Page images
PDF
EPUB

quickly discovered the anonymous writer, by a scrap of criticism which he had imparte to Steele, and the consequence was, he soon became a participator in the work. His co tributions were at first only occasional, but after Lord Wharton's return to England the became more frequent.

To the “ Tatler” succeeded the “Spectator,” which was at the outset so popular th often 20,000 copies of a number were sold in one day ; and it was not called for exte sively in London and its vicinity merely, but, at a time when readers were compar tively few, and intercourse difficult, it was sought for with avidity in the remotest par of the Kingdom.

The papers of Addison are designated by the letters C. L. I. O., which some have sul posed he adopted as composing the name of the muse Clio ; but Mr. Nichols think rather as being the initials of the places where the papers were written, Chelsea, Lol don, Islington, and the Office. The publication of the “Spectator" began March 1711, and continued regularly to the close of the seventh volume: after an interv of about eighteen months, the eighth volume commenced, and terminated Decemb 20, 1714.

In a letter to Edward Wortley Montague, dated July, 1711, Addison says, “I hay within this twelvemonth, lost a place of £2000 per annum, and an estate in the Indi of £14,000.” Nevertheless, he this year found the means to purchase a pretty lar house and estate at Bilton, in Warwickshire.

In 1713 he produced on the stage his tragedy of “ Cato," on which his pretensio as a poet are principally founded. Its reception was enthusiastic ; the Whigs applaud what they esteemed a satire on the Tories, and the Tories reiterated the applause, show the satire was unfelt. It was acted thirty-five successive nights; and Cibber say On our first days of acting it, our house was in a manner invested, and entrance manded 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 riched it with several very excellent papers.

On the death of Queen Anne, in 1714, he was appointed Secretary to the Regenc and his first duty in that office (to announce the vacancy of the throne to the Court Hanover), is said to have seriously perplexed him : he was so long in selecting phras and arranging sentences, that the Lords Justices became impatient, and ordered one the clerks to state the event; who, resorting to the usual official common-place, acco plished the task without hesitation or difficulty.

By George I, Addison was appointed a Lord of Trade ; and, upon the breaking of the Rebellion in 1715, he seized the opportunity of evincing his attachment to Hanoverian Succession by publishing the “ Freeholder.”

In 1716 he married the Countess Dowager of Warwick, to whom, it would seem, had been long attached, but who slighted his addresses until he had risen to co sequence in the State ; there is every reason to believe that this union was far from co tributing to his happiness; and it is also probable that the vexations he experienced his domestic circle, from the caprice and ill-temper of an ignorant and supercilio woman, led to those habits of occasional intemperance which are said to have hasten his dissolution.

The year succeeding his marriage he was appointed one of the principal Secretar of State ; but a consciousness of his inaptitude for affording the administration the nec sary support as a Speaker in the House of Commons, together with a declining state 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 the Christian Religion" (begun many years previously), which he continued, but not live to complete; and about this time the comedy of the “ Drummer” was perform at Drury Lane Theater; which, although Addison himself never acknowledged it, is w known by internal evidence, and also by the testimony of Steele, to bave been his co position. It is likely that the ill-success it met with on the stage prevented him fra avowing himself the author.

An asthmatic disorder, to which he had been subject, terminated in dropsy. On 17th June, 1719, he expired at Holland House, Kensington ; and on the 26th of same month was buried in Westminster Abbey.

He left one daughter; to whom, on the death of her mother, the estate at Bilton volved, and who died there unmarried in 1797.

