The Spectator, Volume 1 by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele

The Spectator, Volume 1 by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele
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  • 1891
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BOSWELL’S LIFE OF JOHNSON. With Illustrations.




When Richard Steele, in number 555 of his ‘Spectator’, signed its last paper and named those who had most helped him

‘to keep up the spirit of so long and approved a performance,’

he gave chief honour to one who had on his page, as in his heart, no name but Friend. This was

‘the gentleman of whose assistance I formerly boasted in the Preface and concluding Leaf of my ‘Tatlers’. I am indeed much more proud of his long-continued Friendship, than I should be of the fame of being thought the author of any writings which he himself is capable of producing. I remember when I finished the ‘Tender Husband’, I told him there was nothing I so ardently wished, as that we might some time or other publish a work, written by us both, which should bear the name of THE MONUMENT, in Memory of our Friendship.’

Why he refers to such a wish, his next words show. The seven volumes of the ‘Spectator’, then complete, were to his mind The Monument, and of the Friendship it commemorates he wrote,

‘I heartily wish what I have done here were as honorary to that sacred name as learning, wit, and humanity render those pieces which I have taught the reader how to distinguish for his.’

So wrote Steele; and the ‘Spectator’ will bear witness how religiously his friendship was returned. In number 453, when, paraphrasing David’s Hymn on Gratitude, the ‘rising soul’ of Addison surveyed the mercies of his God, was it not Steele whom he felt near to him at the Mercy-seat as he wrote

Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss Has made my cup run o’er,
And in a kind and faithful Friend
Has doubled all my store?

The _Spectator_, Steele-and-Addison’s _Spectator_, is a monument befitting the most memorable friendship in our history. Steele was its projector, founder, editor, and he was writer of that part of it which took the widest grasp upon the hearts of men. His sympathies were with all England. Defoe and he, with eyes upon the future, were the truest leaders of their time. It was the firm hand of his friend Steele that helped Addison up to the place in literature which became him. It was Steele who caused the nice critical taste which Addison might have spent only in accordance with the fleeting fashions of his time, to be inspired with all Addison’s religious earnestness, and to be enlivened with the free play of that sportive humour, delicately whimsical and gaily wise, which made his conversation the delight of the few men with whom he sat at ease. It was Steele who drew his friend towards the days to come, and made his gifts the wealth of a whole people. Steele said in one of the later numbers of his _Spectator_, No. 532, to which he prefixed a motto that assigned to himself only the part of whetstone to the wit of others,

‘I claim to myself the merit of having extorted excellent productions from a person of the greatest abilities, who would not have let them appear by any other means.’

There were those who argued that he was too careless of his own fame in unselfish labour for the exaltation of his friend, and, no doubt, his rare generosity of temper has been often misinterpreted. But for that Addison is not answerable. And why should Steele have defined his own merits? He knew his countrymen, and was in too genuine accord with the spirit of a time then distant but now come, to doubt that, when he was dead, his whole life’s work would speak truth for him to posterity.

The friendship of which this work is the monument remained unbroken from boyhood until death. Addison and Steele were schoolboys together at the Charterhouse. Addison was a dean’s son, and a private boarder; Steele, fatherless, and a boy on the foundation. They were of like age. The register of Steele’s baptism, corroborated by the entry made on his admission to the Charterhouse (which also implies that he was baptized on the day of his birth) is March 12, 1671, Old Style; New Style, 1672. Addison was born on May-day, 1672. Thus there was a difference of only seven weeks.

Steele’s father according to the register, also named Richard, was an attorney in Dublin. Steele seems to draw from experience–although he is not writing as of himself or bound to any truth of personal detail–when in No. 181 of the ‘Tatler’ he speaks of his father as having died when he was not quite five years of age, and of his mother as ‘a very beautiful woman, of a noble spirit.’ The first Duke of Ormond is referred to by Steele in his Dedication to the ‘Lying Lover’ as the patron of his infancy; and it was by this nobleman that a place was found for him, when in his thirteenth year, among the foundation boys at the Charterhouse, where he first met with Joseph Addison. Addison, who was at school at Lichfield in 1683-4-5, went to the Charterhouse in 1686, and left in 1687, when he was entered of Queen’s College, Oxford. Steele went to Oxford two years later, matriculating at Christ Church, March 13, 1689-90, the year in which Addison was elected a Demy of Magdalene. A letter of introduction from Steele, dated April 2, 1711, refers to the administration of the will of ‘my uncle Gascoigne, to whose bounty I owe a liberal education.’ This only representative of the family ties into which Steele was born, an ‘uncle’ whose surname is not that of Steele’s mother before marriage, appears, therefore, to have died just before or at the time when the ‘Spectator’ undertook to publish a sheetful of thoughts every morning, and–Addison here speaking for him–looked forward to

‘leaving his country, when he was summoned out of it, with the secret satisfaction of thinking that he had not lived in vain.’

To Steele’s warm heart Addison’s friendship stood for all home blessings he had missed. The sister’s playful grace, the brother’s love, the mother’s sympathy and simple faith in God, the father’s guidance, where were these for Steele, if not in his friend Addison?

Addison’s father was a dean; his mother was the sister of a bishop; and his ambition as a schoolboy, or his father’s ambition for him, was only that he should be one day a prosperous and pious dignitary of the Church. But there was in him, as in Steele, the genius which shaped their lives to its own uses, and made them both what they are to us now. Joseph Addison was born into a home which the steadfast labour of his father, Lancelot, had made prosperous and happy. Lancelot Addison had earned success. His father, Joseph’s grandfather, had been also a clergyman, but he was one of those Westmoreland clergy of whose simplicity and poverty many a joke has been made. Lancelot got his education as a poor child in the Appleby Grammar School; but he made his own way when at College; was too avowed a Royalist to satisfy the Commonwealth, and got, for his zeal, at the Restoration, small reward in a chaplaincy to the garrison at Dunkirk. This was changed, for the worse, to a position of the same sort at Tangier, where he remained eight years. He lost that office by misadventure, and would have been left destitute if Mr. Joseph Williamson had not given him a living of L120 a-year at Milston in Wiltshire. Upon this Lancelot Addison married Jane Gulstone, who was the daughter of a Doctor of Divinity, and whose brother became Bishop of Bristol. In the little Wiltshire parsonage Joseph Addison and his younger brothers and sisters were born. The essayist was named Joseph after his father’s patron, afterwards Sir Joseph Williamson, a friend high in office. While the children grew, the father worked. He showed his ability and loyalty in books on West Barbary, and Mahomet, and the State of the Jews; and he became one of the King’s chaplains in ordinary at a time when his patron Joseph Williamson was Secretary of State. Joseph Addison was then but three years old. Soon afterwards the busy father became Archdeacon of Salisbury, and he was made Dean of Lichfield in 1683, when his boy Joseph had reached the age of 11. When Archdeacon of Salisbury, the Rev. Lancelot Addison sent Joseph to school at Salisbury; and when his father became Dean of Lichfield, Joseph was sent to school at Lichfield, as before said, in the years 1683-4-5. And then he was sent as a private pupil to the Charterhouse. The friendship he there formed with Steele was ratified by the approval of the Dean. The desolate boy with the warm heart, bright intellect, and noble aspirations, was carried home by his friend, at holiday times, into the Lichfield Deanery, where, Steele wrote afterwards to Congreve in a Dedication of the ‘Drummer’,

‘were things of this nature to be exposed to public view, I could show under the Dean’s own hand, in the warmest terms, his blessing on the friendship between his son and me; nor had he a child who did not prefer me in the first place of kindness and esteem, as their father loved me like one of them.’

Addison had two brothers, of whom one traded and became Governor of Fort George in India, and the other became, like himself, a Fellow of Magdalene College, Oxford. Of his three sisters two died young, the other married twice, her first husband being a French refugee minister who became a Prebendary of Westminster. Of this sister of Addison’s, Swift said she was ‘a sort of wit, very like him. I was not fond of her.’

In the latter years of the seventeenth century, when Steele and Addison were students at Oxford, most English writers were submissive to the new strength of the critical genius of France. But the English nation had then newly accomplished the great Revolution that secured its liberties, was thinking for itself, and calling forth the energies of writers who spoke for the people and looked to the people for approval and support. A new period was then opening, of popular influence on English literature. They were the young days of the influence now full grown, then slowly getting strength and winning the best minds away from an imported Latin style adapted to the taste of patrons who sought credit for nice critical discrimination. In 1690 Addison had been three years, Steele one year, at Oxford. Boileau was then living, fifty-four years old; and Western Europe was submissive to his sway as the great monarch of literary criticism. Boileau was still living when Steele published his ‘Tatler’, and died in the year of the establishment of the ‘Spectator’. Boileau, a true-hearted man, of genius and sense, advanced his countrymen from the nice weighing of words by the Precieuses and the grammarians, and by the French Academy, child of the intercourse between those ladies and gentlemen. He brought ridicule on the inane politeness of a style then in its decrepitude, and bade the writers of his time find models in the Latin writers who, like Virgil and Horace, had brought natural thought and speech to their perfection. In the preceding labour for the rectifying of the language, preference had been given to French words of Latin origin. French being one of those languages in which Latin is the chief constituent, this was but a fair following of the desire to make it run pure from its source.

If the English critics who, in Charles the Second’s time, submitted to French law, had seen its spirit, instead of paying blind obedience to the letter, they also would have looked back to the chief source of their language. Finding this to be not Latin but Saxon, they would have sought to give it strength and harmony, by doing then what, in the course of nature, we have learnt again to do, now that the patronage of literature has gone from the cultivated noble who appreciates in much accordance with the fashion of his time, and passed into the holding of the English people. Addison and Steele lived in the transition time between these periods. They were born into one of them and–Steele immediately, Addison through Steele’s influence upon him–they were trusty guides into the other. Thus the ‘Spectator’ is not merely the best example of their skill. It represents also, perhaps best represents, a wholesome Revolution in our Literature. The essential character of English Literature was no more changed than characters of Englishmen were altered by the Declaration of Right which Prince William of Orange had accepted with the English Crown, when Addison had lately left and Steele was leaving Charterhouse for Oxford. Yet change there was, and Steele saw to the heart of it, even in his College days.

Oxford, in times not long past, had inclined to faith in divine right of kings. Addison’s father, a church dignitary who had been a Royalist during the Civil War, laid stress upon obedience to authority in Church and State. When modern literature was discussed or studied at Oxford there would be the strongest disposition to maintain the commonly accepted authority of French critics, who were really men of great ability, correcting bad taste in their predecessors, and conciliating scholars by their own devout acceptance of the purest Latin authors as the types of a good style or proper method in the treatment of a subject. Young Addison found nothing new to him in the temper of his University, and was influenced, as in his youth every one must and should be, by the prevalent tone of opinion in cultivated men. But he had, and felt that he had, wit and genius of his own. His sensitive mind was simply and thoroughly religious, generous in its instincts, and strengthened in its nobler part by close communion with the mind of his friend Steele.

May we not think of the two friends together in a College chamber, Addison of slender frame, with features wanting neither in dignity nor in refinement, Steele of robust make, with the radiant ‘short face’ of the ‘Spectator’, by right of which he claimed for that worthy his admission to the Ugly Club. Addison reads Dryden, in praise of whom he wrote his earliest known verse; or reads endeavours of his own, which his friend Steele warmly applauds. They dream together of the future; Addison sage, but speculative, and Steele practical, if rash. Each is disposed to find God in the ways of life, and both avoid that outward show of irreligion, which, after the recent Civil Wars, remains yet common in the country, as reaction from an ostentatious piety which laid on burdens of restraint; a natural reaction which had been intensified by the base influence of a profligate King. Addison, bred among the preachers, has a little of the preacher’s abstract tone, when talk between the friends draws them at times into direct expression of the sacred sense of life which made them one.

