21 JUNE 1919, Page 8


THE bicentenary of the death of Joseph Addison which occurred on June 17th affords an opportunity of saying something about those spots in London which are associated with his name. For Addison was a type of the literary Londoner. He may carry us into the country with Sir Roger de Cover!ey, or discuss the catching of the jack with Will Wimlle, or haunt the grove sacred to the Widow, but it is the London of William and Anne with which he was most familiar and with which his fame is most closely identified. And yet he was not a Londoner by birth, and his first acquaintance with the Metro- polis was when he came from his Wiltshire village to the Charterhouse. That famous school has long since been removed to its Surrey bill, but a little over thirty years ago it was in all essentials the Charterhouse in Smithfield, familiar to Addison, as well as to Steele who was also educated here ; and here first began that life-long friendship between the two which was to prove so momentous an influence in the literary history of the Augustan age. It is rather curious that neither Addison nor Steele makes any mention of his old school in the pages of the Spectator where so much of their life's experience fords itself recorded, and it was left to the great novelist of the Victorian era to perpetuate in immortal prose innumerable details of the place to which he gave an added lustre. Between the years 1687, when he left the Charterhouse, and 1693, when he took his degree at Queen's College, Oxford, Addison was only fitfully in London ; indeed it is not till ten years later that we have any evidence of his permanent abode in London. In that year, however, he took lodgings in the Hay- market, and although no actual proof is forthcoming as to their site, it has been conjectured that the Comedy Theatre stands where was formerly the garret he occupied—the garret to which Pope once led Harte, the actor, and, climbing up the three flights of stairs, entered a small room and exclaimed with emotion : " Here Addison wrote ` The Campaign.' " It was left, however, for Thackeray to revivify not only the lodging but the great man himself, and readers of Esmond will not easily forget the scene where Steele and his friend come upon Addison examining a folio on a stall near St. James's Church, and subsequently accompany him to the Haymarket to hear the rough draft of that poem, which was to carry its author to fame and fortune. How long Addison remained here is not known, but as from 1706 to 1716 he held various important Government positions, ranging from Under-Secretary to Secre- tary of State, it seems obvious that he should have given up a lodging, which must have been, in the new circumstances of his life, an inadequate one. In Berkeley's Literary Relict. are printed two letters written by Addison to Joseph Keally. They are dated in April, 1710, and are addressed from St.

James's Place, so that it is probable that this had been his London headquarters for some time. I say advisedly " London headquarters," for it is known that concurrently with such lodgings Addison was accustomed to take rooms in what were then outlying villages, although to-day integral portions of London.

One of these retreats was at Sandy End, Fulham, and the year 1707 is given as being the date when he was in residence at the lodging-house in which he, here, occupied rooms, and from which Steele, who was probably a very frequent visitor, is known to have dated various letters. If you wish for an idea of what this part of London was like, not only at the beginning, but well into the middle, of the eighteenth century, you have but to examine Rocque's Great Plan, which, although not embracing this particular area, shows parts still nearer the centre of London as being then practically country where roads and lance intersected open fields, and the blackbirds sang. Such a setting was an ideal one for a poet, and fond as Addison was of frequenting the clubs and coffee-houses of a more sophisticated part of the city, he must have retired, with delight, to this sylvan retreat. In 1708 Addison addressed two letters to the young Earl of Warwick (whose stepfather he was to become eight years later), and these are dated from Sandford Manor House, once the residence of Nell Gwynne, which stood at Sandy End, near a little rivulet dividing Chelsea from Fulham. In one of these missives he gives particulars of a bird's-nest that had been found close to the house, and which he supposed to be that of a tom-tit ; in the other he writes—and the passage is worth quoting, as showing the rusticity of this neighbourhood in the days of Queen Anne:—

"I can't forbear being troublesome to your lordship while I am in your neighbourhood. The business of this, to invite you to a concert of music which I have found in a tree in a neigh- bouring wood. It begins precisely at six in the evening, and consists of a black-bird, a thrush, a robin-redbreast, and a bull- finch. There is a lark that, by way of overture, sings and mounts till she is almost out of hearing, and afterwards falls down leisurely and drops to the ground as soon as she has ended her song. The whole is concluded by a nightingale that has a much better voice than Mrs. Torts, and something of Italian manners in its diversions. if your lordship will honour me with your company, I will promise to entertain you with much better music and more agreeable scenes than you ever met with at the opera. . . ."

But others besides the essayist found a solace from the roar and stress of the town in these rural haunts, and Sir Godfrey Kneller has painted a picture of the nest of Whigs who once congregated here, including the great Sir Robert Walpole, Lord Wharton, Sir John Cope, Lord Shaftesbury, Addison himself and his alter ego, Dick Steele. That one of these at least did not shut his door to a famous member of the opposite party is proved by the references in the Journal to Stella to visits paid by Swift to his friend. Thus under date of September 15th, 1710, we read : " We dined at a country house near Chelsea, where Mr. Addison often retires" ; again on September 18th : " I dined with Mr. Stratford at Mr. Addison's retirement near Chelsea " ; and on the 29th : " I dined with Mr. Addison and Jems the painter, at Mr. Addison's country place."

