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comet appeared to us a month or two ago, I had sometimes an imagination that it might possibly be come to carry him home, as a coach comes to one's door for visitors." So these great spirits spoke of one another. Show me six of the dullest middle-aged gentlemen that ever dawdled round a club table, so faithful and so friendly.
We have said before that the chief wits of this time, with the exception of Congreve, were what we should now call men's men. They spent many hours of the four-and-twenty, a fourth part of each day nearly, in clubs and coffee-houses, where they dined, drank, and smoked. Wit and news went by word of mouth; a journal of 1710 contained the very smallest portion of one or the other. The chiefs spoke, the faithful habitués sat round; strangers came to wonder and listen. Old Dryden had his head-quarters at “Will's," in Russell Street, at the corner of Bow Street: at which place Pope saw him when he was twelve years old. The company used to assemble on the first floor—what was called the dining-room floor in those days, and sat at various tables smoking their pipes. It is recorded that the beaux of the day thought it a great honour to be allowed to take a pinch out of Dryden's snuff-box. When Addison began to reign, he with a certain crafty propriety--a policy let us call it-which belonged to his nature, set up his court, and appointed the officers of his royal house. His palace was “Button's," opposite “Will's." * A quiet opposition, a silent assertion of empire, distinguished this great man. Addison's ministers were Budgell, Tickell, Phillips, Carey ; his master of the horse, honest Dick Steele, who was what Duroc was to Napoleon, or Hardy to Nelson; the man who performed his master'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 Russell 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.”—DR. JOHNSON. Will's coffee-house was on the west side of Bow Street, and
corner of Russell Street.” See “Handbook of London."
bidding, and would have cheerfully died in his quarrel. Addison lived with these people for seven or eight hours every day. The made society passed over their punch-bowls and tobacco-pipes about as much time as ladies of that age spent over Spadille and Manille.
For a brief space, upon coming up to town, Pope formed part of King Joseph's court, and was his rather too eager and obsequious humble servant.* Dick Steele, the editor of the Tatler, Mr. Addison's man, and his own man too-a person of no little figure in the world of letters, patronized the young poet, and set him a task or two. Young Mr. Pope did the tasks very quickly and smartly (he had been at the feet, quite as a boy, of Wycherley's † decrepit reputation, and
*“My acquaintance with Mr. Addison commenced in 1712 : I liked him then as well as I liked any man, and was very fond of his conversation. It was very soon after that Mr. Addison advised me 'not to be content with the applause of half the nation. He used to talk much and often to me, of moderation in parties : and used to blame his dear friend Steele for being too much of a party man. He encouraged me in my design of translating the 'Iliad,' which was begun that year, and finished in 1718.”—POPE. Spence's Anecdotes.
“Addison had Budgell, and I think Phillips, in the house with him.—Gay they would call one of my élèves.—They were angry with me for keeping so much with Dr. Swift and some of the late Ministry.”—POPE. Spence's Anecdotes.
+ “TO MR. ALCOURT.
“ Jan. 21, 1715-16. “I know of nothing that will be so interesting to you at present as some circumstances of the last act of that eminent comic poet and our friend, Wycherley. He had often told me, and I doubt not he did all his acquaintance, that he would marry as soon as his life was despaired of. Accordingly, a few days before his death, he underwent the ceremony, and joined together those two sacraments which wise men say we should be the last to receive ; for, if you observe, matrimony is placed after extreme unction in our catechism, as a kind of hint of the order of time in which they are to be taken. The old man then lay down, satisfied in the consciousness of having, by this one act, obliged a woman who (he was told) had merit, and shown an heroic resentment of the ill-usage of his next heir. Some hundred pounds which he had with the lady discharged his debts ; a jointure of 500l. a year made her a recompence ; and the nephew was left to comfort himself as well as he could with the miserable remains of a mort. gaged estate. I saw our friend twice after this was done-less peevish in his sickness than lie used to be in his health ; neither much afraid of dying, nor (which in him had been more likely) much ashamed of ing. The ening
propped up for a year that doting old wit): he was anxious to be well with the men of letters, to get a footing and a recognition. He thought it an honour to be admitted into their company ; to have the confidence of Mr. Addison's friend, Captain Steele. His eminent parts obtained for him the honour of heralding Addison's triumph of “Cato" with his admirable prologue, and heading the victorious procession as it Not content with this act of homage and admiration, he wanted to distinguish himself by assaulting Addison's enemies, and attacked John Dennis with a prose lampoon, which highly offended his lofty patron. Mr. Steele was instructed to write to Mr. Dennis, and inform him that Mr. Pope's pamphlet against him was written quite without Mr. Addison's approval.* Indeed, “The Narrative of Dr. Robert Norris on the Phrenzy of J. D.” is a vulgar and mean satire, and such a blow as the magnificent Addison could never desire to see any partisan of his strike in any literary quarrel. Pope was closely allied with Swift when he wrote this pamphlet. It is so dirty that it has been printed in Swift's works, too. It bears the
before he expired, he called his young wife to the bedside, and earnestly entreated her not to deny him one request—the last he should make. Upon her assurances of consenting to it, he told her : ‘My dear, it is only this—that you will never marry an old man again.' I cannot help remarking that sickness, which often destroys both wit and wisdom, yet seldom has power to remove that talent which we call humour. Mr. Wycherley showed his even in his last compliment ; though I think his request a little hard, for why should he bar her from doubling her jointure on the same easy terms?
