The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift Volume 09

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  • 1898
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[Illustration: _Jonathan Swift from the picture by Charles Jervas in the Bodlean Library Oxford_]








Swift has been styled the Prince of Journalists. Like most titles whose aim is to express in modern words the character and achievements of a man of a past age, this phrase is not of the happiest. Applied to so extraordinary a man as Jonathan Swift, it is both misleading and inadequate. At best it embodies but a half-truth. It belongs to that class of phrases which, in emphasizing a particular side of the character, sacrifices truth to a superficial cleverness, and so does injustice to the character as a whole. The vogue such phrases obtain is thus the measure of the misunderstanding that is current; so that it often becomes necessary to receive them with caution and to test them with care.

A prince in his art Swift certainly was, but his art was not the art of the journalist. Swift was a master of literary expression, and of all forms of that expression which aim at embodying in language the common life and common facts of men and their common nature. He had his limitations, of course; but just here lies the power of his special genius. He never attempted to express what he did not fully comprehend. If he saw things narrowly, he saw them definitely, and there was no mistaking the ideas he wished to convey. “He understands himself,” said Dr. Johnson, “and his reader always understands him.” Within his limitations Swift swayed a sovereign power. His narrowness of vision, however, did never blind him to the relations that exist between fact and fact, between object and subject, between the actual and the possible. At the same time it was not his province, as it was not his nature, to handle such relations in the abstract. The bent of his mind was towards the practical and not the pure reason. The moralist and the statesman went hand in hand in him–an excellent example of the eighteenth century thinker.

But to say this of Swift is not to say that he was a journalist. The journalist is the man of the hour writing for the hour in harmony with popular opinion. Both his text and his heads are ready-made for him. He follows the beaten road, and only essays new paths when conditions have become such as to force him along them. Such a man Swift certainly was not. Journalism was not his way to the goal. If anything, it was, as Epictetus might have said, but a tavern by the way-side in which he took occasion to find the means by which the better to attain his goal. If Swift’s contributions to the literature of his day be journalism, then did journalism spring full-grown into being, and its history since his time must be considered as a history of its degeneration. But they were much more than journalism. That they took the form they did, in contributions to the periodicals of his day, is but an accident which does not in the least affect the contributions themselves. These, in reality, constitute a criticism of the social and political life of the first thirty years of the English eighteenth century. From the time of the writing of “A Tale of a Tub” to the days of the Drapier’s Letters, Swift dissected his countrymen with the pitiless hand of the master-surgeon. So profound was his knowledge of human anatomy, individual and social, that we shudder now at the pain he must have inflicted in his unsparing operations. So accurate was his judgment that we stand amazed at his knowledge, and our amazement often turns to a species of horror as we see the cuticle flapped open revealing the crude arrangement beneath. Nor is it to argue too nicely, to suggest that our present sympathy for the past pain, our amazement, and our horror, are, after all, our own unconscious tributes to the power of the man who calls them up, and our confession of the lasting validity of his criticism.

This is not the power nor is it the kind of criticism that are the elements of the art of the journalist. Perhaps we should be glad that it is not; which is but to say that we are content with things as they exist. It requires a special set of conditions to precipitate a Swift. Happily, if we will have it so, the conditions in which we find ourselves ask for that kind of journalist whose function is amply fulfilled when he has measured the movements of the hour by the somewhat higher standards of the day. The conditions under which Swift lived demanded a journalist of an entirely different calibre; and they got him. They obtained a man who dissolved the petty jealousies of party power in the acid of satire, and who distilled the affected fears for Church and State in the alembic of a statesmanship that establishes a nation’s majesty and dignity on the common welfare of its free people. When Swift, at the beginning of the November of 1710, was called in to assist the Tory party by undertaking the work of “The Examiner,” he found a condition of things so involved and so unstable, that it required the very nicest appreciation, the most delicate handling, and the boldest of hearts to readjust and re-establish, without fearful consequences. Harley and St. John were safely housed, and, apparently, amply protected by a substantial majority. But majorities are often not the most trustworthy of supports. Apart from the over-confidence which they inspire, and apart from the danger of a too-enthusiastic following, such as found expression in the October Club, there was the danger which might come from the dissatisfaction of the people at large, should their temper be wrongly gauged; and at this juncture it was not easy to gauge. The popularity of Marlborough and his victories, on the one hand, was undoubted. On the other, however, there was the growing opinion that those victories had been paid for at a price greater than England could afford. If she had gained reputation and prestige, these could not fill the mouths of the landed class, gradually growing poorer, and the members of this class were not of a disposition to restrain their feelings as they noted the growing prosperity of the Whig stock-jobbers–a prosperity that was due to the very war which was beggaring them. If the landed man cried for peace, he was answered by the Whig stock-jobber that peace meant the ultimate repudiation of the National Debt, with the certainty of the reign of the Pretender. If the landed man spoke for the Church, the Whig speculator raised the shout of “No Popery!” The war had transformed parties into factions, and the ministry stood between a Scylla of a peace-at-any-price, on the one side, and a Charybdis of a war-at-any-price on the other; or, if not a war, then a peace so one-sided that it would be almost impossible to bring it about.

In such troubled waters, and at such a critical juncture, it was given to Swift to act as pilot to the ship of State. His papers to “The Examiner” must bear witness to the skill with which he accomplished the task set before him. His appeal to the people of England for confidence in the ministry, should be an appeal not alone on behalf of its distinguished and able members, but also on behalf of a policy by which “the crooked should be made straight and the rough places plain.” Such was to be the nature of his appeal, and he made it in a series of essays that turned every advantage with admirable effect to the side of his clients. Not another man then living could have done what he did; and we question if either Harley or St. John ever realized the service he rendered them. The later careers of these two men furnish no doubtful hints of what might have happened at this period had Swift been other than the man he was.

But Swift’s “Examiners” did much more than preserve Harley’s head on his shoulders; they brought the nation to a calmer sense of its position, and tutored it to a juster appreciation of the men who were using it for selfish ends. Let us make every allowance for purely special pleadings; for indulgence in personal feeling against the men who had either disappointed, injured, or angered him; for the party man affecting or genuinely feeling party bitterness, for the tricks and subterfuges of the paid advocate appealing to the passions and weaknesses of those whose favour he was seeking to win; allowing for these, there are yet left in these papers a noble spirit of wide-eyed patriotism, and a distinguished grasp of the meaning of national greatness and national integrity.

The pamphleteers whom he opposed, and who opposed him, were powerless against Swift. Where they pried with the curiosity and meanness of petty dealers, Swift’s insight seized on the larger relations, and insisted on them. Where they “bantered,” cajoled, and sneered, arousing a very mild irritation, Swift’s scornful invective, and biting satire silenced into fear the enemies of the Queen’s chosen ministers. Where their jejune “answers” gained a simper, Swift’s virility of mind, range of power, and dexterity of handling, compelled a homage. His Whig antagonists had good reason to dread him. He scoffed at them for an existence that was founded, not on a devotion to principles, but on a jealousy for the power others enjoyed. “The bulk of the Whigs appears rather to be linked to a certain set of persons, than any certain set of principles.” To these persons also he directed his grim attention, Somers, Cowper, Godolphin, Marlborough, and Wharton were each drawn with iron stylus and acid. To Wharton he gave special care (he had some private scores to pay off), and in the character of Verres, he etched the portrait of a profligate, an unscrupulous governor, a scoundrel, an infidel to his religion and country, a reckless, selfish, low-living blackguard. In the Letter to Marcus Crassus, Marlborough is addressed in language that the simplest farm-labourer could understand. The letter is a lay sermon on the vice of avarice, and every point and illustration are taken from Marlborough’s life with such telling application that Marlborough himself must have taken thought as he read it. “No man,” Swift finely concludes, “of true valour and true understanding, upon whom this vice has stolen unawares; when he is convinced he is guilty, will suffer it to remain in his breast an hour.”

But these attentions to the Whigs as a party and as individuals were, after all, but the by-play of the skilled orator preparing the minds of his hearers for the true purpose in hand. That purpose may originally have been to fix the ministry in the country’s favour; but Swift having fulfilled it, and so discharged his office, turned it, as indeed he could not help turning it, and as later in the Drapier’s Letters he turned another purpose, to the persuasion of an acceptance of those broad principles which so influenced political thought during the last years of the reign of Queen Anne. It is with these principles in his mind that Dr. Johnson confessed that Swift “dictated for a time the political opinions of the English nation.” He recalled the nation to a consideration of the Constitution; he attributed to the people (because, of course, they had elected the new ministry into power) an appreciation of what was best for the protection of their ancient privileges and rights. The past twenty years had been a period of mismanagement, in which the Constitution had been ignored; “but the body of the people is wiser; and by the choice they have made, shew they do understand our Constitution, and would bring it back to the old form.” “The nation has groaned under the intolerable burden of those who sucked her blood for gain. We have carried on wars, that we might fill the pockets of stock-jobbers. We have revised our Constitution, and by a great and united national effort, have secured our Protestant succession, only that we may become the tools of a faction, who arrogate to themselves the whole merit of what was a national act. We are governed by upstarts, who are unsettling the landmarks of our social system, and are displacing the influence of our landed gentry by that of a class of men who find their profit in our woes.” The rule of the tradesman must be replaced by the rule of those whose lives are bound up with the land of their country. The art of government was not “the importation of nutmegs, and the curing of herrings;” but the political embodiment of the will of “a Parliament freely chosen, without threatening or corruption,” and “composed of landed men” whose interests being in the soil would be at one with the interests of those who lived on the soil. Whigs and Tories may dispute as they will among themselves as to the best side from which to defend the country; but the men of the true party are the men of the National party–they “whose principles in Church and State, are what I have above related; whose actions are derived from thence, and who have no attachment to any set of ministers, further than as these are friends to the Constitution in all its parts; but will do their utmost to save their Prince and Country, whoever be at the Helm”.[1]

In this spirit and in such wise did Swift temper his time and champion the cause of those men who had chosen him. This was a kind of “examining” to which neither the Whigs nor the Tories had been accustomed. It shed quite a new light on matters, which the country at large was not slow to appreciate. Throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom “The Examiner” was welcomed and its appeals responded to. Its success was notable, even magnificent; but it was not a lasting success. It did the work that the ministry had intended it to do, and did it unmistakably; but the principles of this National party were for men of a sterner mould than either Harley or St. John. Swift had laid a burden on their shoulders heavier than they could carry, and they fell when they were bereft of his support. But the work Swift did bears witness to-day to a very unusual combination of qualities in the genius of this man, whose personality stands out even above his work. It was ever his fate to serve and never his happiness to command; but then he had himself accepted servitude when he donned the robe of the priest.

