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Leo's Palace

JOSEPH ADDISON (1672-1719)




Composition Date: unknown. Publication Date: 1694.

10         Long had our dull forefathers slept supine,
11   Nor felt the raptures of the tuneful Nine;
12   Till Chaucer first, the merry bard, arose,
13   And many a story told in rhyme and prose.
14   But age has rusted what the poet writ,
15   Worn out his language, and obscur'd his wit;
16   In vain he jests in his unpolish'd strain,
17   And tries to make his readers laugh, in vain.

18         Old Spenser next, warm'd with poetic rage,
19   In ancient tales amus'd a barb'rous age;
20   An age that yet uncultivate and rude,
21   Where'er the poet's fancy led, pursu'd
22   Through pathless fields, and unfrequented floods,
23   To dens of dragons and enchanted woods.
24   But now the mystic tale, that pleas'd of yore,
25   Can charm an understanding age no more;
26   The long-spun allegories fulsome grow.
27   While the dull moral lies too plain below.
28   We view well-pleas'd at distance all the sights
29   Of arms and palfreys, battles, fields, and fights,
30   And damsels in distress, and courteous knights;
31   But when we look too near, the shades decay,
32   And all the pleasing landscape fades away.

33         Great Cowley then (a mighty genius) wrote,
34   O'er-run with wit, and lavish of his thought:
35   His turns too closely on the reader press;
36   He more had pleas'd us, had he pleas'd us less,
37   One glitt'ring thought no sooner strikes our eyes
38   With silent wonder, but new wonders rise;
39   As in the milky-way a shining white
40   O'er-flows the heavn's with one continu'd light,
41   That not a single star can show his rays,
42   Whilst jointly all promote the common blaze.
43   Pardon, great poet, that I dare to name
44   Th' unnumber'd beauties of thy verse with blame;
45   Thy fault is only wit in its excess,
46   But wit like thine in any shape will please.
47   What muse but thine can equal hints inspire,
48   And fit the deep-mouth'd Pindar to thy lyre;
49   Pindar, whom others, in a labour'd strain
50   And forc'd expression, imitate in vain?
51   Well-pleas'd in thee he soars with new delight,
52   And plays in more unbounded verse, and takes a nobler flight.



Composition Date: unknown. Publication Date: 1703.

Salve magna parens frugum Saturnia tellus,
Magna virûm! tibi res antiquæ laudis et artis
Aggredior, sanctos ausus recludere fontes.
Virg. Geor. 2.

1           While you, my Lord, the rural shades admire,
2     And from Britannia's public posts retire,
3     Nor longer, her ungrateful sons to please,
4     For their advantage sacrifice your ease;

5           Me into foreign realms my fate conveys,
6     Through nations fruitful of immortal lays,
7     Where the soft season and inviting clime
8     Conspire to trouble your repose with rhyme.

9           For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
10   Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise,
11   Poetic fields encompass me around,
12   And still I seem to tread on classic ground;
13   For here the Muse so oft her harp has strung
14   That not a mountain rears its head unsung,
15   Renown'd in verse each shady thicket grows,
16   And ev'ry stream in heavenly numbers flows.

17         How am I pleas'd to search the hills and woods
18   For rising springs and celebrated floods!
19   To view the Nar, tumultuous in his course,
20   And trace the smooth Clitumnus to his source,
21   To see the Mincio draw his wat'ry store
22   Through the long windings of a fruitful shore,
23   And hoary Albula's infected tide
24   O'er the warm bed of smoking sulphur glide.

|25         Fir'd with a thousand raptures I survey
26   Eridanus through flowery meadows stray,
27   The king of floods! that rolling o'er the plains
28   The towering Alps of half their moisture drains,
29   And proudly swoln with a whole winter's snows,
30   Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows.

31         Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,
32   I look for streams immortaliz'd in song,
33   That lost in silence and oblivion lie,
34   (Dumb are their fountains and their channels dry)
35   Yet run forever by the Muse's skill,
36   And in the smooth description murmur still.

