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than it now does. Some years after his death, "Rosamond" was set to new music by Doctor Arne; and was performed with complete suc cess. Several passages long retained their popularity, and were daily sung, during the latter part of George the Second's reign, at all the harpsichords in England.
the projects of Victor Amadeus, and anecdotes
His Travels were followed by the lively opera of "Rosamond." This piece was ill set to music, and therefore failed on the stage; but It completely succeeded in print, and is indeed excellent in its kind. The smoothness with which the verses glide, and the elasticity with which they bound, is, to our ears at least, very pleasing. We are inclined to think that if Addison had left heroic couplets to Pope, and blank verse to Rowe, and had employed himself in writing airy and spirited songs, his reputation as a poet would have stood far higher
dison, who had just been made under-secretary of state. The secretary of state under whom Addison first served was Sir Charles Hedges, a tory. But Hedges was soon dismissed to make room for the most vehement of whigs, Charles, Earl of Sunderland. In every department of the state, indeed, the high churchmen were compelled to give place to their opponents. At the close of 1707, the tories who still remained in office strove to rally, with Harley at their head. But the attempt, though favoured by the queen, who had always been a tory at heart, and who had now quarrelled with the duchess of Marlborough, was unsuccessful. The time was not yet. The captain-general was at the height of popularity and glory. The low-church party had a majority in Parliament. The country squires and rectors, though occasionally uttering a savage growl, were for the most part in a state of torpor, which lasted till they were roused into activity, and indeed into madness, by the prosecution of Sacheverell. Harley and his adherents were compelled to retire. The victory of the whigs was complete. At the general election of 1708, their strength in the House of Commons became irresistible; and, before the end of that year, Somers was made lord-president of the council, and Wharton lord-lieutenant of Ireland."
Addison sat for Malmsbury in the House of Commons which was elected in 1708. But the House of Commons was not the field for
Miss Aikin has not informed herself accurately as to the politics of that time. We give a single specimen. We could easily give many. "The Earl of Sunderland," she says, "was not suffered long to retain his hard-won secretaryship. In the last month of 1708 he was dismissed to make room for Lord Dartmouth, who ranked with the tories. Just at this time the Earl of Wharton, being appointed Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, named Mr. Addison his chief secretary." (1. 235.) Sunderland was not dismissed to make room for Dartmouth till June, 1710; and most certainly Wharton would never have been appointed lord-lieutenant at all, if he had not been ap pointed long before Sunderland's dismissal. Miss Aikin's mistake exactly resembles that of a person who should relate the history of our times as follows: "Lord John Russell was dismissed in 1839 from the Home-Office, to make room for Sir James Graham, who ranked with the tories; but just at this time Earl Fortescue was appointed lord-lieutenant of Ireland, with Lord Morpeth for his rather a strange notion of the ministerial revolutions of secretary.' Such a narrative would give to posterity Queen Victoria's days.
uim. The bashfulness of his nature made his | thoughts, letters, answers, remarks, than these wit and eloquence useless in debate. He once two great chiefs of parties. Pulteney, when rose, but could not overcome his diffidence, and leader of the opposition, and possessed of ever after remained silent. Nobody can think £30,000 a year, edited the "Craftsman." it strange that a great writer should fail as a Walpole, though not a man of literary habits, speaker. But many, probably, will think it was the author of at least ten pamphlets, strange that Addison's failure as a speaker and retouched and corrected many more, should have had no unfavourable effect on his These facts sufficiently show of how great imsuccess as a politician. In our time, a man of portance literary assistance then was to the high rank and great fortune might, though contending parties. St. John was, certainly, in speaking very little and very ill, hold a consi- Anne's reign, the best tory speaker; Cowper derable post. But it is inconceivable that a was probably the best whig speaker. But it mere adventurer, a man who, when out of of- may well be doubted whether St. John did sb fice, must live by his pen, should in a few much for the tories as Swift, and whether Cow. years become successively under-secretary of per did so much for the whigs as Addison. state, chief secretary for Ireland, and secretary When these things are duly considered, it will of state, without some oratorical talent. Addi- not be thought strange that Addison should have son, without high birth, and with little property, climbed higher in the state than any other Enrose to a post which dukes, the heads of the glishman has ever, by means merely of literary great houses of Talbot, Russell, and Bentinck, talents, been able to climb. Swift would, in all have thought it an honour to fill. Without probability, have climbed as high, if he had opening his lips in debate, he rose to a post the not been encumbered by his cassock and his highest that Chatham or