It is deserving of repeated record to note that Dr. Johnson in admitting that Swift, in “The Examiner,” had the advantage in argument, adds that “with regard to wit, I am afraid none of Swift’s papers will be found equal to those by which Addison opposed him.” To which Monck Mason pertinently remarks: “The Doctor should have told us what these papers were which Addison wrote in opposition to Swift’s ‘Examiner;’ for the last ‘Whig Examiner,’ written by Addison, was published October 12th, 1710, and Swift’s first ‘Examiner’ on the 2nd November following.”[2]

* * * * *

In this volume have been collected those writings of Swift which form his contributions to the periodicals of his time. Care has been taken to give the best text and to admit nothing that Swift did not write. In the preparation of the volume the editor has received such assistance from Mr. W. Spencer Jackson that it might with stricter justice be said that he had edited it. He collated the texts, revised the proofs, and supplied most of the notes. Without his assistance the volume must inevitably have been further delayed, and the editor gladly takes this occasion to acknowledge his indebtedness to Mr. Jackson and to thank him for his help.

His further indebtedness must be acknowledged to the researches of those writers already named in the previously published volumes of this edition, and also cited in the notes to the present volume.



_April_ 8, 1902.

[Footnote 1: “Examiner,” No. 44, p. 290.]

[Footnote 2: “Hist. St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” p. 257, note g.]


Introductory Note
No. 32, June 23, 1709
35, ” 30, “
59, Aug. 25, “
65, Sept. 3, “
66, ” 10, “
67, ” 13, “
68, ” 15, “
70, ” 22, “
71, ” 22, “
230, Sept. 28, 1710
258, Dec. 2, “

Note to Harrison’s “Tatler”
No. 1 (of vol. v.), Jan. 13, 1710-11 2 ( ” ), ” 16, “
5 ( ” ), ” 27, “
No. 298 (vol. v., No. 20), March 6, 1710-11 302 (vol. v., No. 24), ” 15 “
306 (vol. v., No. 28), ” 24 “

Introductory Note
No. 14 (13), Nov. 2, 1710
15 (14), ” 9, “
16 (15), ” 16, “
17 (16), ” 23, “
18 (17), ” 30, “
19 (18), Dec. 7, “
20 (19), ” 14, “
21 (20), ” 21, “
22 (21), ” 28, “
23 (22), Jan. 4, 1710-11
24 (23), ” 11, “
25 (24), ” 18, “
26 (25), ” 25, “
27 (26), Feb. 1, “
28 (27), ” 8, “
29 (28), Feb 15, 1710 11
30 (29), ” 22, “
31 (30), March 1, “
32 (31), ” 8, “
33 (32), ” 15, “
34 (33), ” 22, “
35 (34), ” 29, 1711
36 (35), April 5, “
37 (36), ” 12, “
38 (37), ” 19, “
39 (38), ” 26, “
40 (39), May 3, “
41 (40), ” 10, “
42 (41), ” 17, “
43 (42), ” 24, “
44 (43), ” 31, “
45 (44), June 7, “
46 (45), ” 14, “

Introductory Note
No 50, April 27, 1711 (The Four Indian Kings) Paragraph from No 575, August 2, 1714

Introductory Note
No 1, May 11, 1728 (Introduction)
3, A Vindication of Mr. Gay, and the Beggar’s Opera 19, The Hardships of the Irish being deprived of their Silver, and decoyed into America

* * * * *



In the original dedication of the first volume of “The Tatler” to Arthur Maynwaring Richard Steele, its projector and editor, gives characteristic expression to the motive which prompted him in its establishment. “The state of conversation and business in this town,” says Steele, “having been long perplexed with pretenders in both kinds, in order to open men’s eyes against such abuses, it appeared no unprofitable undertaking to publish a Paper which should observe upon the manners of the pleasurable, as well as the busy, part of mankind.” He goes on to say that “the general purpose of this Paper is to expose the false arts of life, to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and to recommend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and our behaviour.”

That Steele succeeded in this laudable purpose has been amply made evident by the effect “The Tatler” had upon his literary successors, both of his own age and of the generations since his time. “The Tatler” was, if we except Defoe’s “Weekly Review,” the earliest literary periodical which, in the language of Scott, “had no small effect in fixing and refining the character of the English nation.”

Steele conducted his periodical under the name of Isaac Bickerstaff. He chose this name purposely because he felt, as he himself expressed it, that “a work of this nature required time to grow into the notice of the world. It happened very luckily that a little before I had resolved upon this design, a gentleman had written predictions, and two or three other pieces in my name, which had rendered it famous through all parts of Europe; and by an inimitable spirit and humour, raised it to as high a pitch of reputation as it could possibly arrive at.” The gentleman referred to is, of course, Swift, whose pamphlets on Partridge had been the talk of the town.

Steele very kindly ascribes the success of the periodical to this “good fortune;” and though there may be something in what he said, we, in the present day, can more justly appreciate the great benefit conferred upon his countrymen by himself and his co-workers.

The influence of “The Tatler” on contemporary thought is acknowledged by Gay in his “Present State of Wit,” published in 1711. Gay remarks: “His writings have set all our wits and men of letters upon a new way of thinking, of which they had little or no notion before; and though we cannot yet say that any of them have come up to the beauties of the original, I think we may venture to affirm that every one of them writes and thinks much more justly than they did some time since.”

Among the contributors, in addition to the editor himself, were Swift, Addison, Yalden, John Hughes, William Harrison, and James Greenwood.

It must always remain to a great extent a matter of conjecture as to the exact authorship of “The Tatler” papers. In the preface to the fourth volume the authorship of a very few of the articles was admitted. Peter Wentworth wrote to his brother, Lord Raby, on May 9th, 1709, saying the Tatlers “are writ by a club of wits, who make it their business to pick up all the merry stories they can…. Three of the authors are guessed at, viz.: Swift,… Yalden, and Steele” (“Wentworth Papers,” 85).

Swift’s first recognized prose contribution to “The Tatler” was in No. 32 (June 23rd), and he continued from time to time, as the following reprint will show, to assist his friend; but, unfortunately, party politics separated the two, and Swift retired from the venture.

A particular meaning was attached to the place from which the articles in “The Tatler” were dated. The following notice appeared in the first number: “All accounts of gallantry, pleasure, and entertainment, shall be under the article of White’s Chocolate-house; poetry, under that of Will’s Coffee-house; learning, under the title of Grecian; foreign and domestic news, you will have from St. James’s Coffee-house; and what else I have to offer on any other subject shall be dated from my own Apartment.”

“The Tatler” was reprinted in Edinburgh as soon as possible after its publication in London, commencing apparently with No. 130, as No. 31 (Edinburgh, James Watson) is dated April 24th, 1710, and corresponds to No. 160 of the original edition, April 18th, 1710. [T.S.]




_June_ 18. 1709.


“I know not whether you ought to pity or laugh at me; for I am fallen desperately in love with a professed _Platonne_, the most unaccountable creature of her sex. To hear her talk seraphics, and run over Norris[2] and More,[3] and Milton,[4] and the whole set of Intellectual Triflers, torments me heartily; for to a lover who understands metaphors, all this pretty prattle of ideas gives very fine views of pleasure, which only the dear declaimer prevents, by understanding them literally. Why should she wish to be a cherubim, when it is flesh and blood that makes her adorable? If I speak to her, that is a high breach of the idea of intuition: If I offer at her hand or lip, she shrinks from the touch like a sensitive plant, and would contract herself into mere spirit. She calls her chariot, vehicle; her furbelowed scarf, pinions; her blue manteau and petticoat is her azure dress; and her footman goes by the name of Oberon. It is my misfortune to be six foot and a half high, two full spans between the shoulders, thirteen inches diameter in the calves; and before I was in love, I had a noble stomach, and usually went to bed sober with two bottles. I am not quite six and twenty, and my nose is marked truly aquiline. For these reasons, I am in a very particular manner her aversion. What shall I do? Impudence itself cannot reclaim her. If I write miserable, she reckons me among the children of perdition, and discards me her region: If I assume the gross and substantial, she plays the real ghost with me, and vanishes in a moment. I had hopes in the hypocrisy of the sex; but perseverance makes it as bad as a fixed aversion. I desire your opinion, Whether I may not lawfully play the inquisition upon her, make use of a little force, and put her to the rack and the torture, only to convince her, she has really fine limbs, without spoiling or distorting them. I expect your directions, ere I proceed to dwindle and fall away with despair; which at present I don’t think advisable, because, if she should recant, she may then hate me perhaps in the other extreme for my tenuity. I am (with impatience)

“Your most humble servant,


My patient has put his case with very much warmth, and represented it in so lively a manner, that I see both his torment and tormentor with great perspicuity. This order of Platonic ladies are to be dealt with in a peculiar manner from all the rest of the sex. Flattery is the general way, and the way in this case; but it is not to be done grossly. Every man that has wit, and humour, and raillery, can make a good flatterer for woman in general; but a _Platonne_ is not to be touched with panegyric: she will tell you, it is a sensuality in the soul to be delighted that way. You are not therefore to commend, but silently consent to all she does and says. You are to consider in her the scorn of you is not humour, but opinion.

There were some years since a set of these ladies who were of quality, and gave out, that virginity was to be their state of life during this mortal condition, and therefore resolved to join their fortunes, and erect a nunnery. The place of residence was pitched upon; and a pretty situation, full of natural falls and risings of waters, with shady coverts, and flowery arbours, was approved by seven of the founders. There were as many of our sex who took the liberty to visit those mansions of intended severity; among others, a famous rake[5] of that time, who had the grave way to an excellence. He came in first; but upon seeing a servant coming towards him, with a design to tell him, this was no place for him or his companions, up goes my grave impudence to the maid: “Young woman,” said he, “if any of the ladies are in the way on this side of the house, pray carry us on the other side towards the gardens: we are, you must know, gentlemen that are travelling England; after which we shall go into foreign parts, where some of us have already been.” Here he bows in the most humble manner, and kissed the girl, who knew not how to behave to such a sort of carriage. He goes on; “Now you must know we have an ambition to have it to say, that we have a Protestant nunnery in England: but pray Mrs. Betty—-“–“Sir,” she replied, “my name is Susan, at your service.”–“Then I heartily beg your pardon—-“–“No offence in the least,” says she, “for I have a cousin-german whose name is Betty.”[6]–“Indeed,” said he, “I protest to you that was more than I knew, I spoke at random: But since it happens that I was near in the right, give me leave to present this gentleman to the favour of a civil salute.” His friend advances, and so on, till that they had all saluted her. By this means, the poor girl was in the middle of the crowd of these fellows, at a loss what to do, without courage to pass through them; and the Platonics, at several peepholes, pale, trembling, and fretting. Rake perceived they were observed, and therefore took care to keep Sukey in chat with questions concerning their way of life; when appeared at last Madonella,[7] a lady who had writ a fine book concerning the recluse life, and was the projectrix of the foundation. She approaches into the hall; and Rake, knowing the dignity of his own mien and aspect, goes deputy from his company. She begins, “Sir, I am obliged to follow the servant, who was sent out to know, What affair could make strangers press upon a solitude which we, who are to inhabit this place, have devoted to Heaven and our own thoughts?”– “Madam,” replies Rake, (with an air of great distance, mixed with a certain indifference, by which he could dissemble dissimulation) “your great intention has made more noise in the world than you design it should; and we travellers, who have seen many foreign institutions of this kind, have a curiosity to see, in its first rudiments, this seat of primitive piety; for such it must be called by future ages, to the eternal honour of the founders. I have read Madonella’s excellent and seraphic discourse on this subject.” The lady immediately answers, “If what I have said could have contributed to raise any thoughts in you that may make for the advancement of intellectual and divine conversation, I should think myself extremely happy.” He immediately fell back with the profoundest veneration; then advancing, “Are you then that admired lady? If I may approach lips which have uttered things so sacred–” He salutes her. His friends followed his example. The devoted within stood in amazement where this would end, to see Madonella receive their address and their company. But Rake goes on–“We would not transgress rules; but if we may take the liberty to see the place you have thought fit to choose for ever, we would go into such parts of the gardens as is consistent with the severities you have imposed on yourselves.”

