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The present work was undertaken from the desire of supplying what appeared a real deficiency in our literature. While the lives of Pope and Swift had been written and rewritten with unwearied research and distinguished ability; while Dryden had in recent times been made the object of a detailed and interesting biography, what accounts did we possess of a contemporary inferior to none of these in genius or in fame, and certainly superior to them all in the purity, amenity and moral tendency of his writings, as well as in the virtues of his life? What records had we of Addison? Two prefaces; that of Tickell to the general edition of his works, that of Johnson to his poetry included in the collection of the English poets! The first of these, invaluable for its authenticity, and the absolute reliance to be placed on the statements which it founds on the personal knowledge of
the writer, does not aim at the character of a complete biography. It is a literary notice only, though of a very pleasing kind, and much resembling the academical eulogies of the French. That of Dr. Johnson is principally a piece of criticism; to which it
be added, that his judicial scales were never held with an unswerving hand when the character, whether personal or literary, of a decided whig was placed in the balance. In the case of Addison too, the unfavorable bias has been aggravated by his reliance on the manuscript anecdotes of Spence which he had under his eye, and which embody all the prejudice and enmity of Pope.
Of narratives compiled from these authorities it is needless to speak.
The numerous and scattered sources from which the facts contained in the following pages have been derived, are pointed out in their proper places whenever they could be clearly ascertained. Addison's own pondence, never before collected and applied to the illustration of his biography, has been the best guide of the writer, and will no doubt
be regarded by the reader as the most interesting part of the work. A large proportion of the letters have never before appeared in print. And here the writer cannot deny herself the satisfaction of repeating her grateful acknowledgements to Edward Tickell Esq. Q.C. of Dublin, through whose eminent liberality and kindness exerted towards a stranger, she has been enabled to lay before the public letters and private papers of Addison's which passing into the hands of his executor, have been carefully preserved ever since in the Tickell family, and now appear with the freshness of novelty. Her cordial thanks must also be extended to her friend and kinsman the Rev. Charles Strong prebendary of St. Patrick's, for his valuable services on this occcasion.
To Mr. Bolton Corney she has likewise been indebted for much useful information and many good offices of various kinds.
The favour of lord Northwick demands her very respectful acknowledgement, through which the work is adorned with a portrait of Addison from an original picture by Kneller never before engraved.