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Full text of "The Sir Roger de Coverley papers"

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JOSEPH ADDISON 

From an old print 



THE 

SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY 
PAPERS 

FROM "THE SPECTATOR" 



EDITED 
WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES 



MARY E. LITCHFIELD 




GINN & COMPANY 

BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO LONDON 




COPYRIGHT, 1899 
BY MARY E. LITCHFIELD 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

66.10 



atJjtnjeutn 



PREFACE. 



SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY is not a hero of romance ; he is, 
to all intents and purposes, an actual country gentleman who 
lived in England in the days of Queen Anne ; and the Intro- 
duction and Notes in this volume are intended to help the 
reader go back in imagination to the early years of the 
eighteenth century. The Spectator has been considered in 
its relation to contemporary movements in literature and 
politics, since it is in a peculiar sense the product of the age 
in which it was written. It is hoped that the student may 
find in the English of the essays, with its few old forms, an 
easy and pleasant introduction to the more difficult language 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

The text as revised by the authors has been followed, 
except in the matter of spelling and punctuation. Everything 
relating to Sir Roger that might properly be included has 
been given, even to brief notices in articles dealing with 
outside matters. These chance allusions help to make the 
hero a living character. Henry Morley's edition of the 
Spectator and the two recent editions by George A. Aitken 
and by G. Gregory Smith have been frequently consulted. 
Many of the other books used are referred to in the Notes 
and the Suggestions. The fi*ft*CJJi3O6ary information 



iv PREFACE. 

in regard to persons, events, and customs. Occasionally old 
or peculiar forms in language are commented on, but in 
general a note is inserted only in cases where the meaning 
is not clear. The translations of the mottoes have been 
furnished in most instances by Miss Mary H. Buckingham, 
and valuable help in the way of criticism has been given 
by others. 

BOSTON, December, 1898. 



CONTENTS. 



INTRODUCTION: PAGE 

I. POLITICAL CONDITIONS ix 

II. SOCIAL CONDITIONS RESULTING FROM POLIT- 
ICAL EVENTS ........ xi 

III. THE WRITERS OF THE SIR ROGER DE COVER- 

LET PAPERS: 

ADDISON xii 

STEELE . xvi 

BUDGELL xir 

IV. JOURNALISM AND PARTY LITERATURE . . xx 
V. THE TATLER AND SPECTATOR AND THEIR PREDE- 
CESSORS xxi 

VI. THE PUBLIC TO WHICH THE SPECTATOR AP- 
PEALED xxiii 

VII. ADDISON AND STEELE AS WRITERS OF THE 

SPECTATOR xxv 

VIII. CHARACTERISTICS OF QUEEN ANNE LITERA- 
TURE xxv 

IX. LITERARY QUALITIES OF THE SIR ROGER DE 

COVERLEY PAPERS xxvi 

X. THE SPECTATOR IN ITS RELATION TO ENGLISH 

LIFE AND ENGLISH LITERATURE xxvii 



vi CONTENTS. 

PAGK 

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE xxviii 

SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDENTS xxxv 

THE SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY PAPERS: 
J 

I. THE SPECTATOR'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF. Addi- 

son ......... i 

"* II. SIR ROGER AND THE CLUB. Steele ... 5 

III. SIR ROGER MORALIZES. Steele . . . .11 

A IV. A CLUB DEBATE. Addison 16 

V. SIR ROGER'S CLIENT. Addison .... 20 

~^VI. THE SPECTATOR AT COVERLEY HALL. Addison 24 

VII. THE COVERLEY HOUSEHOLD. Steele ~ . .28 

VIII. WILL WIMBLE. Addison 32 

^ IX. SIR ROGER'S ANCESTORS. Steele . ... 36 

X. COVERLEY GHOSTS. Addison .... 40 

XI. A COUNTRY SUNDAY. Addison .... 44 

^ XII. SIR ROGER IN LOVE. Steele . - . . . 48 

XIII. THE SHAME OF POVERTY AND THE DREAD OF 

\T. Steele 53 

XIV. LABOR AND EXERCISE. Addison. ... 57 
XV. SIR ROGER GOES A-HUNTING. Budgell . . 61 

^XVI. A VILLAGE WITCH. Addison .... 67 

-^XVII. SIR ROGER'S REFLECTIONS ON THE WIDOW. 