Fox ever reached. pudding-sleeves. As far as the homage of the And this he did before he had been nine years great went, Swift had as much of it as if he in Parliament. We must look for the explana- had been lord-treasurer. tion of this seeming miracle to the peculiar To the influence which Addison derived from circumstances in which that generation was his literary talents, was added all the influence placed. During the interval which elapsed be- which arises from character. The world, tween the time when the censorship of the always ready to think the worst of needy popress ceased and the time when parliamentary litical adventurers, was forced to make one proceedings began to be freely reported, literary exception. Restlessness, violence, audacity, talents were, to a public man, of much more laxity of principle, are the vices ordinarily importance, oratorical talents of much less im- attributed to that class of men. But faction portance, than in our time. At present, the itself could not deny that Addison had, through best way of giving rapid and wide publicity to all changes of fortune, been strictly faithful to a statement or an argument, is to introduce his early opinions, and to his early friends; that statement or argument into a speech made that his integrity was without stain; that his in Parliament. If a political tract were to ap- whole deportment indicated a fine sense of the pear superior to the conduct of the Allies, or to becoming; that, in the utmost heat of contro the best numbers of the Freeholder, the circu-versy, his zeal was tempered by a regard for lation of such a tract would be languid indeed when compared with the circulation of every remarkable word uttered in the deliberations of the legislature. A speech made in the House of Commons at four in the morning, is on thirty thousand tables before ten. A speech made on the Monday is read on the Wednesday by multitudes in Antrim and Aberdeenshire. The orator, by the help of the short-hand writer, has to a great extent superseded the pamphleteer. It was not so in the reign of Anne. The best speech could then produce no effect except on those who heard it. It was only by means of the press that the opinion of the public without doors could be influenced; and the opinion of the public without doors could not but be of the highest importance in a country governed by parliaments; and indeed at that time governed by triennial parliaments. The pen was, therefore, a more formidable political engine than the tongue. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox contended only in Parliament. But Walpole and Pulteney, the Pitt and Fox of an earlier period, had not done half of what was necessary, when they sat down amidst the acclamations of the House of Commons. They had still to plead their cause before the country, and this they could do only by means of the press. Their works are now forgotten. But it is certain that there were in Grub street few more assiduous scribblers of
truth, humanity, and social decorum; that no outrage could ever provoke him to retaliation unworthy of a Christian and a gentleman; and that his only faults were a too sensitive deli. cacy, and a modesty which amounted to bashfulness.
He was undoubtedly one of the most popular men of his time; and much of his popularity he owed, we believe, to that very timidity which his friends lamented. That timidity often prevented him from exhibiting his talents to the best advantage. But it propitiated Nemesis. It averted that envy which would otherwise have been excited by fame so splendid, and by so rapid an elevation. No man is so great a favourite with the public, as he who is at once an object of admiration, of respect, and of pity; and such were the feelings which Addison inspired. Those who enjoyed the privilege of hearing his familiar conversation, declared with one voice that it was superior even to his writings. The brilliant Mary Montagu said that she had known all the wits, and that Ad dison was the best company in the world. The malignant Pope was forced to own, that there was a charm in Addison's talk which could be found nowhere else. Swift, when burning with animosity against the whigs, could not but confess to Stella, that, after all, he had never known any associate so agreeable as Addison. Steele, an excellent judge of lively
whom he was as a king or rather as a god All these men were far inferior to him in abi lity, and some of them had very serious faults Nor did those faults escape his observation for, if ever there was an eye which saw through and through men, it was the eye of Addison. But with the keenest observation, and the finest sense of the ridiculous, he had a large charity.
conversation, said, that the conversation of
Such were Addison's talents for conversation. But his rare gifts were not exhibited to crowds or to strangers. As soon as he entered a large company, as soon as he saw an unknown face, his lips were sealed, and his manners became constrained. None who met him only in great assemblies, would have been able to believe that he was the same man who had often kept a few friends listening and laughing round a table, from the time when the play ended, till the clock of St. Paul's in Covent-Garden struck four. Yet, even at such a table, he was not seen to the best advantage. To enjoy his conversation in the highest perfection, it was necessary to be alone with him, and to hear him, in his own phrase, think aloud. "There is no such thing," he used to say, as real conversation, but between two persons."