Apart also from the mere accidents of his childhood, a speculative turn in Addison is naturally stronger than in Steele. He relishes analysis of thought. Steele came as a boy from the rough world of shame and sorrow; his great, kindly heart is most open to the realities of life, the state and prospects of his country, direct personal sympathies; actual wrongs, actual remedies. Addison is sensitive, and has among strangers the reserve of speech and aspect which will pass often for coldness and pride, but is, indeed, the shape taken by modesty in thoughtful men whose instinct it is to speculate and analyze, and who become self-conscious, not through conceit, but because they cannot help turning their speculations also on themselves. Steele wholly comes out of himself as his heart hastens to meet his friend. He lives in his surroundings, and, in friendly intercourse, fixes his whole thought on the worth of his companion. Never abating a jot of his ideal of a true and perfect life, or ceasing to uphold the good because he cannot live to the full height of his own argument, he is too frank to conceal the least or greatest of his own shortcomings. Delight and strength of a friendship like that between Steele and Addison are to be found, as many find them, in the charm and use of a compact where characters differ so much that one lays open as it were a fresh world to the other, and each draws from the other aid of forces which the friendship makes his own. But the deep foundations of this friendship were laid in the religious earnestness that was alike in both; and in religious earnestness are laid also the foundations of this book, its Monument.

Both Addison and Steele wrote verse at College. From each of them we have a poem written at nearly the same age: Addison’s in April, 1694, Steele’s early in 1695. Addison drew from literature a metrical ‘Account of the Greatest English Poets.’ Steele drew from life the grief of England at the death of William’s Queen, which happened on the 28th of December, 1694.

Addison, writing in that year, and at the age of about 23, for a College friend,

A short account of all the Muse-possest, That, down from Chaucer’s days to Dryden’s times Have spent their noble rage in British rhymes,

was so far under the influence of French critical authority, as accepted by most cultivators of polite literature at Oxford and wherever authority was much respected, that from ‘An Account of the Greatest English Poets’ he omitted Shakespeare. Of Chaucer he then knew no better than to say, what might have been said in France, that

… age has rusted what the Poet writ, Worn out his language, and obscured his wit: In vain he jests in his unpolish’d strain, And tries to make his readers laugh in vain. Old Spenser next, warm’d with poetic rage, In ancient tales amused a barb’rous age; But now the mystic tale, that pleased of yore, Can charm an understanding age no more.

It cost Addison some trouble to break loose from the critical cobweb of an age of periwigs and patches, that accounted itself ‘understanding,’ and the grand epoch of our Elizabethan literature, ‘barbarous.’ Rymer, one of his critics, had said, that

‘in the neighing of an horse, or in the growling of a mastiff, there is a meaning, there is as lively expression, and, may I say, more humanity than many times in the tragical flights of Shakespeare.’

Addison, with a genius of his own helped to free movement by the sympathies of Steele, did break through the cobwebs of the critics; but he carried off a little of their web upon his wings. We see it when in the ‘Spectator’ he meets the prejudices of an ‘understanding age,’ and partly satisfies his own, by finding reason for his admiration of ‘Chevy Chase’ and the ‘Babes in the Wood’, in their great similarity to works of Virgil. We see it also in some of the criticisms which accompany his admirable working out of the resolve to justify his true natural admiration of the poetry of Milton, by showing that ‘Paradise Lost’ was planned after the manner of the ancients, and supreme even in its obedience to the laws of Aristotle. In his ‘Spectator’ papers on Imagination he but half escapes from the conventions of his time, which detested the wildness of a mountain pass, thought Salisbury Plain one of the finest prospects in England, planned parks with circles and straight lines of trees, despised our old cathedrals for their ‘Gothic’ art, and saw perfection in the Roman architecture, and the round dome of St. Paul’s. Yet in these and all such papers of his we find that Addison had broken through the weaker prejudices of the day, opposing them with sound natural thought of his own. Among cultivated readers, lesser moulders of opinion, there can be no doubt that his genius was only the more serviceable in amendment of the tastes of his own time, for friendly understanding and a partial sharing of ideas for which it gave itself no little credit.

It is noticeable, however, that in his Account of the Greatest English Poets, young Addison gave a fifth part of the piece to expression of the admiration he felt even then for Milton. That his appreciation became critical, and, although limited, based on a sense of poetry which brought him near to Milton, Addison proved in the ‘Spectator’ by his eighteen Saturday papers upon ‘Paradise Lost’. But it was from the religious side that he first entered into the perception of its grandeur. His sympathy with its high purpose caused him to praise, in the same pages that commended ‘Paradise Lost’ to his countrymen, another ‘epic,’ Blackmore’s ‘Creation’, a dull metrical treatise against atheism, as a work which deserved to be looked upon as

‘one of the most useful and noble productions of our English verse. The reader,’ he added, of a piece which shared certainly with Salisbury Plain the charms of flatness and extent of space, ‘the reader cannot but be pleased to find the depths of philosophy enlivened with all the charms of poetry, and to see so great a strength of reason amidst so beautiful a redundancy of the imagination.’

The same strong sympathy with Blackmore’s purpose in it blinded Dr. Johnson also to the failure of this poem, which is Blackmore’s best. From its religious side, then, it may be that Addison, when a student at Oxford, first took his impressions of the poetry of Milton. At Oxford he accepted the opinion of France on Milton’s art, but honestly declared, in spite of that, unchecked enthusiasm:

Whate’er his pen describes I more than see, Whilst every verse, arrayed in majesty, Bold and sublime, my whole attention draws, And seems above the critic’s nicer laws.

This chief place among English poets Addison assigned to Milton, with his mind fresh from the influences of a father who had openly contemned the Commonwealth, and by whom he had been trained so to regard Milton’s service of it that of this he wrote:

Oh, had the Poet ne’er profaned his pen, To varnish o’er the guilt of faithless men; His other works might have deserved applause But now the language can’t support the cause, While the clean current, tho’ serene and bright, Betrays a bottom odious to the sight.

If we turn now to the verse written by Steele in his young Oxford days, and within twelve months of the date of Addison’s lines upon English poets, we have what Steele called ‘The Procession.’ It is the procession of those who followed to the grave the good Queen Mary, dead of small-pox, at the age of 32. Steele shared his friend Addison’s delight in Milton, and had not, indeed, got beyond the sixth number of the ‘Tatler’ before he compared the natural beauty and innocence of Milton’s Adam and Eve with Dryden’s treatment of their love. But the one man for whom Steele felt most enthusiasm was not to be sought through books, he was a living moulder of the future of the nation. Eagerly intent upon King William, the hero of the Revolution that secured our liberties, the young patriot found in him also the hero of his verse. Keen sense of the realities about him into which Steele had been born, spoke through the very first lines of this poem:

The days of man are doom’d to pain and strife, Quiet and ease are foreign to our life; No satisfaction is, below, sincere,
Pleasure itself has something that’s severe.

Britain had rejoiced in the high fortune of King William, and now a mourning world attended his wife to the tomb. The poor were her first and deepest mourners, poor from many causes; and then Steele pictured, with warm sympathy, form after form of human suffering. Among those mourning poor were mothers who, in the despair of want, would have stabbed infants sobbing for their food,

But in the thought they stopp’d, their locks they tore, Threw down the steel, and cruelly forbore. The innocents their parents’ love forgive, Smile at their fate, nor know they are to live.

To the mysteries of such distress the dead queen penetrated, by her ‘cunning to be good.’ After the poor, marched the House of Commons in the funeral procession. Steele gave only two lines to it:

With dread concern, the awful Senate came, Their grief, as all their passions, is the same. The next Assembly dissipates our fears, The stately, mourning throng of British Peers.

A factious intemperance then characterized debates of the Commons, while the House of Lords stood in the front of the Revolution, and secured the permanency of its best issues. Steele describes, as they pass, Ormond, Somers, Villars, who leads the horse of the dead queen, that ‘heaves into big sighs when he would neigh’–the verse has in it crudity as well as warmth of youth–and then follow the funeral chariot, the jewelled mourners, and the ladies of the court,

Their clouded beauties speak man’s gaudy strife, The glittering miseries of human life.

I yet see, Steele adds, this queen passing to her coronation in the place whither she now is carried to her grave. On the way, through acclamations of her people, to receive her crown,

She unconcerned and careless all the while Rewards their loud applauses with a smile, With easy Majesty and humble State
Smiles at the trifle Power, and knows its date.

But now

What hands commit the beauteous, good, and just, The dearer part of William, to the dust? In her his vital heat, his glory lies,
In her the Monarch lived, in her he dies. …
No form of state makes the Great Man forego The task due to her love and to his woe; Since his kind frame can’t the large suffering bear In pity to his People, he’s not here:
For to the mighty loss we now receive The next affliction were to see him grieve.

If we look from these serious strains of their youth to the literary expression of the gayer side of character in the two friends, we find Addison sheltering his taste for playful writing behind a Roman Wall of hexameter. For among his Latin poems in the Oxford ‘Musae Anglicanae’ are eighty or ninety lines of resonant Latin verse upon ‘Machinae Gesticulantes, ‘anglice’ A Puppet-show.’ Steele, taking life as he found it, and expressing mirth in his own way of conversation, wrote an English comedy, and took the word of a College friend that it was valueless. There were two paths in life then open to an English writer. One was the smooth and level way of patronage; the other a rough up-hill track for men who struggled in the service of the people. The way of patronage was honourable. The age had been made so very discerning by the Romans and the French that a true understanding of the beauties of literature was confined to the select few who had been taught what to admire. Fine writing was beyond the rude appreciation of the multitude. Had, therefore, the reading public been much larger than it was, men of fastidious taste, who paid as much deference to polite opinion as Addison did in his youth, could have expected only audience fit but few, and would have been without encouragement to the pursuit of letters unless patronage rewarded merit. The other way had charms only for the stout-hearted pioneer who foresaw where the road was to be made that now is the great highway of our literature. Addison went out into the world by the way of his time; Steele by the way of ours.

Addison, after the campaign of 1695, offered to the King the homage of a paper of verses on the capture of Namur, and presented them through Sir John Somers, then Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. To Lord Somers he sent with them a flattering dedicatory address. Somers, who was esteemed a man of taste, was not unwilling to ‘receive the present of a muse unknown.’ He asked Addison to call upon him, and became his patron. Charles Montagu, afterwards Earl of Halifax, critic and wit himself, shone also among the statesmen who were known patrons of letters. Also to him, who was a prince of patrons ‘fed with soft dedication all day long,’ Addison introduced himself. To him, in 1697, as it was part of his public fame to be a Latin scholar, Addison, also a skilful Latinist, addressed, in Latin, a paper of verses on the Peace of Ryswick. With Somers and Montagu for patrons, the young man of genius who wished to thrive might fairly commit himself to the service of the Church, for which he had been bred by his father; but Addison’s tact and refinement promised to be serviceable to the State, and so it was that, as Steele tells us, Montagu made Addison a layman.

