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father, who was of English extraction, had been for some time private secretary to the first Duke of Ormond, through whose influence Richard, who was sent at an early age to England, was placed in the Charter-house school. In 1691 he was entered of Morton-college, Oxford. Of his academical life nothing is known, except that he composed a comedy during his residence, which, by the advice of a fellow-colegian, he had the good sense to suppress. He left the University without taking a degree; and feeling a strong inclination for the military profession, he went into the army, at first in no higher a rank than that of a private in the horse guards. His frank and generous temper gained him friends, and procured for him an ensign's commission in the guards. Not being able to resist the temptation incident to his age and situation, he drew up a little treatise for his own admonition, which he entitled "The Christian Hero;" and, as a greater check upon his conduct, he printed it in 1701, at which time he was private secretary to Lord Cutts, and had obtained by his means a company in a regiment of fusileers. The seriousness of this work exposed him to some ridicule

among his companions, especially as it seems to have failed in producing a correspondent regularity of morals; he therefore thought fit, as he says, to enliven his character by appearing as the author of a comedy, and in that year he brought on the stage his "Funeral, or Grief à la Mode." This piece proved successful, and is not yet entirely withdrawn from the list of acting plays it had the merit of uniting entertainment with a more direct purpose of moral improvement than was usual among the dramatists of that time. Either on this or other accounts he attracted the notice of King William, who meant to have bestowed some mark of favour on him, but did not live to bring his intention to effect. The recommendation of Addison to Lords Halifax and Sunderland, however, caused him in the beginning of Queen Anne's reign to be appointed to the post of Gazette-writer, an humble appendage to the ministry, requiring chiefly the qualities of obedience and discretion. His comedy of the "Tender Husband" was acted with great success in 1704; and was followed by the Lying Lover," which met with a different fate. Its condemnation was imputed by him


self to its piety: it had probably too much of the sentimental or sermonizing strain to please the audiences of that age.

In 1709 Steele made a commencement of that series of periodical papers, which, more than any of his other exertions, has contributed to place his name among the principal literary benefactors of his country. The "TATLER," with which it begun, was formed upon a plan which bore marks of crudity, for it included the political information of a common newspaper. Its leading purpose, however, was to improve the public morals and manners by holding up to ridicule fashionable follies and vices of every kind, and inculcating just and liberal sentiments on common topics, with a general regard to the proper decorums of social life. Steele himself was qualified for this task by a knowledge of the world acquired in free converse with it, by natural humour and vivacity, and by a generous and benevolent way of thinking. He had also the felicity of being able to engage coadjutors, some of them much superior in genius to himself, of whom it is sufficient to mention Swift, and especially Addison, the name which first occurs to every reader of these periodical writings. The TAT

LER was extensively circulated; and as in the political department it sided with the existing ministry, Steele obtained the reward of a place among the commissioners of the stamp duties, which he retained after the dismission of the ministers who had granted it. In 1711 this paper was succeeded by the more celebrated "Spectator," in which the plan was matured, the politics of the day were rejected, and the assistance of Addison and other eminent writers was more constant, though Steele continued to supply the staple When this was brought to a close, the publication of the "Guardian" commenced, in 1713, and for a time was carried on in the same spirit; but Steele was now too earnestly engaged in opposition to the ministry to restrain his pen, and it was terminated in the same year. He afterwards engaged in other periodical works, but they all appear to have been subservient to party, and have long been forgotten.

On taking upon himself a decided political character, he resigned his post in the stampoffice, and likewise a pension which he had hitherto received as having belonged to the household of the late Prince George of Denmark. His object was now to obtain a seat in

parliament; and when it met after the dissolution, he was returned a representative for the borough of Stockbridge. Not long, however, after taking his seat, he was expelled as the author of certain publications to which his name was prefixed, and which were voted to be seditious and scandalous libels. The most noted of these, entitled "The Crisis," has since appeared to have been written by Mr. William Moore, a lawyer, and a political coadjutor of Steele's. His offence in these pieces is stated to have been "that they contained many expressions highly reflecting upon Her Majesty, upon the nobility, gentry, clergy, and universities of this kingdom, maliciously insinuating that the Protestant succession in the house of Hanover is in danger under Her Majesty's administration." He was defended by Addison, the Walpoles, Lords Finch, Lumley, and Hinchinbroke; but the party in power was determined upon the sacrifice, and by a majority of 245 to 152, the charge against him was affirmed. After his expulsion he engaged in some new literary undertakings; but on the accession of George I. he was placed in a better situation by the appointment to the surveyorship of the royal stables at Hampton


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