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TO HIS FRIEND INCLINED TO MARRY. I would not have you, Strephon, choose a mate, from too exalted, or too mean a state; for in both these, we may expect to find a creeping spirit, or a haughty mind. Who moves within the middle region, shares the least disquiets, and the smallest cares. Let her extraction with true lustre shine; if something brighter, not too bright for thine: her education liberal, not great;
neither inferior nor above her state,
Let her have wit; but let that wit be free
like sulphurous blasts, the very buds of joys.
For that which makes our lives delightful prove,
Life of Pomfret,
page 1 To his Friend inclined to marry,S
the son of Launcelot Addison, was born at Milston near Ambros-Bury, Wilts, May 6, 1672, but being unlikely to live he was baptised the same day. Fortunely, however, he was reared, and to the care which effected it the lettered world owes a more than ordinary gratitude. He received the first part of his education under the tuition of his father. He was then put under the care of Mr. Nash of Ambrosebury; and afterwards under that of Mr. Taylor, at Salisbury, His father being created dean of Lichfield, he took his children with him to that place, where Joseph be came pupil of Mr. Shaw. The anecdotes relating to his early days are few and unimportant. Johnson says that one of his masters was barred out, principally through the mischievous contrivance of Addison. From Lichfield he was sent to the Charterhouse, where he became acquainted with Steele. This acquaintance matured to a friendship which continued till dissolved by death. It is certain that this friendship did not exist on equal terms, but when it is considered that it was both uniform and permament, the detracting temper of Johnson may have heightened, by the exuberance of his diction, the circumstances which he details. "Of this memorable friendship," says he, "the greater praise must be given to Steele. It is not hard to love those from whom nothing can be feared, and Addison never considered Steele as a rival; but Steele, lived, as he professes, under an habitual subjection to the predominating genius of Addison, whom he always mentioned with reverence, Literary Miscellany, No. 78. 1
and treated with obsequiousness. Addison, who knew his own dignity, could not always forbear to shew it, by playing a little upon his admirer; yet he was in no danger of retort: his jests were endured without resistance or resentment. But the sneer of jocularity was not the worst. Steele, whose imprudence of generosity, or vanity of profusion, kept him always incurably necessitous, upon some pressing exigence, in an evil hour, borrowed a hundred pounds of his friend, probably without much purpose of repayment; but Addison, who seems to have had other notions of a hundred pounds, grew impatient of delay and reclaimed his loan by an execution. Steele felt, with great sensibility the obduracy of his creditor; but with emotions of sorrow rather than of anger." In 1687, at the age of 15, Addison was entered at Queen's College, Oxford; and some Latin verses which he had written On the Inauguration of King William and Queen Mary, being seen by Dr. Lancaster, then fellow, afterwards provost, of Queen's College, he was induced to give such a recommendation as to cause our poet to be admitted into Magdalen College, on the founder's benefaction. He here made a rapid progress in various attainments, and became eminent by his latin compositions and other exercises. Some of these are in the Muse Anglicanæ, a collection of pieces made by our author. Having taken the degree of Master of Arts, he published in 1693, some verses attributed to Dryden. It was followed by a Translation of Virgil's fourth Georgic (omitting the story of Aristaus) by an Account of the greatest English Poets, from Chaucer to Dryden, dedicated to H. S. generally supposed to be Henry Sacheverel, and various other pieces.
In 1695 he wrote a poem to