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his Travels, and more especially his "Campaign," speedily introduced him into public employIn 1705 he accompanied Lord Halifax to Hanover, and was shortly after appointed Under Secretary of State. He now produced his "Rosamond," a very pleasing composition, intended to unite Nature, Sense, and Harmony, in opposition to the absurdities of the Italian Opera; but, owing to the very inferior character of the accompanying music, it failed to triumph over the infatuation of the Public, and was neglected, if not actually condemned.
In 1709 Addison went to Ireland, as Secretary to the Marquess of Wharton (Lord Lieutenant), and was made Keeper of the Records of the Kingdom, with an augmented salary, through the interest of the Duchess of Marlborough; and gained a high reputation for unwearied assiduity and unblemished integrity in his official capacity.
It was during his residence in Ireland that Steele (with whom he had contracted a friendship while in the Charter-house), commenced publishing the "Tatler." Addison quickly discovered the anonymous writer, by a scrap of criticism which he had imparted to Steele, and the consequence was, he soon became a participator in the work. His contributions were at first only occasional, but after Lord Wharton's return to England they became more frequent.
To the "Tatler" succeeded the "Spectator," which was at the outset so popular that often 20,000 copies of a number were sold in one day; and it was not called for extensively in London and its vicinity merely, but, at a time when readers were comparatively few, and intercourse difficult, it was sought for with avidity in the remotest parts of the Kingdom.
The papers of Addison are designated by the letters C. L. I. O., which some have supposed he adopted as composing the name of the muse Clio; but Mr. Nichols thinks, rather as being the initials of the places where the papers were written, Chelsea, London, Islington, and the Office. The publication of the "Spectator" began March 1, 1711, and continued regularly to the close of the seventh volume: after an interval of about eighteen months, the eighth volume commenced, and terminated December 20, 1714.
In a letter to Edward Wortley Montague, dated July, 1711, Addison says, "I have, within this twelvemonth, lost a place of £2000 per annum, and an estate in the Indies of £14,000." Nevertheless, he this year found the means to purchase a pretty large house and estate at Bilton, in Warwickshire.
In 1713 he produced on the stage his tragedy of "Cato," on which his pretensions as a poet are principally founded. Its reception was enthusiastic; the Whigs applauded what they esteemed a satire on the Tories, and the Torics reiterated the applause, to show the satire was unfelt. It was acted thirty-five successive nights; and Cibber says, "On our first days of acting it, our house was in a manner invested, and entrance demanded at twelve o'clock at noon; the same continued for three days together."
During the run of "Cato," the "Guardian" made its appearance, and Addison enriched it with several very excellent papers.
On the death of Queen Anne, in 1714, he was appointed Secretary to the Regency; and his first duty in that office (to announce the vacancy of the throne to the Court of Hanover), is said to have seriously perplexed him he was so long in selecting phrases, and arranging sentences, that the Lords Justices became impatient, and ordered one of the clerks to state the event; who, resorting to the usual official common-place, accomplished the task without hesitation or difficulty.
By George I. Addison was appointed a Lord of Trade; and, upon the breaking out of the Rebellion in 1715, he seized the opportunity of evincing his attachment to the Hanoverian Succession by publishing the "Freeholder."
In 1716 he married the Countess Dowager of Warwick, to whom, it would seem, he had been long attached, but who slighted his addresses until he had risen to consequence in the State; there is every reason to believe that this union was far from contributing to his happiness; and it is also probable that the vexations he experienced in his domestic circle, from the caprice and ill-temper of an ignorant and supercilious woman, led to those habits of occasional intemperance which are said to have hastened his dissolution.
The year succeeding his marriage he was appointed one of the principal Secretaries of
State; but a consciousness of his inaptitude for affording the administration the necessary support as a Speaker in the House of Commons, together with a declining state of health, soon induced him to retire with a pension of £1500 a year.
After his secession from public life, he returned to a "Treatise on the Evidences of the Christian Religion" (begun many years previously), which he continued, but did not live to complete; and about this time the comedy of the "Drummer" was performed at Drury Lane Theatre; which, although Addison himself never acknowledged it, is well known by internal evidence, and also by the testimony of Steele, to have been his composition. It is likely that the ill success it met with on the stage prevented him from avowing himself the author.
An asthmatic disorder, to which he had been subject, terminated in dropsy. On the 17th June, 1719, he expired at Holland House, Kensington; and on the 26th of the same month was buried in Westminster Abbey.
He left one daughter; to whom, on the death of her mother, the estate at Bilton devolved, and who died there unmarried in 1797.
We refrain from dilating on the virtues and failings of this great man: they are sufficiently displayed in the eulogy of Tickell, and the satire of Pope. His merits as an author need no other testimony than the emphatic summary of Johnson." As a describer of life and manners he must be allowed to stand, perhaps the first, of the first rank. As a Teacher of Wisdom he may be confidently followed; all the enchantment of fancy, and all the cogency of argument are employed (by him) to recommend to the reader his real interest, the care of pleasing the Author of his Being. Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison."
RICHARD STEELE was born in Dublin, about the year 1675, of English parents. His father was a Counsellor, and Secretary to the first Duke of Ormond, by whose patronage his son was, while yet very young, placed in the Charter-house. In 1692 he removed to Merton College, Oxford, where his taste for elegant literature was improved and expanded, and he obtained considerable celebrity as a scholar among his fellow-collegians. In 1695 he published the "Funeral Procession," a poem on the death of Queen Mary.
