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ing, explaining, distinguishing the ordinary and extraordinary modes, dragging on with exordiums, preparations, methods, allusions to Scripture. After having read six lines of this morality, a Frenchman would go out for a mouth2.l of fresh air. What in the name of eaven would he do, if, in order to move him to piety, he was told that God's amniscience and omnipresence furnished us with three kinds of motives, and then subdivided these motives into first, second, and third? To put calculation at every stage; to come with weights, scales, and figures, into the thick of human passions, to label them, classify them like bales, to tell the public that the inventory is complete; to lead them, with the reckoning in their hand, and by the mere virtue of statistics, to honor and duty,such is the morality of Addison and of England. It is a sort of commercial common sense applied to the interests of the soul; a preacher here is only an economist in a white tie, who treats conscience like food, and refutes vice because its introduction is prohibited.
self as one who give my consent to every lan which passes. .. A freeholder is but one reought to stand up in the defence of those laws move from a legislator, and for that reason which are in some degree of his own making.” * These are all English feelings, made made up of calculation and pride, enis capped by that of the married man: ergetic and austere; and this portrait
"Nothing is more gratifying to the mind of myself amply possessed of, as I am the father of man than power or dominion; and this I think a family. I am perpetually taken up in giving out orders, in prescribing duties, in hearing parties, in administering justice, and in distrib upon my family as a patriarchal sovereignty, in uting rewards and punishments. . . . I look which I am myself both king and priest. When I see my little troop before me, I re species, to my country, and to my religion, in joice in the additions which I have made to my having produced such a number of reasonable creatures, citizens, and Christians. pleased to see myself thus perpetuated; and as there is no production comparable to that of a human creature, I am more proud of having been the occasion of ten such glorious productions, than if I had built a hundred pyramids at my own expense, or published as many volumes of the finest wit and learning." ↑ If now we take the man away from his estate and his household, alone with There is nothing sublime or chimer- himself, in moments of idleness or ical in the end which he sets before reverie, we will find him just as posius; all is practical, that is, business-tive. He observes, that he may culti like and sensible; the question is, how vate his own reasoning power, and that "to be easy here and happy after- of others; he stores himself with morwards." To be easy is a word which | ality; he wishes to make the most of has no French equivalent, meaning that comfortable state of the mind, a middle state between calm satisfaction, approved action and serene conscience. Addison makes it consist in labor and manly functions, carefully and regularly discharged. We must see with what complacency he paints in the Freeholder and "Sir Roger" the grave pleasures of a citizen and proprietor : "I have rather chosen this title (the Free-thrown up the fragment of a bone or holder than any other, because it is what I Lost gory in, and what most effectually calls o my mind the happiness of that government ander which I live. As a British freeholder, should not scruple taking place of a French marcuis; and when I see one of my countrymen amusing himself in his little cabbage-garden, I naturally look upon him as a greater person than the owner of the richest vineyard in Champagne. ... There is un unspeakable pleasure in calling anything one's own. A freehold, though it be but in ice and snow, will make the owner pleased in the possession, and I consider my
stcan the deferce of it.
himself and of existence, that is the reason why he thinks of death. The northern races willingly direct their thoughts to final dissolution and the dark future. Addison often chose for his promenade gloomy Westminster Ab bey, with its niany tombs: "Upon my going into the church, I entertained myself with a digging of a grave; and saw in every shovelful of it that was
skull intermixt with a kind of fresh mouldering earth that sometime or other had a place in the composition of a human body. . . . I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appear ance together." And suddenly his emotion is transformed into profitable meditations. Underneath his morality is a pair of scales which weigh quanti ties of happiness. He stirs himself by *Freeholder, No. 1. + Spectator, No. ga Ibid. Nos. 26 and $75.
mathematical comparisons to prefer | grand, and they have music there: it is the future to the present. He tries to a noble palace; perhaps there are realize, amidst an assemblage of dates, antechambers. We had better not conthe disproportion of our short life to infinity. Thus arises this religion, a product of melancholic temperament and acquired logic, in which man, a sort of caculating Hamlet, aspires to the ideal by making a good business of it, and maintains his poetical sentiments by financial calculations.