‘His arguments were founded upon the general pravity and corruption of men of business, who wanted liberal education. And I remember, as if I had read the letter yesterday, that my Lord ended with a compliment, that, however he might be represented as no friend to the Church, he never would do it any other injury than keeping Mr. Addison out of it.’

To the good offices of Montagu and Somers, Addison was indebted, therefore, in 1699, for a travelling allowance of L300 a year. The grant was for his support while qualifying himself on the continent by study of modern languages, and otherwise, for diplomatic service. It dropped at the King’s death, in the spring of 1702, and Addison was cast upon his own resources; but he throve, and lived to become an Under-Secretary of State in days that made Prior an Ambassador, and rewarded with official incomes Congreve, Rowe, Hughes, Philips, Stepney, and others. Throughout his honourable career prudence dictated to Addison more or less of dependence on the friendship of the strong. An honest friend of the popular cause, he was more ready to sell than give his pen to it; although the utmost reward would at no time have tempted him to throw his conscience into the bargain. The good word of Halifax obtained him from Godolphin, in 1704, the Government order for a poem on the Battle of Blenheim, with immediate earnest of payment for it in the office of a Commissioner of Appeal in the Excise worth L200 a year. For this substantial reason Addison wrote the ‘Campaign’; and upon its success, he obtained the further reward of an Irish Under-secretaryship.

The ‘Campaign’ is not a great poem. Reams of ‘Campaigns’ would not have made Addison’s name, what it now is, a household word among his countrymen. The ‘Remarks on several Parts of Italy, &c.,’ in which Addison followed up the success of his ‘Campaign’ with notes of foreign travel, represent him visiting Italy as ‘Virgil’s Italy,’ the land of the great writers in Latin, and finding scenery or customs of the people eloquent of them at every turn. He crammed his pages with quotation from Virgil and Horace, Ovid and Tibullus, Propertius, Lucan, Juvenal and Martial, Lucretius, Statius, Claudian, Silius Italicus, Ausonius, Seneca, Phaedrus, and gave even to his ‘understanding age’ an overdose of its own physic for all ills of literature. He could not see a pyramid of jugglers standing on each other’s shoulders, without observing how it explained a passage in Claudian which shows that the Venetians were not the inventors of this trick. But Addison’s short original accounts of cities and states that he saw are pleasant as well as sensible, and here and there, as in the space he gives to a report of St. Anthony’s sermon to the fishes, or his short account of a visit to the opera at Venice, there are indications of the humour that was veiled, not crushed, under a sense of classical propriety. In his account of the political state of Naples and in other passages, there is mild suggestion also of the love of liberty, a part of the fine nature of Addison which had been slightly warmed by contact with the generous enthusiasm of Steele. In his poetical letter to Halifax written during his travels Addison gave the sum of his prose volume when he told how he felt himself

… on classic ground.
For here the Muse so oft her harp hath strung, That not a mountain rears its head unsung; Renown’d in verse each shady thicket grows, And ev’ry stream in heav’nly numbers flows.

But he was writing to a statesman of the Revolution, who was his political patron, just then out of office, and propriety suggested such personal compliment as calling the Boyne a Tiber, and Halifax an improvement upon Virgil; while his heart was in the closing emphasis, also proper to the occasion, which dwelt on the liberty that gives their smile to the barren rocks and bleak mountains of Britannia’s isle, while for Italy, rich in the unexhausted stores of nature, proud Oppression in her valleys reigns, and tyranny usurps her happy plains. Addison’s were formal raptures, and he knew them to be so, when he wrote,

I bridle in my struggling Muse with pain, That longs to launch into a bolder strain.

Richard Steele was not content with learning to be bold. Eager, at that turning point of her national life, to serve England with strength of arm, at least, if not with the good brains which he was neither encouraged nor disposed to value highly, Steele’s patriotism impelled him to make his start in the world, not by the way of patronage, but by enlisting himself as a private in the Coldstream Guards. By so doing he knew that he offended a relation, and lost a bequest. As he said of himself afterwards,

‘when he mounted a war-horse, with a great sword in his hand, and planted himself behind King William III against Louis XIV, he lost the succession to a very good estate in the county of Wexford, in Ireland, from the same humour which he has preserved, ever since, of preferring the state of his mind to that of his fortune.’

Steele entered the Duke of Ormond’s regiment, and had reasons for enlistment. James Butler, the first Duke, whom his father served, had sent him to the Charterhouse. That first Duke had been Chancellor of the University at Oxford, and when he died, on the 21st of July, 1688, nine months before Steele entered to Christchurch, his grandson, another James Butler, succeeded to the Dukedom. This second Duke of Ormond was also placed by the University of Oxford in his grandfather’s office of Chancellor. He went with King William to Holland in 1691, shared the defeat of William in the battle of Steinkirk in August, 1692, and was taken prisoner in July, 1693, when King William was defeated at Landen. These defeats encouraged the friends of the Stuarts, and in 1694, Bristol, Exeter and Boston adhered to King James. Troops were raised in the North of England to assist his cause. In 1696 there was the conspiracy of Sir George Barclay to seize William on the 15th of February. Captain Charnock, one of the conspirators, had been a Fellow of Magdalene. On the 23rd of February the plot was laid before Parliament. There was high excitement throughout the country. Loyal Associations were formed. The Chancellor of the University of Oxford was a fellow-soldier of the King’s, and desired to draw strength to his regiment from the enthusiasm of the time. Steele’s heart was with the cause of the Revolution, and he owed also to the Ormonds a kind of family allegiance. What was more natural than that he should be among those young Oxford men who were tempted to enlist in the Chancellor’s own regiment for the defence of liberty? Lord Cutts, the Colonel of the Regiment, made Steele his Secretary, and got him an Ensign’s commission. It was then that he wrote his first book, the ‘Christian Hero’, of which the modest account given by Steele himself long afterwards, when put on his defence by the injurious violence of faction, is as follows:

‘He first became an author when an Ensign of the Guards, a way of life exposed to much irregularity; and being thoroughly convinced of many things, of which he often repented, and which he more often repeated, he writ, for his own private use, a little book called the ‘Christian Hero’, with a design principally to fix upon his own mind a strong impression of virtue and religion, in opposition to a stronger propensity towards unwarrantable pleasures. This secret admiration was too weak; he therefore printed the book with his name, in hopes that a standing testimony against himself, and the eyes of the world (that is to say, of his acquaintance) upon him in a new light, would make him ashamed of understanding and seeming to feel what was virtuous, and living so contrary a life.’

Among his brother soldiers, and fresh from the Oxford worship of old classical models, the religious feeling that accompanies all true refinement, and that was indeed part of the English nature in him as in Addison, prompted Steele to write this book, in which he opposed to the fashionable classicism of his day a sound reflection that the heroism of Cato or Brutus had far less in it of true strength, and far less adaptation to the needs of life, than the unfashionable Christian Heroism set forth by the Sermon on the Mount.

According to the second title of this book it is ‘an Argument, proving that no Principles but those of Religion are sufficient to make a Great Man.’ It is addressed to Lord Cutts in a dedication dated from the Tower-Yard, March 23, 1701, and is in four chapters, of which the first treats of the heroism of the ancient world, the second connects man with his Creator, by the Bible Story and the Life and Death of Christ, the third defines the Christian as set forth by the character and teaching of St. Paul, applying the definition practically to the daily life of Steele’s own time. In the last chapter he descends from the consideration of those bright incentives to a higher life, and treats of the ordinary passions and interests of men, the common springs of action (of which, he says, the chief are Fame and Conscience) which he declares to be best used and improved when joined with religion; and here all culminates in a final strain of patriotism, closing with the character of King William, ‘that of a glorious captain, and (what he much more values than the most splendid titles) that of a sincere and honest man.’ This was the character of William which, when, in days of meaner public strife, Steele quoted it years afterwards in the _Spectator_, he broke off painfully and abruptly with a

… Fuit Ilium, et ingens

Steele’s ‘Christian Hero’ obtained many readers. Its fifth edition was appended to the first collection of the ‘Tatler’ into volumes, at the time of the establishment of the ‘Spectator’. The old bent of the English mind was strong in Steele, and he gave unostentatiously a lively wit to the true service of religion, without having spoken or written to the last day of his life a word of mere religious cant. One officer thrust a duel on him for his zeal in seeking to make peace between him and another comrade. Steele, as an officer, then, or soon afterwards, made a Captain of Fusiliers, could not refuse to fight, but stood on the defensive; yet in parrying a thrust his sword pierced his antagonist, and the danger in which he lay quickened that abiding detestation of the practice of duelling, which caused Steele to attack it in his plays, in his ‘Tatler’, in his ‘Spectator’, with persistent energy.

Of the ‘Christian Hero’ his companions felt, and he himself saw, that the book was too didactic. It was indeed plain truth out of Steele’s heart, but an air of superiority, freely allowed only to the professional man teaching rules of his own art, belongs to a too didactic manner. Nothing was more repugnant to Steele’s nature than the sense of this. He had defined the Christian as ‘one who is always a benefactor, with the mien of a receiver.’ And that was his own character, which was, to a fault, more ready to give than to receive, more prompt to ascribe honour to others than to claim it for himself. To right himself, Steele wrote a light-hearted comedy, ‘The Funeral’, or ‘Grief a la Mode’; but at the core even of that lay the great earnestness of his censure against the mockery and mummery of grief that should be sacred; and he blended with this, in the character of Lawyer Puzzle, a protest against mockery of truth and justice by the intricacies of the law. The liveliness of this comedy made Steele popular with the wits; and the inevitable touches of the author’s patriotism brought on him also the notice of the Whigs. Party men might, perhaps, already feel something of the unbending independence that was in Steele himself, as in this play he made old Lord Brumpton teach it to his son:

‘But be them honest, firm, impartial; Let neither love, nor hate, nor faction move thee; Distinguish words from things, and men from crimes.’

King William, perhaps, had he lived, could fairly have recognized in Steele the social form of that sound mind which in Defoe was solitary. In a later day it was to Steele a proud recollection that his name, to be provided for, ‘was in the last table-book ever worn by the glorious and immortal William III.’

The ‘Funeral’, first acted with great success in 1702, was followed in the next year by ‘The Tender Husband’, to which Addison contributed some touches, for which Addison wrote a Prologue, and which Steele dedicated to Addison, who would ‘be surprised,’ he said, ‘in the midst of a daily and familiar conversation, with an address which bears so distant an air as a public dedication.’ Addison and his friend were then thirty-one years old. Close friends when boys, they are close friends now in the prime of manhood. It was after they had blended wits over the writing of this comedy that Steele expressed his wish for a work, written by both, which should serve as THE MONUMENT to their most happy friendship. When Addison and Steele were amused together with the writing of this comedy, Addison, having lost his immediate prospect of political employment, and his salary too, by King William’s death in the preceding year, had come home from his travels. On his way home he had received, in September, at the Hague, news of his father’s death. He wrote from the Hague, to Mr. Wyche,

‘At my first arrival I received the news of my father’s death, and ever since have been engaged in so much noise and company, that it was impossible for me to think of rhyming in it.’