To be short, Madonella permitted Rake to lead her into the assembly of nuns, followed by his friends, and each took his fair one by the hand, after due explanation, to walk round the gardens. The conversation turned upon the lilies, the flowers, the arbours, and the growing vegetables; and Rake had the solemn impudence, when the whole company stood round him, to say, “That he sincerely wished men might rise out of the earth like plants;[8] and that our minds were not of necessity to be sullied with carnivorous appetites for the generation, as well as support of our species.” This was spoke with so easy and fixed an assurance, that Madonella answered, “Sir, under the notion of a pious thought, you deceive yourself in wishing an institution foreign to that of Providence: These desires were implanted in us for reverend purposes, in preserving the race of men, and giving opportunities for making our chastity more heroic.” The conference was continued in this celestial strain, and carried on so well by the managers on both sides, that it created a second and a second interview;[9] and, without entering into further particulars, there was hardly one of them but was a mother or father that day twelvemonth.

Any unnatural part is long taking up, and as long laying aside; therefore Mr. Sturdy may assure himself, Platonica will fly for ever from a forward behaviour; but if he approaches her according to this model, she will fall in with the necessities of mortal life, and condescend to look with pity upon an unhappy man, imprisoned in so much body, and urged by such violent desires.

[Footnote 1: This letter is introduced by the following words:

“White’s Chocolate-house, June 22.

“An Answer to the following letter being absolutely necessary to be dispatched with all expedition, I must trespass upon all that come with horary questions into my ante-chamber, to give the gentleman my opinion.”

This paper is written in ridicule of some affected ladies of the period, who pretended, with rather too much ostentation, to embrace the doctrines of Platonic Love. Mrs. Mary Astell, a learned and worthy woman, had embraced this fantastic notion so deeply, that, in an essay upon the female sex, in 1696, she proposed a sort of female college, in which the young might be instructed, and ‘ladies nauseating the parade of the world,’ might find a happy retirement. The plan was disconcerted by Bishop Burnet, who, understanding that the Queen intended to give L10,000 towards the establishment, dissuaded her, by an assurance, that it would lead to the introduction of Popish orders, and be called a nunnery. This lady is the Madonella of the Tatler…. This paper has been censured as a gross reflection on Mrs. Astell’s character, but on no very just foundation. Swift only prophesies the probable issue of such a scheme, as that of the Protestant nunnery; and it is a violent interpretation of his words to suppose him to insinuate, that the conclusion had taken place without the premises. Indeed, the scourge of ridicule is seldom better employed than on that species of _Precieuse_, who is anxious to confound the boundaries which nature has fixed for the employments and studies of the two sexes. No man was more zealous than Swift for informing the female mind in those points most becoming and useful to their sex. His “Letter to a Young Married Lady” and “Thoughts on Education” point out the extent of those studies. [S.]

Nichols, in his edition of “The Tatler” (1786), ascribes this paper to “Swift and Addison”; but he thinks the humour of it “certainly originated in the licentious imagination of the Dean of St. Patrick’s.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: John Norris (1657-1711), Rector of Bemerton, author of “The Theory and Regulation of Love” (1688), and of many other works. His correspondence with the famous Platonist, Henry More, is appended to this “moral essay.” Chalmers speaks of him as “a man of great ingenuity, learning, and piety”; but Locke refers to him as “an obscure, enthusiastic man.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Henry More (1614-1687), the famous Cambridge Platonist, and author of “Philosophicall Poems” (1647), “The Immortality of the Soul” (1659), and other works of a similar nature. Chalmers notes that “Mr. Chishall, an eminent bookseller, declared, that Dr. More’s ‘Mystery of Godliness’ and his other works, ruled all the booksellers of London for twenty years together.” [T.S. ]]

[Footnote 4: The reference here is to Milton’s “Apology for Smectymnuus.” Milton and More were, during one year, fellow-students at Christ’s College, Cambridge. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Said to refer to a Mr. Repington, a well-known wag of the time, and a member of an old Warwickshire family, of Amington, near Tamworth. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: The Betty here referred to is the Lady Elizabeth Hastings (1682-1739), daughter of Theophilus, seventh Earl of Huntingdon. In No. 49 of “The Tatler,” Steele refers to her in the famous sentence: “to love her is a liberal education.” She contributed to Mrs. Astell’s plans for the establishment of a “Protestant nunnery.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: See previous note. Mrs. Mary Astell (1668-1731) the authoress of “A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their true and greatest Interest” (1694), was the friend of Lady Elizabeth Hastings and the correspondent of John Norris of Bemerton. There is not the slightest foundation for the gross and cruel insinuations against her character in this paper. The libel is repeated in the 59th and 63rd numbers of “The Tatler.” Her correspondence with Norris was published in 1695, with the title, “Letters Concerning the Love of God”. Later in life she attacked Atterbury, Locke, and White Kennett. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: The reference here is to Sir Thomas Browne’s “Religio Medici,” part ii., section 9. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: M. Bournelle–a pseudonym of William Oldisworth–remarks: “The next interview after a _second_ is still a _second_; there is no progress in time to lovers” (“Annotations on ‘The Tatler'”). Chalmers reads here, “a second and a third interview.” [T.S.]]




“Not long since[2] you were pleased to give us a chimerical account of the famous family of _Staffs_, from whence I suppose you would insinuate, that it is the most ancient and numerous house in all Europe. But I positively deny that it is either; and wonder much at your audacious proceedings in this matter, since it is well known, that our most illustrious, most renowned, and most celebrated Roman family of _Ix_, has enjoyed the precedency to all others from the reign of good old Saturn. I could say much to the defamation and disgrace of your family; as, that your relations _Distaff_ and _Broomstaff_ were both inconsiderate mean persons, one spinning, the other sweeping the streets, for their daily bread. But I forbear to vent my spleen on objects so much beneath my indignation. I shall only give the world a catalogue of my ancestors, and leave them to determine which hath hitherto had, and which for the future ought to have, the preference.

“First then comes the most famous and popular lady _Meretrix_, parent of the fertile family of _Bellatrix, Lotrix, Netrix, Nutrix, Obstetrix, Famulatrix, Coctrix, Ornatrix, Sarcinatrix, Fextrix, Balneatrix, Portatrix, Saltatrix, Divinatrix, Conjectrix, Comtrix, Debitrix, Creditrix, Donatrix, Ambulatrix, Mercatrix, Adsectrix, Assectatrix, Palpatrix, Praeceptrix, Pistrix._

“I am yours,


[Footnote 1: This letter is introduced:

“From my own Apartment, June 29.

“It would be a very great obligation, and an assistance to my treatise upon punning, if any one would please to inform me in what class among the learned, who play with words, to place the author of the following letter.”

The proposed work had been promised in the 32nd number of “The Tatler,” where it was stated that, “I shall dedicate this discourse to a gentleman, my very good friend, who is the Janus of our times, and whom, by his years and wit, you would take to be of the last age; but by his dress and morals, of this.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: In the 11th number of “The Tatler,” by Heneage Twisden. [T.S.]]



_Will’s Coffee-house, August 24._

The author of the ensuing letter, by his name, and the quotations he makes from the ancients, seems a sort of spy from the old world, whom we moderns ought to be careful of offending; therefore I must be free, and own it a fair hit where he takes me, rather than disoblige him.

“SIR, Having a peculiar humour of desiring to be somewhat the better or wiser for what I read, I am always uneasy when, in any profound writer (for I read no others) I happen to meet with what I cannot understand. When this falls out, it is a great grievance to me that I am not able to consult the author himself about his meaning; for commentators are a sect that has little share in my esteem. Your elaborate writings have, among many others, this advantage, that their author is still alive, and ready (as his extensive charity makes us expect) to explain whatever may be found in them too sublime for vulgar understandings. This, Sir, makes me presume to ask you, how the Hampstead hero’s character could be perfectly new[1] when the last letters came away, and yet Sir John Suckling so well acquainted with it sixty years ago? I hope, Sir, you will not take this amiss: I can assure you, I have a profound respect for you; which makes me write this, with the same disposition with which Longinus bids us read Homer and Plato.

“‘When in reading,’ says he, ‘any of those celebrated authors, we meet with a passage to which we cannot well reconcile our reasons, we ought firmly to believe, that were those great wits present to answer for themselves, we should to our wonder be convinced, that we only are guilty of the mistakes we before attributed to them.’ If you think fit to remove the scruple that now torments me, it will be an encouragement to me to settle a frequent correspondence with you, several things falling in my way which would not, perhaps, be altogether foreign to your purpose, and whereon your thoughts would be very acceptable to

“Your most humble servant,


[Footnote 1: In No. 57 of “The Tatler” Steele wrote: “Letters from Hampstead say, there is a coxcomb arrived there, of a kind which is utterly new. The fellow has courage, which he takes himself to be obliged to give proofs of every hour he lives. He is ever fighting with the men, and contradicting the women. A lady, who sent him to me, superscribed him with this description out of Suckling:

“‘I am a man of war and might,
And know thus much, that I can fight, Whether I am i’ th’ wrong or right.
‘No woman under Heaven I fear,
New oaths I can exactly swear;
And forty healths my brains will bear, Most stoutly.'”

The “description out of Suckling” is from that writer’s rondeau, “A Soldier.” As the poet died in 1642, Swift ridicules the statement that this kind of coxcomb was “utterly new.” [T.S.]]



