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which, says Dryden, my latter swarm is bardly worth the hiving.
About the same time he composed the arguments prefixed to the several books of Dryden's Virgil; and produced an Effay on the Georgicks, juvenile, fuperficial, and uninstructive, without much either of the scholar's learning or the critick’s penetration,
His next paper of verses contained a character of the principal English poets, inscribed to Henry Sacheverell, who was then, if not a poet, a writer of verses *; as is shewn by his version of a small part
of Virgil's Georgicks, published in the Miscellanies, and a Latin encomium on queen Mary, in the Mufæ Anglicana. These verses exhibit all the fondness of friendship; but on one side or the other, friendship was afterwards too weak for the malignity of faction.
In this poem is a very confident and discriminative character of Spenser, whose work he had then never read . So little sometimes is criticism the effect of
* A letter which I found among Dr. Johnson's papers, dated in January 1784, from a lady in Wiltshire, contains a discovery of some importance in literary history, viz. that by the initials H. S. prefixed to this poem, we are not to understand the famous Dr. Henry Sacheverell, whose trial is the most remarkable incident in his life. The information thus communicated is, that the verses in question were not an address to the famous Dr. Sacheverell, but to a very ingenious gentlemad of the same name, who died young, supposed to be a Manksman, for that he wrote the history of the Isle of Man.That this person left his papers to Mr. Addison, and had formed a plan of a tragedy upon the death of Socrates. The lady says, the had this information from a Mr. Stephens, who was a fellow of Merton college, a contemporary, and intimate with Mr. Addison in Oxford, who died ncạr 50 years ago, a prebendary of Winchester, + Spence.
judgement. It is necessary to inform the reader, that about this time he was introduced by Congreve to Montague, then Chancellor of the Exchequer : Addifon was then learning the trade of a courtiet, and subjoined Montague as a poetical name to those of Cowley and of Dryden.
By the influence of Mr. Montague, concurring, according to Tickell, with his natural modefty, he was diverted from his original design of entering into holy orders. Montague alleged the corruption of men who engaged in civil employments without liberal education; and declared, that, though he was reprefented as an enemy to the Church, he would never do it any injury but by withholding Addison from it.
Soon after (in 1695) he wrote a poem to king William, with a rhyming introduction addreffed to lord Somers. King William had no regard to elegance or literature; his study was only war; yet by a choice of ministers, whose difpofition was very different from his own, he procured, without intention, a very liberal patronage to poetry. Addison was careffed both by Somers and Montague.
In 1697 appeared his Latin verses on the peace of Ryswick, which he dedicated to Montague, and which was afterwards called by Smith the best Latin poem fince the Æneid. Praise must not be too rigorously examined; but the performance cannot be denied to be vigorous and elegant.
Having yet no publick employment, he obtained (in 1699) a pension of three hundred pounds a year, that he might be enabled to travel. He staid a year at Blois *, probably to learn the French language ; and
then proceeded in his journey to Italy, which he furveyed with the eyes of a poet.
While he was travelling at leisure, he was far from being idle ; for he not only collected his observations on the country, but found time to write his Dialogues on Medals, and four Acts of Cato. Such at least is the relation of Tickell. Perhaps he only collected his materials, and formed his plan.
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. But in about two years he found it necessary to hasten home; being, as Swift informs us, diftrefled by indigence, and compelled to become the tutor of a travelling Squire, .because his pension was not remitted.
At his return he published his Travels, with a dedication to lord Somers. As his stay in foreign countries was short, his observations are such as might be supplied by a hafty view, and consist chiefly in comparisons of the present face of the country with the descriptions left us by the Roman poets, from whom he made preparatory collections, though he might have spared the trouble, had he known that such collections had been made twice before by Italian authors.
The most amusing paffage of his book is his account of the ininute republick of San Marino; of many parts it is not a very severe censure to say that they might have been written at home. His elegance of language, and variegation of profe and verse, however, gains upon the reader; and the book, though a while neglected, became in time fo much the favourite
of the publick, that before it was reprinted it rofe to five times its price.
When he returned to England (in 1702), with a meanness of appearance which gave testimony of the difficulties to which he had been reduced, he found his old patrons out of power, and was, therefore, for a time, at full leisure for the cultivation of his mind, and a mind so cultivated gives reason to believe that little time was lost.
But he remained not long neglected or useless. The victory at Blenheim (1704), spread triumph and confidence over the nation; and lord Godolphin, lamenting to lord Halifax, that it had not been celebrated in a manner equal to the subject, desired him to propose it to some better poet. Halifax told him that there was no encouragement for genius ; that worthless men were unprofitably enriched with publick money, without any care to find or employ those whose appearance might do honour to their country. To this Godolphin replied, that such abuses should in time be rectified; and that if a man could be found capable of the task then proposed, he should not want an ample recompense. Halifax then named Addison, but required that the Treasurer should apply to him in his own person. Godolphin sent the message by Mr. Boyle, afterwards lord Carleton; and Addison having undertaken the work, communicated it to the Treasurer, while it was yet advanced no further than the simile of the Angel, and was immediately rewarded by succeeding Mr. Locke in the place of Commissioner of Appeals.
In the following year he was at Hanover with lard Halifax ; and the year after was made under-secretary of state, first to Sir Charles Hedges, and in a few months more to the earl of Sunderland,
About this time the prevalent taste for Italian operas inclined him to try what would be the effect of a mufical Drama in our own language. He therefore wrote the opera of Rosamond, which, when exhibited on the stage, was either hissed or neglected *; but trusting that the readers would do him more juftice, he published it, with an inscription to the dutchess of Marlborough ; a woman without skill, or pretensions tó skill, in poetry or literature. His dedication was therefore an instance of servile absurdity, to be exceeded only by Joshua Barres's dedication of a Greek Anacreon to the Duke,
His reputation had been somewhat advanced by The Tender Husband, a comedy which Steele dedicated to him, with a confession that he owed to him feveral of the most successful scenes. To this play Addison fupe plied a prologue
When the marquis of Wharton was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, Addison attended him as his fea cretary; and was made keeper of the recotds in Birmingham's Tower; with a falary of three hundred pounds a year. Thë office was little more than nominal, and the salary was auginented for his accommodation.'
Interest and faction allow little to the operation of particular dispositions, or private opinions. Two men;
* It was very deservcdly rejected by the town for the badness of music, which was composed by Mr. Thomas Clayton, of whom at atcount, and also some specimens of his ftyle, are given in the " Ca. "neral History of the Science and Practice of Mutic vol. V. p. 1354 “et feqq." One of the airs in Rofamond is made to sing thus:
"O the pleasing, pleasing, pleasing, plealing pleasing, anguish.” Mr. Addison had no relish for music, and iş nevet so much out of
way as when he talks about it. Vol. III: