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Who but must laugh, if such a man there be ?
been employed in July, 1715, to write Mr. Wycherley's Life, who lived till the December following. As therefore so many inconsistencies are evident in the story itself, which never found its way into print till near sixty years after it is said to have happened, it will be no breach of charity to suppose that the whole of it was founded on some misapprehension in either Mr. Pope or the Earl; and unless better proof can be given, we shall readily acquit Mr. Addison of this most odious part of the charge.”
I beg leave to add, that as to the other accusation, Dr. Young, Lord Bathurst, Mr. Harte, and Lord Lyttelton, each of them assured me that Addison himself certainly translated the first Book of Homer.
An able vindication of Addison was written by Mr. Jeremiah Markland, then a young man, and afterwards the celebrated critic. Both were printed together, by Curll, so early as 1717. And perhaps this circumstance may furnish a clue to what has been so ably discussed by Judge Blackstone, in the Biographia Britannica, under the article Addison. The Epistle to Arbuthnot was not published till January, 1735; that to Augustus, with some others, appeared in 1738.—“I have seen Mr. Pope's best performances, and find that he pleases the town most when he is most out of humour with the court. He has made
free with his gracious majesty, in the Epistle to Augustus. But he had lost his favourite bill; even my Lord Harvey had carried a point against him; and while he is angry, he will never be idle. In this last Epistle he seems to have recanted all he had before said of Addison,” viz.
-"(Excuse some courtly stains)
“ No whiter page than Addison remains," &c. From a manuscript letter of Mr. Clarke, who wrote on ancient coins, to his learned printer and friend, Mr. Bowyer, July 6, 1738.
Warton. Ver. 214. Who would not weep, if ATTICUS were he ?] But when we come to know it belongs to Atticus, i. e. to one whose more obvious qualities had before engaged our love or esteem, then friendship, in spite of ridicule, will make a separation; our old VOL. VI.
What tho' my name stood rubric on the walls, Or plaister'd posts, with claps, in capitals ?
impressions will get the better of our new; or, at least, suffer themselves to be no further impaired than by the admission of a mixture of pity and concern.
Warburton. Ver. 214. if Atticus were he ?] I have suffered Warburton's note to remain entire, that it may not be said any thing has been suppressed that could be stated in Pope's favour. A few observations I have made on it, as I went along. What I have further to offer, I trust will not be imputed to any desire of lessening Pope's character ; but merely to do that justice to Mr. Addison which truth seems to require.
Mr. Addison is accused of " mean jealousy towards Pope; that he encouraged Pope's abusers; that he objected to the finest part of the Rape of the Lock, from envy and jealousy; that he produced, in opposition, a translation of the first Book of Homer, which was given to the world ostensibly as Tickell's, but which was in reality the work of Addison, who was actuated in the attempt by the desire of “injuring Pope's reputation;" that finally, Lord Warwick, Addison's son-in-law, had himself confessed that it was in vain for Pope to endeavour to be well with Addison, and that he had hired Gildon to abuse him.”
These are severe charges, and they ought to be supported by certain proof, or the strongest probabilities.
With respect to the first charge, it is not impossible but that Pope, and this I have no doubt was the case, really thought, when he became, in the eye of the public and in his own of course, so great a man, that every one who had a high literary character must certainly be jealous of him. Once possessed with this idea, which was the natural consequence of his own self-importance, he saw the cloven foot of envy and jealousy in every thing connected with the name of Addison. If Philips, the rival Arcadian, hung up a rod at Button's Coffee-house to chastise Pope, the rival Pastoralswain, Addison was the instigator. If Gildon, soured by poverty, attacked the more successful bard with scurrility and anger, Addison bribed him! If a translation of Homer comes out at the same time with Pope's, certainly there can be but one causeAddison's jealousy: Addison suggested it, Addison mended it, Addison wrote it!
Or smoking forth, a hundred hawkers' load,
Pope has said himself, that " all seems yellow to the jaundiced eye." Was his eye quite clear in his view of things respecting Addison? We have his own ideas and assertions. Are these to be trusted, unsupported by other evidence? We have the “ipse dixit” of one party against the other. The world is appealed to; it naturally asks, is such a charge admitted by Pope's cotemporaries? I exclude his own particular friends. Does Craggs, the
friend of both, seem to believe it? Pope wrote to him on the subject,-he received no answer. What are Addison's and Pope's respective characters ? has the first ever been charged with duplicity, even by his enemies? Has the other escaped the charge? Have there been no unequivocal proofs against him in that respect? Look at Addison's warm, manly, disinterested, and honest conduct to Swift. Remember his liberal and humane mode of disavowing. Pope's personal attack on Dennis, on account of his criticisms on Cato. Recollect the uniform testimony, not only of his friends, but of all with whom he associated ; consider the proofs of his candor and kindness, in almost every situation; and reflect, that nothing was urged with the least appearance of weight against him, even from those who were hostile to him in politics, till after his death. And from whom do they come? From one man, that man angry and interested, and that man, whose character, compared to Addison's, was, as perhaps Johnson might say, like tortuosity opposed to rectitude.