As his father’s eldest son, he had, on his return to England, family affairs to arrange, and probably some money to receive. Though attached to a party that lost power at the accession of Queen Anne, and waiting for new employment, Addison–who had declined the Duke of Somerset’s over-condescending offer of a hundred a year and all expenses as travelling tutor to his son, the Marquis of Hertford–was able, while lodging poorly in the Haymarket, to associate in London with the men by whose friendship he hoped to rise, and was, with Steele, admitted into the select society of wits, and men of fashion who affected wit and took wits for their comrades, in the Kitcat Club. When in 1704 Marlborough’s victory at Blenheim revived the Whig influence, the suggestion of Halifax to Lord Treasurer Godolphin caused Addison to be applied to for his poem of the ‘Campaign’. It was after the appearance of this poem that Steele’s play was printed, with the dedication to his friend, in which he said,

‘I look upon my intimacy with you as one of the most valuable enjoyments of my life. At the same time I make the town no ill compliment for their kind acceptance of this comedy, in acknowledging that it has so far raised my opinion of it, as to make me think it no improper memorial of an inviolable Friendship. I should not offer it to you as such, had I not been very careful to avoid everything that might look ill-natured, immoral, or prejudicial to what the better part of mankind hold sacred and honourable.’

This was the common ground between the friends. Collier’s ‘Short View of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage’ had been published in 1698; it attacked a real evil, if not always in the right way, and Congreve’s reply to it had been a failure. Steele’s comedies with all their gaiety and humour were wholly free from the garnish of oaths and unwholesome expletives which his contemporaries seemed to think essential to stage emphasis. Each comedy of his was based on seriousness, as all sound English wit has been since there have been writers in England. The gay manner did not conceal all the earnest thoughts that might jar with the humour of the town; and thus Steele was able to claim, by right of his third play, ‘the honour of being the only English dramatist who had had a piece damned for its piety.’

This was the ‘Lying Lover’, produced in 1704, an adaptation from Corneille in which we must allow that Steele’s earnestness in upholding truth and right did cause him to spoil the comedy. The play was afterwards re-adapted by Foote as the ‘Liar’, and in its last form, with another change or two, has been revived at times with great success. It is worth while to note how Steele dealt with the story of this piece. Its original is a play by Alarcon, which Corneille at first supposed to have been a play by Lope de Vega. Alarcon, or, to give him his full style, Don Juan Ruiz de Alarcon y Mendoza, was a Mexican-born Spaniard of a noble family which had distinguished itself in Mexico from the time of the conquest, and took its name of Alarcon from a village in New Castile. The poet was a humpbacked dwarf, a thorough, but rather haughty, Spanish gentleman, poet and wit, who wrote in an unusually pure Spanish style; a man of the world, too, who came to Spain in or about the year 1622, and held the very well-paid office of reporter to the Royal Council of the Indies. When Alarcon, in 1634, was chosen by the Court to write a festival drama, and, at the same time, publishing the second part of his dramatic works, vehemently reclaimed plays for which, under disguised names, some of his contemporaries had taken credit to themselves, there was an angry combination against him, in which Lope de Vega, Gongora, and Quevedo were found taking part. All that Alarcon wrote was thoroughly his own, but editors of the 17th century boldly passed over his claims to honour, and distributed his best works among plays of other famous writers, chiefly those of Rojas and Lope de Vega. This was what deceived Corneille, and caused him to believe and say that Alarcon’s ‘la Verdad sospechosa’, on which, in 1642, he founded his ‘Menteur’, was a work of Lope de Vega’s. Afterwards Corneille learnt how there had been in this matter lying among editors. He gave to Alarcon the honour due, and thenceforth it is chiefly by this play that Alarcon has been remembered out of Spain. In Spain, when in 1852 Don Juan Hartzenbusch edited Alarcon’s comedies for the Biblioteca de Autores Espanoles, he had to remark on the unjust neglect of that good author in Spain also, where the poets and men of letters had long wished in vain for a complete edition of his works. Lope de Vega, it may be added, was really the author of a sequel to ‘la Verdad sospechosa’, which Corneille adapted also as a sequel to his ‘Menteur’, but it was even poorer than such sequels usually are.

The ‘Lying Lover’ in Alarcon’s play is a Don Garcia fresh from his studies in Salamanca, and Steele’s Latine first appears there as a Tristan, the gracioso of old Spanish comedy. The two ladies are a Jacinta and Lucrecia. Alarcon has in his light and graceful play no less than three heavy fathers, of a Spanish type, one of whom, the father of Lucrecia, brings about Don Garcia’s punishment by threatening to kill him if he will not marry his daughter; and so the Liar is punished for his romancing by a marriage with the girl he does not care for, and not marrying the girl he loves.

Corneille was merciful, and in the fifth act bred in his ‘Menteur’ a new fancy for Lucrece, so that the marriage at cross purposes was rather agreeable to him.

Steele, in adapting the ‘Menteur’ as his ‘Lying Lover’, altered the close in sharp accordance with that ‘just regard to a reforming age,’ which caused him (adapting a line in his ‘Procession’ then unprinted) to write in his Prologue to it, ‘Pleasure must still have something that’s severe.’ Having translated Corneille’s translations of Garcia and Tristan (Dorante and Cliton) into Young Bookwit and Latine, he transformed the servant into a college friend, mumming as servant because, since ‘a prating servant is necessary in intrigues,’ the two had ‘cast lots who should be the other’s footman for the present expedition.’ Then he adapted the French couplets into pleasant prose comedy, giving with a light touch the romancing of feats of war and of an entertainment on the river, but at last he turned desperately serious, and sent his Young Bookwit to Newgate on a charge of killing the gentleman–here called Lovemore–who was at last to win the hand of the lady whom the Liar loved. In his last act, opening in Newgate, Steele started with blank verse, and although Lovemore of course was not dead, and Young Bookwit got at last more than a shadow of a promise of the other lady in reward for his repentance, the changes in construction of the play took it beyond the bounds of comedy, and were, in fact, excellent morality but not good art. And this is what Steele means when he says that he had his play damned for its piety.

With that strong regard for the drama which cannot well be wanting to the man who has an artist’s vivid sense of life, Steele never withdrew his good will from the players, never neglected to praise a good play, and, I may add, took every fair occasion of suggesting to the town the subtlety of Shakespeare’s genius. But he now ceased to write comedies, until towards the close of his life he produced with a remarkable success his other play, the ‘Conscious Lovers’. And of that, by the way, Fielding made his Parson Adams say that ‘Cato’ and the ‘Conscious Lovers’ were the only plays he ever heard of, fit for a Christian to read, ‘and, I must own, in the latter there are some things almost solemn enough for a sermon.’

Perhaps it was about this time that Addison wrote his comedy of the ‘Drummer’, which had been long in his possession when Steele, who had become a partner in the management of Drury Lane Theatre, drew it from obscurity, suggested a few changes in it, and produced it–not openly as Addison’s–upon the stage. The published edition of it was recommended also by a preface from Steele in which he says that he liked this author’s play the better

‘for the want of those studied similies and repartees which we, who have writ before him, have thrown into our plays, to indulge and gain upon a false taste that has prevailed for many years in the British theatre. I believe the author would have condescended to fall into this way a little more than he has, had he before the writing of it been often present at theatrical representations. I was confirmed in my thoughts of the play by the opinion of better judges to whom it was communicated, who observed that the scenes were drawn after Moliere’s manner, and that an easy and natural vein of humour ran through the whole. I do not question but the reader will discover this, and see many beauties that escaped the audience; the touches being too delicate for every taste in a popular assembly. My brother-sharers’ (in the Drury Lane patent) ‘were of opinion, at the first reading of it, that it was like a picture in which the strokes were not strong enough to appear at a distance. As it is not in the common way of writing, the approbation was at first doubtful, but has risen every time it has been acted, and has given an opportunity in several of its parts for as just and good actions as ever I saw on the stage.’

Addison’s comedy was not produced till 1715, the year after his unsuccessful attempt to revive the ‘Spectator’, which produced what is called the eighth volume of that work. The play, not known to be his, was so ill spoken of that he kept the authorship a secret to the last, and Tickell omitted it from the collection of his patron’s works. But Steele knew what was due to his friend, and in 1722 manfully republished the piece as Addison’s, with a dedication to Congreve and censure of Tickell for suppressing it. If it be true that the ‘Drummer’ made no figure on the stage though excellently acted, ‘when I observe this,’ said Steele, ‘I say a much harder thing of this than of the comedy.’ Addison’s Drummer is a gentleman who, to forward his suit to a soldier’s widow, masquerades as the drumbeating ghost of her husband in her country house, and terrifies a self-confident, free-thinking town exquisite, another suitor, who believes himself brought face to face with the spirit world, in which he professes that he can’t believe. ‘For my part, child, I have made myself easy in those points.’ The character of a free-thinking exquisite is drawn from life without exaggeration, but with more than a touch of the bitter contempt Addison felt for the atheistic coxcomb, with whom he was too ready to confound the sincere questioner of orthodox opinion. The only passages of his in the ‘Spectator’ that border on intolerance are those in which he deals with the free-thinker; but it should not be forgotten that the commonest type of free-thinker in Queen Anne’s time was not a thoughtful man who battled openly with doubt and made an independent search for truth, but an idler who repudiated thought and formed his character upon tradition of the Court of Charles the Second. And throughout the ‘Spectator’ we may find a Christian under-tone in Addison’s intolerance of infidelity, which is entirely wanting when the moralist is Eustace Budgell. Two or three persons in the comedy of the ‘Drummer’ give opportunity for good character-painting in the actor, and on a healthy stage, before an audience able to discriminate light touches of humour and to enjoy unstrained although well-marked expression of varieties of character, the ‘Drummer’ would not fail to be a welcome entertainment.

But our sketch now stands at the year 1705, when Steele had ceased for a time to write comedies. Addison’s ‘Campaign’ had brought him fame, and perhaps helped him to pay, as he now did, his College debts, with interest. His ‘Remarks on Italy’, now published, were, as Tickell says, ‘at first but indifferently relished by the bulk of readers;’ and his ‘Drummer’ probably was written and locked in his desk. There were now such days of intercourse as Steele looked back to when with undying friendship he wrote in the preface to that edition of the ‘Drummer’ produced by him after Addison’s death:

‘He was above all men in that talent we call humour, and enjoyed it in such perfection, that I have often reflected, after a night spent with him apart from all the world, that I had had the pleasure of conversing with an intimate acquaintance of Terence and Catullus, who had all their wit and nature, heightened with humour more exquisite and delightful than any other man ever possessed.’ And again in the same Preface, Steele dwelt upon ‘that smiling mirth, that delicate satire and genteel raillery, which appeared in Mr. Addison when he was free from that remarkable bashfulness which is a cloak that hides and muffles merit; and his abilities were covered only by modesty, which doubles the beauties which are seen, and gives credit and esteem to all that are concealed.’