This timidity, a timidity surely neither ungraceful nor unamiable, led Addison into the two most serious faults which can with justice be imputed to him. He found that wine broke the spell which lay on his fine intellect, and was therefore too easily seduced into convivial excess. Such excess was in that age regarded, even by grave men, as the most venial of all peccadilloes; and was so far from being a mark of ill-breeding that it was almost essential to the character of a fine gentleman. But the smallest speck is seen on a white ground; and almost all the biographers of Addison have said something about this failing. Of any other statesman or writer of Queen Anne's reign, we should no more think of saying that he sometimes took too much wine, than that he wore a long wig and a sword.
To the excessive modesty of Addison's nature, we must ascribe another fault which generally arises from a very different cause. He became a little too fond of seeing himself xurrounded by a small circle of admirers, to
One member of this little society was Eu
turc, and a distant relation of Addison. There was at this time no stain on the character of Budgell, and it is not improbable that his career would have been prosperous and honourable, if the life of his cousin had been prolonged. But when the master was laid in the grave, the disciple broke loose from all restraint; descended rapidly from one degree of vice and misery to another; ruined his fortune by follies; attempted to repair it by crimes; and at length closed a wicked and unhappy life by self-murder. Yet, to the last, the wretched man, gambler, lampooner, cheat, forger, as he was, retained his affection and veneration for Addison; and recorded those feelings in the last lines which he traced before he hid himself from infamy under London Bridge.
Another of Addison's favourite companions was Ambrose Phillipps, a good whig and a middling poct, who had the honour of bringing into fashion a species of composition which has been called after his name, Namby-Pamby But the most remarkable members of the little senate, as Pope long afterwards called it, were Richard Steele and Thomas Tickell.
Steele had known Addison from childhood They had been together at the Charter House and at Oxford; but circumstances had then, for a time, separated them widely. Steele had left college without taking a degree, had been disinherited by a rich relation, had led a vagrant life, had served in the army, had tried to find the philosopher's stone, and had written a religious treatise and several comedies. He was one of those people whom it is impossible either to hate or to respect. His temper was sweet, his affections warm, his spirits lively, his passions strong, and his principles weak. His life was spent in sinning and repenting, in inculcating what was right, and doing what was wrong. In speculation, he was a man of piety and honour; in practice, he was much of the rake and a little of the swindler. He was, however, so good-natured that it was not easy to be seriously angry with him, and that even rigid moralists felt more inclined to pity
than to blame him, when he diced himself into a spunging-house, or drank himself into a fever. Addison regarded Steele with kindness not unmingled with scorn,-tried, with little success, to keep him out of scrapes, introducing him to the great, procured a good place for him, corrected his plays, and, though by no means rich, lent him large sums of money. One of these loans appears, from a letter dated in August, 1708, to have amounted to a thousand pounds. These pecuniary transactions probably led to frequent bickerings. It is said that, on one occasion, Steele's negligence, or dishonesty, provoked Addison to repay himself by the help of a bailiff. We cannot join with Miss Aikin in rejecting this story. Johnson heard it from Savage, who heard it from Steele. Few private transactions which took place a hundred and twenty years ago are proved by stronger evidence than this. But we can by no means agree with those who condemn Addison's severity. The most amiable of mankind may well be moved to indignation, when what he has earned hardly, and lent with great inconvenience to himself, for the purpose of relieving a friend in distress, is squandered with insane profusion. We will illustrate our meaning by an example, which is not the less striking because it is taken from fiction. Dr. Harrison, in Fielding's "Amelia," is represented as the most benevolent of human beings; yet he takes in execution, not only the goods, but the person of his friend Booth. Dr. Harrison resorts to this strong measure because he has been informed that Booth, while pleading poverty as an excuse for not paying just debts, has been buying fine jewellery, and setting up a coach. No person who is well acquainted with Steele's life and correspondence, can doubt that he behaved quite as ill to Addison as Booth was accused of behaving to Dr. Harrison. The real history, we have little doubt, was something like this: A letter comes to Addison, imploring help in pathetic terms, and promising reformation and speedy repayment. Poor Dick declares that he has not an inch of candle, or a bushel of coals, or credit with the butcher for a shoulder of mutton. Addison is moved. He determines to deny himself some medals which are wanting to his series of the Twelve Cæsars; to put off buying the new edition of "Bayle's Dictionary and to wear his old sword and buckles another year. In this way he manages to send a hundred pounds to his friend. The next day he calls on Steele, and finds scores of gentlemen and ladies assembled. The fiddles are playing. The table is groaning under Champagne, Burgundy, and pyramids of sweetmeats. Is it strange that a man whose kindness is thus abused, should send sheriff's officers to reclaim what is due to him?
