1720 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

Giles Jacob, in Historical Account of the Lives and Writings of our most considerable English Poets (1720) 243-48.



To the Account of this celebrated Person, I am to add, that he has lately resign'd to Fate, and left a very great Example to the World of an excellent Poet, and a good Man. He was some time since marry'd to the Countess of Warwick and Holland, a beautiful and virtuous Lady, one who can well distinguish Merit, and generously prefer the Gifts of the Mind to all other Considerations; and herein she was not mistaken in her Choice of Mr. Addison. He made a most affectionate Husband to his Lady, and his Respect to her Quality equall'd his Love, so that every thing contributed to her Felicity. He dy'd, very much lamented, the 17th Day of June, 1718. in the forty eighth Year of his Age, at Holland-House near Kensington; and was interr'd in Westminster-Abbey. His Latin and English Poems are the following:

I. Pax Gulielmi. Auspiciis Europa reddita: The Peace of Reswick. Dedicated to the later Earl of Halifax. This is an incomparable Piece; the Images are chosen with nice Judgment, and work'd up with great Delicacy of Imagination; and every thing strikes at the first View. II. Resurrectio delineata ad Altare Coll. Magd. Oxon. This is a very masterly Performance, and the finest Sketch of the Resurrection that any Age or Language has produc'd. It begins:

Egregios fuci tractus, calamique labores,
Surgentesque hominum formas, adrentiaque Ora
Judicis, & Simulacra modis pallentia miris,
Terribilem visu pompam, Tu Carmina Musa
Pande novo, vatique sacros accende Furores.

III. Ad Insignissimum Virum D. Tho. Burnettum, Sacrae Theoriae Telluris Autorem. In this Ode the Conflagration by Fire is thus express'd, in the Translation:

And now the kindling Orbs on high
All Nature's mournful End proclaim;
When thy great Work (alas!) must die,
And feed the rich victorious Flame;
Give Vigour to the wasting Fire,
And with the World too soon expire.

IV. Ad D. D. Hannes, Insignissimum Medicum & Poetam. This Ode has the following excellent Lines to Dr. Hannes.

One certain Fate by Heav'n decreed,
In spite of thee we all must try—
Thou too shalt with pale Horror see
The fabled Ghosts that glare below,
Which to the Shades, restrain'd by Thee,
In thinner Shoals descending, flow;
And Death, whose Pow'r you now defy,
Shall boast, her Conqueror can die.

V. Barometri Descriptio; a fine Philosophical Poem. VI. Sphaeristerium. The Bowling-Green. This Poem contains an admirable Description of the Diversion of Bowling, &c. VII. Machina Gesticulantes. The Puppet-Show. VIII. [Greek characters], sive Praelium inter Pygmaeos & Grues commissum. This Piece and the Puppet-Show are of the Mock Heroick Kind of Poetry, and extremely diverting; the Humour is fine, and tho' the Subjects are mean and trivial, they are rais'd by a Pomp of Verse, Metaphors, and Similes drawn from things of a higher Class, and such as are well suited to convey Ideas of Greatness to the Mind. IX. Dissertatio de Insignioribus Romanorum Poetis. These are all Mr. Addison's Latin Pieces, and they are lately translated by several Hands. His English Works are as follow. X. A Poem to his Majesty King William III. Presented to the Lord Keeper Somers in the Year 1695. This was Mr. Addison's first Attempt in English Verse, of a publick Nature, and it was very much applauded. XI. A Letter from Italy, to the Right Honourable Charles Lord Halifax, in the Year 1701. This Poem has these admirable Lines on Liberty:

O Liberty! thou Goddess Heav'nly bright,
Profuse of Bliss, and pregnant with Delight,
Eternal Pleasures in thy Presence reign,
And smiling Plenty leads thy wanton Train!
Eas'd of her Load, Subjection grows more light,
And Poverty looks chearful in thy Sight;
Thou mak'st the gloomy Face of Nature gay,
Giv'st Beauty, to the Sun, and Pleasure to the Day.

Thee, Goddess, Thee Britannia's Isle adores;
How has she oft exhausted all her Stores,
How oft in Fields of Death thy Presence sought;
Nor thinks the mighty Prize too dearly bought.

XII. The Campaign. A Poem. To his Grace the Duke of Marlborough. This is an excellent Piece, the best of Mr. Addison's Performances in English Poetry. His Similes in this Poem are surprizingly beautiful, particularly the following, after a Description of the Duke of Marlborough's giving sedate Orders in the Heat of Battle.

—Inspir'd repuls'd Battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful Battel where to rage,
So when an Angel, by Divine Command,
With rising Tempests shakes a guilty Land;
Such as of late o'er pale Britannia past,
Calm and serene he drives the furious Blast;
And pleas'd th' Almighty's Orders to perform,
Rides in the Whirlwind, and directs the Storm.

XIII. An Account of the Greatest English Poets. To Mr. H. S. This Poem contains Characters of Chaucer, Spenser, Cowley, Milton, Waller, Dryden, Lord Halifax, &c. XIV. To Mr. Dryden. A Poem. XV. An Ode for St. Cecilia's Day. The words of this Piece are extremely fine, well adapted to the Day, and exactly fitted for Musick. XVI. Milton's Stile imitated, in a Translation of a Story out of the third Aeneid. XVII. A Translation of all Virgil's fourth Georgick, except the Story of Aristeus. XVIII. Ovid's Metamorphoses, the second and third Books, and part of the fourth. XIX. On the Lady Manchester. XX. To her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, with the Tragedy of Cato. XXI. To Sir Godfrey Kneller, on his Majesty's Picture. This is an admirable Poem; and the Author thus writes to Kneller:

The Magick of thy Art calls forth
His secret Soul and hidden Worth,
His Probity and Mildness shows
His Care of Friends, and Scorn of Foes:
In ev'ry Stroke, in ev'ry Line,
Does some exalted Virtue shine,
And Albion's Happiness we trace
Thro' all the Features of his Face.

Thou hast in Robes of State array'd,
The Kings of half an Age display'd—
O may fam'd Brunswick be the last,
(Though Heav'n should with my Wish agree,
And long preserve thy Art in Thee)
The Last, the Happiest British King,
Whom Thou shalt paint, or I shall sing.

The last Lines of this Poem were very prophetick with relation to himself. These are all the Works of Mr. Addison, besides his Rosamond, and Cato; Remarks upon several Parts of Italy in his Travels; Tatlers, Spectators, &c. And two Pieces in Prose, publish'd since his Death, one a Treatise upon Medals, and another upon the Christian Religion. His Works are printed in three Volumes, 4to.