, "inspissated gloom"!) in the county of Westmoreland. His father was a minister of the gospel; but in such humble circumstances, that Lancelot was received from the Grammar-school of Appleby into Queen's College, Oxford, in the capacity of a "poor child." After passing his curriculum there, being chiefly distinguished for his violent High Church and Monarchical principles, for which he repeatedly smarted, he, at the Restoration, was appointed chaplain to the garrison of Dunkirk, and soon after he accepted a similar situation in Tangier, which had been ceded by Portugal to Britain. In this latter post he felt rather lonely and miserable, and was driven, in self-defence, to betake himself to the study of the manners and the literature of the Moors, Jews, and other Oriental nations. This led him afterwards to publish some works on Barbary, on Hebrew customs, and Mohammedanism, which shew a profound acquaintance with these subjects, and which, not without reason, are supposed to have coloured the imagination of his son Joseph, who is seldom more felicitous than when reproducing the gorgeous superstitions and phantasies of the East.
For eight years, old Addison lingered in loathed Tangier; nor, when he returned to England on a visit, had he any purpose of permanently residing in his own country. But his appointment was hastily bestowed on another; and it was fortunate for him that a private friend stepped in and presented him with the living of Milston, near Ambrosebury, Wilts, worth L120 a-year. This, which Miss Aiken calls a "pittance," was probably equivalent to L250 now. At all events, on the strength of it, he married Jane, daughter of Dr Gulstone, and sister to the Bishop of Bristol, who, in due time, became the mother of our poet. Lancelot was afterwards made Prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral, and King's Chaplain in ordinary; about the time (1675) when he took the degree of D.D. Subsequently he became Archdeacon of Salisbury, and at last, in 1683, obtained the Deanery of Lichfield. But for his suspected Jacobitism, he would probably have received the mitre. He died in 1703.
Joseph had two brothers and three sisters. His third sister, Dorothy, survived the rest, and was twice married. Swift met her once, and with some awe (for he, like all bullies, had a little of the coward about him), describes her as a kind of wit, and very like her brother. The Spectator seems to have been a wild and wayward boy. He is said to have once acted as ringleader in a "barring out," described by Johnson as a savage license by which the boys, when the periodical vacation drew near, used to take possession of the school, of which they barred the doors, and bade the master defiance from the windows. On another occasion, having committed some petty offence at a country school, terrified at the master's apprehended displeasure, he made his escape into the fields and woods, where for some days he fed on fruits and slept in a hollow tree till discovered and brought back to his parents. This last may seem the act of a timid boy, and inconsistent with the former, and yet is somehow congenial to our ideal of the character of our poet. It required perhaps more daring to front the perils of the woods than the frown of the master, and augured, besides, a certain romance in his disposition which found afterwards a vent in literature. After receiving instruction, first at Salisbury, and then at Lichfield, (his connexion with which place forms a link, uniting him in a manner to the great lexicographer, who was born there,) he was removed to the Charterhouse, and there profited so much in Greek and Latin, that at fifteen he was not only, says Macaulay, "fit for the university, but carried thither a classical taste and a stock of learning which would have done honour to a master of arts." He had at the Charter-house formed a friendship, destined to have important bearings on his after history, with Richard Steele, whose character may be summed up in a few sentences. Who has not heard of Sir Richard Steele? Wordsworth says of one of his characters—
"She was known to every star, And every wind that blows."
Poor Dick was known to every sponging-house, and to every bailiff that, blowing in pursuit, walked the London streets. A fine-hearted, warm-blooded character, without an atom of prudence, self-control, reticence, or forethought; quite as destitute of malice or envy; perpetually sinning and perpetually repenting; never positively irreligious, even when drunk; and often excessively pious when recovering sobriety,—Steele reeled his way through life, and died with the reputation of being an orthodox Christian and a (nearly) habitual drunkard; the most affectionate and most faithless of husbands; a brave soldier, and in many points an arrant fool; a violent politician, and the best natured of men; a writer extremely lively, for this, among other reasons, that he wrote generally on his legs, flying or meditating flight from his creditors; and who embodied in himself the titles of his three principal works—"The Christian Hero," "The Tender Husband," and the Tatler;—being a "Christian Hero" in intention, one of those intentions with which a certain place is paved; a "Tender Husband," if not a true one, to his two ladies; and a Tatler to all persons, in all circumstances, and at all times. When Addison first knew this original, he was probably uncontaminated, and must have been, as he continued to the end to be, an irascible but joyous and genial being; and they became intimate at once, although circumstances severed them from each other for a long period.
In 1687 Addison entered Queen's College, Oxford; but sometime after, (Macaulay says "not many months," Johnson "a year," and Miss Aiken "two years,") Dr Lancaster, of Magdalene College, having accidentally seen some Latin verses from his pen, exerted himself to procure their author admission to the benefits of a foundation, then the wealthiest in Europe. Our poet was first elected Demy, then Probationary Fellow in 1697, and in the year following, Actual Fellow. During the ten years he resided at Oxford, he was a general favourite, remarkable for his diligence in study, for the purity and tenderness of his feelings, for his bashful and retiring manners, for the excellence of his Latin compositions, and for his solitary walks, pursued in a path they still point out below the elms which skirt a meadow on the banks of the Cherwell,—a river, we need scarcely say, which there weds the Isis. It was in such lonely evening or Saturday strolls that he probably acquired the habit of pensive reverie to which we owe many of the finest of his speculations in after days, such as that in Spectator, No. 565, beginning, "I was yesterday, about sunset, walking in the open fields, when insensibly the night fell upon me," &c.
Prose English essays, however, were as yet strangers to his pen. His ambition was to be a poet, and while still under twenty-two, he produced and printed some complimentary verses to Dryden, then declining in years, and fallen into comparative neglect. The old poet was pleased with the homage of the young aspirant, which was as graceful in expression as it was generous in purpose. For instance, alluding to Dryden's projected translation of "Ovid," he says, that "Ovid," thus transformed, shall "reveal"
"A nobler change than he himself can tell."
This, however, although happy, starts a different view of the subject. It suggests the idea that most translations are metamorphoses to the worse, like that of a living person into a dead tree, or at least of a superior into an inferior being. In Pope's "Iliad," you have the metamorphosis of an eagle into a nightingale; in Dryden's "Virgil," you have a stately war-horse transformed into a hard-trotting hackney; in Hoole's versions of the Italian Poets, you have nymphs nailed up in timber; while, on the other hand, in Coleridge's "Wallenstein," you have the "nobler change," spoken of by Addison, of—shall we say?-a cold and stately holly-tree turned into a murmuring and oracular oak.
That, after thus introducing himself to Dryden, he met him occasionally seems certain, although the rumour circulated by Spence that he taught the old man to sit late and drink hard seems ridiculous. Dryden introduced him to Congreve, and through Congreve he made the valuable acquaintance of Charles Montague, then leader of the Whigs in the House of Commons, and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
He afterwards published a translation of that part of the "Fourth Book of the Georgics" referring to bees, on which Dryden, who had procured a preface to his own complete translation of the same poem from Addison, complimented him by saying—"After his bees, my later swarm is scarcely worth hiving." He published, too, a poem on "King William," and an "Account of the Principal English Poets," in which he ventures on a character of Spenser ere he had read his works. It thus is, as might have been expected, poor and non-appreciative, and speaks of Spenser as a poet pretty nearly forgotten. Some time after this, he collected a volume, entitled, "Musae Anglicanae," in which he inserted all his early Latin verses.
Charles Montague, himself a poet of a certain small rank, and a man of great general talents, became—along with Somers—the patron of Addison. He diverted him from the Church, to which his own tastes seemed to destine him, suggesting that civil employment had become very corrupt through want of men of liberal education and good principles, and should be redeemed from this reproach, and declaring that, though he had been called an enemy of the Church, he would never do it any other injury than keeping Mr Addison out of it. It is likely that the timid temperament of our poet concurred with these suggestions of Montague in determining his decision. His failure as a Parliamentary orator subsequently seems to prove that the pulpit was not his vocation. After all, his Saturday papers in the Spectator are as fine as any sermons of that age, and he perhaps did more good serving as a volunteer than had he been a regular soldier in the army of the Christian faith.
