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DIED A. D. 1718.
This celebrated poet and physician was descended from a respectable family in Yorkshire. He studied at Peterhouse college, Cambridge; and received the degree of M. D., at that university, in 1691. Soon after this, he went to London, and was admitted a member of the college of physicians there.
At this time the college was engaged in a dispute with the apothecaries of London, relative to a project which the physicians had set on foot for supplying the sick poor with medicines gratis. This the apothecaries opposed, dreading that it might injure their retail trade, and they succeeded in turning over several of the fellows of the college to their views. Dr Garth saw and resolved to expose the selfishness of the men, which he soon afterwards did in an admirable poem, entitled 'The Dispensary,' which was most favourably received by the public, and produced a strong impression against the apothecaries. It passed through six editions in as many years; but every successive edition presented the poem in an improved and extended form. 'The Dispensary,' among many careless, and many languid lines, exhibits no small share of learning, with a few vigorous and many highly polished passages. The enemies of Dr Garth accused him of borrowing many hints from the Lutrin of Boileau, and from the classics; but this is surely quite an allowable species of theft in poems of this kind. It is in fact, in the ingenious and grotesque adaptation of several Homeric passages that much of the excellence of this mock-heroic poem consists. An alarming explosion of some chymical preparation, which breaks up a meeting at Apothecaries' hall rather precipitately, produces the following simile:
"So when the giants strove
To invade the skies, and wage a war with Jove,
He represents the ghost of Guiacum, in the shades below, tormented by the spectres of his patients, the victims of his ill-conduct, and injudicious treatment on earth,
"Who vex'd with endless clamour his repose:
Not content with the flagellation he had bestowed upon selfish apothecaries and ignorant pretenders to the healing art in 'The Dispensary,' Garth, having been appointed to deliver the Harveian oration, in 1697, assailed them in such vigorous and pointed Latinity, that the whole city rung with their shame, and Garth became the most admired in literary circles, and the most employed of physicians. Garth was in politics a decided whig; and contrived to introduce a eulogy on the Revolution into his Harveian oration. His professional rival, Dr Radcliffe, was an equally decided tory; but the death of the latter left Garth an open field for practice amongst both tories and whigs.
On the accession of George I., Garth had the honour of being knighted. He died in 1718. Spence says, "He was rather doubtful and fearful than religious. It was usual for him to say, 'that if there was such a thing as religion, 'twas among the Roman catholics,' probably," adds Spenee, "from the greater efficacy we give the sacraments. He died a papist, as I was assured by Mr Blount, who carried the Father to him in his last hours." On this subject the reader will find some judicious reflections appended to our notice of Wycherley.
BoHN A. D. 1672. DIED A. D. 1719.
This eminent writer was the eldest son of Dr Lancelot Addison, dean of Litchfield, by his first wife, a sister of Dr William Gulston, bishop of Bristol, and was born on the 1st of May, 1672, at his father's rectory of Milston in Wiltshire. He was put to school, first at the neighbouring town of Amesbury, and afterwards at Salisbury, from whence he was finally transferred to the Charter-house. It was here he formed his acquaintance with Sir Richard Steele, his well-known associate in some of the most distinguished literary undertakings of his future life. When he had attained the age of fifteen, he was entered of Queen's-college, Oxford, where his reputation soon fulfilled the most sanguine expectations of his friends. The earliest proofs which he gave of his talents and scholarship were some performances in Latin verse, which were afterwards collected and published in the second volume of 'The Musae Anglicanae.' The first production he offered to the world in his native tongue was a poetical tribute addressed to Dryden, which appeared when he was in his twenty-second year. It was fortunate enough to win the approbation of the great poet, and was quickly followed by a translation of the fourth book of Virgil's 'Georgics,' which Dryden has also warmly commended. The critical dissertation prefixed to Dryden's own version of the ' Georgics,' published soon after, which he states to be from the pen of a friend, is now known to have been likewise written by Addison. Thus honoured by the encouragement and the friendship of the highest living authority in literature, our young author now deemed that he might presume to introduce his muse to the notice of the dispensers of more substantial patronage; which he did by the publication of a poem on one of King William's campaigns, addressed to the lord-keeper Somers. For this his reward was a pension of £300 a year, obtained by the interest of that minister. His Latin poems, already mentioned, appeared about the same time, dedicated to another influential member of the cabinet, Mr Montagu, the chancellor of the exchequer, better known by the title of Lord Halifax, which was soon after conferred upon him. Mr Addison had been originally intended for the church; but, according to one account, his distrust in his own qualifications for the sacred office,—according to another, the solicitations of his new friends, and the more brilliant prospects which their protection opened to him, induced him to determine upon abandoning that destination; and towards the end of the year 1699 he took advantage of the means which his pension afforded him, to set out on a tour to Italy. It was from this country that, in 1701, he addressed his well-known letter to his patron, Lord Halifax, then retired from the cabinet, and the object of an impeachment by the house of commons.
