As a challenge to the popularity of Italian opera, Addison chose to write an opera in English centered on the legend of “fair Rosamond” and set in Woodstock Park, site of Marlborough’s Blenheim Palace. For the music he engaged Thomas Clayton, composer of Arsinoe, Queen of Cypress—an unfortunate choice as it turned out; when Rosamond was staged at Drury Lane (March 4, 1707), it ran for only three nights. The libretto itself was well construction and the lyrics light and effective. Later in the century with new music by Thomas Augustine Arne, it in fact proved very popular.
Duties in Ireland. In 1708 Addison was elected to Parliament for Lostwithiel in Cornwall and later in the same year was made secretary to the Earl of Wharton, the new lord lieutenant of Ireland. Addison’s post was in effect that of secretary of state for Irish affairs, with a revenue of some £2,000 a year. I addition to routine duties as Irish secretary, he was responsible to the crown for much official policy in Ireland, where such delicate matters as the Test Act, the laws against Roman Catholics, and the settlement of the Protestant palatines required a tactful and firm hand, he was elected a member of the Irish parliament taking his seat as representative for Cavan of May 15, 1709. He also interested himself in the preservation and arrangement of the Irish public records, purchasing the office of keeper of the records in Bermingham’s Tower, which he developed into a responsible office with an annual salary of £400.
Addison served as Irish secretary for the two years during which Wharton was lord lieutenant, residing in Dublin Castle from April to September 1709 and from May to August 1710, spending the winter months in England. It was during his term as Irish secretary that his Steele began publishing The Tatler, which appeared three times a week under the pseudonym of Isaac Bickerstaff. The first number appeared on April 12, 1709, first biographer (Thomas Tickell), it was not until the appearance of No. 6 (on April 23) that Addison recognized an observation on Virgil that he himself had made to Steele and knew him to be “Isaac Bickerstaff.” It seems unlikely, however, that Steele should have kept the project a secret from Addison, since the two were close friends and had virtually collaborated on the Gazette. At any rate, while still in Ireland, Addison began contributing to the new periodical. Back in London in September 1709, he supplied most of the essays during the winter of 1709-10 before returning to Ireland in May. -(D.F.B)