Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Addison Joseph

Addison, Joseph, the eldest son of the Rev. Laurence Addison, afterwards Dean of Lichfield, born at his father's rectory of Milston in Wiltshire, on the 1st of May, 1672. He went to school At Amesbury, Salisbury, and the Charterhouse; in 1687 he entered Queen's College, Oxford, two years later he was elected to a demyship at Magdalen College, he became M.A. in 1693, and fellow of his college in 1698. Little is known of his Oxford life, except that he showed there the shyness which, to a certain extent, always clouded the calm, sweet strength and loveableness of his character. A walk under the elms by the Cherwell is still called by his name. In 1693 he addressed a short poem to Dryden, who received it very favourably. His other work of this period is an Account of the Greatest English Poets, an address to King William, classical translations for Tonson the bookseller, and Latin verses in the Musee Anglicanae. In 1699 Somers and Charles Montague, afterwards Lord Halifax, obtained for him a travelling pension of £300 a year, in order that he might qualify himself for the service of the State. Addison visited France, Italy, Germany, and Holland. He composed the Epistle from Italy while crossing Mont Cenis, and also wrote while abroad the first four acts of Cato, and the Dialogue on Medals. His pension stopped in 1702 with the fall of the Whigs, and he returned to London in 1703 without an income or prospects. While living in shabby lodgings in the Haymarket he was invited, on Halifax's recommendation, to write a poem in celebration of the Battle of Blenheim. He produced the Campaign, and his fortune was made. He was appointed a Commissioner of Excise in 1704, he was promoted to be Under-Secretary of State in 1706, he entered Parliament in 1708 - where he is said never to have opened his mouth - he became secretary to Lord Wharton, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in 1709, and was also made Keeper of the Records. In Ireland he came to know Swift well, who, like all his friends, speaks of him in the warmest terms of affection and admiration. From 1704 to 1710 his only literary production of any importance was the unsuccessful opera of Rosamund, but when the Whigs went out of office in the latter year he was in possession of a competence and free to devote himself to the chief work of his life. His friend, Richard Steele, had started the Tatler in 1709, and Addison from the first was a contributor. When the Tatler dropped in 1711 it was succeeded the next year by the still more celebrated Spectator, for which Addison wrote 274 of his wonderful essays, inimitable alike in their easy style and delicate humour. "He poured in paper after paper," says Thackeray in the English Humorists, "and contributed the stores of his mind, the sweet fruits of his reading, the delightful gleanings of his daily observation, with a wonderful profusion and, as it seemed, an almost endless fecundity." In 1713 the tragedy of Cato was put on the stage, and from its political application was at once a brilliant success, though the play itself is cold, correct, and uninteresting. Addison contributed various political papers to the Whig Examiner and the Guardian, and published, in defence of the Government, in 1715 and 1716, fifty-five numbers of the Freeholder. He was re-appointed Secretary for Ireland when the Whigs once more came into office in 1714, and made a Lord of Trade. About this time Pope broke with him, a quarrel made famous by the celebrated lines on "Atticus." In 1716 Addison made what is commonly regarded as an unhappy marriage with the Dowager Countess of Warwick, and during the next year he was Secretary of State for eleven months, but he resigned owing to failing health, and received a pension of £1,500 a year. In the Old Whig he defended the Peerage Bill of 1719, against the attacks of Steele in the Plebeian, but while the controversy was proceeding his health grew worse, and he died at Holland House on the 17th of June, 1719. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, Bishop Atterbury reading the service. He left one daughter by the Countess of Warwick, Charlotte Addison, who died unmarried in 1797.