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When we attend to your Lordship engaged in a discourse, we cannot but reflect upon the many requisites which the vain-glorious speakers of antiquity have demanded in a man who is to excel in oratory; I say, my Lord, when we re
precepts by viewing the example; though there is no excellence proposed by those rhetoricians wanting, the whole art seems to be resolved into that one motive of speaking, fincerity in the intention. The graceful manner, the apt gesture, and the assumed concern, are imputent helps to persuafion, in comparison of the honest countenance of him who utters what he really means.
From whence it is, that all the beauties which others attain with labour, are in your Lordship but the natural effects of the heart that dictates.
It is this noble fimplicity which makes you surpass mankind in the faculties wherein man. kind are distinguished from other creatures, reason and speech.
If these gifts were communicated to all men in proportion to the truth and ardour of their hearts, I should speak of you with the same force as you express yourself on any other subject. But I refilt my present impulse, as agreeable as it is to me; though indeed, had I any pretensions to a fame of this kind, I should, above all other themes, attempt a panegyric upon my Lord Cowper : for the only sure way
to a reputation for eloquence, in an age wherein that perfect orator lives, is to choose an argument; upon which he himself must of necessity be filent. I am, my Lord, your Lordship’s most devoted, most obedient, and most humble servant,
April 4, 1711. From the Hovel at Hampton-wick I. HEN I first resolved upon doing myself this honour, I could not but indulge 2
* “ When Steele’s patent, as Governor of the Theatre-royal, paffed the Great Seal, Lord Chancellor Cowper, in compliment
to Sir Richard, would receive no fee.” Life of C. Cibber, 1756, vol. II. p. 47.
+ Prefixed to the fourth volume of “The Tatler."
$ Steele built, and inhabited for a few years, an elegant house adjoining to the side of the palace, which he called by this name. Not long after the date of this letter, being embarrassed by his vanity of profuhon, or bis imprudence of generosity, he bor. rowed 1000l. of Addison on this house and its furniture, giving bond and judgement for the re-payment of the money at the end of twelve months. On the forfeiiure of the bond, Addison's attor. ney proceeded to execution, “the house and furniture were sold, “ the surplus Addison remitted to Steele, with a genteel letter,
stating the friendly reason of this extraordinary procedure, viz. “ to awaken him, if possible, from a lethargy that must end in his “ inevitable ruin.” Steele received the letter with his wonted composure and gaiety, met his friend as usual, and the friendship Tablitted to the end of Addison's life, with a few little bickerings
certain vanity in dating from this little covert, , where I have frequently had the honour of your Lordship's company, and received from you very many obligations. The elegant solitude of this place, and the greatest pleasures of it, I owe to its being so near those beautiful manors wherein you sometimes reside. It is not retiring from the world, but enjoying its inost valuable blessings, when a man is permitted to share in your Lordship’s conversations in the country. All the bright images which the Wits of past ages have left behind them in their writings, the noble plans which the greatest Statesmen have laid down for administration of affairs, are equally the familiar objects of your knowledge. But what is peculiar to your Lordship above all the illustrious personages that have appeared in any age, is, that wit and learning have from your example fallen into a new æra *. Your patron
age [says Dr. Birch) on æconomical occafions. Addison, it seems, dealt at this time with his friend, as he did aftewards with his favourite, Sir Roger de Coverley, whom he deliberately killed, thro' fear that fomebody might murder him. But this is not the place to enter farther into the particulars, or the discussion of this story, &c. It is only necessary to say here, that it makes part of a letter to Mr. Garrick, from a man of reputed veracity, who profeffes that he had his relation first from the celebrated actor Mr. Wilks, and afterwards a full confirmation of it from Steele's owa lips, who, it is said, always considered this step as meant by his friend « to do him service." Victor's “ Orig. Letters, &c.* 1776, vol. I. p. 328 and 329. See Letter LIX. p. 42, and Letter LXV. p. 46. * “Of him," says Dr. Johnson, “ who from a poet became :
age has produced those arts, which before shunned the commerce of the world, into the service
poets, it will be readily believed that the works would « not miss of celebration. Addison began to praise him early, " and was followed or accompanied by other poets ; perhaps by “ almost all except Swift and Pope, who forbore id flatter him in “ his life, and after his death 1poke of him, Swift with flight “ censure, and Pope, in the character of Bufo with acrimonious
contempt. He was, as Pope savs, fed with dedications ; for “ Tickell affirms, that no dedicator was unrewarded. Many
a blandishment was practised upon Halifax, which he would never have known had he had no other attractions than those of his
poetry, of which a short time has withered the beauties. It * would now be esteemed no honour, by a contributor to the 6 monthly bundles of verses, to be told that, in strains either fa. " miliar or solemn, he sings like Montague.” Dr. Johnson's “ Lives of English Poets,” vol. II. p. 298, &c. ed. 8vo. 1781.
The character of Halifax, however, is not to be estimated by his verses only. His Lordfhip’s great good-nature and moderation, his distinguished eminence and usefulness as a statesinan, his signal proficiency in literature and taste, his general patronage of men of wit and letters, and his marked attention to fcience, which is a plant that cannot thrive, even in the apt foil of England, without watering, defervedly entitled him to the praises of scholars, which are not always given with nice judgement, or in due proportion; and, in a way not dishonourable to the givers of the receivers, account fufficiently for what Dr. Johnson calls “ the blandishments that were practised *lifax.” Mr. Stepney, himself no bad poet, bequeathed “ Prior 50 pounds, and to Lord Halifax a golden cup and 100 “ tomes of his library.” This nobleman, to his great honour, was, to the end of his life, peculiarly kind and serviceable to Steele, who was of congenial political principles, and lived long with him in habits of familiarity and friendship. If the accomplishments of Lord Halifax had even been fewer, and his merit less .' than the generality of his contemporary writers lead us to believe, our author's account of him claims particular regard and credit. Steele, who knew him well, had a penetrating understanding, and an independent spirit. His pen was always ready at the service of his friends and his party, but it was always
of life; and it is to you we owe, that the man of wit has turned himself to be a man of bufiness. The false delicacy of men of genius, and the objections which others were apt to insinuate against their abilities for entering into affairs, have equally vanished : and experience has shewn, that men of letters are not only qualified with a greater capacity, but also a greater integrity in the dispatch of business *. Your own studies have been diverted from being the highest ornament, to the highest use to mankind; and the capacities which would have rendered you the greatest poet of your age, have, to the advantage of Great Britain, been employed in pursuits guided by a strict regard to truth, and a nice fenfe of honour; and though gratitude, or friendfhip, might induce him to lavish, nothing could have swayed him to prostitute, praise. These considerations are surely sufficient to exempt what is said here, and in Letter CCCCII. from the imputation of intentional flattery, and to furnish, so far as Steele’s testimony goes, a strong presumption, if not a decisive proof, in favour of Lord Halifax. To the last mentioned letter, and the ncte upon it, the reader is referred for a more particular account of this amiable and respectable nobleman. See also Theobald's account of oi him, foon after his Lordship's death, which was caused by an inflammation in his lungs, May 19, 1715. “ Cenfor," vol. I. N° 28, pp. 197, 198, &c.
* Apparently an intended compliment to feveral of Steele's friends, and particularly to Addifon, who, though he never remitted the fees of his office, never would accept of any more than was stated and customary. A remarkable instance of this integrity was, his refusal of a bank note of 300l. and afterwards of a diamond ring of the same value, from a Major Dunbar, afcertained by an original letter of Addison himself, for which the publick were originally indebted to the publications of Edmond Curll.