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The Spectator, Volume 1 by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele

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LONGFELLOW'S WORKS--Poems--Prose--Dante.

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

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

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

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.

'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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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