addison, joskph defined in 1939 yearaddison, joskph - Addison, joskph (1672-1719);
addison, joskph - English essayist, poet, and statesman. Son of Lancelot Addison, who became dean of Lichfield, he was born May 1, 1672, at Milston rectory, near Amesbury, Wiltshire. He went to schools at Amesbury and Liehfield; to the Charterhouse, where his friendship with Steele began, and in 1687 to Oxford, first to Queen's, and then to Magdalen, where he won distinction as a writer of Latin verse, graduated M.A. in 1693. and became a fellow of Magdalen in 1698. The elm-bordered walk by the Cherwell is named Addison's Walk. His earlier efforts in verso included commendatory lines to Dryden, a translation of the Fourth Georgic of Virgil, and a versified Account of the Greatest English Poets.
Through Dryden Addison was introduced to Gongreve and Jacob Tonson, the publisher; and through Congreve to the Whig statesman, Charles Montague, afterwards Lord Halifax, who induced him to abandon the idea of taking orders, and secured for him a state pension in order that he might qualify by travel for political service. There was at the time keen rivalry between Tories and Whigs to secure young recruits of talent and promise. Leaving England in 1699, Addison spent nearly four years in France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, and Germany. In Paris lie met Boileau and Malebranche; at a carnival in Venice he saw a crude play on the subject of Cato, which suggested his own play.
When he returned to England at the close of 1703 in straitened circumstances, Tonson introduced him to the Whig coterie known as the Kit-Cat Club, and through Halifax he was commissioned to write a poem in celebration of the victory of Blenheim. This poem, The Campaign, 1704, secured for him the succession to John Locke as a commissioner of excise and an under-secretaryship of state. In 1705 he went with Halifax to Hanover. In the same year he published his Remarks on Several Parts of Italy. His Fair Rosamond, an unsuccessful opera, followed in 1706, and in 1708 he was returned M.P. for Lostwithiel, an election later declared invalid. In 1 708 he went as chief secretary to Ireland, where he made many friends, including Swift, and sat in the Irish Parliament as member for Cavan. In 1710 he became M.P. for Malmesbury.
Collaboration with Steele on The Tatler led to the foundation by them of The Spectator, 1711-14, on his essays in which, and especially his portrait of Sir Roger de Coverley, his literary fame mainly depends, though his papers in The Guardian, Freeholder, and Old Whig are also noteworthy. His Cato: a Tragedy, proved for political reasons a great success in 1713, and in 1714, on Anna's death, he became secretary to the regency. In 1715 he was again in Ireland as chief secretary, and in 1716 was appointed a commissioner for trade and colonies. On Aug. 3,1716, he married Charlotte countess of Warwick, whose neighbour he was when he occupied Nell Gwyn's old house at Chelsea. From April, 1717, to March, 1718,he was a secretary of state, and he died of asthma and dropsy at Holland House, June 17, 1719,leaving by his marriage with the countess of Warwick (d. 1731) a daughter, Charlotte, who died unmarried in 1797. His last words, addressed to his stepson, were: "See in what peace a Christian can die." He was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument to him was erected in 1809.
Politically Addison's integrity was without stain, his temper ever equable; his principles were unchanging. He was popular alike with statesmen and habitues of coffee-house and club. As a writer he helped to found modern English prose and establish a public opinion, while the continuity of his personal studies in The Spectator foreshadowed the English novel. Gifted with wit, satire, and insight, he laughed vice out of court and made open violation of decency once for all the mark of a fool. His friendships were many. He had one serious quarrel, fastened upon him by Pope, and a regrettable political difference with Steele, but in neither case did he allow vexation to rob him of good temper. Pope's lines on Atticus, the attack on Cato by John Dennis, and Bernard Mandeville's phrase, "a parson in a tie-wig," were the severest things said of him by contemporaries. His religious sincerity is shown in several hymns, including "When all Thy mercies, O my God.".
Bibliography. Works, Bohn, 6 vols., 1856; Lives, W. J. Courthope 1884; Johnson, Lives of the Poets; Alacaulay, -Essays: Thackeray's English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century.
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