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sparing hand It was natural that he should | Addison reasoned well and Steele ill; and that de angry with them, and especially angry with consequently Addison brought out a false con. Addison. But what above all seems to have clusion, while Steele blundered upon the truth. disturbed Sir Richard was the elevation of In style, in wit, and in politeness, Addison Tickell, who, at thirty, was made by Addison maintained his superiority, though the Old under-secretary of state; while the editor of Whig is by no means one of his happiest ferthe Tatler and Spectator, the author of the formances.* Crisis, the member for Stockbridge who had At first, both the anonymous opponents obbeen persecuted for firm adherence to the served the laws of propriety. Butat length Steele house of Hanover, was, at near fifty, forced, so far forgot himself as to throw an odious impuafter many solicitations and complaints, to tation on the morals of the chiefs of the adminiscontent himself with a share in the patent of tration. Addison replied with severity; but, in Drury-lane theatre. Steele himself says, in our opinion, with less severity than was due to his celebrated letter to Congreve, that Addison; so grave an offence against morality and deco. by his preference of Tickell, “incurred the rum; nor did he, in his just anger, forget for a warmest resentment of other gentlemen;" and moment the laws of good taste and good breedevery thing seems to indicate that, of those re- ing. One calumny which has been often resentful gentlemen Steele was himself one. peated, and never yet contradicted, it is our
While poor Sir Richard was brooding over duty to expose. It is asserted in the Biograwhat he considered as Addison's unkindness, a phia Britannica, that Addison designated Steele new cause of quarrel arose. The whig party, as "little Dicky.” This assertion was repeated already divided gainst itself, was rent by a by Johnson, who had ever seen the Old Whig, new schism. The celebrated bill for limiting and was therefore excusable. It has also been the number of peers had been brought in. The repeated by Miss Aikin, who has seen the Old proud Duke of Somerset, first in rank of all Whig, and for whom, therefore, there is less nobles whose religion permitted them to sit in excuse. Now, it is true that the words "little Parliament, was the ostensible author of the Dicky" occur in the Old Whig, and that Steele's measure. But it was supported, and, in truth, name was Richard. It is equally true that the devised by the prime minister.
words “lillle Isaac" occur in the Duenna, and We are satisfied that the bill was most per- that Newton's name was Isaac. But we confinicious; and we fear that the motives which dently affirm that Addison's little Dicky had induced Sunderland to frame it were not ho- no more to do with Steele, than Sheridan's nourable to him. But we cannot deny that little Isaac with Newton. If we apply the it was supported by many of the best and words "iittle Dicky" to Steele, we deprive a wisest men of that age. Nor was this strange. very lively and ingenious passage, not only The royal prerogative had, within the me- of all its wit, but of all its meaning. Little mory of the generation then in the vigour Dicky was evidently the nickname of some cf life, been so grossly abused, that it was comic actor who played the usurer Gomez, still regarded with a jealousy which, when then a most popular part, in Dryden's Spanish the peculiar situation of the house of Bruns- Friar.t wick is considered, may perhaps be called im- The merited reproof which Steele had remoderate. The prerogative of creating peers ceived, though softened by some kind and had, in the opinion of the whigs, been grossly courteous expressions, galled him bitterly. He abused by Queen Anne's last ministry; and replied with little force and great acrimony; even the tories admitted that her majesty, in but no rejoinder appeared. Addison was fast swamping, as it has since been called, the Up- hastening to his grave; and had, as we may per House, had done what only an extreme well suppose, little disposition to prosecute a case could justify, The theory of the English quarrel with an old friend. His complaint had constitution, according to many high authori- terminated in dropsy. He bore up long and ties, was, that three independent powers, the manfully. But at length he abandoned all hope, monarchy, the nobility, and the commons, ought constantly to act as checks on each other.
* Miss Aikin says that these pieces, never having been If this theory were sound, it seemed to follow reprinted, are now of extreme rarity. This is a mistake. that to put one of these powers under the ab- They have been reprinted, and may be obtained without solute control of the other two, was absurd. the smallest difficulty. The copy now lying before us
bears the date of 1789. But if the number of peers were unlimited, it + We will transcribe the whole paragraph. How it could not be denied that the Upper House was can ever have been misunderstood is unintelligible ander the absolute control of the crown and to .cs.
