« PreviousContinue »
I'm tir'd with rhyming, and would fain give o'er,
In numbers such as Dorset's self might use.
His verse, and writes in loose familiar strains;
We see his army set in just array,
And Boyne's dyed waves run purple to the sea.
Nor Simois choak'd with men, and arms, and blood,
Nor rapid Xanthus' celebrated flood,
Shall longer be the poet's highest themes,
Though gods and heroes fought promiscuous in their
But now, to Nassau's secret councils rais'd,
He aids the hero whom before he prais'd.
I've done at length; and now, dear friend, receive
The last poor present that my muse can give.
I leave the arts of poetry and verse
To them that practise them with more success.
Addison was about this time introduced by Congreve to Montague, then chancellor of the exchequer : he was learning the trade of a courtier, and subjoined Montague as a poetical name to those of Cowley and Dryden. JOHNSON'S LIFE.
Addison wrote this letter, "justly considered as the most elegant, if not the most sublime, of his poetical productions," while travelling in Italy. Bishop Hurd tells us that Pope used to speak very favourably of it; and himself, sparing as he is of praise, allows that the subject, so inviting to a classical traveller like Addison, seems to have raised his fancy, and brightened his expressions.
Dr. Johnson says, "the letter from Italy has been always praised, but has never been praised beyond its merit. It is more correct with less appearance of labour, and more elegant with less appearance of ornament, than any other of his poems." WORKS, Vol. vii. p. 452.
LETTER FROM ITALY,
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
CHARLES LORD HALIFAX.
IN THE YEAR MDCCI.
Salve, magna parens frugum, Saturnia tellus,
VIRG. Georg. 2.
WHILE you, my lord, the rural shades admire,
For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
1 Malone states that this was the first time the phrase classic ground, since so common, was ever used. It was ridiculed by some contemporaries as very quaint and affected.