Somers and Montague wished to employ their protege in public service abroad. There was, however, one drawback. Addison had plenty of English, Greek, and Latin, but he had little French. This he must be sent abroad to acquire; and for the purpose of defraying the expenses of his travels, a pension of L300 a-year was conferred upon him. Paid thus, as few poets or writers of any kind are, in advance, and having his fellowship besides, Addison, like a young nobleman, instead of a parson's son, set out upon his tour. This was in the summer of 1699. He was twenty-seven years of age, exactly one year younger than Byron, and three years younger than Milton, when they visited the same regions. He went first to Paris, and was received with great distinction by Montague's kinsman, the Earl of Manchester, and his beautiful lady. He travelled with his eyes quietly open, especially to the humorous aspects of things. In a letter to Montague he says that he had not seen a blush from his first landing at Calais, and gives a sarcastic description of the spurious devotion which the example of the old repentant roue, Louis XIV., had rendered fashionable among the literati of France: "There is no book comes out at present that has not something in it of an air of devotion. Dacier has been forced to prove his Plato a very good CHRISTIAN before he ventures upon his translation, and has so far complied with the taste of the age, that his whole book is overrun with texts of Scripture, and the notion of pre-existence, supposed to be stolen from two verses of the prophets." The sincere believer is usually the first to detect and be disgusted with the sham one; and Addison was always a sincere believer, but he had also that happy nature in which disgust is carried quickly and easily off through the safety-valve of a smile.
From Paris he went to Blois, the capital of Loir-and-Cher, a small town about 110 miles south-west of Paris. Here he had two advantages. He found the French language spoken in its perfection; and as he had not a single countryman with whom to exchange a word, he was driven on his own resources. He remained there a year, and spent his time well, studying hard, rising early, having the best French masters, mingling in society, although subject, as in previous and after parts of his life, to fits of absence. His life was as pure as it was simple, his most intimate friend at Blois, the Abbe Philippeaux, saying: "He had no amour whilst here that I know of, and I think I should have known it if he had had any." During this time he sent home letters to his friends in England—to Montague, Colonel Froude, Congreve, and others—which contain sentences of exquisite humour. Thus, describing the famous gallery at Versailles, with the paintings of Louis' victories, he says: "The history of the present King till the sixteenth year of his reign is painted on the roof by Le Brun, so that his Majesty has actions enough by him to furnish another gallery much longer than the first. He is represented with all the terror and majesty that you can imagine in every part of the picture, and see his young face as perfectly drawn in the roof as his present one in the side. The painter has represented His Most Christian Majesty under the figure of Jupiter throwing thunderbolts all about the ceiling, and striking terror into the Danube and Rhine, that lie astonished and blasted with lightning a little above the cornice."
This is Addison all over; and quite as good is his picture of the general character of the French: "'Tis not in the power of want or slavery to make them miserable. There is nothing to be met with in the country but mirth and poverty. Every one sings, laughs, and starves. Their conversation is generally agreeable, for if they have any wit or sense, they are sure to shew it. Their women are perfect mistresses in the art of shewing themselves to the best advantage. They are always gay and sprightly, and set off the worst faces in Europe with the best airs. Every one knows how to give herself as charming a look and posture as Sir Godfrey Kneller could draw her in."
From Blois he returned to Paris, and was now better qualified, from his knowledge of the language, to mingle with its philosophers, savants, and poets. He had some interesting talk with Malebranche and Boileau, the former of whom "very much praised Mr Newton's mathematics; shook his head at the name of Hobbes, and told me he thought him a pauvre esprit." Here follows a genuine Addisonianism: "His book is now reprinted with many additions, among which he shewed me a very pretty hypothesis of colours, which is different from that of Cartesius or Newton, though they may all three be true." Boileau, now sixty-four, deaf as a post, and full of the "sweltered venom" of ill-natured criticism, nevertheless received Addison kindly; and when presented by him with his "Musae Anglicanae," is said from that time to have conceived an opinion of the English genius for poetry. Addison says that Boileau "hated an ill poet." Unfortunately, however, for his judgment, it is notorious that he slighted Shakspeare, Milton, and Corneille, and that, next to Homer and Virgil, his great idols were Arnaud and Racine.
In December 1700, tired of French manners, which had lost even their power of moving him to smiles, and it may be apprehensive of the war connected with the Spanish succession, which was about to inflame all Europe, Addison embarked from Marseilles for Italy. After a narrow escape from one of those sudden Mediterranean storms, in which poor Shelley perished, he landed at Savona, and proceeded, through wild mountain paths, to Genoa. He afterwards commemorated his deliverance in the pleasing lines published in the Spectator, beginning with—
"How are Thy servants blest, O Lord,"
one verse in which was wont to awaken the enthusiasm of the boy Burns,
"What though in dreadful whirls we hung, High on the broken wave," &c.
The survivor of a shipwreck is, or should be, ever afterwards a sadder and a wiser man. And Addison continued long to feel subdued and thankful, and could hardly have been more so though he had outlived that shipwreck which bears now the relation to all recent wrecks which "the storm" of November 1703, as we shall see, bore to all inferior tempests—the loss of the Royal Charter,—the stately and gold-laden bark, which, on Wednesday the 26th October 1859, when on the verge of the haven which the passengers so much desired to see, was lifted up by the blast as by the hand of God, and dashed into ten thousand pieces,—hundreds of men, women, and, alas! alas! children, drowned, mutilated, crushed by falling machinery, and that, too, at a moment when they had just been assured that there was no immediate danger, and when hope was beginning to sparkle in the eyes that were sinking into despair,—sovereigns, spray, and the mangled fragments of human bodies massed together as if in the anarchy of hell, and hurled upon the rocks. Addison, no more than one of the escaped from that saloon of horror and sea of death, could forget the special Providence by which he was saved; and the hymn above referred to, and that other still finer, commencing—
"When all Thy mercies, O my God! My rising soul surveys,"
seem a pillar erected on the shore to Him that had protected and redeemed him.
From Genoa he went to Milan, and thence to Venice, where he saw a play on the subject of Cato enacted, and began himself to indite his celebrated tragedy, of which he completed four acts ere he quitted Italy. On his way to Rome, he visited the miniature mountain republic of San Marino, which he contemplated and described with much the same feeling of interest and amazement, as afterwards, in the Guardian, the little colony of ants immortalised there. Like Swift, (whom Macaulay accuses of stealing from Addison's Latin poem on the "Pigmies," some hints for his Lilliput,) Addison had a finer eye for the little than for the vast. He enjoyed Marino, therefore, and must have chuckled over the description of it in the geography, as much as if it had been a stroke of his own inventive pen. "Besides the mountain on which the town stands, the republic possesses two adjoining hills." At Rome he did not stay long at this time, but as if afraid of the attractions of the approaching Holy Week—that blaze of brilliant but false light in which so many moths have been consumed—he hurried to Naples and saw Vesuvius burning over its beautiful bay with less admiration than has been felt since by many inferior men. He returned to Rome and lived there unharmed during the sickly season; thence he went to Florence, surveying with interest the glories of its art; and in fine he crossed the Alps by Mount Cenis to Geneva, composing on his way a poetical epistle to Montague, now Lord Halifax. The Alps do not seem to have much delighted his imagination. There are a few even still who look upon mountains as excrescences and deformities, and give to Glencoe only the homage of their unaffected fears, which is certainly better than the false raptures of others. But, in Addison's day, admiration for wild scenery was neither pretended nor felt. Our poet loved, indeed, the great silent starry night, and has whispered and stammered out some beautiful things in its praise. But he does this, so to speak, below his breath, while the white Alps, seeming the shrouded corpses of the fallen Titans, take that breath away, and he shudders all the road through them, and descends delightedly to the green pastures and the still waters of lower regions.
At Geneva, where he arrived in December 1701, he remained some time, expecting from Lord Manchester the official appointment for which he was now qualified. But while waiting there, he heard the tidings of King William's death, which put an end to his hopes as well as to those of his party. His pension, too, was stopped, and he was obliged to become a tutor to a young Englishman of fortune. With him he visited many parts of Switzerland and Germany, and spent a portion of his leisure in writing, not only his "Travels," but his recondite "Dialogue on Medals,"—a book of considerable research and great ingenuity, which was not published, however, till after his death. From Germany he passed to Holland, where he heard the sad intelligence that his father was no more. During his stay in Holland, he watched with keen, yet kindly eye, the manners of the inhabitants; and in his letters hits at their drinking habits with a mixture of severity and sympathy which is very characteristic. Toward the close of 1703 he returned home, and, we doubt not, felt at first desolate enough. His father was dead, his pension withdrawn, his political patrons out of power, and his literary fame not yet fully established. But, on the other hand, he was only thirty-one; he had made some new and influential friends on the Continent, particularly the eminent Edward Wortley Montague, husband of the still more celebrated Mary Wortley Montague, and he had in his portfolio a volume of "Travels" of some mark and likelihood, nearly ready for the press. Besides, the Whigs, low as they were now in political influence, were still true to their party, and they welcomed Addison, as one of their rising hopes, into the famous "Kit-Cat Club," an omniumgaiherum of all whose talents, learning, accomplishments, wit, or wealth were thought useful to the Whig cause.
