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done but on this one occasion, that he would himself kill Sir Roger, lest somebody else should murder him*."
No addition is necessary to this vindication of the character of Sir Roger de Coverley in the general; but it has not been attended to by either of these critics, that Sir Roger was not the creature of Addison's, but of Steele's fancy; and it is not easy to discover why all writers on this subject should appear ignorant of a fact so necessary to be known, and so easily ascertained +. In Tickell's edition of Addison's works, and in every subsequent edition, Dr. Beattie's not excepted, No. 2. is reprinted, but ascribed to Steele, with an apology for joining it with Addison's papers, on account of its connexion with what follows. Steele, in truth, sketched the character of every member of the club, except that of the Spectator. The merit, therefore, of what Dr. Johnson calls "the delicate and discriminated idea," or "the original delineation” of Sir Roger, beyond all controversy belongs to him, and the character of the baronet, it must be observed, is in that paper very different from what Dr. Johnson represents. His "singularities proceed from his good sense," not, I allow, a very common source of singularities, in the usual acceptation of that word; and before he
Beattie's Notes, ubi suprà. Budgell relates this last story in one of the numbers of the Bee, at a time when the public was very little disposed to give him credit.
"Natural humour was the primary talent of Addison. His character of Sir Roger de Coverley, though far inferior, is only inferior to Shakspeare's Falstaff." Royal and Noble Authors. Lord Orford's Works, vol. i. p. 530, art. Nugent, Note.
was "crossed in love by the perverse widow, he was a gay man of the town." And with respect to the care Addison took of the knight's chastity, and of his resentment of the story told in No. 410, which is certainly a deviation from the character as he completed it, we may observe, that the original limner represents him as "humble in his desires after he had forgot his cruel beauty, insomuch that it is reported he has frequently offended, in point of chastity, with beggars and gipsies," though he qualifies this by adding, that "this is looked upon, by his friends, rather as matter of raillery than truth." He is represented as now in his fifty-sixth year, and the story therefore of his endeavouring to persuade a strumpet to retire with him into the country, as related in No. 410,-some think by Tickell-was certainly not very probable.
The truth appears to have been, that Addison was charmed with his colleague's outline of Sir Roger, thought it capable of extension and improvement, and might probably determine to make it in some measure his own, by guarding, with a father's fondness, against any violation that might be offered. How well he has accomplished this needs not to be told. Yet he neither immediately laid hold on what he considered as Steele's property, nor did he wish to monopolize the worthy knight. Sir Roger's notion, "that none but men of fine parts deserve to be hanged," and his illustration of this curious position in No. 6, were written by Steele. The first paper, relating to the visit to Sir Roger's country seat, is Addison's, the second
Steele's, the third Addison's, and the fourth Steele's; and this last has so much of the Addisonian humour, that nothing but positive evidence could have deprived him of the honour of being supposed the author of it: the same praise may be given to No. 113, also by Steele. The sum of the account, however, is this: Sir Roger's adventures, opinions, and conversation, occur in twenty-six papers: of these Addison wrote fifteen, Steele seven, Budgell three, and Tickell one; if, as is supposed, he was the author of the obnoxious No. 410. It must be observed too, that the widow part of Sir Roger's history was of Steele's providing, in No. 113, and No. 118. Addison, no doubt, attended to the keep of Sir Roger's character, and Steele, with his usual candour, might follow a plan which he reckoned superior to his own; but it cannot be just to attribute the totality of the character either to the one or the other.
The "killing of Sir Roger" has been sufficiently accounted for, without supposing that Addison dispatched him in a fit of anger, for the work was about to close, and it appeared necessary to disperse the club; but whatever difference of opinion there may be concerning this circumstance, it is universally agreed that it produced a paper of transcendent excellence in all the graces of simplicity and pathos. There is not in our language any assumption of character more faithful than that of the honest butler, nor a more irresistible stroke of nature than the circumstance of the book received by Sir Andrew Freeport.
"To Sir Roger," continues Dr. Johnson, "who, as a country gentleman, appears to be a Tory, or, as it is gently expressed, an adherent to the landed interest, is opposed Sir Andrew Freeport, a new man, a wealthy merchant, zealous for the monied interest, and a Whig. Of this contrariety of opinions it is probable more consequences were at first intended than could be produced when the resolution was taken to exclude party from the paper. Sir Andrew does but little, and that little seems not to have pleased Addison, who, when he dismissed him from his club, changed his opinions. Steele had made him, in the true spirit of unfeeling commerce, declare that he would not build an hospital for idle people; but at last he buys land, settles in the country, and builds, not a manufactory, but an hospital for twelve old husbandmen, for men with whom a merchant has little acquaintance, and whom he commonly considers with little kindness *."
Sir Andrew's opinion of idle people and beggars occurs in No. 232, a paper attributed not to Steele, but to Budgell, or perhaps Martin, and does not seem to merit the censure of our learned biographer. There can surely be no difference of sentiment on the question, whether idleness is to be supported at the public expense; and if the reader will refer to Sir An
*This opinion is given in a different manner in Boswell's Life of Johnson. "Addison has made his Sir Andrew Freeport a true Whig, arguing against giving charity to beggars, and throwing out other such ungracious sentiments; but that he had thought better, and made amends, by making him found an hospital for decayed farmers.” Vol, ii. p. 70. edit. 2d.
drew's letter, in No. 549, in which he announces his plan of retirement, he will find in it nothing of the unfeeling spirit of commerce, a spirit which, if not extinct in our days, must be very industriously concealed. Every charitable institution in the metropolis bears testimony to the liberal and generous spirit of men in commercial life, and there is nothing upon record which can induce an impartial inquirer to think that the case was otherwise, when commercial men were a more distinct class.
It is, however, true, that little use is made of Sir Andrew's character, and the same remark may be applied to Capt. Sentry and the Clergyman. Will Honeycomb occurs more frequently, and affords more amusement, although not altogether of the unmixed kind. This character, as well as the others, was sketched by Steele, but is not preserved with much care, or attention to moral effect. Will is at best a sorry rake, and at the age of sixty mafries a country girl, complains of his infirmities, yet talks of leaving his children "strong bodies and healthy constitutions." All this is consistent, if we consider his letter in No. 530, as a satire on old rakes, who neglect to enlist in social life till they are past service, and can only perform the ludicrous character of "the marriage-hater matched."
Conjecture has been busily employed to discover the persons meant by these characters. Sir Roger de Coverley was supposed, by the late Mr. Tyers, to be a Sir John Packington, of Worcestershire, "a Tory, not without good sense, but abounding in absurdities." Captain b