Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/143

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Addison
Addison
129

the ‘Biographia Britannica,’ arguing for Addison's innocence, which has been proved by later revelations. Tickell's manuscript has been preserved, and proves his authorship of the translation. All that can possibly be said is that Addison did not prevent Tickell from publishing what (on Pope's own admission) he had a perfect right to publish, and what could in no case seriously injure Pope. The Warwick story is a bit of gossip which Pope (if indeed he did not invent it) should have rejected with scorn. Pope's main desire in the whole affair was apparently to disprove a report that the satire on Addison had been written after its victim's death. There is independent evidence, indeed, to disprove this, though there is also a very strong presumption that it was never shown to Addison. Pope's evidence in his own case is that of a man who lied by preference; it is irreconcilable with dates, and it is the more suspicious because we now know that almost the whole correspondence with Addison was deliberately manufactured by Pope from other letters in order to give colour to his account of their relations. The satire itself must stand upon its own base. It shows Pope's feeling towards Addison, and has that amount of truth, whatever it may be, which is implied in its internal probability and coherence. We may see that a keen but hostile observer could plausibly attribute to Addison the faults characteristic of the head of a coterie—love of flattery and jealousy of outsiders—and may infer that he saw one, though a very unfavourable, aspect of the truth.

After ‘Cato,’ Addison returned to essay writing. He contributed fifty-one papers to the ‘Guardian’ (which Steele now edited in place of the ‘Spectator’) between 28 May and 22 Sept. 1713, and twenty-four papers to a revived ‘Spectator,’ probably conducted by Budgell, between 18 June and 29 Sept. 1714. In the earlier part of the same year he gave two papers to Steele's ‘Lover.’ It is enough to say that these generally display the old qualities, but with fewer conspicuous successes. His purely literary activity ends with the production of the ‘Drummer,’ a prose comedy founded on the story of the drummer of Tedworth, told in Glanvill's ‘Sadducismus Triumphatus.’ Addison gave it to Steele with an especial injunction of secrecy. It was represented without success in 1715, and then published by Steele, who thought that beauties too delicate for a theatre might please in the closet. Tickell slurred its authenticity by excluding it from his edition of Addison's works; Steele vehemently protested in a dedicatory letter to Congreve prefixed to a new edition; nor has any critic since that time doubted that it displays Addison's characteristic humour without the dramatic force which he did not possess.

The death of Queen Anne and the triumph of the whigs restored Addison to politics. He was appointed secretary to the lords justices, and, on Sunderland becoming lord-lieutenant, to his old secretaryship. On Sunderland's retirement from this office after ten months' tenure, Addison was appointed one of the lords commissioners of trade. During the same period he had published the ‘Freeholder’ (fifty-five papers, from 23 Dec. 1715, to 9 June 1716), a political ‘Spectator’ in defence of orthodox whig principles imperilled by the rebellion in Scotland, and now remarkable chiefly for two numbers devoted to the tory fox-hunter—an admirable portrait halfway between Sir Roger de Coverley and Squire Western.

On 3 Aug. 1716, Addison was married to the Countess of Warwick. He was an old family friend; his residence at Chelsea had made him a neighbour of Holland House; and he had taken an interest in the education of her son, a lad of seventeen, though the statement that he had actually been his tutor is inaccurate. The courtship had lasted for some time, as appears from a copy of verses addressed by Rowe to the countess on Addison's departure for Ireland in the previous year. The marriage is generally said to have been uncomfortable. Johnson says that it resembled the marriages in which a sultan gives his daughter a man to be her slave; and there is a report that Addison used to escape from his uncomfortable splendour at Holland House to a coffee-house at Kensington. Little value can be attached to such gossip. The match probably facilitated Addison's official elevation. Sunderland triumphed over Townshend in the spring of 1717, and brought in Addison as his fellow secretary of state. Addison's political success must be considered chiefly as a proof of his extreme personal popularity. He had neither the power derived from great social position, nor that of a vigorous debater. It has been added (Spence, p. 175) that he was too fastidious in his style to be capable of writing a common despatch. Macaulay argues that this could only apply to an ignorance of official forms. No proof, indeed, is required that he could write easily, though he could polish carefully. Steele says that when Addison had settled his plan, he could walk about and dictate—and Steele had often been his amanuensis—as easily and correctly as his words could be written down. Pope says that the ‘Spectators’ were often written quickly and sent to press at once, and that he wrote best when he had not too much time