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it with dignity, must have caused him great annoyance, and he was but poorly served by the " little senate" of second-class writers which he collected around him at Button's, although the faithful friendship, amounting almost to adoration, which was displayed by Tickell cannot but have graufied Addison. But the latter began to age early, and already, no doubt, was apt to sit " attentive to his
Facsimile of the Assignment of the "Spectator," signed by Addison and Steele
own applause," and to offer those features of human weakness which the cruel penetration of Pope has preserved for posterity in the venomous portrait of Atticus. The energies of Addison were now distributed between politics, in which he represented the most moderate of the AVhigs, and the composition of an apologetic work on the history of Christianity, which he left unfinished. At the death of Anne, Addison returned with the Whigs to office, and was Chief Secretary in Ireland for some months of 1714-15. When he resigned this post he began to
edit a newspaper in the interests of the Government, namely, the Freeholder (1715-16). This journal ceased when its work was done, and Addison was made a Commissioner for Trade. In the summer of 1716 he married the widowed Countess of Warwick, to whom he had been long attached, hut there is more than a fear that Addison found "wedded discord with a noble wife." In 1717, when Sunderland became Prime Minister, he appointed Addison a Secretary of State, but the essayist was not conspicuously successful as a politician. In particular, during the ten years during which he sat for Malmesbury in the House of Commons he spoke but once, and then broke down in speaking : " he had too beautiful an imagination,'' one of his contemporaries said, " to make a man of business.'' In March 1718 Addison resigned his office, his health beginning to give him serious anxiety. It is painful to record that the last year of Addison's life was embittered by an acrimonious controversy with his old and close friend, Steele. Worn out with asthma and dropsy, Addison was now sinking, and on the
Autograph Inscription of Addison's to Jonathan Swift
I7th of June 1719 he died at Holland House, having lately entered his forty-eighth year. He called his stepson, the Karl of Warwick, to his bedside, and bid him " see in what peace a Christian can die." Addison lay in state in Jerusalem Chamber, and then was buried " by midnight lamps " in Westminster Abbey, as Tickell has described in his beautiful and touching elegy. Addison's only child, an unmarried daughter, survived until 1797.
Will Wimble is younger brother to a baronet, and descended of the ancient family of the Wimbles. He is now between forty and fifty ; but being bred to no business and born to no estate, he generally lives with his elder brother as superintendent of his game. He hunts a pack of dogs better than any man in the county, and is very famous for finding out a hare. He is extremely well versed in all the little handicrafts of an idle man. He makes a May-fly to a miracle ; and furnishes the whole country with angle-rods. As he is a good-natured officious fellow, and very much esteemed on account of his family, he is a very welcome guest at every house, and keeps
up a good correspondence among all the gentlemen about him. He carries a tuliproot in his pocket from one to another, or exchanges a puppy between a couple of friends that live perhaps in the opposite sides of the county. Will is a particular favourite of all the young heirs, whom he frequently obliges with a net that he has weaved, or a setting-dog that he has made himself. 'lie now and then presents a pair of garters of his own knitting to their mothers or sisters ; and raises a great deal of mirth among them, by inquiring as often as he meets them " how they wear !" These gentleman-like manufactures and obliging little humours make Will the darling of the country.
At a little distance from Sir Roger's house, among the ruins of an old abbey, there is a long walk of aged elms, which are shot up so very high, that when one passes under them, the rooks and crows that rest upon the tops of them seem to be cawing in another region. I am very much delighted with this sort of noise, which I consideras a kind of natural prayer to that Being who supplies the wants of his whole creation, and who, in the beautiful language of the Psalms, feedeth the young ravens that call upon him. I like this retirement the better, because of an ill report it lies under of being haunted; for which reason (as I have been told in the family) no living creature ever walks in it besides the chaplain. My good friend the butler desired me with a very grave face not to venture myself in it after sunset, for that one of the footmen had been almost frighted out of his wits by a spirit that appeared to him in the shape of a black horse without an head : to which he added, that about a month ago one of the maids coming home late that way with a pail of milk upon her head, heard such a rustling among the bushes that she let it fall.
I was taking a walk in this place last night between the hours of nine and ten, and could not but fancy it one of the most proper scenes in the world for a ghost to appear in. The ruins of the abbey are scattered up and down on every side, and half covered with ivy and elder-bushes, the harbours of several solitary birds which seldom make their appearance till the dusk of the evening. The place was formerly a churchyard, and has still several marks in it of graves and burying-places. There is such an echo among the old ruins and vaults, that if you stamp but a little louder than ordinary, you hear the sound repeated. At the same time the walk of elms, with the croaking of the ravens which from time to time are heard from the tops of them, looks exceeding solemn and venerable. These objects naturally raise seriousness and attention ; and
Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax, the Friend and
Patron of Addison After the Portrait by Sir Godjrey Kneller at Bayfordbury
when night heightens the awfulness of the place, and pours out her supernumerary horrors upon everything in it, I do not at all wonder that weak minds fill it with spectres and apparitions.
