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LIFE OF ADDISON.
ADDISON was an author by birth-right. His father, Dr. Lancelot Addison, who was of the county of Westmoreland, received his education at Queen's College, in Oxford; travelled many years in Europe and Africa; and, on his return, published several books,' which, in the opinion of Tickell, “are ample testimonies of uncommon and excellent talents."* He seems, at any rate, to have provoked many ene. mies by political heterodoxy; and, being driven from England, as it is said, by persecution, he accepted the chaplainship of Dunkirk, and continued in that office, until the place was surrendered to the French, in 1662. Returning to England, he was made chaplain of Tangiers; where he remained, until 1670; and, once more visiting his native land, was presented to the rectory of Milston, near Am. brosebury, in Wiltshire.t.
He married Jane, the daughter of Dr. Nathaniel Gulston; and his son, Joseph, a pledge of this union, and the subject of the following article, was born
• Tick. Miscellaneous Works of Addison. Lond. MDCCLIII. ol. i. p. v. + Addisoniana. Lond, 1803. vol. i. pp. 56, 57.
on the 1st of May, 1671.* He not only appeared weak and unlikely to live,' as it is stated by Johnson; but seemed actually dead; and, whether christened or not, is said to have been immediately laid out as a corpse.f Of his subsequent adventures, we know nothing, till he arrived at the age of twelve ; when his father was made dean of Litchfield, and removed his family to that place. Here, in the exercise of what Johnson, as the champion of his order, callsó a savage license,'young Addison signalized himself by barring the doors of the school against his master. Towards the close of the 17th century, it was the practice in many schools, we are told, for 'boys, growing petulent at the approach of liberty, some days before the time of regular recess, to take possession of the school, of which they barred the doors, and bade the master defiance from the windows. It is not easy to suppose, that, on such occasions, the master would do more than laugh ; yet, if tradition may be credited, he often struggled hard to force or surprise the garrison. The master, when Pigot (from whom this account is derived) was a school-boy, was barred out at Litchfield ; and the whole operation, as he said, was planned and conducted by Addison.': If we may credit a tradition of his native place, he did not always stand in so little fear of his master. Having committed some slight delinquency, he is said to have been so terrified at the apprehension of chastisement, that he fled into the woods; sustained himself upon fruits; lodged in a hollow tree; and was only discovered and brought home, by a reward publicly offered for his restoration.
• According to Johnson it was 1672; but Johnson's dates are often inaccurate ; and both Tickell, and the Ana, have it 1671. Tick. vol. i. p. v. Ana, vol. i. p. 57. + Ana, vol. ij. p. 218. John. Life of Add.
Ana, vol. i. p. 48.
He received some part of his elementary education at Salisbury; and, either from that place, or from Litchfield, was removed to a school, called the Chartreux. Being admitted into Queen's College, Oxford, in 1687, his propensity to authorship not long after showed itself in a copy of Latin verses, which attracted the notice of Dr. Lancaster, afterwards provost of that college ; and were the means of procuring the author's election to Magdalen College. There seems to have been some advantage in this translation; but what it was, we cannot precisely ascertain. Addison bestowed his attention chiefly upon criticism and poetry; and so thoroughly did he embue his mind with "Roman literature, that he wrote Latin verses, not as a servile imitator, but as an original author. He collected his effusions into a second volume of the Musæ Anglicanæ; and, presenting a copy to Boileau, is said to have made him first conceive an opinion of the English genius for poetry.'* ' “Nothing is better known of Boileau,' says Dr. Johnson, than that he had an injudicious and peevish contempt of modern Latin; and, therefore, his profession of regard was probably the effect of his civility rather than approbation. We are provoked to answer opinions so little founded, and so hastily formed. Tickell does not say, that the Musæ Anglicanæ changed Boileau's opinion of modern Latin ;' but that it gave him the first opinion of English genius for poetry' in general. He might have had a peevish contempt of modern Latin, and yet admire the Latin of Addison. The predecessors of the latter had been mere copyists, and were well entitled to contempt; but Dr. Johnson himself mentions it as the particular praise of Addison, that, instead of confining himself to the imitation of any ancient author, he formed his style from the general lan
• Tick. vol.
i. p. vii.