We refrain from dilating on the virtues and failings of this great man: they are sul

ciently 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 Counselor, 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 toward 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 favorite ; 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 agonized 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 bimself 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 undeservcdly neglected; whereas, had they been published separately, their beauties, which are now somewhat eclipsed by the noighborhood of

superior charms, would have been immediately discovered, and the admiration which they should excite, without hesitation bestowed. They display a minute knowledge o mankind, are written with great spirit and vivacity, and breathe the purest morality and the most engaging benevolence and candor.” On March 12, 1713, between th 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 immersel in politics. Queen Anne, although attached to the principles of the Tories, had bee completely in the power of the Whigs; but, toward the close of her life, the injudiciou prosecution of Sacheverell by Lord Godolphin afforded her an opportunity of emanc pating herself from their control, of which she readily availed herself; and in 1710 th Whigs were dismissed, and Harley, afterward Earl of Oxford, was appointed Chancello of the Exchequer, and Lord High Treasurer.

Steele, disappointed of promotion by the death of King William, had been recom mended by Addison to the patronage of the leaders of the Whigs, the Earls of Halifa and Sunderland, who, in the first instance, made him Gazetteer (a post which he lud crously styled that of the lowest minister of state, and in which he took credit to him self “for never deviating from the rule observed by all Ministries; that of keeping th Gazette very innocent and very insipid"); and afterward a Commissioner of Stamps.

The Tory Ministry continued him in these offices, Harley, probably, hoping to wi 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, ir cluded secret articles, to the effect that on the Queen's death the Act of Settlemer should be abolished, and the Pretender placed on the throne, spread intense aları, among the Whigs, and Steele, rejecting all personal and interested considerations, in very spirited letter to the Prime Minister resigned his Commissionership, and boldl stood forward as the champion of the party whose principles he entertained. He w: returned Member of Parliament for Stockbridge ; and in the “ Englishman,” and variou occasional publications, combated the arguments, reprobated the principles, and re pelled the virulence and abuse of Swift, Bolingbroke, and Atterbury. While yet er gaged with the “Englishman,” he printed a pamphlet entitled the Crisis ;" which although it had been submitted to the judgment and reversion of Addison and Hoadly was declared by the House of Commons "a scandalous and seditious libel," and Stec) was expelled the House. Soon after his expulsion he published Proposals for a Histor of the Duke of Marlborough, which, however, he never executed, and in 1714 the “Lover,” a paper written in imitation of the “ Tatler," and the “ Reader,” in oppos tion to the “Examiner;" in both of which he was assisted by Addison. Steele's produc tions at this period were very numerous, they all evince strong attachment to t constitution, and the Protestant Establishment of the Kingdom, and are characterize by a candor and urbanity widely at variance with the bitter and violent tone of his lite rary antagonists.

The accession of George I, produced an alteration in his circumstances, which, the is reason to believe, had for a length of time been straitened and embarrassed. He wa made Surveyor of the Royal Stables at Hampton Court, and placed in the Commissid of the Peace for the county of Middlesex; and upon his application, the Licensed Drury Lane Theater, which had expired on the Queen's death, was renewed. For til service thus rendered them, the managers agreed that his name should be inserted the License, and that he should be allowed £700 per annum.

In 1715 Steele took his seat for Boroughbridge, in the first parliament of George and, upon the presentation of an address, received the honor of Knighthood. On th occasion he entertained upward of two hundred gentlemen and ladies at his house, will a splendid collation, succeeded by dances, singing, and recitations. It is to be regrette that in this season of his triumph he did not observe that forbearance which he evince at a time when its absence would have been more excusable. He now did not hesita to revile as traitors his former oppressors and calumniators, who were crushed, an trembling under impeachment. He re-published his tracts against the late ministr under the title of his “ Political Writings," with his “Apology" (now printed for th first time), and also a “Letter from the Earl of Mar to the King," the “ Town Talk, the “Tea Table," and "Chit Chat."

In August 1715, he received from Sir Robert Walpole £500 for special services, and in 1717, upon the suppression of the Rebellion, was sent into Scotland as one of the Commissioners for the forfeited estates.