Addison had the self-consciousness of a sensitive and speculative mind. This, with a shy manner among those with whom he was not intimate, passed for cold self-assertion. The ‘little senate’ of his intimate friends was drawn to him by its knowledge of the real warmth of his nature. And his friendships, like his religion, influenced his judgment. His geniality that wore a philosophic cloak before the world, caused him to abandon himself in the ‘Spectator’, even more unreservedly than Steele would have done, to iterated efforts for the help of a friend like Ambrose Philips, whose poems to eminent babies, ‘little subject, little wit,’ gave rise to the name of Namby-pamby. Addison’s quietness with strangers was against a rapid widening of his circle of familiar friends, and must have made the great-hearted friendship of Steele as much to him as his could be to Steele. In very truth it ‘doubled all his store.’ Steele’s heart was open to enjoyment of all kindly intercourse with men. In after years, as expression of thought in the literature of nations gained freedom and sincerity, two types of literature were formed from the types of mind which Addison and Steele may be said to have in some measure represented. Each sought advance towards a better light, one part by dwelling on the individual duties and responsibilities of man, and his relation to the infinite; the other by especial study of man’s social ties and liberties, and his relation to the commonwealth of which he is a member. Goethe, for instance, inclined to one study; Schiller to the other; and every free mind will incline probably to one or other of these centres of opinion. Addison was a cold politician because he was most himself when analyzing principles of thought, and humours, passions, duties of the individual. Steele, on the contrary, braved ruin for his convictions as a politician, because his social nature turned his earnestness into concern for the well-being of his country, and he lived in times when it was not yet certain that the newly-secured liberties were also finally secured. The party was strong that desired to re-establish ancient tyrannies, and the Queen herself was hardly on the side of freedom.

In 1706, the date of the union between England and Scotland, Whig influence had been strengthened by the elections of the preceding year, and Addison was, early in 1706, made Under-Secretary of State to Sir Charles Hedges, a Tory, who was superseded before the end of the year by Marlborough’s son-in-law, the Earl of Sunderland, a Whig under whom Addison, of course, remained in office, and who was, thenceforth, his active patron. In the same year the opera of _Rosamond_ was produced, with Addison’s libretto. It was but the third, or indeed the second, year of operas in England, for we can hardly reckon as forming a year of opera the Italian intermezzi and interludes of singing and dancing, performed under Clayton’s direction, at York Buildings, in 1703. In 1705, Clayton’s _Arsinoe_, adapted and translated from the Italian, was produced at Drury Lane. Buononcini’s _Camilla_ was given at the house in the Haymarket, and sung in two languages, the heroine’s part being in English and the hero’s in Italian. Thomas Clayton, a second-rate musician, but a man with literary tastes, who had been introducer of the opera to London, argued that the words of an opera should be not only English, but the best of English, and that English music ought to illustrate good home-grown literature. Addison and Steele agreed heartily in this. Addison was persuaded to write words for an opera by Clayton–his _Rosamond_–and Steele was persuaded afterwards to speculate in some sort of partnership with Clayton’s efforts to set English poetry to music in the entertainments at York Buildings, though his friend Hughes warned him candidly that Clayton was not much of a musician. _Rosamond_ was a failure of Clayton’s and not a success of Addison’s. There is poor jesting got by the poet from a comic Sir Trusty, who keeps Rosamond’s bower, and has a scolding wife. But there is a happy compliment to Marlborough in giving to King Henry a vision at Woodstock of the glory to come for England, and in a scenic realization of it by the rising of Blenheim Palace, the nation’s gift to Marlborough, upon the scene of the Fair Rosamond story. Indeed there can be no doubt that it was for the sake of the scene at Woodstock, and the opportunity thus to be made, that Rosamond was chosen for the subject of the opera. Addison made Queen Eleanor give Rosamond a narcotic instead of a poison, and thus he achieved the desired happy ending to an opera.

Believe your Rosamond alive.

‘King.’ O happy day! O pleasing view! My Queen forgives–

‘Queen.’ –My lord is true.

‘King.’ No more I’ll change.

‘Queen.’ No more I’ll grieve.

‘Both.’ But ever thus united live.

That is to say, for three days, the extent of the life of the opera. But the literary Under-Secretary had saved his political dignity with the stage tribute to Marlborough, which backed the closet praise in the ‘Campaign.’

In May, 1707, Steele received the office of Gazetteer, until then worth L60, but presently endowed by Harley with a salary of L300 a-year. At about the same time he was made one of the gentlemen ushers to Queen Anne’s husband, Prince George of Denmark. In the same year Steele married. Of his most private life before this date little is known. He had been married to a lady from Barbadoes, who died in a few months. From days referred to in the ‘Christian Hero’ he derived a daughter of whom he took fatherly care. In 1707 Steele, aged about 35, married Miss (or, as ladies come of age were then called, Mrs.) Mary Scurlock, aged 29. It was a marriage of affection on both sides. Steele had from his first wife an estate in Barbadoes, which produced, after payment of the interest on its encumbrances, L670 a-year. His appointment as Gazetteer, less the L45 tax on it, was worth L255 a-year, and his appointment on the Prince Consort’s household another hundred. Thus the income upon which Steele married was rather more than a thousand a-year, and Miss Scurlock’s mother had an estate of about L330 a-year. Mary Scurlock had been a friend of Steele’s first wife, for before marriage she recalls Steele to her mother’s mind by saying, ‘It is the survivor of the person to whose funeral I went in my illness.’

‘Let us make our regards to each other,’ Steele wrote just before marriage, ‘mutual and unchangeable, that whilst the world around us is enchanted with the false satisfactions of vagrant desires, our persons may be shrines to each other, and sacred to conjugal faith, unreserved confidence, and heavenly society.’

There remains also a prayer written by Steele before first taking the sacrament with his wife, after marriage. There are also letters and little notes written by Steele to his wife, treasured by her love, and printed by a remorseless antiquary, blind to the sentence in one of the first of them:

‘I beg of you to shew my letters to no one living, but let us be contented with one another’s thoughts upon our words and actions, without the intervention of other people, who cannot judge of so delicate a circumstance as the commerce between man and wife.’

But they are printed for the frivolous to laugh at and the wise to honour. They show that even in his most thoughtless or most anxious moments the social wit, the busy patriot, remembered his ‘dear Prue,’ and was her lover to the end. Soon after marriage, Steele took his wife to a boarding-school in the suburbs, where they saw a young lady for whom Steele showed an affection that caused Mrs. Steele to ask, whether she was not his daughter. He said that she was. ‘Then,’ said Mrs. Steele, ‘I beg she may be mine too.’ Thenceforth she lived in their home as Miss Ousley, and was treated as a daughter by Steele’s wife. Surely this was a woman who deserved the love that never swerved from her. True husband and true friend, he playfully called Addison her rival. In the _Spectator_ there is a paper of Steele’s (No. 142) representing some of his own love-letters as telling what a man said and should be able to say of his wife after forty years of marriage. Seven years after marriage he signs himself, ‘Yours more than you can imagine, or I express.’ He dedicates to her a volume of the _Lady’s Library_, and writes of her ministrations to him:

‘if there are such beings as guardian angels, thus are they employed. I will no more believe one of them more good in its inclinations than I can conceive it more charming in its form than my wife.’

In the year before her death he was signing his letters with ‘God bless you!’ and ‘Dear Prue, eternally yours.’ That Steele made it a duty of his literary life to contend against the frivolous and vicious ridicule of the ties of marriage common in his day, and to maintain their sacred honour and their happiness, readers of the ‘Spectator’ cannot fail to find.

Steele, on his marriage in 1707, took a house in Bury Street, St. James’s, and in the following year went to a house at Hampton, which he called in jest the Hovel. Addison had lent him a thousand pounds for costs of furnishing and other immediate needs. This was repaid within a year, and when, at the same time, his wife’s mother was proposing a settlement of her money beneficial to himself, Steele replied that he was far from desiring, if he should survive his wife, ‘to turn the current of the estate out of the channel it would have been in, had I never come into the family.’ Liberal always of his own to others, he was sometimes without a guinea, and perplexed by debt. But he defrauded no man. When he followed his Prue to the grave he was in no man’s debt, though he left all his countrymen his debtors, and he left more than their mother’s fortune to his two surviving children. One died of consumption a year afterwards, the other married one of the Welsh Judges, afterwards Lord Trevor.

The friendship–equal friendship–between Steele and Addison was as unbroken as the love between Steele and his wife. Petty tales may have been invented or misread. In days of malicious personality Steele braved the worst of party spite, and little enough even slander found to throw against him. Nobody in their lifetime doubted the equal strength and sincerity of the relationship between the two friends. Steele was no follower of Addison’s. Throughout life he went his own way, leading rather than following; first as a playwright; first in conception and execution of the scheme of the ‘Tatler’, ‘Spectator’, and ‘Guardian’; following his own sense of duty against Addison’s sense of expediency in passing from the ‘Guardian’ to the ‘Englishman’, and so to energetic movement upon perilous paths as a political writer, whose whole heart was with what he took to be the people’s cause.

When Swift had been writing to Addison that he thought Steele ‘the vilest of mankind,’ in writing of this to Swift, Steele complained that the ‘Examiner’,–in which Swift had a busy hand,–said Addison had ‘bridled him in point of politics,’ adding,

‘This was ill hinted both in relation to him and me. I know no party; but the truth of the question is what I will support as well as I can, when any man I honour is attacked.’

John Forster, whose keen insight into the essentials of literature led him to write an essay upon each of the two great founders of the latest period of English literature, Defoe and Steele, has pointed out in his masterly essay upon Steele that Swift denies having spoken of Steele as bridled by his friend, and does so in a way that frankly admits Steele’s right to be jealous of the imputation. Mr. Forster justly adds that throughout Swift’s intimate speech to Stella,

‘whether his humours be sarcastic or polite, the friendship of Steele and Addison is for ever suggesting some annoyance to himself, some mortification, some regret, but never once the doubt that it was not intimate and sincere, or that into it entered anything inconsistent with a perfect equality.’

Six months after Addison’s death Steele wrote (in No. 12 of the ‘Theatre’, and I am again quoting facts cited by John Forster),

‘that there never was a more strict friendship than between himself and Addison, nor had they ever any difference but what proceeded from their different way of pursuing the same thing; the one waited and stemmed the torrent, while the other too often plunged into it; but though they thus had lived for some years past, shunning each other, they still preserved the most passionate concern for their mutual welfare; and when they met they were as unreserved as boys, and talked of the greatest affairs, upon which they saw where they differed, without pressing (what they knew impossible) to convert each other.’

As to the substance or worth of what thus divided them, Steele only adds the significant expression of his hope that, if his family is the worse, his country may be the better, ‘for the mortification _he_ has undergone.’

Such, then, was the Friendship of which the ‘Spectator’ is the abiding Monument. The ‘Spectator’ was a modified continuation of the ‘Tatler’, and the ‘Tatler’ was suggested by a portion of Defoe’s ‘Review’. The ‘Spectator’ belongs to the first days of a period when the people at large extended their reading power into departments of knowledge formerly unsought by them, and their favour was found generally to be more desirable than that of the most princely patron. This period should date from the day in 1703 when the key turned upon Defoe in Newgate, the year of the production of Steele’s ‘Tender Husband’, and the time when Addison was in Holland on the way home from his continental travels. Defoe was then forty-two years old, Addison and Steele being about eleven years younger.

In the following year, 1704, the year of Blenheim–Defoe issued, on the 19th of February, No. 1 of ‘A Weekly Review of the Affairs of France: Purg’d from the Errors and Partiality of ‘News-Writers’ and ‘Petty-Statesmen’, of all Sides,’ and in the introductory sketch of its plan, said:

‘After our Serious Matters are over, we shall at the end of every Paper, Present you with a little Diversion, as anything occurs to make the World Merry; and whether Friend or Foe, one Party or another, if anything happens so scandalous as to require an open Reproof, the World may meet with it there.’

Here is the first ‘little Diversion’; the germ of ‘Tatlers’ and ‘Spectators’ which in after years amused and edified the town.

‘Mercure Scandale:


ADVICE from the Scandalous CLUB. ‘Translated out of French’.

