.571 1895 446479

First edition 1892.
Reprinted 1895.



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of Addison'

ADDISON'S life extends over a period of forty-seven Brief Sketc years only, from 1672 to 1719. At his birth, Charles Life. the Second was still on the throne; when he died, George the First had been reigning for five years. The interval had witnessed scenes as important as almost any in English history, and the change of thought, of social manners, of political and religious principles, was marked and permanent. With this change was a change in the tone of literature, to bring which about no one contributed more largely than Addison, no one with a spirit so entirely healthy. From the point of view of practical action, Addison's life was uneventful. Though a politician, for many years a Member of Parliament, Under Secretary for Ireland, Chief Secretary for Ireland, and finally Secretary of State, he never distinguished himself as a brilliant administrator, while as a speaker he was a complete failure. The life he loved was that of a student, not so much of books as of mankind; and this life, embellished by literature and poetry, and accompanied by the honour and respect of all whose honour and respect were worth having, he enjoyed almost without interruption. From the peaceful society of his


well-loved Latin poets during a sojourn of ten years at Oxford, he passed into the larger sphere of the busy world. A poetical address to Dryden on the subject of his translations from the classical poets brought him to the laureate's notice. By him, as it is supposed, the young poet was made known to Congreve, who in his turn, as stated by Steele, introduced him to Montague, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. Montague, himself a man of letters, if not of great literary skill, was struck with Addison's verses, Latin and English; and feeling that the grace of so facile and polished a writer would be valuable in political affairs, determined to employ him in the diplomatic service. With this object he procured for Addison a pension of £300 a year, to enable him to travel and so acquire that knowledge of foreign languages which was indispensable for a diplomatic career. Furnished with this help, and retaining the fellowship he had won at Oxford, Addison set out for France in 1699, and for nearly a year studied the French language at Blois. Having mastered his task, he repaired, in 1700, to Paris, where he remained till December, mixing with distinguished men of letters, and meeting, among others, the philosopher Malebranche and the critic Boileau. From France he passed on to Italy, and afterwards visited Switzerland, Austria, and Holland, returning to England in the autumn of 1703. Some time before his return, his patron, Montague, now Lord Halifax, had lost office on the accession of Queen Anne, with the consequence to Addison that all his hopes of a diplomatic career came to an end, and his pension was stopped. For more than a year he remained without employment. But "bountiful Fortune," his

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