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or the impertinence of civility; to teach when to speak, or to be silent; how to refuse, or how to comply. We wanted not hooks to teach us our more important duties, and to settle opinions in philosophy or politics; but an Arbiter Elegantiarum, a judge of propriety, was yet wanting, who should survey the track of daily conversation, and free it from thorns and prickles, which tease the passer, though they do not wound him. For this purpose nothing is so proper as the frequent publication of short papers, which we read not as study but amusement. Thus the busy may find time, and the idle may find patience. The Tatlers and Spectators, published at a time when two parties, loud, restless, and violent, were agitating the nation, supplied, to minds heated with political contest, cooler and more inoffensive reflections; they had a perceptible influence upon the conversation of that time, and taught the lively and the gay to unite merriment with decency; they reduced the unsettled practice of daily intercourse to propriety and politeness; and taught, with great justness of argument and dignity of language, the most important duties and sublime truths.
The year which followed the conclusion of the Spectator, was the grand climacteric of Addison's reputation; the tragedy of Cato, which, of all his works, has brought him the greatest praise, came upon the stage. The whole nation was at that time on fire with faction. The Whigs applauded every line of the play in which liberty was mentioned, as a satire on the Tories; and the Tories echoed every clap, to show that the satire was un
not have been difficult to any man but ADDISON, who was so overwhelmed with the greatness of the event, and so distracted by the choice of expression, that the Lords of the Regency, who could not wait for the niceties of criticism, were obliged to employ a Mr. SOUTHWELL, a clerk in the house, who had just taste and knowledge enough to qualify him for a writing-desk. He stated the fact, as he was ordered, in the ordinary perspicuity of business, and valued himself for having done what was too hard for ADDISON. Copious and elegant as the style of our author was, yet from the idea he had formed of ex. cellence, joined with the most modest opinion of his own compositions, he, on some occasions, could not write in such a manner as to give himself satisfaction.
It was proposed on the accession and arrival of George I. to make Addison Secretary of State; this he himself strenuously declined: but he accepted a second time the post of Se. cretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, then Lord SUNDERLAND. The Earl was soon removed, and Addison appointed one of the Lords of Trade. His political employment diverted him from executing a design which he had formed, of composing an English Dictionary; a circumstance which the literary world would have had cause to regret, had not the composition of such a work called forth the deep learning and acute judgment of a Johnson.
During the rebellion *, our author commenced a periodical work in support of the established government, entitled The Free
• In 1715.
holder*, whose intention is to show the folly and wickedness of rebellion). He with strong arguments and exquisite humour, addresses himself to the various classes of the disaf. fected; and exhibits to them the absurdity of imagining, that the pupil of priests, and a tyrant, was the person most fitted to govern a free country.
Soon after the conclusion of the Freeholder, Addison married the Countess Dowager of Warwick, whom it is said he had first known by being tutor of her son, and whom he had solicited by a very long and anxious courtship. She is said to have discovered his passion, and to have amused herself with it. His advances, at first very timorous, grew bolder as his reputation and influence ina creased. At last he ventured to solicit her with more confidence, and he prevailed. He derived little happiness from this marriage ; for it never found them nor made them equal. She always remembered her own rank, and treated him as her inferior. The native lustre of genius was not, in the eyes of the pride of birth, adequate to the adventitious glare of ancestry.
Mr. ADDISON is an instance that brilliant genius, elegant learning, and a complete knowledge of politics, accompanied even with unsullied virtue, do not qualify a man for being a statesman. Elevated to a high station, and made Secretary of State, he was universally found unequal to the duties of his
• It consisted of fifty-five papers; and continued twice a week, from December 1715, to June in the following year.
place. From his excessive modesty, he could not speak in the House of Commons ; and therefore was useless to the defence of his friends and of the government. In his office he wanted dispatch, an essential ingredient in the transaction of numerous affairs. He could not, Johnson tells us, issue an order without losing his time in quest of fine expressions. What he gained in rank, he lost in credit. His health, already impaired by an asthma, suffered greatly from the fatigue of affairs. He was forced at last to solicit leave to relinquish his employment; was permitted to resign, and gratified with a pension of 15001. a year.
From politics, Addison returned to his literary avocations. He devoted his leisure to writing a Treatise on the Evidences of the Christian Religion; and had only performed one half of his design, when an untimely death put a period to his labours, of which part was published after his decease.
ADDISON, however, did not conclude his life in peaceful studies, but relapsed, when near his end, to a political question. A con troversy was agitated with great vehemence between those friends of long continuance, relating to the Peerage Bill, wbich was to fix the number of peers. STEELE, in his Plebeian, alarmed the nation, on this subversion of the ancient establishment. Addison answered, under the title of the Old Whig. STEELE replied by a second Plebeian, without any personality. The Old Whig answered again the Plebeian; and could not forbear some contempt of little Dicky. Dicky nevertheless did not lose his deep veneration for his friend;
but quoted only some lines of Cato, which were at once detection and reproof. “ What reader,” says Dr. JOHNSON, with energetic feeling, “ will not regret, that these two illustrious friends, after so many years past in confidence and endearment, in unity of interest, conformity of opinion, and fellowship of study, should finally part in acrimonious opposition? Such a controversy was bellum plusquam civile, as Lucan expresses it. Why could not faction find other advocates ? But, among the uncertainties of the human state, we are doomed to number the instability of friendship.”
The end of this great man's life was now approaching. His asthmatical complaint was aggravated by a dropsy. He abandoned all hopes of life; and, finding his danger was pressing, he prepared to die conformably to his own precepts and professions. He gave directions to his friend Tickell, concerning the publication of his works, and dedicated them on his death-bed to his friend and successor, Mr. Craigos, Secretary of State. During his lingering decay, he sent a mes. sage to Mr. Gay, desiring to see him. GAY, who had not visited him for some time before, obeyed the summons, and was received with great kindness. ADDISOn then told him, that he had injured him, but that, if he recovered, he would recompense him. What the injury was he did not explain, nor did Gay ever know. As it had been our author's business during his life to promote piety and morality, he was desirous that his death might contribute to the same noble end; therefore, when dying, be sent for the young