37         Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire,
38   And the fam'd river's empty shores admire,
39   That destitute of strength derives its course
40   From thrifty urns and an unfruitful source;
41   Yet sung so often in poetic lays,
42   With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys;
43   So high the deathless Muse exalts her theme!
44   Such was the Boin, a poor inglorious stream,
45   That in Hibernian vales obscurely stray'd,
46   And unobserv'd in wild meanders play'd;
47   'Till by your lines and Nassau's sword renown'd,
48   Its rising billows through the world resound,
49   Where-e'er the hero's godlike acts can pierce,
50   Or where the fame of an immortal verse.

51         Oh could the Muse my ravish'd breast inspire
52   With warmth like yours, and raise an equal fire,
53   Unnumber'd beauties in my verse should shine,
54   And Virgil's Italy should yield to mine!

55         See how the golden groves around me smile,
56   That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle,
57   Or when transplanted and preserv'd with care,
58   Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air.
59   Here kindly warmth their mounting juice ferments
60   To nobler tastes, and more exalted scents:
61   Ev'n the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom,
62   And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume.
63   Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats,
64   Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats;
65   Where western gales eternally reside,
66   And all the seasons lavish all their pride:
67   Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise,
68   And the whole year in gay confusion lies.

69         Immortal glories in my mind revive,
70   And in my soul a thousand passions strive,
71   When Rome's exalted beauties I descry
72   Magnificent in piles of ruin lie.
73   An amphitheatre's amazing height
74   Here fills my eye with terror and delight,
75   That on its public shows unpeopled Rome,
76   And held uncrowded nations in its womb:
77   Here pillars rough with sculpture pierce the skies:
78   And here the proud triumphal arches rise,
79   Where the old Romans deathless acts display'd,
80   Their base degenerate progeny upbraid:
81   Whole rivers here forsake the fields below,
82   And wond'ring at their height through airy channels flow.

83         Still to new scenes my wand'ring Muse retires,
84   And the dumb show of breathing rocks admires;
85   Where the smooth chisel all its force has shown,
86   And soften'd into flesh the rugged stone.
87   In solemn silence, a majestic band,
88   Heroes, and gods, the Roman consuls stand,
89   Stern tyrants, whom their cruelties renown,
90   And emperors in Parian marble frown;
91   While the bright dames, to whom they humbly su'd,
92   Still show the charms that their proud hearts subdu'd.

93         Fain would I Raphael's godlike art rehearse,
94   And show th' immortal labours in my verse,
95   Where from the mingled strength of shade and light
96   A new creation rises to my sight,
97   Such heav'nly figures from his pencil flow,
98   So warm with life his blended colours glow.
99   From theme to theme with secret pleasure tost,
100   Amidst the soft variety I'm lost:
101   Here pleasing airs my ravish'd soul confound
102   With circling notes and labyrinths of sound;
103   Here domes and temples rise in distant views,
104   And opening palaces invite my Muse.

105         How has kind Heav'n adorn'd the happy land,
106   And scatter'd blessings with a wasteful hand!
107   But what avail her unexhausted stores,
108   Her blooming mountains, and her sunny shores,
109   With all the gifts that heav'n and earth impart,
110   The smiles of nature, and the charms of art,
111   While proud oppression in her valleys reigns,
112   And tyranny usurps her happy plains?
113   The poor inhabitant beholds in vain
114   The red'ning orange and the swelling grain:
115   Joyless he sees the growing oils and wines,
116   And in the myrtle's fragrant shade repines:
117   Starves, in the midst of nature's bounty curst,
118   And in the loaden vineyard dies for thirst.

119         Oh Liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
120   Profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight!
121   Eternal pleasures in thy presence reign,
122   And smiling plenty leads thy wanton train;
123   Eas'd of her load subjection grows more light,
124   And poverty looks cheerful in thy sight;
125   Thou mak'st the gloomy face of Nature gay,
126   Giv'st beauty to the sun, and pleasure to the day.

127         Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's Isle adores;
128   How has she oft exhausted all her stores,
129   How oft in fields of death thy presence sought,
130   Nor thinks the mighty prize too dearly bought!
131   On foreign mountains may the sun refine
132   The grape's soft juice, and mellow it to wine,
133   With citron groves adorn a distant soil,
134   And the fat olive swell with floods of oil:
135   We envy not the warmer clime, that lies
136   In ten degrees of more indulgent skies,
137   Nor at the coarseness of our heaven repine,
138   Tho' o'er our heads the frozen Pleiads shine:
139   'Tis Liberty that crowns Britannia's Isle,
140   And makes her barren rocks and her bleak mountains smile.

