JOSEPH ADDISON (1 May 1672 – 17 June 1719) was an English essayist
, poet , playwright , and politician. He was the eldest son of The
Lancelot Addison . His name is usually remembered alongside
that of his long-standing friend,
Richard Steele , with whom he
* 1 Life and writing
* 1.1 Background * 1.2 Political career * 1.3 Magazine founder
* 1.4 Plays
* 1.4.1 Cato
* 1.5 Hymn
* 2 Marriage and death * 3 Contribution * 4 Timeline * 5 Albin Schram letters * 6 Analysis * 7 See also * 8 References * 9 External links
LIFE AND WRITING
Addison was born in
He returned to England at the end of 1703. For more than a year he
remained without employment, but the
Battle of Blenheim
Jonathan Swift in Ireland and remained there for a
year. Subsequently, he helped found the
Kitcat Club and renewed his
association with Richard Steele. In 1709 Steele began to bring out
Tatler , to which Addison became almost immediately a contributor:
thereafter he (with Steele) started
He wrote the libretto for Thomas Clayton 's opera Rosamond, which had a disastrous premiere in London in 1707. In 1713 Addison's tragedy Cato was produced, and was received with acclamation by both Whigs and Tories . He followed this effort with a comedic play, The Drummer (1716).
The actor John Kemble in the role of Cato in Addison's play, which he revived at Covent Garden in 1816, drawn by George Cruikshank . Main article: Cato, a Tragedy
In 1712, Addison wrote his most famous work of fiction, Cato, a
Tragedy. Based on the last days of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis , it
deals with such themes as individual liberty versus government
The play was a success throughout Britain and its possessions in the
Some scholars have identified the inspiration for several famous
quotations from the
(Supposed reference to Act II, Scene 4: "It is not now time to talk of aught/But chains or conquest, liberty or death.").
* Nathan Hale 's valediction: "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
(Supposed reference to Act IV, Scene 4: "What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country.").
* Washington's praise for
(Clear reference to Act I, Scene 2: "'Tis not in mortals to command success; but we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it.").
Not long after the American Revolution, Edmund Burke quotes the play as well in his Letter to Charles-Jean-François Depont (1789) in Further Reflections on the Revolution in France, saying the French may be yet be obliged to go through more transmigrations and "to pass, as one of our poets says, 'through great varieties of untried being'", before their state obtains its final form. The poet in reference is of course Addison and the passage Burke quoted is from Cato (V.i. II): "Through what variety of untried being,/Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!"
Though the play has fallen from popularity and is now rarely performed, it was widely popular and often cited in the eighteenth century, with Cato as an exemplar of republican virtue and liberty . For example, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon were inspired by the play to write a series of letters, Cato\'s Letters on individual rights, using the name "Cato".
The action of the play involves the forces of Cato at Utica ,
awaiting the arrival of Caesar just after Caesar's victory at Thapsus
(46 BC). The noble sons of Cato, Portius and Marcus, are both in love
with Lucia, the daughter of Lucius, a senatorial ally of Cato. Juba,
Addison wrote the popular church hymn "The Spacious Firmament on
High", publishing it in
MARRIAGE AND DEATH
The later events in the life of Addison did not contribute to his
happiness. In 1716, he married Charlotte, Dowager Countess of Warwick,
to whose son
Edward Rich, 7th Earl of Warwick , he had been tutor, and
his political career continued to flourish, as he served as Secretary
of State for the Southern Department from 1717 to 1718. However, his
political newspaper, The Freeholder, was much criticised, and
On 6 April 1808, after Addison's death, a town in upstate New York which had been originally organized as Middletown in March 1796 was changed to Addison , in honor of Joseph Addison.
It is mostly as an essayist that Addison is remembered today. Addison
began writing essays quite casually. In April 1709, his childhood
friend, Richard Steele, started The Tatler. Addison inspired him to
write this essay. Addison contributed 42 essays while Steele wrote
188. Of Addison's help, Steele remarked, "when I had once called him
in, I could not subsist without dependence on him". On 2 January
1711, The Tatler was discontinued. On 1 March 1711,
The breezy, conversational style of the essays later elicited Bishop Hurd 's reproving attribution of an "Addisonian Termination", for preposition stranding , the casual grammatical construction that ends a sentence with a preposition.