“But our author's chief concern is for the poor House the commons, and was indebted only to their of Commons, whom he represents as naked and defence moderation for any power which it might be less, when the crown, by losing this prerogative, would suffered to retain.
be less able to protect ihem against we power of a House
of Lords. Who forbears laughing when the Spanish Frias Steele took part with the opposition; Addi- represents little Dicky, under the person of Gomez, insultson with the ministers. Steele, in a paper ing the Colonel that was able to fright him out of his wits
with a single frown! This Gomez, gays he, lew upon called the “Plebeian,” vehemently attacked the him like a dragon, got him down, the Devil being strong bill. Sunderland called for help on Addison, in him, and gave him bastinado on bastinado, and buffei and Addison obeyed the call. In a paper suffered with a most Christian patience. The improba
on buffet, which the poor Colonel, being prostrate, called the “Old Whig,” he answered, and in- bility of the fact never fails to raise mirth in the audideed refuted, Steele's arguments. It seems to ence; and one may venture to answer for a British Hous us that the premises of both the controversial that it will scarce be either so tame or so weak as oui
of Commons, if we may guess from its conduct hitherto, ists were unsound; that, on those premises, author supposes.”
dismissed his physicians, and calmly prepared snares of vice; who had made his cup rur himself to die.
over with worldly blessings; who had doubled His works he intrusted to the care of Tickell; the value of those blessings, by bestowing a and dedicated them a very few days before his thankful heart to enjoy them, and dear friends death to Craggs, in a letter written with the to partake them ; who had rebuked the waves sweet and graceful eloquence of a Saturday's of the Ligurian gulf, had purified the autumnal Spectator. In this, his last composition, he air of the Campagna, and had restrained the alluded to his approaching end in words so avalanches of Mont Cenis. Of the Psalms, his manly, so cheerful, and so tender, that it is dif- favourite was that which represents the Ruler ficult to read them without tears. At the same of all things under the endearing image of a time he earnestly recommended the interests shepherd, whose crook guides the flock safe, of Tickell to the care of Craggs.
through gloomy and desolate glens, to meaWithin a few hours of the time at which this dows well watered and rich with herbage. On dedication was written, Addison sent to beg that goodness to which he ascribed all the hapGay, who was then living by his wits about piness of his life, he relied in the hour of death town, to come to Hoiland House. Gay went with the love which casteth out fear. He died and was received with great kindness. To his on the 17th of June, 1719. He had just entered amazement his forgiveness was implored by on his forty-eighth year. the dying man. Poor Gay, the most good. His body lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamnatured and simple of mankind, could not ber, and was borne thence to the Abbey at dead imagine what he had to forgive. There was, of night. The choir sang a funeral hymn. however, some wrong, the remembrance of Bishop Atterbury, one of those tories who had which weighed on Addison's mind, and which loved and honoured the most accomplished of he declared himself anxious to repair. He the whigs, met the corpse, and led the proceswas in a state of extreme exhaustion; and the sion by torch-light, round the shrine of Saint parting was doubtless a friendly one on both Edward and the graves of the Plantagenets, to sides. Gay supposed that some plan to serve the chapel of Henry the Seventh. On the north him had been in agitation at court, and had side of that chapel, in the vault of the house of been frustrated by Addison's influence. Nor Albemarle, the coffin of Addison lies next to the is this improbable. Gay had paid assiduous coffin of Montagu. Yet a few months—and the court to the royal family. But in the queen's same mourners passed again along the same days he had been the eulogist of Bolingbroke, aisle. The same sad anthem was again chantand was still connected with many tories. It ed. The same vault was again opened; and is not strange that Addison, while heated by the coffin of Craggs was placed close to the conflict, shculd have thought himself justified coffin of Addison. in obstructing ihe preferment of one whom he Many tributes were paid to the memory of might regard as a political enemy. Neither is Addison. But one alone is now remembered. it strange that, when reviewing his whole life, Tickell bewailed his friend in an elegy whicb and earnestly scrutinizing all his motives, he would do honour to the greatest name in our should think that he had acted an unkind and literature; and which unites the energy and ungenerous part, in using his power against a magnificence of Dryden to the tenderness and distressed man of letters, who was as harmless purity of Cowper. This fine poem was preand as helpless as a child.