141         Others with towering piles may please the sight,
142   And in their proud aspiring domes delight;
143   A nicer touch to the stretch'd canvas give,
144   Or teach their animated rocks to live:
145   'Tis Britain's care to watch o'er Europe's fate,
146   And hold in balance each contending state,
147   To threaten bold presumptuous kings with war,
148   And answer her afflicted neighbours' pray'r.
149   The Dane and Swede, rous'd up by fierce alarms,
150   Bless the wise conduct of her pious arms:
151   Soon as her fleets appear, their terrors cease,
152   And all the northern world lies hush'd in peace.

153         Th' ambitious Gaul beholds with secret dread
154   Her thunder aim'd at his aspiring head,
155   And fain her godlike sons would disunite
156   By foreign gold, or by domestic spite;
157   But strives in vain to conquer or divide,
158   Whom Nassau's arms defend and counsels guide.

159         Fir'd with the name, which I so oft have found
160   The distant climes and different tongues resound,
161   I bridle in my struggling Muse with pain,
162   That longs to launch into a bolder strain.

163         But I've already troubled you too long,
164   Nor dare attempt a more advent'rous song.
165   My humble verse demands a softer theme,
166   A painted meadow, or a purling stream;
167   Unfit for heroes; whom immortal lays,
168   And lines like Virgil's, or like yours, should praise.



Composition Date: unknown. Publication Date: 1712.

1       The spacious firmament on high,
2     With all the blue ethereal sky,
3     And spangled heav'ns, a shining frame,
4     Their great original proclaim:
5     Th' unwearied Sun, from day to day,
6     Does his Creator's power display,
7     And publishes to every land
8     The work of an Almighty Hand.

9       Soon as the evening shades prevail,
10   The Moon takes up the wondrous tale,
11   And nightly to the list'ning Earth
12   Repeats the story of her birth:
13   Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
14   And all the planets, in their turn,
15   Confirm the tidings as they roll,
16   And spread the truth from pole to pole.

17     What though, in solemn silence, all
18   Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
19   What though nor real voice nor sound
20   Amid their radiant orbs be found?
21   In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
22   And utter forth a glorious voice,
23   For ever singing, as they shine,
24   "The Hand that made us is Divine."

English author, pre-eminent as an essayist, humorist, and moralist; was born in Milston, in Wiltshire, 1672;
died, 1719, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His father was a clergyman. In 1708, he was elected to Parliament, but
failing in his first attempt to make a speech, on account of native diffidence, he abandoned the political for the literary field, by
which all the world was the gainer. In connection with Steele, he created the Periodical Essay, and was the chief contributor to
the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, and furnished most of the contributions of "Sir Roger de Coverley." Mandeville calls him
"a parson in a tye-wig," because his father had instilled into him so much clerical dignity. "Addison was the best company in the
world," wrote Lady Wortley Montagu. "It is as a tatler of small talk and a spectator of mankind that we cherish and love him,
and owe as much pleasure to him as to any human being who ever wrote. He came in that artificial age, and began to speak
with his noble, natural voice. He came, the gentle artist, who hit no unfair blows; the kind judge, who castigates only in smiling,"
wrote Thackeray. He was addicted to the free use of port and claret, and while pondering a theme on which he wished to
write, would stimulate his brain with frequent sips of wine. It was at Holland House, of which he became possessed by
marriage, that he
                                  "Taught us how to live; and (oh! too high
                                 A price for knowledge) taught us how to die."

Among his best sayings may be cited: "When I behold a fashionable table set out in all magnificence, I fancy that I see gouts and
dropsies, fevers and lethargies, with other innumerable distempers, lying in ambuscade among the dishes." "Every animal but
man keeps to one dish." At the age of forty-four, and three years before his death, he married the dowager Countess of
Warwick, to whose graceless son, Lord Warwick, he had been a kind of mentor. It was an unhappy connection; and during its
brief continuance, Addison was always glad when he could escape form madam's drawing-room, and enjoy a chat with this
cronies over a bottle of wine at their old haunts. His last words were, "See how a Christian can die."


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