tinue the quotation. The same dul and literal precision makes him inquire what sort of happiness the elect have.* They will be admitted into the councils of Providence, and will understand all its proceedings: "There is, doubtless, a faculty in spirits by which they apprehend one another as our senses In such a subject these habits are do material objects; and there is no offensive. We ought not to try and question but our souls, when they are over-define or prove God; religion is disembodied, or placed in glorified rather a matter of feeling than of sci- bodies, will by this faculty, in whatever ence; we compromise it by exacting part of space they reside, be always too rigorous demonstrations, and too sensible of the Divine Presence."+ precise dogmas. It is the heart which This grovelling philosophy repels us. Bees heaven; if a man would make me One word of Addison will justify it, believe in it, as he makes me believe in and make us understand it: "The the Antipodes, by geographical ac- business of mankind in this life is counts and probabilities, I shall barely rather to act than to know." Now, or not at all believe. Addison has little such a philosophy is as useful in acmore than his college or edifying argu- tion as poor in science. All its faults ments, very like those of the abbé Plu- of speculation become merits in pracche, which let in objections at every tice. It follows in a prosy manner chink, and which we can only regard positive religion. What support does as dialectical essays, or sources of emo- it not attain from the authority of an tion. When we add to these argu- ancient tradition, a national institution, ments, motives of interest and calcula- an established priesthood, outward certions of prudence, which can make re-emonies, every-day customs! It emcruits, but not converts, we possess all his proofs. There is an element of coarseness in this fashion of treating divine things, and we like still less the exactness with which he explains God, reducing him to a mere magnified man. This preciseness and narrowness go so far as to describe heaven:
"Though the Deity be thus essentially present through all the immensity of space, there is one part of it in which he discovers himself in a most transcendent and visible glory. It is here where the glorified body of our Saviour resides, and where all the celestial hier archies, and the innumerable hosts of angels, are represented as perpetually surrounding the seat of God with hallelujahs and hymns of praise. With how much skill must the throne of God be erected! How great must be the majesty of that place, where the whole art of creation has been employed, and where God has chosen to shew himself in the most magnificent manner! What must be the architecture of infinite power under the direction of infinite wisdom?
Moreover, the place must be very
The abbé Pluche (1638-161) was the author of a Système de la Nature and several other works.-TR.
↑ Spectator, No. 580; see also No. 531.
ploys as arguments public utility, the example of great minds, heavy logic, literal interpretation, and unmistakable texts. What better means of gov. erning the crowd, than to degrade proofs to the vulgarity of its intelligence and needs? It humanizes the Divinity: is it not the only way to make men un derstand Him? It defines almost obviously a future life: is it not the only way to cause it to be wished for? The poetry of lofty philosophical deductions is weak compared to the inner persuasion, rooted by so many positive and detailed descriptions. In this way an active piety is born; and religion thus constructed doubles the force of the moral spring. Addison's is admirable because it is so strong. Energy of feeling rescues wretchedness of dogma. Beneath his dissertations we feel that he is moved; minutiæ, pedantry disappear. We see in him now only a soul deeply penetrated with adoration and Ibid. Nos. 237, 571, 600.
+ Ibid. No. 571; see also Nos 237, 608. Tatler, No. 257
respect; no more a preacher classify-speculations to all well-regulated families, and
ing God's attributes, and pursuing his set apart an hour in every morning for tea and bread and butter; and would earnestly advise trade as a good logician; but a man them for their good to order this paper to be who naturally, and of his own bent, re- punctually served up, and to be looked upon as turns to a lofty spectacle, goes with awe a part of the tea-equipage." * into all its aspects, and leaves it only In this passage we may detect an inwith a renewed or overwhelmed heart. clination to smile, a little irony tempers The sincerity of his emotions makes the serious idea; it is the tone of a as respect even his catechetical pre-polished man, who, at the first sign of acriptions. He demands fixed days of ennui, turns round, delicately laughs even at himself, and tries to please. It is Addison's general tone.
devotion and meditation to recall us regularly to the thought of our Creator and of our faith. He inserts prayers in his paper. He forbids oaths, and recommends to keep always before us the idea of a sovereign Master :
"Such an habitual homage to the Supreme Being would, in a particular manner, banish from among us that prevailing impiety of using his name on the most trivial occasions. What can we then think of those who make use of so tremendous a name in the ordinary expressions of their anger, mirth, and most impertinent passions? of those who admit it into the most familiar questions, and assertions, ludicrous phrases, and works of humour? not to mention those who violate it by solemn perjuries! It would be an affront to reason to endeavour to set forth the horror and profaneness
of such a practice.” *
If a Frenchman was forbidden to swear, he would probably laugh at the first word of the admonition; in his eyes that is a matter of good taste, not of morality. But if he had heard Addison himself pronouncing what I have written, he would laugh no longer.
