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Pleafures of the Imagination, and the Criticism on Milton.
When the House of Hanover took poffefsion of the throne, it was reasonable to expect that the zeal of Addison would be suitably rewarded. Before the arrival of King George, he was made secretary to the regency, and was required by his office to send notice to Hanover that the Queen was dead, and that the throne was vacant. To do this would not have been difficult to any man but Addison, who was so overwhelmed with the greatness of the event, and so distracted by choice of expression, that the lords, who could not wait for the niceties of criticism, called Mr. Southwell, a clerk in the house, and ordered him to dispatch the message. Southwell readily told what was necessary in the common style of business, and valued himself upon having done what was too hard for Addison.
He was better qualified for the Freeholder, a paper which he published twice a week, from Dec. 23, 1715, to the middle of the next year. This was undertaken in defence of the established government, fometimes with argument, and soinetimes with mirth. In argument he had many equals ; but his humour was fingular and matchless. Bigotry itself must be delighted with the Tory Fox-hunter.
There are however fome strokes less elegant, and less decent; such as the Pretender's Journal, in which one topick of ridicule is his poverty. This mode of abuse had been employed by Milton against king Charles II. - -
And Oldmixon delights to tell of some alderman of London, that he had more money than the exiled princes; but that which might be expected from Milton's favageness, or Oldmixon's meanness, was not suitable to the delicacy of Addisori.
Steele thought the liumiour of the Freeholder too nice and gentle for such noisy times; and is reported to have said, that the ministry made use of a lute, when they should have called for a trumpet.
This year (1716*) he married the countess dowager of Warwick, whom he had solicited by a very long and anxious courtship, perhaps with behaviour not very unlike that of Sir Roger to his disdainful widow; and who, I ain afraid, diverted herself often by playing with his passion. He is said to have first known her by becoming tutor to her son pro: “ He “ formed," faid Tonson, “the design of getting that “ lady from the time when he was fiift recommended " into the family.” In what part of his life he ob tained the recommendation, or how long, and in what manner he lived in the family, I know not. His advances at first were certainly tiinorous, but grew bolder as his reputation and influence increased ; till at last the lady was persuaded to marry him, on terms much like those on which a Turkish princess is espoused, to whom the Sultan is reported to pronounce, “ Daughter, I give thee this man for thy • slave.” The marriage, if uncontradicted report can be credited, made no addition to his happiness; it neither found themi nor made them equal. She always remembered her own rank, and thought herfelf entitled to treat with very little ceremony the * August 2.
† Spence. Á 2