Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

boat at Somerset-stairs, having previously loaded his pocket with stones. He ordered the waterman to shoot the bridge and while the boat was passing under the arch, threw himself into the river and perished immediately.

Till after the death of Addison there was no stain on the character of Budgell, and it is not improbable that his career would have been prosperous and honourable, if the life of his cousin had been prolonged. But when the master was laid in the grave, the disciple broke loose from all restraint, descended rapidly from one degree of vice and misery to another, ruined his fortune by follies, attempted to repair it by crimes, and at length closed a wicked and unhappy life by self-murder. Yet, to the last, the wretched man, gambler, lampooner, cheat, forger, as he was, retained his affection and veneration for Addison, and recorded those feelings in the last lines which he traced before he hid himself from infamy under London Bridge:

“What Cato did, and Addison approved,

Cannot be wrong." This however, as far as respects Addison's approval, was a mere delusion of his own brain.

SMITH. ONE evening, when Smith was sitting with a friend at a tavern, he was called down by the waiter ; and, having staid some time below, came up thoughtful. After a pause, said he to his friend, “He that wanted me below was Addison, whose business was to tell me that a History of the Revolution was intended, and to propose that I should undertake it. I said, 'What shall I do with the character of Lord Sunderland ?i and Addison immediately returned, When, Rag,? were you drunk last ?' and went away."

CRAGGS.

MR. Craggs (one of Addison's early companions, and to whom, a few days before his death, he dedicated his works) was ashamed of the meanness of his birth, which Mr. Addison has properly styled a vicious modesty; for his father, though by merit raised to be postmaster-general, and home agent

1 Author of Phædra-Translation of Longinus, &c.

? Captain Rag was a name which he got at Oxford by his negligence of dress.

to the Duke of Marlborough, had been only a barber—the reflection of which tormented him through life.

WHISTON. STANHOPE AT COURT. MR. Addison was my particular friend, and with his friend, Sir Richard Steele, brought me, upon my banishment from Cambridge, to have many astronomical lectures at Burton's Coffee-house, near Covent Garden, to the agreeable entertainment of a good number of curious persons, and the procuring me and my family comfortable support. One of my principal auditors was the Lord Stanhope, whom I knew well and esteemed as a person of uncommon natural probity: Yet, after he had been sometime a courtier, I freely asked him whether he had been able to keep up his integrity at Court, to which he made no reply, whence I concluded that he had not been able to do it, for he would never tell me a lie. This opinion is confirmed by another passage, which I had from the best authority. One day, in company, leaning on his arm in a musing posture, he suddenly started up, and in a kind of agony said: Well, I am now satisfied, that a man cannot set his foot over the threshold of a court, but he must be as great a rogue as ever was hanged at Tyburn. This was

* honest Will. Whiston,' who was expelled from Cambridge (Oct. 30, 1710) for heterodoxy, that is, for attacking the commonly received doctrine of the Trinity. In the Guardian, No. 107, will be found a paper by Addison, dated July 11, 1713, in the names of WHISTOn and DITTON, evidently written at the time their joint volume on the longitude was at press. The following pungent lines, published in the name of Gay, and smacking much more of Swift, were written

upon them.
ODE FOR MUSIO ON THE LONGITUDE.

Recitativo.
The longitude mist on
By wicked Will. Whiston,
And not better hit on
By good Master Ditton.

Ritornello.
So Ditton and Whiston

May both be bep-st on;
And Whiston and Ditton

May both be besh-t on.

Sing Ditton

Besh—t on;
And Whiston

Bep-st on.
Sing Ditton and Whiston,

And Whiston and Ditton,
Beshết and bep-st on,
Bep—st and beshết on.

DA CAPO.

BROTHER HOPKINS.