On his return to England he conceived a project for bringing “live salmon" from the coast of Ireland to London, by means of a fish-pool, viz: a well-boat, supplying the fish with a continual stream of fresh water; and he obtained a patent in June 1718. In spite of the ridicule he encountered, at considerable expense, he, in conjunction with a Mr. Gilmore, constructed a vessel for the purpose of testing the utility of his invention ; but the fish arrived so bruised, from beating against the sides of the vessel, as to be totally unfit for use. In the following year his attachment to the popular cause led him to attack the Peerage Bill; which (by fixing permanently the number of Peers, and restraining new creations except upon an old family becoming extinct) would have in. troduced a complete Aristocracy. This he did in the “ Plebeian," and was answered by Addison in the Old Whig.” Steele replied, avoiding all personalities : but Addison so far forgot himself as to adopt an acrimonious and contemptuous tone, designating his old friend and co-adjutor as “ Little Dicky, whose trade it was to write Pamphlets." Steele magnanimously contented himself with conveying a reproof through the medium of a quotation from “ Cato.” The “ Peerage Bill” was lost in the House of Commons, and the consequence to Steele, whose writings were considered to have been in a great teasure the cause, was the revocation of his Patent as “ Governor of the Royal Company of Comedians;" by which he was a loser, according to his own estimate, of £9800.

The publication of the “ Theater,” a periodical paper, in vindication of himself and his brother managers, exposed him to a series of brutal attacks from John Dennis, the critic; who was, nevertheless, under deep obligation to him for very important acts of friendship. In 1720, although oppressed by poverty, and its attendant evils, he entered with lively interest into the question of the South Sea Scheme, which he opposed most vigorously in the “ Theater,” and also in two pamphlets printed in the month of February in that year.

In 1721 the return to power of his friend and patron Walpole restored him to his office at Drury Lane, and he brought out there his comedy the “Conscious Lovers.”

It is lamentable to know that all the distresses and difficulties he experienced in his many reverses of fortune had failed to teach him prudence. With an ample income from the Theater, and large profits from his play, his profusion was such that scarcely more than a year had elapsed before he was obliged to sell his share in the patent, to relieve his emergencies. He afterward commenced a law-suit with the managers, which lasted three years, and was finally determined against him. There is little doubt that the retrospect of his past improvidence and folly, by agitating him with remorse and sorrow, produced a serious effect upon his constitution. Early in 1726 he was seized with a paralytic stroke, which deprived him of the free enjoyment of his intellectual faculties; and, surrendering his property to his creditors, he retired, first to Hereford, and thence into Wales; where (by the indulgence of the Mortgagee), he took up his residence at his seat near Carmarthen. In this seclusion, supported by the benevolence of his creditors, he lingered for nearly two years. He died Sept. 2', 1729.

His first wife was a native of Barbadoes, where her brother was a wealthy planter. On his death Sir Richard Steele came into the possession of all his property. By her be had no issue. His second wife was the daughter of Jonathan Scurlock, Esq., of Llangunnon, in Carmarthenshire: she brought him an estate of nearly £400 per annum. To this lady he was most strongly attached, and his epistolary correspondence bears ample testimony to his domestic virtues and conjugal affection.

Lady Steele died in 1718, aged 40 years, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. She gave birth to four children, two of whom died in infancy; a son, Eugene, of consumption, in his youth; and a daughter, Elizabeth, married in 1731 to John (afterward Baron) Trevor, of Bromham. Sir Richard Steele left also a natural daughter, who went by the name of Miss Ouseley. At one time he had purposed uniting her to the illfated Sarage ; but she ultimately married Mr. Aynston, of Amely, near Hereford.

The name of Steele ranks deservedly high in the literature of his country; and his amiable character (so fairly developed by the late venerable John Nicholls), will always ommand the esteem of his readers : nor will their strongest sympathy be denied to his Errors, bis distresses, and his melancholy end :—the consequence of the want of the one virtue, Prudence, averting the reward due to the possession and exercise of many others.

