Imatges de pÓgina

in, Lucia appears in all the fymptoms of an hyf"terical gentlewoman:

"Luc. Sure 'twas the clash of fwords! my troubled "heart

"Is fo caft down, and funk amidst its forrows,

"It throbs with fear, and akes at every found!

"And immediately her old whimfy returns upon


"O Marcia, fhould thy brothers, for my fake"I die away with horror at the thought. "She fancies that there can be no cutting-of"throats, but it must be for her. If this is tra"gical, I would fain know what is comical. "Well! upon this they spy the body of Sempro"nius; and Marcia, deluded by the habit, it feems, "takes him for Juba; for, fays the,

"The face is muffled up within the garment.

"Now, how a man could fight, and fall with "his face muffled up in his garment, is, I think, "a little hard to conceive! Befides, Juba, be"fore he killed him, knew him to be Sempronius. "It was not by his garment that he knew this; it "was by his face then: his face therefore was not "muffled. Upon feeing this man with his muf"fled face, Marcia falls a-raving; and, owning "her paffion for the fuppofed defunct, begins to "make his funeral oration. Upon which Juba en"ters liftening, I fuppofe, on tip-toe; for I can"not imagine how any one can enter liftening, in 66 any other pofture. I would fain know how it came to pass, that, during all this time he had "fent nobody; no, not so much as a candle-snuf



"fer, to take away the dead body of Sempronius. "Well! but let us regard him liftening. Having left his apprehenfion behind him, he, at first, "applies what Marcia fays to Sempronius. But "finding at laft, with much ado, that he himself "is the happy man, he quits his eve-dropping, "and difcovers himself juft time enough to prevent "his being cuckolded by a dead man, of whom "the moment before he had appeared fo jealous; "and greedily intercepts the blifs which was "fondly designed for one who could not be the "better for it. But here I must ask a question: "how comes Juba to liften here, who had not "listened before throughout the play? Or, how "comes he to be the only perfon of this tragedy "who liftens, when love and treafon were fo "often talked in fo publick a place as a hall? I am "afraid the author was driven upon all these ab"furdities only to introduce this miferable mistake "of Marcia, which, after all, is much below the dignity of tragedy, as any thing is which is the "effect or refult of trick.

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"But let us come to the scenery of the Fifth "A&t. Cato appears firft upon the fcene, fitting "in a thoughtful posture; in his hand Plato's trea"tife on the Immortality of the Soul, a drawn "fword on the table by him. Now let us con"fider the place in which this fight is prefented to

us. The place, forfooth, is a long hall. Let us fuppofe, that any one fhould place himself in "this posture, in the midft of one of our halls in "London; that he fhould appear folus, in a fullen pofture, a drawn fword on the table by him; in his hand Plato's treatife on the Immortality of "the Soul, tranflated lately by Bernard Lintot: "I defire

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"I defire the reader to confider, whether fuch a "perfon as this would pass, with them who beheld "him, for a great patriot, a great philofopher, or "a general, or fome whimfical perfon, who fan"cied himself all thefe? and whether the people, "who belonged to the family, would think that "fuch a perfon had a defign upon their midriffs or ❝ his own?

"In short, that Cato fhould fit long enough in the aforefaid pofture, in the midst of this large hall, to read over Plato's treatife on the Immortality of the Soul, which is a lecture of two long "hours; that he fhould propose to himself to be private there upon that occafion; that he should "be angry with his fon for intruding there; then, "that he fhould leave this hall upon the pretence "of fleep, give himfelf the mortal wound in his "bedchamber, and then be brought back into that


hall to expire, purely to fhew his good breeding, "and fave his friends the trouble of coming up to "his bedchamber; all this appears to me to be im"probable, incredible, impoffible.'

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Such is the cenfure of Dennis. There is, as Dryden expreffes it, perhaps " to much horfe-play "in his raillery;" but if his jefts are coarfe, his arguments are ftrong. Yet as we love better to be pleafed than be taught, Cato is read, and the critick is neglected.

Flushed with confcioufnefs of thefe detections of abfurdity in the conduct, he afterwards attacked the fentiments of Cato; but he then amused himfelf with petty cavils and minute objections.

Of Addison's smaller poems, no particular mention is neceffary; they have little that can employ or require a critick. The parallel of the Princes


and Gods, in his verfes to Kneller, is often happy, but is too well known to be quoted.

His tranflations, fo far as I have compared them, want the exactness of a scholar. That he underftood his authors cannot be doubted; but his verfions will not teach others to understand them, being too licentioufly paraphraftical. They are, however, for the most part, smooth and easy; and, what is the firft excellence of a tranflator, fuch as may be read with pleasure by. thofe who do not know the originals.

His poetry is polished and pure; the product of a mind too judicious to commit faults, but not fufficiently vigorous to attain excellence. He has fometimes a striking line, or a fhining paragraph; but in the whole he is warm rather than fervid, and fhews more dexterity than ftrength. He was however one of our earliest examples of correctness.

The verfification which he had learned from Dryden he debased rather than refined. His rhymes are often diffonant; in his Georgick he admits broken lines. He uses both Triplets and Alexandrines, but Triplets more frequently in his tranflations than his other works. The mere structure of verfes feems never to have engaged much of his care. But his lines are very smooth in Rofamond, and too smooth in Cato.

Addison is now to be confidered as a critick; a name which the prefent generation is fcarcely willing to allow him. His criticifm is condemned as tentative or experimental, rather than scientifick ; and he is confidered as deciding by taste rather than by principles.

It is not uncommon, for those who have grown wife by the labour of others, to add a little of their own, and overlook their mafters. Addison is now defpifed by fome who perhaps would never have feen his defects, but by the lights which he afforded them. That he always wrote as he would think it neceffary to write now, cannot be affirmed; his inftructions were fuch as the characters of his readers made proper. That general knowledge which now circulates in common talk, was in his time rarely to be found. Men not profeffing learning were not ashamed of ignorance; and, in the female world, any acquaintance with books was diftinguished only to be cenfured. His purpofe was to infufe literary curiofity by gentle and unfuspected conveyance, into the gay, the idle, and the wealthy: he therefore prefented knowledge in the most alluring form, not lofty and auftere, but acceffible and familiar., When he fhewed them their defects, he fhewed them likewife that they might be eafily fupplied. His attempt fucceeded; enquiry was awakened, and comprehenfion expanded. An emulation of intellectual elegance was excited, and from this time to our own life has been gradually exalted, and converfation purified and enlarged.

Dryden had, not many years before, fcattered criticism over his Prefaces with very little parfimony; but though he fometimes condefcended to be fomewhat familiar, his manner was in general too fcholaftick for thofe who had yet their rudiments to learn, and found it not easy to understand their mafter. His obfervations were framed rather for thofe that were learning to write, than for those. that read only to talk.


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