Online Encyclopedia

SIR RICHARD STEELE (1672-1729)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 865 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR RICHARD STEELE (1672-1729), English man of letters in the reign of Queen Anne, is inseparably associated in the history of literature with his personal friend Addison. He cannot be said to have lost in reputation by the partnership, because he was inferior to Addison in purely literary gift, and it is Addison's literary genius that has floated their joint work above merely journalistic celebrity; but the advantage was not all on Steele's side, inasmuch as his more brilliant coadjutor has usurped not a little of the merit rightly due to him. Steele's often-quoted generous acknowledgment of Addison's services in the Tatter has proved true in a somewhat different sense from that intended by the writer: " I fared like a distressed prince who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid; I was undone by my auxiliary; when I had once called him in I could not subsist without dependence on him." The truth is that in this happy alliance the one was the complement of the other; and the balance of mutual advantage was much more nearly even than Steele claimed or posterity has generally allowed.
End of Article: SIR RICHARD STEELE (1672-1729)
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