Besides the works above mentioned, he wrote an essay, Dialogues on Medals, and left incomplete a work, Of the Christian Religion. The 18th-century French priest and journalist Simon-Jérôme Bourlet de Vauxcelles (1733–1802) translated into French the ''Dialogues on Medals.
ALBIN SCHRAM LETTERS
In 2005 an Austrian banker and collector named Albin Schram died and, in his laundry room, a collection of around 1000 letters from great historical figures was found.
One was written by Joseph Addison, reporting on the debate in the House of Commons over the grant to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough , and his heirs, following the Battle of Ramillies . The letter was written on the day of the debate, probably to George Stepney .
Addison explains that the motion was opposed by Mr Annesley, Ward, Caesar and Sir William Vevian, "One said that this was showing no honour to His Grace but to a posterity that he was not concern'd in. Casar ... hoped ye Duke tho he had ben Victorious over the Enemy would not think of being so over a House of Commons: wch was said in pursuance to a Motion made by some of the Craftier sort that would not oppose the proposition directly but turn it off by a Side-Wind pretending that it being a money affaire it should be refer'd to a Committee of the whole House wch in all probability would have defeated the whole affaire...."
Following the Duke of Marlborough's highly successful campaigns of 1706, he and George Stepney became the first English regents of the Anglo-Dutch condominium for governing the southern Netherlands. It was Stepney who formally took possession of the principality of Mindelheim in Marlborough's name on 26 May, following the Battle of Ramillies. On Marlborough's return to London in November, Parliament granted his request that his grant of £5,000 'out of ye Post-Office' be made in perpetuity for his heirs.
A second letter to his friend Sir Richard Steele was also found, concerning the Tatler and other matters.
'I very much liked your last paper upon the Courtship that is usually paid to the fair sex. I wish you had reserved the Letter in this days paper concerning Indecencies at Church for an entire piece. It wd have made as good a one as any you have published. Your Reflections upon Almanza are very good.' The letter concludes with references to impeachment proceedings against Addison's friend, Henry Sacheverell ('I am much obliged to you for yor Letters relating to Sackeverell'), and the Light House petition: 'I am something troubled that you have not sent away ye Letters received from Ireland to my Lord Lieutenant, particularly that from Mr Forster with the Enclosed petition about the Light House, which I hope will be delivered to the House before my Return'.
Addison's character has been described as kind and magnanimous, albeit somewhat cool and unimpassioned. His appealing manners and conversation made him one of the most popular men of his day; and while he laid his friends under obligations for substantial favours, he showed great forbearance towards his few enemies. His essays are noted for their clarity and elegant style, as well as their cheerful and respectful humour. One flaw in Addison's character was a tendency to convivial excess, which nonetheless should be judged in view of the somewhat lax manners of his time.
"As a man, he may not have deserved the adoration which he received from those who, bewitched by his fascinating society, and indebted for all the comforts of life to his generous and delicate friendship, worshipped him nightly, in his favourite temple at Button’s. But, after full inquiry and impartial reflection, we have long been convinced that he deserved as much love and esteem as can be justly claimed by any of our infirm and erring race. Some blemishes may undoubtedly be detected in his character; but the more carefully it is examined, the more it will appear, to use the phrase of the old anatomists, sound in the noble parts, free from all taint of perfidy, of cowardice, of cruelty, of ingratitude, of envy. Men may easily be named, in whom some particular good disposition has been more conspicuous than in Addison. But the just harmony of qualities, the exact temper between the stern and the humane virtues, the habitual observance of every law, not only of moral rectitude, but of moral grace and dignity, distinguish him from all men who have been tried by equally strong temptations, and about whose conduct we possess equally full information." – Lord Macaulay
* Poetry portal
* Addison\'s Walk
* ^ "Addison, Joseph".
Dictionary of National Biography
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical
Dictionary of English Literature . London: J. M. Dent & Sons.