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prayers. There was nothing in it that a man conscious of all infirmities might not write; but there was also that in it which must have made its writer more conscious of his powers than he had been till then, and which influenced his future perhaps more than any one has supposed.” He sets out by correcting the disregard of religion and decency in the men of wit of that age; and he shows, from Scripture, what the Christian system is; handling it with no theological pretension, but as the common inheritance vouchsafed to us all. In this book we see the practical and gentle philosophy of the Tatler, not less than its language, anticipated by Captain Steele: the spirit of both being a hearty sympathy with humanity; a belief that it is not possible for å human heart to be averse to anything that is human; a desire to link the highest associations to the commonest things; that mirth can exist with virtue; that life's road may be smoothed by the least acts of benevolence as well as the greatest; and the lesson so to keep our understandings balanced, that things shall appear to us "great or little as they are in nature, not as they are gilded or sullied by accident and fortune."
Captain Steele dedicated his little book to Lord Cutts, dated it from the Tower Guard, and wound it up with a parallel between the French and the English King, not unbecoming a Christian soldier.
But it is said that the officers of Lucas's, and the gentlemen of the Guards laughed at Steele ; indeed, his alternate sinning and repenting made them merry at his expense. His griefs and most solemn and tender emotions were strangely interrupted : as, by the arrival of a hamper of wine, “the same as is to be sold at Garraway's, next week,” upon the receipt of which he sent for three friends, and they fell to instantly, “ drinking two bottles a-piece, with great benefit to themselves, and not separating till two o'clock in the morning." He acknowledged that after the publication of the Christian Hero, in 1701, he was not thought so good a companion, and he found it necessary to enliven his character by another kind of writing.
STEELE'S FIRST PLAY. Steele had now discovered what he best could do; and his transition from the soldier to the wit led him from the Tower to the St. James's coffee-house. Here Congreve now sat in
the chair just vacated by Dryden, and he showed unusual kindness to his new and promising recruit. In a letter of this date he talks cordially of Dick Steele, no trifling distinction : “I hope I may have leave to indulge my vanity,” says Steele, “by telling all the world that Mr. Congreve is my friend.”
Steele's first dramatic production, The Funerai, or Grief à la Mode, was played at Drury Lane, in 1702, with Cibber, Wilks, Norris, and Mrs. Oldfield in the cast. With much lively humour, Steele had combined in this comedy a moral purpose superior to that of most of the dramatic pieces of the time. There were many Guardsmen and Fusiliers in the house on the first performance, and their fellow-soldier's success was complete. One character, a widow, who is hoaxed with her husband's supposed death, is a masterpiece of comedy. The lawyers and undertakers are the butts in the piece; imagine Sable the undertaker reviewing his regiment of mourners, and talking thus about their duty:
“Ha, you !-A little more upon the dismal [forming their countenances] ; this fellow has a good mortal look,--place him near the corpse: that wainscot-face must be o'top of the stairs ; that fellow's almost in a fright (that looks as if he were full of some strange misery) at the end of the hall. So—But I'll fix you all myself. Let's have no laughing now on any provocation. Look yonder—that hale, well-looking puppy! You ungrateful scoundrel, did not I pity you, take you out of a great man's service, and show you the pleasure of receiving wages ? Did not I give you ten, then fifteen, und twenty, shillings a week to be sorrowful ? --and the more I give you 1 think the gladder you are!”
Steele began another comedy, the Tender Husband, which Addison heightened with his exquisite humour: he wrote the prologue, and to him the piece was dedicated. In 1704, Steele came upon the town with another comedy, his Lying Lover, which, as he, some years later, told the House of Commons, was damned for its piety, so dull did the Town think it. With this strange incident, closed for the present Captain Steele’s dramatic career. Steele had affairs of much greater importance to take up his time and thoughts: he soon after received from the minister, Harley, the office of Gazetteer, and with it the post of Gentleman-Usher in the household of Prince George.
STEELE'S FIRST MARRIAGE. Shortly before this, Steele married the sister of a planter in Barbados, and received with her a moderate fortune; but he was left a widower not many months after.
The maiden name of Sir Richard Steele's first wife is not given by his biographers. That she was known after some fashion to her successor, appears from the letter in which Miss Scurlock informs her mother of her engagement to Steele, whom she goes on to describe as the husband of the person whose funeral (she] attended.” And so Steele himself, in his letter to Mrs. Scurlock, the mother, tells her, in allusion to his means of living, of a certain estate in Barbados, which had devolved upon him in right of his deceased wife. Nichols, in his edition of Steele's Letters, confesses that he was never able to discover the maiden name of the lady ; but he generously adds, that at least nothing is known against her reputation ; in fact, that the concealment of her name was the result of mere accident. It is, however, known that she had succeeded unexpectedly to the Barbados estate in consequence of the death of her only brother, who had been captured by a French privateer on his way to England, and died abroad. Steele soon got rid of the estate, the sale of which was negotiated by Rowland Tryon, his attorney, in 1708.—Communicated by Mr. Robert Reece to Notes and Queries, 2nd S., No. 292.
