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a good style and to fashionable society. A young man in Voltaire's time, on leaving college, had to write his tragedy, as now he must write an article on political economy; it was then a proof that he could converse with ladies, as now it is a proof that he can argue with men. He learned the art of being amusing, of touching the heart, ef talking of love; he thus escaped from dry or special studies; he could choose among events or sentiments those which interest or please; he was able to hold his own in good society, to be sometimes agreeable there, never to offend. Such is the culture which these works gave Addison; it is of slight importance that they are poor. In them he dealt with the passions, with humor. He produced in his opera some lively and smiling pictures; in his tragedy some noble or moving accents; he emerged from reasoning and pure dissertation; he acquired the art of rendering morality visible and truth expressive; he knew how to give ideas a physiognomy, and that an attractive one. Thus was the finished writer perfected by contact with ancient and modern, foreign and national urbanity, by the sight of the fine arts, by experience of the world and study of style, by continuous and delicate choice of all that is agreeable in things
and men, in life and art.
Whig, he continued mode ate in polemics; and in an age when the winners in the political fight were ready to ruin their opponents or to bring them to the block, he confined himself to show the faults of argument made by the Tories, or to rail courteously at their prejudices. At Dublin he went first of all to shake hands with Swift, his great and fallen adversary. Insulted bitterly by Dennis and Pope, he refused to employ against them his influence or his wit, and praised Pope to the end. What can be more touching, when we have read his life, than his essay on kindness? we perceive that he is unconsciously speaking of himself:
"There is no society or conversation to be kept up in the world without good-nature, or something which must bear its appearance, and supply its place. For this reason mankind humanity, which is what we express by the word good-breeding. The greatest wits I have conversed with are men eminent for thei with us; health, prosperity, and kind treat humanity.. Good-nature is generally borr ment from the world are great cherishers of it where they find it." *
have been forced to invent a kind of artificial
It so happens that he is involuntarily describing his own charm and his own success. It is himself that he is unveiling; he was very prosperous, and his good fortune spread itself around him in affectionate sentiments, in conHis politeness received from his stant consideration for others, in calm character a singular bent and charm. cheerfulness. At College he was disIt was not external, simply voluntary tinguished; his Latin verses made him and official; it came from the heart. a fellow at Oxford; he spent ten years He was gentle and kind, of refined there in grave amusements and in sensibility, so shy even as to remain studies which pleased him. Dryden, silent and seem dull in a large company the prince of literature, praised him in or before strangers, only recovering the highest terms, when Addison was his spirits before intimate friends, and only twenty-two. When he left Oxford, confessing that only two persons can the ministry gave him a pension of three converse together. He could not en-hundred pounds to finish his education, drre an acrimonious discussion; when his opponent was intractable, he pretended to approve, and for punishment, plunged him discreetly into his own folly. He withdrew by preference from political arguments; being invited to deal with them in the Spectator, he contented himself with inoffensive and general subjects, which could interest all whilst offending none. It would have painel him to give others pain. Though a very decided and steady
and prepare him for public service. On his return from his travels, his poem on Blenheim placed him in the first rank of the Whigs. He became twice Secretary for Ireland, Under-Secretary of State, a member of Parliament, one of the principal Secretaries of State. Party hatred spared him; amid the almost universal defeat of the Whigs, he was re-elected member of Parlia ment; in the furious war of Whigs and * Spectator, No. 169.
Tories, both united to applaud his into a cheese-shop in order to see fo: tragedy of Cato; the most cruel himself all the stages of the manufao pamphleteers respected him; his up-ture; he returns, like Addisoz, prorightness, his talent, seemed exalted by common consent above discussion. He lived in abundance, activity, and honors, wisely and usefully, amid the assiduous admiration and constant affection of learned and distinguished friends, who could never have too much of his conversation, amid the applause of all the good men and all the cultivated minds of England. If twice the fall of his party seemed to destroy or retard his fortune, he maintained his position without much effort, by reflection and coolness, prepared for all that might happen, accepting mediocrity, confirmed in a natural and acquired calmness, accommodating himself without yielding to men, respectful to the great without degrading himself, free from secret revolt or internal suffering. These are the sources of his talent; could any be purer or finer? could any thing be more engaging than worldly polish and elegance, without the factitious ardor and the complimentary falsehoods of the world? Where shall we look for more agreeable conversation than that of a good and happy man, whose knowledge, taste, and wit, are only employed to give us pleasure?