He had unfortunately imbibed a predilection for the Army; and, failing to obtain a commission (his friends refusing him assistance towards his promotion, except in a Civil line), he recklessly entered as a private in the Horse Guards; and the consequence of this rash step was his being struck out of the will of a wealthy relation in Wexford, who had originally made him his heir. His frankness, vivacity, and wit, soon rendered him a general favourite ; and by the united influence of the officers he became an Ensign of the Guards. In 1701, Lord Cutts, whose secretary he was, procured him a Company in Lord Lucas's Regiment of Fusileers.
There is not, perhaps, on record, a more striking instance of a mind strongly imbued with moral and religious feelings, waging for years an unsuccessful war with overbearing passions and corrupt habits, than was exhibited in Steele. Plunged in dissipation and intemperance, he was constantly agonised by shame and remorse for his folly, and his waste of time and talent. In these intervals of reviving virtue, he composed, as a manual for his own private use, "The Christian Hero;" but it failed to work the desired reformation, and day after day still continued to be an alternation of debauchery and compunction. He then determined to print his work, impressed with the idea that, when his professions were before the public, he would be compelled to assimilate his practice to them; but the only result of this experiment was exciting the pity of the worthy, and the derision of the dissolute. At this period he produced his first comedy, "The Funeral," "with a view," as he says, "to enliven his character, and repel the sarcasms of those who abused him for his declaration relative to Religion." In 1703 his second successful comedy, "The Tender Husband," in which he was assisted by Addison, made its appearance. In 1704 he brought forward the "Lying Lover," a comedy written conformably with the notions of the celebrated Collier, who, in 1698, had raised his voice boldly, and not altogether ineffectually, against the immorality and profaneness of the stage. This play, much to the discomfiture of Steele, was condemned for being too serious
and pathetic and some years after, in allusion to it, he termed himself a "Martyr for the Church; his play having been damned for its piety." Probably this disappointment was the cause of his ceasing for eighteen years to write for the stage; for it was not until 1722 that the "Conscious Lovers" appeared; which was acted with singular success, and was productive of great fame and profit to him. The King, to whom it was dedicated, sent him a purse of five hundred pounds.
It was shortly after the condemnation of the "Lying Lover," that Steele formed the happy project of writing the "Tatler," in which he was joined by Addison; a most important auxiliary, who contributed greatly to the popularity and utility of the work. It was commenced April 12, 1709, published thrice a week, and concluded Jan. 2, 1710.
Two months only had elapsed from the close of the "Tatler," when the "Spectator' appeared; which, from the confidence of the writers in their mental resources, was published daily to the end of the seventh volume. The eighth, added after a considerable interval, was published thrice a week.
"Though the Essays of Steele," says Dr. Drake, "have been in general esteemed inferior, and perhaps not unjustly so, to the admirable compositions of Addison, they will be found, if attentively read, and the comparison be withdrawn, to possess much positive and sterling merit. From a predilection for the style and manner of Addison, they have been greatly and undeservedly neglected; whereas, had they been published separately, their beauties, which are now somewhat eclipsed by the neighbourhood of superior charms, would have been immediately discovered, and the admiration which they should excite, without hesitation bestowed. They display a minute knowledge of mankind, are written with great spirit and vivacity, and breathe the purest morality, and the most engaging benevolence and candour." On March 12, 1713, between the close of the seventh, and commencement of the eighth, volume of the "Spectator," came out the first number of the “Guardian,” which was continued daily to the first of the following October.
The "Guardian" terminated abruptly, in consequence of Steele becoming immersed in politics. Queen Anne, although attached to the principles of the Tories, had been completely in the power of the Whigs; but, towards the close of her life, the injudicious prosecution of Sacheverell by Lord Godolphin afforded her an opportunity of emancipating herself from their control, of which she readily availed herself; and in 1710 the Whigs were dismissed, and Harley, afterwards Earl of Oxford, was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lord High Treasurer.
Steele, disappointed of promotion by the death of King William, had been recommended by Addison to the patronage of the leaders of the Whigs, the Earls of Halifax and Sunderland, who, in the first instance, made him Gazetteer (a post which he ludicrously styled that of the lowest minister of state, and in which he took credit to himself "for never deviating from the rule observed by all Ministries; that of keeping the Gazette very innocent and very insipid"); and afterwards a Commissioner of Stamps.
The Tory Ministry continued him in these offices, Harley, probably, hoping to win him over to his interest; and Steele prudently resolved to be silent on political matters: a resolution to which for some time he adhered.
But the suspicion that the treaty of peace with France, proclaimed May 5, 1713, included secret articles, to the effect that on the Queen's death the Act of Settlement should be abolished, and the Pretender placed on the throne, spread intense alarm among the Whigs, and Steele, rejecting all personal and interested considerations, in a very spirited letter to the Prime Minister resigned his Commissionership, and boldly stood forward as the champion of the party whose principles he entertained. He was returned Member of Parliament for Stockbridge; and in the "Englishman," and various occasional publications, combatted the arguments, reprobated the principles, and repelled the virulence and abuse of Swift, Bolingbroke, and Atterbury. While yet engaged with the "Englishman," he printed a pamphlet entitled the "Crisis ;" which, although it had been submitted to the judgment and revision of Addison and Hoadly, was declared by the House of Commons "a scandalous and seditious libel," and Steele was expelled the House. Soon after his expulsion he published Proposals