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Yet, if he seldom rcaches supreme excellence, he rarely sinks into dull ness, and is still more rarely entangled in absurdity. He did not trust his powers enough to be negligent. There is in most of his compositions a calmness and equability, deliberate and cautious, sometimes with little that delights, buț seldom with any thing that offends.

Of this kind seem to be his poems to Dryden, to Sommers, and to the King. His ode on St. Cecilia has been imitațed by Pope, and has something in it of Dryden's vigour. Of his Account of the English Poets, he used to speak as a poor ting* ;" but it is not worse than his usual strain. He has said, not very judiciously, in his character of Waller,

Thy verse coạld shew ev’n Cromwell's innocence,,
And compliment the storms that bore him hence.
O! had thy Muse not come an age too soon,
But seen great Nassąu on the British throne,

How had his triumph glitter'd in thy page What is this but to say, that he who could compliment Cromwell had been the proper poet for king William? Addison, however, never printed the piece.

The Letter from Italy has been always praised, but has never been praised beyond its merit. It is more correct, with less appearance of labour, and more elegant, with less ambition of ornament, than any other of his poems. There is, however, one broken metaphor, of which netice may properly be taken:

Fir'd with that name
I bridie in my struggling Muse with pain,

That longs to launch into a nobler strain. To bridle a goddess is no very delicate idea ; but why must she be bridled 12 because she longs to launch ; an act which was never hindered by a bridle : and whither will she launch? into à nobler strain. She is in the first line a horse, in the second a boat ; and the care of the poet is to keep his horse or his boat from singing.

The next composition is the far-çamed Campaign, which Dr. Warton has termed a “ Gazette in Rhyme," with harshness not often used by the goodnature of his criticism. Before a censure so severe is admitted, let us consider that War is a frequent subject of Poetry, and then enquire who has described it with more justness and force. Many of our own writers tried their powers upon this year of victory : yet Addison's is confessedly the best performance; his poem is the work of a mani not blinded by the dust of learning; his images are not borrowed merely from books. The superiority which he confers upon his hero is not personal prowess, and "mighty bone," * Spence:

but

but deliberate intrepidity, a calm command of his passions, and the power of consulting his own mind in the midst of danger. The rejection and contempt of fiction is rational and manly.

It may be observed that the last line is imitated by Pope:

Marlborough's exploits appear divinely bright-
Rais'd of themselves tbeir genuine charms they boast,
And those, that paint them truest, praise their inost.

This Popo had in his thoughts; but, not knowing how to use what was not his own, he spoiled the thought when he had borrowed it:

The well-sung woes shall soothe my ghost;
He best can paint them who shall feel them most.

Martial exploits may be painted ; perhaps woes may be painted: but they surely not painted by being zuell-sung; it is not easy to paint in song, or to sing in colours.

No passage in the Campaign has been more often mentioned than the simile of the Angel, which is said in the Tatler_tò be “s one of the noblest " thoughts that ever entered into the heart of man,” and is therefore worthy of attentive consideration.

tivè consideration. Let it be first enquired whether it be a simile. A poetical simile is the discovery of likeness between two actions, in their general nature dissimilar, or of causes terminating by different operations in some resemblance of effect. But the mention of another like consequence from a like cause, or of a like performance by a like agency, is not a simile, but an exemplification. It is not a simile to say that the Thames waters fields, as the Po waters fields; or that as Hecla vomits flames in Iceland, so Etna vomits flames in Sicily. When Horace says of Pindar, that he pours his violence and rapidity of verse, as a river swoln with Tain rushes from the mountain ; or of himself, that his genius wanders in quest of poetical decorations, as the bee wanders to collect honey; he, in either case, produces a simile; the mind is impressed with the resemblance of things generally unlike, as unlike as intellect and body. But if Pindar had been described as writing with the copiousness and grandeur of Homer, or Horace had told that he reviewed and finished his own poetry with the same care as Isocrates polished his orations, instead of similitude, he would have exhibited almost identity; he would have given the same portraits with different names. In the poem now examined, when the English are represented as gaining a fortified pass, by repetition of attack and perseverance of Tesolution; their obstinacy of courage and vigour of onset is well illustrated by the sea that breaks, with incessant battery, the dikes of Holland. This is a simile: but when Addison, having celebrated the beauty of Marlbosough's person, tells us, that “ Achilles thus was formed with every grace,”

here

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here in no simile, but a mere exemplification. A simile may be compared to lines converging at a point, and is more excellent as the lines approach from greater distance ; an exemplification may be considered as two parallel lines, which run on together without approximation, never far separated, and never joined.

Marlborough is so like the angel in the poem, that the action of both is almost the same, and performed by both in the same manner. Marlborough

teaches the battle to, rage ;" the angel " directs the storm; Marlborough “ is unmoved in peaceful thought;" the angel is “ calm and serene;"' Marlborough stands “unmoved amidst the shock of hosts;" the angel rides “ calm. in the whirlwind." The lines on Marlborough are just and noble ; but the simile gives almost the same images a second time.

But perhaps this thought, though hardly a simile, was remote from vulgar conceptions, and required great labour of research, or dexterity of application. Of this, Dr. Madden, a name which Ireland oughi to honour, once gave me his opinion. “If I had set," said he, “ten school-boys to write

on the battle of Blenheim, and eight had brought me the Angel, I should not have been surprised."

