« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
friend, and for this reason, Steele has scarcely received all the praise he deserved. Essays that will not bear to be compared with those of Addison, may still be excellent compositions. Many of Steele's lively sketches are most excellent. They gave a spirit and variety to The SpectaTOR, which this renowned serial would not have possessed, had it been the work of Addison alone. Steele's writings must therefore be read with indulgence, and they will be found very pleasant reading. Their errors of taste indeed were such as Addison's scrupulous delicacy most carefully avoided, but their blemishes may be admitted, and yet these papers will still be worthy of our esteem. Nor was Sir Richard Steele at all a bad, nor an angenerous man; he was eminently frank, good-natured, and kind-hearted. His moral character has suffered as much as his genius by being continually associated with that of Addison. To appreciate Steele at his just merits, the manners of his time must be considered, and his illustrious friend for a moment put out of view. If Steele be compared, not with Addison, but with any other author of his day, he will appear to much greater advantage. It will scarcely be alleged, even by those who regard him with least esteem, that he was worse than Wycherly, Pope, Swift, or Bolingbroke. He was indeed a vehement party man, but he was always an honest and consistent party man in an age of very lax pablic principle. He did not, like Swift, go at one time all lengths with the Whigs, and at another all lengths with the Tories, without a pretence of devotion to anything but a selfish interest. Steele declared that he ever felt subjected to the genius of his great literary associate : and the oppression which he felt so much during their intimacy has continued even after he has long been in his grave. It is surely possible to admire Addison without being unjust to his humbler colleague in The Spectator.
And then this long intimacy was at last interrupted, and Addison went down to his grave without a thorough reconciliation with his old school. fellow of the Charter House. What an edifying SPECTATOR could Addi. son have written on such a disagreement between two such friends ! 1. Every reader of THE SPECTATOR will however be gratified to find that at least one painful story about Addison's calling Steele “ Little Dicky, whose trade it is to write pamphlets,” after having been repeated for more than a century by those who ought to have been well informed, has, by a simple reference to the pamphlet in which this allusion was asserted to be made, been entirely disproved.
Mr. Macaulay referred to the “Old Whig," and found that the “ little YOL. I.
Dicky" alluded to was not Sir Richard Steele, but a little actor who played the usurer Gomez in Dryden's “ Spanish Friar." No person can read the passage without being convinced that there is no foundation for the idle tale which obtained so much currency.
It is a proof how eagerly every story to Addison's discredit has been seized upon and magnified. When the most serious of the few charges that malignity itself could coin against this great and good man has thus been disposed of, it is but simple justice to doubt whether there is any more foundation for the other calumnies.
Mr. Thackeray, in those Lectures which have been so long advertised, and never yet published, while considering Addison as a saint, still believes that his saint was jealous of Pope. It is certain that Pope was jealous of Addison, and indeed of everybody else, who ever crossed the path of his genius. It is certain that Addison was never accused of being jealous of any other person, and that Pope's malignity was universal. As a moral censor, Addison could scarcely have done less than condemn Pope's personalities. Pope was indeed vexed at being thus rebuked, as it is always found that he who is the most ready to attack others is always the most sensitive when his own weapons are turned ever so gently against himself.
All must regret that Addison's later years were not quite happy. He married the Countess Dowager of Warwick ; but he was more contented when living in a garret, than in the Countess's magnificent habitation. He was made Secretary of State : but bad health, and not, as has been most ridiculously supposed, official unfitness, soon obliged him to resign the seals. As for his not being able to take part in debate, that was of course known before he became secretary ; but to believe that he could not transact the mere business of his department, we must forget how many very stupid men have made respectable ministers.
Addison died at Holland House on the 17th of June, 1719. Steele sur. vived his old friend ten years, and suffered much both from poverty, ill. health, and remorse. He died in the September of 1729.
A melancholy feeling is experienced in thus contemplating the last years of the two unrivalled essayists. But at the name of Eustace Budgell, who next to Steele and Addison, was the most frequent of the contributors to The Spectator, still sadder and more tragic recollections crowd upon the mind,
He was born in 1685, the son of a clergyman of Exeter. His mother was the sister of Addison's; the two authors were therefore cousins. Bud. gell's relationship was a passport to Addison's favour; and Eustace owed to his cousin all his worldly greatness. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, and afterwards at the Inner Temple. When Budgell thus needed assistance, his cousin was rapidly becoming a great man, and Addison's couatenance was the means of his being admitted into the literary circles of the metropolis. When Addison went to Ireland as secretary, he marle Budgell a clerk in the office, and they lived together in the closest intimacy. When The Spectator was commenced, Budgell soon became a contributor, and it is said by Dr. Johnson that Addison revised his cousin's contributions. When Ambrose Philips' “ Distressed Mother” was produced on the stage, Budgell got the credit of the most successful epilogue that was ever written, though there is every reason to believe that Addisou voluntarily surrendered his claim to the piece for the purpose of advancing Budgell's interests. When Addison became Secretary of State, he made Budgell accountant and comptroller-general of the Irish revenue.
