1760 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

Hugh Blair, in Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1760, 1783) 1:394-95.



Of ... the highest, most correct, and ornamented degree of the simple manner, Mr. Addison, is, beyond doubt, in the English Language, the most perfect example: and, therefore, though not without some faults, he is, on the whole, the safest model of imitation, and the freest from considerable defects, which the Language affords. Perspicuous and pure he is in the highest degree; his precision, indeed, not very great; yet nearly as great as the subjects he treats of require: the construction of his sentences easy, agreeable, and commonly very musical; carrying a character of smoothness, more than of strength. In Figurative Language, he is rich, particularly, in similes and metaphors; which are so employed, as to render his Style splendid without being gaudy. There is not the least Affectation in his manner; we see no marks of labour; nothing forced or constrained; but great elegance joined with great ease and simplicity. He is, in particular, distinguished by a character of modesty, and of politeness, which appears in all his writings. No author has a more popular and insinuating manner; and the great regard which he every where shews for virtue and religion, recommends him highly.