Addison's arrival in England seems to have synchronised or preceded the great tempest of November 1703, to which we have already referred, and to which he afterwards alludes in his simile of the Angel in "The Campaign"—
"Such as of late o'er pale Britannia past."
Our readers will find a sketch of this terrific tempest in the commencement of Ainsworth's "Jack Shepherd." Macaulay says of it, "It was the only tempest which, in our latitude, has equalled the rage of a tropical hurricane. No other tempest was ever in this country the occasion of a Parliamentary address, or of a national fast. Whole fleets had been cast away. Large mansions had been blown down; one prelate had been buried beneath the ruins of his palace. London and Bristol had presented the appearance of cities just sacked. Hundreds of families were thrown into mourning. The prostrate trunks of large trees, and the ruins of houses attested, in all the southern counties, the fury of the blast." How Addison felt or fared during this storm, we have no means of knowing. Perhaps his timid nature shrank from it in spite of its appeal to imagination, or perhaps the poetry that was in him triumphed over his fears, and as he felt what Zanga was afterwards to say—
"I love this rocking of the battlements,"
the image of the Angel, afterwards to be dilated into the vast form of Wrath, described in the "Campaign," rose on his vision, and remained there indelibly fixed till the time arrived when, used with artistic skill, it floated him into fame.
Meanwhile, he spent this winter and spring of 1703-4 in a rather precarious manner, and like a true poet. He was lodging in an obscure garret in the Haymarket, up three stairs, when one day the Right Honourable Henry Boyle, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, called on him and communicated a project that had been concocted between Godolphin and Halifax. The Whigs were now again in the ascendant, and the battle of Blenheim, fought on the 13th August 1704, had brought their triumph to a climax. Halifax and Godolphin were mortified at the bad poems in commemoration of it which poured from the press. Their feeling was sincerely that which Byron affected in reference to Wellington and Waterloo—
"I wish your bards would sing it rather better."
They bethought themselves of Addison, and sent Boyle to request him to write some verses on the subject. He readily undertook the task, and when he had half-finished the "Campaign," he shewed it to Godolphin, who was delighted, especially with the Angel, and in gratitude, instantly appointed the lucky poet to a commissionership worth about L200 a-year, and assured him that this was only a foretaste of greater favours to come. The poem soon after appeared. It was received with acclamation, and Addison felt that his fortune and his fame were both secured.
Yet, in truth, the "Campaign" is not a great poem, nor, properly speaking, if we except the Angel, a poem at all. It is simply a Gazette done into tolerable rhyme; and its chief inspiration comes from its zealous party-feeling. Marlborough, though a first-rate marshal, was not a great man, not by any means so great as Wellington, far less as Napoleon; and how can a heroic poem be written without a hero? Yet the poem fell in with the humour of the times, and was cried up as though it had been another book of the Iliad. Shortly afterwards he published his "Travels," which were thought rather cold and classical. To them succeeded the opera of "Rosamond," which, being ill-set to music, failed on the stage; but became, and is still, a favourite in the closet. It is in the lightest and easiest style of Dryden,—that in which he wrote "Alexander's Feast," and some other of his lyrics,—but is sustained for some fifteen hundred lines with an energy and a grace which we doubt if even Dryden could have equalled. Its verses not only move but dance. The spirit is genial and sunny, and above the mazy motions shines the light of genuine poetry. Johnson truly says, that if Addison had cultivated this style he would have excelled.
From the date of the "Campaign," Addison's life became an ascending scale of promotion. We find him first in Hanover with Lord Halifax, then appointed under-secretary to Sir Charles Hodges, and in a few months after to the Earl of Sunderland. In 1708 he was elected member for Malmesbury, and the next year he accompanied Thomas, Earl of Wharton, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, to that country as his secretary, and became Keeper of the Records in Birmingham's Tower,—a nominal office worth L300 a-year. His secretary's salary was L2000 per annum.
Previous to this he had resumed his intimacy with Steele, to whom he lent money, and on one occasion is said to have recovered it by sending a bailiff to his house. This has been called heartless conduct, but the probability is that Addison was provoked by the extravagant use made of the loan by his reckless friend. In Parliament it is well-known Addison never spoke; but he surrounded himself in private life with a parliament of his own, and, like Cato, gave his little senate laws. That senate consisted of Steele, Ambrose, Phillips; the wretched Eustace Budgell, who afterwards drowned himself; sometimes Swift and Pope; and ultimately Tickell, who became his most confidential friend and the depositor of his literary remains. In mixed societies he was silent; but with a few select spirits around him, and especially after the "good wine did the good office" of banishing his bashfulness and taciturnity, he became the most delightful and fascinating of conversers. The staple of his conversation was quiet, sly humour; but there was fine sentiment, touches of pathos, and now and then imagination peeped over like an Alp above meaner hills. Swift alone, we suspect, was his match; but his power lay rather in severe and pungent sarcasm, in broad, coarse, though unsmiling wit, and at times in the fierce and terrible sallies of misanthropic rage and despair. Addison, on leaving England, had, by his modesty, geniality, and amiable manners, become the most popular man in the country, so much so, that, says Swift, "he might be king an' he had a mind."
In Ireland—although he sat as member for Cavan, and appears in Parliament to have got beyond his famous "I conceive—I conceive—I conceive"—(having, as the wag observed, "conceived three times and brought forth nothing"), and spoken sometimes, if not often—he did not feel himself at home. He must have loathed the licentious and corrupt Wharton, and felt besides a longing for the society of London, the noctes coenoeque Deum he had left behind him. It was in Ireland, however, that his real literary career began. Steele, in the spring of 1709, had commenced the Tatler, a thrice-a-week miscellany of foreign news, town gossip, short sharp papers de omnibus rebus et guibusdum aliis, with a sprinkling of moral and literary criticism. When Addison heard of this scheme, he readily lent his aid to it, and then, as honest Richard admits, "I fared like a distressed prince who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid,—I was undone by my auxiliary." To the Tatler Addison contributed a number of papers, which, if slighter than his better ones in the Spectator, were nevertheless highly characteristic of his singular powers of observation, character-painting, humour, and invention.
In November 1709, he returned to England, and not long after he shared in the downfall of his party, and lost his secretaryship. This also is thought to have injured him in a tender point. He had already conceived an affection for the Countess-Dowager of Warwick, who had been disposed to encourage the addresses of the Secretary, but looked coldly on those of the mere man and scribbler Joseph Addison, who, to crown his misfortunes at this time, had resigned his Fellowship, suffered some severe pecuniary losses of a kind, and from a quarter which are both obscure, and was trembling lest he should be deprived of his small Irish office too. Yet, although reduced and well-nigh beggared, never did his mind approve itself more rich. Besides writing a great deal in the Tatler, he published a political journal, called the Whig Examiner, in which, although the wit, we think, is not so fine as in his Freeholder, there is a vigour and masculine energy which he has seldom equalled elsewhere. When it expired, Swift exulted over its death in terms which sufficiently proved that he was annoyed and oppressed by its life. "He might well," says Johnson, "rejoice at the death of that which he could not have killed."
