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It was currently reported in the neighbourhood of Tadworth (not far from Amesbury) that the house of Mr. Mompessim of that town was infested with a demon. Upon this story, related to him in early life, it is said Mr. Addison imbibed the first idea of writing his play of “The Drummer, or the Haunted House."
ADDISON'S DIFFIDENCE IN PARLIAMENT.
From Mr. Addison's excessive bashfulness, he was never able to speak in parliament; a very important inconvenience this, especially during the period that he held the high office of Secretary of State, as he was thereby incapable of explaining to friends, or vindicating to opponents, the measures he supported. [This statement is given in Sir R. Phillips's “Addisoniana," and appears to be on some foundation, as Addison's cousin, Eustace Budgell
, in his Life of the Earl of Orrery, says, “What qualities must we conceive requisite to form a public speaker, when we see such men as the late Earl of Orrery, the late Earl of Shaftesbury, the late Mr. Addison, Mr. Prior, and Mr. Maynwaring, sit silent; while and and - and - hold forth upon every subject that falls under debate ?”]
ADDISON'S DIFFIDENCE EXEMPLIFIED.
Ar the time of debating the Union Act, in the House of Commons, (1706,) he rose up, and, addressing himself to the Speaker, said " Mr. Speaker, I conceive”-he could go no further; then rising again he said “Mr. Speaker, I conceive -still unable to proceed, he sat down again. A third time he arose, and was still unable to say anything more than“Mr. Speaker, I conceive”-when a certain young member, possessed of more effrontery and volubility, arose and said, * Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to find that the honourable gentleman over the way has conceived three times, and brought forth nothing."
1 Although not cited by our English biographers of Addison, this joke is given in the Biographie Universelle with the following variation and comment. “Monsieur, les trois avortements dont nous venons d'ètre temoins,
[We give this standing joke as we find it in “ Joe Miller." But Mr. Macaulay doubts this extreme timidity, and says that a little later, when Addison was member for the Irish borough of Cavan, his name frequently occurs in the Journals of two sessions. No actual speeches, however, are there recorded, but merely minutes. Mr. Addison was returned for the borough of Cavan, May 13,1709. In the Irish Journals we find only eight entries respecting him after he took his seat, four of which are short notices of adjournment, viz. June 29th, July 28th, Aug. 10th, 1709, and June 24th, 1701. The other four have, perhaps, just enough interest to deserve a place here.]
MINUTES OF ADDISON'S PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES IN
Mercurië, 10 die Augusti, 1709.] Mr. Secretary Addison informed the House, that His Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant had received from her Majesty an Answer to the Address of this House, that the outlawries of persons guilty of the rebellions in one thousand six hundred and forty-one, and one thousand
six hundred and eighty, may so remain of force; which he delivered at the Table.
Lunæ, 22 die Mai, 1710.] Mr. Addison reported from the Committee appointed to prepare an Address to her Majesty, to congratulate her Majesty upon the early successes of her Majesty's arms this present campaign, and the prospect which they give us of a lasting and honourable Peace, that they had prepared an Address accordingly; which he read in his place, and after delivered at the Table, where the same was again read, and afterwards read paragraph by paragraph, and agreed to by the House, nemine contradicente, without any Amendment; which Address is as followeth: To THE QUEEN's Most EXCELLENT MAJESTY. The humble Ad
dress of the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses in Parliament assembled.
May it please Your Majesty, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects the Commons of Ireland in Parliament assembled, cannot meet without acknowledging Your Majesty's great favour and goodness which calls us together, and humbly begging leave to assure Your Majesty, that de la part d'un Auteur connu par sa fécondité, prouvent évidemment la faiblesse de la cause qu'il voulait défendre.” La figure des avortements excita dans la Chambre un grand éclat de rire, qui contribua, sans doute, à dégoûter tout-à-fait Addison de l'ambition de se montrer comme orateur.
we shall, with all becoming cheerfulness and gratitude, endeavour to answer the ends of this our meeting.
We do, at the same time, in the most dutiful and humble manner, congratulate Your Majesty upon the great and early successes of Your Majesty's arms in the present campaign, under the conduct of your renowned and victorious General, the Duke of Marlborough, which open to us a prospect of further victories, or of such a lasting and honourable Peace, as we may justly promise ourselves from those already gained.
As the glory of Your Majesty's arms abroad, and the wisdom and justice of your administration at home, make us regard Your Majesty as the greatest and best of Princes; so we are resolved to embrace all opportunities of showing ourselves the most dutiful and loyal of subjects.
And to the end that, as much as in us lies, we may convey unto our posterity those inestimable blessings restored to us by the late happy Revolution, continued and improved under Your Majesty's most auspicious reign, we shall be ready to hazard all that is dear and valuable to us, in the defence and support of Your Majesty's most sacred person and government, of our present happy Constitution, and the Church as by law established, and of the succession in the Protestant line, as the same stands settled by Acts of Parliament lately made in England.
