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upon the great reputation he acquired by his turn to business and his unblemished integrity, in this and other employments. It must not be omitted here, that the salary of Keeper of the Records in Ireland was considerably raised, and that post bestowed upon him, at this time, as a mark of the queen's favour. He was in that kingdom when he first discovered Sir Richard Steele to be the author of The Tatler, by an observation upon Virgil, which had been by him communicated to his friend. The assistance he occasionally gave him afterwards in the course of the paper, did not a little contribute to advance its reputation; and, upon the change of the ministry, he found leisure to engage more constantly in that work, which, however, was dropt at last, as it had been taken up, without his participation.
In the last paper, which closed those celebrated performances, and in the preface to the last volume, Sir Richard Steele has given to Mr. Addison the honour of the most applauded pieces in that collection. But as that acknowledgment was delivered only in general terms, without directing the public to the several papers, Mr. Addison, who was content with the praise arising from his own works, and too delicate to take any part of that which belonged to others, afterwards thought fit to distinguish his writings in the Spectators and Guardians, by such marks as might remove the least possibility of mistake in the most undiscerning readers. It was necessary that his share in the Tatlers should be adjusted in a complete collection of his works; for which reason Sir Richard Steele, in compliance with the request of his deceased friend, delivered to him by the editor, was pleased to mark with his own hand those Tatlers which are inserted in this edition, and even to point out several in the writing of which they both were concerned.
The plan of the Spectator, as far as it regards the feigned person of the author, and of the several characters that compose his club, was projected in concert with Sir Richard Steele. And, because many passages in the course of the work would otherwise be obscure, I have taken leave to insert one single paper, written by Sir Richard Steele, wherein those characters are drawn, which may serve as a Dramatis Personæ, or as so many pictures for an ornament and explication of the whole. As for the distinct papers, they were never or seldom shown to each other by their respective
authors, who fully answered the promise they had made, and far out-went the expectation they had raised, of pursuing their labour in the same spirit and strength with which it was begun. It would have been impossible for Mr. Addison, who made little or no use of letters sent in by the numerous correspondents of the Spectator, to have executed his large share of this task in so exquisite a manner, if he had not ingrafted into it many pieces that had lain by him in little hints and minutes, which he from time to time collected, and ranged in order, and moulded into the form in which they now appear. Such are the Essays upon Wit, the Pleasures of the Imagination, the Critique upon Milton, and some others, which I thought to have connected in a continued series in this edition; though they were at first published with the interruption of writings on different subjects. But as such a scheme would have obliged me to cut off several graceful introductions and circumstances, peculiarly adapted to the time and occasion of printing them, I durst not pursue that attempt.
The Tragedy of Cato appeared in public in the year 1713, when the greatest part of the last act was added by the author to the foregoing, which he had kept by him for many years. He took up a design of writing a play upon this subject, when he was very young at the university, and even attempted something in it there, though not a line as it now stands. The work was performed by him in his travels, and retouched in England, without any formed resolution of bringing it upon the stage, till his friends of the first quality and distinction prevailed with him to put the last finishing to it, at a time when they thought the doctrine of liberty very seasonable. It is in everybody's memory, with what applause it was received by the public; that the first run of it lasted for a month; and then stopped, only because one of the performers became incapable of acting a principal part. The author received a message, that the queen would be pleased to have it dedicated to her; but as he had designed that compliment elsewhere, he found himself obliged by his duty on the one side, and his honour on the other, to send it into the world without any dedication. The fame of this Tragedy soon spread through Europe, and it has not only been translated, but acted in most of the languages of Christendom. The translation of it into Italian, by Signor
Salvini, is very well known; but I have not been able to learn, whether that of Signor Valetta, a young Neapolitan nobleman, has ever been made public.