On the 2d of January 1711, the last Tatler came forth; and on the 1st of the following March appeared the Spectator, which is now the main pillar of Addison's fame, and the fullest revelation of his exquisite genius. Without being as a whole a great, or in any part of it a profound work, there are few productions which, if lost, would be more missed in literature. One reclines on its pages as on pillows. The sweetness of the spirit,—the trembling beauty of the sentences, like that of a twilight wave just touched by the west wind's balmy breath,—the nice strokes of humour, so gentle, yet so overpowering,—the feminine delicacy and refinement of the allusions,—the art which so dexterously conceals itself,—the mild enthusiasm for the works of man and God which glows in all its serious effusions,—the good nature of its satire,—the geniality of its criticism,—the everlasting April of the style, so soft and vivid,—the purity and healthiness of the moral tone,—and the childlike religion which breathes in the Saturday papers—one or two of which, such as the "Vision of Mirza," are almost scriptural in spirit and beautiful simplicity,—combine to throw a charm around the Spectator which works of far loftier pretensions, if they need not, certainly do not possess. Macaulay (whom we love for his love of Addison and Bunyan more than for aught else about his works) truly observes, that few writers have discovered so much variety and inventiveness as Addison, who, in the papers of a single week, sometimes traverses the whole gamut of literature, supplying keen sarcasm, rich portraiture of character, the epistle, the tale, the allegory, the apologue, the moral essay, and the religious meditation,—all first-rate in quality, and all suggesting the idea that his resources are boundless, and that the half has not been told. His criticisms have been ridiculed as shallow; but while his lucubrations on Milton were useful in their day as plain finger-posts, quietly pointing up to the stupendous sublimities of the theme, his essays on Wit are subtle, and his papers on the "Pleasures of Imagination" throw on the beautiful topic a light like that of a red evening west, giving and receiving glory from the autumnal landscape.
In the end of 1712 the Spectator, which had circulated at one time to the extent of 4000 copies a-day, was discontinued, and in a few weeks the Guardian supplied its place. It was two months ere Addison began to write, and during that time it was flippantly dull; but when he appeared its character changed, and his contributions to the new periodical were quite as good as the best of his Spectators.
In April 1713 his "Cato" was acted with immense success, and in circumstances so well known that they need not be detailed at length. Pope wrote the prologue; Booth enacted the hero; Steele packed the house; peers, both Tory and Whig, crowded the boxes; claps of applause were echoed back from High Churchmen to the members of the "Kit-Cat Club;" Bolingbroke sent fifty guineas, during the progress of the play, to Booth for defending the cause of liberty against a perpetual dictator, (Marlborough;) and with the exception of growling Dennis, everybody was in raptures. The play has long found its level. It has passages of power and thoughts of beauty, but it has one radical fault—formality. Mandeville described Addison as a parson in a tie-wig. "Cato" is a parson without the tie-wig; an intolerable mixture of the patriot and the pedant. Few would now give one of the Spectator's little papers about Sir Roger de Coverley for a century of Catos.
In September 1713 the Guardian stopped; but in June 1714 Addison, now separated from Steele, who was carrying on a political paper called the Englishman, added an eighth volume to the Spectator. Its contents are more uniformly serious than those of the first seven volumes, and it contains, besides Addison's matchless papers, some only inferior to these, especially four by Mr Grove, a dissenting minister in Taunton. It is recorded in "Boswell" that Baretti having, on the Continent, met with Grove's paper on "Novelty," it quickened his curiosity to visit Britain, for he thought, if such were the lighter periodical essays of our authors, their productions on more weighty occasions must be wonderful indeed!
When George I. succeeded to the throne, Addison's fortunes began to improve. A Council having been appointed to manage matters till the King arrived, Addison was chosen their secretary; and afterwards he went over again to Ireland in his old capacity, Sunderland being now Lord-Lieutenant. Here, much as he differed from Swift in politics, he resumed his intimacy with him,—an intimacy, considering the dispositions of the two men, singular, as though a lamb and a flayed bear were to form an alliance. In 1715 our poet returned to England, and obtained a seat at the Board of Trade. Early in the year he brought out, anonymously, on the stage his comedy of the "Drummer," which was coldly received. And towards the close of it, he commenced a very clever periodical called the Freeholder. We only met with this series a few years ago, but can assure our readers that some of the most delectable bits of Addison are to be found in it. There is a Tory fox-hunter yet riding along there, whom we would advise you to join if you would enjoy one of the richest treats of humour; and there is a Jacobite army still on its way to Preston, the only danger connected with approaching which, is lest you be killed with laughter.
Shortly after occurred his famous quarrel with Pope, to which we have already referred in our life of that poet, and do not intend to recur. Next year Addison's long courtship came to a successful close. He wedded the Dowager Warwick, went to reside at Holland-house, and became miserable for life. She was a proud, imperious woman, who, instead of seeking to wean Addison from his convivial habits, (if such habits in any excessive measure were his,) drove him deeper into the slough by her bitter words and haughty carriage. The tavern, which had formerly been his occasional resort, became now his nightly refuge. In 1717 he received his highest civil honour, being made Secretary of State under Lord Sunderland; but, as usual, the slave soon appeared in the chariot. His health began to break down, and asthma soon obliged him to resign his office, on receiving a retiring pension of L1500 a-year. Next Steele and he, having taken opposite sides in politics, got engaged in a paper war—Steele in the Plebeian, and Addison in the Old Whig; and personalities of a disagreeable kind passed between the two friends. In the meantime Addison was dying fast. Dropsy had supervened on asthma, and the help of physicians was vain. He prepared himself, like a man and a Christian, to meet the last stern foe. He sent for Gay and asked his forgiveness for some act of unkindness he had done him. Gay granted it, although utterly ignorant of what the offence had been. He had probably, on account of his Toryism, been deprived, through Addison's means, of some preferment. He entrusted his works to the care of Tickell, and dedicated them to Craggs, his successor in the secretaryship, in a touching and beautiful letter, written a few days before his death. He called, it is said, the young Earl of Warwick, his wife's son, a very dissipated young man, and of unsettled religious principles, to his bedside, and said, "I have sent for you that you may see how a Christian can die." He breathed his last on the 17th June 1709, forty-seven years old, and leaving one child, a daughter, who died, at an advanced age, at Bilton, Warwickshire, in 1797. His funeral took place, at dead of night, in Westminster Abbey, Bishop Atterbury meeting the procession and reading the service by torch-light. He was laid beside his friend Montague, and in a few months his successor, Craggs, was laid beside him. Nearly a century elapsed ere the present monument was erected over his dust. Tickell wrote a fine poem to his memory; and a splendid edition of his works was published by subscription in 1721.
Addison was cut off in the prime of life, and interrupted in some literary undertakings and projects of great pith and moment. He had written a portion of a treatise on the "Evidences of Christianity," and was meditating some works, such as a "Metrical Version of the Psalms" and a tragedy on the history of Socrates, still more suitable to his cast of mind.
We have already indicated our opinion alike of Addison's character and genius, but must be permitted a few closing remarks. Both partook of the feminine type. He was an amiable and highly gifted, rather than a strong or great man. His shrinking timidity of temperament, his singular modesty of manners, his quiet, sly power of humorous yet kindly observation, his minute style of criticism, even the peculiar cast of his piety, all served to stamp the lady-man. In taciturnity alone he bore the sex no resemblance. And hence it is that Campbell in poetry, and Addison in prose, are, or were, the great favourites of female readers. He had many weaknesses, but, as in the character of woman, they appeared beautiful, and cognate to his gentle nature. His fear of giving offence was one of the most prominent of these. In his writings and in his life, he seems always treading on thin ice. Pope said truly of him—
"He hints a fault, and hesitates dislike."
But this was not owing to malice, but to the bashful good nature which distinguished him. It is true, too, that he hints a beauty, and hesitates in his expressions of love. He says himself the finest things, and then blushes as if detected in a crime; or he praises an obvious and colossal merit in another, and then starts at the sound himself had made. His encomiums resemble the evening talk of lovers, being low, sweet, and trembling. Were we to speak of Addison phrenologically, we should say that, next to veneration, wit, and ideality, his principal faculties were caution and secretiveness. He was cautious to the brink of cowardice. We fancy him in a considerable fright in the storm on the Ligurian Gulf, amidst the exhalations of the unhealthy Campagna, and while the avalanches of the Alps—"the thunderbolts of snow"—were falling around him. We know that he walked about behind the scenes perspiring with agitation while the fate of "Cato" was still undecided. Had it failed, Addison never could, as Dr Johnson, when asked how he felt after "Irene" was damned, have replied, "Like the Monument." We know, too, that he sought to soothe the fury and stroke down the angry bristles of John Dennis. To call the author of the "Campaign" a coward were going too far; but he felt, we believe, more of a martial glow while writing it in his Haymarket garret than had he mingled in the fray. And as to his secretiveness, his still, deep, scarce-rippling stream of humour, his habit, commemorated by Swift, when he found any man invincibly wrong, of flattering his opinions by acquiescence, and sinking him yet deeper in absurdity; even the fact that no word is found more frequently in his writings than "secret" ("secret joy," "secret satisfaction," "secret solace," are phrases constantly occurring,) prove that, whatever else he had possessed of the female character, the title of the play, "A Wonder—a Woman keeps a Secret," had been no paradox in reference to him.
