Page images

religion, and religion adds pleasure to philosophy.” The descent of the goddess too, is another picture whose conception and execution cannot be too much admired. " When she had descended,” he observes, so low as to be seen and heard by mortals, to make the pomp of her appearance more supportable, she threw darkness and clouds about her, that tempered the light into a thousand beautiful shades and colours, and multiplied that lustre, which was before too strong and dazzling, into a variety of milder glories."

The Vision of Love, and the Vision of Ambition and Avarice*, are carried on with great propriety and force of imagery; and the address to poverty, which concludes the latter, conveys a strain of morality so pure, so just, and at the same time so exquisitely drawn up, that I am induced to believe the insertion of it in my pages, to be a homage due to the cause of virtue and content.

« Oh Poverty!” said I, “my first petition to thee is, that thou wouldest never appear to me hereafter; but if thou wilt not grant me this, that then thou wouldest not bear a form more terrible than that in which thou appearest to me at present. Let not thy threats and menaces

* Tatler, No 120, and 123,

[ocr errors]



betray me to any thing that is ungrateful or unjust. Let me not shut my ears to the cries of the needy. Let me not forget the person that has deserved well of me. Let me not, for any fear of thee, desert my friend, my principles, or my honour. If Wealth is to visit me, and to come with her usual attendants, Vanity and Avarice, do thou, O Poverty! hasten to my rescue, but bring along with thee the two sisters, in whose company thou art always cheerful, Liberty and Innocence."

Two more allegorical pieces by Addison are included in the Tatler ; Jupiter and the Destinies *, and the Vision of Liberty t; the former founded on a hint from Homer; the latter occasioned by the perusal of the Tablature of Cebes. The attributes of the goddess, of whom our author was a fervent but rational worshipper, are painted with characteristic strength; and the valley in which he has placed her abode gives rise to one of those descriptions which exhibit in so pre-eminent a light his taste for picturesque beauty.

The Spectator, though not, considering its extension, so abundant in effusions of this kind as the Tatler, possesses, independent of the oriental * Tatler, No 146.

+ Tatler, No 161,



allegory of Mirza, five productions of this class; the allegory of Luxury and Avarice *, the Vision of Maraton t, the Picture Gallery I, the Balance , and the Mountain of Miseries ||

Of these, the Balance and the Mountain of Miseries are built upon passages of Homer and but the outline so beautifully filled up,

and the imagery and incidents so replete with imagination, blended with the finest strokes of humour, as to charm and interest the most fastidious mind. It is, however, to the Vision of Maraton, that we must give the palm when considering the present series. Than this, and the oriental Vision of Mirza, nothing, I believe, more lovely

I and engaging, can be found in allegorical composition. The description of the Genius, and the prospect of human life in the one, and the meeting of Maraton and Yaratilda in the other, are pictures whose sweet and simple colouring, whose pathos and morality, will continue to delight and instruct as long as taste and feeling shall exist.

In the Guardian, our author's allegorical vein, which ran with so much depth and richness

* Spectator, No 55.
I Ditto, No 83.
|| Ditto, No 558, and 559.

+ Spectator, No 56.
§ Ditto, No 463.

through his former papers, appears nearly exhausted; the Two Seres * being the only production of this kind, as flowing from his pen, that I can recollect in the work; it is, however, worthy of his talents, and exhibits no small portion of his aceustomed ingenuity and fertility of fancy.

* Guardian, No 152.






The great object which Addison ever steadily held in view, and to which his style, his criticism, his humour and imagination are alike subservient, was the increase of religious, moral, and social virtue. Perhaps to the writings of no individual, of any age or nation, if we except the result of inspiration, have morality and rational piety been more indebted than to those which form the periodical labours of our author.

That he was enabled to effect so much improvement, and to acquire a kind of moral dominion over his countrymen, must be ascribed, in a great measure, to that suavity of disposition and goodness of heart so visible throughout all his compositions, and which give to his reproof and censure, his precepts and admonitions, the

« PreviousContinue »