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named Lawrence, who was one of the clerks of the Irish House of Commons between the years 1662 and 1679. From him have descended the “Steeles of Rathbride,” whose pedigree is given in detail in Burke's Landed Gentry, of which family Dr. Wm. Edward Steele, of Dublin, is a member. Of George Steele, the third brother of the Chancellor, nothing whatever appears to be known.-Communications by Dr. Steele to Notes and Queries, 2nd S., Nos. 291 and 295.
STEELE LOSES HIS FATHER. When in his fifth year, Steele had the misfortune to lose his father ; and that his death sorely touched the affectionate boy was narrated by him in after-life, in the Tatler, No. 181, wherein he thus describes this loss as his earliest recollection and his earliest grief.
“ The first sense of sorrow I ever knew was upon the death of my father, at which time I was not quite five years of age ; but was rather amazed at what all the house meant, than possessed with a real understanding why nobody was willing to play with me. I remember I went into the room where his body lay, and my mother sat weeping alone by it. I had my battledore in my hand, and fell a beating the coffin, and calling papa; for, I know not how, I had some slight idea that he was locked up there. My mother catched me in her arms, and, transported beyond all patience of the silent grief she was before in, she almost smothered me in her embrace, and told me in a flood of tears, ' Papa could not hear me, and would play with me no more, for they were going to put him underground, whence he never would come to us again.' She was a very beautiful woman, of a noble spirit, and there was a dignity in her grief amidst all the wildness of her transport; which, methought, struck me with an instinct of sorrow, that, before I was sensible what it was to grieve, seized my very soul, and has made pity the weakness of my heart ever since.”
STEELE AT THE CHARTER-HOUSE. The Duke of Ormond, the patron of Steele's father, was one of the Governors of the old school of Charter-house, near Smithfield, where, as soon after his father's death as he could be entered, Richard Steele was sent as gown-boy. Respecting him the following entries exist in the books of the Charter-house ; for which information Dr. Steele is indebted to the kindness of the present Principal of that institution :“Nov. 17, 1684. Richard Steel, admitted for the Duke of Ormond" (i.e. nominated by him); "aged 13 years, on 12th March last ;” and “ Nov. 1st, 1689, Richard Steel elected to the University.” (Here we see the name has not a final e.)
Mr. Thackeray, who was himself educated upon this noble institution, has speculatively sketched Steele's schoolboy
life. He says:
I am afraid no good report could be given by his masters and ushers of that thick-set, square-faced, black-eyed, soft-hearted little Irish boy. He was very idle. He was whipped deservedly a great number of times. Though he had very good parts of his own, he got other boys to do his lessons for him, and only took just as much trouble as should enable him to scuffle through his exercises, and by good fortune escape the flogging, block. One hundred and fifty years after, I have myself inspected, but only as an amateur, that instrument of righteous torture still existing, and in occasional use, in a secluded private apartment of the old Charterhouse School; and have no doubt, it is the very counterpart, if not the ancient and interesting machine itself, at which poor Dick Steele submitted himself to the tormentors.
Besides being very kind, lazy, and good-natured, the boy went in. variably into debt with the tart-woman; ran out of bounds, and entered into pecuniary, or rather promissory, engagements with the neighbouring lollipop vendors and piemen-exhibited an early fondness for drinking mum and sack, and borrowed from all his comrades who had money to lend.-Lecture on English Humourists.
The writer admits that he has “no sort of authority for the statements here made of Steele's early life;" but he reasons upon the child being father of the man ; adding, “ if man and boy resembled each other, Dick Steele the schoolboy must have been one of the most generous, good-for-nothing, amiable little creatures that ever conjugated the word tupto, I beat, tuptomai, I am whipped, in any school in Great Britain." There is, however, presumptive evidence that Steele was not so bad a boy as here sketched—“from his ready scholarship of after years, as well as from the kind expressions long interchanged between him and its old headmaster, Dr. Ellis, he may be assumed to have passed fairly through the school. Of his positive acquisitions only one is known, but it is by far the most important. Not the glory of his having carried off every prize and exhibition attainable, if such had been his, would have interested him half so much as the fact that here began his friendship with Joseph Addison.”—Forster's Biographical Essays.
Mr. Thackeray, pursuing his theory, regards Addison as Steele's head-boy at his school, adding:
Dick Steele, the Charterhouse gown-boy, contracted such an adıniration in the years of his childhood, and retained it faithfully through bis life. Through the school and through the world, whithersoever his strange fortune led this erring, wayward, affectionate creature, Joseph Addison was always his head-boy. Addison wrote his exercises. Addison did his best themes. He ran on Addison's messages : fagged for him and blacked his shoes ; to be in Joe's company was Dick's greatest pleasure; and he took a sermon and a caning from his monitor with the
; most boundless reverence, acquiescence, and affection.- Lecture.