The opera of Rosamond, though it is seldom mentioned, is one of the first of Addison's compositions. The subject is well chosen, the fiction is pleasing, and the praise of Marlborough, for which the scene gives an opportunity, is, what perhaps every human excellence must be, the product of good-luck improved by genius. The thoughts are sometimes great, and sometimes tender ; the versification is easy and gay. There is doubtless some advantage in the shortness of the lines, which there is little temptation to load with expletive epithers. The dialogue seems commonly better than the songs. The two comic characters of Sir Trusty and Grideline, though of no great value, are yet such as the poet intended. Sir Trusty's account of the death of Rosamond is, I think, too grossly absurd. The whole drama is airy and elegant; engaging in its process, and pleasing in its conclusion. If Addison had cultivated the lighter parts of

poetry, he would probably have excelled,

The tragedy of Cato, which, contrary to the rule observed in selecting the works of other poets, has by the weight of its character forced its way into the late collection, is unquestionably the noblest production of Addison's genius. Of a work so much read it is difficult to say any thing new. About things on which the public thinks long, it commonly attains to think right; and of Caro it has been not unjustly determined, that it is rather à poem in dialogue than a drama, rather a succession of just sentiments in ele{"ant language, than a representation of natural affections, or of any state probable or possible in human life. Nothing here " excites or assuages

“ emotion;"

"emotion :" here is" no magical power of raising phantastick terror or wild

anxiety." The events are expected without solicitude, and are remembered without joy or sorrow. Of the agents we have no care: we consider not what they are doing, or what they are suffering ; we wish only to know what they have to say. Cató is a being above our sclicitude; a man of whom the gods take care, and whom we leave to their care with heedless confidence. To the rest, neither gods nor men can have much attention; for there is not one amongst them that strongly attracts either affection or esteem, But they are made the vehicles of such sentiments and such expression, that there is scarcely a scene in the play which the reader does not wish to impress upon his memory.

When Cato was shewn to Pope *, he advised the author to print it, without any theatrical exhibition ; supposing that it would be read more favour. ably than heard. Addison declared himself of the same opinion ; but urged the importunity of bis friends for its appearance on the stage. The emulation of parties made it successful beyond expectation, and its success has introduced or confirmed among us the use of dialogue too declamatory, of unaffecting elegance, and chill philosophy.

The universality of applause, however it might quell the censure of common mortals, had no other effect than to harden Dennis in fixed dislike; but his dislike was not merely capricious. He found and shewed many faults ; he shewed them indeed with anger, but he found them with acuteness, such as ought to rescue his criticism from oblivion; though, at last, it will have no other life than it derives from the work which it endeavours to oppress.

Why he pays no regard to the opinion of the audience, he gives his reason, by remarking, that

"A deference is to be paid to a general applause, when it appears that " that applause is natural and spontaneous; but that little regard is to be “ had to it, when it is affected and artificial. Of all the tragedies which in “ his memory have had vast and violent runs; not one has been excellent; few have been tolerable, most have been scándalous. When a poet writes cs

a tragedy, who knows he has judgment, and who feels he has genius, " that poet presumes upon his own merit, and scorns to make a cabal. " That people come cooly to the representation of such a tragedy, without “ any violent expectation, or delusive imagination, or invincible preposses* sion; that such an audience is liable to receive the impressions which the " poem shall naturally make on them, and to judge by their own reason, " and their own judgments, and that reason and judgment are calm and

serene, not formed by nature to make proselytes and to controul and

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" lord it over the imaginations of others. But that when an. author

-writes a tragedy, who knows he has neither genius nor judgment, he has «s reçourse to the making a party, and he endeavours to make up..in jadustry what is wanting in talent, and to supply by poetical craft the " absence of poetical art; that such an author is bumbly contented to

raise men's passions by a plot without doors, since he despairs of doing

it by that which he brings upon the stage. That party and passion, " and prepossession, are clamorous and tumultuous things, and so much " the more clamorous and tumultuous by how much the more erroneous : " that they domineer and tyrannize over the imaginations of persons “ who want judgment, and sometimes too of those who have it ; and, * like a fierce and outrageous torrent, bear down all opposition before

them."

He then-condemns the neglect of poetical justice ; which is always one of his favourite principles.

“ Tis certainly the duty of every trágick poet, by the exact distributions “ of poetical justice, to imitate the Divine Dispensations, and to inculcate

a particular Providence. 'Tis true, indeed, upon the stage of the world, st the wicked sometimes prosper, and the guiltless suffer. But that is per* mitted by the Governor of the world, to shew, from the attribute of his " infinite justice, that there is a compensation in futurity, to prove the imso mortality of the human soul, and the certainty of future rewards and pu: “ nistiments. But the poetical persons in tragedy exist no longer than the “ reading, or the representation ; the whole extent of their entity is circum** scribed by those ; and therefore, during that reading or representation, ** according to their merits or demerits, they must be punished or rewarded. *** If this is not done, there is no impartial distribution of poetical justice, * no instructive lecture of a particular Providence, and no imitation of the

* "Divine Dispensation. And yet the author of this tragedy does not only :** run counter to this, in the fate of his principal character ; but every * where, throughout it, makes virtue suffer, and vice triumph: for not

only Cato is vanquished by Cæsar, but the treachery and perfidiousness of

Syphax prevail over the honest simplicity and the credulity of Juba ; and " the sly subtlety and dissimulation of Portius over the generous frankness " and open-heartedness of Marcus.”

Whatever pleasure there may be in seeing crimés punished and virtue re. warded, yet, since wickedness often prospers in real life, the poet is certainly at liberty to give it prosperity on the stage. For if poetry has an imitation of reality, how are its laws broken by exhibiting the world in its true form? The Stage may sometimes gratify our wishes; but, if it be truly the mirror of life," it ought to shew us sometimes what we are to expects

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