Resolved, nemine contradicente, that the said Address do stand the Address of this House to Her Majesty.
Lune, 3 die Junii, 1710.] Mr. Secretary Addison informed the House, that he was commanded by His Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant so acquaint the House, that Her Majesty had been pleased to return a most gracious Answer to the Address of this House ; which he read in his place, and after delivered at the Table, and the same was again read by Mr. Speaker, and is as followeth:
Her Majesty thanks the House of Commons for their loyal and dutiful Address, so full of expressions of zeal for her person and government, the Established Church and the Protestant Succession as settled by law, and assures them of her constant concern for the welfare of the Kingdom.
Ordered, 'That Her Majesty's most gracious Answer to the Address of this House be entered in the Journal of this House.
Sabbati, 28 die Julii, 1711.] That it appears to your Sub-committee,' that since the thirty-first day of March, 1709, at which time the establishment of the Civil and Military Lists bears date, that the said Civil List is advanced in the following particulars,
Appointed to examine the Public Accompts.
viz.-By a grant to Mr. Addison, as Keeper of the Records of the Birmingham Tower, of four hundred pounds per annum, which exceeds the former salary three and ninety pounds.' 390-0-0.
FASTIDIOUSNESS OF ADDISON.
FREE and elegant as was the accustomed style of Addison, it is well known that, on many occasions, he could not satisfy the fastidiousness of his taste in his own compositions. Pope used to say of Addison, in his style of accustomed severity, that he could not issue an order from his office without losing his time in quest of fine expressions. It was his official business to write to Hanover that Queen Anne was dead: he found it so difficult to express himself suitably to his own notions of the importance of the event, that the lords of the regency were obliged to employ a Mr. Southwell, one of the clerks. Southwelĩ stated the fact, as he was ordered, in the ordinary perspicuity of business; and then boasted of his superiority to Addison, in having readily done that which Addison attempting to do had failed.
“ He was,” says
FURTHER TESTIMONY TO ADDISON'S CONVERSATIONAL
POWERS. ALTHOUGH Addison was timid and shy in public companies, yet no man was a more interesting companion in pri. vate. Of his private colloquial powers both his friends and enemies have borne sufficient testimony. Steele," above all men in that talent called humour, and enjoyed it in such perfection, that I have often reflected, after a night spent with him apart from all the world, that I had had the pleasure of conversing with an intimate acquaint
" It will be perceived that the last item (with all allowance for the difference of Irish money, if so paid,) makes his Irish appointment considerably more than is recorded by his biographers. In our note at page 127, the salary is stated, on accepted authority, at £300 per annum. Since then the official grants have turned up, and show that the salary was at first four, then five hundred per annum, independent of the fees referred to in the anecdote at page 68.
* The present volumes afford no confirmation of this oft-repeated assertion. On the contrary, there is evidence of great facility in letterwriting. Pope was always ready to propagate any report prejudicial to the reputation of a rival. Macaulay very properly treats it as an idle tradition. It is very possible Addison might not have known the office form in which this mechanical business was to be performed.
ance of Terence and Catullus, who had all their wit and nature, heightened with humour, more exquisite and delightful than any other man ever possessed." This is the fondness of a friend : let us hear what is told us by a rival" Addison's conversation,” says Pope," had something in it more charming than I have found in any other man. But this was only when familiar: before strangers, or perhaps a single stranger, he preserved his dignity by a stiff silence."
STEELE'S PORTRAIT OF ADDISON. STEELE, in his Tatler 252, in speaking of the utility of wine to the bashful, draws a portrait evidently meant for our author : “I have the good fortune” (says he) “ to be intimate with a gentleman remarkable for this temper, (bashfulness,) who has an inexhaustible source of wit to entertain the curious, the grave, the humorous, and the frolic. He can transform himself into different shapes, and suit himself to every company; yet in a coffee-house, or in the ordinary course of affairs, he appears rather dull than sprightly. You can seldom get him to the tavern; but when once he is arrived to his pint, and begins to look about and like his company, you admire a thousand things in him, which before lay buried. Then you discern the brightness of his mind, and the strength of his judgment, accompanied with the most graceful mirth. In a word, by this enlivening aid, he is whatever is polite, instructive, and diverting. What makes him still more agreeable is, that he tells a story, serious or comical, with as much delicacy of humour as Cervantes himself.”
ADDISON'S MODE OF COMPOSITION. STEELE used to say, that when Addison had taken his resolution, or made his plan for what he designed to write, he would walk about a room, and dictate it into language with as much freedom and ease as any one could write it down, and attend to the coherence and grammar of what he dictated.
Even Pope declared that he wrote very fluently, but was slow and scrupulous in correcting; that many of his Spectators were written very fast, and sent immediately to the press; and that it seemed to be for his advantage not to have time for much revisal. “He would alter," says he, “anything to