“It must be allowed, that Esquire Bickerstaff is of all authors the most ingenuous. There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake, though all the World sees them to be in downright nonsense. You’ll be pleased, Sir, to pardon this expression, for the same reason for which you once desired us to excuse you when you seemed anything dull. Most writers, like the generality of Paul Lorrain’s[2] saints, seem to place a peculiar vanity in dying hard. But you, Sir, to show a good example to your brethren, have not only confessed, but of your own accord mended the indictment. Nay, you have been so good-natured as to discover beauties in it, which, I will assure you, he that drew it never dreamed of: And to make your civility the more accomplished, you have honoured him with the title of your kinsman,[3] which, though derived by the left hand, he is not a little proud of. My brother (for such Obadiah is) being at present very busy about nothing, has ordered me to return you his sincere thanks for all these favours; and, as a small token of his gratitude, to communicate to you the following piece of intelligence, which, he thinks, belongs more properly to you than to any others of our modern historians.

“_Madonella_, who as it was thought had long since taken her flight towards the ethereal mansions, still walks, it seems, in the regions of mortality; where she has found, by deep reflections on the revolution[4] mentioned in yours of June the 23rd, that where early instructions have been wanting to imprint true ideas of things on the tender souls of those of her sex, they are never after able to arrive at such a pitch of perfection, as to be above the laws of matter and motion; laws which are considerably enforced by the principles usually imbibed in nurseries and boarding-schools. To remedy this evil, she has laid the scheme of a college for young damsels; where, instead of scissors, needles, and samplers; pens, compasses, quadrants, books, manuscripts, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, are to take up their whole time. Only on holidays the students will, for moderate exercise, be allowed to divert themselves with the use of some of the lightest and most voluble weapons; and proper care will be taken to give them at least a superficial tincture of the ancient and modern Amazonian tactics. Of these military performances, the direction is undertaken by Epicene,[5] the writer of ‘Memoirs from the Mediterranean,’ who, by the help of some artificial poisons conveyed by smells, has within these few weeks brought many persons of both sexes to an untimely fate; and, what is more surprising, has, contrary to her profession, with the same odours, revived others who had long since been drowned in the whirlpools of Lethe. Another of the professors is to be a certain lady, who is now publishing two of the choicest Saxon novels[6], which are said to have been in as great repute with the ladies of Queen Emma’s Court, as the ‘Memoirs from the New Atalantis’ are with those of ours. I shall make it my business to enquire into the progress of this learned institution, and give you the first notice of their ‘Philosophical Transactions[7], and Searches after Nature.’

“Yours, &c.


[Footnote 1: This letter was introduced:

“From my own Apartment, September 2.

“The following letter being a panegyric upon me for a quality which every man may attain, an acknowledgment of his faults; I thought it for the good of my fellow writers to publish it.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: The Rev. Paul Lorrain was ordinary of Newgate Prison from 1698 until 1719. He issued the dying speeches and confessions of the condemned criminals in the form of broadsheets. In these confessions, the penitence of the criminals was most strongly emphasized, hence the term “Lorrain’s saints.” Lorrain died in 1719. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Isaac Bickerstaff, commenting on the letter in No. 59, printed above, says: “I have looked over our pedigree upon the receipt of this epistle, and find the Greenhats are a-kin to the Staffs. They descend from Maudlin, the left-handed wife of Nehemiah Bickerstaff, in the reign of Harry II.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: See No. 32 _ante_. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Mrs. Mary de la Riviere Manley, author of “Memoirs of Europe, towards the Close of the Eighth Century” (1710), which she dedicated to Isaac Bickerstaff, and of “Secret Memoirs and Manners … from the New Atalantis” (1709). She was associated with Swift in the writing of several pamphlets In support of the Harley Administration, and in his work on “The Examiner” (see vol. v., pp. 41, 118, and 171 of the present edition of Swift’s works).

Epicene is an allusion to Ben Jonson’s comedy, “Epicoene; or, the Silent Woman” (1609).

Mrs. Manley seems to have credited Steele with this attack on her, for she attacked him, in turn, in her “New Atalantis,” and printed, in her dedication to the “Memoirs of Europe,” Steele’s denial of the authorship of this paper. This did not, however, prevent her making new charges against him. “The Narrative of Guiscard’s Examination,” “A Comment on Dr. Hare’s Sermon,” and “The Duke of Marlborough’s Vindication,” were written either by herself, or at the suggestion of, and with instructions from, Swift. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: Mrs. Elizabeth Elstob (1683-1756), a niece of the learned Dr. Hickes, issued, in 1709, “An English-Saxon Homily on the Birthday of St. Gregory.” The work was dedicated to Queen Anne. She was a friend of Mary Granville, afterwards Mrs. Pendarves, and better known as Mrs. Delany. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: An allusion to “Useful Transactions in Philosophy,” etc., January and February, 1708/9, which commenced with an article entitled “An Essay on the Invention of Samplers,” by Mrs. Arabella Manly (_sic_). She had a friend, Mrs. Betty Clavel. [T.S.]]



_Wills Coffee-house, September_ 9.

We have been very much perplexed here this evening, by two gentlemen who took upon them to talk as loud as if it were expected from them to entertain the company. Their subject was eloquence and graceful action. Lysander, who is something particular in his way of thinking and speaking, told us, “a man could not be eloquent without action: for the deportment of the body, the turn of the eye, and an apt sound to every word that is uttered, must all conspire to make an accomplished speaker. Action in one that speaks in public, is the same thing which a good mien is in ordinary life. Thus, as a certain insensibility in the countenance recommends a sentence of humour and jest, so it must be a very lively consciousness that gives grace to great sentiments: For the jest is to be a thing unexpected; therefore your undesigning manner is a beauty in expressions of mirth; but when you are to talk on a set subject, the more you are moved yourself, the more you will move others.

“There is,” said he, “a remarkable example of that kind: Aeschines, a famous orator of antiquity, had pleaded at Athens in a great cause against Demosthenes; but having lost it, retired to Rhodes. Eloquence was then the quality most admired among men; and the magistrates of that place having heard he had a copy of the speech of Demosthenes, desired him to repeat both their pleadings. After his own, he recited also the oration of his antagonist. The people expressed their admiration of both, but more of that of Demosthenes. ‘If you are,’ said he, ‘thus touched with hearing only what that great orator said, how would you have been affected had you seen him speak? for he who hears Demosthenes only, loses much the better part of the oration.’ Certain it is, that they who speak gracefully, are very lamely represented, in having their speeches read or repeated by unskilful people; for there is something native to each man, that is so inherent to his thoughts and sentiments, which it is hardly possible for another to give a true idea of. You may observe in common talk, when a sentence of any man’s is repeated, an acquaintance of his shall immediately observe, ‘That is so like him, methinks I see how he looked when he said it.’ But of all the people on the earth, there are none who puzzle me so much as the clergy of Great Britain, who are, I believe, the most learned body of men now in the world; and yet this art of speaking, with the proper ornaments of voice and gesture, is wholly neglected among them; and I will engage, were a deaf man to behold the greater part of them preach, he would rather think they were reading the contents only of some discourse they intended to make, than actually in the body of an oration, even when they are upon matters of such a nature as one would believe it were impossible to think of without emotion.

“I own there are exceptions to this general observation, and that the Dean[1] we heard the other day together, is an orator. He has so much regard to his congregation, that he commits to his memory what he is to say to them; and has so soft and graceful a behaviour, that it must attract your attention. His person it is to be confessed is no small recommendation; but he is to be highly commended for not losing that advantage, and adding to the propriety of speech (which might pass the criticism of Longinus)[2] an action which would have been approved by Demosthenes. He has a peculiar force in his way, and has many of his audience[3] who could not be intelligent hearers of his discourse, were there not explanation as well as grace in his action. This art of his is used with the most exact and honest skill: he never attempts your passions, till he has convinced your reason. All the objections which he can form, are laid before you and dispersed, before he uses the least vehemence in his sermon; but when he thinks he has your head, he very soon wins your heart; and never pretends to show the beauty of holiness, till he has convinced you of the truth of it.

“Would every one of our clergymen be thus careful to recommend truth and virtue in their proper figures, and show so much concern for them as to give them all the additional force they were able, it is not possible that nonsense should have so many hearers as you find it has in dissenting congregations, for no reason in the world but because it is spoken _extempore_: For ordinary minds are wholly governed by their eyes and ears, and there is no way to come at their hearts but by power over their imagination. There is my friend and merry companion Daniel[4]: he knows a great deal better than he speaks, and can form a proper discourse as well as any orthodox neighbour. But he knows very well, that to bawl out, ‘My beloved;’ and the words ‘grace! regeneration! sanctification! a new light! the day! The day! aye, my beloved, the day!’ or rather, ‘the night! The night is coming! and judgment will come, when we least think of it!’–and so forth–He knows, to be vehement is the only way to come at his audience; and Daniel, when he sees my friend Greenhat come in, can give him a good hint, and cry out, ‘This is only for the saints! the regenerated!’ By this force of action, though mixed with all the incoherence and ribaldry imaginable, Daniel can laugh at his diocesan, and grow fat by voluntary subscription, while the parson of the parish goes to law for half his dues. Daniel will tell you, ‘It is not the shepherd, but the sheep with the bell, which the flock follows.’ Another thing, very wonderful this learned body should omit, is, learning to read; which is a most necessary part of eloquence in one who is to serve at the altar: for there is no man but must be sensible, that the lazy tone, and inarticulate sound of our common readers, depreciates the most proper form of words that were ever extant in any nation or language, to speak our own wants, or His power from whom we ask relief.

“There cannot be a greater instance of the power of action than in little parson Dapper,[5] who is the common relief to all the lazy pulpits in town. This smart youth has a very good memory, a quick eye, and a clean handkerchief. Thus equipped, he opens his text, shuts his book fairly, shows he has no notes in his Bible, opens both palms, and shows all is fair there too. Thus, with a decisive air, my young man goes on without hesitation; and though from the beginning to the end of his pretty discourse, he has not used one proper gesture, yet at the conclusion, the churchwarden pulls his gloves from off his head; ‘Pray, who is this extraordinary young man?’ Thus the force of action is such, that it is more prevalent (even when improper) than all the reason and argument in the world without it.” This gentleman concluded his discourse by saying, “I do not doubt but if our preachers would learn to speak, and our readers to read, within six months’ time we should not have a dissenter within a mile of a church in Great Britain.”