BROTHER Hopkins, mentioned in Addison's letter to Wortley Montagu, (see page 370,) has long puzzled his biographers. There was a Thomas, alias . Vulture' Hopkins, and his son Edward, M. P. in 1701, 1703, &c., both members of the Kit-cat club, but no doubt the allusion is to CHARLES HOPKINS, son of Bishop Hopkins, and author of the “Court Conquest,” besides numerous poems and translations printed in “ Nichols' Select Collection of Poems,” 8 vols., 1780 1782. He appears to have been on terms of intimacy with Congreve, Dryden, Wycherley, Southerne, and other leading wits of the time. The term “ brother” might arise from his brotherhood with Addison in some political or bon-vivant society. We cannot forbear adding the naive account given of him by the pious writer of the Memoir of Bishop Hopkins prefixed to his works. Charles, after a career of dissipation, to which he gave dignity and zest, as revellers of old threw pearls into their wine, by associating with Dryden, Congreve, Wycherley, Southerne, and the other prime wits of the time, died at the early age of thirty-six. Of a naturally amiable temper, and agreeable manner, he appears to have been led by his easy gaiety of heart, and excess of good nature, to mix too freely in circles where the semblance of these qualities is the smiling mask of degrading and enervating vices, and to have been a hanger-on of wits, whose leisure he may have amused by that cheerfulness and flow of spirits which constitute good fellowship. It is painful to think of the son of a prelate, not more conspicuous for his genius than for the dignity and purity of his life, dying thus, in the vigour of his manhood, a broken down debauchee, leaving behind him no record of more than average talents, except some volumes of trifling

verse, of which even Jacob,' one of the most doting of an emasculate school of critics, can say no better than this—and even here his author will not bear him out—that “they are all remarkable for the purity of their diction, and the harmony of their numbers."

THE CAMPAIGN."

UPON the arrival of the news of the victory of Blenheim, (gained Aug. 13, 1704,) the Lord Treasurer Godolphin, in the fulness of his joy meeting with Lord Halifax, told him, it was pity the memory of such a victory should ever be forgot; he added, that he was pretty sure his Lordship, who was so distinguished a patron of men of letters, must know some person

whose pen was capable of doing justice to the action. Lord Halifax replied, “I do know a gentleman who would celebrate the victory in a manner worthy of it: but I will not name him.” The Lord Treasurer entreating to know the reason of so unkind a resolution, Lord Halifax briskly told him, that he had long with indignation observed, that while too many fools and blockheads were maintained in their pride and luxury at the expense of the public, such men as were really an honour to their country and to the age in which they lived were shamefully suffered to languish in obscurity. Godolphin calmly replied, that he would seriously consider what his Lordship had said, and endeavour to give no occasion for such reproaches in future; and in the present case would take upon himself to promise, that any gentleman whom his Lordship should name to him, capable of celebrating the late action, should find it worth his while to exert his genius on that subject. Lord Halifax, upon this encouragement, named Mr. Addison; but insisted that the Lord Treasurer should apply to him in his own person, which his Lordship promised to do, and accordingly desired the Right Honourable Mr. Boyle (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) to go to him. Mr. Addison, who was at that time but indifferently lodged, (in a garret up three pair of stairs, over a small shop in the Haymarket,) was surprised the next morning with a visit from no less a person than the Chancellor, who, after having acquainted him with his busi

1 Alluding to Jacob's Lives and Characters of all the English Poets, 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1719-20.

ness, added, that the Lord Treasurer, to encourage him to enter upon his subject, had already made him a Commissioner of Appeals, with the promise of something more considerable. The Lord Treasurer kept his promise, and Mr. Addison, soon after the publication of his poem, was preferred to a considerable post. See Budgell's Life of Lord Orrery,

page 151.

DRYDEN.

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

ADDISON addressed short

copy

of verses, in English, to Mr. Dryden," dated from Magdalen college in Oxford, June 26, 1693, when the author was but twenty-two years of age. They contain a very elegant compliment upon Dryden's translation of Virgil, Horace, Juvenal, Persius, and Ovid. That great poet was then reduced to very melancholy circumstances by the change of affairs, and the loss of such of his friends as had interest at court; he having before been very deeply engaged against the revolution party, so that he was immediately removed from the laureate's place when King William came to the crown. And yet Dryden's vivacity and poetical flame were not in the least abated by age or the distress of his circumstances; on which Addison compliments him in the fol. lowing beautiful manner :

Can neither injuries of time, or age,
Damp thy poetic heat, or quench thy rage?
Not so thy Ovid in his exile wrote,
Grief chill'd his breast, and check'd his rising thought;
Pensive and sad, his drooping muse betrays
The Roman genius in its last decays.

of verses was followed by a version of the fourth Georgic of Virgil, of which Dryden makes very honourable mention. These are his words :-“The most ingenious Mr. Addison, of Oxford, has also been as troublesome to me as the other two, (speaking of two celebrated poets, whose poems, Dryden says, had put him to sufficient pains to make his own not inferior to them,) and on the same account. After his bees, my latter swarm is scarcely worth the hiving." -A compliment which Mr. Macaulay thinks more liberal than sincere.

This copy

« ZurückWeiter »