ページの画像
PDF
ePub

As a teacher of wisdom, he may be confidently fat lowed. His religion has nothing in it enthusiastick or superftitious: he appears neither weakly credulous nor wantonly sceptical; his morality is neither dangeroully lax, nor impracticably rigid. All the enchantment of fancy, and all the cogency of argument, are employed to recommend to the reader his real interest, the care of pleasing the Author of his being. Truth is shewn sometimes as the phantom of a vision, fometimes appears half-veiled in an allegory; fonetimes attracts regard in the robes of fancy, and sometimes steps forth in the confidence of reason. She wears a thousand dresses, and in all is pleasing.

Mille habet ornatus, mille decenter liabet. His prose is the model of the middle style; on grave subjects not formal, on light occasions not grovelling; pure without fcrupulofity, and exact without apparent elaboration; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed sentences. Addison never deviates from his track to snatch a grace; he seeks no ambitious ornaments, and tries no hazardous innovacions. His page is always luminous, but never blazes in unexpected splendour.

It was apparently his principal endeavour to avoid all harshness and severity of diction; he is therefore sometiines verbose in his transitions, and connections, and sometimes descends too much to the language of conversation ; yet if his language had been less idiomatical, it might have lost somewhat of its genuine Anglicism. What he attempted, he performed; he is never feeble, and he did not wish to be energetick; he is never rapid, and he never stagnates. ^ His sentences have neither studied 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, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.

*** In a preceding note I have endeavoured to rescue from oba livion a fact respecting Mr. Addison, that does honour to his moral character. With the same view, I relate a signal instance of his ditinterestedness in his official capacity, which seems to have escaped the notice of the latest of his biographers. Mr. Addison, while lecretary to lord Sunderland, as lord lieutenant of Ireland, had solicited a favour for major David Dunbar, and prevailed in his fuit, which was of so beneficial a nature, that the m:jor thought himself bound to a grateful acknowledgement of it, and accordingly sent him a present of a bank note for three hundred guineas, which Mr. Addison would by no means accept. The major upon this converted his present into another form, and made him a tender of a diamond ring of the same value, which also was rejected. The reasons for this refusal will be best explained by Mr. Addison's own words, exo, tracted from a letter which he thought proper to write on the occa

ir fion, and are as follows:

“ And now, fir, believe me when I assure you I never did nor “ ever wilt on any pretence whatsoever, take more than the stated " and customary fees of my office. I might keep the contrary prac“ tice. concealed from the world were I capable of it, but I could

not from myself. And I hope I shall always fear the reproaches

of my own heart more than those of all mankind. In the mean "time, if I can serve a gentleman of merit, and such a character as you

bear in the world, the satisfaction I ineet with on such an oc“cagon is always a sufficient, and the only reward to, fir,

" Your mot obedient humble servant."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

OHN HUGHES, the fon of a citizen in Lon

don, and' of Anne Burgess,' of an ancient family in Wiltshire, was born at Marlborough, July 29, -1677He was educated at a private school; and though his advances in literature are in the Biographia very oftencariously displayed, the name of his master is somewhat ungratefully concealed *.

At.

* This is very justly observed by Dr. Johnson ; but the secret has at last escaped, and we know now that he was educated in a diffent, ing academy, of which the rev. Mr. Thomas Rowe was tutor;

and was a fellow student there with Dr. Isaac Watts, Mr. Samuel Say, and other perfons of eminence. In the “ Horæ Lyricæ" of Dr. Watts is a peem to the memory of Mr. Rowe. Dr. Johnson once intimated to me a suspicion, founded on his connections, that Mr. Hughes was a diffenter; but lived not to be certified of the fact. It seems by their filence as to the place of his education, and the name of his tutor, that his friends were sudious to suppress that which surely it would have been no disgrace to reveal ; but they are now both made known in the life of Mr. Say, in the Biographical Dictionary, vol. xi. p. 304.

At nineteen hę drew the plan of a tragedy; and paraphrafed, rather too diffufely, the ode of Horace which begins Integer Vita. To poetry he added the science of musick, in which he seeins to have attained considerable skill, together with the practice of design, or rudiments of painting.

His ftudies did not withdraw him wholly from bufi. nefs, nor did business hinder him from Audy. He had a place in the office of ordnance; and was secretary to several commissions for purchasing lands neceffary to feeure the royal docks at Chatham and Portfinouth ; yet found time to acquaint himself with modern languages.

In 1697 he published a poem on the Peace of Rufwick; and in 1699 another piece, called The Court of Neptune, on the return of king Willian, which he addressed to Mr. Montague, the general patron of the followers of the Muses. 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 success; and about this time shewed his knowledge of human nature by an Ejay on the Pleasure of being deccived. In 1702 he published, on the death of king William, a Pindarick ode called The House of Nassau; and wrote another paraphrase on the Orium Divos of Horace,

It is probable, as Mr. Hughes had no expectation of a patrimony, that he was educated for the disenting ministry. I am well informed, that Dr. Watts regretted his attachment to poetry, and sas not pleased that he wrote for the stage. By the allistance which he gave to many and various publications it Mould leem, that in the forgier part of his life at least, he was, like Julipfon, a writer for the bookcllers.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Italian opera

[ocr errors]

In 1703 his ode on Musick was performed at Stationers Hall; and he wrote afterwards six cantatas, which were set to musick by the greatest master of that time, and seem intended to oppose or exclude the

an exotick and irrational entertainment, which has been always combated, and always has prevailed.

His reputation was now so far advanced, that the publick began to pay reverence to his name; and he was solicited to prefix a preface to the translation of Boccalini, a writer whose satirical vein cost him his life in Italy; but who never, I believe, found many readers in this country, even though introduced by such powerful recommendation.

He tranflated Fontenelle's Dialogues of the Dead; and his version was perhaps read at that time, but is now neglected; for by a book not necessary, and owing its reputation wholly to its turn of diction, little notice can be gained but from those who can enjoy the graces of the original. To the dialogues of Fontenelle he added two composed by himself; and, though not only

Mr. Hughes had no such intention. He was killed in music, and admired Scarlatti and Bononcini, and other composers of Italian operas. The writer of the account of Mr. Hughes, prefixed to his works, says, that his fix cantatas, set by Dr. Pepusch, were written before the introduction of the Italian opera on the Englith itage: this also is a mistake; for in the first of them, intituled “ Alexis,” are these lines,

" To thining theatres he now repairs

“ To learn Camilla's moving airs." • i.e. the airs in the opera of Camilla, composed by Bononcini, and performed at Drury Lane Theatre in 1703.

The cantata is an elegant species of vocal music, resembling the opera, in that it is divided into air and recitative; it was invented by the Italians. Mr. Hughes wrote many cantatas : those above were Set by Dr. Pepuích; others that he wrote were set by Mr. Handel nad Mr. Galliard.

« 前へ次へ »