Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

-not nice Art
In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon
Pours forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,

most men of taste and genius have wished to reside. It was the prayer of Horace, that he might possess, a Garden, a Rivulet, and a little Grove.

[ocr errors]

Hortus ubi, et tecto vicinus jugis aquæ fons
Et paulum silvæ super his foret.

Sat. Lib. ii. Sat. vi. 2.

And that Virgil was enamoured of similar sce-
nery, of the humble beauties of a garden arranged
on Nature's plan, is evident from that exquisite
passage in the fourth Georgic, where he poig-
nantly expresses his regret on being obliged to
wave a subject so congenial to his feelings:

Atque equidem, extremo ni jam sub fine laborum
Vela traham, et terris sestinem advertere proram,
Forsitan et pingues hortos quæ cura colendi
Ornaret canerem, biferique rosaria Pæsti;
Quoque modo potis gauderent intyba rivis,
Et virides apio ripe, tortusque per herbam
Cresceret in ventrem cucumis ; nec sera comantem
Narcissum, aut flexi tacuissem vimen acanthi,
Pallentesque hederas et amantes litora myrtos.-
Verùm hæc ipse equidem, spatiis exclusus iniquis,
Prætereo, atque aliis post me memoranda relinquo.
Ah fav’rite scenes! but now with gather'd sail
I seek the shore, nor trust th' inviting gale;
Else had my song your charms at leisure trac'd,
And all the garden's varied arts embrac'd;

1

Sung, twice each year, how Pæstan roses blow,
How endive drinks the rill that purls below,
How trailing gourds pursue their mazy way,
Swell as they creep, and widen into day;
How verdant celery decks its humid bed,
How late-blown flow'rets round narcissus spread ;
The lithe acanthus and the ivy hoar,
And myrtle blooming on the sea-beat shore.-
Ah! fav'rite scenes! to other bards resign'd,
I leave your charms, and trace my task assign'd.

SOTHEBY.

In short, as Mr. Mason has justly observed, the commencement of an actual reformation of gardening in this country may be dated from these essays of Addison, who forsook the clipped yew-trees, the jets d'eau, stone terraces, and embroidered knots of his tasteless contemporaries,

For hanging walks, and darksome groves,
Where sooth'd imagination roves,
Mid shelving rocks, with laurel crown'd;
Sequester'd caves, dark glades, and arched bowers,
Clear founts, with rich poetic powers
Endued, and purest classic ground.

Sannazarius apud Greswell. If we now pause to recapitulate the ameliorations which Addison, as a critic, and a man of taste, introduced into the polite literature of his country, it will be but a merited tribute of applause if we assert, that to no man has it been under greater obligations. He corrected in a most effectual manner the bad taste which pre

vailed both on the stage and in the literary world; he taught the public to admire, to understand, and even to emulate, the noblest efforts of subli. mity, beauty, and pathos; he presented them with the first, and a very happy, specimen of philosophical criticism; and, by the fascination of his style and manner, he infused into his readers a love for the harmony and elegancies of compo. sition.

To these invaluable gifts may be added his successful efforts to introduce a relish for nature and simplicity in the formation of landscape gardening, efforts which, through the joint endeavours of succeeding writers and artists, have at length rendered his native isle the Paradise of Europe,

PART III.

ESSAY IV.

ON THE HUMOUR AND COMIC PAINTING OF

ADDISON.

That the moderns are superior to the ancients in the production of wit and humour, is a position which has been generally and successfully maintained. The more extended and diversified knowledge of modern Europe, its political institutions as springing from the feudal system, its gallantry and deference towards the fair sex, its religious liberty and contrasted manners, have mutually contributed to this effect. When again it is asserted that England has almost exclusively monopolized the praise of humour, and that the very term is peculiar to this island, it will, perhaps, be found that prejudice and partiality have had too ample a share in the formation of the opinion.

Although the word itself be not found in any other European language save our own, who will

deny that the quality it implies is not copiously and richly discoverable in the comedies of Moliere and the Quixote of Cervantes? Had it been affirmed that Great Britain was infinitely more fertile in authors of this class than her neighbours of the continent, the observation had been susceptible of satisfactory proof. The freedom of her constitution, and the consequent variety and independence of individual character, have acquired for her this distinguished honour. While France and Spain boast but of one or two eminent authors in this department, Britain points with exultation to a host of equal merit; to the justly celebrated names of Chaucer, Shakspeare, Butler, Swift, Addison, Arbuthnot, Fielding, Smollet, &c. writers whose knowledge of human life, and whose powers of ridicule and humour, have never been surpassed.'

From this phalanx of genius it has become my province to select the name of Addison for peculiar consideration, and under this branch of my labours to offer a few observations on the predominant feature of his literary character,-his

HUMOUR

This, as exhibited in his periodical works, is of a texture peculiarly pleasing and delicate, yet possessing lineaments which decidedly stamp it with an air of originality. While the humour

« PreviousContinue »