STEELE'S SECOND COURTSHIP. This was not a very long one; but the billets, though few, do not lack intensity. Once accepted, his letters are incessant. He writes to her every hour, as he thinks of her
every moment of the day. He cannot read his books, he cannot see his friends, for thinking of her. When Addison and he are together at Chelsea, he steals a moment while his friend is in the next room, to tell the charmer of his soul that he is only and passionately hers. Here are a few of the letters : TO MRS. SOURLOCK.
Aug. 14, 1707. “ MADAM, —
“ I came to your house this night to wait on you ; but you have commanded me to expect the bappiness of seeing you at another time of more leisure. I am now under your own roof while I write ; and that imaginary satisfaction of being so near you, though not in your presence, has in it something that touches me with so tender ideas, that it is impossible for me to describe their force. All great passion makes us dumb; and the highest happiness, as well as highest grief, seizes us too violently to be expressed by our words.
" You are so good as to let me know I shall have the honour of seeing you when I next come here. I will live upon that expectation, and meditate upon your perfections till that happy hour. The vainest
woman upon earth never saw in her glass half the attractions which I view in you. Your air, your shape, your every glance, motion, and gesture, have such peculiar graces, that you possess my whole soul, and I know no life but in the hopes of your approbation ; I know not what to say, but that I love you with the sincerest passion that ever entered the heart of man. I will make it the business of my life to find out the means of convincing you that I prefer you to all that is pleasing upon earth.
“I am, Madam, your most obedient,
“ Lord Sunderland's Office, 1707. « MADAM,
"With what language shall I address my lovely fair, to acquaint her with the sentiments of an heart she delights to torture? I have not a minute's quiet out of your sight; and when I am with you, you use me with so much distance, that I am still in a state of absence heightened with a view of the charms I am denied to approach. In a word, you must either give me a fan, a mask, or a glove, you have wore, or I cannot live; otherwise you must expect I'll kiss your hand, or, when I next sit by you, steal your handkerchief. You yourself are too great a bounty to be received at once ; therefore I must be prepared by degrees, lest the mighty gift distract me with joy. Dear Mrs. Scurlock, I am tired with calling you by that name; therefore, say the day in which you will take that of
“Madam, your most obedient,
“ Aug. 22, 1707. “ MADAM,
“If my vigilance, and ten thousand wishes for your welfare and repose, could have any force, you last night slept in security, and had every good angel in your attendance. To have my thoughts ever fixed on you, to live in constant fear of every accident to which human life is liable, and to send up my hourly prayers to avert them from you ; I say, Madam, thus to think and to suffer, is what I do for her who is in pain at my approach, and calls all my tender sorrow impertinence. You are now before my eyes, that are ready to flow with tenderness, but cannot give relief to my gushing heart, that dictates what I am now saying, and yearns to tell you all its achings. How art thou, oh my soul, stolen from thyself ! how is all thy attention broken! My books are blank paper, and my friends intruders. I have no hope of quiet but from your pity : to grant it would make more for your triumph. To give pain is the tyranny, to make happy the true empire, of beauty. If you would consider aright, you will find an agreeable change in dismissing the attendance of a slave, to receive the complaisance of a companion. I bear the former in hopes of the latter condition. As I live in chains without murmuring at the power which inflicts them, so I would enjoy freedom without forgetting the mercy that gave it. Dear Mrs. Scurlock, the life which you bestow on me shall be no more my own. “I am your most devoted, most obedient servant,
“ Aug. 30, 1707. " MADAM,
“I beg pardon that my paper is not fiper, but I am forced to write from a coffee-house, where I am attending about business. There is a dirty crowd of busy faces all around me, talking of money; while all my ambition, all my wealth, is love! Love which animates my heart, sweetens my humour, enlarges my soul, and affects every action of my life. It is to my lovely charmer I owe, that many noble ideas are continually affixed to my words and actions ; it is the natural effect of that generous passion to create in the admirer some similitude of the object admired. Thus, my dear, am I every day to improve from so sweet a companion. Look up, my fair companion, to that Heaven which made thee such ; and join with me to implore its influence on our tender innocent hours, and beseech the Author of love to bless the rights he has ordained—and mingle with our happiness a just sense of our transient condition, and a resignation to his will, which only can regulate our minds to a steady endeavour to please Him and each other. “I am for ever your faithful servant,
"RICH. STEELE." Some few hours afterwards, apparently, Mistress Scurlock received the next letter--obviously written later in the day!
Saturday night [Aug. 30, 1707). “ DEAR, LOVELY, MRS. SCURLOCK,
“I have been in very good company, where your health, under the character of the woman I love best, has been often drunk; so that I may say that I am dead drunk for your sake, which is more than I die for you.
“ RICH. STEELE.”
TO MRS. SOURLOCK.
“ Sept. 1, 1707. “ MADAM, —
“It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend business. As to me, all who speak to me find me out, and I must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me.
" A gentleman asked me this morning, what news from Lisbon ? and I answered, she is exquisitely handsome. Another desired to know
when I had been last at Hampton Court ?' I replied, "it will on Tuesday come se'nnight.' Prythee allow me at least to kiss your hand before that day, that my mind may be in some composure. Oh Love,
A thousand torments dwell about thee,
Yet who could live, to live without thee? -Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion,
“ I am ever yours,
Two days after this he expounds his circumstances and prospects to the young lady's mamma. He dates from “ Lord Sunderland's office, Whitehall," and states his clear income,