This Society is a Corporation long since established in ‘Paris’, and we cannot compleat our Advices from ‘France’, without entertaining the World with everything we meet with from that Country.

And, tho Corresponding with the Queens Enemies is prohibited; yet since the Matter will be so honest, as only to tell the World of what everybody will own to be scandalous, we reckon we shall be welcome.

This Corporation has been set up some months, and opend their first Sessions about last ‘Bartholomew’ Fair; but having not yet obtaind a Patent, they have never, till now, made their Resolves publick.

The Business of this Society is to censure the Actions of Men, not of Parties, and in particular, those Actions which are made publick so by their Authors, as to be, in their own Nature, an Appeal to the general Approbation.

They do not design to expose Persons but things; and of them, none but such as more than ordinarily deserve it; they who would not be censurd by this Assembly, are desired to act with caution enough, not to fall under their Hands; for they resolve to treat Vice, and Villanous Actions, with the utmost Severity.

The First considerable Matter that came before this Society, was about ‘Bartholomew’ Fair; but the Debates being long, they were at last adjourned to the next Fair, when we suppose it will be decided; so being not willing to trouble the World with anything twice over, we refer that to next ‘August’.

On the 10th of September last, there was a long Hearing, before the Club, of a Fellow that said he had killd the Duke of ‘Bavaria’. Now as David punishd the Man that said he had killd King ‘Saul’, whether it was so or no, twas thought this Fellow ought to be delivered up to Justice, tho the Duke of ‘Bavaria’ was alive.

Upon the whole, twas voted a scandalous Thing, That News. Writers shoud kill Kings and Princes, and bring them to life again at pleasure; and to make an Example of this Fellow, he was dismissd, upon Condition he should go to the Queens-bench once a Day, and bear Fuller, his Brother of the Faculty, company two hours for fourteen Days together; which cruel Punishment was executed with the utmost Severity.

The Club has had a great deal of trouble about the News-Writers, who have been continually brought before them for their ridiculous Stories, and imposing upon Mankind; and tho the Proceedings have been pretty tedious, we must give you the trouble of a few of them in our next.

The addition to the heading, ‘Translated out of French,’ appears only in No. 1, and the first title ‘Mercure Scandale’ (adopted from a French book published about 1681) having been much criticized for its grammar and on other grounds, was dropped in No. 18. Thenceforth Defoe’s pleasant comment upon passing follies appeared under the single head of ‘Advice from the Scandalous Club.’ Still the verbal Critics exercised their wits upon the title.

‘We have been so often on the Defence of our Title,’ says Defoe, in No. 38, ‘that the world begins to think Our Society wants Employment … If Scandalous must signify nothing but Personal Scandal, respecting the Subject of which it is predicated; we desire those gentlemen to answer for us how ‘Post-Man’ or ‘Post-Boy’ can signify a News-Paper, the Post Man or Post Boy being in all my reading properly and strictly applicable, not to the Paper, but to the Person bringing or carrying the News? Mercury also is, if I understand it, by a Transmutation of Meaning, from a God turned into a Book–From hence our Club thinks they have not fair Play, in being deny’d the Privilege of making an Allegory as well as other People.’

In No. 46 Defoe made, in one change more, a whimsical half concession of a syllable, by putting a sign of contraction in its place, and thenceforth calling this part of his Review, Advice from the Scandal Club. Nothing can be more evident than the family likeness between this forefather of the ‘Tatler’ and ‘Spectator’ and its more familiar descendants. There is a trick of voice common to all, and some papers of Defoe’s might have been written for the ‘Spectator’. Take the little allegory, for instance, in No. 45, which tells of a desponding young Lady brought before the Society, as found by Rosamond’s Pond in the Park in a strange condition, taken by the mob for a lunatic, and whose clothes were all out of fashion, but whose face, when it was seen, astonished the whole society by its extraordinary sweetness and majesty. She told how she had been brought to despair, and her name proved to be–Modesty. In letters, questions, and comments also which might be taken from Defoe’s Monthly Supplementary Journal to the Advice from the Scandal Club, we catch a likeness to the spirit of the ‘Tatler’ and ‘Spectator’ now and then exact. Some censured Defoe for not confining himself to the weightier part of his purpose in establishing the ‘Review’. He replied, in the Introduction to his first Monthly Supplement, that many men

‘care but for a little reading at a time,’ and said, ‘thus we wheedle them in, if it may be allow’d that Expression, to the Knowledge of the World, who rather than take more Pains, would be content with their Ignorance, and search into nothing.’

Single-minded, quick-witted, and prompt to act on the first suggestion of a higher point of usefulness to which he might attain, Steele saw the mind of the people ready for a new sort of relation to its writers, and he followed the lead of Defoe. But though he turned from the more frivolous temper of the enfeebled playhouse audience, to commune in free air with the country at large, he took fresh care for the restraint of his deep earnestness within the bounds of a cheerful, unpretending influence. Drop by drop it should fall, and its strength lie in its persistence. He would bring what wit he had out of the playhouse, and speak his mind, like Defoe, to the people themselves every post-day. But he would affect no pedantry of moralizing, he would appeal to no passions, he would profess himself only ‘a Tatler.’ Might he not use, he thought, modestly distrustful of the charm of his own mind, some of the news obtained by virtue of the office of Gazetteer that Harley had given him, to bring weight and acceptance to writing of his which he valued only for the use to which it could be put. For, as he himself truly says in the ‘Tatler’,

‘wit, if a man had it, unless it be directed to some useful end, is but a wanton, frivolous quality; all that one should value himself upon in this kind is that he had some honourable intention in it.’

Swift, not then a deserter to the Tories, was a friend of Steele’s, who, when the first ‘Tatler’ appeared, had been amusing the town at the expense of John Partridge, astrologer and almanac-maker, with ‘Predictions for the year 1708,’ professing to be written by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. The first prediction was of the death of Partridge,

‘on the 29th of March next, about eleven at night, of a raging fever.’

Swift answered himself, and also published in due time

‘The Accomplishment of the first of Mr. Bickerstaff’s Predictions: being an account of the death of Mr. Partridge, the almanack-maker, upon the 29th instant.’

Other wits kept up the joke, and, in his next year’s almanac (that for 1709), Partridge advertised that,

‘whereas it has been industriously given out by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., and others, to prevent the sale of this year’s almanack, that John Partridge is dead, this may inform all his loving countrymen that he is still living, in health, and they are knaves that reported it otherwise.’

Steele gave additional lightness to the touch of his ‘Tatler’, which first appeared on the 12th of April, 1709, by writing in the name of Isaac Bickerstaff, and carrying on the jest, that was to his serious mind a blow dealt against prevailing superstition. Referring in his first ‘Tatler’ to this advertisement of Partridge’s, he said of it,

‘I have in another place, and in a paper by itself, sufficiently convinced this man that he is dead; and if he has any shame, I do not doubt but that by this time he owns it to all his acquaintance. For though the legs and arms and whole body of that man may still appear and perform their animal functions, yet since, as I have elsewhere observed, his art is gone, the man is gone.’

To Steele, indeed, the truth was absolute, that a man is but what he can do.

In this spirit, then, Steele began the ‘Tatler’, simply considering that his paper was to be published ‘for the use of the good people of England,’ and professing at the outset that he was an author writing for the public, who expected from the public payment for his work, and that he preferred this course to gambling for the patronage of men in office. Having pleasantly shown the sordid spirit that underlies the mountebank’s sublime professions of disinterestedness,

‘we have a contempt,’ he says, ‘for such paltry barterers, and have therefore all along informed the public that we intend to give them our advices for our own sakes, and are labouring to make our lucubrations come to some price in money, for our more convenient support in the service of the public. It is certain that many other schemes have been proposed to me, as a friend offered to show me in a treatise he had writ, which he called, “The whole Art of Life; or, The Introduction to Great Men, illustrated in a Pack of Cards.” But being a novice at all manner of play, I declined the offer.’

Addison took these cards, and played an honest game with them successfully. When, at the end of 1708, the Earl of Sunderland, Marlborough’s son-in-law, lost his secretaryship, Addison lost his place as under-secretary; but he did not object to go to Ireland as chief secretary to Lord Wharton, the new Lord-lieutenant, an active party man, a leader on the turf with reputation for indulgence after business hours according to the fashion of the court of Charles II.

Lord Wharton took to Ireland Clayton to write him musical entertainments, and a train of parasites of quality. He was a great borough-monger, and is said at one critical time to have returned thirty members. He had no difficulty, therefore, in finding Addison a seat, and made him in that year, 1709, M.P. for Malmesbury. Addison only once attempted to speak in the House of Commons, and then, embarrassed by encouraging applause that welcomed him he stammered and sat down. But when, having laid his political cards down for a time, and at ease in his own home, pen in hand, he brought his sound mind and quick humour to the aid of his friend Steele, he came with him into direct relation with the English people. Addison never gave posterity a chance of knowing what was in him till, following Steele’s lead, he wrote those papers in ‘Tatler’, ‘Spectator’, and ‘Guardian’, wherein alone his genius abides with us, and will abide with English readers to the end. The ‘Tatler’, the ‘Spectator’, and the ‘Guardian’ were, all of them, Steele’s, begun and ended by him at his sole discretion. In these three journals Steele was answerable for 510 papers; Addison for 369. Swift wrote two papers, and sent about a dozen fragments. Congreve wrote one article in the ‘Tatler’; Pope wrote thrice for the ‘Spectator’, and eight times for the ‘Guardian’. Addison, who was in Ireland when the ‘Tatler’ first appeared, only guessed the authorship by an expression in an early number; and it was not until eighty numbers had been issued, and the character of the new paper was formed and established, that Addison, on his return to London, joined the friend who, with his usual complete absence of the vanity of self-assertion, finally ascribed to the ally he dearly loved, the honours of success.

It was the kind of success Steele had desired–a widely-diffused influence for good. The ‘Tatlers’ were penny papers published three times a week, and issued also for another halfpenny with a blank half-sheet for transmission by post, when any written scraps of the day’s gossip that friend might send to friend could be included. It was through these, and the daily ‘Spectators’ which succeeded them, that the people of England really learnt to read. The few leaves of sound reason and fancy were but a light tax on uncultivated powers of attention. Exquisite grace and true kindliness, here associated with familiar ways and common incidents of everyday life, gave many an honest man fresh sense of the best happiness that lies in common duties honestly performed, and a fresh energy, free as Christianity itself from malice–for so both Steele and Addison meant that it should be–in opposing themselves to the frivolities and small frauds on the conscience by which manliness is undermined.

A pamphlet by John Gay–‘The Present State of Wit, in a Letter to a Friend in the Country’–was dated May 3, 1711, about two months after the ‘Spectator’ had replaced the ‘Tatler’. And thus Gay represents the best talk of the town about these papers:

“Before I proceed further in the account of our weekly papers, it will be necessary to inform you that at the beginning of the winter, to the infinite surprise of all the Town, Mr. Steele flung up his ‘Tatler’, and instead of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire, subscribed himself Richard Steele to the last of those papers, after a handsome compliment to the Town for their kind acceptance of his endeavours to divert them.

The chief reason he thought fit to give for his leaving off writing was, that having been so long looked on in all public places and companies as the Author of those papers, he found that his most intimate friends and acquaintance were in pain to speak or act before him.

