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popular preachers. Addison's contributions to the Tatler did not begin until October, 1709, when eighty numbers had been issued. In dedicating the first volume to Maynwaring, Steele speaks of the “sudden acceptance” of the work, its extraordinary success, and its subscription including every name now eminent among us for power, wit, beauty, valour, or wisdom.” He describes his design to be “
to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and to recommend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and our behaviour,” which was remarked by Johnson, three quarters of a century afterwards, as its most happy distinguishing feature. In the papers preceding number 81, (which, therefore, are Steele's)" there is hardly a trait that does not Aash upon us of the bright wit, the cordial humour, the sly satire, the subtle yet kindly criticism, the good-nature and humanity, which have endeared this delightful book to successive generations of readers."
The poetry of the Tatler was dated from Will's Coffeehouse, then the rendezvous for the wits and the poets. It was named after William Urwin, its proprietor, and was situated at No. 1, Bow-street, at the corner of Great Russellstreet, Covent Garden; the coffee-room was on the first floor, the ground floor being occupied as a shop. It was Dryden who made Will's the great resort of the wits of his time. Swift, in his Rhapsody on Poetry, sings:
Be sure at Will's the following day,
Sit still, and swallow down your spittle.
This place (Will's] is very much altered since Mr. Dryden frequented it; where you used to see songs, epigrams, and satires in the hands of every man you met, you have now only a pack of cards ; and instead of the cavils upon the turn of expression, the elegance of the style, and the like, the learned now dispute only about the turn of the game. The Tatler, No. 1.
In old times we used to sit upon a play after it was acted, but now the entertainment's turned another way.—The Tatler, No. 16.
But the Trumpet, in Shire-lane, was the general meetingplace of the Tatler's club.
The Tatler dated his politics from the St. James's, in
6 The paper,"
Pall Mall: he enumerates the charges he was at to entertain his readers, and assures them that a good observer cannot even speak with Kidney [keeper of the book-debts] without clean linen.”
Addison had not been consulted about the Tatler ; but as soon as he heard of it, he determined to give his aid. The effect of that assistance cannot be better described than in Steele's own words. “I fared,” he says, “ like a distressed prince who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid. I was undone by my auxiliary. When I had once called him in, I could not subsist without dependence on him.” he
says elsewhere, was advanced indeed. It was raised to a greater thing than I intended it."
Steele supported the Whigs in the Tatler, and received from the minister, for his services, a long promised Commissionership of Stamps; but he shortly after lost his place of Gazetteer. This entailed upon Steele a change in the conduct of his paper; and on the 2nd of January, 1710-11, appeared the last number of the Tatler :“its sudden cessation,” wrote Gay,
was bewailed as some general calamity, and by it the coffeehouses lost more customers than they could hope to retain by all their other newspapers put together.” He adds that the author's reputation had really risen to a greater height than he believed any living author's ever was before him.
Lord Macaulay writes, however, in this depreciatory spirit of Steele's qualifications for his new enterprise :
“ He was not ill qualified to conduct the work which he had planned. His public intelligence he drew from the best
He knew the town, and had paid dear for his knowledge. He had read much more than the dissipated men of that time were in the habit of reading. He was a rake among scholars, and a scholar among rakes. His style was easy and not incorrect; and though his wit and humour were of no high order, his gay animal spirits imparted to his compositions an air of vivacity which ordinary readers could hardly distinguish from comic genius. His writings have been well compared to those light wines which, though deficient in body and flavour, are yet a pleasant small drink, if not kept too long, or carried too far.”
This, to say the least of it, is a very grudging estimate of the merits of the founder of our Periodical Literature. Indeed, even Lord Macaulay's brilliant reputation does not justify this license of speech.
“THE SPECTATOR" STARTED. This celebrated paper was established by Steele to replace the Tatler, and he is known to have had an interview with Harley in the interval before the new design was matured. On Thursday, the 1st of March, 1710-11, appeared the first number of the Spectator, which, from day to day, without a single intermission, was continued through 555 numbers, up to December 6, 1712. “It certainly is very pretty," wrote Swift to Stella, after some dozen numbers had appeared : “Mr. Steele seems to have gathered new life, and to have a new fund of wit.” He had the powerful help of Addison : each nobly bore his part; and whatever we have seen in the Tatler of Steele's wit, pathos, and philosophy, reappeared with new graces in the Spectator. Mr. Forster asks: “in the whole range of Addison's wit, is there anything more perfect than Steele's making the Spectator remember that he was once taken up for a Jesuit, for no other reason than his profound taciturnity ?"
Among the details of this memorable literary companion: ship, it is remarked that Addison's care and Steele’s indifference in regard to corrections of the press seem to express not badly the different temperaments of the men. Addison was so nice that he would even stop the press when nearly the whole impression of the Spectator was printed, to insert a new preposition or conjunction. Steele sent all papers to press: they were never or seldom shown to each other by their respective writers, but they all passed through Steele's hands to the printer ; and one who worked in the printing. office told Mr. Nichols that the compositors were often “out of copy,” for which Steele was responsible. But in these cases, Steele was with difficulty to be found, and when found he frequently wrote hastily what was needed in a room at the printing-office; and upon one occasion he wrote a particular paper at midnight, and in bed, whilst a messenger waited to carry it to the press.
