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near its end, he directed the young lord to be called; and when he desired, with great tenderness, to hear bis last injunctions, told him, “I have sent for you, that you may see how a Christian can die.” What effect this awful scene had on the earl, I know not: he likewise died himself in a short time.
In Tickell’s excellent Elegy on his friend are these
• He taught us how to live; and, oh! too high
The price of knowledge, taught us how to die in which he alludes, as he told Dr. Young, to this moving interview.
Having given directions to Mr. Tickell for the publication of his works, and dedicated them on his death-bed to his friend Mr. Craggs, he died, June 17, 1719, at Holland-house, leaving no child but a daughter 18
Of his virtue it is a sufficient testimony, that the resentment of party has transmitted no charge of any crime. He was not one of those who are praised only after death ; for bis merit was so generally acknowledged, that Swist, having observed that his election passed without a contest, adds, that, “if he proposed himself for king, he would hardly have been refused.”
His zeal for his party did not extinguish his kindness for the merit of his opponents: when he was Secretary in Ireland, he refused to intermit bis acquaintance with Swift.
Of bis habits, or external manners, nothing is so often mentioned as that timorous and sullen taciturnity, which his friends called modesty by too mild a
Steele mentions with great tenderness “ that remarkable bashfulness, which is a cloak that hides and muffles merit;" and tells us, “ that his abilities
18 She died at Bilton, in Warwicksbire, at a very ad-, vanced age, in 1797.
were covered only by modesty, which doubles the beauties which are seen, and gives credit and esteem to al} that are concealed.” Chesterfield affirms, that “ Addison was the most timorous and aukward man that he ever saw. And Addison, speaking of his own deficience in conversation, used to say of himself, that, with respect to intellectual wealth, could draw bills for a thousand pounds, though he had not a guinea in his pocket.”
That he wanted current coin for ready payment, and by that want was often obstructed and distressed; that he was often oppressed by an improper and ungraceful timidity, every testimony concurs to prove; but Chesterfield's representation is doubtless hyperbolical. That man cannot be supposed very unexpert in the arts of conversation and practice of life, who, without fortune or alliance, by his usefulness and dexterity, became secretary of state ; and who died at forty-seven, after having not only stood long in the highest rank of wit and literature, but filled one of the most important offices of state.
The time in wbich he lived had reason to lament bis obstinacy of silence; “ for he was,” says Steele, “ above all men in that talent called humour, and enjoyed it in such perfection, that I have often reflected, after a night spent with him apart from all the world, that I had had the pleasure of conversing with an intimate acquaintance of Terence and Catullus, who had all their wit and nature, heightened with humour more exquisite and delightful than any other man ever possessed.” This is the fondness of a friend; let us hear what is told us by a rival: “ Addison's conversation 19," says Pope, “had something in it more charming than I have found in any other man. But this was only when familiar: before strangers, or, perhaps, a single stranger, he preserved his dignity by a stiff silence.”
This modesty was by no means inconsistent with a very high opinion of his own merit. He demanded to be the first name in modern Wit; and, with Steele to echo him, used to depreciate Dryden, whom Pope and Congreve defended against them 20. There is no reason to doubt that he suffered too much pain from the prevalence of Pope's poetical reputation;
without strong reason suspected, that by some disingenuous acts he endeavoured to obstruct it; Pope was not the only man whom he insidiously injured, though the only man of whom he could be afraid.
His own powers were such as might have satisfied him with conscious excellence. Of very extensive learning he has indeed given no proofs. He seems to have had small acquaintance with the sciences, and to have read little except Latin and French ; but of the Latin poets bis · Dialogues on Medals' show that he had perused the works with great diligence and skill. The abundance of his own mind left him little indeed of adventitious sentiments, his wit always could suggest what the occasion demanded. He had read with critical eyes the important volume of human life, and knew the heart of man from the depths of stratagem to the surface of affectation.
What he knew he could easily communicate. “ This,” says Steele, was particular in this writer, that, when he had taken his resolution, or made his plan for what he designed to write, he would walk about a room, and dictate it into language with so much freedom and ease as any one could write it down, and attend to the coherence and grammar of what he dictated."
Pope 21, who can be less suspected of favouring his memory, declares that he wrote very fluently, but was slow and scrupulous in correcting; that many of bis Spectators were written very fast, and sentim
20 Tonson and Spence.
mediately to the press; and that it seemed to be for his advantage not to have time for much revisal.
“He would alter,” says Pope, “any thing to please his friends, before publication; but would not retouch his pieces afterwards; and I believe not one word in
Cato,' to which I made an objection, was suffered to stand.”
The last line of ‘ Cato' is Pope's, having been originally written.
! And oh! 'twas this that ended Cato's life.' Pope might have made more objections to the six concluding lines. In the first couplet the words ' from hence' are improper; and the second line is taken from Dryden's Virgil. Of the next couplet, the first verse, being included in the second, is therefore useless; and in the third Discord is made to produce Strife.
Of the course of Addison's familiar day?", before his marriage, Pope has given a detail. He had in the house with him Budgell, and perhaps Philips. His chief companions were Steele, Budgell, Philips, Carey, Davenant, and Colonel Brett. With one or other of these he always breakfasted, He studied all morning; then dined at a tavern; and went afterwards to Button's.
Button had been a servant in the Countess of Warwick's family, who, under the patronage of Addison, kept a coffee-house on the south side of Russel-street, about two doors from Covent-garden. Here it was that the Wits of that time used to assemble. It is said, when Addison had suffered any vexation from the Countess, he withdrew the company from Button's house.
From the coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often sat late, and drank too much wine. In the bottle, discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice
for courage, and bashfulness for confidence. It is not unlikely that Addison was first seduced to excess by the manumission which he obtained from the servile timidity of his sober hours. He that feels oppression from the presence of those to whom he knows himself superior, will desire to set loose his powers of conversation; and who, that ever asked succours from Bacchus, was able to preserve himself from being enslaved by his auxiliary?
Among those friends it was that Addison displayed the elegance of his colloquial accomplishments, which may easily be supposed such as Pope represents them. The remark of Mandeville, who, when he had passed an evening in his company, declared that he was a parson in a tye-wig, can detract little from bis character; he was always reserved to strangers, and was not incited to uncommon freedom by a character like that of Mandeville.
From any minute knowledge of his familiar manners, the intervention of sixty years has now debarred
Steele once promised Congreve and the public a complete description of his character; but the promises of authors are like the vows of lovers. Steele thought no more on bis design, or thought on it with anxiety that at last disgusted him, and left bis friend in the hands of Tickell.
One slight lineament of his character Swift has preserved. It was his practice, when he found any man invincibly wrong, to flatter his opinions by acquiescence, and sink him yet deeper in absurdity. This artifice of mischief was admired by Stella ; and Swift seems to approve her admiration.
His works will supply some information. It appears, from his various pictures of the world, that, with all his bashfulness, he had conversed with many distinct classes of men, had surveyed their ways with very diligent observation, and marked with great acuteness the effects of different modes or life. He