The Town was very far from being satisfied with this reason, and most people judged the true cause to be, either

That he was quite spent, and wanted matter to continue his undertaking any longer; or
That he laid it down as a sort of submission to, and composition with, the Government for some past offences; or, lastly, That he had a mind to vary his Shape, and appear again in some new light.

However that were, his disappearance seemed to be bewailed as some general calamity. Every one wanted so agreeable an amusement, and the Coffee-houses began to be sensible that the Esquire’s ‘Lucubrations’ alone had brought them more customers than all their other newspapers put together.

It must indeed be confessed that never man threw up his pen, under stronger temptations to have employed it longer. His reputation was at a greater height, than I believe ever any living author’s was before him. It is reasonable to suppose that his gains were proportionably considerable. Every one read him with pleasure and good-will; and the Tories, in respect to his other good qualities, had almost forgiven his unaccountable imprudence in declaring against them.

Lastly, it was highly improbable that, if he threw off a Character, the ideas of which were so strongly impressed in every one’s mind, however finely he might write in any new form, that he should meet with the same reception.

To give you my own thoughts of this gentleman’s writings I shall, in the first place, observe, that there is a noble difference between him and all the rest of our gallant and polite authors. The latter have endeavoured to please the Age by falling in with them, and encouraging them in their fashionable vices and false notions of things. It would have been a jest, some time since, for a man to have asserted that anything witty could be said in praise of a married state, or that Devotion and Virtue were any way necessary to the character of a Fine Gentleman. ‘Bickerstaff’ ventured to tell the Town that they were a parcel of fops, fools, and coquettes; but in such a manner as even pleased them, and made them more than half inclined to believe that he spoke truth.

Instead of complying with the false sentiments or vicious tastes of the Age–either in morality, criticism, or good breeding–he has boldly assured them that they were altogether in the wrong; and commanded them, with an authority which perfectly well became him, to surrender themselves to his arguments for Virtue and Good Sense.

It is incredible to conceive the effect his writings have had on the Town; how many thousand follies they have either quite banished or given a very great check to; how much countenance they have added to Virtue and Religion; how many people they have rendered happy, by shewing them it was their own fault if they were not so; and, lastly, how entirely they have convinced our young fops and young fellows of the value and advantages of Learning.

He has indeed rescued it out of the hands of pedants and fools, and discovered the true method of making it amiable and lovely to all mankind. In the dress he gives it, it is a most welcome guest at tea-tables and assemblies, and is relished and caressed by the merchants on the Change. Accordingly there is not a Lady at Court, nor a Banker in Lombard Street, who is not verily persuaded that Captain Steele is the greatest scholar and best Casuist of any man in England.

Lastly, his writings have set all our Wits and men of letters on a new way of thinking, of which they had little or no notion before: and, although we cannot 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.

The vast variety of subjects which Mr. Steele has treated of, in so different manners, and yet all so perfectly well, made the World believe that it was impossible they should all come from the same hand. This set every one upon guessing who was the Esquire’s friend? and most people at first fancied it must be Doctor Swift; but it is now no longer a secret, that his only great and constant assistant was Mr. Addison.

This is that excellent friend to whom Mr. Steele owes so much; and who refuses to have his name set before those pieces, which the greatest pens in England would be proud to own. Indeed, they could hardly add to this Gentleman’s reputation: whose works in Latin and English poetry long since convinced the World, that he was the greatest Master in Europe in those two languages.

I am assured, from good hands, that all the visions, and other tracts of that way of writing, with a very great number of the most exquisite pieces of wit and raillery through the ‘Lucubrations’ are entirely of this Gentleman’s composing: which may, in some measure, account for that different Genius, which appears in the winter papers, from those of the summer; at which time, as the ‘Examiner’ often hinted, this friend of Mr. Steele was in Ireland.

Mr. Steele confesses in his last Volume of the ‘Tatlers’ that he is obliged to Dr. Swift for his ‘Town Shower’, and the ‘Description of the Morn’, with some other hints received from him in private conversation.

I have also heard that several of those ‘Letters’, which came as from unknown hands, were written by Mr. Henley: which is an answer to your query, ‘Who those friends are whom Mr. Steele speaks of in his last ‘Tatler?”

But to proceed with my account of our other papers. The expiration of ‘Bickerstaff’s Lucubrations’ was attended with much the same consequences as the death of Meliboeus’s ‘Ox’ in Virgil: as the latter engendered swarms of bees, the former immediately produced whole swarms of little satirical scribblers.

One of these authors called himself the ‘Growler’, and assured us that, to make amends for Mr. Steele’s silence, he was resolved to ‘growl’ at us weekly, as long as we should think fit to give him any encouragement. Another Gentleman, with more modesty, called his paper the ‘Whisperer’; and a third, to please the Ladies, christened his the ‘Tell tale’.

At the same-time came out several ‘Tatlers’; each of which, with equal truth and wit, assured us that he was the genuine ‘Isaac Bickerstaff’.

It may be observed that when the ‘Esquire’ laid down his pen; though he could not but foresee that several scribblers would soon snatch it up, which he might (one would think) easily have prevented: he scorned to take any further care about it, but left the field fairly open to any worthy successor. Immediately, some of our Wits were for forming themselves into a Club, headed by one Mr. Harrison, and trying how they could shoot in this Bow of Ulysses; but soon found that this sort of writing requires so fine and particular a manner of thinking, with so exact a knowledge of the World, as must make them utterly despair of success.

They seemed indeed at first to think that what was only the garnish of the former ‘Tatlers’, was that which recommended them; and not those Substantial Entertainments which they everywhere abound in. According they were continually talking of their ‘Maid’, ‘Night Cap’, ‘Spectacles’, and Charles Lillie. However there were, now and then, some faint endeavours at Humour and sparks of Wit: which the Town, for want of better entertainment, was content to hunt after through a heap of impertinences; but even those are, at present, become wholly invisible and quite swallowed up in the blaze of the ‘Spectator’.

You may remember, I told you before, that one cause assigned for the laying down the ‘Tatler’ was, Want of Matter; and, indeed, this was the prevailing opinion in Town: when we were surprised all at once by a paper called the ‘Spectator’, which was promised to be continued every day; and was written in so excellent a style, with so nice a judgment, and such a noble profusion of wit and humour, that it was not difficult to determine it could come from no other hands but those which had penned the ‘Lucubrations’.

This immediately alarmed these gentlemen, who, as it is said Mr. Steele phrases it, had ‘the Censorship in Commission.’ They found the new ‘Spectator’ came on like a torrent, and swept away all before him. They despaired ever to equal him in wit, humour, or learning; which had been their true and certain way of opposing him: and therefore rather chose to fall on the Author; and to call out for help to all good Christians, by assuring them again and again that they were the First, Original, True, and undisputed ‘Isaac Bickerstaff’.

Meanwhile, the ‘Spectator’, whom we regard as our Shelter from that flood of false wit and impertinence which was breaking in upon us, is in every one’s hands; and a constant for our morning conversation at tea-tables and coffee-houses. We had at first, indeed, no manner of notion how a diurnal paper could be continued in the spirit and style of our present ‘Spectators’: but, to our no small surprise, we find them still rising upon us, and can only wonder from whence so prodigious a run of Wit and Learning can proceed; since some of our best judges seem to think that they have hitherto, in general, outshone even the ‘Esquire’s’ first ‘Tatlers’.

Most people fancy, from their frequency, that they must be composed by a Society: I withal assign the first places to Mr. Steele and his Friend.

So far John Gay, whose discussion of the ‘Tatlers’ and ‘Spectators’ appeared when only fifty-five numbers of the ‘Spectator’ had been published.

There was high strife of faction; and there was real peril to the country by a possible turn of affairs after Queen Anne’s death, that another Stuart restoration, in the name of divine right of kings, would leave rights of the people to be reconquered in civil war. The chiefs of either party were appealing to the people, and engaging all the wit they could secure to fight on their side in the war of pamphlets. Steele’s heart was in the momentous issue. Both he and Addison had it in mind while they were blending their calm playfulness with all the clamour of the press. The spirit in which these friends worked, young Pope must have felt; for after Addison had helped him in his first approach to fame by giving honour in the ‘Spectator’ to his ‘Essay on Criticism,’ and when he was thankful for that service, he contributed to the ‘Spectator’ his ‘Messiah.’ Such offering clearly showed how Pope interpreted the labour of the essayists.

In the fens of Lincolnshire the antiquary Maurice Johnson collected his neighbours of Spalding.

‘Taking care,’ it is said, ‘not to alarm the country gentlemen by any premature mention of antiquities, he endeavoured at first to allure them into the more flowery paths of literature. In 1709 a few of them were brought together every post-day at the coffee-house in the Abbey Yard; and after one of the party had read aloud the last published number of the ‘Tatler’, they proceeded to talk over the subject among themselves.’

Even in distant Perthshire

‘the gentlemen met after church on Sunday to discuss the news of the week; the ‘Spectators’ were read as regularly as the ‘Journal’.’

So the political draught of bitterness came sweetened with the wisdom of good-humour. The good-humour of the essayists touched with a light and kindly hand every form of affectation, and placed every-day life in the light in which it would be seen by a natural and honest man. A sense of the essentials of life was assumed everywhere for the reader, who was asked only to smile charitably at its vanities. Steele looked through all shams to the natural heart of the Englishman, appealed to that, and found it easily enough, even under the disguise of the young gentleman cited in the 77th ‘Tatler’,

‘so ambitious to be thought worse than he is that in his degree of understanding he sets up for a free-thinker, and talks atheistically in coffee-houses all day, though every morning and evening, it can be proved upon him, he regularly at home says his prayers.’

But as public events led nearer to the prospect of a Jacobite triumph that would have again brought Englishmen against each other sword to sword, there was no voice of warning more fearless than Richard Steele’s. He changed the ‘Spectator’ for the ‘Guardian’, that was to be, in its plan, more free to guard the people’s rights, and, standing forward more distinctly as a politician, he became member for Stockbridge. In place of the ‘Guardian’, which he had dropped when he felt the plan of that journal unequal to the right and full expression of his mind, Steele took for a periodical the name of ‘Englishman’, and under that name fought, with then unexampled abstinence from personality, against the principles upheld by Swift in his ‘Examiner’. Then, when the Peace of Utrecht alarmed English patriots, Steele in a bold pamphlet on ‘The Crisis’ expressed his dread of arbitrary power and a Jacobite succession with a boldness that cost him his seat in Parliament, as he had before sacrificed to plain speaking his place of Gazetteer.

Of the later history of Steele and Addison a few words will suffice. This is not an account of their lives, but an endeavour to show why Englishmen must always have a living interest in the ‘Spectator’, their joint production. Steele’s ‘Spectator’ ended with the seventh volume. The members of the Club were all disposed of, and the journal formally wound up; but by the suggestion of a future ceremony of opening the ‘Spectator’s’ mouth, a way was made for Addison, whenever he pleased, to connect with the famous series an attempt of his own for its revival. A year and a half later Addison made this attempt, producing his new journal with the old name and, as far as his contributions went, not less than the old wit and earnestness, three times a week instead of daily. But he kept it alive only until the completion of one volume. Addison had not Steele’s popular tact as an editor. He preached, and he suffered drier men to preach, while in his jest he now and then wrote what he seems to have been unwilling to acknowledge. His eighth volume contains excellent matter, but the subjects are not always well chosen or varied judiciously, and one understands why the ‘Spectator’ took a firmer hold upon society when the two friends in the full strength of their life, aged about forty, worked together and embraced between them a wide range of human thought and feeling. It should be remembered also that Queen Anne died while Addison’s eighth volume was appearing, and the change in the Whig position brought him other occupation of his time.