The death of King William in the spring of 1702, and the change of ministry which ensued, deprived him not only of an expected appointment near the person of Prince Eugene, but also of his pension, and forced him to return home. For some time after his arrival in England he remained without any employment,—nor does he appear to have written any thing for the public. During this interval his father died. The battle of Blenheim, fought in August, 1704, was accidentally the occasion of recalling him at once to authorship, and to the political career from which he had formerly been withdrawn when on the point of entering it. In a conversation which happened to take place a short time after the victory, between Godolphin, then lord-treasurer, and Halifax, the former expressed his wish that he knew some person who would undertake the task of celebrating so splendid a national achievement in verse. Halifax immediately named his friend, the author of the 'Letter from Italy,' as one more capable than any other living writer of doing justice to the theme, and who, if duly encouraged, would no doubt gladly exert his talents in such a service. The consequence was, a request from the lord-treasurer to Addison, transmitted through Mr Boyle, (afterwards Lord Carlton,) the chancellor of the exchequer, that he would invoke his muse to sing this new tale of ' Arms and the Man.' In no long time, accordingly, the poem of ' The Campaign' made its appearance, its author having been already appointed a commissioner of appeals by Godolphin, to whom the performance had been submitted when it was advanced as far as the celebrated simile of the angel. In 1705 Addison accompanied Lord Halifax to Hanover; and in 1706 he was appointed to the place of under-sccretary of state. The road of political advancement was now open before him, but fortunately for letters and for his own fame, he did not suffer either the cares or the charms of office to withdraw him wholly from his original pursuits. Soon after this he again came before the world in his character of poet, by the composition of his English opera of ' Rosamond,' which, however, did not meet with much success on the stage. An anonymous political pamphlet, entitled, 'The Present State of the War,' which appeared in November, 1707, is believed to have also proceeded from his pen. In 1709 he went over to Ireland in the quality of secretary to the marquess of Wharton, who was then invested with the lord-lieutenancy of that kingdom; and he was at the same time appointed to the office of keeper of the Irish records, with an augmented salary.
It was during his absence from England that the first number of 'The Tatler' appeared, on the 12th of April, 1709. It is said that Addison discovered the author to be his friend Steele, from an observation on Virgil which he had himself communicated to him. His assistance was offered as a contributor to the work, in which, as is wellknown, he soon took a distinguished part. The change of ministry, and his loss of office, which ere long took place, left him the more leisure for this employment of his pen. He is also understood to have
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contributed on several occasions to a political paper, 'The Whig Examiner,' the first number of which appeared on the 14th of September, 1710. This publication, being intended to combat the famous 'Tory Examiner,' kept no measures in its invective any more than its antagonist; and Addison's papers, of which there are five, are marked by nearly as much asperity of style as any others in the collection. The 'Taller' was brought to a close on the 2d of January, 1711; but only to be followed almost immediately by its still more celebrated successor, the ' Spectator,' which began to be published on the 1st of March. To the ' Spectator,' Addison was a regular and active contributor from its commencement; and he owes his extensive popularity as an English classic, more to the felicitous productions of his genius which he consigned to its pages, than to any thing else to which his name is attached. The ' Spectator,' of which so many as 20,000 copies were sometimes sold in a day, terminated on the 6th of September, 1712, and was followed by the 'Guardian,' which continued during the years 1713 and 1714, and in which Addison also wrote largely. In 1713 appeared his celebrated tragedy of ' Cato,' which was acted for thirty-five successive nights amid the contending applauses of the two great political parties who divided the nation, and who, amusingly enough, were both equally zealous in interpreting the story of the last struggle of Roman liberty as a defence of their own principles, and a satire on those of their opponents. The author, however—who, as Pope with some degree of ingenious spite informs us, "sweated behind the scenes with concern to find their applause proceeding more from the hand than the head"—was indemnified by the praises and honours which his drama received, in quarters where such feelings could not be said to operate. Several translations of it were made both into the French and Italian languages; and it is stated to have been made the subject of imitation even in Germany, between which country and our own there was in those days but little literary intercourse. A political squib, which appeared this year, entitled, 'The Trial and Conviction of Count Tariff,' directed against the ministry and their treaty of commerce with France, is also understood to have proceeded from the pen of Addison, and has been printed by his friend and executor, Mr Tickell, among his collected works.
