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JOSEPH ADDISON was born May 21, 1672, at Milston, of which his father was then Rector, near Ambrosebury in Wiltshire. He was early sent to school, there, under the care of the Rev. Mr. Naish; from whence he was removed to Salisbury school, and then to the Charterhouse, under the tuition of the learned Dr. Ellis. Here he first extracted an intimacy with Mr. Steele, which continued almost to his death. At fifteen he was entered of Queen's College, Oxford, and in about two years admitted to the degrees of bachelor and master of arts in that college; at which time he was celebrated for his latin poems, to be found in a second volume of the Musae Britanicae, collecte by Addison. Being at the university, he was upon the point of ceding to the desires of his father and several of his friends, to enter into holy orders; but having, through Mr. Congreve's means, become a favourite of Lord Halifax, he was prevailed apon by that nobleman, to give up the design. He successively filled the public stations, in 1702, of Commissioner of the Appeals in the Excise; 1707, Under-Secretary of State; 1709, Secretary of Ireland, and Keeper of the Records in Ireland; 1715 (the grand climacteric of Addison's reputation, Cato appeared) Secretary to the Lords' Justices; 1714 one of the Lords Commissioners of Trade; and at last, 1717, one of the first Secretaries of State. Dr. Johnson says, "For this employment he might justly be supposed qualified by long practice of business, and by his regular ascent through ather ofices; but expectation is often disappointed; it is universally confessed, that he was unequal to the duties of plate. In the House of Commons he could not speak, and therefore was useless to the defence of the Government, In the office, says Pope, he could not issue an order without losing his time in quest of fine expressions." He sorited his dismissal with a pension of 1500 pounds a year. He married the Countess Dowager of Warwick, 1716; sed is said to have first known her by becoming tutor to her son. Johnson says, "The Lady was at last prevailed apon to marry him, on terms much like those, on which a Turkish princess is espoused, to whom the sultan is reported to pronounce, Daughter, 1 give thee this man for thy slave.' The marriage made no addition to his happiBess; it neither made them nor found them equal." In 1718-19, he had a severe dispute on The Peerage Bill with Steele, who, inveterate in his political opinions, supported them in a pamphlet called The Plebeian, which Addisen answered by another, under the title of The Old Whig. Some epithets, let drop by Addison, answered by a cutting quotation from Cato, by Steele, were the cause of their friendship's being dissolved; and every person acquainted with the friendly terms on which these two great men had lived so long, must regret, that they should finally part in scrimonious opposition. Addison died of an asthma and dropsy, on the 17th June, 1719, aged 48, leaving only one daughter behind him. The general esteem ia which his productions, both serious and humorous in The Spectator, The Tailer, and The Guardian are held, "pleads (as Spakspeare says), like engels, trumpet-tongued, in their behalf." As a poet, his Cafe, in the dramatic, and his Campaign, in the heroic way, will ever maintain a place among the first-rate works of either kind.-And a good man's death displays the character of his life. At his last hour, he sent for a relation of his, young Lord Warwick, whose youth he supposed might be influenced by an awful lesson, when, taking bold of the young man's hand, he said "See in what peace a Christian can die!" and immediately expired.
ACTED at Drury Lane, 1715. It is one of the first of our dramatic poems, and was performed 18 nights successively; this very successful run for a tragedy, is attributed by Dennis, who wrote a very bitter critique upon Cato, to proceed from Addison's having raised prejudices in his own favour, by false positions of preparatory criticism; and with his having poisoned the town by contradicting, in The Spectator, the established rule of poetical justice, because his own hero, with all his virtues, was to fall before a tyrant. Johnson says, "the fact is certain; the motives we most guess. Steele packed an audience. The danger was soon over. The whole nation was,, at that time, on fire with faction. The Whigs applauded every line, in which liberty was mentioned, as a satire on the Tories; and the Tories echoed every clap, to shew, that the satire was unfelt." It was ushered into notice by eight complimentary copies of verses to the author, among which, one by Steele, leads the van; besides a prologue by Pope, and an epilogue by Dr. Garth: Dr. Johnson, with the abovementioned persons, nay, even Dennis's gall, has marked this tragedy as a British classic, and a succession of audiences for above a century has proved, that it has deserved "Golden opiniens from all sorts of people," Johnson observes, "Of a work so much read, it is difficult to say any thing new. About things on which the public thinks long, it commonly attains to think right; and of Cato it has been not unjustly determined, that it is rather a poem in dialogue than a drama; rather a succession of just sentiments in elegant lanCuage, than a representation of natural aflections, or of any state probable or possible in human life. Nothing here exciles or assuages emotion; here is no magical power of raising phantastic terror or exciting wild anxiety. The events are expected without solicitude, and remembered without joy or sorrow. Of the agents we have no care. Cato is a being above our solicitude, a man of whom "the gods take care," and whom we leave to their care with heedless confidence. To the rest, neither gods nor men can have much attention; for there is not one amongst them, that strongly attracts either affection or esteem. But they are made the vehicles of such sentiments and such expressions that there is scarcely a scene in the play, which the reader does not wish to impress upon his memory.