“So trivial as these circumstances are, I should not be displeased myself to know such trifles when they concern or characterize any eminent person. The wisest and wittiest of men are seldom wiser or wittier than others in these sober moments ; at least, our friend ended much in the same character he had lived in ; and Horace's rule for play may as well be applied to him as a playwright :
“ Servetur ad imum Qualis ab incepto processerit et sibi constet.'
“I am," &c. “Addison, who was no stranger to the world, probably saw the selfishness of Pope's friendship ; and resolving that he should have the consequences of his officiousness to himself, informed Dennis by Steele that he was sorry for the insult."- JOHNSON : Life of Addison.
foul marks of the master hand. Swift admired and enjoyed with all his heart the prodigious genius of the young Papist lad out of Windsor Forest, who had never seen a university in his life, and came and conquered the Dons and the doctors with his wit.
He applauded, and loved him, too, and protected him, and taught him mischief. I wish Addison could have loved him better. The best satire that ever has been penned would never have been written then ; and one of the best characters the world ever knew would have been without a flaw. But he who had so few equals could not bear one, and Pope was more than that. When Pope, trying for himself, and soaring on his immortal young wings, found that his, too, was a genius, which no pinion of that age could follow, he rose and left Addison's company, settling on his own eminence, and singing
his own song.
It was not possible that Pope should remain a retainer of Mr. Addison; nor likely that after escaping from his vassalage and assuming an independent crown, the sovereign whose allegiance he quitted should view him amicably.* They did not do wrong to mislike each other. They but followed the impulse of nature, and the consequence of position. When Bernadotte became heir to a throne, the Prince Royal of Sweden was naturally Napoleon's enemy. “ There are many passions and tempers of mankind,” says Mr. Addison in the Spectator, speaking a couple of years before their little differences between him and Mr. Pope took place," which naturally dispose us to depress and vilify the merit of one rising in the esteem of mankind. All those who made their entrance into the world with
* “While I was heated with what I heard, I wrote a letter to Mr. Addison, to let him know that I was not unacquainted with this behaviour of his ; that if I was to speak of him severely in return for it, it should not be in such a dirty way; that I should rather tell him himself fairly of his faults, and allow his good qualities ; and that it should be something in the following manner.' I then subjoined the first sketch of what has since been called my satire on Addison. He used me very civilly ever after ; and never did me any injustice, that I know of, from that time to his death, which was about three years after.”—POFE. Spence's Anecdotes.
the same advantages, and were once looked on as his equals, are apt to think the fame of his merits a reflection on their own deserts. Those who were once his equals envy and defame him, because they now see him the superior ; and those who were once his superiors, because they look upon him as their equal.” Did Mr. Addison, justly perhaps thinking that, as young Mr. Pope had not had the benefit of a university education, he couldn't know Greek, therefore he couldn't translate Homer, encourage his young friend Mr. Tickell, of Queen's, to translate that poet, and aid him with his own known scholarship and skill ? * It was natural that Mr. Addison should doubt of the learning of an amateur Grecian, should have a high opinion of Mr. Tickell, of Queen's, and should help that ingenious young man. It was natural, on the other hand, that Mr. Pope and Mr. Pope's friends should believe that this counter-translation, suddenly advertised and so long written, though Tickell's college friends had never heard of it—though, when Pope first wrote to Addison regarding his scheme, Mr. Addison knew nothing of the similar project of Tickell, of Queen's-it was natural that Mr. Pope and his friends, having interests, passions, and prejudices of their own, should believe that Tickell's translation was but an act of opposition against Pope, and that they should call Mr. Tickell's emulation Mr. Addison's envy—if envy it were.
“ And were there one whose fires
“ That Tickell should have been guilty of a villany seems to us highly improbable; that Addison should have been guilty of a villany seems to us highly improbable ; but that these two men should have conspired together to commit a villany, seems, to us, improbable in a tenfold degree.”—MACAULAY.