If he had found time for the writing of another tragedy, the death of Socrates would have been the story. And, however unpromising that subject may appear, it would be presumptuous to censure his choice, who was so famous for raising the noblest plants from the most barren soil. It serves to show, that he thought the whole labour of such a performance unworthy to be thrown away upon those intrigues and adventures, to which the romantic taste has confined modern tragedy; and, after the example of his predecessors in Greece, would have employed the drama "to wear out of our minds everything that is mean, or little; to cherish and cultivate that humanity which is the ornament of our nature; to soften insolence, to soothe affliction, and to subdue our minds to the dispensations of Providence."1
Upon the death of the late queen, the Lords Justices, in whom the administration was lodged, appointed him their Secretary. Soon after his Majesty's arrival in Great Britain, the Earl of Sunderland being constituted Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Mr. Addison became a second time Secretary for the affairs of that kingdom; and was made one of the Lords Commissioners of Trade a little after his Lordship resigned the post of Lord Lieutenant.
The paper called the Freeholder was undertaken at the time when the rebellion broke out in Scotland.
The only works he left behind him for the public, are the Dialogues upon Medals, and the Treatise upon the Christian Religion. Some account has been already given of the former, to which nothing is now to be added, except that a great part of the Latin quotations were rendered into English, in a very hasty manner, by the editor, and one of his friends, who had the good nature to assist him, during his avocations of business. It was thought better to add these translations, such as they are, than to let the work come out unintelligible to those who do not possess the learned languages.
The scheme for the Treatise upon the Christian Religion was formed by the author about the end of the late queen's 1 Spectator, No. 39.
reign; at which time he carefully perused the ancient writings, which furnish the materials for it. His continual employment in business prevented him from executing it, till he resigned his office of Secretary of State; and his death put a period to it, when he had imperfectly performed only one half of the design; he having proposed, as appears from the introduction, to add the Jewish to the Heathen testimonies for the truth of the Christian history. He was more assiduous than his health would well allow in the pursuit of this work; and had long determined to dedicate his poetry also, for the future, wholly to religious subjects.
Soon after he was, from being one of the Lords Commissioners of Trade, advanced to the post of Secretary of State, he found his health impaired by the return of that asthmatic indisposition, which continued often to afflict him during his exercise of that employment, and at last obliged him to beg his Majesty's leave to resign. His freedom from the anxiety of business so far re-established his health, that his friends began to hope he might last for many years; but (whether it were from a life too sedentary, or from his natural constitution, in which was one circumstance very remarkable, that, from his cradle, he never had a regular pulse) a long and painful relapse into an asthma and dropsy deprived the world of this great man, on the 17th of June, 1719. He left behind him only one daughter, by the Countess of Warwick, to whom he was married in the year 1716.
Not many days before his death, he gave me directions to collect his writings, and at the same time committed to my care the Letter addrest to Mr. Craggs, (his successor as Secretary of State,) wherein he bequeaths them to him, as a token of friendship. Such a testimony, from the first man of our age, in such a point of time, will be, perhaps, as great and lasting an honour to that gentleman, as any even he could acquire to himself; and yet is no more than was due from an affection, that justly increased towards him through the intimacy of several years. I cannot, without the utmost tenderness, reflect on the kind concern with which Mr. Addison left me as a sort of encumbrance upon this valuable legacy. Nor must I deny myself the honour to acknowledge, that the goodness of that great man to me, like many other of his amiable qualities, seemed not so much to be renewed as
continued in his successor; who made me an example, that nothing could be indifferent to him which came recommended by Mr. Addison.
Could any circumstance be more severe to me, while I was executing these last commands of the author, than to see the person, to whom his works were presented, cut off in the flower of his age, and carried from the high office wherein he had succeeded Mr. Addison, to be laid next him in the same grave! I might dwell upon such thoughts as naturally rise from these minute resemblances in the fortune of two persons, whose names, probably, will be seldom mentioned asunder, while either our language or story subsist, were I not afraid of making this preface too tedious; especially since I shall want all the patience of the reader, for having enlarged it with the following verses.