Not only was the air of the country pleasant to one who could enjoy equally both it and the turmoil of the town, but Chelsea was within an easy walk of Holland House, and Addison often strolled across the fields to visit the lady who was later to become his wife. His intimacy with Lord Shaftesbury, who lived at Little Chelsea, was another link with this out- lying part of London, and at the house of the author of Characteristics several numbers of the Spectator are said to have been written ; while at Peterborough House close by tradition has it that Addison met Voltaire. Certain it is that Lord Peterborough here congregated all the wits and literati of the day, and Swift and Locke and Addison must often have foregathered under his roof, and perhaps listened to the siren-voice of Anastatia Robinson.

- It has been said that Addison lodged in Kensington Square, but I have never come across evidence to prove this. Certainly during part of the year 1712 he is known to have been residing in Kensington, and Swift records dining and supping with him there ; but on examination it is found that the host was nearly always Lord MOuntjoy, who had a house at Kensington Gravel Pits, which were on the north side of the Gardens ; and on one occasion the Dean speaks of dining with Addison and Steele at Kensington, which may well have been

at the latter's lodgings, which were in Kensington Square " at the house of Mrs. Hardresse," as he tells his wife in 1708, and which apparently he continued to occupy till his removal to Haveestock Hill four years later.

If, however, we cannot actually connect Addison with the Square which would have formed so appropriate a setting for his dignified personality, we are able to show that he thought of taking a house there, for, writing to Mr. Wortley on October

13th, 1711, he says: " If you will be my lodger, take a house in the Square at Kensington, and furnish your chamber, not forgetting a cook and other particulars " ; to which Wortley- replies that " It will be near the middle of December before I get. to Kensington, when I am very glad to beer that I may be your lodger, if you will not be mine as I proposed. Should you like any other place out of town better than Kensington, I desire you will choose it, and I shall certainly be pleased with it." Considering the sparsely inhabited character of Kensin;ton at that time, when the Square was Me place of residence. this may be considered a sufficient proof of Addison's ones having resided in it ; but the Rate-Books afford no evidonc.s, and the reader must draw his own conclusions.

It was in 1716 that Addison was to be definitely connected with the village, for in that year, to use Faulkner's words, " this manor became the property of Mr. Addison, by his marriage with Charlotte, Countess of Warwick." The marriage took place at the church of St. Edmund, Lombard Street, one of the edifices rebuilt by Wren in 1670, in the registers of which may be read this entry :—

" Joseph Addison, of 13ilton, in the County of Warwick, Esq., was married unto Charlotte, Countess-Dowager of Warwick awl Holland, of the parish of Kensington. ins the County of Middlesex, on the ninth day of August, Anne Domini, 1716."

Henceforth Holland House was the home of the essayist, and such ie the power of genius that that splendid pile—dating from the early days of James I., when Thorpe designed it for Sir Walter Cope, and since associated with so many bright spirits rwl with the political history of a long period—is chiefly connected in our minds with the man who at once dignified and simplified our literature. All sorts of stories have been propagated about the home-life of Addison and his wife, but I think we can follow Leigh Hunt in his conclusion that not shame on the part of the lady for having married one who had been her son's tutor was the cause of incompatibility so much ns difference in years and tastes—" the lady was well and merry ; the gentle. man fit only to muse."

Addison enjoyed his occupancy of the splendid mansion for three years only, and during that time he cannot be said to have added to his fame, or even his happiness. He became Secretary of State, and he was in Parliament, but rya: not a marked success in either capacity ; he quarrelled with Steele, if one alone can make a quarrel ; and what literary work he did was done, according to the tradition, as he walked the long gallery between two bottles of claret. Moore, writing in after days, full of the legends which clustered about the home of his friends the Hollands, says that " there was a little white house near the turnpike to which Addison used to retire when the Countess was particularly troublesome." This inn was ' The White Horse,' rebuilt in 1866 as ' The Holland Anna, in which was preserved some of the original furniture of the old tavern which had heard the talk of Addison and the wit of Steele. The mention of this hostelry appropriately brings one to the taverns and coffee-houses with which Addison was familiar, and where he passed 80 much of his time, not only in his Holland House days, but during the earlier portion of his career when his fame was at a higher meridian. Of these Button's is most closely associated with his name, for it was to Button's that he came as a literary monarch ; where his own throne was reserved, so to speak, for him ; where he ruled as Dryden had ruled at Wills', and as Johnson was to rule at ' The Turk's Head.' " The coffee-houses have ever since been my chief places of resort where I hare made the greatest improvements," he himself tells us in the Spectator. He was like St. Paul, all things to all men—a Tory at Button's and a Whig at Child's :—

" I am seen thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Willa'," he writes in another number of his periodical. " Some. times I smoke a pipe at . . I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's Coffee-house . . . my face is very well know a at The Grecian, the Cocoa•Tree . and I sometimes pass for a Jow in the assembly at Jonathan's."

E. BEBESPORD Criarresuort.