Having his lips in general barred by the double bolts of caution and secretiveness, one ceases to wonder that the "invisible spirit of wine" was welcomed by him as a key to open occasionally the rich treasures of his mind; but that he was a habitual drunkard is one calumny; that he wrote his best Spectators when too much excited with wine is another; and that he "died drunk" is a third,—and the most atrocious of all, propagated though it has been by Walpole and Byron. His habits, however, were undoubtedly too careless and convivial; and there used to be a floating tradition in Holland-house, that, when meditating his writings there, he was wont to walk along a gallery, at each end of which stood a separate bottle, out of both of which he never failed, en passant, to sip! This, after all, however, may be only a mythical fable.
While, as an author, the favourite of ladies, of the young, and of catholic-minded critics generally, Addison has had, and has still, severe and able detractors, who are wont to speak of him in such a manner as this:—"He is a highly cultivated artist, but not one thought of any vivid novelty did he put out in all his many books. You become placid reading him, but think of Ossian and Shakspeare, and be silent. He is a lapidary polishing pebbles,—a pretty art, but not vested with the glories of sculpture, nor the mathematical magnitude of architecture. He does not walk a demigod, but a stiff Anglicised imitator of French paces. He is a symmetrical, but a small invisible personage at rapier practice." Now, clever as this is, it only proves that Addison is not a Shakspeare or Milton. He does not pretend to be either. He is no demigod, but he is a man, a lady-man if you will, but the lovelier on that account. Besides, he was cut off in his prime, and when he might have girt himself up to achieve greater things than he has done. And although the French taste of his age somewhat affected and chilled his genius, yet he knew of other models than Racine and Boileau. He drank of "Siloa's brook." He admired and imitated the poetry of the Bible. He loves not, indeed, its wilder and higher strains; he gets giddy on the top of Lebanon; the Valley of Dry Bones he treads with timid steps; and his look up to the "Terrible Crystal" is more of fright than of exultation. But the lovelier, softer, simpler, and more pensive parts of the Bible are very dear to the gentle Spectator, and are finely, if faintly, reproduced in his writings. Indeed, the principle which would derogate from Addison's works, would lead to the depreciation of portions of the Scriptures too. "Ruth" is not so grand as the "Revelation;" the "Song of Solomon" is not so sublime as the "Song of Songs, which is Isaiah's;" and the story of Joseph has not the mystic grandeur or rushing fire of Ezekiel's prophecy. But there they are in the same Book of God, and are even dearer to many hearts than the loftier portions; and so with Addison's papers beside the works of Bacon, Milton, and Coleridge.
His poetry is now in our readers' hands, and should be read with a candid spirit. They will admire the elegance and gracefully-used learning of the "Epistle to Halifax." They will not be astonished at the "Campaign," but they will regard it with interest as the lever which first lifted Addison into his true place in society and letters. They will find much to please them in his verses to Dryden, Somers, King William, and his odes on St Cecilia's Day; and they will pause with peculiar fondness over those delightful hymns, some of which they have sung or repeated from infancy, which they will find again able to "beat the heavenward flame," and start the tender and pious tear, and which are of themselves sufficient to rank Addison high on the list of Christian poets.
[Footnote 1: Among these "others" was Abraham Stanyan, plenipotentiary extraordinary at Neufchatel at the settlement of the rival claims of the Duke of Brandenberg, Holland, and France, to that principality. He was afterwards ambassador to France. He married a daughter of Dr Pritchett, Bishop of Gloucester. It is said, that, having on one occasion borrowed a sum of money from Addison, the latter observed him to be very subservient, agreeing with every opinion Mr A. expressed, till Addison, provoked, and guessing the cause, said, "Stanyan, either contradict me, or pay me my money." Our friend, Mr J. Stanyan Bigg, author of the very brilliant poem, "Night and the Soul," is a descendant of Abraham Stanyan.]
ADDISON'S POETICAL WORKS.
POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS.
TO MR DRYDEN.
How long, great poet, shall thy sacred lays Provoke our wonder, and transcend our praise? Can neither injuries of time, nor age, Damp thy poetic heat, and quench thy rage? Not so thy Ovid in his exile wrote; Grief chilled his breast, and checked his rising thought; Pensive and sad, his drooping Muse betrays The Roman genius in its last decays. Prevailing warmth has still thy mind possess'd, And second youth is kindled in thy breast; _10 Thou mak'st the beauties of the Romans known, And England boasts of riches not her own; Thy lines have heightened Virgil's majesty, And Horace wonders at himself in thee. Thou teachest Persius to inform our isle In smoother numbers, and a clearer style; And Juvenal, instructed in thy page, Edges his satire, and improves his rage. Thy copy casts a fairer light on all, And still outshines the bright original. _20 Now Ovid boasts the advantage of thy song, And tells his story in the British tongue; Thy charming verse and fair translations show How thy own laurel first began to grow; How wild Lycaon, changed by angry gods, And frighted at himself, ran howling through the woods. Oh, mayst thou still the noble task prolong, Nor age nor sickness interrupt thy song! Then may we wondering read, how human limbs Have watered kingdoms, and dissolved in streams; _30 Of those rich fruits that on the fertile mould Turned yellow by degrees, and ripened into gold: How some in feathers, or a ragged hide, Have lived a second life, and different natures tried. Then will thy Ovid, thus transformed, reveal A nobler change than he himself can tell.
Mag. Coll. Oxon, June 2, 1693. The Author's age, 22.
A POEM TO HIS MAJESTY, PRESENTED TO THE LORD KEEPER.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR JOHN SOMERS,
LOKD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL.
If yet your thoughts are loose from state affairs, Nor feel the burden of a kingdom's cares, If yet your time and actions are your own, Receive the present of a Muse unknown: A Muse that in adventurous numbers sings The rout of armies, and the fall of kings, Britain advanced, and Europe's peace restored, By Somers' counsels, and by Nassau's sword. To you, my lord, these daring thoughts belong, Who helped to raise the subject of my song; 10 To you the hero of my verse reveals His great designs; to you in council tells His inmost thoughts, determining the doom Of towns unstormed, and battles yet to come. And well could you, in your immortal strains, Describe his conduct, and reward his pains: But since the state has all your cares engross'd, And poetry in higher thoughts is lost, Attend to what a lesser Muse indites, Pardon her faults and countenance her flights. 20 On you, my lord, with anxious fear I wait, And from your judgment must expect my fate, Who, free from vulgar passions, are above Degrading envy, or misguided love; If you, well pleased, shall smile upon my lays, Secure of fame, my voice I'll boldly raise; For next to what you write, is what you praise.
TO THE KING.
