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in Jane Shore, who is always seen and heard with pity. ...Alicia is a character of empty noise, with no resemblance to real sorrow or to natural madness. , Whence, then, has Rowe his reputation? From the reasonableness and propriety of some of his scenes, from the elegance of his diction, and the suavity of his verse. He seldom moves either pity or terror, but he often elevates the sentiments; he seldom pierces the breast, but he always delights the ear, and often improves the understanding. - His translation of the Golden Verses, and of the first book of Quillet’s poem, have nothing in them remarkable. The Golden Verses are tedious. The version of Lucan is one of the greatest productions of English poetry; for there is perhaps none that so completely exhibits the genius and spirit of the original. Lucan is distinguished by a kind of dictatorial or philosophic dignity, rather, as Quintilian observes, declamatory than poetical ; full of ambitious morality and pointed sentences, comprised in vigorous and animated lines. This character Rowe has very diligently and successfully preserved. His versification, which is such as his contemporaries practised, without any attempt at innovation or improvement, seldom wants either melody or force. His author's sense is sometimes a little diluted by additional infusions, and sometimes weakened by too much expansion. But such faults are to be expected in all translations, from the constraint of measures and dissimilitude of languages. *The Pharsalia of Rowe deserves more notice than it obtains, and as it is more read will be more esteemed.”
* The life of Rowe is a very remarkable' instance of the uncommon strength of Dr. Johnson’s memory. When I received from him the MS. he complacently observed, “that the criticism was tolerably well done, considering that he had not seen Rowe's works for thirty years.” N.
Joseph ADDISON was born on the first of May, 1972, at Milston, of which his father, Lancelot Addison, was then rector, near Ambrosebury in Wiltshire, and appearing weak and unlikely to live, he was christened the same day. After the usual domestic education, which, from the character of his father, may be reasonably supposed to have given him strong impressions of piety, he was committed to the care of Mr. Naish, at Ambrosebury, and afterward of Mr. Taylor at Salisbury. Not to name the school or the masters of men illustrious for literature, is a kind of historical fraud, by which honest fame is injuriously diminished; I would therefore trace him through the whole process of his education. In 1683, in the beginning of his twelfth year, his father, being made dean of Lichfield, naturally carried his family to his new residence, and, I believe, placed him for some time, probably not long, under Mr. Shaw, then master of the school at Lichfield, father of the late Dr. Peter Shaw. Of this interval his biographers have given no account, and I know it only from a story of a barring out, told me, when I was a boy, by Andrew Corbet of Shropshire, who had heard it from Mr. Pigot his uncle. The practice of barring out was a savage license, practised in many schools to the end of the last century, by which the boys, when the periodical vacation drew near, growing petulant at the approach of liberty, some days before the time of regular recess, took possession of the school, of which they barred the doors, and bade their master defiance from the windows. It is not easy to suppose that on such occasions the master would do more than laugh; yet, if tradition may be credited, he often struggled hard to force or surprise the garrison. The master, when Pigot was a schoolboy, was barred out at Lichfield; and the whole operation, as he said, was planned and conducted by Addison.
To judge better of the probability of this story, I have inquired when he was sent to the Chartreux; but, as he was not one of those who enjoyed the founder's benefaction, there is no account preserved of his admission. At the school of the Chartreux, to which he was removed either from that of Salisbury or Lichfield, he pursued his juvenile studies under the care of Dr. Ellis, and contracted that intimacy with sir Richard Steele, which their joint labours have so effectually recorded. Of this memorable friendship the greater praise must be given to Steele. It is not hard to love those from whom nothing can be feared; and Addison never considered Steele as a rival, but Steele lived, as he confesses, under an habitual subjection to the predominating genius of Addison, whom he always mentioned with reverence, and treated with obsequiousness. Addison," who knew his own dignity, could not always forbear to show it, by playing a little upon his admirer ; but he was in no danger of retort; his jests were endured without resistance Or resentment. But the sneer of jocularity was not the worst. Steele, whose imprudence of generosity, or vanity of profusion, kept him always incurably necessitous, upon some pressing exigence, in an evil hour, borrowed an hundred pounds of his friend, probably without much purpose of repayment; but Addison, who seems to have had other notions of a hundred pounds, grew impatient of delay, and reclaimed his loan by an execution. Steele felt with great sensibility the obduracy of his creditor, but with emotions of sorrow rather than of anger.t In 1687 he was entered into queen's college in Oxford, where, in 1689, the accidental perusal of some Latin verses gained him the patronage of Dr. Lancaster, afterward provost of queen's college; by whose recommendation he was elected into Mag
i This fact was communicated to Johnson in my hearing by a person of unquestionable veracity, but whose name I am not at liberty to mention. He had it, as he told us, from lady Primrose, to whom Steele related it with tears in his eyes. The late Dr. Stinton confirmed it to me, by saying, that he had heard it from Mr. Hooke, author of the Roman History; and he, from Mr. Pope. H.
See, Victor's Letters, Vol. I. p. 328, this transaction somewhat differently related. R.
dalen college as a demy, a term by which that society denominates those which are elsewhere called scholars; young men who partake of the founder's benefaction, and succeed in their order to vacant fellowships.” Here he continued to cultivate poetry and criticism, and grew first eminent by his Latin compositions, which are indeed entitled to particular praise. He has not confined himself to the imitation of any ancient author, but has formed his style from the general language, such as a diligent perusal of the productions of different ages happened to supply. - His Latin compositions seem to have had much of his fondness, for he collected a second volume of the Musæ Anglicana, perhaps for a convenient receptacle, in which all his Latin pieces are inserted, and where his poem on the peace has the first place. He afterward presented the collection to Boileau, who, from that time, “conceived,” says Tickell, “an opinion of the English genius for poetry.” Nothing is better known of Boileau, than that he had an injudicious and peevish contempt of modern Latin, and therefore his profession of regard was probably the effect of his civility rather than approbation. Three of his Latin poems are upon subjects on which perhaps he would not have ventured to have written in his own language. The Battle of the Pigmies and Cranes ; The Barometer; and A Bowling green. When the matter is low or scanty, a dead language, in which nothing is mean because nothing is familiar, affords great conveniences; and, by the sonorous magnificence of Roman syllables, the writer conceals penury of thought, and want of novelty, often from the reader, and often from himself. In his twenty second year he first showed his power of English poetry by some verses addressed to Dryden; and soon af. terward published a translation of the greater part of the fourth Georgic, upon Bees; after which, says Dryden, “my latter swarm is hardly worth the hiving.” About the same time he composed the arguments prefixed to the several books of Dryden's Virgil ; and produced an essay on the Georgics, juvenile, superficial, and uninstructive, without much either of the scholar’s learning or the critic's penetration.
* He took the degree of M. A. Feb. 14, 1693.