1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 70-71.



From a Picture, by Jervas, in the Collection of the Dutchess of Dorset.

We should have been glad to have detected some of the features of the Coverley family in this likeness of the celebrated Spectator, but we are unable to do so. He was the father of "Sir Roger," yet we do not perceive that there existed any resemblance between them. Even supposing that the knight was altogether a fiction, we should have expected to meet some of the traces of that humour which is so gracefully scattered over his biography: — But ADDISON is here

— neat, trimly drest,
Fresh as a bridegroom,

in short, merely the friend of lords and high commoners, and moving amongst them until, as it would seem, the points of wit or humour, which stood up from the surface of his character, were polished and worn away. There is a something twinkling in the eye which to a certain extent redeems the portrait: but we confess that we would rather have seen it more completely justifying its master's fame. Addison was an indifferent dramatist, and a bad poet; but his humour was delicate and delightful.