EUSTACE BUDGELL was born in 1685. His father was Gilbert Budgell, D. D., ar his mother, the daughter of Dr. Gulston, Bishop of Bristol, and sister to the wife Dean Addison. He became a member of Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1700, ai remained there some years ; quitting, at length, by his father's wish, to be entered the Inner Temple. His taste for elegant literature, however, prevented his adoptir the profession of the Law; and Addison, receiving him on the footing of a near rel tion, appointed him a Clerk in his office, when he accompanied the Lord Lieutena Wharton to Ireland, as his Secretary. In April, 1710, Budgell left London for Du lin: he was then about twenty-five years of age, well versed in the Classics, ar familiar with French and Italian; of fashionable exterior, and engaging manners, b irritable, impetuous, and vain. He so completely acquired the esteem and affection Addison that during his stay in Ireland they constantly lodged and associated togethe His attention to his official duties was strict, and his industry great; his chief anxie was to obtain celebrity as an author : he gave considerable assistance to the “ Tatler and “ Spectator,” furnished a humorous epilogue (which some have since ascribed Addison), for the “Distressed Mother," and in 1714 published a translation of t] “ Characters of Theophrastus." His father died in 1711, leaving him an annual i come of £950; which, although somewhat encumbered by debt, was still more th: sufficient to fix him in respectable independence. On the accession of George I, he w appointed Secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland, and Deputy Clerk to the Counci he also was chosen a Member of the Irish Parliament, and Honorary Bencher of t1 Dublin Inns of Court. On the Rebellion breaking out he was intrusted with the supe intendence of the embarkation of troops for Scotland, and he acquitted himself wi such ability and disinterestedness as to gain very distinguished marks of approbatio In 1717, when Addison became principal Secretary of State, he appointed Budg. *Accountant and Comptroller General of the Irish Revenue, from which post he derive an income of nearly £400 per annum.

At this juncture, while standing high in the estimation of all as a man of indepe dence, talents, and integrity, he suffered his vanity and angry passions to master better sense, and laid the train of those events which terminated so disgracefully ar fatally for him.

The Duke of Bolton, appointed Lord Lieutenant in 1718, brought with him to Irelar a Mr. Edward Webster, whom he made Chief Secretary and a Privy Counselor. Bu gell, full of his own importance, was disgusted at the preference shown by the Dul for Webster, and affected on all occasions to treat him with the greatest contem Webster was not long in retaliating; and, among other things, insisted upon quarterin one of his friends upon Budgell, which he indignantly resisted ; and, not content wil overwhelming his adversary with the most violent abuse, he indiscreetly implicated t] Duke in the controversy, and openly charged him with folly and imbecility. The co sequences were, of course, his removal from office, and his being obliged to quit Irelar immediately, to avoid the storm he had so wantonly raised.

On his arrival in England, Addison obtained for him a promise of the patronage the Earl of Sunderland, which he forfeited by writing a pamphlet against the Peera Bill; and shortly after, the death of Addison annihilated all his prospects of Ministeri preferment.

In 1719, he traveled through part of France, Flanders, Brabant, and Holland; ar finally, joining the court at Hanover, returned with the Royal Suite to England. H tour failed to allay the irritation of his mind, which had become, in the opinion of h friends, an actual delirium. Regardless of the advantages he already possessed in creditable name, and an independent fortune, his restless ambition spurred bim forway in the vain pursuit of Office under Government, and when, at length, from repeated ry jections, he became sensible of the impossibility of his succeeding, drove him in the still more desperate scheme of Gambling in the Stocks. The South Sea Bubble this time (1720) presented to the rash and infatuated effectual means of speedy rui and Budgell in a very short time lost, it is said, £20,000. The Duke of Portland, fellow-sufferer, who had just been nominated to the Governorship of Jamaica, gene ously offered to take Budgell as his Secretary: but previously to embarking the Dul was visited by one of the Ministers, who told him “ that he might take any man i England except Mr. Budgell, but that he must not take him."

In this instance Budgell, certainly, was treated with injustice and cruelty. His rag knew no bounds; and, with a view to vindicate and avenge himself, he spent th

« PreviousContinue »