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patron the great Somers, with an intellect which, for more than one reason, may be described as Olympian. Addison, moreover, had won the friendship of Mr. Montagu; and the future Lord Halifax, in return, was determined to win Addison from the Church, and attach him to the world.
But the paternal "Mr. Dean" was exceedingly anxious that his son should take orders. The blandishments of the world, however, worked too seductively on the mind of Joseph, who yielded himself thereto without much resistance. If this course disappointed the Dean, that good gentleman was, probably, not less disappointed at the political views embraced by his promising boy. He had hoped to make of him a High-Churchman and a Tory. The son, hitherto, had become only a fine gentleman and a Whig. The Dean was puzzled to account for it.
Montagu's excuse for counselling Addison not to enter the Church, but rather to look towards a political career, was founded on the allegation of the immorality and corruption which distinguished most of the men of business of the period; the latter being without a liberal education. Montagu was reasonable enough to help the youth onward in the career which he had induced him to select. The patron procured for the protégé a travelling commission to Italy, with £300 a year to defray the expenses. In those times, gentlemen who travelled at the cost of the Government, were expected to furnish all the information they could which might be profitable to Government. Perhaps it was because Addison neglected-and neglected because he disliked-the duty of espionnage, which no gentleman now undertakes, except a Russian "gentleman;"-it was, probably, because of this mingled dislike and neglect, that the pecuniary allowance fell into arrears after the first year of payment. Addison travelled on at his own expense. We wish we could say, that he was relieved of the burthen of his debts, before he proceeded to travel at the cost of his creditors. His object in travelling was to "complete the circle of his accomplishments." took with him his collected Latin poems, for much the same purpose as poor Goldsmith took his flute and his thesis,-to obtain for him welcome by the way. A pleasant paper might be written on the incidents of the foreign travel of these two men, both of whom have attained what the world calls an immortality of fame." We have not space for such parallel here. We must be content to notice that the learning of Oliver procured for him a dole at some foreign College; his flute, bread and fresh straw in a barn. The elegant volume of Addison won for him compliments from a poet like Boileau, and condescension from a philosopher like Malebranche. Oliver herded with peasants, and Joseph consorted with
Peers. Goldsmith sank to slumber on the straw of an out-house; Addison courted "Nature's sweet restorer" on a bed of down, beneath a palace roof.
Lord Bacon somewhere remarks, that the man who enters upon foreign travel without a knowledge of the language of the country wherein he intends to sojourn, goes to school, and not to travel. Addison was going to Italy, and accordingly he stopped for a year at Blois, to study-French. He had found his ignorance of that language a drawback to all social and intellectual enjoyment, when he was in Paris; and he was aware that he would experience the same disadvantages in Italy and elsewhere. French was the polite universal language; and he was right in his resolution to master it. If Cato made himself a proficient in Greek at eighty, Addison might laugh at the difficulties of French syntax at six or seven-and-twenty.
It may be observed of him, that, even at this time, he could not pretend to a very correct practical knowledge of that English language, which he subsequently wrote with such grace and purity. The Duke of Marlborough could not have spelt Calais with a greater indifference to orthography than Addison, who writes it "Callice." He as often makes use of "travail” as "travel," when he only means the latter; and Priscian's head is broken, over and over again, with the phrase, "I have went."
If the author of the finest papers in the Spectator was thus careless of grammar in his private letters, that great moralist was, at the same time, as apparently careless in matters of religion. His letters continually afford illustrations of this fact. Writing to Montagu, from Paris, in August, 1699, he says, with a sneer, "As for the state of learning, there is no book comes out at present, that has not something in it of an air of devotion. Dacier has been forced to prove his Plato a very good Christian before he ventures upon his translation; and has so far complied with the taste of the age, that his whole book is over-run with texts of Scripture." It is something new to our ideas to find an English theological student ridiculing the "grande nation” for a tendency towards piety. But there were many anomalies in France at this period. Dangeau tells us, that in the seventeenth century the Parisians were taught to dance by English "professors!" And again, the future moral teacher of his nation, writing to Edward Wortley Montagu, from Blois, in the Lent season of 1700, says: "News has bin as scarce among us as flesh, and I knew you don't much care to hear of mortification and repentance, which have been the only business of this place for several weeks past." At Chateaudun, addressing Mr. Edward Wortley Montagu, he manifests a still worse taste, -to use a light term. He is ridiculing the foolish superstition of the people; but, "wit" as he was, he lacked the wit to perceive that his own ridicule trenched closely upon blasphemy. He is
speaking of a fire which had seriously injured the little town. "The inhabitants tell you the fire was put out by a miracle, and that, in its full rage, it immediately ceased at the sight of Him that, in His lifetime, rebuked the winds and waves with a look. He was brought hither in the disguise of a wafer, and was assisted, I don't question, with several tons of water." The occasion warranted rebuke, but not a rebuke in such a tone as this; but there was nothing which a "fine gentleman" so much affected as a sneer. It was worn with his pouncet-box and his clouded cane; and accordingly, Addison having been ill of a fever at Blois, at which place, by the way, he used to entertain all his "masters" at supper, where they surrounded him like the professors round the Bourgeois Gentilhomme,-and having recovered from this fever, born perhaps of these heavy suppers, he remarks, that "I have very well recovered, notwithstanding that I made use of one of the physicians of this place." Indeed, but for this sort of wit, his letters of this period would be as dry as Sahara. It is the poor thread of a stream which gives a little life to a wide extent of aridity. There is, however, occasionally something better than this sort of jaunty wit in his letters, as he grows older and more observant. How true is his observation, that, in order that Louis XIV. should walk in splendour, his subjects were obliged to go barefoot! And again, when contemplating the magnificent despotism of the Doge of Genoa, he remarks, in the same incontrovertible spirit, "that the people show the greatest marks of poverty, where the governors live in the greatest magnificence."
