« 前へ次へ »
he lost in credit; and, finding by experience his own inability, was forced to solicit his dismission, with a
a mixture of wit and indignation, got up and said : “ The honoursv able gentleman opposite me has twice informed the house, that os he cruceives ; I should be glad to know when he means to bring
I know that this impotence of speech is frequently gloffed with the name of mod-fy; but w..cther juitly or not let my author decide, who, speaking of Mr. Andijon's habits or external manners, lays of them; “ Nothing is so often mentioned as that timorous or sullen “ taciturniry which his friends cailed modesty, by too mild a name.”
The cditors have now before them, besides an egregious example of Mr. Hidijous inability as a parliamentary spcaker, a description of that deficiency mentioned by them as the rcafon for cleclining the office which he afterwards acc pted; and whether they will, with me, call it timidity even to jierpilnejs, or, with Dr. Johnson, own that it was a timorous or fullen taciturnity, 100 mililly by his friends called modefiy, is left to their choice; but is of small importance to the argument: however, till they can fhew that both deferiptions are false, they will fail in the proof of their affertion, that my charge is exiremely u.nj ji.
Ile that canuot speak in public is fit only for private life; a dumb fenator is no very resplendent character ; but a m deft, a bashful fecietary of state is an object of contempt. How shall be, who is either jullenly or rimidly filent, be able to look a foreign ambaísador, such a one as Gondomar for instance, in the face? or be able
to unfold The drift of hollow states, hard to be spellid ?
Milton's Sonnet to Sir Henry Vane the younger. But waving all other evidence, I rest the proof of Mr. Addison's general inability to discharge the duties of his fation, upon the traditional character of him which yet exists in the offices of both the secretaries of state, and is never likely to be effaced; and I will add, that he is the only person who ever held the employment, of whom luch a memorial is there remaining.
The fact recorded by Dr. Fobrlon of Mr. Addison's embarrassment in the drawing up of an official dispatch, my adversaries may think of as they please: I Mall only obterve, that it is an historical relation accompanied with names, times, and collateral circumstances, which, added to the testimony of Mr. Pope, that he could not issue
pension of fifteen hundred pounds a year. His friends palliated this relinquishment, of which both friends
an order without losing his time in quest of fine expressions, is as good evidence of the fact in question as any we have for half the particulars recorded in “ The mirror or looking-glass both for Saints " and Sinners, by Sa. Clark, Pastor in Benner Fink, London;" Dr. Calamy's “ Account of the ejected minifters,” or Mr. Neal's “ History of the Puritans.”
His removal from the office is also a fact that necessarily followed from his incapacity; and, though my adversaries have called it a resignation, cannot properly be fo termed; for ro man with truth be said to resizn that which he cannot hold. Dr. Jolina for saw through the fallacy of the term, when he said, that his friends palliated this relinquisbment, of which both friends and chemies knew the true reason, with an account of declining health, and the neceflity of recess and quiet, and when he alerted, as he has done in his life of Prior, that “ Ad“ dison exalted to a biyb placr, was forced into degradation by the sense of " bis own incapaciig."
To prove it was what these gentleman will have it to be, they have adduced the following curious argument, viz. that he afterwards zealously supporled in the house of cominons the ministry that then took place. Now, it is not strange, that Mr. Addison, a whig by principle, should vote with a whig administration ; but, in the name of wonder, let me ask, What sort of support it was that Mr. Addifon gave them, and whether, without a tongue, to speak in an allembly where eloquence alone is power, it could poflibly be any other than that of his bare vote?
I have farther incurred the displeasure of these gentlemen, by recording a saying of Dr. Mandeville's respecting Mr. Hüdijon, wliich, though they affect to doubt it as coming from a mufial knight, Dr. Johnson has honoured with a place in his page, and which will go down to pofterity, viz. that in an evening's conversation at lord chief juftice Parker's, he seemed a parson in a tye-wig, and in terms not the most handsome, as they fecm to draw into question the veracity of him who relates it, am called upon to produce my authority. This I am now ready to do, though I see not how it can profit either them or their argument, and, with more civility than they make the deinand, i here inform them and the public, that the story was related to me by a gentleman of worth and unquestionable veracity, Mr. Henry Harfell, a barrister of the Temple, the fon of a baron of the exchequer, con.
and enemies knew the true reason, with an account of declining health, and the necessity of recess and quiet.