When now the business of the field is o'er, The trumpets sleep, and cannons cease to roar; When every dismal echo is decay'd, And all the thunder of the battle laid; Attend, auspicious prince, and let the Muse In humble accents milder thoughts infuse. Others, in bold prophetic numbers skill'd, Set thee in arms, and led thee to the field; My Muse, expecting, on the British strand Waits thy return, and welcomes thee to land: _10 She oft has seen thee pressing on the foe, When Europe was concerned in every blow; But durst not in heroic strains rejoice; is The trumpets, drums, and cannons drowned her voice: She saw the Boyne run thick with human gore, And floating corps lie beating on the shore: She saw thee climb the banks, but tried in vain To trace her hero through the dusty plain, When through the thick embattled lines he broke, Now plunged amidst the foes, now lost in clouds of smoke. _20 Oh that some Muse, renowned for lofty verse, In daring numbers would thy toils rehearse! Draw thee beloved in peace, and feared in wars, Inured to noonday sweats, and midnight cares! But still the godlike man, by some hard fate, Receives the glory of his toils too late; Too late the verse the mighty act succeeds; One age the hero, one the poet breeds. A thousand years in full succession ran Ere Virgil raised his voice, and sung the man _30 Who, driven by stress of fate, such dangers bore On stormy seas and a disastrous shore, Before he settled in the promised earth, And gave the empire of the world its birth. Troy long had found the Grecians bold and fierce, Ere Homer mustered up their troops in verse; Long had Achilles quelled the Trojans' lust, And laid the labour of the gods in dust, Before the towering Muse began her flight, And drew the hero raging in the fight, _40 Engaged in tented fields and rolling floods, Or slaughtering mortals, or a match for gods. And here, perhaps, by fate's unerring doom, Some mighty bard lies hid in years to come, That shall in William's godlike acts engage, And with his battles warm a future age. Hibernian fields shall here thy conquests show, And Boyne be sung when it has ceased to flow; Here Gallic labours shall advance thy fame, And here Seneffe shall wear another name. _50 Our late posterity, with secret dread, Shall view thy battles, and with pleasure read How, in the bloody field, too near advanced, The guiltless bullet on thy shoulder glanced. The race of Nassaus was by Heaven design'd To curb the proud oppressors of mankind, To bind the tyrants of the earth with laws, And fight in every injured nation's cause, The world's great patriots; they for justice call, And, as they favour, kingdoms rise or fall. _60 Our British youth, unused to rough alarms, Careless of fame, and negligent of arms, Had long forgot to meditate the foe, And heard unwarmed the martial trumpet blow; But now, inspired by thee, with fresh delight Their swords they brandish, and require the fight, Renew their ancient conquests on the main, And act their fathers' triumphs o'er again; Fired, when they hear how Agincourt was strow'd With Gallic corps and Cressi swam in blood, _70 With eager warmth they fight, ambitious all Who first shall storm the breach, or mount the wall. In vain the thronging enemy by force Would clear the ramparts, and repel their course; They break through all, for William leads the way, Where fires rage most, and loudest engines play. Namur's late terrors and destruction show What William, warmed with just revenge, can do: Where once a thousand turrets raised on high Their gilded spires, and glittered in the sky, _80 An undistinguished heap of dust is found, And all the pile lies smoking on the ground, His toils, for no ignoble ends design'd, Promote the common welfare of mankind; No wild ambition moves, but Europe's fears, The cries of orphans, and the widow's tears; Oppressed religion gives the first alarms, And injured justice sets him in his arms; His conquests freedom to the world afford, And nations bless the labours of his sword. _90 Thus when the forming Muse would copy forth A perfect pattern of heroic worth, She sets a man triumphant in the field, O'er giants cloven down, and monsters kill'd, Reeking in blood, and smeared with dust and sweat, Whilst angry gods conspire to make him great. Thy navy rides on seas before unpress'd, And strikes a terror through the haughty East; Algiers and Tunis from their sultry shore With horror hear the British engines roar; _100 Fain from the neighbouring dangers would they run, And wish themselves still nearer to the sun. The Gallic ships are in their ports confined, Denied the common use of sea and wind, Nor dare again the British strength engage; Still they remember that destructive rage Which lately made their trembling host retire, Stunned with the noise, and wrapt in smoke and fire; The waves with wide unnumbered wrecks were strow'd, And planks, and arms, and men, promiscuous flow'd. _110 Spain's numerous fleet, that perished on our coast, Could scarce a longer line of battle boast, The winds could hardly drive them to their fate, And all the ocean laboured with the weight. Where'er the waves in restless errors roll, The sea lies open now to either pole: Now may we safely use the northern gales, And in the Polar Circle spread our sails; Or deep in southern climes, secure from wars, New lands explore, and sail by other stars; _120 Fetch uncontrolled each labour of the sun, And make the product of the world our own. At length, proud prince, ambitious Louis, cease To plague mankind, and trouble Europe's peace; Think on the structures which thy pride has razed, On towns unpeopled, and on fields laid waste; Think on the heaps of corps and streams of blood, On every guilty plain, and purple flood, Thy arms have made, and cease an impious war, Nor waste the lives intrusted to thy care. _130 Or if no milder thought can calm thy mind, Behold the great avenger of mankind, See mighty Nassau through the battle ride, And see thy subjects gasping by his side: Fain would the pious prince refuse the alarm, Fain would he check the fury of his arm; But when thy cruelties his thoughts engage, The hero kindles with becoming rage, Then countries stolen, and captives unrestored, Give strength to every blow, and edge his sword. _140 Behold with what resistless force he falls On towns besieged, and thunders at thy walls! Ask Villeroy, for Villeroy beheld The town surrendered, and the treaty seal'd, With what amazing strength the forts were won, Whilst the whole power of France stood looking on. But stop not here: behold where Berkley stands, And executes his injured king's commands! Around thy coast his bursting bombs he pours On flaming citadels and falling towers; _150 With hissing streams of fire the air they streak, And hurl destruction round them where they break; The skies with long ascending flames are bright, And all the sea reflects a quivering light. Thus AEtna, when in fierce eruptions broke, Fills heaven with ashes, and the earth with smoke; Here crags of broken rocks are twirled on high, Here molten stones and scattered cinders fly: Its fury reaches the remotest coast, And strows the Asiatic shore with dust. _160 Now does the sailor from the neighbouring main Look after Gallic towns and forts in vain; No more his wonted marks he can descry, But sees a long unmeasured ruin lie; Whilst, pointing to the naked coast, he shows His wondering mates where towns and steeples rose, Where crowded citizens he lately view'd, And singles out the place where once St Maloes stood. Here Russel's actions should my Muse require; And, would my strength but second my desire, _170 I'd all his boundless bravery rehearse, And draw his cannons thundering in my verse: High on the deck should the great leader stand, Wrath in his look, and lightning in his hand; Like Homer's Hector, when he flung his fire Amidst a thousand ships, and made all Greece retire. But who can run the British triumphs o'er, And count the flames dispersed on every shore? Who can describe the scattered victory,
And draw the reader on from sea to sea? _180 Else who could Ormond's godlike acts refuse, Ormond the theme of every Oxford Muse? Fain would I here his mighty worth proclaim, Attend him in the noble chase of fame, Through all the noise and hurry of the fight, Observe each blow, and keep him still in sight. Oh, did our British peers thus court renown, And grace the coats their great forefathers won, Our arms would then triumphantly advance, Nor Henry be the last that conquered France! _190 What might not England hope, if such abroad Purchased their country's honour with their blood: When such, detained at home, support our state In William's stead, and bear a kingdom's weight, The schemes of Gallic policy o'erthrow, And blast the counsels of the common foe; Direct our armies, and distribute right, And render our Maria's loss more light. But stop, my Muse, the ungrateful sound forbear, Maria's name still wounds each British ear: _200 Each British heart Maria still does wound, And tears burst out unbidden at the sound; Maria still our rising mirth destroys, Darkens our triumphs, and forbids our joys. But see, at length, the British ships appear! Our Nassau comes! and, as his fleet draws near, The rising masts advance, the sails grow white, And all his pompous navy floats in sight. Come, mighty prince, desired of Britain, come! May heaven's propitious gales attend thee home! _210 Come, and let longing crowds behold that look Which such confusion and amazement strook Through Gallic hosts: but, oh! let us descry Mirth in thy brow, and pleasure in thy eye; Let nothing dreadful in thy face be found; But for awhile forget the trumpet's sound; Well-pleased, thy people's loyalty approve, Accept their duty, and enjoy their love. For as, when lately moved with fierce delight, You plunged amidst the tumult of the fight, _220 Whole heaps of dead encompassed you around, And steeds o'erturned lay foaming on the ground: So crowned with laurels now, where'er you go, Around you blooming joys and peaceful blessings flow.
A TRANSLATION OF ALL
VIRGIL'S FOURTH GEORGIC,
EXCEPT THE STORY OF ARISTAEUS.