The ladies have been for some time in a kind of moulting season with regard to that part of their dress, having cast great quantities of riband, lace, and cambric, and in some measure reduced that part of the human figure to the beautiful globular form which is natural to it. We have for a great while expected what kind of ornament would be substituted in the place of those antiquated commodes. But our female projectors were all the last summer so taken up with the improvement of their petticoats, that they had not time to attend to anything else ; but having at length sufficiently adorned their lower parts, they now begin to turn their thoughts upon the other extremity, as well remembering the old kitchen proverb, " that if you light the fire at both ends, the middle will shift for itself."
I am engaged in this speculation by a sight which I lately met with at the opera. As I was standing in the hinder part of a box, I took notice of a little cluster of women sitting together in the prettiest-coloured hoods that I ever saw. One of them was blue, another yellow, and another philomot; the fourth was of a pink colour, and the fifth of a pale green.. I looked with as much pleasure upon this little party-coloured assembly as upon a bed of tulips, and did not know at first whether it might not be an embassy of Indian queens ; but upon my going about into the pit, and taking them in front, I was immediately undeceived, and saw so much beauty in every face that I found them all to be English. Such eyes and lips, cheeks and foreheads, could be the growth of no other country. The complexion of their faces hindered me from observing any farther the colour of their hoods, though I could easily perceive, by that unspeakable satisfaction which appeared in their looks, that their own thoughts were wholly taken up on those pretty ornaments they wore upon their heads.
Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729), although always reported as being younger than his most distinguished friend, was, it has lately been discovered, born in March
1672, whereas Addison was not born until May. Steele was born in Dublin, where his father practised as an attorney; the latter died when his son was five years old, and Steele has given an enchanting picture of the emotions which his father's death awakened. In 1685 the boy was sent to the Charterhouse, and passed in 1690 to Christ Church, Oxford, and in 1691 to Merton College. It is supposed that he left the University and became a trooper in the Duke of Ormond's Life Guards in 1694; in his
Sir Richard Steele's Cottage on Haverstock Hill
From an old Print
m 1694; in
military capacity he was present at Queen Mary's funeral, of which his earliest publication, The Procession, of 1695, is a versified memorial. Of Steele's movements
in the next six years we know very little, but during part of the time, at least, he served as a captain of Fusiliers. In 1701 Steele published his first important work, the Christian Hero, which was considered puritanical by his companions, and landed him in a duel, in which he ran his critic through the body. He now began to write for the stage, and his first comedy, The Funeral, dates from the close of 1701. His idea was to introduce morality to the stage, and make "virtue and vice appear just as they ought to do," and not as they are travestied in the art of Wycherley and Congreve. In the Lying Lover (i 703) Steele was etill more didactic, and it is not to be wondered at that his comedy was "damned for its piety." He tried a third time, with the Tender Husband (1705), a better play, but as complete a failure. He was by this time married to a lady, vaguely spoken of as " of vast possessions," who died in 1706. In May 1707 Steele received from Harley the important post of Gazetteer. Immediately after the death of his first wife, and perhaps at her funeral, Steele is believed to have made the acquaintance of Miss Mary Scurlock, a Welsh lady with "expectations." It was to her, before and after their marriage, that Steele addressed the extraordinary correspondence which, printed first in 1787, has done more than anything else to make us acquainted with his character. The marriage between Dick Steele and his "dear lovely Prue" took place in September 1707. His life with this handsome and fairly amiable lady was a chequered one. As Mr. Austin Dobson says, Steele was loyal, affectionate, and warm-hearted, but "hopelessly sanguine, restless, and impulsive." He took wine too freely; he squandered money far beyond his means; and these faults greatly strained Mrs. Steele's patience; but though they fought, they never parted, and to the last she was his "absolute governess," and "adored capricious beauty." The great wits of the age of Anne were now coming closer and closer; in 1708 Swift speaks of the " triumvirate of Addison, Steele and me," and when they met, Congreve and Pope were often of the party. Early in 1709 Steele borrowed the name of " Isaac Bickerstaff" from Swift to use as a pseudonym in the Tatler, which he began to publish on the I2th of April; this was a Letter of Intelligence destined to "gratify
Sir Richard Steele
After the Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller at Bayfonibury