[Footnote 1: In his original preface to the fourth volume, Steele explains that “the amiable character of the Dean in the sixty-sixth ‘Tatler,’ was drawn for Dr. Atterbury.” Steele cites this as a proof of his impartiality. Scott thinks that it must have cost him “some effort to permit insertion of a passage so favourable to a Tory divine.” At the time the character was published Atterbury was Dean of Carlisle and one of the Queen’s chaplains. He was later created Bishop of Rochester. There is no doubt that Atterbury was deeply implicated in the various Jacobite plots for the bringing in of the Pretender. Under a bill of pains and penalties he was condemned and deprived of all his ecclesiastical offices. In 1723 he left England and died in exile in 1732. His body, however, was privately buried in Westminster Abbey. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: “De Sublimitate,” viii. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: For twenty years Atterbury was preacher at the chapel of Bridewell Hospital. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Daniel Burgess (1645-1713), the son of a Wiltshire clergyman, was a schoolmaster in Ireland before he became minister to the Presbyterian meeting-house people in Brydges Street, Covent Garden. A chapel was built for him in New Court, Carey Street, Lincoln’s Inn, and this was destroyed during the Sacheverell riots in 1710. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Dr. Joseph Trapp (1679-1747), professor of poetry at Oxford, where he published his “Praelectiones Poeticae” (1711-15), He assisted Sacheverell and became a strong partisan of the High Church party. Swift thought very little of him. To Stella he writes, he is “a sort of pretender to wit, a second-rate pamphleteer for the cause, whom they pay by sending him to Ireland” (January 7th, 1710/1, see vol. ii., p. 96). This sending to Ireland refers to his chaplaincy to Sir Constantine Phipps, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1710-12). On July 17th, 1712, Swift again speaks of him to Stella: “I have made Trap chaplain to Lord Bolingbroke, and he is mighty happy and thankful for it” (_ibid_., p. 379). Trapp afterwards held several preferments in and near London. [T.S.]]



_From my own Apartment, September_ 12.

No man can conceive, till he comes to try it, how great a pain it is to be a public-spirited person. I am sure I am unable to express to the world, how much anxiety I have suffered, to see of how little benefit my Lucubrations have been to my fellow-subjects. Men will go on in their own way in spite of all my labour. I gave Mr. Didapper a private reprimand for wearing red-heeled shoes, and at the same time was so indulgent as to connive at him for fourteen days, because I would give him the wearing of them out; but after all this I am informed, he appeared yesterday with a new pair of the same sort. I have no better success with Mr. Whatdee’call[1] as to his buttons: Stentor[2] still roars; and box and dice rattle as loud as they did before I writ against them. Partridge[3] walks about at noon-day, and Aesculapius[4] thinks of adding a new lace to his livery. However, I must still go on in laying these enormities before men’s eyes, and let them answer for going on in their practice.[5] My province is much larger than at first sight men would imagine, and I shall lose no part of my jurisdiction, which extends not only to futurity, but also is retrospect to things past; and the behaviour of persons who have long ago acted their parts, is as much liable to my examination, as that of my own contemporaries.

In order to put the whole race of mankind in their proper distinctions, according to the opinion their cohabitants conceived of them, I have with very much care, and depth of meditation, thought fit to erect a Chamber of Fame, and established certain rules, which are to be observed in admitting members into this illustrious society. In this Chamber of Fame there are to be three tables, but of different lengths; the first is to contain exactly twelve persons; the second, twenty; the third, an hundred. This is reckoned to be the full number of those who have any competent share of fame. At the first of these tables are to be placed in their order the twelve most famous persons in the world, not with regard to the things they are famous for, but according to the degree of their fame, whether in valour, wit, or learning. Thus if a scholar be more famous than a soldier, he is to sit above him. Neither must any preference be given to virtue, if the person be not equally famous. When the first table is filled, the next in renown must be seated at the second, and so on in like manner to the number of twenty; as also in the same order at the third, which is to hold an hundred. At these tables no regard is to be had to seniority: for if Julius Caesar shall be judged more famous than Romulus and Scipio, he must have the precedence. No person who has not been dead an hundred years, must be offered to a place at any of these tables: and because this is altogether a lay society, and that sacred persons move upon greater motives than that of fame, no persons celebrated in Holy Writ, or any ecclesiastical men whatsoever, are to be introduced here.

At the lower end of the room is to be a side-table for persons of great fame, but dubious existence, such as Hercules, Theseus, Aeneas, Achilles, Hector, and others. But because it is apprehended, that there may be great contention about precedence, the proposer humbly desires the opinion of the learned towards his assistance in placing every person according to his rank, that none may have just occasion of offence.

The merits of the cause shall be judged by plurality of voices.

For the more impartial execution of this important affair, it is desired, that no man will offer his favourite hero, scholar, or poet; and that the learned will be pleased to send to Mr. Bickerstaff, at Mr. Morphew’s near Stationers’ Hall, their several lists for the first table only, and in the order they would have them placed; after which, the composer will compare the several lists, and make another for the public, wherein every name shall be ranked according to the voices it has had. Under this chamber is to be a dark vault for the same number of persons of evil fame.

It is humbly submitted to consideration, whether the project would not be better, if the persons of true fame meet in a middle room, those of dubious existence in an upper room, and those of evil fame in a lower dark room.

It is to be noted, that no historians are to be admitted at any of these tables, because they are appointed to conduct the several persons to their seats, and are to be made use of as ushers to the assemblies.

I call upon the learned world to send me their assistance towards this design, it being a matter of too great moment for any one person to determine. But I do assure them, their lists shall be examined with great fidelity, and those that are exposed to the public, made with all the caution imaginable.

[Footnote 1: “N.B. Mr. How’d’call is desired to leave off those buttons.”–No. 21. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Dr. William Stanley (1647-1731), master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was Dean of St. Asaph in 1706-31. In No. 54 of “The Tatler,” he is described as a person “accustomed to roar and bellow so terribly loud in the responses that . . . one of our petty canons, a punning Cambridge scholar, calls his way of worship a _Bull-offering._” In the sixty-first number a further reference is made to him: “A person of eminent wit and piety [Dr. R. South] wrote to Stentor: ‘Brother Stentor,’ said he, ‘for the repose of the Church, hearken to Bickerstaff; and consider that, while you are so devout at St. Paul’s, we cannot sleep for you at St. Peter’s.'” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: John Partridge (1644-1715) cobbler, philomath, and quack, was the author of “Merlinus Liberatus,” first issued in 1680. He libelled his master, John Gadbury, in his “Nebulo Anglicanus” (1693), and quarrelled with George Parker, a fellow-quack and astrologer. It is of him that Swift wrote his famous “Predictions” (see vol. i. of this edition, p. 298), and issued his broadside, concluding with the lines:

“Here, five feet deep, lies on his back, A cobler, starmonger, and quack,
Who to the stars in pure good will Does to his best look upward still:
Weep, all you customers that use
His pills, his almanacks, or shoes.”

In No. 59 of “The Tatler,” his death is referred to in harmony with the tone of Swift’s fun: “The late Partridge, who still denies his death. I am informed indeed by several that he walks.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: The famous Dr. John Radcliffe (1650-1714) who refused the appointment of physician to King William III., and offended Anne by his churlish disregard of her requests to attend on her. He fell in love with a Miss Tempest, one of Queen Anne’s maids of honour. In the 44th number of “The Tatler” Steele ridicules this attachment by making him address his mistress in the following words: “O fair! for thee I sit amidst a crowd of painted deities on my chariot, buttoned in gold, clasped in gold, without having any value for that beloved metal, but as it adorns the person and laces the hat of thy dying lover.” Radcliffe attended Swift for his dizziness, but that did not prevent the latter from referring to him as “that puppy,” in writing to Stella, for neglecting to attend to Harley’s wound. He seems to have had a high standing for skill as a physician, and probably on that account gave himself airs. It is told of him that “during a long attendance in the family of a particular friend, he regularly refused the fee pressed upon him at each visit. At length, when the cure was performed, and the doctor about to give up attendance, the convalescent patient again proffered him a purse containing the fees for every day’s visit. The doctor eyed it some time in silence, and at length extended his hand, exclaiming, ‘Singly, I could have refused them for ever; but altogether they are irresistible.'” Radcliffe died at Carshalton in 1714. From his bequests were founded the Radcliffe Infirmary and Observatory at Oxford. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Scott omits, from his edition, the whole of this paragraph up to this point. [T.S.]]



_From my own Apartment, September_ 14.

The progress of our endeavours will of necessity be very much interrupted, except the learned world will please to send their lists to the Chamber of Fame with all expedition. There is nothing can so much contribute to create a noble emulation in our youth, as the honourable mention of such whose actions have outlived the injuries of time, and recommended themselves so far to the world, that it is become learning to know the least circumstance of their affairs. It is a great incentive to see, that some men have raised themselves so highly above their fellow-creatures; that the lives of ordinary men are spent in inquiries after the particular actions of the most illustrious. True it is, that without this impulse to fame and reputation, our industry would stagnate, and that lively desire of pleasing each other die away. This opinion was so established in the heathen world, that their sense of living appeared insipid, except their being was enlivened with a consciousness, that they were esteemed by the rest of the world.

Upon examining the proportion of men’s fame for my table of twelve, I thought it no ill way, since I had laid it down for a rule, that they were to be ranked simply as they were famous, without regard to their virtue, to ask my sister Jenny’s advice, and particularly mentioned to her the name of Aristotle. She immediately told me, he was a very great scholar, and that she had read him at the boarding-school. She certainly means a trifle sold by the hawkers, called, “Aristotle’s Problems.” [1] But this raised a great scruple in me, whether a fame increased by imposition of others is to be added to his account, or that these excrescencies, which grow out of his real reputation, and give encouragement to others to pass things under the covert of his name, should be considered in giving him his seat in the Chamber? This punctilio is referred to the learned. In the mean time, so ill-natured are mankind, that I believe I have names already sent me sufficient to fill up my lists for the dark room, and every one is apt enough to send in their accounts of ill deservers. This malevolence does not proceed from a real dislike of virtue, but a diabolical prejudice against it, which makes men willing to destroy what they care not to imitate. Thus you see the greatest characters among your acquaintance, and those you live with, are traduced by all below them in virtue, who never mention them but with an exception. However, I believe I shall not give the world much trouble about filling my tables for those of evil fame, for I have some thoughts of clapping up the sharpers there as fast as I can lay hold of them.

At present, I am employed in looking over the several notices which I have received of their manner of dexterity, and the way at dice of making all _rugg_, as the cant is. The whole art of securing a die has lately been sent me by a person who was of the fraternity, but is disabled by the loss of a finger, by which means he cannot, as he used to do, secure a die. But I am very much at a loss how to call some of the fair sex, who are accomplices with the Knights of Industry; for my metaphorical dogs[2] are easily enough understood; but the feminine gender of dogs has so harsh a sound, that we know not how to name it. But I am credibly informed, that there are female dogs as voracious as the males, and make advances to young fellows, without any other design but coming to a familiarity with their purses. I have also long lists of persons of condition, who are certainly of the same regiment with these banditti, and instrumental to their cheats upon undiscerning men of their own rank. These add their good reputation to carry on the impostures of those, whose very names would otherwise be defence enough against falling into their hands. But for the honour of our nation, these shall be unmentioned, provided we hear no more of such practices, and that they shall not from henceforward suffer the society of such, as they know to be the common enemies of order, discipline, and virtue. If it prove that they go on in encouraging them, they must be proceeded against according to severest rules of history, where all is to be laid before the world with impartiality, and without respect to persons.

