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ESSAY 3. 11. John Gay
BIOGRAPHICAL, CRITICAL, AND HISTORICAL.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SKETCHES OF THE OCCASIONAL CORRESPONDENTS OF STEELE AND ADDISON.
To works of such celebrity as were the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, and written in a form which very readily admitted, and indeed almost required, numerous contributions from numerous individuals, it might naturally be expected that many, either from motives of fame or interest, would be eager to offer their assistance.
Of these, (to whom priority of enumeration will, in this place, be given, in proportion to the number of papers which they respectively produced,)
EUSTACE BUDGELL takes the lead. He was the son of Gilbert Budgell, D. D. of St. Thomas near Exeter, and was born in 1685. His mother, only daughter of Dr. William Gulston, Bishop of
Bristol, was sister to the lady of Dean Addison, and consequently a relationship, which proved of essential service to young Budgell, subsisted between him and the principal author of the Spectator.
Having shown considerable facility in the acquisition of classical learning, he was at an earlier period than usual sent to Christ Church, Oxford, of which college he became a member in the year 1700. After a residence of some years in this university, he relinquished it to embrace, at the request of his father, the profession of the law, and, for this purpose, was entered of the Inner Temple. This was a designation, however, by no means agreeable to the wishes or the views of Budgell. He had acquired a decided taste for elegant literature; and the chief object of his ambition was, to be the associate and companion of those who figured as the leaders of the literary world.
Nothing could be better calculated for the gratification of his desires than an introduction to Addison; this, as a relation, he easily obtained, and he exhibited so many proofs of ability and classical proficiency, that, when this accomplished scholar was appointed secretary to the Earl of Wharton, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he hesitated not to make an offer to his young friend of a clerkship in his office.
To this proposal he very gladly acceded; the more willingly perhaps, as, by neglecting his profession, he had so offended his father, that his remittances had for some time been irregular and confined. It was in the commencement of April, 1710, that he left London for the capital of the sister island, and at a period when, through the influence and patronage of Addison, he was known and esteemed in the first circles of the literati. Budgell was at this time about twentyfive years of age, pleasing and elegant in his person; in his address fashionable and engaging; and, independent of his classical acquirements, familiar with the French and Italian. His passions, however, were strong and impetuous, and his vanity equally puerile and excessive; defects which, unhappily, age and misfortunes rather increased than diminished, and which ultimately brought on a catastrophe alike ruinous and ignominious.
It is to the praise of Budgell, however, that he studied with uncommon assiduity to acquire the esteem and affection of Addison; the effort was not in vain; he was repaid by confidence and regard; and the friendship subsisting between the two relations became so strict and mutual, that, during the period of their residence in Dublin, they constantly lived and lodged together.