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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 pompous 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 inherent 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,” nor raises merrimentor 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 confidently followed. His religion has nothing in it enthusiastick 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 confidence of reason. She wears a thousand dresses, and in all is pleasing.
“Mille habet ornatus, mille decenter habet.” His prose is the model of the middle style; on grave subjects' not formal, on light occasions not grovelling, pure without scrupulosity, and exact without apparent elaboration; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed sentences. Addison never deviates from his track to snatch a grace; he seeks no ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous innovations. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected splendour. I
It was apparently his principal endeavour to avoid all harshness and severity of diction; he is therefore sometimes verbose in his transitions and connexions, and sometimes descends too much to the language of conversation; yet if his language had been less idiomatical, it might have lost somewhat of its genuine Anglicism. What he attempted, he performed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish to be energetick; he is never rapid, and he never stagnates. His sentences have neither studied amplitude, nor affected brevity: his periods, though not dili
géntly rounded, are voluble and easy. Whoever 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.
HUGHES. John Hughes, the son of a citizen of London, and of Anne Burgess, of an ancient family in Wiltshire, was born at Marlborough, July 29, 1677. He was educated at a private school; and though his advances in literature are in the Biographia very ostentatiously displayed, the name of his master is somewhat ungratefully concealed.*
At nineteen he drew the plan of a tragedy; and paraphrased, rather too diffusely, the ode of Horace which begins “Integer Vitæ.” To poetry he added the science of musick, in which he seems to have attained considerable skill, together with the practice of design, or rudiments of painting
His studies did not withdraw him wholly from business, nor did business hinder him from study. He had a place in the office of ordnance; and was secretary to several commissions for purchasing lands necessary to secure the royal docks at Chatham and Portsmouth; yet found time to acquaint himself with modern languages.
In 1697 he published a poem on the Peace of Ryswick: and 1699 another piece, called The Court of Neptune, on the return of king William, which he addressed to Mr. Montague, the general patron of the followers of the muses. The same year he produced a song on the duke of Gloucester's birth-day.
He did not confine himself to poetry, but cultivated other kinds of writing with great success; and about this time shewed his knowledge of human nature by an" Essay
• He was educated in a dissenting academy, of which the Rev. Mr. Thomas Rowe was tutor; and was a fellow student there with Dr. Isaac Watts, Mr. Samuel Say, and other persons of eminence. In the “ Horæ Lyricæ" of Dr. Watts is a poem to the memory of Mr. Rowe. 11.
on the pleasure of being deceived." In 1702, he published, on the death of king William, a Pindarick ode, called The House of Nassau; and wrote another paraphrase on the “ Otium Divos” of Horace.
In 1703, his ode on Musick was performed at Stationers' Hall; and he wrote afterwards six cantatas, which were set to musick by the greatest master of that time, and seem intended to oppose or exclude the Italian opera, an exotick and irrational entertainment, which has been always combated, and always has prevailed.
His reputation was now so far advanced, that the publick began to pay reverence to his name; and he was solicited to prefix a preface to the translation of Boccalini, a writer whose satirical vein cost him his life in Italy, but who never, I believe, found many readers in this country, even though introduced by such powerful recommendation.
He translated Fontenelle's “Dialogues of the Dead;" and his version was perhaps read at that time, but is now neglected; for by a book not necessary, and owing its reputation wholly to its turn of diction, little notice can be gained but from those who can enjoy the graces of the original. To the Dialogues of Fontenelle he added two composed by himself; and, though not only an honest but a pious man, dedicated his work to the earl of Wharton. He judged skilfully enough of his own interest; for Wharton, when he went lord lieutenant to Ireland, offered to take Hughes with him, and establish him; but Hughes, having hopes or promises from another man in power, of some provision more suitable to his inclination, declined Wharton's offer, and obtained nothing from the other.
He translated The Miser of Moliere, which he never offered to the stage; and occasionally amused himself with making versions of favourite scenes in other plays.
Being now received as a wit among the wits, he paid his contributions to literary undertakings, and assisted both the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian. In 1712, he
translated Vertot's History of the Revolution of Portugal; produced an “Ode to the Creator of the World, from the Fragments of Orpheus ;” and brought upon the stage an opera called Calypso and Telemachus, intended to shew that the English language might be very happily adapted to musick. This was impudently opposed by those who were employed in the Italian opera; and, what cannot be told without indignation, the intruders had such interest with the duke of Shrewsbury, then lord chamberlain, who had married an Italian, as to obtain an obstruction of the profits, though not an inhibition of the performance.
There was at this time a project formed by Tonson for a translation of the Pharsalia by several hands; and Hughes englished the tenth book. But this design, as must often happen where the concurrence of many is necessary, fell to the ground; and the whole work was afterwards performed by Rowe.
His acquaintance with the great writers of his time appears to have been very general; but of his intimacy with Addison there is a remarkable proof. It is told on good authority, that “Cato” was finished and played by his persuasion. It had long wanted the last act, which he was desired by Addison to supply. If the request was.sincere, it proceeded from an opinion, whatever it was, that did not last long; for when Hughes came in a week to shew him his first attempt, he found half an act written by Addison himself.
He afterwards published the works of Spenser with his Life, a Glossary, and a Discourse on Allegorical Poetry; a work for which he was well qualified as a judge of the beauties of writing, but perhaps wanted an antiquary's knowledge of the obsolete words. He did not much revive the curiosity of the publick; for near thirty years elapsed before his edition was reprinted. The same year produced his Apollo and Daphne, of which the success was very earnestly promoted by Steele, who, when the rage of party did not misguide him, seems to have been a man of boundless benevolence.