In illustration of Steele's share may be enumerated the series of twenty-two consecutive Spectators, which Steele daily contributed from the 6th to 31st of August, 1711, including the short-faced gentleman's experiences; the seven papers he inserted in the series of Sir Roger de Coverley; numerous sketches of Clubs; and essays which Mr. Forster names : so long as these and many others survive, there will be no need to strike him [Steele) apart, or to judge him aloof from his friend.” Mr. Forster continues :
Nothing in England had ever equalled the success of the Spectator. It sold, in numbers and volumes, to an extent almost fabulous in those days; and when Bolingbroke's stamp carried Grub-street by storm, it was the solitary survivor of that famous age. Doubling its price, it yet fairly held its ground, and at its close was not only paying Governnient 291. a-week on account of the halfpenny stamp upon the numbers sold, but had a circulation in volumes of nearly ten thousand. Altogether, it must often have circulated, before the stamp, thirty thousand, which might be multiplied by six to give a corresponding popularity in our day.- Forster's Essays, p. 191. The following is the first advertisement of the Spectator :
This day is published, A paper
entitled THE SPECTATOR, which will be continued every day. Printed for Sam. Buckley at the Dolphin, in Little Britain, and sold by A. Baldwin, in Warwick Lane.—Daily Courant, March 1711.
The above names form the imprint to the Spectator's early papers. From No. 18 appears, in addition, Charles Lillie, at the corner of Beaufort Buildings, in the Strand.” From the date, August 5, 1712 (No. 449), Jacob Tonson's imprint is appended. About that time he removed from Gray's Inu Gate to “the Strand, over against Catherine-street.'
The St. James's in Pall Mall was the Spectator's headquarters; in his 403rd number, he gives this picture of the company in the coffee-room :
I first of all called in at St. James's, where I found the whole outward room in a buzz of politics. The speculations were but very
indifferent towards the door, but grew finer as you advanced to the upper end of the room, and were so very much improved by a knot of theorists, who sat in the inner room, within the steams of the coffee-pot, that I there heard the whole Spanish monarchy disposed of, and all the line of Bourbon provided for in less than a quarter of an hour.-Spectator, No. 24.
Some Spectators are dated from Squire's Coffee-house in Fulwood's-rents, Holborn, adjoining Gray's Inn Gate; it has been handsome and roomy, but was subsequently let in tenements. Here also was John's, one of the earliest coffeehouses ; and Ned Ward's (London Spy) punch-house : Ward died here in 1731.
In Spence's Supplemental Anecdotes Chute notes : “I have heard Sir Richard Steele say, that though he had a greater share in the Tatler than in the Spectator, he thought the news article, in the first of these, was what contributed much to their success. - He confessed he was much hurt that Addison should direct his papers in the Spectator to be printed off again in his works. It looked as if he was too much concerned in his own fame, to think of the injury he should do the pecuniary interests of an indigeut friend ; particularly as in the Spectator itself they were suffi. ciently ascertained to be his by the mark Clio.”
It must be remembered, says Macaulay, that the population of Eng. land was then hardly, a third of what it now is. The number of Englishmen who were in the habit of reading, was probably a sixth of what it now is.
A shopkeeper or a farmer who found any pleasure in literature was a rarity. Nay, there was, doubtless, more than one knight of a shire whose country seat did not contain ten books, receipt-books, and books on farriery included. In these circumstances, the sale of the Spectator must be considered as indicating a popularity quite as great as that of the most successful works of Sir Walter Scott and Mr. Dickens in our own time.
Samuel Buckley, the publisher, had eventually an innocent hand in the discontinuance of the Spectator. He was the writer and printer of the first daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, and having published on the 7th of April, 1712, a memorial of the States-General, reflecting on the English Government, he was brought in custody to the bar of the House of Commons. The upshot was some strong recollections respecting the licentiousness of the press (which had been commented on in the Queen's Speech at the opening of Parliament) and the imposition of the half-penny stamp on periodicals. To this addition to the price of the Spectator is attributed its downfall.-Notes to Sir Roger de Coverley, by W. H. Wills, 1852.
Nevertheless, Steele grew uneasy and restless: his thoughts took the direction of politics. " He has been mighty impertinent of late in the Spectators," wrote Swift to Stellan
and I believe he will very soon lose his employment.” This Steele would not have cared for. He found his plan could not be continued to work well: so he closed the Spectator, and announced a new daily paper, the Guardian, for the following March.
" SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY.” Steele owned that the notion of adopting in the Spectator this name to the type of the country squire of the reign of Queen Anne, originated with Swift. Its truthfulness and finish are the work of several hands. First is Swift's suggestion; then “ the outlines were imagined and partly traced by Sir Richard Steele; the colouring and more prominent lineaments were elaborated by Joseph Addison ; some of the background was put in by Eustace Budgell ; and the portrait was defaced by either Steele or Thomas Tickell with a deformity which Addison repudiated. “ The sum of amount in hard figures stands thus : Sir Roger de Coverley's adventures, opinions, and conversations occur in thirty of the Spectator': papers. Of these, Addison wrote twenty, Budgell two, and