Such were Addison's many kindnesses to his cousin. A little prudence on the part of Budgell would have placed his fortune on a secure elevation. By the death of his father he enjoyed a handsome competence. But his temper was unamiable and violent. He quarrelled with the Irish Secretary, and did not even hesitate to attack the Lord Lieutenant. Budgell was dismissed from his office, and instead of taking Addison's advice and declining any further controversy, he rushed into print with his injuries. Addison died, and in his grave was buried his cousin's prosperity. Budgell lost £20,000 in the South Sea mania, and made himself so much the object of ininisterial resentment, that when the Duke of Portland, whose fortune had suffered in the same gambling scheme, offered to take the unhappy man as his secretary, on being appointed to the Governorship of Jamaica, it was immediately intimated to his Grace that her Majesty's ministers would rather see any man in the kingdom patronized than Budgell. The poor fellow then became outrageous, spent the remaining part of his fortune in an attempt to get a seat in the House of Commons, and sunk into that most despicable of all characters, a mercenary lampooner. With his self-respect, his religious faith deserted him, and he is said among other literary occupations, to have assisted in the publication of Tindall's "Christianity older than the Creation." He was certainly this infidel's intimate friend, and on his death was found to be his heir. The will, however, on inquiry was declared void, and Budgell was therefore considered a forger. The press teemed with abuse against the un. fortunate man. Pope, with the keenest sarcasm, said of the forger and lampooner :
“Let Budgell charge low Grub-street at my quill,
And write whate'er he pleased, except my will.” This could not continue. Tortured by remorse, harassed by poverty, loaded with infamy, deprived of the consolations of religion, and perhaps feeling more deeply than anything else, the contrast between his present wretchedness and the happiness he enjoyed when he was under the watchful eye
his illustrious cousin, whose advice he had disregarded, existence became intolerable to him, and he put an end to his life of shame and misery, by throwing himself out of a boat, as it was passing under London Bridge. His veneration for Addison was strikingly evinced in his last dreadful hour. A scrap of paper was found in his room after his death, with these words written upon it :
“What Cato did, and Addison approved,
Cannot be wrong.”
From the terrible picture of guilt and remorse that the life of Eustace Budgell exhibits, it is a relief to return to the least celebrated of the regular contributors to THE SPECTATOR, but also perhaps the most happy. John Hughes did not, like Addison, seek happiness in a palace, nor like Steele, habitually act contrary to the aspirations of his better nature, nor like Budgell, become a self-murderer. Ill health was the only evil that ever darkened the innocent brightness of Hughes' existence; and he had even, as Steele most affectionately says, none of the invalid's faults. His great happiness consisted in seeing others happy. When his health permitted any exertion, he devoted himself enthusiastically to drawing, music, and poetry. He practise the same precepts he so eloquently recommended to the many. His life was regulated by morality and religion, and so far from repining at the strength and jollity of others, he rejoiced that his delicate constitution preserved him from any danger of falling into their excesses.
This excellent man was born at Marlborough in the January of 1677, and he died of a disease in the lungs in February, 1720, on the very night when his “ Siege of Damascus " was first performed. *Though not a great poet, Hughes was extremely poetical, and had so much of Addi. son's confidence, that he was allowed to prepare a fifth act to “Cato." This Hughes seriously set about doing, and only relinquished it on finding that Addison himself had resumed the task, which had been so long suspended.
Addison, Steele, Budgell, and Hughes, can alone be considered as regular contributors to The SPECTATOR. No other author can be said with certainty to have written more than four papers ; nor are the names of many of those occasional contributors always correctly ascertained. Of the 635 essays, Addison is understood to have written 274, Steele 240, Budgell 37, and Hughes about 11. Addison's contributions are distinguished by one of the letters in the word, Clio, but the initials at the end of the other contributions are very uncertain indications of their authorship. It will always be advisable to print the name of each contributor with each paper, when its authenticity is known. Of the essays that remain entirely unappropriated, many, it is probable, were written by Tickell ; for it is not credible that he only wrote part of two papers; yet in the ordinary lists of contributors to The SPECTATOR, this is all that appears under his name.
Of the occasional contributors to THE SPECTATOR, the limits assigned to this Introduction will not permit much to be said, nor is it necessary to dwell at any length on the writer of a single essay or letter. Henry Grove, a dissenting minister, was the author of four excellent papers, Xos. 588, 601, 626, and the last paper of the series. It was one of Mr. Grove's essays, that, according to Johnson, quickened Baretti's curiosity to visit England; for, said Baretti, “if such are the lighter periodical essays of English authors, their productions on more weighty occasions must be wonderful indeed." This anecdote is very surprising, for whatever may be the merits of Mr. Grove's four contributions they are certainly not remarkable for lightness. Had Baretti met with one of Addison's papers, this effect would not have appeared so extraordinary.
Steele affirmed that Pope really contributed to THE SPECTATOR, but the poet's papers have never been satisfactorily indicated. The two essays on the passions (Nos. 404 and 408), have been ascribed to him, and internal evidence in the absence of all other testimony will fully establish his claim to their authorship. Pope's prose was not inferior to his poetry. Addison himself scarcely wrote with more elegance, and these two papers have all the imagery and finish which were so natural to the bard of