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and even this, without considering that the support and expense of a court is, for the most part, only a particular kind of traffick, by which money is circulated, without any national impoverishment. Milton's republicanism was, I am afraid, founded in an envious hatred of greatness, and a sullen desire of independence; in petulance impatient of control, and pride disdainful of superiority. He hated monarchs in the State, and prelates in the Church; for he hated all whom he was required to obey. It is to be suspected, that his predominant desire was to destroy rather than to establish, and that he felt not so much the love of liberty as repugnance to authority.
It has been observed, that they who most loudly clamour for liberty do not most liberally grant it. What we know of Milton's character, in domestick relations, is, that he was severe and arbitrary. His family consisted of women; and there appears in his books something like a Turkish contempt of females, as subordinate and inferior beings. That his own daughters might not break the ranks, he suffered them to be depressed by a mean and penurious education. He thought women made only for obedience, and man only for rebellion.
ADDISON AS A CRITIC.
Addison is now to be considered as a critic;
name which the present generation is scarcely willing to allow him. His criticism is condemned as tentative or experimental, rather than scientific; and he is considered as deciding by taste rather than by principles.
It is not uncommon for those who have grown wise by the labour of others, to add a little of their own, and overlook their masters. Addison is now despised by some who perhaps would never have seen his defects, but by the lights which he afforded them. That he always wrote as he would think it necessary to write now, cannot be affirmed; his instructions were such as the character of his readers made proper. That general knowledge which now circulates in common talk, was in his time rarely to be found. Men not
not professing learning were not ashamed of ignorance; and in the female world, any acquaintance with books was distinguished only to be censured. His purpose was to infuse literary curiosity, by gentle and unsuspected conveyance, into the gay, the idle, and the wealthy; he therefore presented knowledge in the most alluring form, not lofty and austere, but accessible
and familiar. When he shewed them their defects, he showed them likewise that they might be easily supplied. His attempt succeeded; inquiry was awakened, and comprehension expanded. An emulation of intellectual elegance was excited, and from his time, to our own, life has been gradually exalted, and conversation purified and enlarged.
Dryden had, not many years before, scattered criticism over his prefaces with very little parsimony; but, though he sometimes condescended to be somewhat familiar, his
was in general too scholastic for those who had yet their rudiments to learn, and found it not easy to understand their master. His observations were' framed rather for those that were learning to write, than for those that read only to talk.
An instructor like Addison was now wanting, whose remarks being superficial, might be easily understood, and being just, might prepare the mind for more attainments. Had he presented Paradise Lost to the publick with all the pomp of system and severity of science, the criticism would perhaps have been admired, and the poem still have been neglected; but by the blandishments of gentleness and facility he has made Milton an universal favourite, with whom readers of every class think it necessary to be pleased. He descended now and then to lower disquisitions; and by a serious display of the beauties of "Chevy-Chase" exposed himself to the ridicule of Wagstaff, who bestowed a like pompou's character on "Tom Thumb;" and to the contempt of Dennis, who, considering the fundamental position of his criticism, that “Chevy-Chase” pleases, and ought to please, because it is natural, observes, “that there is a way of deviating from nature by bombast or tumour, which soars above nature, and enlarges images beyond their real bulk; by affectation, which forsakes nature in quest of something unsuitable; and by imbecility, which degrades nature by faintness and diminution, by obscuring its appearances, and weakening its effects.” In “Chevy-Chase" there is not much of either bombast or affectation; but there is chill and lifeless imbecility. The story cannot possibly be told in a manner that shall make less impression on the mind.
Before the profound observers of the present race repose too securely on
the consciousness of their superiority to Addison, let them consider his Remarks on Ovid, in which may be found specimens of criticism sufficiently subtile and refined: let them peruse likewise his Essays on Wit, and on the Pleasures of Imagination, in which he founds art on the base of nature, and draws the principles of invention from dispositions in
herent in the mind of man with skill and elegance, such as his contemners will not easily attain.
As a describer of life and manners, he must be allowed to stand perhaps the first of the first rank. His humour, which as Steele observes, is peculiar to himself, is so happily diffused as to give the grace of novelty to domestick scenes and daily occurrences. He never “outsteps the modesty of nature, raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures never divert by distortion, nor amaze by aggravation. He copies life with so much fidelity, that he can be hardly said to invent; yet his exhibitions have an air so much original, that it is difficult to suppose them not merely the product of imagination.
As a teacher of wisdom, he may be confidentially followed. His religion has nothing in it enthusiastic or superstitious: he appears
: neither weakly credulous, nor wantonly sceptical; his morality is neither dangerously lax, nor impracticably rigid. All the enchantment of fancy, and all the cogency of argument, are employed to recommend to the reader his real interest, the care of pleasing the authour of his being. Truth is shewn sometimes as the phantom of a vision; sometimes appears half-veiled in an allegory: sometimes attracts regard in the robes of fancy, and sometimes steps forth in the con