“So let the stricken deer go weep.”[3]

[Footnote 1: This was not a translation of Aristotle’s “Problemata,” but an indecent pamphlet with that title. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: In the 62nd number of “The Tatler” Steele wrote a paper comparing some of the pests of society, such as the gamblers, to dogs, and said: “It is humbly proposed that they may be all together transported to America, where the dogs are few, and the wild beasts many.” Scott notes that when one of the fraternity referred to threatened Steele with personal vengeance, Lord Forbes silenced him with these words: “You will find it safer, sir, in this country, to cut a purse than to cut a throat.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: “Why, let the stricken deer go weep.”–_Hamlet_, iii. 2. [T.S.]]




“I read with great pleasure in the _Tatler_[2] of Saturday last the conversation upon eloquence; permit me to hint to you one thing the great Roman orator observes upon this subject, _Caput enim arbitrabatur oratoris_, (he quotes Menedemus[3] an Athenian) _ut ipsis apud quos ageret talis qualem ipse optaret videretur, id fieri vitae dignitate_.[4] It is the first rule, in oratory, that a man must appear such as he would persuade others to be, and that can be accomplished only by the force of his life. I believe it might be of great service to let our public orators know, that an unnatural gravity, or an unbecoming levity in their behaviour out of the pulpit, will take very much from the force of their eloquence in it. Excuse another scrap of Latin; it is from one of the Fathers: I think it will appear a just observation to all, as it may have authority with some; _Qui autem docent tantum, nec faciunt, ipsi praeceptis suis detrahunt pondus; Quis enim obtemperet, cum ipsi praeceptores doceant non obtemperare?_[5] I am,


“Your humble servant,


“P.S. You were complaining in that paper, that the clergy of Great-Britain had not yet learned to speak; a very great defect indeed; and therefore I shall think myself a well-deserver of the church in recommending all the dumb clergy to the famous speaking doctor[6] at Kensington. This ingenious gentleman, out of compassion to those of a bad utterance, has placed his whole study in the new-modelling the organs of voice; which art he has so far advanced, as to be able even to make a good orator of a pair of bellows. He lately exhibited a specimen of his skill in this way, of which I was informed by the worthy gentlemen then present, who were at once delighted and amazed to hear an instrument of so simple an organization use an exact articulation of words, a just cadency in its sentences, and a wonderful pathos in its pronunciation; not that he designs to expatiate in this practice, because he cannot (as he says) apprehend what use it may be of to mankind, whose benefit he aims at in a more particular manner: and for the same reason, he will never more instruct the feathered kind, the parrot having been his last scholar in that way. He has a wonderful faculty in making and mending echoes, and this he will perform at any time for the use of the solitary in the country, being a man born for universal good, and for that reason recommended to your patronage by, Sir, yours,


[Footnote 1: This letter appears under the heading: “From my own Apartment, September 19.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: See “The Tatler,” No. 66, _ante_. [T. S,]]

[Footnote 3: An Athenian rhetorician who died in Rome about 100 B.C. [T. S.]]

[Footnote 4: The quotation is not quite correctly given. It is taken from Cicero, _De Oratore_, i. 19 (87). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: “But those who teach, and do not live in accordance with their own instructions, take away all the weight from their teaching; for who will comply with their precepts, when the teachers themselves teach us not to obey them?” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: James Ford proposed to cure stammerers and even restore speech to mutes. In the second volume of “The British Apollo” he is referred to as having “not only recovered several who stammered to a regular speech, but also brought the deaf and dumb to speak.” [T.S.]]




“Finding your advice and censure to have a good effect, I desire your admonition to our vicar and schoolmaster, who in his preaching to his auditors, stretches his jaws so wide, that instead of instructing youth, it rather frightens them: likewise in reading prayers, he has such a careless loll, that people are justly offended at his irreverent posture; besides the extraordinary charge they are put to in sending their children to dance, to bring them off of those ill gestures. Another evil faculty he has, in making the bowling-green his daily residence, instead of his church, where his curate reads prayers every day. If the weather is fair, his time is spent in visiting; if cold or wet, in bed, or at least at home, though within 100 yards of the church. These, out of many such irregular practices, I write for his reclamation: but two or three things more before I conclude; to wit, that generally when his curate preaches in the afternoon, he sleeps sotting in the desk on a hassock. With all this, he is so extremely proud, that he will go but once to the sick, except they return his visit.”

[Footnote 1: This letter is dated as from Will’s Coffee-house, September 20. [T.S.]]



_From my own Apartment, September 27._[1]

The following letter has laid before me many great and manifest evils in the world of letters[2] which I had overlooked; but they open to me a very busy scene, and it will require no small care and application to amend errors which are become so universal. The affectation of politeness is exposed in this epistle with a great deal of wit and discernment; so that whatever discourses I may fall into hereafter upon the subjects the writer treats of, I shall at present lay the matter before the World without the least alteration from the words of my correspondent.



“There are some abuses among us of great consequence, the reformation of which is properly your province, though, as far as I have been conversant in your papers, you have not yet considered them. These are, the deplorable ignorance that for some years hath reigned among our English writers, the great depravity of our taste, and the continual corruption of our style. I say nothing here of those who handle particular sciences, divinity, law, physic, and the like; I mean, the traders in history and politics, and the _belles lettres;_ together with those by whom books are not translated, but (as the common expressions are) ‘done out of French, Latin,’ or other language, and ‘made English.’ I cannot but observe to you, that till of late years a Grub-Street book was always bound in sheepskin, with suitable print and paper, the price never above a shilling, and taken off wholly by common tradesmen, or country pedlars, but now they appear in all sizes and shapes, and in all places. They are handed about from lapfuls in every coffeehouse to persons of quality, are shewn in Westminster-Hall and the Court of Requests. You may see them gilt, and in royal paper, of five or six hundred pages, and rated accordingly. I would engage to furnish you with a catalogue of English books published within the compass of seven years past, which at the first hand would cost you a hundred pounds, wherein you shall not be able to find ten lines together of common grammar or common sense.

“These two evils, ignorance and want of taste, have produced a third; I mean, the continual corruption of our English tongue, which, without some timely remedy, will suffer more by the false refinements of twenty years past, than it hath been improved in the foregoing hundred: And this is what I design chiefly to enlarge upon, leaving the former evils to your animadversion.

“But instead of giving you a list of the late refinements crept into our language, I here send you the copy of a letter I received some time ago from a most accomplished person in this way of writing, upon which I shall make some remarks. It is in these terms.


“‘I _couldn’t_ get the things you sent for all _about Town._–I _thot_ to _ha’_ come down myself, and then _I’d ha’ brout ‘umn;_ but I _han’t don’t,_ and I believe I _can’t do’t,_ that’s _pozz.–Tom[3]_ begins to _gi’mself_ airs_ because _he’s_ going with the _plenipo’s._–‘Tis said, the _French_ King will _bamboozl us agen,_ which _causes many speculations_. The _Jacks,_ and others of that _kidney_, are very _uppish_, and _alert upon’t_, as you may see by their _phizz’s_.–_Will Hazzard_ has got the _hipps_, having lost _to the tune of_ five hundr’d pound, _tho_ he understands play very well, _nobody better_. He has promis’t me upon _rep_, to leave off play; but you know ’tis a weakness _he’s_ too apt to _give into, tho_ he has as much wit as any man, _nobody more._ He has lain _incog_ ever since.–The _mobb’s_ very quiet with us now.–I believe you _thot I bantered_ you in my last like a _country put._–I _sha’n’t_ leave Town this month, _&c_.’

“This letter is in every point an admirable pattern of the present polite way of writing; nor is it of less authority for being an epistle. You may gather every flower in it, with a thousand more of equal sweetness, from the books, pamphlets, and single papers, offered us every day in the coffeehouses: And these are the beauties introduced to supply the want of wit, sense, humour, and learning, which formerly were looked upon as qualifications for a writer. If a man of wit, who died forty years ago, were to rise from the grave on purpose, how would he be able to read this letter? And after he had gone through that difficulty, how would he be able to understand it? The first thing that strikes your eye is the _breaks_ at the end of almost every sentence; of which I know not the use, only that it is a refinement, and very frequently practised. Then you will observe the abbreviations and elisions, by which consonants of most obdurate sound are joined together, without one softening vowel to intervene; and all this only to make one syllable of two, directly contrary to the example of the Greeks and Romans; altogether of the Gothic strain, and a natural tendency towards relapsing into barbarity, which delights in monosyllables, and uniting of mute consonants; as it is observable in all the Northern languages. And this is still more visible in the next refinement, which consists in pronouncing the first syllable in a word that has many, and dismissing the rest; such as _phizz, hipps, mobb,[4] poz., rep._ and many more; when we are already overloaded with monosyllables, which are the disgrace of our language. Thus we cram one syllable, and cut off the rest; as the owl fattened her mice, after she had bit off their legs to prevent their running away; and if ours be the same reason for maiming words, it will certainly answer the end; for I am sure no other Nation will desire to borrow them. Some words are hitherto but fairly split, and therefore only in their way to perfection, as _incog_ and _plenipo_: But in a short time it is to be hoped they will be further docked to _inc_ and _plen_. This reflection has made me of late years very impatient for a peace, which I believe would save the lives of many brave words, as well as men. The war has introduced abundance of polysyllables, which will never be able to live many more campaigns; _Speculations, operations, preliminaries, ambassadors, palisadoes, communication, circumvallation, battalions_, as numerous as they are, if they attack us too frequently in our coffeehouses, we shall certainly put them to flight, and cut off the rear.

“The third refinement observable in the letter I send you, consists in the choice of certain words invented by some _pretty fellows_; such as _banter, bamboozle, country put_, and _kidney_, as it is there applied; some of which are now struggling for the vogue, and others are in possession of it. I have done my utmost for some years past to stop the progress of _mobb_ and _banter_, but have been plainly borne down by numbers, and betrayed by those who promised to assist me.

“In the last place, you are to take notice of certain choice phrases scattered through the letter; some of them tolerable enough, till they were worn to rags by servile imitators. You might easily find them, though they were not in a different print, and therefore I need not disturb them.

