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A Selection of Valuable Pieces, from thofe juftly
Celebrated and Claffic Works, the
Spectator, Tatler, and Guardian.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED,
THE LIFE OF
JOSEPH ADDISON, Esq.
Defigned for the School and the Library
PRINTED FOR JOSEPH BUMSTEADO adi
THOMAS AND ANDREWS, NEWBURY-STREET, BY E. AND
270. g. 643.
JOSEPH ADDISON, Esq
THE juftly admired Addison, was born May 1ft,
1672, at Milton in Wiltshire, England, where his father Dr. Lancelot Addison was rector. Addison is fuppofed by fome writers, to have produced upwards of a fourth part of the Spectator and Guardian, befides feveral other works of merit.
He was appointed fecretary to the regency on the death of queen Anne; being required to fend notice to Hanover, of that circumftance, and that the throne was vacant. To do this would not have been difficult to any man but Addison, who was fo diftracted by a choice of expreffion, on this occafion, that the lords, who could not wait for the niceties of criticism, called Mr. Southwell, a clerk in the house, and ordered him to difpatch the meffage. Southwell readily told what was neceffary, in the common ftile of bu finefs, and boasted his having done what appeared too hard for Addison.
In 1716, he married the countefs dowager of Warwick. He is faid to have first 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 fon with but little ceremony. It is well known, that Mr. Addifon hath left behind him no inducement to ambitious matches.
He was made fecretary of state, in 1717; but it is generally allowed that he was. not well calculated for that station; being no orator, he could not harangue in the houfe of commons in defence of the govern ment. He foon relinquifhed this office, and obtained a penfion of 1500l per annum.
Dr. Samuel Johnfon's admirable delineation of the character of Addifon, concludes thus, "He employed wit on the fide of virtue and religion; he not only made the proper ufe of wit himfelf, but taught it to others; and from his time it has been generally fubfervient to the cause of reafon and truth. He has difipated the prejudices that had long connected gaiety with vice, and eafinefs of manners with laxity of prin ciples. He has reftored virtue to its dignity, and taught innocence not to be afhamed. 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 pleafure, feparated mirth from indecency, and wit from licen tioufnefs; of having taught a fucceffion of writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the aid of goodness; and if I may ufe expreffions yet more awful, of having "turned many to righteoufnefs."
"As a teacher of wifdom he may be confidently followed his religion has nothing in it enthufiaftic or fuperftitious; he appears neither weakly credulous, nor wantonly fceptical; his morality is neither dangeroufly lax, not impractically rigid."
Addifon, has given abundant proof of his firm belief of Chriflianity, and his zeal against unbelievers, in his evidences of the Chriftian religion.
"Let it be fuppofed, fays he, that a heathen philofopher, who flourished within fixty years of our Saviour's crucifixion, after having fhewn that falfe miracles were generally wrought in obscurity, and before
few or no witneffes, treating on the miracles of Chrift, should have thus expreffed himfelf?"
"But the works of Chrift were always feen true; they were feen by those who were healed, and those who were raifed from the dead. Many of the perfons who were thus healed and raised, were feen, not only at the time the miracles were wrought on them, but many years aftewards. They were feen while Chrift was upon earth, and after his afcenfion; nay, fome of them were living in our da,s!"
"I am confident you would regard fuch a teftimony as highly favourable to Chriftianity. But this evidence, in fact, we have in behalf of our religion; for these were the words of Quadratus, an Athenian philofopher, who lived at the period above mentioned. But a convert, you fay, to Chriftianity! Reflett a moment. Does not this very circumstance give effica y to his atteftation? Had he continued a Pagan philofopher, the world would have doubted the fincerity of his relation. But he had fo thoroughly examined our Saviour's history, and the excellence of the religion he taught; and was fo perfectly convinced of the truth of both, that he became a profelyte to the Chriftian faith, and to it died a martyr."
Addison's writings on religious fubjects certainly discover a folid 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 fhone out brightest at his death; for, after a long and manly, but vain ftruggle with his diftempers, (the afthma and dropfy) he difmiffed his phyficians, and with them all hopes of life; but did not difmifs his concern for the living; having fent for the young Earl of Warwick who was nearly related to him; upon this nobleman's" arrival he was almoft gone; young Warwick, thus addreffed him: "Dear Sir, you fep for me; I believe, and hope, you have fome commands; I fhall hold them moit dear." May ftant ages not only
Evidences, p. 21.