He now returned to his vocation, and began to plan literary occupations for his future life. He purposed a tragedy on the death of Socrates; a story of which, temporary with the chief justice above-named, and who very probably might have had it from his lordship himself.
It was not my intention, in the account which I gave of him in the History of Music, to take from Mr. Addison any part of the praise due to his character: on the contrary, I have ascribed to him those talents for which he is juftly celebrated. I was formerly acquainted with a person next in office under him, the father of the late lady Rochford, from whom I had several particulars refpecting him, that have given me greater reason for esteeming him, than all that flattery with which those who have presumed to reprehend me bave besmeared his memory; but I did not think myself bound, by the consideration that he is the idol of the whigs, to supprets a fact which is only provoking, because it is true. I meant not the disadvantage of Mr. Addison, when I related that he and Dr. Mandeville met at lord chief justice Parker's, and that the Doctor said of him, that he thought him a parfon in a tye-wig: duch an expression imports no crime, and, as Johnson justly observes, can detract little from his character. It was likely to come from such a man as Ma deville, of whom it is notorious, that he entertained no respect for the clergy, and little reverence for religion, and might have been occafioned either by the subjects of their conversation, or the decency and gravity of Mr. Addison's deportment; nor do I think my credit, in any sense of the word, affected by the publication of it. I take no pleasure in the disparagement of exalted characters, but am ever disposed to yield honour to bom bonour is due : and whether my assertions are not as well digested, and better supported than those which these uninformed historians and feeble reasoners have thrown out in a note of more than fix folio columns, let the readers of both determine.
The bufiness of this note has hitherto been to justify the character I had given of Mr. Addison in my work. Having, as I am fatisfied, done that, I may now oppose to the eulogium which these writers have bestowed on him, the facts related by my author, all tending to the same point, and leave them to get rid as they can of the charge of his unfitness for an office, to which the abilities of a Cecil, or a Walingham, were not more than adequate.
as Tickell remarks, the basis is narrow, and to which I know not how love could have been appended. There would however have been no want either of virtue in the sentiments, or elegance in the language.
He engaged in a nobler work, a defence of the Christian Religion, of which part was published after his death ; and he designed to have made a new poetical verlion of the Psalms.
These pious compositions Pope imputed* to a selfish motive, upon the credit, as he owns, of Tonson; who having quarrelled with Addison, and not loving him, said, that, when he laid down the secretary's office, he intended to take orders, and obtain a bishoprick; for, said he, I always thought him a priest in his beart.
That Pope should have thought this conjecture of Tonson worth remembrance, is a proof, but indeed so far as I have found, the only proof, that he retained some malignity from their ancient rivalry. Tonson pretended but to guess it ; no other mortal ever sufpected it; and Pope inight have reflected, that a man who had been secretary of state, in the ministry of Sunderland, knew a nearer way to a bishoprick than by defending Religion, or translating the Psalms.
It is related that he had once a design to make an English Dictionary, and that he considered Dr. Tillotson as the writer of highest authority. There was formerly sent to me by Mr. Locker, clerk of the Leathersellers Company, who was eminent for curiosity and literature, a collection of examples selected from Tillotson's works, as Locker faid, by Addison. It çame too late to be of use, fo I inspected it but Nightly, Spence
and remember it indistinctly. I thought the passages too short.
Addison however did not conclude his life in peaceful studies; but relapsed, when he was near his end, to a political dispute.
It so happened that (1718-19) a controversy was agitated with great vehemence between those friends of long continuance, Addison and Steele. It may be asked, in the language of Homer, what power or what cause could set them at variance. The subject of their dispute was of great importance. The earl of Sunderland proposed an act called The Peerage Bill; by which the number of peers should be fixed, and the king restrained from any new creation of nobility, unless when an old family should be extinct. To this the lords would naturally agree; and the king, who was yet little acquainted with his own prerogative, and, as is now well known, almost indifferent to the possessions of the Crown, had been persuaded to consent. The only difficulty was found among the commons, who were not likely to approve the perpetual cxclufion of themselves and their posterity. The bill therefore was eagerly opposed, and among others by Sir Robert Walpole, whose speech was published.
The lords might think their dignity diminished by improper advancements, and particularly by the introduction of twelve new peers at once, to produce a majority of Tories in the last reign; an act of authority violent enough, yet certainly legal, and by no means to be compared with that contempt of national right, with which some time afterwards, by the instigation of Whiggism, the commons, chosen by the people for three years, chose themselves for seven.