Imatges de pÓgina

paffion in its progrefs; all is general and undefined. Nor does he much intereft or affect the auditor, except in Jane Shore, who is always feen and heard. with pity. Alicia is a character of empty noife, with no refemblance to real forrow or to natural madness.

Whence, then, has Rowe his reputation? From the reafonablenefs and propriety of fome of his fcenes, from the elegance of his diction, and the fuavity of his verfe. He feldom moves either pity or terror, but he often elevates the fentiments; he feldom pierces the breaft, but he always delights. the ear, and often improves the understanding.

His tranflation of the Golden Verfes, and of the firft book of Quillet's Poem, have nothing in them remarkable. The Golden Verfes are tedious.

The verfion of Lucan is one of the greateft productions of English poetry; for there is perhaps none that fo completely exhibits the genius and fpirit of the original. Lucan is diftinguished by a kind of dictatorial or philofophic dignity, rather, as Quintilian obferves, declamatory than poetical; full of ambitious morality and pointed fentences, comprised in vigorous and animated lines. This character Rowe has very diligently and fuccefsfully preferved. His verfification, which is fuch as his contemporaries practifed, without any attempt at innovation or improvement, feldom wants either melody or force. His author's fenfe is fometimes a little diluted by additional infufions, and fometimes weakened by too much expanfion. But fuch faults are to be expected in all tranflations, from the constraint of measures and diffimilitude of languages. The Pharfalia of Rowe deferves more. notice than it obtains, and as it is more read will be more efteemed.


JOSEPH ADDISON was born on the first

of May, 1672, at Milfton, of which his father, Lancelot Addifon, was then rector, near Ambrofebury in Wiltshire, and appearing weak and unlikely to live, he was chriftened the fame day. After the ufual domeftic education, which, from the character of his father, may be reafonably fupposed to have given him strong impreffions of piety, he was committed to the care of Mr. Naish at Ambrofebury, and afterwards of Mr. Taylor at Salisbury.

Not to name the fchool or the mafters of men illuftrious for literature, is a kind of biftorical fraud, by which honeft fame is injuriously dimi nished: I would therefore trace him through the whole procefs of his education. In 1683, in the beginning of his twelfth year, his father, being made dean of Lichfield, naturally carried his family to his new refidence, and, I believe, placed him for fome time, probably not long, under Mr. Shaw, then mafter of the fchool at Lichfield, father of the late Dr. Peter Shaw. Of this interval his biographers have given no account; and I know it only from a ftory of a barring-out, told


me, when I was a boy, by Andrew Corbet of Shropshire, who had heard it from Mr. Pigot his uncle.

The practice of barring-cut was a favage licence, practifed in many fchools to the end of the last century, by which the boys, when the periodical vacation drew near, growing petulant at the approach of liberty, fome days before the time of regular recefs, took poffeffion of the fchool, of which they barred the doors, and bade their mafter defiance from the windows. It is not eafy to fuppofe that on fuch occafions the mafter would do more than laugh; yet, if tradition may be credited, he often struggled hard to force or furprise the garrifon. The mafter, when Pigot was a fchool-boy, was barred-out at Lichfield; and the whole operation, as he faid, was planned and conducted by Addifon.

To judge better of the probability of this ftory, I have enquired when he was fent to the Chartreux; but, as he was not one of those who enjoyed the Founder's benefaction, there is no account preferved of his admiffion. At the school of the Chartreux, to which he was removed either fromthat of Salisbury or Lichfield, he pursued his juvenile ftudies under the care of Dr. Ellis, and contracted that intimacy with Sir Richard Steele, which their joint labours have fo effectually recorded.

Of this memorable friendfhip the greater praise must be given to Steele. It is not hard to love thofe from whom nothing can be feared; and Addifon never confidered Steele as a rival; but Steele lived, as he confeffes, under an habitual fubjection to the predominating genius of Addison,


whom he always mentioned with reverence, and treated with obfequioufnels.

Addifon *, who knew his own dignity, could not always forbear to fhew it, by playing a little upon his admirer; but he was in no danger of retort his jefts were endured without refiftance or refentment.

But the fneer of jocularity was not the worst. Steele, whofe imprudence of generofity, or vanity of profufion, kept him always incurably neceffitous, upon fome preifing exigence, in an evil hour, borrowed an hundred pounds of his friend, probably without much purpofe of repayment; but Addifon, who feems to have had other notions of a hundred pounds, grew impatient of delay, and reclaimed his loan by an execution. Steele felt with great fenfibility the obduracy of his creditor; but with emotions of forrow rather than of anger t.

In 1687 he was entered into Queen's College in Oxford, where, in 1689, the accidental perufal of fome Latin verfes gained him the patronage of Dr. Lancafter, afterwards provoft of Queen's College; by whofe recommendation he was elected into Magdalen College as a Demy, a term by which that fociety denominates thofe which are elsewhere

* Spence.

This fact was communicated to Johnfon in my hearing by a perfon of unquestionable veracity, but whofe name I am not at liberty to mention, He had it, as he told us,. from lady Primrose, to whom Steele related it with tears in his eyes. The late Dr. Stinton confirmed it to me, by faying, that he had heard it from Mr. Hooke, author of the Roman Hiftory; and he, from Mr. Pope. H.

See, Victor's Letters, vol. I. p. 328, this tranfaction fomewhat differently related. R.


called Scholars, young men who partake of the founder's benefaction, and fucceed in their order to vacant fellowships *.

Here he continued to cultivate poetry and criticifm, and grew firft eminent by his Latin compofitions, which are indeed entitled to particular praife. He has not confined himself to the imitation of any ancient author, but has formed his ftyle from the general language, fuch as a diligent perufal of the productions of different ages happened to fupply.

His Latin compofitions feem to have had much of his fondness; for he collected a fecond volume of the Mufa Anglicana, perhaps for a convenient receptacle, in which all his Latin pieces are inferted, and where his Poem on the Peace has the first place. He afterwards prefented the collection to Boileau, who, from that time, "conceived," fays Tickell," an opinion of the English genius "for poetry." Nothing is better known of Boileau, than that he had an injudicious and peevish contempt of modern Latin, and therefore his profeffion of regard was probably the effect of his civility rather than approbation.

Three of his Latin poems are upon fubjects on which perhaps he would not have ventured to have written in his own language. The Battle of the Pigmies and Cranes; The Barometer; and A Bowling-green. When the matter is low or fcanty, a dead language, in which nothing is mean because nothing is familiar, affords great conveniences; and by the fonorous magnificence of Roman fyllables, the writer conceals penury of thought, and

He took the degree of M.A. Feb. 14, 1693.


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