These things are so ;-Pope possibly may have been right in his judgment, but Addison ought not to be condemned by candid and impartial judges, unless there was collateral and much stronger evidence, than the ex parte evidence of Pope. Neither candour, nor equity, nor justice allow it.
Let us now go a step further, and consider the more specific and severe charges brought with apparently direct proof. Lord Warwick's testimony is adduced against Addison, solemnly and decisively. This has been clearly proved to be impossible, at least so utterly improbable, that no one can believe it (see Warton's note on ver. 209). The strongest proof falls at once to the ground; it was invented, and is proved to be false. What then
I sought no homage from the race that write;
are we to think of the deliberate inventor, and what credit is due to his bare suspicions, without any attempt at proof at all, and which are contradicted by Addison's general character, and by his acknowledged honour and worth?
I will also ask, whether any assertion be entitled to credit, which is brought forward so long after the death of the accused, as was the case in this instance?
One word respecting the supposed translation. It has been said that Pope, when he taxed Addison with being the author, was chiefly hurt by Addison's lofty manner and affected indifference. Is this to be attributed to innocence, or consciousness ? An innocent man would, and must have behaved so—a guilty man might; but this has been weakly brought against Addison, as if such a mode of behaviour must have been affected. This, however, is hardly worth taking notice of. It has also been said, that Tickell was incapable of such a translation, without Addison's assistance, to which I have no hesitation in saying, that Tickell wrote verses better than Addison. Compare Tickell’s “ Prospect of the Peace,” his verses on Addison's death : they are so nervous and correct, that Addison's own verses appear (hazardous as may be my opinion) very inferior to them. Addison might have given his opinion respecting the merit of either translation, as he gave his opinion of the Sylphs in the Rape of the Lock; but it does not follow that it was directed by spleen and envy. But Dr. Warton would put the matter out of doubt; for he says, that Dr. Young, Lord Bathurst, Mr. Harte, and Lord Lyttelton, assured him of the fact! Very well ! and who assured Lord Bathurst, Young, &c.? I very much fear, Pope himself. These were all Pope's friends; they no doubt believed what Pope told them. But as there is no other evidence, I do not think it entitled to any other credit than what is due to Pope's own assertions; if it can be traced to Pope alone, with me it weighs nothing. In the last edition of Johnson's Lives there is a note, which, though not so designed, contributes to elucidate this point.
It relates to another story, Addison's arresting Steele: the words are by the Editor of Johnson's works, viz. 66 The late Dr. Stin
Poems I heeded (now berhym'd so long)
ton confirmed this story to me, by saying he had it from Mr. Hooke, author of the Roman History; and he From Pope.”
On the same foundation probably rests a circumstance which Warton has admitted in a note; who says, “ He was informed by Mr. Spence, that Addison in his last illness sent to speak with Gay, and told him he hud injured him, probably with respect to his getting preferment at Court; but, if he lived, he would make him amends !” Where did Spence get this anecdote ? how came it never mentioned openly before ? As it happens, the cause which prevented Gay's preferment has been clearly ascertained by that accurate and sensible historian, Mr. Coxe. I shall speak of this under the article of Gay. In the mean time, perhaps, I ought to beg pardon of the reader for this long note; but I had no object but truth, and of such a character as Addison I could not bear
Et dici potuisse et non potuisse revelli. Bowles. As Mr. Bowles has given the note of Warburton in defence of Pope, so I have given the foregoing note by Mr. Bowles complete in the present edition ; observing only, that whoever wishes to enter fully into the subject, will find it more particularly discussed than the limits of a note will allow, in the Life of Pope, prefixed to the present edition, chap. iii. Some of the foregoing remarks of Mr. Bowles have also been pointedly animadverted on by Mr. Gilchrist, in his first letter to Mr. Bowles, p. 19.
Ver. 214. Atticus] It was a great falsehood, which some of the libels reported, that this character was written after the gentleman's death; which see refuted in the testimonies prefixed to the Dunciud, But the occasion of writing it was such as he would not make public out of regard to his memory: and all that could further be done was to omit the name, in the edition of his works
Pope. Ver. 218. On wings of winds came flying all abroad ?] Hopkins, in the civth Psalm.