The death of Queen Anne, in 1714, effected a complete revolution in political arrangements, and once more introduced our author and his friends to power. The lords-justices immediately appointed Mr Addison their secretary; and it is said that upon the formation of the new ministry he was invited to accept the post of secretary of state, which, however, he declined, preferring to go back to Ireland in his former capacity of secretary to the lord-lieutenant, now the earl of Sunderland. The earl, however, was soon recalled from his viceroyalty, and Addison was at the same time transferred from his secretaryship to be one of the lords of trade. On the breaking out of the rebellion in 1715, he again assumed his pen, and wielded it with great effect in support of the government, by the publication of ' The Freeholder,' the first number of which appeared on the 23d of September in that year, and the last (the fifty-fifth,) on the 29th of June, 1716. It was about this time also, that his verses to Sir Godfrey Kneller, on the king's picture, and one or two othor minor poetical pieces, were given to the world. In 1716 he married the dowager-countess of Warwick, with whom, however, he did not lead a happy life. In April, 1717, he was appointed one of the secretaries of state, but he did not hold this high office quite twelve months, having resigned in March the year following, under the plea of ill health, although it is now understood that his retirement would have been rendered necessary at any rate, not only by his unserviceableness in the house of commons—of which his constitutional bashfulness kept him a silent member—but even by his insufficiency for the more private business of his situation; this great writer, it is said, frequently occasioning the most inconvenient delays from his hesitation in inditing a common note. He failed from taking too great pains to succeed,—a fault only to be fallen into by no ordinary mind. It is probable that it was a consciousness of his unfitness which induced him to decline the secretaryship of state when it was first offered to him. Whether it was the vexation of this failure that broke his health, or a lamentable habit of over-indulgence in wine which he had allowed to grow upon him, or both causes combined, he was now in a state of great debility. Some time after he had thrown off the anxieties of business, however, a partial recovery reanimated the hopes of his friends; but it was soon followed by a relapse, and he breathed his last at Holland-house, on the 17th of June, 1719, when just entering the forty-eighth year of his age. Before he expired, he sent for his step son, the earl of Warwick, then in his twenty-first year, and, while the young nobleman stood at his bedside to receive his commands, grasping his hand, he said he had called him that he might see with what peace a Christian could die. He left an only daughter by the countess. Besides the titles we have enumerated, a few others require to be noticed, in order to complete the catalogue of Mr Addison's writings. Sir Richard Steele acknowledges himself indebted to him for a considerable part of his comedy of the • Tender Husband,' which appeared in 1704; and he is also known to be the author of the ' Drummer, or the Haunted House,' which originally appeared anonymously, but with a preface by Steele, stating it to be the work of a friend. Some papers in a continuation of the ' Spectator,' which was attempted, but soon dropped, and one or two in a publication of a similar nature, entitled, the ' Lover,' were contributed by him during the years 1713 and 1714. Two pamphlets, bearing the title of the 'Old Whig,' which appeared in 1719, in support of the bill introduced that year to limit the prerogative of the crown in the creation of peers, are also known to be the productions of his pen. They were the last which he sent to the press, and were written in reply to the 'Plebeian,' a paper by his old friend Steele, whom he assails both with derision and acrimony, while Steele, on his part, answered the attack in the same spirit of virulent hostility. Such was the sequel of the literary partnership which has transmitted the two names to posterity in such bright and intimate union, that the one can scarcely be mentioned without recalling the other.
Addison's excellent 'Dialogues on Ancient Medals' were first printed in the edition of his collected works published after his death by Mr Tickell; but the work had been begun when he was in Italy in 1702, and appears to have been ready for the press in 1715, at which time Pope addressed to the author the fifth of his 'Moral Epistles,' in reference to the forthcoming volume. The same collection likewise