« EelmineJätka »
From politics he returned to literature, and resumed a work he had begun, On the Evidences of the Christian Religion, which he intended as an antidote to infidelity. He also projected a new poetic version of the Psalms. The specimens of this kind of composition, which he has left, are sufficient to excite an ardent wish that he had done more. The comedy of the Drummer is ascribed to Addison. 1719 he again relapsed into politics, and wrote The Old Whig, and Remarks on a paper Plebean." In addition to his asthmatic complaint, Addison became subjected to the affliction of a dropsy. After a long and painful struggle with these disorders he patiently abandoned all hopes of Jife and gave directions to his friend Tickell concern: ing the publication of his works, dedicating them. to his friend and successor Mr. Secretary Craggs. When Addison perceived that his end was approaching, he sent for his son in law, the earl of Warwick, a young man of a loose and irregular life, yet for whom he had a very affectionate regard. He arrived, but Addison, whose life quivered like the glimmer of an expiring taper, was silent. After a becoming pause, the youth said "My dear Sir, you desired to see me; you have undoubtedly some commands; I shall hold them most sacred." Forcibly grasping the young man's hand, he replied, faintly, "I sent for you that you might see with what composure a christian can die." What effect this pathetic address of the exiring philosopher had on the mind of the young man, is not known, but he did not long survive him. It is this circumstance to which Tickell refers in his lines on Addison's death, where he expresses, that by this author we have not only been taught how to live, but
also in what manner we ought to be able to die. The event of Addison's death happened on the 17th June 1719, at Holland-House, near Kensington, in the 47th year of his age, leaving only one daughter. His printed works and manuscripts, where collected by Tickell, in 2 vol. 4to, 1721, since published in 6 vol. Svo. Considerable additions have been made to Tickell's edition from good authority. The writings of Addison are chiefly poetical, critical and moral. Mr. Gilbert Cooper has styled him "an indifferent poet, and a worse critic;" and Dr. Hurd calls him a very ordinary poet." The public opinion is more favourable. His poetry claims high praise, tho' not the highest. It has not often those felicities of diction which give lustre to sentiments, nor that vigour of sentiment which animates diction: there is little of ardour, vehemence, or transport; there is very rarely the awfulness of grandeur, and not often the splendor of elegance. It is, in general, rather sound phi losophy and just morality, versified, than animated description or interesting exhibition. But tho' it be not generally very picturesque, animated, or impassioned, yet there are many passages which evince *real poetic genius. "His poetry," says Dr. Johnson, "is polished and pure, the product of a mind too judicious to commit faults, but not sufficiently vigor ous to attain excellence. He has sometimes a strik ing line, or a shining paragraph; but, on the whole, he is warm rather than fervid, and shews more dexterity than strength. He was, however, one of our earliest examples of correctness. As a teacher of wisdom
may be constantly followed. All the enchantment of imagination, and all the cogency of argument are employed to recommend to the reader his real interest, No. 78
the care of pleasing the Author of his being. In prose Addison never deviates from his track to snatch a grace; he seeks no ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous innovations. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected splendor. His sentences have neither studied amplitude, nor affected brevity; his periods, tho' not diligently rounded, are valuable and easy. Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar, but not coarse, and elegant, but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison."
A SONG FOR ST, CECILIA'S DAY, AT OXFORD
1 Cecilia, whose exalted hyns
with joy and wonder fill the blest, in choirs of warbling seraphims
known and distinguish'd from the rest; attend, harmonious saint, and see
thy vocal sons of harmony;
attend, harmonious saint, and hear our prayers; enliven all our earthly airs,
and as thou sing'st thy God, teach us to sing of thee: tune every string and every tongue,
be thou the muse and subject of our song. 2 Let all Cecilia's praise proclaim,
employ the echo in her name.
Hark how the flutes and trumpets raise,
Cecilia's name does all our numbers grace,
from every voice the tuneful accents fly, in soaring trebles now it rises high, and now it sinks, and dwells upon the base. Cecilia's name through all the notes we sing, the work of every skilful tongue,
the sound of every trembling string,
3 For ever consecrate the day,
music, the greatest good that mortals know,
and all of heaven we have below.
Music can noble hints impart,
engender fury, kindle love;
A SONG FOR ST. CECILIA'S DAY. Addison.
the wolf and lamb around him trip,
it wakes the soul, and lifts it high, and wings it with sublime desires, and fits it to bespeaks the Deity. Th' Almighty listens to a tuneful tongue, and seems well pleas'd and courted with a song. Soft moving sounds and heavenly airs give force to every word, and recommend our When time itself shall be no more, [prayers. and all things in confusion hurl'd, music shall then exert it's power, and sound survive the ruins of the world: then saints and angels shall agree
in one eternal jubilee:
all heaven shall echo with their hymns divine,
Consecrate the place and day
to music and Cecilia.
Let no rough winds approach, nor dare
nor rudely shake the tuneful air,
nor spoil the fleeting sounds.