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301 belauded, was the eldest son of a religious author, the Rev. Launcelot Addison, Dean of Lichfield, and was born in 1672, in Wiltshire. He took his degree of M.A. from Magdalen College, in 1687, and in his twenty-second year first appeared as a poet, in some verses addressed to Dryden. The public has long forgotten Addison's verses, save one hymn; but, poor as most of them are, some turgid lines procured him notoriety, the friendship of Lord Somers, and a pension of £300 a year, on which he travelled abroad, and saw much. As we have now under our present Government hardly any rewards for literary merit, we turn with a sigh to the days of King William, when such slender merit obtained a reward which enabled a servant of the public—as an author is, in the best sense -to fit himself for further work. During Addison's tour in Italy he wrote the greater part of his tragedy of “ Cato” and other poems; but the death of King William put an end alike to his pension and his travels.
The publication of a poem, “The Campaign," procured Addison further patronage. In it the Duke of Marlborough, perhaps the most complete and effective military genius England has ever produced, was, with a somewhat too bold simile, compared to an angel :
So when an angel, by Divine command,
This passage, which probably touched the remembrance of the Lord Treasurer as to the Great Storm of 1703, at once procured from him a post for the poet.
In 1705 he accompanied Lord Halifax to Hanover, and was made Under-Secretary of State. He was an excellent Crown servant; was in succession Keeper of the Records, Secretary of the Regency, and a Lord of Trade. He married the Countess Dowager of Warwick; was rich enough to lose in one year £2,000 and an estate in the Indies worth £14,000, and not to feel it; but was so unhappy with his noble and supercilious wife, with whom he indeed“ wedded discord,” that he hurried to the consolation of the bottle, and thus, it is said, hastened his death, which took place at Holland House (whither he had retired with a pension of £1500 a year, equal to at least £3000 now), on the 17th of June, 1719. Nine days afterwards he was buried in Westminster Abbey, whither he was borne by great lords and exalted personages.
Addison was essentially a lucky author; and although he deserves high praise, we cannot help comparing his good fortune with the fate of Steele and Swift, the one a much better-hearted man, and the other a far greater genius, and wondering why it was so ordained. Soft, gentle, persuasive, with just enough of genius to make every thing he did good, with not enough greatness ever to act against the public or the Government, Addison easily rose to the head of the literature of the day, while far greater men were below him. Everything he touched had a share of success; everything he embarked upon was happy, save his marriage. Poor Dick Steele blundered along with the “Tatler” without reward; but when Addison aided him with the “Spectator,” the sale rose at once to 20,000; an enormous circulation in those days. Addison's luck has followed him with his biographers. He is by them held as the
“ swell” author, the gentleman of caste and rank, the man never guilty of an impropriety, save the then fashionable one of the bottle; still, as Pope says, he gives
His little senate laws, And sits attentive to his own applause. But when we judge Addison as an author, he takes in his own walk-that of essayist-a place in the foremost rank. “Whoever," says Johnson, wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, 'and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison." Eustace Budgell, John Hughes, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Thomas Parnell, John Byrom, Tickell, Philips, and Henley, with other gentlemen, were occasional contributors to the 'Spectator ;” and with such a staff we need not wonder at the success of the first penny daily serial of its kind.
The success of the “Spectator” gave an impulse to the periodical review and literary miscellany, and for years afterwards, every now and then its effects were visible in successive ventures of the same kind. In the “Craftsman,” Bolingbroke was the chief writer, and this ran from 1726 to 1731. In 1718 Ambrose Philips, who had written in the “Spectator," started the "Free-Thinker; or, Essays on Ignorance, Superstition, Bigotry, Enthusiasm, Craft, &c.," interspersed with several pieces of wit and humour, designed to restore the deluded part of mankind to the use of reason and common sense.” This had considerable
The “Museum” was another venture, commenced in 1746; to which Horace Walpole, Akenside, and the two Wartons contributed. On every side the writer was freeing himself from patronage, and firmly establishing his profession, by appealing to the middle classes, among whom the mass of readers will always be found. He became the censor of manners and morals; he strove to banish rudeness, vice, and frivolity; he taught people to think calmly and to act wisely. Insensibly he educated the English people, and drew them from a very dark and ignorant state. Many hands were at this excellent work, more able than statesmen. more effective than the clergy, because addressing larger numbers, and with far greater vigour and ability. Among these publications may be mentioned the “Guardian ;” next to it the “Rambler,” almost wholly written by Dr. Johnson during 1750-52; the “Adventurer," by Dr. Hawkesworth, 1752-54; the “World," a weekly paper, edited by Edward Moore, 1753-56 ; the “Connoisseur," edited by George Colman, 175456; the “ Old Maid,” by Mrs. Frances Brookes ; the "Idler," the “ Censor,” and various other
Then after some period came Goldsmith's “ Citizen of the World,” and in 1779 the “ Mirror.” And this brings us to our own time; for the conductor of the “ Mirror" was Henry Mackenzie, who died in Edinburgh in 1831, aged eighty-five. The "Mirror" was succeeded by the
Lounger” in 1785; this lasted for one hundred and one numbers, and died in 1787. A mere list of names and titles connected with the periodical literature of the present century would suffice to fill a volume such as that now in the reader's hands; Ι
therefore here close this short and rapid account of those earlier periodical writers who did good service in insensibly inculcating virtue and good feeling, and whose honest purpose, energy, and fecundity are truly to be wondered at.
some speak of Christianity, saying that it has an especial power of development, so one may-indeed, for purposes of comprehending its mission, must-speak of
poetry. And truly the comparison is a fit one, and not degrading to religion; because poetry is itself so high and noble, that whilst it softens it lifts the heart to worship, and makes the proud intellect bend in adoration.
The development spoken of is this; that at first, as children are taken with the mere jingles of the rhyme, so men are pleased with the simple fetters of verse, and poetry becomes a story-teller, an historian, or the embalmer of some legend. She may also assume the garb of the tragic muse, and astonish us with the horror of the scene; then she may please us with comedy, and flatter us with love songs; after which she shall assume the gown of the doctor and become a controversialist on some theological question ; lastly, she reclothes herself in her own shape, putting off these play