1730 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

George Woodward, "To a Young Gentleman with Mr. Addison's Miscellaneous Works" Poems on Several Occasions (1730) 10-13.



To form the Age by ev'ry nicer Art,
By Virtue's Standard to improve the Heart;
To teach Mankind the Dictates of his Pen,
To live like Christians, and to think like Men:
To lash the follies of a vicious Age,
To mend our Actions, and reform the Stage;
To rise conspicuous in his God's Defence,
And laugh unthinking Atheists into Sense;
For This Great Addison was known to Fame,
For This true Britons glory in the Name.

'Twas not enough, by Verse to warm the Heart,
He joyn'd the Critick to the Poet's Art:
Impartial Candour all his Works attend,
Backward to blame, but willing to commend.
In Verse or Prose we equally are warm'd,
Nor more by Musick than by Reason charm'd.
In Him we see, how sober Virgil wrote,
How Euclid reason'd, and how Plato thought.

If ever Addison deserv'd that Praise,
Which few can claim in these degenerate Days;
If e'er True Merit could thy Youth controul,
And wake the dawning Greatness in thy Soul;
If ever all that's Generous, Great, Divine
Could touch the Passions of a Mind like Thine;
Accept this humble Off'ring, and excuse
This long Encomium from no venal Muse;
Whose steddy Temper by no Party sway'd,
Has gain'd no Honours, or a Friend betray'd;
Was never servile to the Great-Man's Call,
Equally careless or to rise or fall;
Now boldly rising in the Poet's Praise,
Strives by his Worth to animate her Lays.

That all that's Good you wisely may embrace,
And your bright Annals by no Crime deface;
That all your Actions may be Great, Divine,
And add new Honours to your ancient Line;
That you may rise like Addison in Name,
And trace his footsteps thro' the Paths of Fame;
Read, and attend: imbibe each Heav'nly Part,
And graft his bright Perfections on your Heart.

Hence may you learn by several ways to please,
"To think with Judgment, and to write with Ease,"
To blame with Candour, but to give your Praise,
Where Merit ballances, and Reason sways:
To rise with boldness in your Country's Cause,
Instruct the Senate, and confirm the Laws:
To be at once the Poet, Statesman, Friend,
To teach Mankind, and seek the Christian's End:
To be that Man, who may in Justice claim
His Country's Homage, and his King's Esteem.