Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

wanted not moral feeling. He is said to have opposed duelling, in consequence of the deep remorse he felt from the fatal termination of a duel which he himself fought in early life with a brother officer. Steele tells a story with humour, but without its more delicate touches; and his style is marked by little flippancies, and a certain air of the town. His signature is T, and sometimes R. Those of Addison were the letters which compose the name of the Muse Clio; which gave occasion to the elegant compliment paid him in the following couplet :

When fainting Virtue her last effort made,
You brought your Clio to the virgin's aid.

The Spectator continued from 1710 to 1714; that is, during the last years of Queen Anne to the beginning of the reign of George the First : and during a time when all the other periodical publications were party papers, and so bitter a spirit of animosity divided almost every company, it was no small advantage that one paper appeared every morning the tendency of which was of an opposite nature, and that presented subjects for conversation which men might canvass without passion, and on which

[ocr errors]

they might differ without resentment. Three thousand of them were sold daily soon after the commencement of the publication; afterwards, it is said, twenty thousand; and it may rebuke our rage for typographical luxury to be told, that the immortal productions of Addison were first given to the public on a half-sheet of very coarse paper, and, before the imposition of a stamp, for the price of one penny.

The Guardians may be considered as a kind of sequel to the Spectators. They were in two volumes. The strain of them is somewhat less sprightly; but they contain many excellent papers, and among them several by Pope. The Guardian was published in the year 1713, between the seventh and eighth volumes of the Spectator. For what reason the authors dropped, changed, and resumed their title in so short a space, cannot now be known. The Guardian has, like the Spectator, a set of characters as a frame to the work, my Lady Lizard and her sons and daughters, to whom Nestor Ironside is the Guardian ; but they are drawn with less spirit than those of the club in the Spectator, and both have the fault of not being necessary to the conduct of the work. It is justly observed by Dr. Johnson, that the grave character of a Guardian, and a guardian, to young ladies, is unfavourable to the propriety of the lighter papers.. What, says he, have clubs of tall and short men to do with the education of Lady Lizard's daughters ? The only set of papers in these volumes is that on pastoral poetry, written, it should seem, by Tickell, perhaps with the assistance of Phillips, and some touches of Addison. They contain many just criticisms on a species of poetry now almost obsolete, but at one period so much in fashion, that there was hardly a poet who did not try his hand at it; till at length it became insipid by the triteness of the sentiment, and the servile use of the heathen mythology. Thę lovers of Italian poetry will by no means be satisfied to see the beautiful poems of Aminta and Pastor Fido only mentioned to be found fault with ; but English readers had, at that time, little relish for the belles lettres of other nations. The Italian language was perhaps less cultivated than in the preceding century. Addison himscif had a suficient portion of national prejudice, as appears wlienever the French writers are incidentally mentioned. The concluding allegory on pastoral poetry exhibits much elegant fancy, along with a strange con: fusion in the application of it to different writers, and the periods in which they fourished. The critique on Pope's Pastorals by that author himself, is remarkable for the delicacy and artful irony which imposed on the editor of the paper, and seeured its insertion, though it was, in fact, a concealed ridicule on Phillips, whose pastorals it had been the aim of the former pa

character

pers to extol,

The Freeholder was a direct party paper, written by Addison alone, on the side of Government, immediately after the rebellion of 1715, when perhaps one half of the nation were Jacobites in their hearts. It can of course supply little matter for a selection of this kind : yet a few papers are given, both as they possess genuine humour, and because, as Addison himself remarks, future readers may see in them the complexion of the times in which they were written. His country squire is drawn with great humour and much effect, as the represertative of a set of men who were then almost all partisans against the court, if not favourers of the Stuart family:

here seems to be no kind of writing which admits of selection more readily than these peVOL. I.

riodical

с

riodical papers. There is no plan to interrupt, no thread of reasoning to break. Each paper or set of papers is complete in itself; and though many are left out which may be thought to have some claim to insertion, none, it is hoped, are inserted which the reader of taste will wish to have been left out.

CON.

« PředchozíPokračovat »