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King William, on one of his campaigns; and, by addressing it to Lord Somers, the keeper of the great seal, he procured the patronage of that nobleman. He thought to have entered into clerical orders, to which he was strongly solicited by his father, but the influence of Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to whom he had been introduced by Congreve, happening to concur with his natural timidity, he was diverted from this design. Having yet no public employment, through the recommendations of Somers and Montague, the king granted him a pension of £300, to enable him to execute a favourite project of travelling into Italy. Accordingly, in 1699, he made a tour into that country, which he surveyed with the rapture of a poet, and the judgment of a critic. The appearances of the mountains, woods, and rivers, he compared with the descriptions given by Virgil and Horace. During his travels he made various remarks, which he afterwards published; composed his dialogue on Medals; and wrote four acts of Cato. In 1701, he wrote from Italy his Poetical Epistle to Montague (then become lord Halifax) which has been much admired, but never beyond it's merit; it is justly considered the most elegant, if not the most sublime of his poetic compositions. He experienced however, during his absence from England, the common lot of those who are dependent on courts. pension was not regularly remitted, which urged his return. Distressed by want of money, he was necessitated to become the travelling tutor to a squire, whose name has not been recorded. In 1704, Addison celebrated the victory of Blenheim, and pane gyrized the actors in that scene with such address as induced Lord Godolphin, the treasurer, to appoint
him to succeed Mr. Locke as commissioner of appeals. He was soon after chosen Under Secretary of State, first to Sir Charles Hedges and then to the earl of Sunderland. About this time he wrote the opera of Rosamond, which met with neglect; he published it indeed with better fortune, but he discovered an absurd servility in inscribing it to the duchess of Marlborough, a woman," according to Johnson, "without skill, or pretensions to skill, in poetry or literature." He next assisted Steele in his play of the Tender Husband; who surprised his friend by a dedication openly avowing the obligation. In 1709, when the marquis of Wharton was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, Addison attended him as Secretary, and was made keeper of the records in Bermingham's Tower, with a salary augmented by the queen, for his accommodation, to £300 per annum. Tho' a keen whig, he did not relinquish his intimacy with Swift, who was attached to the tories. When in office he never in civility excused his friends the payment of fees, and throughout his life, he appears to have known the value of money, and to have had exact ideas of the duty of payment, when the time fixed was come. But it should not be forgotten, that he established it as a rule for himself, not to take more than the usual fees of his office. He even refused a bank note of £300, and afterwards a diamond ring of the same value, from a major Dunbar, whom he had endeavoured to serve by his interest with lord Sunderland. See Matty's Review, 1783. While -Addison was in Ireland, Steele began the Tatler, the first number of which appeared on the 12th of April 1709. These essays where published without the name of the author, but Addison discovered them to
be Steele's, and become a contributor. change of the ministry, Addison lost his employment, and found himself at leisure to engage more frequently in writing. The Tatler was succeeded by the Spectator, which began to be published on the first of March, 1711; and was continued daily till the 8th of December 1712. It was afterwards published in 8 vols. The greatest portion of this work was written by Addison, who distinguished his papers by one of the letters in the name CLIO. In 1713 the trage
dy of Cato was finished for the stage, and exhibited at Drury-lane, with such success that it was repeated thirty-five nights without intermission. "This noblest work of Addison's genius," which Dr Johnson says, scarcely contains a scene that the reader does not wish to impress upon his memory," owed much of it's celebrity to the political circumstances of the times. Known to be the production of a Whig, it was zealously applauded by those of that party; every line, favourable to liberty, was received with tumultuous approbation; and that approbation was echoed by the Tories, to shew that they did not feel the censure, which it was supposed to convey. Lord Bolingbroke called Booth, the actor who personated Cato, to his box, and gave him fifty guineas, for having, as he said, most ably supported the cause of free-dom against the encroachments and the violence of a perpetual dictator. The situation of a dramatic author on the first performance of his piece, may, in some degree, be imagined. How grateful the sounds of clamorous plaudits! how depressing those of hisses and groans! Judge, then, what was the situation of the timid Addison, subjected to all the excruciating tortures of an ambitious, yet fearful author. He
could not remain at home on the first night of Cato; for to have been told that his tragedy was driven from the stage with derision, had been like a poniard to his heart. His peril as an auditor, might have also been considerable. He contrived, therefore, neither to be present nor absent. Placing himself upon a bench in the green room, he kept by his side a friend who was to go every minute to the stage, to bring him tidings of what was passing. Such, however, was the vehemence of applause, that shouts of admiration forced their way through the walls of the room where he sat.
Yet not till the last sentence was spoken, and the curtain dropped upon Cato and his weeping friends, did the author venture to move from the inanimate position in which he was fixed. The acute dread of failure, now heightened the joy of success; and never was success so complete. Since this period it has been complained that the tragedy is deficient in power to effect the passions, and that the love-scenes are insipid; but it should be considered that neither Cato nor his family, with strict propriety, could love any thing but their country. The language and sentiments contained in this piece, says Mrs. Inchbald, are certainly worthy of the great Addison and ofthe great Cato; and if, as it is objected, the characters be too elevated to be natural, yet they accord with that idea of nature, which imagination conceives of such remarkable personages. The prologue was written by Pope. This tragedy has been recommended by numerous verses; among which those of Steele, Hughes, Young, Tickell, Jeffreys, and Eusden, are the most distinguished. It was translated into the French language and underwent both Italian and German versions. Soon after the appearance of Cato, another daily Es
sayist called the Guardian, was undertaken by Steele to which Addison contributed those papers marked with an 4. About the same time he formed
a plan for a dictionary of the English language, and had proceeded some length in the definition of words, and in a collection of authorities, when his political avocations prevented the final execution of his purpose. The work has since been performed by Dr. Johnson with ability and success. The Whig Examiner, and some other political papers, of which Addison was the author, are referred to this period. The Freeholder, was the last of the periodical publications in which he engaged; designed to support the established government. It appeared in 1715. In the year 1716, he married the countess dowager of Warwick, to whose son he had been tutor. The lady
was not to be wou but by tedious suing, and when the anxious consent was granted, it was under the persuasion of much condescension; nor did she ever forget her rank, believing that no culture of intellect, or exaltation of genius can repair the deficiency of coronets and ancestry. The majestic and repulsing behaviour of the countess often drove him from her society to a tavern, and when there, he was not in haste to return. It is certain, as Johnson remarks, that Addison has left behind him no encouragement to ambitious love. The following year he reached his highest elevation, being made secretary of state. His health, which had been impaired by an asthma, suffered greatly from the fatigue of his office. That solicitude of writing with elegance, which never forsook him, rendered the duties of his station so tedious to him that he retired from his office. He was grati fied, notwithstanding, with a pension of £1500 a year.