ADDISON, Joseph (1672-1719). Autograph letter signed ('J.A.') to Richard Steele ('Dick'), Malmesbury, 4 March 1709/10, 2 pages, 4to, with integral blank, endorsed on verso (some light browning to blank leaf, margins of previous mount on verso). Provenance: the Estate of Marjorie Wiggin Prescott, Christie's New York, 6 February 1981, lot 1; the Albin Schram Collection.
ONE OF ONLY TWO KNOWN EXTANT LETTERS FROM ADDISON TO STEELE, concerning The Tatler and other matters, 'I very much liked your last paper upon the Courtship that is usually paid to the fair sex. I wish you had reserved the Letter in this days paper concerning Indecencies at Church for an entire piece. It wd have made as good an one as any you have published. Your Reflections upon Almanza are very good.' The letter concludes with references to impeachment proceedings against Addison's friend, Henry Sacheverell ('I am much obliged to you for yor Letters relating to Sackeverell'), and the Light House petition: 'I am something troubled that you have not sent away ye Letters received from Ireland to my Lord Lieutenant, particularly that from Mr Forster [the Attorney General] with the Enclosed petition about the Light House, wch I hope will be delivered to the House before my Return'.
The playwright and politician, Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729), first became associated with Addison in 1700, when he published a poem in his defence in reply to Sir Richard Blackmore's Satyr against Wit; Addison later contributed to Steele's play, The Tender Husband. In 1705 Steele joined Addison as a member of the Whig KitKat Club, and in 1708 became under-secretary of state, following Addison's departure to Ireland as secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. From there, Addison contributed material towards The Tatler, which Steele had begun on 12 April 1709. Addison's comments in the present letter refer to issue number 139 (25-28 February - 2 March). Partly published in R. Blanchard, Correspondence of Richard Steele, Oxford, 1941, no. 38.