And heavily in clouds brings on the day,
Has ravag'd more than half the globe, and sees Love is not to be reason'd down, or lost
Marc. Thy steady temper, Portius,
Por. Behold young Juba, the Numidian
With how much care he forms himself to glory,
When most it swells, and labours for a vent, The sense of honour, and desire of fame, His horses hoofs wet with patrician blood! Oh, Portius! is not there some chosen curse, Drive the big passion back into his heart. Some hidden thunder in the stores of heav'n, What, shall an African, shall Juba's heir Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man Reproach great Cato's son, and show the world Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin? A virtue wanting in a Roman soul? Por. Believe me, Marcus, 'tis an impious greatness,
And mix'd with too much horror to be envied:
His sufferings shine, and spread a glory round
Greatly unfortunate, he fights the cause
Against a world, a base, degen'rate world,
Pent up in Utica, he vainly forms
Marc. These are suggestions of a mind at
Oh, Portius, didst thou taste but half the griefs
Passion unpitied, and successless love,
Marc. Portius, no more! your words leave
Thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains,
Marc. Thou best of brothers, and thou best
Pardon a weak, distemper'd soul, that swells
Sem. Conspiracies no sooner should be
Than executed. What means Portius here?
[Aside. Good morrow, Portius; let us once embrace, Once more embrace, while yet we both are free. thus To-morrow, should we express friendship, Each might receive a slave into his arms. This sun, perhaps, this morning sun's the last, That e'er shall rise on Roman liberty.
Por. My father has this morning call'd to-
To this poor hall, his little Roman senate
My other griefs.-Were but my Lucia kind-His virtues render our assembly awful,
But I must hide it, for I know thy temper.
They strike with something like religious fear,
Now, Marcus, now thy virtue's on the proof, Could I but call that wondrous man my father, -
Marc. Alas, the counsel which I cannot take, Instead of healing, but upbraids my weakness.
To thy friend's vows, I might be blest indeed! Por. Alas, Sempronius! wouldst thou talk of love
To Marcia, whilst her father's life's in danger? Thou might'st as well court the pale, trembling vestal,
When she beholds the holy flame expiring.
The world has all its eyes on Cato's son;
Syph. But is it true, Sempronius, that your
Is call'd together? Gods! thou must be cautious;
Clothe thy feign'd zeal in rage, in fire, in fury!
On this important hour-I'll straight away,
Ambitiously sententious-But I wonder
To Rome's first honours. If I give up Cato,
Syph. Sempronius, all is ready;
I'se sounded my Numidians, man by man,
And wait but the command to change their
Sem. Believe me, Syphax, there's no time
And teach the wily African deceit.
Unlook'd for, and discharge themselves on Cato.
Syph. I'll try if yet I can reduce to reason This headstrong youth, and make him spurn at Cato.
The time is short; Caesar comes rushing on
But hold! young Juba sees me, and approaches!
Juba. Syphax, I joy to meet thee thus alone. I have observ'd of late thy looks are fall'n, O'ercast with gloomy cares and discontent; Then tell me, Syphax, I conjure thee, tell me, What are the thoughts that knit thy brow in frowns,
And turn thine eye thus coldly on thy prince?
Or carry smiles and sunshine in my face,
Ev'n while we speak, our conqueror comes on,
He bounds o'er all;
One day more
Will set the victor thund'ring at our gates.
That still would recommend thee more to Caesar,
Syph. Alas! he's lost!
He's lost, Sempronius; all his thoughts are full
And own the force of their superior virtue?
Above your own Numidia's tawny sons?
In which your Zama does not stoop to Rome.
To cultivate the wild, licentious savage, And break our fierce barbarians into men. Turn up thy eyes to Cato;
There may'st thou see to what a godlike height
Syph. Believe me, prince, there's not an
That traverses our vast Numidian deserts
Juba. Thy prejudices, Syphax, won't discern What virtues grow from ignorance and choice, Nor how the hero differs from the brute. Where shall we find the man that bears af
Great and majestic in his griefs, like Cato? How does he rise against a load of woes, And thank the gods that threw the weight upon him!
Syph. "Tis pride, rank pride, and ness of soul;
Juba. Alas! thy story melts away my soul! That best of fathers! how shall I discharge The gratitude and duty that I owe him? Syph. By laying up his counsels in your heart.
Juba. His counsels bade me yield to thy direction.
Syph. Alas! my prince, I'd guide you to your safety.
Juba. I do believe thou wouldst; but tell me how.
Syph. Fly from the fate that follows Caesar's foes.
Juba. My father scorn'd to do it.
Juba. Better to die ten thousand thousand deaths,
Than wound my honour.
Syph. Rather say your love.
Juba. Syphax, I've promis'd to preserve my temper.
Why wilt thou urge me to confess a flame
'Tis easy to divert and break its force.
The pale, unripen'd beauties of the north.
Fades in his eye, and palls upon her sex
I think the Romans call it stoicism.
Syph. Ay, there's the tie that binds you! You long to call him father. Marcia's charms Work in your heart unseen, and plead for Cato. No wonder you are deaf to all I say.
Shines out in ev'ry thing she acts or speaks, While winning mildness and attractive smiles Dwell in her looks, and with becoming grace, Soften the rigour of her father's virtue.
Syph. How does your tongue grow wanton in her praise!
But, on my knees, I beg you would considerJuba. Ha! Syphax, is't not she?-She moves this way;
And with her Lucia, Lucius's fair daughter. My heart beats thick-I pr'ythee, Syphax, leave
Syph. Ten thousand curses fasten on them both!
Juba. Syphax, your zeal becomes impor-Now will the woman, with a single glance,
I've hitherto permitted it to rave,
Alas, he's dead! but can you e'er forget
Enter MARCIA and LUCIA. Juba. Hail, charming maid! how does thy beauty smooth
The face of war, and make ev'n horror smile!
The good old king, at parting, wrung my hand (His brimful of tears), then, sighing, cry'd, eyes Pr'ythee be careful of my son!-His grief While, warm with slaughter, our victorious foe Swell'd up so high, he could not utter more. Threatens aloud, and calls you to the field.