“These are the false refinements in our style which you ought to correct: First, by argument and fair means; but if those fail, I think you are to make use of your authority as Censor, and by an annual _index expurgatorius_ expunge all words and phrases that are offensive to good sense, and condemn those barbarous mutilations of vowels and syllables. In this last point the usual pretence is, that they spell as they speak; a noble standard for language! to depend upon the caprice of every coxcomb, who, because words are the clothing of our thoughts, cuts them out, and shapes them as he pleases, and changes them oftener than his dress. I believe, all reasonable people would be content that such refiners were more sparing in their words, and liberal in their syllables: And upon this head I should be glad you would bestow some advice upon several young readers in our churches, who coming up from the University, full fraught with admiration of our Town politeness, will needs correct the style of their Prayer-Books. In reading the absolution, they are very careful to say “_Pardons and absolves;”_ and in the Prayer for the Royal Family, it must be, _endue’um, enrich’um, prosper’um,_ and _bring’um_.[5] Then in their sermons they use all the modern terms of art, _sham, banter, mob, bubble, bully, cutting shuffling,_ and _palming_, all which, and many more of the like stamp, as I have heard them often in the pulpit from such young sophisters, so I have read them in some of those sermons that have made most noise of late. The design, it seems, is to avoid the dreadful imputation of pedantry, to shew us, that they know the Town, understand men and manners, and have not been poring upon old unfashionable books in the University.

“I should be glad to see you the instrument of introducing into our style that simplicity which is the best and truest ornament of most things in life, which the politer ages always aimed at in their building and dress, _(simplex munditiis)_ as well as their productions of wit. It is manifest, that all new, affected modes of speech, whether borrowed from the Court, the Town, or the theatre, are the first perishing parts in any language, and, as I could prove by many hundred instances, have been so in ours. The writings of Hooker,[6] who was a country clergyman, and of Parsons[7] the Jesuit, both in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, are in a style that, with very few allowances, would not offend any present reader; much more clear and intelligible than those of Sir H. Wotton,[8]Sir Robert Naunton,[9] Osborn,[10] Daniel[11] the historian, and several others who writ later; but being men of the Court, and affecting the phrases then in fashion, they are often either not to be understood, or appear perfectly ridiculous.

“What remedies are to be applied to these evils I have not room to consider, having, I fear, already taken up most of your paper. Besides, I think it is our office only to represent abuses, and yours to redress them.

“I am, with great respect,

“Your, &c.”

[Footnote 1: In his “Journal to Stella,” Swift writes, under date, September 18th, 1710: “Came to town; got home early, and began a letter to ‘The Tatler’ about the corruptions of style and writing, &c.” On September 23rd, he writes again: “I have sent a long letter to Bickerstaff; let the Bp. of Clogher smoke if he can.” Again on September 29th: “I made a ‘Tatler’ since I came; guess which it is, and whether the Bp. Of Clogher smokes it.” On October 1st, he asks Stella: “Have you smoked the ‘Tatler’ that I writ? It is much liked here, and I think it a pure one.” On the 14th of the same month he refers still again to the paper which had evidently pleased him: “The Bp. of Clogher has smoked my ‘Tatler’ about shortening of words,” etc. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Compare Swift’s “Proposal for Correcting the English Tongue.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Thomas Harley, cousin of the first Earl of Oxford. He was Secretary of the Treasury, and afterwards minister at Hanover. He died in 1737. (T.S.)]

[Footnote 4: It is interesting to note that Swift, who insisted that the word “mob” should never be used for “rabble,” wrote “mob” in the 15th number of “The Examiner,” and in Faulkner’s reprint of 1741 the word was changed to “rabble.” Scott notes: “The Dean carried on the war against the word ‘mob’ to the very last. A lady who died in 1788, and was well known to Swift, used to say that the greatest scrape into which she got with him was by using the word ‘mob.’ ‘Why do you say that?’ said he, in a passion; ‘never let me hear you say that word again.’ ‘Why, sir,’ said she, ‘what am I to say?’ ‘The “rabble,” to be sure,’ answered he.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5.] See Swift’s Letter to the Earl of Pembroke (Scott’s edition, vol. xv., p. 350) where a little more fun is poked at the Bishop of Clogher, in the same strain. [T.S.]

[Footnote 6: The great Richard Hooker (1554-1600) author of the “Ecclesiastical Polity.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: Robert Parsons (1546-1610) the famous Jesuit missionary, and the author of a large number of works including the “Conference about the next Succession” (1594). Several of his books were privately printed by him at a secret printing press, which he set up in East Ham with the assistance of the poet Campion. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639) author of “Reliquiae Wottonianae,” and the friend of John Donne. He was Provost of Eton from 1624 until his death, and distinguished himself as a diplomatist. To him is ascribed the saying: “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: Sir Robert Naunton (1563-1635), Secretary of State in 1618, and author of “Fragmenta Regalia” published in 1641. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: Francis Osborne (1593-1659) wrote “Advice to a Son” (1656-58), a work that gave him a great reputation. This work was issued with his other writings in a collected form in 1673. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: Samuel Daniel (1562-1619) is said to have succeeded Spenser as poet-laureate. In addition to his plays and poems (including a history of the Civil Wars in eight books, 1595-1609) he wrote a History of England, in two parts (1612-1617). [T.S.]]




Nov. 22. 1710.[1]


Dining yesterday with Mr. _South-British,_ and Mr. _William North-Briton_ two gentlemen, who, before you ordered it otherwise,[2] were known by the names of Mr. _English_ and Mr. _William Scott_. Among other things, the maid of the house (who in her time I believe may have been a _North-British_ warming-pan) brought us up a dish of _North-British_ collops. We liked our entertainment very well, only we observed the table-cloth, being not so fine as we could have wished, was _North-British_ cloth: But the worst of it was, we were disturbed all dinner-time by the noise of the children, who were playing in the paved court at _North-British_ hoppers; so we paid our _North-Briton_[3] sooner than we designed, and took coach to _North-Britain_ yard, about which place most of us live. We had indeed gone a-foot, only we were under some apprehensions lest a _North-British_ mist should wet a _South-British_ man to the skin.

We think this matter properly expressed, according to the accuracy of the new style settled by you in one of your late papers. You will please to give your opinion upon it to,

Your most humble servants,


[Footnote 1: This letter appeared originally under the heading: “From my own Apartment, December I.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: In his “Journal to Stella” (December 2, 1710) Swift writes: “Steele, the rogue, has done the impudentest thing in the world. He said something in a ‘Tatler,’ that we ought to use the word Great Britain, and not England, in common conversation, as, the finest lady in Great Britain, &c. Upon this Rowe, Prior, and I, sent him a letter, turning this into ridicule. He has to-day printed the letter, and signed it J.S., M.P. and N.R. the first letters of our names. Congreve told me to-day, he smoked it immediately.” The passage referred to by Swift, was a letter, signed Scoto-Britannus, printed in No. 241 of “The Tatler,” in which it was objected that a gentleman ended every sentence with the words, “the best of any man in England,” and called upon him to “mend his phrase, and be hereafter the wisest of any man in Great Britain.” Writing to Alderman Barber, under date August 8, 1738, Swift remarks: “The modern phrase ‘Great Britain’ is only to distinguish it from Little Britain where old clothes and old books are to be bought and sold.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: We paid our _scot; i.e.,_ our share of the reckoning. [T.S.]]


With No. 271 Steele brought his venture to a close. It was issued on January 2nd, 1710. “I am now,” he wrote, “come to the end of my ambition in this matter, and have nothing further to say to the world under the character of Isaac Bickerstaff.” His ostensible reason for thus terminating so successful an undertaking he put down to the fact that Bickerstaff was no longer a disguise, and that he could not hope to have the same influence when it was known who it was that led the movement. Another reason, however, suggests itself in Steele’s recognition of Harley’s kindness in not depriving him of his Commissionership of Stamps, as well as of his Gazetteership for the satires Steele permitted to appear against Harley in “The Tatler.” That Steele did have something further to say to the world may be gathered from the fact that two months after “The Tatler’s” decease he started “The Spectator.”

But “The Tatler” was too good a thing for the publishers to permit to die. Two days after the issue of No. 271, appeared a No. 272, with the imprint of John Baker, of “the Black Boy at Paternoster Row.” It extolled the “Character of Richard Steele, alias Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.,” and promised to continue in his footsteps, and be delivered regularly to its subscribers “at 5 in the morning.” On January 6th, 1710, No. 273 was published by “Isaac Bickerstaff, Jr.” John Baker, however, was not to have it all his own way, for on January 6th, 1710, Morphew brought out a number–not a double number, although called “Numbers 272, 273”–and continued it without intermission on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, until May 19th, when the final number, No. 330, was issued. The date 1711 was first used on March 31st. Meanwhile, on January 13th, A. Baldwin issued a No. 1 of a “Tatler,” in which the public were informed that Isaac Bickerstaff had had no intention to discontinue the paper, but would continue to publish it every Tuesday and Saturday. This was the new “Tatler” in which Swift was interesting himself on behalf of William Harrison. Writing to Stella, under date January 11th, he says: “I am setting up a new ‘Tatler,’ little Harrison, whom I have mentioned to you. Others have put him on it, and I encourage him; and he was with me this morning and evening, showing me his first, which comes out on Saturday. I doubt he will not succeed, for I do not much approve his manner; but the scheme is Mr. Secretary St. John’s and mine, and would have done well enough in good hands.” When the paper came out he wrote again: “There is not much in it, but I hope he will mend. You must understand that, upon Steele’s leaving off, there were two or three scrub Tatlers came out, and one of them holds on still, and to-day it advertised against Harrison’s; and so there must be disputes which are genuine, like the strops for razors. I am afraid the little toad has not the true vein for it.” Apparently, he hadn’t, for later, referring to another number, Swift writes: “The jackanapes wants a right taste: I doubt he won’t do.”

With all Swift’s assistance, Harrison did not hold out. He quarrelled with Baldwin, and went to Morphew and Lillie, the publishers of the original “Tatler.” Only six numbers bear Baldwin’s imprint, namely, Nos. 1-6, dated respectively, January 13th, January 16th, January 20th, January 23rd, January 27th, and February 1st. Harrison’s first number, under Morphew, was called No. 285 (February 3rd). For a very exhaustive and careful research into the publications of “The Tatler” and its imitators the reader is referred to Aitken’s “Life of Sir Richard Steele” (2 vols., 1889).

William Harrison (1685-1713) was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He obtained Addison’s favour by his acquaintance with “polite literature,” and was introduced by him to Swift. Swift took to him very kindly, spoke of the young fellow “we are all fond of,” thought him “a pretty little fellow, with a great deal of wit, good sense, and good nature,” and interested himself in him to the extent that through him St. John got Lord Raby to take him to The Hague as his secretary. He returned with the Barrier Treaty, but without a penny. He had not been paid any of his salary. Swift heard of this, and immediately went about collecting a sum of money for his assistance. When, however, he called with the money, at Harrison’s lodgings in Knightsbridge, he found the poor fellow had died an hour before.

These contributions to the new “Tatler” are printed from the original periodical issue with the exception of No. 5, which is taken from the second edition of the reprint (1720), as no copy of the original issue has been met with.



