For such literature the British public has shown a considerable avidity ever since the days of Addison. In spite of occasional disavowals, it really loves a sermon, and is glad to hear preachers who are not bound by the proprieties of the religious pulpit.
In style, in wit, and in politeness, Addison maintained his superiority; though the Old Whig is by no means one of his happiest performances. At first, both the anonymous opponents observed the laws of propriety. But at length Steele so far forgot himself as to throw an odious imputation on the morals of the chiefs of the administration.
The platitude brought him, by some process of inversion, the vision of a drawing-room in Addison gardens, occupied by his mother and sisters, engaged with whatever may be Kensington's substitutes at the moment for the spinet and the tambour frame; and he had a disturbed sense that they might characterise such a statement differently, if, indeed, they would consent to characterise it at all.
Addison on the following morning opened my eyes to the truth. With the scandal still attaching to the names of Edward Hines and another man, called, I believe, Adams, a subject for gossip throughout the neighborhood, I could not at so perilous a time risk the consequences of a third intrigue. I determined that Mr.
And may my friend here young Esquire Tufton, of Gablethorpe, in the county of Essex have the privilege of hearing some of those wonderful lines which are to take the country by storm? Come, Master Addison, you know that I am a lover of good metre and fine sentiment. The words must needs be tingling in your ears, and lying hot upon your tongue.
At last we reached the place where we had left the others, but they were not there. Addison called to Theodora and Ellen several times in low, suppressed tones; I, too, felt a great disinclination to shout or speak aloud. "I guess they've all gone back where we left the wagon," Addison said at last. We made our way through the tangled bushes, brush and woods, down to Otter Brook.
Two other stories from "The Female Spectator" were quoted by Dr. Nathan Drake in his "Gleaner." In her bold attempt to rival Addison upon his own ground Mrs. Haywood was more than moderately successful in the estimation of many of her contemporaries. Rambling and trite as are the essays in her periodical, their excellent intentions, at least, gained them a degree of popularity.
She spoke of Addison, Swift, and Steele as though they were still living, regarded Defoe as the best known novelist of his country, and thought of Fielding as a young but meritorious novice in the fields of romance.
The work may sometimes be necessary, but it rarely arouses our enthusiasm. While the satires of Pope, Swift, and Addison are doubtless the best in our language, we hardly place them with our great literature, which is always constructive in spirit; and we have the feeling that all these men were capable of better things than they ever wrote.
Lombroso cites, among his "Men of Genius," quite a list Corneille, Descartes, Virgil, Addison, La Fontaine, Dryden, Manzoni, and Newton of those who could not express themselves in public. Whatever part self-consciousness played in the individual case, we must class the peculiarity among the defects, not signs, of genius. "A tender heel makes no man an Achilles."