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From a Picture by Richardson, in the Marquis of Buckingham's Collection at Stowe.

Published by Cadell & Davies, Strand, and the other Proprietors, May 1.1807.



Occafioned by his *Dialogues on MEDALS.

SEE the wild Waste of all-devouring years!

How Rome her own fad Sepulchre appears! With nodding arches, broken temples spread! The very Tombs now vanish'd like their dead!



THIS was originally written in the year 1715, when Mr. Addifon intended to publish his book of Medals; it was fome time before he was Secretary of State; but not published till Mr. Tickel's Edition of his works: at which time the verfes on Mr. Craggs, which conclude the poem, were added, giz. in 1720.


* Dialogues on Medals.] This treatise on Medals was written by Addison in that pleafing form of compofition, fo unfuccefsfully attempted by many modern authors, Dialogues. In no one species of writing have the Ancients fo indifputable a fuperiority over us. The dialogues of Plato and Cicero, especially the former, are perfect dramas; where the characters are fupported with confiftency and nature, and the reasoning fuited to the characters.

"There are in English three dialogues, and but three,” says a learned and ingenious author †, who has himself practised this agreeable way of writing, "that deserve commendation, namely, the Moralifts in Lord Shaftesbury, Mr. Addifon's Treatife on Medals, and the Minute Philofopher of Bishop Berkley." Alciphron did, indeed, well deferve to be mentioned on this occafion; notwithstanding it has been treated with contempt by writers much inferior to Berkley in learning, genius, and tafte. Omitting thofe paffages in the fourth dialogue, where he has introduced his fanciful and whimsical opinions about vision, an attentive reader will find that there is scarce a fingle argument than can be urged in defence of Revelation, but what is here placed in the clearest

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Imperial wonders rais'd on Nations spoil'd,
Where, mix'd with Slaves, the groaning Martyr





cleareft light, and in the most beautiful diction: In this work there is a happy union of reasoning and imagination. The two different characters of the two different forts of free-thinkers, the fenfual and the refined, are ftrongly contrafted with each other, and with the plainnefs and fimplicity of Euphranor.

These dialogues of Addifon are written with that sweetness and purity of ftyle which conftitute him one of the first of our profe-writers. The chief imperfection of his Treatife on Medals is, the perfons introduced as fpeakers, in direct contradiction to the practice of the Ancients, are fiaitious, not real; for Cynthio, Philander, Palamon, Eugenio, and Theocles, cannot equally excite and engage the attention of the reader, with Socrates and Alcibiades, Atticus and Brutus, Cowley and Spratt, Maynard and Somers. It is fomewhat fingular, that fo many of the modern dialogue-writers fhould have failed in this particular, when fo many of the most celebrated wits of modern Italy had given them eminent examples of the contrary proceeding, and, clofely following the fteps of the Ancients, conftantly introduced living and real persons in their numerous compofitions of this fort; in which they were fo fond of delivering their fentiments, both on moral and critical subjects; witness the Il Cortegiano of B. Caftiglione, the Asolani of P. Bembo, Dialoghi del S. Sperone, and the great Galileo, the Naugerius of Fracaftorius, and Lil. Gyraldus de Poetis, and many others. In all which pieces the famous and living geniufes of Italy are introduced discussing the several different topics before them. WARTON.

VER. 1. See the wild Wafte] The opening of this beautiful little Poem is highly impreffive and poetical. The attention is awakened in the most powerful manner by the abrupt addrefs, as if the Poet pointed with a penfive dignity to the awful monuments of past ages:

"See the wild Waste of all-devouring years!" &c. All the most interefting and picturefque remains of the filent havoc of Time, are then immediately brought before the eye, with the force and effect of the fineft painting-" Hugh Theatres,"


Huge Theatres, that now unpeopled Woods,
Now drain'd a diftant country of her Floods:
Fanes, which admiring Gods with pride furvey,
Statues of Men, scarce lefs alive than they!
Some felt the filent ftroke of mould'ring age,
Some hoftile fury, fome religious rage.
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal confpire,
And Papal piety, and Gothic fire.




"Fanes," "Statues," &c. After the impreffive commencement, and the immediate fight, as it were, of the ruins around him, the Poet naturally introduces Hiftory," Some Papal Fury," &c. Then the brief and beautiful perfonification of Ambition appears. The whole, indeed, fhews the hand of a mafter.

VER. 2. her own fad Sepulchre] St. Jerome fays, " Roma quondam orbis caput, poftca populi Romani fepulchrum." WARTON. VER. 2. her own fad Sepulchre]

"O Solyman, for her art thou become
A heap of ftones, and to thyself a tomb."

From Sandys's Pfalms; one of the most extraordinary productions in verse, that the English language can produce. As a translation, it is infinitely fuperior to any other, both for fidelity, mufic, and ftrength of verfification. It was published with Lawes's Airs, which are fimple and expreffive. I cannot but lament, that fuch mufic, and fuch words, fhould not be used in our parochial churches, instead of the wretched metre of Sternhold and Hopkins, or the empty and inadequate paraphrafes of Tate and Brady, often fet to as bad mufic.

VER. 6. Where, mix'd with Slaves, the groaning Martyr toil'd:] Palladio, fpeaking of the Baths of Dioclefian, fays, "Nell' edificatione delle quali, Dioclefiano tenne molti enni 140 mila Christiani a edificarle." WARBURTON.

VER. 6. groaning Martyr] Dodwell, in his Differtationes Cyprianice, has undertaken to prove that the number of Martyrs was far lefs than hath been ufually imagined. His opinion is combated by Mofheim in the 5th chapter of his excellent History of the Church.


Perhaps, by its own ruins fav'd from flame,
Some bury'd marble half preserves a name;
That Name the Learn'd with fierce difputes pursue,
And give to Titus old Vefpafian's due.



Ambition figh'd: She found it vain to trust The faithlefs Column, and the crumbling Buft: Huge moles, whofe fhadow ftretch'd from fhore to fhore,

Their ruins perish'd, and their place no more!
Convinc'd, the now contracts her vast design,
And all her Triumphs fhrink into a Coin.
A narrow ORB each crowded conquest keeps,
Beneath her Palm here fad Judea weeps.
Now scantier limits the proud Arch confine,
And scarce are seen the proftrate Nile or Rhine;
A fmall Euphrates through the piece is roll'd,
And little Eagles wave their wings in gold.



The Medal, faithful to its charge of fame, Through climes and ages bears each form and name: In one short view fubjected to our eye Gods, Emp'rors, Heroes, Sages, Beauties, lie.

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VER. 18. And give to Titus old Vefpafian's due.] A fine infinuation of the want both of taste and learning in Antiquaries; whofe ignorance of characters misleads them (supported only by a name) against reason and history. WARBURTON.

VER. 19. Ambition figh'd:] Such fhort personifications have a great effect." Silence was pleas'd," fays Milton; which perfonification is taken, though it happens not to have been obferved by any of his commentators, from the Hero and Leander of Mufæus, v. 280.


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