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Nor you the kind indulgence will refuse,
joSEPH ADDISON, ESQ.
Biography, in the wide memorials of human existence, never expatiated upon a fairer life, than that of this amiable Author. While the writer of this sketch laments the penury of common articles which he will not repeat, he regrets more feelingly his want of power to add to the memorabilia of so great a man. The few circumstances recorded of him are upon the minds of ALL–and very becomingly are they so; for they furnish out a lesson by which all may learn to Live well.
He has had the best praise of poetry, and the superior tribute of prose, solemn and sublime, for it is the prose of You N G. The great Author of the Night Thoughts hangs with religious rapture upon the death-bed of ADD1son, as the consummation of his character—the edifying close of Christian resignation.
** He teaches how to die.”
There is but one event in the life of Ad D 1son which calls upon me for investigation or remark -“that condućt towards Pope, which produced “ the famous portrait of Articus.” The charges
are serious; and, if substantiated by evidence, leave us nothing to plead in bar of sentence but, “ that last infirmity of noble minds,” jealousy of a rival’s fame. Let the great writer who has not felt this pour down alone his censure upon AdD1son. But from whom does the sarcasm proceed 2–From Pope —from him who provoked the memorable severity of HILL : who,
Poorly accepted FAME he ne'er repaid ;
Is it not something more than problematic, that this condućt, of which HILL so keenly complains, H E alone might not have felt, and that the coolness of Addison might have sprung from the petulance of Pope 2 Let any man, after impartially scanning either the lives or writings of these writers, pronounce from whom he conceives the offensive condućt originally sprung. The beauty of Pope’s Compositions have in no trifling degreee decorated his Life with a beauty which it wanted. He who lives in a state of inadequate E N MITY, who, in the language of SHAKspe Re spurns enviously at straws, was more likely to be irritated by the successful SAGE he revered than the degraded Du Nce he delighted to deride.
Is one of those pieces upon which the public opinion has been ratified by the critic. It is read, quoted, and admired by every lover of the drama; and it has the singular fortune of conciliating the favour of such as speak with unreasonable contempt of productions more truly dramatic. The moral, the prudent, the religious of our teachers banish not the scenes of Cato from our youth, though the basis of the play is faulty and the praćtice of suicide is exhibited among the splendors of philosophic pomp, its infamy to us “invisible or dimly seen” struggling through the misty magic of Platonic rapsody.
It is read, it is quoted—but it is now never ačted. The sentiments of patriotism inculcated are so far good, that they implant in our hearts the love of our country—but the Author was mistaken if he conceived the exemplification of this virtue perfect in CAto. A true patriot would have spared his country the miseries of hopless contention, and have abased his haughtiness of pride before the weightier consequences of recovered peace and returning concord.
With regard to the splendor of its sentences; they, it must be confessed, frequently dazzle us with a B
false fire—their sentiments are above hature, and superior to humanity. We are happy to see our complacency restored, when the Stoic sinks at last into the man, sorrows upon the bier of a beloved son, and thus claims again the condition he had laboured to renounce.
PARTY carried this play up to a height where to have sustained itself was impossible. Time has pronounced it to be a sensible poem, which in representation interests now no more, and must be judged alone in the closet. Criticism there has demonstrated, that as a dramatic strućture it is highly beautiful; exquisite in its ornaments, graceful, and elegantly fitted up; but unhappily insecure from certain palp
able defects ascertainable by a survey of its foundations.