Steele 71 

XVIII. RURAL MANNERS. Addison 75 

XIX. SIR ROGER AT THE ASSIZES. Addison . . 79 

XX. THE EDUCATION OF AN HEIR. Addison . . 83 

XXI. MISCHIEFS OF PARTY SPIRIT. Addison . . 89 



CONTENTS. vii 

PACK 

XXII. MISCHIEFS OF PARTY SPIRIT (Continued). 

Addison 93 

XXIII. GYPSIES AT COVERLEY. Addison ... 97 

XXIV. THE SPECTATOR LOOKS TOWARD LONDON. 

Addison 101 

XXV. To LONDON BY STAGE-COACH. Suele . . 104 

XXVI. SIR ANDREW ARGUES WITH SIR ROGER. Steele 108 

XXVII. SIR ROGER IN LONDON. Addison . . . 113 

XXVIII. SIR ROGER IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY. Addison 119 

^ XXIX. SIR ROGER AT THE PLAY. Addison . . .123 

OXXX. WILL HONEYCOMB DISCOURSES. Budgell . . 127 

"XXXI. SIR ROGER AT VAUXHALL. Addison . . -131 

XXXII. DEATH OF SIR ROGER. Addison . . .134 

XXXIII. A NEW MASTER AT COVERLEY HALL. Steele . 138 

NOTES 143 



INTRODUCTION. 



INTERESTING as they are in themselves, the Sir Roger de 
Coverley Papers must as a literary production be regarded as 
a part of the Spectator, the periodical in which they first 
appeared ; so that in trying to form a just estimate of these 
essays, we must ask what the Spectator was, who were its 
authors, and under what conditions, political and social, it 
was produced. 

I. POLITICAL CONDITIONS. 

The first number of the Spectator was given to the world 
in March, 1711; but before considering the period in which 
this date occurs the reign of Queen Anne it may be 
well to review hastily the chief political events of the fifty 
years preceding. These events, whatever their special char- 
acter, serve but to mark the stages in one great movement 
the struggle between the two political systems, govern- 
ment by constitutional methods, and government by an 
absolute monarch. 

Fifty years takes us back to the Restoration in England, 
and to the early portion of the reign of Louis XIV. in France. 
For the next quarter of a century and more, the English peo- 
ple were jealously guarding their liberties against the en- 
croachments of their sovereign. Charles II. attempted to 
govern according to his own will, without the interference 



X INTRODUCTION. 

of Parliament ; and after his death in 1685, his brother, 
James II., pursued a policy still more despotic. 

Meanwhile, on the Continent, the prospect was dark for 
the cause of constitutional government. France under her 
able ruler was becoming so powerful that she seemed likely 
to make herself mistress of a large part of Europe. Her 
aggressions finally aroused the neighboring states : alliances 
were formed against her, and a champion was found in the 
person of William Henry of Nassau, Prince of Orange. As 
leader of the allied powers the prince waged a long and 
on the whole a successful struggle against Louis XIV., the 
representative of absolute monarchy. 

Before James II. succeeded to the throne of England, 
William of Orange had married his daughter Mary ; and 
after James had been reigning for three years, his subjects, 
goaded beyond endurance by his acts of tyranny, asked 
William to come over from Holland with an army and defend 
their liberties. 

The people as a whole realized the necessity of this step , 
they knew that the measure had been resorted to only be- 
cause all other expedients had failed; and yet, the senti- 
ment of loyalty to the legitimate sovereign was so deeply 
rooted in their hearts, that comparatively few of them were 
genuinely glad when the prince and his wife were crowned 
as William III. and Mary. As time went on, they wearied 
of the long wars which their sovereign waged against Louis, 
and felt that he was wasting the substance of England for 
the benefit of foreign powers. Consequently the average 
Englishman, especially if he were a Tory, breathed a sigh 
of relief when in 1702 William died, and Anne, an English 
princess and a firm upholder of the national church, ascended 
the throne. 

