’I Confess these Fears seem very
groundless and unjust, but you must
forgive them to the Apprehension of one possessed of a great Treasure,
who is frighted at the most distant Shadow of Danger.
’Since I have thus far open’d my Heart to you, I will not conceal the secret Satisfaction I feel there of knowing the Goodness of my Friend will not be unrewarded. I am pleased with thinking the Providence of the Almighty hath sufficient Blessings in store for him, and will certainly discharge the Debt, though I am not made the happy Instrument of doing it.
’However, nothing in my power shall be wanting to shew my Gratitude; I will make it the Business of my Life to thank him, and shall esteem (next to him) those my best Friends, who give me greatest Assistance in this good Work. Printing this Letter would be some little Instance of my Gratitude; and your Favour herein will very much oblige
Your most humble Servant, &c.
[Footnote 1: Ximena, or the Heroic Daughter, a Tragedy taken from the Cid of Corneille, by Colley Gibber. The play was not published until after Steele’s pamphlet, ‘The Crisis,’ had exposed him to political and (as it necessarily followed in those days) personal detraction. Cibber then dedicated his play to Steele, referring to the custom of his calumniators, since they could not deny his literary services, to transfer all the merit of them to Addison, upon whom he had so generously heaped more than the half of his own fame, and said:
“Your Enemies therefore, thus knowing that your own consent had partly justified their insinuations, saved a great deal of their malice from being ridiculous, and fairly left you to apply to such your singular conduct what Mark Antony says of Octavius in the play:
’Fool that I was! upon
my Eagle’s wings
I bore this Wren, ’till I was tired with soaring,
And now, he mounts above me.’”
True-hearted Steele never read his relation to his friend in this fashion. With how fine a disregard of conventional dignity is the latter part of this paper given by Steele to the kind effort to help in setting a fallen man upon his legs again!]
[Footnote 2: See No. 248. To this Mr. Moreton was addressed the letter signed W. S., from Sir William Scawen.]
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No. 547. Thursday, November 27, 1712. Addison.