other; and at length became as bitter enemies as the rival bulls in Virgil.
At the close of 1708, Wharton became lord. lieutenant of Ireland, and appointed Addison chief secretary. Addison was consequently under the necessity of quitting London for Dublin. Besides the chief secretaryship, which was then worth about two thousand pounds a year, he obtained a patent appointing him keeper of the Irish records for life, with a salary of three or four hundred a year. Budgell accompanied his cousin in the capacity of private secretary.
Wharton and Addison had nothing in common but. whiggism. The lord-lieutenant was not only licentious and corrupt, but was distinguished from other libertines and jobbers by a callos impudence which presented the strongest contrast to the secretary's gentleness and delicacy. Many parts of the Irish administration at this time appear to have deserved serious blame. But against Addison there was not a murmur. He long afterwards asserted, what all the evidence which we have ever seen tends to prove, that his diligence and integrity gained the friendship of all the most considerable persons in Ireland.
The parliamentary career of Addison in Ireland has, we think, escaped the notice of all his biographers. He was elected member for the borough of Cavan in the summer of 1709; and in the journals of two sessions his name frequently occurs. Some of the entries appear to indicate that he so far overcame his timidity as to make speeches. Nor is this by any means improbable; for the Irish House of Commons was a far less formidable audience than the English house; and many tongues which were tied by fear in the greater assem bly became fluent in the smaller. Gerard Hamilton, for example, who, from fear of losing the fame gained by his "single speech," sat mute at Westminster during forty years, spoke with great effect at Dublin when he was secre tary to Lord Halifax.
While Addison was in Ireland, an event occurred to which he owes his high and perma nent rank among British writers. As yet his fame rested on performances which, though highly respectable, were not built for duration, and would, if he had produced nothing else, have now been almost forgotten, on some excellent Latin verses, on some English verses which occasionally rose above mediocrity, and on a book of travels, agreeably written, but not indicating any extraordinary powers of mind. These works showed him to be a man of taste, sense, and learning. The time had come when he was to prove himself a man of genius, and to enrich our literature with compositions which will live as long as the English lan
Tickell was a young man, fresh from Ox- In the spring of 1709, Steele formed a literary ford, who had introduced himself to public project, of which he was far indeed from forenotice by writing a most ingenious and grate-seeing the consequences. Periodical papers ful little poem in praise of the opera of "Rosa- had during many years been published in Lonmond." He deserved, and at length attained, the first place in Addison's friendship. For a time Steele and Tickell were on good terms. But they loved Addison too much to love each
don. Most of these were political; but in some of them questions of morality, taste, and love casuistry had been discussed. The literary merit of these works was small indeed; and
even their names are now known only to the
ores. But he had been acquainted only with the least precious part of his treasures; and had hitherto contented himself with producing sometimes copper and sometimes lead, inter mingled with a little silver. All at once, and by mere accident, he had lighted on an inex
choice and arrangement of his words would have sufficed to make his essays classical. For never, not even by Dryden, not even by Temple, had the English language been written with such sweetness, grace, and facility. But this was the smallest part of Addison's praise. Had he clothed his thoughts in the half French style of Horace Walpole, or in the half Latin style of Dr. Johnson, or in the half German jargon of the present day, his genius would have triumphed over all faults of manner.