Ethereal sweets shall next my Muse engage, And this, Maecenas, claims your patronage. Of little creatures' wondrous acts I treat, The ranks and mighty leaders of their state, Their laws, employments, and their wars relate. A trifling theme provokes my humble lays. Trifling the theme, not so the poet's praise, If great Apollo and the tuneful Nine First, for your bees a proper station find, _10 That's fenced about, and sheltered from the wind; For winds divert them in their flight, and drive The swarms, when loaden homeward, from their hive. Nor sheep, nor goats, must pasture near their stores, To trample underfoot the springing flowers; Nor frisking heifers bound about the place, To spurn the dew-drops off, and bruise the rising grass; Nor must the lizard's painted brood appear, Nor wood-pecks, nor the swallow, harbour near. They waste the swarms, and, as they fly along, _20 Convey the tender morsels to their young. Let purling streams, and fountains edged with moss, And shallow rills run trickling through the grass; Let branching olives o'er the fountain grow; Or palms shoot up, and shade the streams below; That when the youth, led by their princes, shun The crowded hive and sport it in the sun, Refreshing springs may tempt them from the heat, And shady coverts yield a cool retreat. Whether the neighbouring water stands or runs, _30 Lay twigs across and bridge it o'er with stones That if rough storms, or sudden blasts of wind, Should dip or scatter those that lag behind, Here they may settle on the friendly stone, And dry their reeking pinions at the sun. Plant all the flowery banks with lavender, With store of savory scent the fragrant air; Let running betony the field o'erspread, And fountains soak the violet's dewy bed. Though barks or plaited willows make your hive, _40 A narrow inlet to their cells contrive; For colds congeal and freeze the liquors up, And, melted down with heat, the waxen buildings drop. The bees, of both extremes alike afraid, Their wax around the whistling crannies spread, And suck out clammy dews from herbs and flowers, To smear the chinks, and plaster up the pores; For this they hoard up glue, whose clinging drops, Like pitch or bird-lime, hang in stringy ropes. They oft, 'tis said, in dark retirements dwell, _50 And work in subterraneous caves their cell; At other times the industrious insects live In hollow rocks, or make a tree their hive. Point all their chinky lodgings round with mud, And leaves must thinly on your work be strow'd; But let no baleful yew-tree flourish near, Nor rotten marshes send out steams of mire; Nor burning crabs grow red, and crackle in the fire: Nor neighbouring caves return the dying sound, Nor echoing rocks the doubled voice rebound. _60 Things thus prepared—— When the under-world is seized with cold and night, And summer here descends in streams of light, The bees through woods and forests take their flight. They rifle every flower, and lightly skim The crystal brook, and sip the running stream; And thus they feed their young with strange delight, And knead the yielding wax, and work the slimy sweet. But when on high you see the bees repair, Borne on the winds through distant tracts of air, _70 And view the winged cloud all blackening from afar; While shady coverts and fresh streams they choose, Milfoil and common honeysuckles bruise, And sprinkle on their hives the fragrant juice. On brazen vessels beat a tinkling sound, And shake the cymbals of the goddess round; Then all will hastily retreat, and fill The warm resounding hollow of their cell. If once two rival kings their right debate, And factions and cabals embroil the state, _80 The people's actions will their thoughts declare; All their hearts tremble, and beat thick with war; Hoarse, broken sounds, like trumpets' harsh alarms, Run through the hive, and call them to their arms; All in a hurry spread their shivering wings, And fit their claws, and point their angry stings: In crowds before the king's pavilion meet, And boldly challenge out the foe to fight: At last, when all the heavens are warm and fair, They rush together out, and join; the air _90 Swarms thick, and echoes with the humming war. All in a firm round cluster mix, and strow With heaps of little corps the earth below, As thick as hailstones from the floor rebound, Or shaken acorns rattle on the ground. No sense of danger can their kings control, Their little bodies lodge a mighty soul: Each obstinate in arms pursues his blow, Till shameful flight secures the routed foe. This hot dispute and all this mighty fray _100 A little dust flung upward will allay. But when both kings are settled in their hive, Mark him who looks the worst, and, lest he live Idle at home in ease and luxury, The lazy monarch must be doomed to die; So let the royal insect rule alone, And reign without a rival in his throne. The kings are different; one of better note, All speck'd with gold, and many a shining spot, Looks gay, and glistens in a gilded coat; _110 But love of ease, and sloth, in one prevails, That scarce his hanging paunch behind him trails: The people's looks are different as their kings', Some sparkle bright, and glitter in their wings; Others look loathsome and diseased with sloth, Like a faint traveller, whose dusty mouth Grows dry with heat, and spits a mawkish froth. The first are best—— From their o'erflowing combs you'll often press Pure luscious sweets, that mingling in the glass _120 Correct the harshness of the racy juice, And a rich flavour through the wine diffuse. But when they sport abroad, and rove from home, And leave the cooling hive, and quit the unfinished comb, Their airy ramblings are with ease confined, Clip their king's wings, and if they stay behind No bold usurper dares invade their right, Nor sound a march, nor give the sign for flight. Let flowery banks entice them to their cells, And gardens all perfumed with native smells; _130 Where carved Priapus has his fixed abode, The robber's terror, and the scarecrow god. Wild thyme and pine-trees from their barren hill Transplant, and nurse them in the neighbouring soil, Set fruit-trees round, nor e'er indulge thy sloth, But water them, and urge their shady growth. And here, perhaps, were not I giving o'er, And striking sail, and making to the shore, I'd show what art the gardener's toils require, Why rosy paestum blushes twice a year; _140 What streams the verdant succory supply, And how the thirsty plant drinks rivers dry; With what a cheerful green does parsley grace, And writhes the bellying cucumber along the twisted grass; Nor would I pass the soft acanthus o'er, Ivy nor myrtle-trees that love the shore; Nor daffodils, that late from earth's slow womb Unrumple their swoln buds, and show their yellow bloom. For once I saw in the Tarentine vale, Where slow Galesus drenched the washy soil, _150 An old Corician yeoman, who had got A few neglected acres to his lot, Where neither corn nor pasture graced the field, Nor would the vine her purple harvest yield; But savoury herbs among the thorns were found, Vervain and poppy-flowers his garden crown'd, And drooping lilies whitened all the ground. Blest with these riches he could empires slight, And when he rested from his toils at night, The earth unpurchased dainties would afford, _160 And his own garden furnished out his board: The spring did first his opening roses blow, First ripening autumn bent his fruitful bough. When piercing colds had burst the brittle stone, And freezing rivers stiffened as they run, He then would prune the tenderest of his trees, Chide the late spring, and lingering western breeze: His bees first swarmed, and made his vessels foam With the rich squeezing of the juicy comb. Here lindens and the sappy pine increased; _170 Here, when gay flowers his smiling orchard dressed, As many blossoms as the spring could show, So many dangling apples mellowed on the bough. In rows his elms and knotty pear-trees bloom, And thorns ennobled now to bear a plum, And spreading plane-trees, where, supinely laid, He now enjoys the cool, and quaffs beneath the shade. But these for want of room I must omit, And leave for future poets to recite. Now I'll proceed their natures to declare, _180 Which Jove himself did on the bees confer Because, invited by the timbrel's sound, Lodged in a cave, the almighty babe they found, And the young god nursed kindly under-ground. Of all the winged inhabitants of air, These only make their young the public care; In well-disposed societies they live, And laws and statutes regulate their hive; Nor stray like others unconfined abroad, But know set stations, and a fixed abode: _190 Each provident of cold in summer flies Through fields and woods, to seek for new supplies, And in the common stock unlades his thighs. Some watch the food, some in the meadows ply, Taste every bud, and suck each blossom dry; Whilst others, labouring in their cells at home, Temper Narcissus' clammy tears with gum, For the first groundwork of the golden comb; On this they found their waxen works, and raise The yellow fabric on its gluey base. _200 Some educate the young, or hatch the seed With vital warmth, and future nations breed; Whilst others thicken all the slimy dews, And into purest honey work the juice; Then fill the hollows of the comb, and swell With luscious nectar every flowing cell. By turns they watch, by turns with curious eyes Survey the heavens, and search the clouded skies, To find out breeding storms, and tell what tempests rise. By turns they ease the loaden swarms, or drive _210 The drone, a lazy insect, from their hive. The work is warmly plied through all the cells, And strong with thyme the new-made honey smells. So in their caves the brawny Cyclops sweat, When with huge strokes the stubborn wedge they beat, And all the unshapen thunderbolt complete; Alternately their hammers rise and fall; Whilst griping tongs turn round the glowing ball. With puffing bellows some the flames increase, And some in waters dip the hissing mass; _220 Their beaten anvils dreadfully resound, And AEtna shakes all o'er, and thunders under-ground. Thus, if great things we may with small compare, The busy swarms their different labours share. Desire of profit urges all degrees; The aged insects, by experience wise, Attend the comb, and fashion every part, And shape the waxen fret-work out with art: The young at night, returning from their toils, Bring home their thighs clogged with the meadows' spoils. _230 On lavender and saffron buds they