fixed to a superb edition of Addison's works, One inference may be drawn from this anec- | which was published in 1721, by subscription. dote. It appears that Addison, on his death- The names of the subscribers proved how bed, called himself to a strict account; and was widely his fame had been spread. That his not at ease till he had asked pardon for an in- counirymen should be eager to possess his jury which it was not even suspected that he writings, even in a costly form, is not wonderhad committed-for an injury which would ful. But it is wonderful that, though English have caused disquiet only to a very tender literature was then little studied on the Conticonscience. Is it not then reasonable to infer nent, Spanish grandees, Italian prelates, marthat, if he had really been guilty of forming a shals of France, should be found in the list. base conspiracy against the fame and fortunes Among the most remarkable names are those of a rival, he would have expressed some re- of the Queen of Sweden, of Prince Eugene, of morse for so serious a crime? But it is unne- the Grand Duke of Tuscany, of the Dukes of cessary to multiply arguments and evidence Parma, Modena, and Guastalla, of the Doge of for the defence, when there is neither argument Genoa, of the Regent Orleans, and of Cardinal nor evidence for the accusation.
Dubois. We ought to add, that this edition, The last moments of Addison were perfectly though eminently beautiful, is in some impor.
His interview with his son-in-law is tant points defective: nor, indeed, do we yet universally known. "See,” he said, “ how a possess a complete collection of Addison's Christian can die!" The piety of Addison writings. was, in truth, of a singularly cheerful charac- It is strange that neither his opulent and
The feeling which predominates in all noble widow, nor any of his powerful and at. his devotional writings, is gratitude. God was tached friends, should have thought of placing to him the all-wise and all-powerful friend, even a simple tablet, inscribed with his name, who had watched over his cradle with more on the walls of the Abbey. It was not till than maternal tenderness; who had listened to three generations had laughed and wept over his cries before they could form themselves in his pages that the omission was supplied by prayer; who had preserved his youth from the I the public veneration. At length, in our own
time, his image, skilfully graven, appeared in master of pure English eloquence, to the con Poet's Corner. It represents him, as we can summate painter of life and manners. It was conceive him, clad in his dressing-gown, and due, above all, to the great satirist, who alone freed from his wig, stepping from his parlour knew how to use ridicule without abusing it, at Chelsea into his trim little garden, with the who, without inflicting a wound, effected a account of the Everlasting Club, or the Loves great social reform, and who reconciled wit of Hilpa and Shalum, just finished for the next and virtue, after a long and disastrous separaday's Spectator, in his hand. Such a mark tion, during which wit had been lcd astray by of national respect was due to the unsullied profligacy, and virtue by fanaticism statesman, to the accomplished scholar, to the
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, APRIL, 1844.]
Tais book has more than one title to our aware that temptations such as those to which serious attention. It is an appeal, solemnly the members of the Convention and of the made to posterity by a man who played a con- committee of public safety were exposed, must spicuous part in great events, and who repre- try severely the strength of the firmest virtue sents himself as deeply aggrieved by the rash Indeed, our inclination has always been to and malevolent censure of his contemporaries. regard with an indulgence, which to some rigid To such an appeal we shall always give ready moralists appears excessive, those faults into audience. We can perform no duty more use. which gentle and noble spirits are sometimes ful to society, or more agreeable to our own hurried by the excitement of conflict, by the feelings, than thai of making, as far as our maddening influence of sympathy, and by ill. power extends, reparation to the slandered and regulated zeal for a public cause. persecuted benefactors to mankind. We there- With such feelings we read this book, and fore promptly took into our consideration this compared it with other accounts of the events copious apology for the life of Bertrand Barère. in which Barère bore a part. It is now our We have made up our minds; and we now duty to express the opinion to which this inpropose to do him, by the blessing of God, full vestigation has led us. and signal justice.