Steele had been appointed gazetteer by Sunderland, at the request, it is said, of Addison; and thus had access to foreign intelligence earlier and more authentic than was in those times within the reach of an ordinary news-haustible vein of the finest gold. The mere writer. This circumstance seems to have suggested to him the scheme of publishing a periodical paper on a new plan. It was to appear on the days on which the post left London for the country, which were, in that generation, the Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. It was to contain the foreign news, accounts of theatrical representations, and the literary gossip of Will's and of the Grecian. It was also to contain remarks on the fashionable topics of the day, compliments to beauties, pasquinades on noted sharpers, and criticisms on popular preachers. The aim of Steele does not appear to have been at first higher than this. He was not ill qualified to conduct the work which he had planned. His public intelligence he drew from the best sources. He knew the town, and had paid dear for his knowledge. He had read much more than the dissipated men of that time were in the habit of reading. He was a rake among scholars, and a scholar among rakes. His style was easy and not incorrect; and though his wit and humour were of no higher order, his gay animal spirits imparted to his compositions an air of vivacity which ordinary readers could hardly distinguish from comic genius. His writings have been well compared to those light wines, which, though deficient in body and flavour, are yet a pleasant small drink, if not kept too long, or carried too far.
As a moral satirist, he stands unrivalled. If ever the best Tatlers and Spectators were equalled in their own kind, we should be inclined to guess that it must have been by the lost comedies of Menander.
In wit, properly so called, Addison was not inferior to Cowley or Butler. No single ode of Cowley contains so many happy analogies as are crowded into the lines to Sir Godfrey Kneller; and we would undertake to collect from the "Spectators" as great a number of ingenious illustrations as can be found in "Hudibras." The still higher faculty of invention Addison possessed in still larger measure. The numerous fictions, generally original, often wild and grotesque, but always singularly graceful and happy, which are found in his essays, fully entitle him to the rank of a great poet-a rank to which his metrical compositions give him no claim. As an observer of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire, Astrologer, was life, of manners, of all the shades of human an imaginary person, almost as well known in character, he stands in the first class. And that age as Mr. Paul Pry or Mr. Pickwick in what he observed he had the art of communiours. Swift had assumed the name of Bicker-cating in two widely different ways. He could staff in a satirical pamphlet against Partridge, describe virtues, vices, habits, whims, as well the almanac-maker. Partridge had been fool as Clarendon. But he could do something er ough to publish a furious reply. Bickerstaff better. He could call human beings into exhad rejoined in a second pamphet still more istence, and make them exhibit themselves. diverting than the first. All the wits had com- If we wish to find any thing more vivid than bined to keep up the joke, and the town was Addison's best portraits, we must go either to long in convulsions of laughter. Steele de- Shakspeare or to Cervantes. termined to employ the name which this con- But what shall we say of Addison's humour, troversy had made popular; and, in April, 1709, of his sense of the ludicrous, of his power of it was announced that Isaac Bickerstaff, Es-awakening that sense in others, and of drawing quire, Astrologer, was about to publish a paper called the "Tatler."
Addison had not been consulted about this scneme; but as soon as he heard of it, he determined to give it his assistance. The effect of that assistance cannot be better described than in Steele's own words. "I fared," he said, "like a distressed prince who calls in a pc werful neighbour to his aid. I was undone by my auxiliary. When I had once called him in, I could not subsist without dependence on him." "The paper," he says elsewhere," was advanced indeed. It was raised to a greater thing than I intended it."
It is probable that Addison, when he sent across St. George's Channel his first contributions to the Tatler, had no notion of the extent and variety of his own powers. He was the possessor of a vast mine, rich with a hundred
mirth from incidents which occur every day, and from little peculiarities of temper and manner, such as may be found in every man ! We feel the charm. We give ourselves up to it. But we strive in vain to analyze it. Perhaps the best way of describing Addison's peculiar pleasantry, is to compare it with the pleasantry of some other great satirist. The three most eminent masters of the art of ridicule, during the eighteenth century, were, we conceive, Addison, Swift, and Voltaire. Which of the three had the greatest power of moving laughter may be questioned. But each of them, within his own domain, was supreme. Vol. taire is the prince of buffoons. His merriment is without disguise or restraint. He gambols. he grins; he shakes his sides; he points the finger; he turns up the nose; he shoots out the tongue. The manner of Swift is the verv