Poet playwright essayist and novelist

In and , Addison was a Member of Parliament for the borough of Lostwithiel.

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In , he represented Malmesbury , in his home county of Wiltshire , holding the seat until his death in He met Jonathan Swift in Ireland and remained there for a year. Later, he helped form the Kitcat Club and renewed his friendship with Richard Steele. His last publication was The Freeholder , a political paper, in — He wrote the libretto for Thomas Clayton 's opera Rosamond , which had a disastrous premiere in London in He followed this effort with a comedic play, The Drummer In , Addison wrote his most famous work, Cato, a Tragedy.

Based on the last days of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis , it deals with conflicts such as individual liberty versus government tyranny, Republicanism versus Monarchism , logic versus emotion, and Cato's personal struggle to retain his beliefs in the face of death. It has a prologue written by Alexander Pope and an epilogue by Samuel Garth.

The play was a success throughout the British Empire. It continued to grow in popularity, especially in America, for several generations. It is cited by some historians as a literary inspiration for the American Revolution , being known to many of the Founding Fathers. General George Washington sponsored a performance of Cato for the Continental Army during the difficult winter of at Valley Forge.

According to John J. Miller , "no single work of literature may have been more important than Cato " for the leaders of the American revolution.

Scholars have identified the inspiration for several famous quotations from the American Revolution in Cato. These include:. II : "Through what variety of untried being, through what new scenes and changes must we pass! Though the play has fallen from popularity and is now rarely performed, it was popular and often cited in the eighteenth century, with Cato being an example of republican virtue and liberty.

John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon were inspired by the play to write an epistolary exchange entitled Cato's Letters , concerning individual rights, using the name "Cato". The action of the play involves the forces of Cato at Utica , awaiting the attack of Caesar immediately following his victory at Thapsus 46 BC. Juba, prince of Numidia , one of Cato's warriors, loves Cato's daughter Marcia. Meanwhile, Sempronius, a senator, and Syphax, a general of the Numidians, are conspiring secretly against Cato, hoping to prevent the Numidian army from supporting him.


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In the final act, Cato commits suicide, leaving his followers to make their peace with the approaching army of Caesar—an easier task after Cato's death, since he was Caesar's most implacable enemy. It is sung either to the tune known as "London Addison's " by John Sheeles, written c. The later part of Addison's life was not without its troubles. His political career continued, and he served as Secretary of State for the Southern Department from to His political newspaper The Freeholder was much criticised, and Alexander Pope in his Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot made Addison an object of derision, naming him "Atticus", and comparing him to an adder , "willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike".

His wife was arrogant and imperious; his stepson, Edward Rich , was an unfriendly rake. Addison's shyness in public limited his effectiveness as a member of Parliament. He eventually fell out with Steele over the Peerage Bill of In , Addison was forced to resign as Secretary of State because of his poor health, but he remained an MP until his death at Holland House, London , on 17 June aged He was buried in Westminster Abbey. As a playwright, Brian has produced works that are noted for their dark comedy and fast pace. He is currently Senior Editor at 4Columns , a website of arts criticism aimed at a general audience.

You can learn more about him on the web at Brian Parks Playwright. Michael Pronko is a mystery writer, essayist, and teacher, born in Kansas City, but living and writing in Tokyo for the past twenty years. He is a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University where he teaches seminars in contemporary novels and film adaptations. You can learn more about him on the web at Michael Pronko. Becky Selengut is a cooking teacher, private chef, not-so-private comedian, and a prolific food writer.

You can learn more about her on the web at Becky Selengut.

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