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Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
Behold, in awful march and dread array
But 0, my muse, what numbers wilt thou find
'T was then great Marlbro's mighty soul was prov'd,
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage.
In the following year Addison accompanied Lord Halifax to Hanover, and the year after was made under-secretary to Sir Charles Hedges, and afterward to the Earl of Sunderland. While thus occupied he found leisure to compose his opera of Rosamond, and soon after produced his comedy of The Drummer; but neither of these pieces show a genius adapted to the stage. In 1709, the Marquis of Wharton was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Addison accompanied him as his secretary: he was also made keeper of the Irish records, with an annual salary of three hundred pounds. The office was little more than nominal, and the salary was augmented for his accommodation.
While Addison was thus employed in Ireland, Steele, without communicating his design, began the publication of the 'Tatler,' which, after a brief space, was succeeded by the 'Spectator.' It was now that Addison entered upon his brilliant career as an essayist; and by his papers in the Tatler, Spectator, and 'Guardian,' left, in this delightful field of literature, all his contemporaries far behind him. In these papers he first displayed that chaste and delicate humor, refined observation, and knowledge of the world, which form his most distinguishing characteristics; and in his Vision of Merza, his Reflections in Westminster Abbey, and other of his graver essays, he evinced a more poetical imagination, and deeper vein of feeling, than his previous writings had at all indicated.
In 1713, Addison finished his tragedy of Cato, and immediately brought it upon the stage. Though deficient in dramatic interest, yet in consequence of the peculiar state of party feelings at the time, its popularity was unbounded. Steele, Hughes, Young, Tickell, and Philips, vied with each other in the bestowment of their encomiastic verses upon the author; and the queen even, expressed a wish that the tragedy should be dedicated to her: but Addison had previously designed this honor for his friend Tickell, and, therefore, to avoid giving offence, either to his loyalty or his friendship, he published it without any dedication. The popularity of 'Cato' was not confined to the author's own country: the play was soon translated into French, Italian, and German, and was performed by the Jesuits in their college of St. Omers. The structure of this tragedy is, perhaps, more nearly perfect than that of any other in the language. The unities of time and place are perfectly preserved, and the entire outline is complete; but, unfortunately, the action of the drama is proportionately retarded. 'Cato,' abounds in generous and patriotic sentiments, is sonorous in diction, and contains passages of great dignity; but the poet entirely fails to unlock the sources of human passion. It is a splendid and imposing work of art, with the grace, the majesty, and the coldness also, of a noble antique statue. The following soliloquy, in the first scene of the fifth act, is, perhaps, the best passage in the whole tragedy. The last nine lines, however, are exceedingly tame. Cato is alone, sitting in a thoughtful posture, with Plato's book on the immortality of the soul in his hand, and a drawn sword on the table before him :
It must be so-Plato, thou reason'st well!—
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
'Tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
[Laying his hand on his sword.]
Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds.
Addison was now at the height of his fame. He had long aspired to the hand of the countess-dowager of Warwick, whom he had first known by becoming tutor to her son; and he was united to that lady, in 1716. He, however, married discord in a noble wife.' His marriage was as unhappy as Dryden's marriage with Lady Elizabeth Howard had been. Both ladies awarded to their husbands, the heraldry of hands, not hearts,' and the fate of these poets should serve as beacons to warn other ambitious literary adventurers.
Addison received his highest political honor in 1719, when he was made secretary of state. He held this important office, however, but for a short time; for he wanted the physical boldness and ready resources of an effective public speaker, and was unable to defend his own measures in parliament. He, therefore, retired from the secretaryship with a pension of fifteen hundred pounds per annum, and resolved to devote the remainder of his life exclusively to literary pursuits. He planned a new version of the Psalms of David,' and a work on the Evidences of the Christian Religion, but did not live to complete either. He was oppressed by asthma and dropsy, and
was, for some years, conscious that he should die at a comparatively early age. For this trying event he now deliberately prepared, and with what degree of sincerity is evident from the following incidents. He had injured Gay the poet, but in what way is unknown; and he, therefore, from his death-bed, sent for him, that he might obtain his forgiveness, and assure him, should his life be spared, that he would make every reparation in his power. He next requested an interview with the Earl of Warwick, whom he was anxious to reclaim from a dissipated and licentious course of life. I have sent for you,' said he,' that you may see in what peace a Christian can die.' The mournful event thus calmly anticipated occurred at Holland House, on the seventeenth of June, 1719, before Addison had attained the forty-eighth year of his age.
A minute and critical review of the daily life of Addison, and of his intercourse with his literary associates, would have a tendency to diminish our reverence and affection for his character. His temper was jealous and taciturn; and the satire of Pope, that he could 'bear no rival near the throne,' seems to have been just and well founded. He was, however, a good man and a sincere Christian; and to this the uniform tendency of all his writings, bears abundant testimony. Of his poetry, to the poems already quoted, we add the following beautiful ode:
How are thy servants blest, O Lord!
Their help Omnipotence.
In foreign realms, and lands remote,
Through burning climes I pass'd unhurt,
Thy mercy sweeten'd every soil,
Think, O my soul! devoutly think,
Confusion dwelt on every face,
And fear in every heart,
When waves on waves, and gulfs on gulfs,
Yet then from all my griefs, O Lord!
For though in dreadful whirls we hung
I knew thou wert not slow to hear,
The storm was laid, the winds retir'd,
The sea that roar'd at thy command,
In midst of dangers, fears, and death,
I'll praise thee for thy mercies past,
My life, if thou preserv'st my life,
Thy sacrifice shall be;
And death, if death must be my doom,
As a prose writer Addison has had few equals in the language. His style is natural and unaffected, easy and polite, and full of those graces peculiar to a vivid and flowing imagination. In thought and sentiment he is always pure, and his figures are almost uniformly delicate, accurate, and appropriate. If in any thing he is deficient, it is in strength. The following essay on the works of creation has always been regarded as one of his best productions:
THE WORKS OF CREATION.
I was yesterday about sunset walking in the open fields, until the night insensibly fell upon me. I at first amused myself with all the richness and variety of colours which appeared in the western parts of heaven, In proportion as they faded away and went out, several stars and planets appeared one after another, until the whole firmament was in a glow. The blueness of the ether was exceedingly heightened and enlivened by the season of the year, and by the rays of all those luminaries that passed through it. The galaxy appeared in its most beautiful white. To complete the scene, the full moon rose at length in that clouded majesty which Milton takes notice of, and opened to the eye a new picture of nature, which was more finely shaded and disposed among softer lights, than that which the sun had before discovered to us.
As I was surveying the moon walking in her brightness, and taking her progress among the constellations, a thought rose in me which I believe very often perplexes and disturbs men of serious and contemplative natures. David himself fell into it in that reflection: 'When I consider the heavens the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou regardest him?' In the same manner, when I considered that infinite host of stars, or, to speak more philosophically, of suns, which were then shining upon me, with those innumerable sets of planets or worlds which were moving round their respective suns-when I still enlarged the idea, and supposed another heaven of suns and worlds rising still above this which we discovered, and these still enlightened by a superior firmament of luminaries, which are planted at so great a distance, that they may appear to the inhabitants of the former as the stars do to us-in short, while I pursued this thought, I could not but reflect on that little insignificant figure which I myself bore amidst the immensity of God's works.
Were the sun which enlightens this part of the creation, with all the host of planetary worlds that move about him, utterly extinguished and annihilated, they would