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AND C. BINGHAM, CORNHILL,
L I I F E
JOSEPH ADDISON, Eso
HE juftly admired Addison, was born May ift; 1672, at Milton in Wiltshire, England, where his father Dr. Lancelot Addison was rector. Addison is fupposed by some writers, to have produced upwards of a fourth part of the spectator and Guardian, besides, feveral other works of merit.
He was appointed secretary to the regency on the death of queen Anne; being required to send notice to Hanover, of that circumstance, and that the throne was vacant. To do this would not have been diffe.' cult to any man but Addison, who was so distracted by a choice of expression, on this occasion, that the Jords, who could not wait for the niceties of criticism, called Mr. Southwell, a clerk in the house, and ordered him to dispatch the message. Southwell readily told what was necessary, in the common stile of bu. finess, and boasted his having done what appeared too hard for Addison.
In 1716, he married the countefs dowager of Warwick. He is said to have firit become acquainted with this lady, when he was tutor to her fon. It is reported, that his marriage did not add much to his
happiness ; the countess always remembered her rank, and treated the former tutor of her son with but little ceremony. It is well kaown, that Mr. Addison hath left behind him no inducenient to ambitious matches.
He was made fecretary of state, in 1717; but it is generally allowed that he was. not wel calculated for that station ; being no orator, he could not harangue in the house of commons in defence of the governí ment. He soon relinquished this office, and obtained a pension of 1500l per annum.
Dr. Samuel Johnson's admirable delineation of the character of Addison, concludes thus, “ He employed wit on the side of virtue and religion ; he not only made the proper use of wit himself, but taught it to others; and from his time it has been generally subfervient to the cause of reason and truth. He has disa Gipated the prejudices that liad long connected gaiety with vice, and easiness of manners with laxity of printiples. He has restored virtue to its dignity, and taught innocence not to be ashamed. This is an elevation of literary character, above all “ Greek, above all Roman name.” No greater felicity can genius attain than that of having purified intellectual pleasure, separated mirth from indecency, and wit from licentiousness; of having taught a fucceffion of writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the aid of goodness; and if I may use expreffions yet more awful, of having "turned many to righteousness.”
“ As a teacher of wisdom he may be confidently followed : his religion has nothing in it enthusiastic or superstitious; he appears neither weakly credulous, nor wantorly sceptical; his morality is neither dangeroufly lax, not impractically rigid."
Addison, has given abundant proof of his firm belief of Christianily, and his zcal against unbelievers, in his evidences of the Christian religion.
“Let it be fuppofed, says he, that a heathen philosopher, who flourished within fixty years of our Saviour's crucifixion, after having shewn that falfe miracles were generally wrought in obscurity, and before
few or no witneffes, treating on the miracles of Christ, should have thus exprefled himself."
“ But the works of Christ were always seen true ; they were seen by those who were healed, and thote who were raised from the dead. Many of the persons who were thus healed and raised, were seen, not only at the time the miracles were wrought on tem, but many years aftewards. They were seen while Christ was upon earth, and afier his ascension ; nay, some of them were living in our da,s!”
“I am confident you would regard such a testimony as highly favourable to Christianity. But this evidence, in fact, we have in behalf of our religion ; for these were the words of Quadratus, an Athenian philosopher, who lived at the period above mentioned. But a convert, you say, to Christianity! Reflect a moment. Does not this very circumstance give efficasy to his attestation ? Had he continued a Pagan philofophur, the world would have doubted the fincerity of his relation. But he had so thoroughly examined our Saviour's history, and the excellence of the religion he taught; and was so perfectly convinced of the truth of both, that he became a profelyte to the Christia:2 faith, and to it died a martyr*.
Addison's writings on religious subjects certainly discover a solid and pious frame of mind ; and his general conduct through life gives us a convincing proof, that what he wrote were the genuine feelings of his heart. But his virtue shone out brighteit at his death; for, after a long and manly, but main Aruggle with his distempers, (the asthma and dropsy) he difmiffed his physicians, and with them all hopes of life ; but did not dismiss his concern, for the living ; having sent for the young Earl of Warwick who was nearly related to him ; upon this nobleman's arrival he was almost gone ; young Warwick, thus addressed him : “Dear Sir, you fept for me ; I believe, and hope, you have some commands ; I shall hold them moit dear." May Aftant ages not only
Evidences, P. 28.