Our opinion then is this, that Barère apIt is to be observed that the appellant in this proached nearer than any person mentioned case does not come into court alone. He is in history or fiction, whether man or devil, to attended to the bar of public opinion by two the idea of consummate and universal deprav. compurgators who occupy highly honourable ity. In him the qualities which are the proper stations. One of these is M. David of Angers, objects of hatred, and the qualities which are the member of the Institute, an eminent sculptor, proper objects of contempt, preserve an exqui. and, if we have been rightly informed, a favour site and absolute harmony. In almost every ite pupil
, though not kinsman, of the painter particular sort of wickedness he has had rivals. who bore the same name. The other, to whom His sensuality was immoderate; but this was a we owe the biographical preface, is M. Hippo- failing common to him with many great and yte Carnot, member of the Chamber of Depu- amiable men. There have been many men as ties, and son of the celebrated Director. In the cowardly as he, some as cruel, a few as mean, judgment of M. David, and of M. Hippolyte a few as impudent. There may also have been Carnot, Barère was a deserving and an ill-used as great liars, though we never met with them man, a man who, though by no means faultless, or read of them. But when we put every must yet, when due allowance is made for the thing together, sensuality, poltroonery, baseness, force of circumstances and the infirmity of effrontery, mendacity, barbarity, the result is human nature, he considered as on the whole something which in a novel we should con. entitled to our esteem. It will be for the public demn as caricature, and to which we venture io determine, after a full hearing, whether the to say, no parallel can be found in history. editors have, by thus connecting their names It would be grossly unjust, we acknowledge, with that of Barère, raised his character or to try a man situated as Barère was by a severe lowered their own.
standard. Nor have we done so. We have We are not conscious that, when we opened formed our opinion of him by comparing him, this book, we were under the influence of any not with politicians of stainless character, not feeling likely to pervert our judgment. Un- with Chancellor D'Aguesseau,or General Wash doubtedly we had long entertained a most ington, or Mr. Wilberforce, or Earl Gray, but unfavourable opinion of Barère; but to this with his own colleagues of the Mountain. That opinion we were not tied by any passion or by party included a considerable number of the any interest. Our dislike was a reasonable worst men that ever lived; but we see in it dislike, and might have been removed by reason. nothing like Barère. Compared with him Indeed, our expectation was, that these Me- Fouché seems honest; Billaud seems humane; moirs would in some measure clear Barère's Hébert seems to rise into dignity. Every other fame. That he could vindicate himself from chief of a party, says M. Hippoiyte Carnot, all the charges which had been brought against has found apologists; one set of men exalts him, we knew to be impossible: and his editors the Girondists; another set justifies Danton; a admit that he has not done so. But we thought third deisies Robespierre ; but Barère remains it highly probable that some grave accusations without a defender. We venture to suggest a would be refuted, and that many offences to very simple solution of this phenomenon. Au which he would have been forced to plead the other chiefs of parties had some good guilty would be greatly extenuated. We were qualities, and Barère had none.
The genius, not disposed to be severe. We were fully courage, patriotism, and humanity of the Girona
Mémoires de Bertrand Berère; publiés par Mm. dist statesmen, more than atoned for what was Hippolyte Carnot, Membre de la Chambre des Dé: culpable in their conduct, and should have putés, 'et David d'Angers, Membre de l'Institut: pré-protected them from the insult of being com. cédés d'une Notice Historique par H. CARNOT. Tomes. Paris : 1843.
pared with such a thing as Barère. Danton
and Robespierre were, indeed, bad men; but in like the cedar of Lebanon. It is barely possible both of then some important parts of the mind that, under good guidance and in favourable remained sound. Danton was brave and re- circumstances, such a inan might have slipped solute, fond of pleasure, of power, and of dis- through life without discredit. But the unseatinction, with vehement passions, with lax worthy craft, which even in still water would principles, but with some kind and manly have been in danger of goirg down from its feelings, capable of great crimes, but capable own rottenness, was launched on a raging also of friendship and of compassion. He, ocean, amidst a storm in which a whole armada therefore, naturally finds admirers among per- of gallant ships were cast away. The weakest sons of bold and sanguine dispositions. Robes. and most servile of human beings found himself pierre was a vain, envious, and suspicious on a sudden an actor in a Revolution which man, with a hard heart, weak nerves, and a convulsed the whole civilized world. At first gloomy temper. But we cannot with truth he sell under the influence of humane and deny that he was, in the vulgar sense of the moderate men, and talked the language of word, disinterested, that his private life was humanity and moderation. But he soon found correct, or that he was sincerely zealous for himself surrounded by fierce and resolute his own system of politics and morals. He spirits, scared by no danger and restrained by therefore naturally finds admirers among honest no scruple. He had to choose whether he would but moody and bitter democrats. If no class be their victim or their accomplice. His choice has taken the reputation of Barère under its was soon made. He lasted blood, and felt no patronage, the reason is plain : Barère had loathing: he tasted it again, and liked it well. not a single virtue, nor even the semblance Cruelly became with him, first a habit, then a of one.
