« السابقةمتابعة »
the original value before it came out in a second edition.
The Letter from Italy to my Lord Halifax may be considered as the text upon which the book of Travels is a large comment, and has been esteemed by those who have a relish for antiquity, as the most exquisite of his poetical performances. A translation of it by Signior Salvini, professor of the Greek tongue at Florence, is inserted in this edition; not only on the account of its merit, but because it is the language of the country which is the subject of this poem.
The materials for the Dialogues upon Medals, now first printed from a manuscript of the author, were collected in the native country of those coins. The book itself was begun to be cast into form at Vienna, as appears from a letter to Mr. Stepney, then minister at that court, dated in November, 1702.
Some time before the date of this letter, Mr. Addison had designed to return to England, when he received advice from his friends, that he was pitched upon to attend the army under Prince Eugene, who had just begun the war in Italy, as secretary from his Majesty, But an account of the death of King William, which he met with at Geneva, put an end to that, thought; and as his hopes of advancement in his own country were fallen with the credit of his friends, who were out of power at the beginning of her late Majesty's reign, he had leisure to make the tour of Germany in his way home.
He remained for some time, after his return to England, without any public employment, which
he did not obtain till the year 1704, when the Duke of Marlborough arrived at the highest pitch of glory, by delivering all Europe from slavery, and furnished Mr. Addison with a subject worthy of that genius which appears in his Poem called The Campaign. 'The Lord Treasurer Godolphin, who was a fine judge of poetry, had a sight of this work, when it was only carried on as far as the applauding 'simile of the Angel; and approved the poem, by bestowing on the author, in a few days after, the place of Commissioner of Appeals, vacant by the removal of the famous Mr. Locke to the council of trade.
His next advancement was to the place of Under Secretary, which he held under "Sir Charles Hedges, and the present Earl of Sunderland. The Opera of Rosamond was written while he possessed that employment.
What doubts soever have been raised about the merit of the music, which, as the Italian taste at that time began wholly to prevail, was thought sufficiently inexcusable, because it was the composition of an Englishman. The poetry of this piece has given as much pleasure in the closet, as others have afforded from the stage, with all the assistance of voices and instruments.
The Comedy called The Tender Husband appeared much about the same time, to which Mr. Addison wrote the Prologue. Sir Richard Steele surprized him with a very handsome dedication of this play, and has since acquainted the public, that he owed some of the most taking scenes of it to Mr. Addison.
His next step in his fortune, was to the post of Secretary under the late Marquis of Wharton,
who was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the year 1709. As I have proposed to touch but very lightly on those parts of his life which do not regard him as an author, I shall not enlarge upon the great reputation he acquired by his turn to business, and his unblemished integrity, in this and other employments. It must not be omitted here, that the salary of Keeper of the Records in Ireland was considerably raised, and that post bestowed upon him, at this time, as a mark of the Queen's favour. He was in that kingdom when he first discovered Sir Richard Steele to be author of The Tatler, by an observation upon Virgil
, which had been by him communicated to his friend. The assistance he occasionally gave him afterwards in the course of the paper, did not a little contribute to advance its reputation; and upon the change of the ministry, he found leisure to engage more constantly in that work, which, however, was dropped at last, as it had been taken up, without his participation.
In the last paper, which closed those celebrated performances, and in the preface to the last volume, Sir Richard Steele has given to Mr. Addison the honour of the most applauded pieces in that collection. But as that acknowledgment was delivered only in general terms, without directing the public to the several papers, Mr. Addison, who was content with the praise arising from his own works, and too delicate to take any part of that which belonged to others, afterwards thought fit to distinguish his writings in the Spectators and Guardians, by such marks as might'remove the least possibility of mistake in the most undiscerning readers. It was necessary that his share in the Tatlers should be ad
justed in a complete collection of his works; for which reason Sir Richard Steele, in compliance with the request of his deceased friend, delivered to him by the editor, was pleased to mark with his own hand those Tatlers which are inserted in this edition, and even to point out several, in the writing of which they both were concerned.
The plan of the Spectator, as far as it regards the feigned person of the author, and of the several characters that compose his club, was pro• jected in concert with Sir Richard Steele. And, because many passages in the course of the work would otherwise be obscure, I have taken leave to insert one single paper, written by Sir Richard Steele, wherein those characters are drawn which may serve as a Dramatis Persone, or as so many pictures for an ornament and explication of the whole. As for the distinct papers, they were seldom or never shewn to each other by their respective authors, who fully answered the promise they had made, and far out-went the expectation they had raised, of pursuing their labour in the same spirit and strength with which it was begun. It would have been impossible for Mr. Addison, who made little or no use of letters sent in by the numerous correspondents of the Spectator, to have executed his large share of this task in so exquisite a manner, if he had not ingrafted into it many pieces that had lain by him in little hints and minutes, which he from time to time collected, and ranged in order, and moulded into the form in which they now appear. Such are the Essays upon Wit, the Pleasures of Imagination, the Critique upon Milton, and some others, which I thought to have connected in a continued series in this edition; though they were at first published with the interruption of writings
on different subjects. But as such a scheme would have obliged me to cut off several graceful introductions andcircumstances, peculiarly adapted to the time and occasion of printing them, I durst not pursue that attempt.
The Tragedy of Cato appeared in public in the year 1713, when the greatest part of the last act was added by the author to the foregoing, which he had kept by him for many years. He took up a design of writing a play upon this subject, when he was very young at the University, and even attempted something in it there, though not a line as it now stands. The work was performed by him in his travels, and retouched in England, without any formed resolution of bringing it upon the stage, until his friends of the first lity and distinction, prevailed with him to put the last finishing to it, at a time when they thought the doctrine of liberty very seasonable. It is in every body's memory, with what applause it was received by the public; that the first run of it lasted for a month; and then stopped, only because one of the performers became incapable of acting a principal part. The author received a message, that the Queen would be pleased to have it dedicated to her ; but as he had designed that compliment elsewhere, he found himself obliged by his duty, on the one side, and his honour on the other, to send it into the world without any dedication. T
The fame of this Tragedy soon spread through Europe; and it has not only been translated, but acted, in most of the languages of Christendom. The translation of it into Italian, by Signior Salvini, is very well known; but I have not been able to learn, whether that of Signior Valetta, a young Neapolitan nobleman, has ever been made public. ' i