vided with exact statistics, complete notes; this mass of verified informa tion is the foundation of the common sense of Englishmen. Addis ▷n added to it experience of business, having been successively, or at the same time, a journalist, a member of Parliament, a statesman, hand and heart in all the fights and chances of party. Mere literary education only makes good talkers, able to adorn and publish ideas which they do not possess, and which others furnish for them. If writers wish to invent, they must look to events and men, not to books and drawing. rooms; the conversation of special men is more useful to them than the study of perfect periods; they cannot think for themselves, but in so far as they have lived or acted. Addison knew how to act and live. When we read his reports, letters, and discussions, we feel that politics and government have given him half his mind. To exercise patronage, to handle money, to interpret the law, to divine the motives of men, to foresee the changes of public opinion, to be compelled to judge rightly, quickly, and twenty times a day, on present and great interests, looked after by the pub lic and under the espionage of enemies; This pleasure will be useful to us. all this nourished his reason and sus Such a man Our interlocutor is as grave as he is tained his discourses. polite; he will and can instruct as well might judge and counsel his fellows; as amuse us; his education has been his judgments were not amplifications as solid as it has been elegant; he even arranged by a process of the brain, but confesses in the Spectator that he pre- observations controlled by experience: fers the serious to the humorous style. he might be listened to on moral subHe is naturally reflective, silent, atten-jects as a natural philosopher was on tive. He has studied literature, men, and things, with the conscientiousness of a scholar and an observer. When he travelled in Italy, it was in the Enghsh style, noting the difference of manners, the peculiarities of the soil, the good and ill effects of various governments, providing himself with precise memoirs, circumstantial statistics on taxes, buildings, minerals, climate, harbors, administration, and on a great many other things. An English lord, who travels in Holland, goes simply See, for instance, his chapter on the Republic of San Marino.
subjects connected with physics; we feel that he spoke with authority, and that we were instructed.
After having listened a little, people felt themselves better; for they recog nized in him from the first a singularly lofty soul, very pure, so much attached to uprightness that he made it his con stant care and his dearest pleasure. He naturally loved beautiful things, goodness and justice, science and liberty. From an early age he had joined the Liberal party, and he continued in it to the end, hoping the best of human virtue and reason, noting the wretched
ness into which nations fell who | abandoned their dignity with their independence. He followed the grand discoveries of the new physical sciences, so as to give him more exalted ideas of the works of God. He loved the deep and serious emotions which reveal to us the nobility of our nature and the infirmity of our condition. He employed all his talent and all his writings in giving us the notion of what we are worth and of what we ought to be. Of two tagedies which he composed or contemplated, one was on the death of Cato, the most virtuous of the Romans the other on that of Socrates, the most virtuous of the Greeks. At the end of the first he felt some scruples; and for fear of being accused of finding an excuse for suicide, he gave Cato some remorse. His opera of Rosamond ends with the injunction to prefer pure love to forbidden joys; the Spectator, the Tatler, the Guardian, are mere lay sermons. Moreover, he put his maxims into practice. When he was in office, his integrity was perfect; he conferred often obligations on those whom he did not know-always gratuitously, refusing presents, under whatever form they were offered. When out of office, his loyalty was perfect; he maintained his opinions and friendships without bitterness or baseness, boldly praising his fallen protectors,† fearing not thereby to expose himself to the loss of his only remaining resources. He possessed an innate nobility of character, and reason aided him in keeping it. He considered that there is common sense in honesty. His first care, as he said, was to range his
* Letter from Italy to Lord Halifax;
O Liberty, thou Goddess heavenly bright, Profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight;
Eternal pleasures in thy presence reign, And smiling plenty leads thy wanton train. 'Tis liberty that crowns Britannia's isle,
And makes her barren rocks and her bleak
mountains smile.”—i. 53.
About the Republic of San Marino he writes:
passions on the side of truth
"The great and only end of these speculations," says Addison, in one of
Of the Christian Religion.
his Spectators, "is to banish vice and | Of course he sets himself against de ignorance out of the territories of liberate shamelessness and the system Great Britain." And he kept his word. atic debauchery which were the taste His papers are wholly moral-advices and the shame of the Restoration He to families, reprimands to thoughtless wrete whole articles against young women, a sketch of an honest man, fashionable men, "a sort of vermin remedies for the passions, reflections who fill London with their bastards; en God and a future life. I hardly against professional seducers, who are know, or rather I know very well, what the "knights-errant " of vice. "When success a newspaper full of sermons men of rank and figure pass away their would have in France. In England it lives in these criminal pursuits and was extraordinary, equa. o that of he practices, they ought to consider that most popular modern novelists. In they render themselves more vile and the general downfall of the daily and despicable than any innocent man can weekly papers ruined by the Stamp be, whatever low station his fortune o Act, the Spectator doubled its price, birth have placed him in.”