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fear they are not regarded by him. He is privy to all their thoughts, and to that anxiety of heart in particular, which is apt to trouble them on this occasion : for, as it is impossible he should overlook any of his creatures, so we may be confident that he regards, with an eye of mercy, those who endeavour to recommend themselves to his notice, and in an unfeigned humility of heart think themselves unworthy that he should be mindful of them.”
The further consideration of the Deity, and his attributes, a favourite subject with our author, is prosecuted in Nos. 571, 580, 590 and 628, and with great richness of illustration and perspicuity of method.
A devotion, alike distant from enthusiasm or superstition, but warm, exalted, and sublime, appears to have existed from an early period in the bosom of Addison, and to have once induced him, as we have seen, to cherish the idea of entering into holy orders. It is probable that many of his religious speculations in the Spectator, and which have contributed, perhaps more than many professional efforts, owing to their form and mode of introduction, to familiarize the great truths of piety and christianity, were written long anterior to the commencement of his periodical labours, and whilst the duties of an ecclesiastical life were still in view. To this tempo. rary designation, therefore, we are indebted not only for a system of ethics, but for a code of religious precepts truly pure and evangelic, and free from all those controversial and metaphysical subtleties which have but too often, in the writings and discourses of our divines, usurped the place of sound sense and genuine christianity. Of this character are the Essays on Devotion *, on Prayer t, on Morality , on Religious Faithş, on Temporal and Eternal Happiness ||. &c. &c. &c. pieces which have essentially contributed to the happiness and salvation of thousands and tens of thousands.
“ No greater felicity,” says the moral Johnson, “can genius attain, than that of having purified intellectual pleasure, separated mirth from indecency, and wit from licentiousness; of having taught a succession of writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the aid of goodness; and if I may use expressions yet more awful, of having‘turned many to righteousness' q.
Of the literary character of Addison, the preceding essays have attempted to delineate the leading features, and will, it is probable, impress upon the mind of the reader a very high idea of * Spectator, vol. iii. No 201 and 207. + Ditto, vol. v. N° 391. Ditto, vol. vi. N° 459. § Ditto, vol. vi. N° 465. || Ditto, vol. viii. N° 575, I Lives, vol. ii. p. 112.
its excellence and utility. It may be necessary, however, ere we conclude this portion of our la-. bours, to enumerate, in a more compressed form, the various obligations which learning, wisdom, and virtue have to acknowledge in the writings of this great and good man.
To Addison, in the first place, may we ascribe the formation of a style truly classical and pure, whose simplicity and grace have not yet been surpassed, and which, presenting a model of unprecedented elegance, laid the foundation for a general and increasing attention to the beauty and harmony of composition.
His critical powers were admirably adapted to awaken and inform the public mind; to teach the general principles by which excellence may be attained, and, above all, to infuse a relish for the noblest productions of taste and genius. · In humour, no man in this country, save Shakspeare, has excelled him; he possessed the faculty of an almost intuitive discrimination of what was ludicrous and characteristic in each individual, and, at the same time, the most happy facility in so tinting and grouping his paintings, that, whilst he never overstepped the modesty of nature, the result was alike rich in comic effect, in warmth of colouring, and in originality of design.
Though his poetry, it must be confessed, is not remarkable for the energies of fancy, the tales,
visions, and allegories dispersed through his periodical writings, make abundant recompence for the defect, and very amply prove, that in the conception and execution of these exquisite pieces, no talent of the genuine bard, except that of versification, lay dormant or unemployed.
It is, however, the appropriate, the transcendant praise of Addison, that he steadily and uniformly, and in a manner peculiarly his own, exerted these great qualities in teaching and disseminating a love for morality and religion. He it was, who, following the example of the divine Socrates, first stripped philosophy in this island of her scholastic garb, and bade her, clothed in the robes of elegant simplicity, allure and charm the multitude. He saw his countrymen become better as they became wiser; he saw them, through his instructions, feel and own the beauty of holi. ness and virtue; and for this, we may affirm, posterity, however distant or refined, shall revere and bless his memory.
END OF VOL. II.
C. WHITTINGHAM, Printer,