In April, 1713, in the interval between the completion of the true ‘Spectator’ and the appearance of the supplementary volume, Addison’s tragedy of ‘Cato’, planned at College; begun during his foreign travels, retouched in England, and at last completed, was produced at Drury Lane. Addison had not considered it a stage play, but when it was urged that the time was proper for animating the public with the sentiments of Cato, he assented to its production. Apart from its real merit the play had the advantage of being applauded by the Whigs, who saw in it a Whig political ideal, and by the Tories, who desired to show that they were as warm friends of liberty as any Whig could be.

Upon the death of Queen Anne Addison acted for a short time as secretary to the Regency, and when George I. appointed Addison’s patron, the Earl of Sunderland, to the Lord-lieutenancy of Ireland, Sunderland took Addison with him as chief secretary. Sunderland resigned in ten months, and thus Addison’s secretaryship came to an end in August, 1716. Addison was also employed to meet the Rebellion of 1715 by writing the ‘Freeholder’. He wrote under this title fifty-five papers, which were published twice a week between December, 1715, and June, 1716; and he was rewarded with the post of Commissioner for Trade and Colonies. In August, 1716, he married the Countess Dowager of Warwick, mother to the young Earl of Warwick, of whose education he seems to have had some charge in 1708. Addison settled upon the Countess L4000 in lieu of an estate which she gave up for his sake. Henceforth he lived chiefly at Holland House. In April, 1717, Lord Sunderland became Secretary of State, and still mindful of Marlborough’s illustrious supporter, he made Addison his colleague. Eleven months later, ill health obliged Addison to resign the seals; and his death followed, June 17, 1719, at the age of 47.

Steele’s political difficulties ended at the death of Queen Anne. The return of the Whigs to power on the accession of George I. brought him the office of Surveyor of the Royal Stables at Hampton Court; he was also first in the Commission of the peace for Middlesex, and was made one of the deputy lieutenants of the county. At the request of the managers Steele’s name was included in the new patent required at Drury Lane by the royal company of comedians upon the accession of a new sovereign. Steele also was returned as M.P. for Boroughbridge, in Yorkshire, was writer of the Address to the king presented by the Lord-lieutenant and the deputy lieutenants of Middlesex, and being knighted on that occasion, with two other of the deputies, became in the spring of the year, 1714, Sir Richard Steele. Very few weeks after the death of his wife, in December, 1718, Sunderland, at a time when he had Addison for colleague, brought in a bill for preventing any future creations of peers, except when an existing peerage should become extinct. Steele, who looked upon this as an infringement alike of the privileges of the crown and of the rights of the subject, opposed the bill in Parliament, and started in March, 1719, a paper called the ‘Plebeian’, in which he argued against a measure tending, he said, to the formation of an oligarchy. Addison replied in the ‘Old Whig’, and this, which occurred within a year of the close of Addison’s life, was the main subject of political difference between them. The bill, strongly opposed, was dropped for that session, and reintroduced (after Addison’s death) in the December following, to be thrown out by the House of Commons.

Steele’s argument against the government brought on him the hostility of the Duke of Newcastle, then Lord Chamberlain; and it was partly to defend himself and his brother patentees against hostile action threatened by the Duke, that Steele, in January, 1720, started his paper called the ‘Theatre’. But he was dispossessed of his government of the theatre, to which a salary of L600 a-year had been attached, and suffered by the persecution of the court until Walpole’s return to power. Steele was then restored to his office, and in the following year, 1722, produced his most successful comedy, ‘The Conscious Lovers’. After this time his health declined; his spirits were depressed. He left London for Bath. His only surviving son, Eugene, born while the ‘Spectator’ was being issued, and to whom Prince Eugene had stood godfather, died at the age of eleven or twelve in November, 1723. The younger also of his two daughters was marked for death by consumption. He was broken in health and fortune when, in 1726, he had an attack of palsy which was the prelude to his death. He died Sept. 1, 1729, at Carmarthen, where he had been boarding with a mercer who was his agent and receiver of rents. There is a pleasant record that

‘he retained his cheerful sweetness of temper to the last; and would often be carried out, of a summer’s evening, where the country lads and lasses were assembled at their rural sports,–and, with his pencil, gave an order on his agent, the mercer, for a new gown to the best dancer.’

Two editions of the ‘Spectator’, the tenth and eleventh, were published by Tonson in the year of Steele’s death. These and the next edition, dated 1739, were without the translations of the mottos, which appear, however, in the edition of 1744. Notes were first added by Dr. Percy, the editor of the ‘Reliques of Ancient Poetry’, and Dr. Calder. Dr. John Calder, a native of Aberdeen, bred to the dissenting ministry, was for some time keeper of Dr. Williams’s Library in Redcross Street. He was a candidate for the office given to Dr. Abraham Rees, of editor and general super-intendent of the new issue of Chambers’s Cyclopaedia, undertaken by the booksellers in 1776, and he supplied to it some new articles. The Duke of Northumberland warmly patronized Dr. Calder, and made him his companion in London and at Alnwick Castle as Private Literary Secretary. Dr. Thomas Percy, who had constituted himself cousin and retainer to the Percy of Northumberland, obtained his bishopric of Dromore in 1782, in the following year lost his only son, and suffered from that failure in eyesight, which resulted in a total blindness.

Having become intimately acquainted with Dr. Calder when at Northumberland House and Alnwick, Percy intrusted to him the notes he had collected for illustrating the ‘Tatler’, ‘Spectator’, and ‘Guardian’. These were after-wards used, with additions by Dr. Calder, in the various editions of those works, especially in the six-volume edition of the ‘Tatler’, published by John Nichols in 1786, where Percy’s notes have a P. attached to them, and Dr. Calder’s are signed ‘Annotator.’ The ‘Tatler’ was annotated fully, and the annotated ‘Tatler’ has supplied some pieces of information given in the present edition of the ‘Spectator’. Percy actually edited two volumes for R. Tonson in 1764, but the work was stopped by the death of the bookseller, and the other six were added to them in 1789. They were slightly annotated, both as regards the number and the value of the notes; but Percy and Calder lived when ‘Spectator’ traditions were yet fresh, and oral information was accessible as to points of personal allusion or as to the authorship of a few papers or letters which but for them might have remained anonymous. Their notes are those of which the substance has run through all subsequent editions. Little, if anything, was added to them by Bisset or Chalmers; the energies of those editors having been chiefly directed to the preserving or multiplying of corruptions of the text. Percy, when telling Tonson that he had completed two volumes of the ‘Spectator’, said that he had corrected ‘innumerable corruptions’ which had then crept in, and could have come only by misprint. Since that time not only have misprints been preserved and multiplied, but punctuation has been deliberately modernized, to the destruction of the freshness of the original style, and editors of another ‘understanding age’ have also taken upon themselves by many a little touch to correct Addison’s style or grammar.

This volume reprints for the first time in the present century the text of the ‘Spectator’ as its authors left it. A good recent edition contains in the first 18 papers, which are a fair sample of the whole, 88 petty variations from the proper text (at that rate, in the whole work more than 3000) apart from the recasting of the punctuation, which is counted as a defect only in two instances, where it has changed the sense. Chalmers’s text, of 1817, was hardly better, and about two-thirds of the whole number of corruptions had already appeared in Bisset’s edition of 1793, from which they were transferred. Thus Bisset as well as Chalmers in the Dedication to Vol. I. turned the ‘polite _parts_ of learning’ into the ‘polite _arts_ of learning,’ and when the silent gentleman tells us that many to whom his person is well known speak of him ‘very currently by Mr. What-d’ye-call him,’ Bisset before Chalmers rounded the sentence into ‘very correctly by _the appellation_ of Mr. What-d’ye-call him.’ But it seems to have been Chalmers who first undertook to correct, in the next paper, Addison’s grammar, by turning ‘have laughed _to have seen_’ into ‘have laughed _to see_’ and transformed a treaty ‘_with_ London and Wise,’–a firm now of historical repute,–for the supply of flowers to the opera, into a treaty ‘_between_ London and Wise,’ which most people would take to be a very different matter. If the present edition has its own share of misprints and oversights, at least it inherits none; and it contains no wilful alteration of the text.

The papers as they first appeared in the daily issue of a penny (and after the stamp was imposed two-penny) folio half-sheet, have been closely compared with the first issue in guinea octavos, for which they were revised, and with the last edition that appeared before the death of Steele. The original text is here given precisely as it was left after revision by its authors; and there is shown at the same time the amount and character of the revision.

Sentences added in the reprint are placed between square brackets [ ], without any appended note.

Sentences omitted, or words altered, are shown by bracketing the revised version, and giving the text as it stood in the original daily issue within corresponding brackets as a foot-note.[1]

Thus the reader has here both the original texts of the ‘Spectator’. The Essays, as revised by their authors for permanent use, form the main text of the present volume.

But if the words or passages in brackets be omitted; the words or passages in corresponding foot-notes,–where there are such foot-notes,–being substituted for them; the text becomes throughout that of the ‘Spectator’ as it first came out in daily numbers.

As the few differences between good spelling in Queen Anne’s time and good spelling now are never of a kind to obscure the sense of a word, or lessen the enjoyment of the reader, it has been thought better to make the reproduction perfect, and thus show not only what Steele and Addison wrote, but how they spelt, while restoring to their style the proper harmony of their own methods of punctuating, and their way of sometimes getting emphasis by turning to account the use of capitals, which in their hands was not wholly conventional.

The original folio numbers have been followed also in the use of _italics_ [_shown between underscored thus_] and other little details of the disposition of the type; for example, in the reproduction of those rows of single inverted commas, which distinguish what a correspondent called the parts ‘laced down the side with little c’s.’ [This last detail of formatting has not been reproduced in this file. Text Ed.]

The translation of the mottos and Latin quotations, which Steele and Addison deliberately abstained from giving, and which, as they were since added, impede and sometimes confound and contradict the text, are here placed in a body at the end, for those who want them. Again and again the essayists indulge in banter on the mystery of the Latin and Greek mottos; and what confusion must enter into the mind of the unwary reader who finds Pope’s Homer quoted at the head of a ‘Spectator’ long before Addison’s word of applause to the young poet’s ‘Essay on Criticism.’ The mottos then are placed in an Appendix.

There is a short Appendix also of advertisements taken from the original number of the ‘Spectator’, and a few others, where they seem to illustrate some point in the text, will be found among the notes.

In the large number of notes here added to a revision of those bequeathed to us by Percy and Calder, the object has been to give information which may contribute to some nearer acquaintance with the writers of the book, and enjoyment of allusions to past manners and events.

Finally, from the ‘General Index to the Spectators, &c.,’ published as a separate volume in 1760, there has been taken what was serviceable, and additions have been made to it with a desire to secure for this edition of the ‘Spectator’ the advantages of being handy for reference as well as true to the real text.

H. M.

[Footnote 1: “Sentences omitted, or words altered;” not, of course, the immaterial variations of spelling into which compositors slipped in the printing office. In the ‘Athenaeum’ of May 12, 1877, is an answer to misapprehensions on this head by the editor of a Clarendon Press volume of ‘Selections from Addison’.]





I should not act the Part of an impartial Spectator, if I Dedicated the following Papers to one who is not of the most consummate and most acknowledged Merit.