* He se and held its ground. This was be- verely jeers at women who expose cause it offered to Englishmen the pic- themselves to temptations, and whom ture of English reason: the talent and he calls "salamanders: " ""A salamanthe teaching were in harmony with the der is a kind of heroine in chastity, needs of the age and of the country. that treads upon fire, and lives in the Let us endeavor to describe this rea- midst of flames without being hurt. A son, which became gradually eliminated salamander knows no distinction of from Puritanism and its rigidity, from sex in those she converses with, grows the Restoration and its excess. The familiar with a stranger at first sight, mind attained its balance, together with and is not so narrow-spirited as to ob religion and the state. It conceived serve whether the person she talks to the rule, and disciplined its conduct; be in breeches or petticoats. She adit diverged from a life of excess, and mits a male visitant to her bedside, confirmed itself in a sensible life; it plays with him a whole afternoon at shunned physical and prescribed moral picquet, walks with him two or three existence. Addison rejects with scorn hours by moonlight." He fights like gross corporeal pleasure, the brutal a preacher against the fashion of low joy of noise and motion: "I would dresses, and gravely demands the nevertheless leave to the consideration tucker and modesty of olden times of those who are patrons of this mon- "To prevent these saucy familiar strous trial of skill, whether or no they glances, I would entreat my gentle are not guilty, in some measure, of an readers to sew on their tuckers again, affront to their species, in treating after to retrieve the modesty of their char this manner the human face divine." ‡acters, and not to imitate the naked"Is it possible that human nature can rejoice in its disgrace, and take pleasure in seeing its own figure turned to ridicule, and distorted into forms that raise horror and aversion? There is Beching disingenuous and immoral in che being able to bear such a sight."§
ness, but the innocence, of their mother Eve. In short, modesty gives the maid greater beauty than even the bloom of youth; it bestows or the wife the dignity of a matron, and reinstates the widow in her virginity." We find also lectures on masquerades which end with a rendezvous; precepts on the number of glasses people might drink, and the dishes of which they might eat; condemnations of licen tious professors of irreligion and im morality; all maxims now somewhat stale, but then new and useful because Wycherley and Rochester had put into practice and made popular the oppo * Guardian, No. 123. ↑ Spectator, N. 198 + Guardian, No. 100.
is only an honest man's manual, and is often like the Complete Lawyer. It is practical, its aim being not to amuse, but to correct us. The conscientious Protestant, nourished with dissertations and morality, demands an effect
his reading to influence his conduct, and his newspaper to suggest a resolu tion. To this end Addison seeks mo tives everywhere. He thinks of the future ife, but does not forget the present; he rests virtue on interest. rightly understood. He strains no princip.e to its limits; he accepts them all,' as they are to be met with everywhere, according to their manifest goodness, drawing from them only the primary consequences, shunning the powerful logical pressure which spoils all by expressing too much. Let us observe him establishing a maxim, recommending constancy for instance; his motives are mixed and incongruous: first, inconstancy exposes us to scorn; next, it puts us in continual distraction; again, it hinders us as a rule from attaining our end; moreover, it
site maxims. Debau:ery passed for French and fashionab.e: this is why Addison proscribes in addition all French frivolities. He laughs at women who receive visitors in their dressing-rooms, and speak aloud at the theatre: "There is nothing which ex-ive monitor and guide; he would like poses a woman to greater dangers, than that gayety and airiness of temper, which are natural to most of the sex. It should be therefore the concern of every wise and virtuous woman to keep this sprightliness from degenerating into levity. On the contrary, the whole discourse and behavior of the French is to make the sex more fantastical, or (as they are pleased to term it) more awakened, than is consistent either with virtue or discretion." * We see already in these strictures the portrait of the sensible housewife, the modest English woman, domestic and grave, wholly taken up with her husband and children. Addison returns a score of times to the artifices, the pretty affected babyisms, the coquetry, the futilities of women. He cannot suffer languishing or lazy habits. He is full of epigrams against flirtations, extrav-is the great feature of a human and agant toilets, useless visits. † He mortal being; finally, it is most opwrites a satirical journal of a man who posed to the inflexible nature of God, goes to his club, learns the news, who ought to be our model. The yawns, studies the barometer, and whole is illustrated at the close by a thinks his time well occupied. He quotation from Dryden and a verse considers that time is capital, business from Horace. This medley and jumduty, and life a task. ble describe the ordinary mind which remains on the level of its audience, and the practical mind, which knows how to dominate over its audience. Addison persuades the public, because he draws from the public sources of belief. He is powerful because he is vulgar, and useful because he is narrow.
Is life only a task? If Addison holds himself superior to sensual life, he falls short of philosophical life. His morality, thoroughly English, always drags along among commonplaces, discovering no principles, making no deductions. The fine and lofty aspects of the mind are wanting. He gives useful advice, clear instruction, justified Let us picture now this mind, so by what happened yesterday, useful characteristically mediocre, limited to for to-morrow. He observes that the discovery of good motives of action fathers must not be inflexible, and that What a reflective man, always calm and they often repent driving their chil- dignified! What a store he has of dren to despair. He finds that bad resolutions and maxims! All rapture, books are pernicious, because their instinct, inspiration, and caprice, are durability carries their poison to future abolished or disciplined. No case surages. He consoles a woman who has prises or carries him away. He is always lost her sweetheart, by showing her ready and protected; so much so, that the misfortunes of so many other peo- he is ike an automaton. Argument has ple who are suffering the greatest frozen and invaded him. Consider, for evils at the same time. His Spectator instance, how he puts us on our guard • Spectator, No. 45. ↑ Ibid. 317 and 323. | against involuntary hypocrisy, announc