feed, On bending osiers and the balmy reed, From purple violets and the teile they bring Their gathered sweets, and rifle all the spring. All work together, all together rest, The morning still renews their labours past; Then all rush out, their different tasks pursue, Sit on the bloom, and suck the ripening dew; Again, when evening warns them to their home, With weary wings and heavy thighs they come, _240 And crowd about the chink, and mix a drowsy hum. Into their cells at length they gently creep, There all the night their peaceful station keep, Wrapt up in silence, and dissolved in sleep. None range abroad when winds and storms are nigh, Nor trust their bodies to a faithless sky, But make small journeys with a careful wing, And fly to water at a neighbouring spring; And lest their airy bodies should be cast In restless whirls, the sport of every blast, _250 They carry stones to poise them in their flight, As ballast keeps the unsteady vessel right. But, of all customs that the bees can boast, 'Tis this may challenge admiration most; That none will Hymen's softer joys approve, Nor waste their spirits in luxurious love, But all a long virginity maintain, And bring forth young without a mother's pain: From herbs and flowers they pick each tender bee, And cull from plants a buzzing progeny; _260 From these they choose out subjects, and create A little monarch of the rising state; Then build wax kingdoms for the infant prince, And form a palace for his residence. But often in their journeys, as they fly, On flints they tear their silken wings, or lie Grovelling beneath their flowery load, and die. Thus love of honey can an insect fire, And in a fly such generous thoughts inspire. Yet by repeopling their decaying state, _270 Though seven short springs conclude their vital date, Their ancient stocks eternally remain, And in an endless race their children's children reign. No prostrate vassal of the East can more With slavish fear his haughty prince adore; His life unites them all; but, when he dies, All in loud tumults and distractions rise; They waste their honey and their combs deface, And wild confusion reigns in every place. Him all admire, all the great guardian own, _280 And crowd about his courts, and buzz about his throne. Oft on their backs their weary prince they bear, Oft in his cause, embattled in the air, Pursue a glorious death, in wounds and war. Some, from such instances as these, have taught, 'The bees' extract is heavenly; for they thought The universe alive; and that a soul, Diffused throughout the matter of the whole, To all the vast unbounded frame was given, And ran through earth, and air, and sea, and all the deep of heaven; _290 That this first kindled life in man and beast, Life, that again flows into this at last. That no compounded animal could die, But when dissolved, the spirit mounted high, Dwelt in a star, and settled in the sky.' Whene'er their balmy sweets you mean to seize, And take the liquid labours of the bees, Spurt draughts of water from your mouth, and drive A loathsome cloud of smoke amidst their hive, Twice in the year their flowery toils begin, _300 And twice they fetch their dewy harvest in; Once, when the lovely Pleiades arise, And add fresh lustre to the summer skies; And once, when hastening from the watery sign, They quit their station, and forbear to shine. The bees are prone to rage, and often found To perish for revenge, and die upon the wound Their venomed sting produces aching pains, And swells the flesh, and shoots among the veins. When first a cold hard winter's storms arrive, _310 And threaten death or famine to their hive, If now their sinking state and low affairs Can move your pity, and provoke your cares, Fresh burning thyme before their cells convey, And cut their dry and husky wax away; For often lizards seize the luscious spoils, Or drones, that riot on another's toils: Oft broods of moths infest the hungry swarms, And oft the furious wasp their hive alarms With louder hums, and with unequal arms; _320 Or else the spider at their entrance sets. Her snares, and spins her bowels into nets. When sickness reigns, for they as well as we Feel all the effects of frail mortality, By certain marks the new disease is seen, Their colour changes, and their looks are thin; Their funeral rites are formed, and every bee With grief attends the sad solemnity; The few diseased survivors hang before Their sickly cells, and droop about the door, _330 Or slowly in their hives their limbs unfold, Shrunk up with hunger, and benumbed with cold; In drawling hums the feeble insects grieve, And doleful buzzes echo through the hive, Like winds that softly murmur through the trees, Like flames pent up, or like retiring seas. Now lay fresh honey near their empty rooms, In troughs of hollow reeds, whilst frying gums Cast round a fragrant mist of spicy fumes. Thus kindly tempt the famished swarm to eat, _340 And gently reconcile them to their meat. Mix juice of galls, and wine, that grow in time Condensed by fire, and thicken to a slime; To these, dried roses, thyme, and ccntaury join, And raisins, ripened on the Psythian vine. Besides, there grows a flower in marshy ground, Its name amellus, easy to be found; A mighty spring works in its root, and cleaves The sprouting stalk, and shows itself in leaves: The flower itself is of a golden hue, _350 The leaves inclining to a darker blue; The leaves shoot thick about the flower, and grow Into a bush, and shade the turf below: The plant in holy garlands often twines The altars' posts, and beautifies the shrines; Its taste is sharp, in vales new-shorn it grows, Where Mella's stream in watery mazes flows. Take plenty of its roots, and boil them well In wine, and heap them up before the cell. But if the whole stock fail, and none survive; _360 To raise new people, and recruit the hive, I'll here the great experiment declare, That spread the Arcadian shepherd's name so far. How bees from blood of slaughtered bulls have fled, And swarms amidst the red corruption bred. For where the Egyptians yearly see their bounds Refreshed with floods, and sail about their grounds, Where Persia borders, and the rolling Nile Drives swiftly down the swarthy Indian's soil, Till into seven it multiplies its stream, _370 And fattens Egypt with a fruitful slime: In this last practice all their hope remains, And long experience justifies their pains. First, then, a close contracted space of ground, With straitened walls and low-built roof, they found; A narrow shelving light is next assign'd To all the quarters, one to every wind; Through these the glancing rays obliquely pierce: Hither they lead a bull that's young and fierce, When two years' growth of horn he proudly shows, _380 And shakes the comely terrors of his brows: His nose and mouth, the avenues of breath, They muzzle up, and beat his limbs to death; With violence to life and stifling pain He flings and spurns, and tries to snort in vain, Loud heavy blows fall thick on every side, Till his bruised bowels burst within the hide; When dead, they leave him rotting on the ground, With branches, thyme, and cassia, strowed around. All this is done, when first the western breeze _390 Becalms the year, and smooths the troubled seas; Before the chattering swallow builds her nest, Or fields in spring's embroidery are dress'd. Meanwhile the tainted juice ferments within, And quickens as its works: and now are seen A wondrous swarm, that o'er the carcase crawls, Of shapeless, rude, unfinished animals. No legs at first the insect's weight sustain, At length it moves its new-made limbs with pain; Now strikes the air with quivering wings, and tries _400 To lift its body up, and learns to rise; Now bending thighs and gilded wings it wears Full grown, and all the bee at length appears; From every side the fruitful carcase pours Its swarming brood, as thick as summer showers, Or flights of arrows from the Parthian bows, When twanging strings first shoot them on the foes. Thus have I sung the nature of the bee; While Caesar, towering to divinity, The frighted Indians with his thunder awed, _410 And claimed their homage, and commenced a god; I flourished all the while in arts of peace, Retired and sheltered in inglorious ease; I who before the songs of shepherds made, When gay and young my rural lays I play'd, And set my Tityrus beneath his shade.
A SONG FOR ST CECILIA'S DAY,
Cecilia, whose exalted hymns With joy and wonder fill the blest, In choirs of warbling seraphims, Known and distinguished from the rest, Attend, harmonious saint, and see Thy vocal sons of harmony; Attend, harmonious saint, and hear our prayers; Enliven all our earthly airs, And, as thou sing'st thy God, teach us to sing of thee; Tune every string and every tongue, Be thou the Muse and subject of our song.
Let all Cecilia's praise proclaim, Employ the echo in her name, Hark how the flutes and trumpets raise, At bright Cecilia's name, their lays; The organ labours in her praise. Cecilia's name does all our numbers grace, From every voice the tuneful accents fly, In soaring trebles now it rises high, And now it sinks, and dwells upon the base. Cecilia's name through all the notes we sing, The work of every skilful tongue, The sound of every trembling string, The sound and triumph of our song.
For ever consecrate the day, To music and Cecilia; Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heaven we have below. Music can noble hints impart, Engender fury, kindle love; With unsuspected eloquence can move, And manage all the man with secret art. When Orpheus strikes the trembling lyre, The streams stand still, the stones admire; The listening savages advance, The wolf and lamb around him trip, The bears in awkward measures leap, And tigers mingle in the dance. The moving woods attended, as he play'd, And Rhodope was left without a shade.
Music religious heats inspires, It wakes the soul, and lifts it high, And wings it with sublime desires, And fits it to bespeak the Deity. The Almighty listens to a tuneful tongue, And seems well-pleased and courted with a song. Soft moving sounds and heavenly airs Give force to every word, and recommend our prayers. When time itself shall be no more, And all things in confusion hurled, Music shall then exert its power, And sound survive the ruins of the world: Then saints and angels shall agree In one eternal jubilee: All heaven shall echo with their hymns divine, And God himself with pleasure see The whole creation in a chorus join.