passion, at last a madness. So complete and It is true that he was not, as far as we are rapid was the degeneracy of his nature, that able to judge, originally of a savage disposi- within a very few months after the time when tion; but this circumstance seems to us only he passed for a good-natured man, he had to aggravate his guilt. There are some un brought himself to look on the despair and happy men constitutionally prone to the darker misery of his fellow-creatures with a glee passions, men all whose blood is gall, and 10 resembling that of the fiends whom Dante saw whom bitter words and harsh actions are as watching ihe pool of seething pitch in Male. natural as snarling and biting to a ferocious bolge. He had many associates in guilt; but dog. To come into the world with this wretched he distinguished himself from them all by the mental disease is a greater calamity than to be Bacchanalian exultation which he seemed to born blind or deaf. A man who, having such feel in the work of death. He was drunk with a temper, keeps it in subjection, and constrains innocent and noble blood, laughed and shouted himself to behave habitually with justice and as he butchered, and howled strange songs and humanity towards those who are in his power, reeled in strange dances amidst the carnage. seems to us worthy of the highest admiration. Then came a sudden and violent turn of fortune. There have been instances of this self-com- The miserable man was hurled down from the maud; and they are among the most signal height of power to hopeless ruin and infamy. triumphs of philosophy and religion. On the The shock sobered him at once. The fumes other hand, a man who, having been blessed of his horrible intoxication passed away. But by nature with a bland disposition, gradually he was now so irrecoverably depraved, that the brings himself :o inflict misery on his fellow- discipline of adversity only drove him further creatures with indifference, with satisfaction, into wickedness. Ferocious vices, of which he and at length with a hideous rapture, deserves had never been suspecied, had been developed to be regarded as a portent of wickedness; and in him by power. Another class of vices, less such a man was Barère. The history of his hateful, perhaps, but more despicable, was now downward progress is full of instruction. Weak- developed in him by poverty and disgrace. ness, cowardice, and fickleness were born with Having appalled the whole world by great him; the best quality which he received from crimes perpetrated under tho pretence of zeal nature was a good iemper. These, it is true, for liberty, he became the meanest of all the are not very promising materials; yet out of tools of despotism. It is not easy to settle thi: materials as unpromising, high sentiments of order of precedence among his vices; but we piety and of honour have sometimes made are inclined to think that his baseness was, ca martyrs and heroes. Rigid principles often do the whole, a rarer and more marvellous thing for feeble minds what stays do for feeble bodies. than his cruelty, But Barère had no principles at all. His cha- This is the view which we have long taken racter was equally destitute of natural and of of Barère's character ; but, till we read thesu acquired strength. Neither in the commerce Memoirs, we held our opinion with the difia. of life, nor in books, did we ever become ac- dence which becomes a judge who has heard quainted with any mind so unstable, so utterly only one side. The case seemed strong, and in destitute of tone, so incapable of independent parts unanswerable ; yet we did not know what thought and earnest preference, so ready to take the accused party might have to say for him impressions and so ready to lose them. He self; and, not being much inclined to take our resembled those creepers which must lean on fellow-creatures either for angels of light or something, and which as soon as their prop is for angels of darkness, we could not but leci removed, fall down in utter helplessness. He some suspicion that his offences had been er could no more stand up, erect and self-support- aggerated. That suspicion is now at an end. ed, in any cause, than the ivy can rear itself The vindication is before us. It occupies iour uke the oak, or the wild vine shoot to heaven volumes. It was the work of forty years.