_Quis ego sum saltem, si non sum Sosia? Te interrogo._ PLAUT. AMPHITR.[1]

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13. 1711.[2]

It is impossible, perhaps, for the best and wisest amongst us, to keep so constant a guard upon our temper, but that we may at one time or other lie open to the strokes of Fortune, and such incidents as we cannot foresee. With sentiments of this kind I came home to my lodgings last night, much fatigued with a long and sudden journey from the country, and full of the ungrateful occasion of it. It was natural for me to have immediate recourse to my pen and ink; but before I would offer to make use of them, I resolved deliberately to tell over a hundred, and when I came to the end of that sum, I found it more advisable to defer drawing up my intended remonstrance, till I had slept soundly on my resentments. Without any other preface than this, I shall give the world a fair account of the treatment I have lately met with, and leave them to judge, whether the uneasiness I have suffered be inconsistent with the character I have generally pretended to. About three weeks since, I received an invitation from a kinsman in Staffordshire, to spend my Christmas in those parts. Upon taking leave of Mr. Morphew, I put as many papers into his hands as would serve till my return, and charged him at parting to be very punctual with the town. In what manner he and Mr. Lillie have been tampered with since, I cannot say; they have given me my revenge, if I desired any, by allowing their names to an idle paper, that in all human probability cannot live a fortnight to an end. Myself, and the family I was with, were in the midst of gaiety, and a plentiful entertainment, when I received a letter from my sister Jenny, who, after mentioning some little affairs I had intrusted to her, goes on thus:–“The inclosed,[2] I believe, will give you some surprise, as it has already astonished every body here: Who Mr. Steele is, that subscribes it, I do not know, any more than I can comprehend what could induce him to it. Morphew and Lillie, I am told, are both in the secret. I shall not presume to instruct you, but hope you will use some means to disappoint the ill nature of those who are taking pains to deprive the world of one of its most reasonable entertainments. I am, &c.”

I am to thank my sister for her compliment; but be that as it will, I shall not easily be discouraged from my former undertaking. In pursuance of it, I was obliged upon this notice to take places in the coach for myself and my maid with the utmost expedition, lest I should, in a short time, be rallied out of my existence, as some people will needs fancy Mr. Partridge has been, and the real Isaac Bickerstaff have passed for a creature of Mr. Steele’s imagination. This illusion might have hoped for some tolerable success, if I had not more than once produced my person in a crowded theatre; and such a person as Mr. Steele, if I am not misinformed in the gentleman, would hardly think it an advantage to own, though I should throw him in all the little honour I have gained by my “Lucubrations.” I may be allowed, perhaps, to understand pleasantry as well as other men, and can (in the usual phrase) take a jest without being angry; but I appeal to the world, whether the gentleman has not carried it too far, and whether he ought not to make a public recantation, if the credulity of some unthinking people should force me to insist upon it. The following letter is just come to hand, and I think it not improper to be inserted in this paper.



“I am extremely glad to hear you are come to town, for in your absence we were all mightily surprised with an unaccountable paper, signed ‘Richard Steele,’ who is esteemed by those that know him, to be a man of wit and honour; and therefore we took it either to be a counterfeit, or a perfect Christmas frolic of that ingenious gentleman. But then, your paper ceasing immediately after, we were at a loss what to think: If you were weary of the work you had so long carried on, and had given this Mr. Steele orders to signify so to the public, he should have said it in plain terms; but as that paper is worded, one would be apt to judge, that he had a mind to persuade the town that there was some analogy between Isaac Bickerstaff and him. Possibly there may be a secret in this which I cannot enter into; but I flatter my self that you never had any thoughts of giving over your labours for the benefit of mankind, when you cannot but know how many subjects are yet unexhausted, and how many others, as being less obvious, are wholly untouched. I dare promise, not only for my self, but many other abler friends, that we shall still continue to furnish you with hints on all proper occasions, which is all your genius requires. I think, by the way, you cannot in honour have any more to do with Morphew and Lillie, who have gone beyond the ordinary pitch of assurance, and transgressed the very letter of the proverb, by endeavouring to cheat you of your Christian and surname too. Wishing you, Sir, long to live for our instruction and diversion, and to the defeating of all impostors, I remain,

“Your most obedient humble servant,

“and affectionate kinsman,


[Footnote 1: _Amphitryon_, I. i 282. “Who am I, at all events, if I am not Sosia? I ask you _that_.”–H.T. RILEY. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: _I.e._ 1710-11. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: This, no doubt, was Steele’s last “Tatler,” No. 271. [T. S.]]


_Alios viri reverentia, vultusque ad continendum populum mire formatus, alios etiam, quibus ipse interesse non potuit, vis scribendi tamen, et magni nominis autoritas pervicere._–TULL. EPIST.[1]

FROM SATURD. JAN. 13. TO TUESDAY JAN, l6. 1710.[2]

I remember Menage,[3] tells a story of Monsieur Racan, who had appointed a day and hour to meet a certain lady of great wit whom he had never seen, in order to make an acquaintance between them. “Two of Racan’s friends, who had heard of the appointment, resolved to play him a trick. The first went to the lady two hours before the time, said his name was Racan, and talked with her an hour; they were both mightily pleased, began a great friendship, and parted with much satisfaction. A few minutes after comes the second, and sends up the same name; the lady wonders at the meaning, and tells him, Mr. Racan had just left her. The gentleman says it was some rascally impostor, and that he had been frequently used in that manner. The lady is convinced, and they laugh at the oddness of the adventure. She now calls to mind several passages, which confirm her that the former was a cheat. He appoints a second meeting, and takes his leave. He was no sooner gone, but the true Racan comes to the door, and desires, under that name, to see the lady. She was out of all patience, sends for him up, rates him for an impostor, and, after a thousand injuries, flings a slipper at his head. It was impossible to pacify or disabuse her; he was forced to retire, and it was not without some time, and the intervention of friends, that they could come to an _eclaircissement_.” This, as I take it, is exactly the case with Mr. S[tee]le, the pretended “TATLER” from Morphew, and myself, only (I presume) the world will be sooner undeceived than the lady in Menage. The very day my last paper came out, my printer brought me another of the same date, called “The Tatler,” by Isaac Bickerstaff Esq; and, which was still more pleasant, with an advertisement[4] at the end, calling me the “_Female_ TATLER”: it is not enough to rob me of my name, but now they must impose a sex on me, when my years have long since determined me to be of none at all. There is only one thing wanting in the operation, that they would renew my age, and then I will heartily forgive them all the rest. In the mean time, whatever uneasiness I have suffered from the little malice of these men, and my retirement in the country, the pleasures I have received from the same occasion, will fairly balance the account. On the one hand, I have been highly delighted to see my name and character assumed by the scribblers of the age, in order to recommend themselves to it; and on the other, to observe the good taste of the town, in distinguishing and exploding them through every disguise, and sacrificing their trifles to the supposed _manes_ of Isaac Bickerstaff Esquire. But the greatest merit of my journey into Staffordshire, is, that it has opened to me a new fund of unreproved follies and errors that have hitherto lain out of my view, and, by their situation, escaped my censure. For, as I have lived generally in town, the images I had of the country were such only as my senses received very early, and my memory has since preserved with all the advantages they first appeared in.

Hence it was that I thought our parish church the noblest structure in England, and the Squire’s Place-House, as we called it, a most magnificent palace. I had the same opinion of the alms-house in the churchyard, and of a bridge over the brook that parts our parish from the next. It was the common vogue of our school, that the master was the best scholar in Europe, and the usher the second. Not happening to correct these notions, by comparing them with what I saw when I came into the world, upon returning back, I began to resume my former imaginations, and expected all things should appear in the same view as I left them when I was a boy: but to my utter disappointment I found them wonderfully shrunk, and lessened almost out of my knowledge. I looked with contempt on the tribes painted on the church walls, which I once so much admired, and on the carved chimneypiece in the Squire’s Hall. I found my old master to be a poor ignorant pedant; and, in short, the whole scene to be extremely changed for the worse. This I could not help mentioning, because though it be of no consequence in itself, yet it is certain, that most prejudices are contracted and retained by this narrow way of thinking, which, in matters of the greatest moment are hardly shook off: and which we only think true, because we were made to believe so, before we were capable to distinguish between truth and falsehood. But there was one prepossession which I confess to have parted with, much to my regret: I mean the opinion of that native honesty and simplicity of manners, which I had always imagined to be inherent in country-people. I soon observed it was with them and us, as they say of animals; That every species at land has one to resemble it at sea; for it was easy to discover the seeds and principles of every vice and folly that one meets with in the more known world, though shooting up in different forms. I took a fancy out of the several inhabitants round, to furnish the camp, the bar, and the Exchange, and some certain chocolate and coffeehouses, with exact parallels to what, in many instances, they already produce. There was a drunken quarrelsome smith, whom I have a hundred times fancied at the head of a troop of dragoons. A weaver, within two doors of my kinsman, was perpetually setting neighbours together by the ears. I lamented to see how his talents were misplaced, and imagined what a figure he might make in Westminster-Hall. Goodman Crop of Compton Farm, wants nothing but a plum and a gold chain to qualify him for the government of the City. My kinsman’s stable-boy was a gibing companion that would always have his jest. He would often put cow-itch in the maids’ beds, pull stools from under folks, and lay a coal upon their shoes when they were asleep. He was at last turned off for some notable piece of roguery, and when I came away, was loitering among the ale-houses. Bless me, thought I, what a prodigious wit would this have been with us! I could have matched all the sharpers between St. James’s and Covent Garden, with a notable fellow in the same neighbourhood, (since hanged for picking pockets at fairs) could he have had the advantages of their education. So nearly are the corruptions of the country allied to those of the town, with no further difference than what is made by another turn of thought and method of living!

[Footnote 1: “A reverend aspect, and a countenance formed to command, have power to restrain some people; while others, who pay no regard to those, are prevailed upon by the dint of writing, and the authority of a great name.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: _I.e._ 1710-11. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Gilles Menage (1613-1692). The story is given in “Menagiana” (vol. ii. pp. 49-51, second edition, 1695). C. Sorel, however, in his “Francion” (1623) tells a similar story of a poet named Saluste, who was fooled in like manner. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Morphew’s “Tatler” for January 13th, 1710 (No. 276), contains the following: “Whereas an advertisement was yesterday delivered out by the author of the late ‘Female Tatler,’ insinuating, [according to his custom] that he is Isaac Bickerstaff Esq.; This is to give notice, that this paper is continued to be sold by John Morphew as formerly,” etc.

“The Female Tatler, by Mrs. Crackenthorpe, a Lady that knows every thing,” had been begun July 8th, 1709, but was now defunct. [T.S.]]


—-_Laceratque, trahitque_
_Molle pecus_ VIR.[1]