Addison leaves France with a Parthian dart driven at the scholars. "Nothing is more usual than to hear 'em at the Sorbonne quote the depths of ecclesiastical history and the Fathers, in false Latin." He forgets that Shakspeare is not blameless in his quantities, and that he forces a pronunciation of Hyperion, the very sound of which would have been anguish to a Sybarite. Ten years subsequent to the time when Addison detected the Professors of the Sorbonne in the commission of that unpardonable fault, a wrong quantity, his poetical friend Hughes published his dramatic poem, "The Siege of Damascus," wherein Eumenes appears with the penultimate long, and Heraclius with his penultimate short!
The private letters of Addison written from Italy, are far superior to those he penned at Blois. Not that even in these he is always correct in his conclusions or his prophecies. Thus, he describes Venice, meaning thereby the Government, "as the most secure of cities!" And so indeed it seemed at this time; but the wave of the old French Revolution struck that ancient Government, and thereby shivered it to fragments, as though it had no more strength than a goblet of Venetian crystal.
It is curious that, at this time, the Italians appear to have
Addison's Continental Comments.
109 been far more reconciled to a German dominion over the great peninsula, than they are now. It must be remembered, however, that at the period in question the French Monarch was endeavouring to establish a French despotic rule over Europe, precisely as Russia is aiming at the same object now. The battle of Blenheim, which finally crushed the insane and wicked attempt, had not yet been fought. "That," says Addison, "which I take to be the principal motive among most of the Italians for their favouring the Germans above the French, is this, that they are entirely persuaded it is for the interest of Italy to have Milan and Naples rather in the hands of the first, than of the other." He adds, in a truly popular spirit,-and we should state that we are now quoting from the volume of his "Travels,"" One may generally observe that the body of a people has juster views for the public good, and pursues them with greater uprightness, than the nobility and gentry, who have so many private expectations and particular interests, which hang like a false bias upon their judgments, and may possibly dispose them to sacrifice the good of the country to the advancement of their own fortunes." Here were Whig principles to vex the ear of a Tory Dean; enunciated, too, by a son of whom he felt himself compelled to be proud, in spite of those principles ! It may, however, be very well questioned, whether Addison's principles, with reference either to politics or religion, were very strictly defined at this period. Throughout the record of his Italian journey, we find him with an evident leaning to republican principles, and yet, as on his passage through Switzerland, ridiculing the English Commonwealth refugees, and speaking of Charles I. reverentially, as "the Royal Martyr." There is the same inconsistency in matters of religion. He loves to draw contrasts and construct parallels; but he neither fixes a moral, nor makes a necessary inference. Thus, when he has extended his journey into Germany, and sojourns at Hamburg, he notices the vicinity of the Raths-Haus Keller, or gigantic Wine-cellar,-which Heyne has so much more finely illustrated in poetry,-to the English church. He is rapturous on the Cellar and its exhilarating contents; and then adds, in a letter to Lord Winchilsea, "By this Cellar stands the little English chapel, which, as your Lordship may well suppose, is not altogether so much frequented by our countrymen as the other." He does not complain of this; nay, he falls into the evil fashion, and writes to Mr. Wyche, "My hand, at present, begins to grow steady enough for a letter; so that the properest use I can put it to, is to thank the honest gentleman that set it a-shaking. I have had, this morning, a desperate design to attack you in verse, which I should certainly have done, could I have found out a rhyme to 'rummer.""
This was written in 1703: meanwhile a change had come over his fortunes. He had sojourned in Italy in fond companionship with Hope. He had examined the dead and living body of Rome with the eye and the instrument of an anatomist. He had explored the valleys, walked in gladness on the slopes, and traversed the vine-clad mountains with a soul attuned to nature's beauties, and ever ready to be gratefully affected by them. He had, moreover, painted what he saw, in words which impressed the scene upon the mental eye of the reader, never to fade from the memory, and which, nevertheless, when given subsequently in a printed volume to the world, were so coldly received by an unappreciating public. In addition to this, he had prepared his immortal Dialogue on Medals, the first and the best of scientific treatises rendered in a popular manner; a work, however, which was not delivered to the public, until the hand which drew it lay cold in the grave, forgetful of its cunning. A great portion of "Cato" was also sketched forth during this journey; and he wrote his "Ode to Liberty and Halifax," while crossing the Alps, whose beauties were all lost to him in his own sensations of uncomfortable bodily cold. On the Alps he was as prosaic, save when abstractedly employed in building the lofty rhyme, as the Boston traveller who stood in presence of Niagara, and saw nothing in it but a deplorable waste of water-power.
We have said that Hope was the companion of Addison in Italy. Disappointment, however, soon took her place. He had just been designated for the post of Secretary from His Majesty to Prince Eugene, then in Italy, when King William died, a change of Ministry ensued, and down sank all Addison's immediate hopes into the dust. This was a catastrophe; for the calamity assumed that shape in the eyes of an aspiring man, who had been living beyond his means, in the expectation that a fortune to come would pay for the expensive follies of the past. It was for this reason that, instead of repairing to England, he travelled as economically as he could through Germany, awaiting abroad the advent of better times at home, and living as showily as was in his power upon the proceeds of his Fellowship, and small and uncertain supplies from his father the Dean.
These supplies ceased, before he reached Holland, by the death of his father, in 1703. "At my first arrival," writes Addison from Holland, in 1703, to Mr. Wyche at Hamburg, "I received the melancholy news of my father's death, and ever since have been engaged in so much noise and company, that it was impossible for me to think of rhyming in unless I had been possessed of such a muse as Dr. Blackmore's, that could make a couple of heroic poems in a hackney-coach and a coffee-house."