Imatges de pÓgina

Tom Thumb; and to the contempt of Dennis, who, confidering the fundamental pofition of his criticism, that Chevy-Chafe pleafes, and ought to please, because it is natural, obferves, "that there is a way of devi"ating from nature, by bombaft or tumour, which "foars above nature, and enlarges images beyond "their real bulk; by affectation, which forfakes "nature in queft of fomething unfuitable; and by imbecillity, which degrades nature by faintness "and diminution, by obfcuring its appearances, "and weakening its effects." In Chevy Chase there is not much of either bombaft or affectation; but there is chill and lifeless imbecillity. The story cannot poffibly be told in a manner that fhall make lefs impreffion on the mind.

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Before the profound obfervers of the prefent race repofe too fecurely on the confcioufnefs of their fuperiority to Addison, let them confider his Remarks on Ovid, in which may be found fpecimens of criticifm fufficiently fubtle and refined: let them perufe likewise his Effays on Wit, and on the Pleafures of Imagination, in which he founds art on the base of nature, and draws the principles of invention from difpofitions inherent in the mind of man with fkill and elegance, fuch as his contemners will not eafily attain.

As a defcriber of life and manners, he must be allowed to ftand perhaps the first of the first rank. His humour, which, as Steele obferves, is peculiar to himself, is fo happily diffufed as to give the grace of novelty to domeftic fcenes and daily occurrences.

* Far, in Dr. Warton's opinion, beyond Dryden. C. He



He never outfteps the modefty of nature, raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures neither divert by distortion, nor amaze by aggravation. He copies life with so much fidelity that he can be hardly faid to invent; yet his exhibitions have an air fo much original, that it is difficult to suppose them not merely the product of imagination.

As a teacher of wifdom, he may be confidently followed. His religion has nothing in it enthufiaftick or fuperftitious: he appears neither weakly credulous, nor wantonly fceptical; his morality is neither dangerously lax, nor impracticably rigid. All the enchantment of fancy, and all the cogency of argument, are employed to recommend to the reader his real intereft, the care of pleafing the Author of his being. Truth is fhewn fometimes as the phantom of a vifion; fometimes appears half-veiled in an allegory; fometimes attracts regard in the robes of fancy; and fometimes fteps forth in the confidence of reafon. She wears a thousand dreffes, and in all is pleafing.

"Mille habet ornatus, mille decenter habet."

His profe is the model of the middle ftyle; on grave fubjects not formal, on light occafions not groveling; pure without fcrupulofity, and exact without apparent elaboration; always equable, and always eafy, without glowing words or pointed fentences. Addifon never deviates from his track to fnatch a grace; he feeks no ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous innovations. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected fplendour.

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It was apparently his principal endeavour to avoid all harshness and severity of diction; he is therefore fometimes verbose in his tranfitions and connections, and fometimes defcends too much to the language of converfation; yet if his language had been lefs idiomatical, it might have loft fomewhat of its genuine Anglicifm. What he attempted, he performed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish to be energetick *; he is never rapid, and he never ftagnates. His fentences have neither ftudied amplitude, nor affected brevity; his periods, though not diligently rounded, are voluble and easy. Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not oftentatious, muft give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.

* But, fays Dr. Warton, he sometimes is fo; and in another MS note he adds, often fo. C.

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JOHN HUGHES, the fson of a citizen in London,

and of Anne Burgefs, of an ancient family in Wiltfhire, was born at Marlborough, July 29, 1677. He was educated at a private school; and though his advances in literature are, in the Biographia, very oftentatiously displayed, the name of his mafter is somewhat ungratefully concealed *.

At nineteen he drew the plan of a tragedy; and paraphrased, rather too profufely, the ode of Horace which begins" Integer Vitæ." To poetry he added the science of mufick, in which he feems to have attained confiderable skill, together with the practice of defign, or rudiments of painting.

His ftudies did not withdraw him wholly from business, nor did bufinefs hinder him from study. He had a place in the office of ordnance; and was

*He was educated in a diffenting academy, of which the Rev. Mr. Thomas Rowe was tutor; and was a fellow-ftudent there with Dr. Ifaac Watts, Mr. Samuel Say, and other perfons of eminence. In the "Hora Lyrica" of Dr. Watts is a poem to the memory of Mr. Rowe. H.


fecretary to feveral commiffions for purchafing lands neceffary to secure the royal docks at Chatham and Portsmouth; yet found time to acquaint himself with modern languages.

In 1697 he published a poem on the Peace of Ryfwick and in 1699 another piece, called The Court of Neptune, on the return of King William, which he addreffed to Mr. Montague, the general patron of the followers of the Mufes. The fame year he produced a fong on the Duke of Gloucester's birth-day.

He did not confine himself to poetry, but cultivated other kinds of writing with great fuccefs; and about this time fhewed his knowledge of human nature by an Effay on the Pleasure of being deceived. In 1702 he published, on the death of King William, a Pindaric ode, called The Houfe of Naffau; and wrote another paraphrafe on the Otium Divos of Horace.

In 1703 his ode on Mufick was performed at Stationers' Hall; and he wrote afterwards fix cantatas, which were fet to mufick by the greatest mafter of that time, and feemed intended to oppose or exclude the Italian opera, an exotick and irrational entertainment, which has been always combated, and always has prevailed.

His reputation was now fo far advanced, that the publick began to pay reverence to his name; and he was folicited to prefix a preface to the translation of Boccalini, a writer whofe fatirical vein coft him his life in Italy, and who never, I believe, found many readers in this country, even though introduced by fuch powerful recommendation.


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