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own mind left him little need of adventitious sentiments; his wit always could suggest what the occasion demanded. He had read with critical eyes the important volume of human life, and knew the heart of man from the depths of stratato the surface of affectation.
Pope declares that he wrote very fluently, but was flow and fcrupulous in correcting; that many of the Spectators were written very fast, and sent immediately to the press; and that it feemed for his advantage not to have time for much perusal.
Of the course of Addison's familiar day, be. fore his marriage, Pope has given a detail. He had in his house with him Budgell, and perhaps Philips. His chief companions were Steele, Budgell, Philips, Carey, Davenant, and colonel Brett. With one or other of these he always break fasted. He studied all morning; then dined at a tavern, and went afterwards to Button's.
Button had been a servant in the countess of Warwick's family, who under the patronage of Addison, kept a coffee-house on the south side of Russel-street about two doors from Covent-garden. Here it was that the wits of that time used to assemble. It is said, that when Addison had suffered any vexation from the countess, he withdrew the company from Button's house.
From the coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often sat late, and drank too much wine. In the bottle, discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice for courage, and bashfulness for confidence. It is not unlikely that Addison was first seduced to excess by the manumission which he obtained from the servile timidity of his sober hours. He that feels oppression from the presence of those to whom
he knows himself superior, will desire to set loose his powers of conversation; and who, that ever asked luccour from Bacchus, was able to preserve himself from being enslaved by his auxiliary?
If any judgment may be made, from his books of his moral character, nothing will be found but purity and excellence. Knowledge of mankind indeed, less extensive than that of Addison, will shew that to write and to live are very different. Many who praise virtue do no more than praile it. Yet it is reasonable to believe that Addison's professions and practice were at no great variance, fince, amiðst that storm of faction in which most of his life was passed, tho' his station made him çonspicuous, and his activity made him formidable, the character given him by his friends was never contradicted by his enemies. Of those with whom intereft or opinion united him, he had not only the esteem but the kindness; and of others, whom the violence of opposition drove against him, though he might lose the love, he retained the reverence.
He has employed wit on the fide of virtue and religion. He not only made the proper use of wit himself, but taught it to others; and from his time it has been generally subfervient to the cause of reason and of truth. He has diffipated the prejudice that had long connected gaiety with vice, and easiness of manners with laxity of principles. He has refored virtue to its dignity, and taught innocence not to be ashamed. This is an elevation of literary character, above all Greek, above all Rgmar fame. No greater felicity can genius attaiņ than that of having purified intellectual pleasure, separated mirth from indecency, and wit from licentiousness; of having taught a fuccession of
writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the end of goodness; and, 10 use expressions yet more awful, of having tured many to righteousness.
The poetry of Addifon is polifhed and pure; the product of a mind two judicious to commit faults, but not sufficiently vigorous to attain excellence. He has sometimes a striking line, or a fhining paragraph, but in the whole he is warm rather than fervid, and shews more dextirity than strength. He was however one of our earliest examples of correctness.
The present generation is scarcely willing to allow him the name of a critic; 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 tome who perhaps would never have feen his defects, but by the lights which he afforded them. But before the profound observers of the prefent race repose too securely on their fuperiority to Addison, let them consider his remarks on Ovid, in which may be found specimens of cri. ticism sufficiently subtle and refined; let them perufe likewise his Essays on Wit, and on the Pleasures of the Imagination, in which he founds art on the base of nature, and draws the principles of invention from difpofitions 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 is peculiar to himself, is so happily diffused as to give the grace of novelty to domestic scenes and daily occurrences. He never o'ersteps the modesty of naturé, nor raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures neither divert by distortion, nor amase 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 fuppose them not merely the product of imagination.
As a teacher of wisdom he may be confidently followed. His religion has nothing in it enthufi. astic or fuperftitious; 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 interests, the care of pleasing the Author of his being. Truth is shewn sometimes as the phantom of a vision, sometimes appears halfveiled in an allegory; fometimes 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 babet ornatus, mille decenter habet.
His prose is the model of the middle style;
grave subjects not formal, on light' occasions not grovelling; pure without scrupulosity, and exact without apparent elaboration ; always equal, and always easy, without giving words or pointed sentences. Addison never deviyates from his track to snatch a grace; he seeks no
ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous in. novations. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected fplendour.
It seems to have been his principal endeavour to avoid all harshness and severity of diction, he is therefore sometimes verbose in his transitions and connections, and sometimes descends too much to the language of conversation; yet if his language had been lefs idiomatical, it might have lost somewhat of its genuine Anglicism. What he attempt, ed, he performed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish to be energetic; he is never rapid, and he never ftagnates. His sentences have neither stu. died amplitude, nor affected brevity: his periods, though not diligently rounded, are voluble and easy. Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not oftentations, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.