Page images
PDF
EPUB

consists in opening a subject by degrees; in presenting it, first, in few and simple terms, and then enlarging and brightening it by a more distinct and exquisite expression, till the description becomes, as it were, full-blown, and is set before us in all its grace and beauty. It is remarkable that Mr. Addison's studious imitation of Virgil's manner hurt his English poetry sometimes, though it always improved his English prose. The reason was, he had no facility in rhyming, and so was obliged many times to take up with a weaker word or phrase than its place in his verse required; hence the frequent redundancies in his rhymed poetry, which were intended by him as amplifications. In his prose he was under no such restraint; and his exact taste always led him to perfection. That this observation is just we may see from his Cato, where the freedom of blank verse, as it is called, secures him from this mischance; and from these Latin poems, in which the Virgilian gradation is everywhere observed, and nicely imitated."

It only remains to be said, that these poems were written when he was very young. He was only twenty-five at the publication of that on the Peace of Riswick, perhaps nearly the last which he wrote. And to show how very early he excelled in this kind of composition, his biographer informs us, that in his seventeenth year the accidental perusal of some of his Latin verses gained him the patronage of Dr. Lancaster, afterwards provost of Queen's, by whose recommendation he was elected to a demyship in Magdalen college, Oxford.

HONORATISSIMO VIRO

CAROLO MONTAGU,

ARMIGERO,

SCACCHARII CANCELLARIO, ERARII PRÆFECTO,

REGI A SECRETIORIBUS CONSILIIS, ETC.

CUM tanta auribus tuis obstrepat vatum nequissimorum turba, nihil est cur queraris aliquid inusitatum tibi contigisse, ubi præclarum hoc argumentum meis etiam numeris violatum conspexeris. Quantum virtute bellica præstent Britanni, recens ex rebus gestis testatur gloria; quam vero in humanioribus pacis studiis non emineamus, indicio sunt quos nuper in lucem emisimus versiculi. Quod si Congrevius ille tuus divino, quo solet, furore correptus materiam hanc non exornasset, vix tanti esset ipsa pax, ut illa lætaremur tot perditissimis poetis tam misere decantata. At, dum alios insector, mei ipsius oblitus fuisse videor, qui haud minores forsan ex Latinis tibi molestias allaturus sum, quam quas illi ex vernaculis suis carminibus attulerunt; nisi quod inter ipsos cruciatus lenimentum aliquod dolori tribuat tormenti varietas. Nec quidem unquam

adduci possem, ut poema patrio sermone conscriptum oculis tuis subjicerem, qui ab istis conatibus cæteros omnes scribendo non minus deterres, quam favendo excitaveris.

Humanitatis tuæ

Cultor devotissimus,

JOSEPHUS ADDISON.

POEMATA.

PAX GULIELMI AUSPICIIS EUROPÆ

REDDITA, 1697.

POSTQUAM ingens clamorque virum, strepitusque tubarum,

Atque omnis belli cecidit fragor; aspice, Cæsar,

Quæ tibi soliciti, turba importuna, poetæ

Munera deducunt: generosa a pectore flammæ,
Diræque armorum effigies, simulachraque belli
Tristia diffugiant: O tandem absiste triumphis
Expletus, penitusque animo totum excute Martem.
Non ultra ante oculos numeroso milite campi
Miscentur, solito nec fervent arva tumultu;
Stat circum alta quies, curvoque innixus aratro
Desertas fossas, et castra minantia castris
Rusticus invertit, tacita formidine lustrans
Horroremque loci, et funestos stragibus agros.
Jamque super vallum munimina longa vireseit
Expectata seges, jam propugnacula rident
Vere novo; insuetos mirabitur incola culmos,
Luxuriemque soli, et turgentem a sanguine messem.
Aspicis ut toto excitus venit advena mundo
Bellorum invisens sedem, et confusa ruinis

Oppida, et eversos flammarum turbine muros !
Ut trepidos rerum Annales, tristemque laborum
Inquirit seriem, attonitis ut spectat ocellis
Semirutas turres, et adhuc polluta cruore
Flumina, famososque Ormondi volnere campos!
Hic, ubi saxa jacent disperso infecta cerebro,
Atque interruptis hiscunt divortia muris,

1

Vexillum intrepidus 1 fixit, cui tempora dudum
Budenses palmæ, peregrinaque laurus obumbrat.
Ille ruens aciem in mediam, qua ferrea grando
Sparsa furit circum, et plumbi densissimus imber,
Sulphuream noctem, tetrasque bitumine nubes
Ingreditur, crebroque rubentem fulgure fumum.
Ut vario anfractu, et disjectis undique saxis
Monia discedunt, scopulisque immane minantur
Desuper horrificis, et formidabile pendent!

Hic pestem occultam, et fœcundas sulphure moles
Cernere erat, magno quas inter mota tumultu
Prælia fervebant; subito cum claustra fragore
Horrendum disrupta tonant, semiustaque membra,
Fumantesque artus, laniataque corpora lethum
Corripit informe, et rotat ater in æthere turbo.

Sic, postquam Enceladi dejecit fulmine fratres
Cœlicolum pater, et vetuit contemnere divos:
Divulsam terræ faciem, ingentesque ruinas
Mortales stupuere; altum hinc mirantur abesse
Pelion, invertique imis radicibus Ossam;
Hic fluvium moles inter confusaque saxa
Reptare, atque aliis discentem currere ripis.

1 Honoratissimus D. Dominus Cutts. Baro de Gowran, etc.

« PreviousContinue »