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Oh, did our British peers thus court renown,
But stop, my muse, th? ungrateful sound forbear
But see, at length, the British ships appear !
1 Maria's name. Queen Mary died Dec. 28, 1694, and perhaps no better proof can be given of William's feelings as a husband, than his answer to Lord Somers, who coming to the king upon business of the highest moment, found him sitting at the end of his closet in an agony of grief—“My lord, do what you will: I can think of no business.”—G.
* Does wound. An unlucky blemish in this, otherwise, pretty passage.Yet it is a mistake to think that these feeble expletives, do, does, did, &c. as Pope calls them, are never to have a place in our verse: the rule is, “they should not be coupled with the verb." The reason is obvious.
Come and let longing crowds behold that look,
LETTER FROM ITALY,a
RIGHT HON. CHARLES LORD HALIFAX,
IN THE YEAR MDCCI.
Salve magna parens frugum Saturnia tellus,
VIRG. Geor, ii.
[Of this poem Addison gives the following account in a letter to E. Montague:-“During my passage over the mountains (the Alps, from Italy to Geneva, Dec. 1701), I made a rhyming epistle to my Lord Halifax, which perhaps I will trouble you with a sight of, if I don't find it to be nonsense upon a review."
Johnson says (Life of Addison, p. 75): “Whatever were his other employments in Italy, he there wrote the letter to Lord Halifax, which is justly considered as the most elegant, if not the most sublime, of his poetical productions.” And again (p. 106): “The letter from Italy has been always praised, but has never been praised beyond its merit. It is more correct, with less appearance of labor, and more elegant, with less ambition of ornament, than any other of his poems."
This poem was translated into Italian by Salvini, and the translation published both by Tickell and Hurd. We have omitted it in this edition, Salvini was an excellent grammarian and worthy representative of the Crusca, but a very feeble poet.
For a sketch of Lord Halifax see Johnson's Lives of the Poets—Halifax.-G.]
a. The subject, so inviting to our classical traveller, seems to have raised his fancy, and brightened his expression. Mr. Pope used to speak very favorably of this poem.
WHILE you, my lord, the rural shades admire,
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
How am I pleas'd 5 to search the hills and woods
This introduction is exceedingly graceful and easy, presenting an equally pleasing picture of the patron and the poet, and the compliment contained in it, is all the more honorable to both, when we remember that the per-, son to whom it was paid, was a minister out of place.-G.
* Me into foreign realms my fate conveys. Compare the "Traveller “My fortune leads to traverse realms alone,” but what a difference between Addison, inspired by “the soft season, and inviting clime," and Goldsmith spending his “pensive hour amid Alpine solitudes.”—G.
3 Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects. These epithets are tautological. The scene is "gilded” by the sunlight, and the prospect shines from the same cause. They have, too, the disadvantage of excessive vagueness, a serious defect in the opening of a description. But this is the only defective line in this exquisite paragraph.-G.
4 And still I seem to tread on classic ground. Quacunque ingredimur in aliquam historiam vestigium ponimus”. was applied to Athens by Cicero. The expression “classic ground,” is supposed by Miss Aikin, I know not on what authority, to have been here used in English for the first time.-G.
5 How am I pleased. Not a happy line, but amply compensated by the
To view the Nar, tumultuous in his course,
Fir'd with a thousand raptures I survey
Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,
Sometimes to gentle Tiber? I retire,
admirable description which follows-in which the attributes are applied with singular felicity, and the verse finely adapted to each. The second line on the Mincio is particularly appropriate by its protracted movement, and the judicious choice of circumstances.-G.
* The king of floods-Fluviorum rex Eridanus. This expression was suggested to Addison by his recollections of Virgil rather than Petrarch. “Re degli altri, superbo, altero fiume.”_G. 2 Gentle Tiber. Here the description fails.
“ Gentle” is not a proper expression for the "saffron” stream, which runs rapidly at all seasons, and in winter violently. “Empty shores” is literally correct, though not very poetical; and both “retire and admire” sound very much as if one had called up the other without any particular warrant from the subject. “Retire” suggests something more nook-like and sequestered than the banks of the Tiber, and “shores” are seldom admired for their emptiness.-G.
a Yet run for ever, &c. This way of giving to the copy the properties of