STEELE AND ADDISON AT OXFORD. The friendship of the two Carthusians which was commenced in the monastic courts, playing-green, and wilderness of good old Thomas Sutton's "greatest gift in England,”— was transplanted to the academic groves of Merton and Magdalen, at Oxford. Mr. Forster has thus touchingly embellished this college companionship:
The son of the Dean of Lichfield was only three years older than Steele, who was a lad of only twelve, when at the age of fifteen, Addison went up to Oxford. Three years at that age are the measure of submission or authority, and through life Steele never lost the habit of looking up to his friend. He went himself to Oxford in 1692, at the head of that year's postmasters for Merton ; but his intercourse with the scholar of Magdalen had not ceased in the interval. " Pleasant traces are left for us which connect the little fatherless lad with visitings to Addison's father, who loved him. Like one of his own children, he loved me, exclaimed Steele, towards the close of his life. Those children, too, apart from his famous schoolfellow, he thanks for their affection to him; and among the possessions of his youth, retained until death, was a letter in the handwriting of the good old Dean, giving his blessing on the friendship between his son and me.” The little blackeyed dusky-faced lad had made himself popular at the Lichfield deanery ; and he brought away from it we will not doubt, that first ineffaceable impression which remained alike through the weakness and strength of his future years, that religion was a part of goodness, and that cheerfulness should be inseparable from piety.--Essays.
Steele passed three years at Oxford: his companionship with Addison ripened into a memorable friendship; although Merton is not so popularly associated with Steele as is Magdalen with his brother essayist, in the famous “ Addi. son's Walk.” Steele left Oxford with the love of “the whole society," but without a degree, after writing a comedy, which, however, he burnt, upon a friend telling him it was not worth keeping.
Steele long cherished his love of the venerable seat of learning: fourteen years afterwards, in his 39th Tatler, Mr. Bickerstaff thus records his visit to Oxford: “Superiority is there given in proportion to men's advancement in wisdom and
learning; and that just rule of life is so universally received among these happy people that you should see an earl walk bareheaded to the son of the meanest artificer in regard to seven years' more worth and knowledge than the nobleman is possessed of. In other places they bow to men's fortunes, but here to their understandings. It is not to be expressed, how pleasing the order, the discipline, the regularity of their lives, is to a philosopher, who has, by many years' experience in the world, learned to contemn everything but what is revered in this mansion of select and well-taught spirits. The magnificence of their palaces, the greatness of their revenues, the sweetness of their groves and retirements, seem equally adapted for the residence of princes and philosophers; and a familiarity with objects of splendour, as well as places of recess, prepares the inhabitants with an equanimity for their future fortunes, whether humble or illustrious. How was I pleased when I looked round at St. Mary's, and could, in the faces of the ingenuous youth, see ministers of state, chancellors, bishops, and judges.”
Again, in the forty-fifth Tatler, Steele publishes to the world that puppet-shows are permitted at Oxford; and inserts a letter from a correspondent “from Mother Gourdon's, at Hedington, near Oxon," complaining of some indecencies of Punch, who disturbs a soft love-scene with his ribaldry. Then follow some curious speculations as to the antiquity and chronology of Punch, tracing it to Thespis and his cart, the parts being recited by one person, as the custom was before Eschylus.
Somewhat later, there was witnessed at Oxford a performance of the puppet by one who grew to be a prince of humourists: Murphy believes that Foote acted Punch in disguise during his student career at Worcester College, in Oxford, 1737-40.*
* We imagine the Punch of 1709 in full play at Oxford: there were then more pitches than now for his theatre : of course he could not be tolerated in college, notwithstanding his supposed classical origin. “The Broad” would afford verge enough for the spectators; we imagine the cracked voice of the old hook-nosed libertine, and the shriek of his Judy, re-echoing through one of the many lone spots and leafy corners of the time-worn city; and, curiously enough, should the reader step into the Bodleian Library, and examine its MS. treasures, he will there find, in a French romance of the fourteenth century, an illuminated drawing of a puppet-show executed with great distinctness, the figures bearing an almost exact resemblance to the modern figures of Punch and Judy.
STEELE ENLISTS IN THE HORSE GUARDS. The burning of his first comedy appears to have fed the flame of Steele’s patriotism : he was already a hot politician, and entering heartily into the struggle of which the greatest champion now sat on the English throne, he resolved to throw a sword, if not a pen into the scale, and plant himself behind King William III. against Louis XIV. Steele's friends interfered, and a rich relative of his mother, who had named him heir to a large estate in Wexford, threatened to disinherit him if he took that course. He took it, and was disinherited; giving the express reason, many years later, that when he so cocked his hat, put on a broadsword, jackboots, and a shoulder-belt, and mounted a war-horse, under the unhappy Duke of Ormond's command, he had mistaken his own genius, and did not know that he could handle a pen more effectively than a sword. Failing to obtain a commission, Steele entered the army as a private in the Horse Guards; and we picture him with the rest of the gentlemen
; of his troop, “all mounted on black horses, with white feathers in their hats, and scarlet coats richly laced,” marched by King William in Hyde Park, in November, 1699, and a great show of the nobility, besides twenty thousand people, and above a thousand coaches. “ The Guards had just got their new clothes,” the London Post said: “they are extraordinary grand, and thought to be the finest body of horse in the world.”
Steele's wit, vivacity, and good-humour speedily rendered him such a favourite, that the officers of his regiment were desirous to have him among themselves, and obtained for him a cornetey, from which he was promoted to be a captain in Lord Lucas's Fusiliers, getting his company through the patronage of Lord Cutts, to whom he acted as private secretary. He now plunged deeply into the fashionable gaieties and vices of the town. During this course of dissipation, being thoroughly convinced of many things of which he had often repented, and which he more often repeated, he wrote for his own admonition, a little book called the Christian Hero, which is not, as it has been described, “a valuable little manual” of religious exercises for ease in “ the intervals snatched from the orgies of voluptuousness.” Mr. Forster has better characterized it as “not a book of either texts or