It is no small thing to make morality fashionable. Addison did it, and it remained in fashion. Formerly honest men were not polished, and polished men were not honest; piety was fanatical, and urbanity depraved; in manners, as in literature, à man could meet only Puritans or libertines. For the irst time Addison reconciled virtue with elegance, taught duty in an accomplished style, and made pleasure subservient to reason:
"It was said of Socrates that he brought Philosophy down from heaven, to inhabit among men ; and I shall be ambitious to have it said of me, that I have brought Philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and in coffee-houses. I would therefore, in a very particular manner, recommend these my
* Spectator, No 331.
What an amount of art is necessary to please! First, the art of making oneself understood, at once, always completely, without difficulty to the reader, without reflection, without attention. Let us figure to ourselves men of the world reading a page between two mouthfuls of "bohea-rolls," ladies interrupting a phrase to ask when the ball begins: three technical or learned words would make them throw the paper down. They only desire distinct terms, in common use, into which wit enters all at once, as it enters ordinary converse; in fact, for them reading is only a conversation, and a better one than usual. For the select world refines language. It does not suffer the risks and approximations of extempore and inexperienced speaking. It requires a knowledge of style, like a knowledge of external forms. It will have exact words to express the fine shades of thought, and measured words to preclude offensive or extreme impres sions. It wishes for developed phrases, which, presenting the same idea, under several aspects, impress it easily upon its desultory mind. It demands har monies of words, which, presenting a known idea in a smart form, may in troduce it in a lively manner to its des ultory imagination. Addison gives it all that it desires; his writings are the pure source of classical style; mer. never spoke better in England. Orna ments abound, and never has rhetoric a share in them. Throughout we have precise contrasts, which serve only for clearness, and are not too prolonged; happy expressions, easily hit on, which give things a new and ingenious turn harmonious periods, in which the sounds flow into one another with the
* Ibid. No, ro,
diversity and sweetness of a quiet | charm of their smiles; such is the fa stream; a fertile vein of invention and miliar spectacle in which the writer has fancy, through which runs the most formed and delighted himself. amiable irony. We trust one example will suffice:
"He is not obliged to attend her (Nature) in the slow advances which she makes from one season to another, or to observe her conduct in the successive production of plants and flowers. He may draw into his description all the beauties of the spring and autumn, and make the whole year contribute something to render it the more agreeable. His rose-trees, woodbines, and jessamines may flower together, and his Deds be covered at the same time with lilies, vio.ets, and amaranths. His soil is not restrained to any particular set of plants, but is pro: either for oaks or myrtles, and adapts itselt to the products of every climate. Oranges may grow wild in it; myrrh may be met with in every hedge; and if he thinks it proper to have a grove of spices, he can quickly command sun enough to raise it. If all this will not furnish out an agreeable scene, he can make several new species of flowers, with richer scents and higher colours, than any that grow in the gardens of nature. His concerts of birds may be as full and harmonious, and his woods as thick and gloomy as he pleases. He is at no more expense in a long vista than a short one, and can as easily throw his cascades from a precipice of half a mile high as from one of twenty yards. He has his choice of the winds, and can turn the course of his rivers in all the variety of meanders that are most delightful to the reader's imagination." *
So many advantages are not withou their inconvenience. The compliments of society, which attenuate expressions, blunt the style; by regulating what is instinctive and moderating what is ve hement, they make speech threadbare and uniform. We must not always seek to please, above all, to please the ear. Monsieur de Chateaubriand boasted of not admitting a single elision into the song of Cymodocée; so much the worse for Cymodocée. So the commentators who have noted in Addison the balance of his periods, do him ar. injustice. They explain thus why he slightly wearies us. The rotundity of his phrases is a scanty merit and mars the rest. To calculate longs and shorts, to be always thinking of sounds, of final cadences,-all these classical researches spoil a writer. Every idea has its accent, and all our labor ought to be to put it down free and simple on paper, as it is in our mind. We ought to copy and mark our thought with the flow of emotions and images, which raise it, caring for nothing but its exact is worth a hundred periods: the first is ness and clearness. One true phrase a document which fixes forever a movement of the heart or the senses; the other is a toy to amuse the empty heads of verse-makers. I would give
