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At evening, from the top of Fesolé, *
* Fesolé, or Fiesolé, is a town about four miles from Florence, in Tur cany.
† Valdarno, the valley of the Arno; the river on which Florence is situated.
I Ammiral, a large ship. § Nathless, nevertheless.
|| Vallombrosa is a wooded valley, or mountain gorge, about eighteen miles from Florence. That part of Italy was formerly called Etruria.
This constellation was supposed to be attended with stormy weather. ** Busiris is a name given to Pharaoh by some writers. tt Memphis was the ancient capital of Egypt.
Of hell resounded ! “Princes, potentates,
CXXXVIII. - ON DISCRETION.
JOSEPH ADDISON was born at Milston, in the county of Wiltshire, England, May 1, 1672, and died June 17, 1719. He wrote Dialogues on Medals; Travels in Italy; The Campaign, a poem; Cato, a tragedy; The Drummer, a comedy; Rosamond, an opera; a work on the Evidences of Christianity; and a number of miscellaneous poems. Of these, the tragedy of Cato was very popular in its day; but it is a cold and artificial production, and has no elements of enduring vitality. Of his miscellaneous poems, none are now read except some of his hymns.
Addison's fame rests upon his essays contributed to The Tattler, Spectator, and Guardian. These are admirable compositions, and we can imagine the effect they pro duced, and the popularity they enjoyed, when we remember that at the period of their appearance they were a new thing in English literature, and that then, for the first time, the ladies and gentlemen of London saw lying upon their breakfast tables a short paper containing either the justest literary criticism, or the finest humor, or the soundest moral teaching, or the most sensible observations upon life and manners. Addison's humor is both exquisite and original; free alike from coarseness and bitterness; but, being aimed to a considerable extent at the peculiarities of artificial life, it loses some what of its flavor to us. When upon serious subjects, his style is sweet, graceful, and harmonious - easy in its movement and structure, but never careless. It is well known that he was a slow and laborious writer. He was also a tasteful and judicious critic, and did substantial service to the poetical literature of his country by his excellant papers in the Spectator on Milton's Paradise Lost.
The spirit of our age demands a more rapid, picturesque, and impassioned style than that of Addison; but no one can read his writings without feeling that his is a great name in English literature, and that he fairly deserves the high place which the con. senting judgment of the last hundred years has given him.
Addison was a politician and a statesman, and rose to the office of secretary of state His private character was most estimable. He was respected by all, and loved by those whom he admitted to his confidence.
The life of Addison has been recently written by Miss Lucy Aiken; a work which forms the subject of a brilliant paper by Macaulay.
The following extract is from a paper in The Spectator.]
THERE are many more shining qualities in the mind of man, but there is none so useful as discretion; it is this, indeed, which gives a value to all the rest, which sets them at work in their proper times and places, and turns them to the advantage of the person who is possessed of them. Though a man has all other perfections, and wants this one, he will be of no great consequence in the world ; but, if he has this single talent in perfection, and but a common share of others, he may do what he pleases in his particular station of life. At the same time that I think discretion the most useful talent a man can be master of, I luok upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerous minds. Discretion points out the noblest ends to us, and pursues the most proper and laudable means of attaining them ; cunning has only private, selfish aims, and sticks at nothing which may make them succeed. Discretion has large and extended views, and, like a well-formed eye, commands a whole horizon; cunning is a kind of shortsightedness that discovers the minutest objects which are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance.
Discretion, the more it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who possesses it; cunning, when it is once detected, loses its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done had he passed only for a plain man. Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunning is a kind of instinct that only looks after our immediate interest and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understanding: cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them. In short, cunning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, in the same manner as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom.
The cast of mind which is natural to a discreet man, makes him look forward into futurity, and consider what will be his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at present. He knows that the misery or happiness which are reserved for him in another world, lose nothing of their reality by being placed at so great a distance from him. The objects do not appear little to him because they are remote. He considers that those pleasures and pains which lie hid in eternity, approach nearer to him every moment, and will be present with him in their full weight and measure, as much as those pains and pleasures which he feels at this very instant. For this reason he is careful to secure to himself that which is the proper business of his nature, and the ultimate design of his being. He carries his thoughts to the end of every action, and considers the most distant, as well as the most immediate, effects of it. He supersedes every little prospect of gain and advantage which offers itself here, if he does not find it consistent with the views of a hereafter. In a word, his hopes are full of immortality, his schemes are large and glorious, and his conduct suitable to one who knows his true interest, and how to pursue it by proper methods. I have, in this essay upon discretion, considered it both as an accomplishment and as a virtue, and have therefore described it in its full extent, not only as it is the guide of a mortal creature, but as it is in general the director of a reasonable being. It is in this light that discretion is represented by the wise man, who sometimes mentions it under the name of discretion, and sometimes under that of wisdom. It is, indeed, as described in the latter part of this paper, the greatest wisdom, but, at the same time, in the power of every one to attair Its advantages are infinite, but its acquisition is easy.
CXXXIX. — STORM IN THE WILDERNESS.
[Paradise Regained has been thrown into comparative obscurity by the superior splendor of Paradise Lost; but it is a noble poem. Longinus's well-known comparison of the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer to the meridian and the setting sun is quite as applicable to the Paradise Lost and the Paradise Regained. The former has more splendor, more variety, more learning, more creative power; the latter is more sub dusd, more grave, more serene. Its tone of coloring is like the mellow, softened light of an autumn sunset. The language is more uniformly correct - less inverted and less abundant in Latin idioms — than that of Paradise Lost. The student of poetical diction will nowhere find more perfect models of excellence than in the Paradise Regained of Milton and the Merchant of Venice of Shakespeare.
The following passage is taken from the concluding portion of the fourth and last book. Satan, having failed in all his efforts to tempt the Saviour, carries him to the wilderness, and raises a storm; which, with the succeeding calm, is thus described. The young reader will notice how compact and unadorned the language is; how few the words are, and how plain; and yet how powerfully the picture is drawn; and how pffective is the contrast between the horrors of the night and the calm of the morning.)
So saying, he took (for still he knew his power