I find here that Addison profits by the rights which he grants to others, and is amused in explaining to us how we may amuse ourselves. Such is the charming tone of society. Reading the Spectator, we fancy it still more amiable than it is: no pretension; no efforts; of Saint-Simon. Regular rhythm mutitwenty pages of Fléchier for three lines endless contrivances employed uncon- lates the impetus of natural invention sciously, and obtained without asking; the shades of inner vision vanish; we the gift of being lively and agreeable; see no more a soul which thinks or a refine I banter, raillery without bitter feels, but fingers which count measures ness, a sustained gayety; the art of whilst scanning. The continuous peri finding in every thing the most bloom-od is like the shears of La Quintinie,t ing and the freshest flower, and to which clip all the trees round under smell it without bruising or sullying it; cience, politics, experience, morality, there is some coldness and monotony This is why pretence of beautifying. bringing their finest fruits, adorning in Addison's style. He seems to be them, offering them at a chosen mo- listening to himself. He is too measment, ready to withdraw them as soon ured and correct. His most touching as conversation has enjoyed them, and before it is tired of them; ladies placed in stories, like that of Theodosius and Con the first rank, arbiters of refinement, surrounded with homage, crowning the politeness of men and the brilliancy of society by the attraction of their toilettes, the delicacy of their wit, and the
* Spectator, No. 418. ↑ Ibid. 423, 265.
*See, in the notes of No. 409 of the Spectator, the pretty minute analysis of Hurd, the decomposition of the period, the proportion of long and short syllables, the study of the finals. A musician could not have done better.
+ La Quintinie (1626-1683), a celebrated gar dener under Louis XIV planned the gardens of Versailles.
stantia, touch us only partially. Who "Had I followed Monsieur Bossu's method could feel inclined to weep over such dated the action of Paradise Lost from the be in my first paper on Milton, I should have
eriods as these?
Constantia, who knew that nothing but the report of her marriage could have driven him to such extremities, was not to be comforted: she now accused herself for having so tamely given an ear to the proposal of a husband, and looked upon the new lover as the murderer of Theodosius: in short, she resolved to suffer the utmost effects of her father's displeasure, rather than to comply with a marriage which appeared to her so full of guilt and horror."* Is this the way to paint horror and guit? Where are the passionate emotions which Addison pretends to paint? The story is related, not seen.
ginning of Raphael's speech in this book."*
"But, notwithstanding the fineness of this allegory (Sin and Death) may atone for it (the defect in the subject of his poem) in some chimerical existence are proper actors in an epi measure, I cannot think that persons of such a
Further on Addison defines poetica.
The classical writer simply cannot see. Always measured and rational, his first care is to proportion and arrange. He has his rules in his pocket, and brings them out for every thing. He does not rise to the source of the beautiful at once, like genuine artists, by force and lucidity of natural inspiration; he lingers in the middle regions, amid precepts, subject to taste and common sense. This is why Addison's criticism is so solid and so poor. They who seek ideas will do well not to read his Essays on Imagination, † so much praised, so well written, but so scant of philosophy, and so commonplace, drag ged down by the intervention of final causes. His celebrated commentary on Paradise Lost is little better than the dissertations of Batteux and Bossu. In one place he compares, almost in a line, Homer, Virgil, and Ovid. The fine arrangement of a poem is with him the highest merit. The pure classics enjoy better arrangement and good order than artless truth and strong originality. They have always their poetic manual in their hands: if we agree with the pre-arranged pattern, we have genius; if not, we have none. Addison, in praise of Milton, establishes that, according to the rule of epic poetry, the action of Paradise Lost is one, complete and great; that its characters are varied and of universal interest, and its sentiments natural, appropriate, and elevated; the style clear, diversified, and sublinie. Now we may admire Milton; he has a testimonial from Aristotle. Listen, for instance, to cold de-not tails of classical dissertation:
* Spectator, No. 164. ↑ Ibid. 411-431.