With the accession of Anne came the supremacy of Marl- 
borough, and the continuation under his leadership of the 



INTRODUCTION. 

struggle against France ; but before the Spectator had finished 
its first year, the great general and the able but unscrupulous 
statesman was deprived of all his offices, and the control of 
English affairs passed into other hands. 

II. SOCIAL CONDITIONS RESULTING FROM POLITICAL 
EVENTS. 

It was not strange that persons living in the latter part of 
the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth cen- 
tury failed to detect in these movements going on about 
them the forces that were making for freedom and civiliza- 
tion. The Revolution of 1688 was the result of currents and 
counter currents of popular feeling. A great system of con- 
stitutional government was being worked out under William 
and Mary, and their successor, Anne ; but in general the 
process took the form of a scramble for power on the part 
of politicians, few of whom seemed actuated by noble and 
disinterested motives. 

Strife, animosity, bitter party feeling, these character- 
ized the period in which the Spectator saw the light. 
Repressive legislation no longer checked free discussion, 
and free discussion meant active intellectual life, the exer- 
cise of the critical faculties, and in many instances, slander 
and scurrilous abuse. The Tories attacked the Whigs ; the 
adherents of the Established Church, the Dissenters ; the 
moderate Tories, the Nonjurors ; and all united against 
the Catholics. 

The Tories believed in the divine right of kings and in 
the supremacy of the Established Church ; the Whigs stood 
in the main for the rights of the people, and advocated tol- 
eration toward Dissenters. The country gentry were, almost 
to a man, Tories ; the city men, merchants, tradesmen, 
and professional men, were Whigs; the great nobles were 



Xll INTRODUCTION. 

divided between the two parties. The clergy of the Estab- 
lished Church belonged as a matter of course to the Tory 
party, which was often called the Church party, while the 
Dissenters and their ministers were Whigs. The Church of 
England man had not yet forgotten the hateful years of Puri- 
tan supremacy, and the Dissenter recalled with bitterness 
the acts of retaliation and the return to license that charac- 
terized the reigns of the later Stuarts. Nothing but the 
sense of a common peril could overcome these long-cher- 
ished animosities; and as Anne's reign was drawing to a 
close, all who believed in government by constitutional 
methods saw danger in the fact that a Stuart might again 
rule over England for the legitimate heir to the throne 
was James Stuart, the son of James II. 

Religious and political divisions meant, of course, social 
divisions ; and it is necessary to lay particular stress upon 
this state of affairs, because the important work accomplished 
by the writers of the Spectator was owing in great part to 
these peculiar conditions. 



III. THE WRITERS OF THE SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY 
PAPERS. 

Nothing better illustrates the life of the literary men of 
Queen Anne's reign than a brief sketch of the writers of 
the Sir Roger de Coverley Papers: Joseph Addison, Richard 
Steele, and Eustace Budgell. 1 

ADDISON. 

Few English writers have been so fortunate in their nat- 
ural gifts and in the circumstances and events of their lives 
as Joseph Addison. He was born in his father's rectory at 

1 Tickell has not been included, since his paper relating to Sir Roger 
(No. 410) has been necessarily omitted. 



INTRODUCTION. xiii 

Milston, near Amesbury, Wilts, on the first day of May, 
1672. Steele, who as a schoolmate of Addison's was a wel- 
come guest in the quiet home, says of the rector (then Dean 
of Lichfield) : " His method was to make it the only preten- 
sion in his children to his favor, to be kind to each other. 
It was an unspeakable pleasure to visit or sit at a meal in 
that family." The two boys first met at the Charterhouse 
School in London, and there began the friendship that was 
to lead in later years to such important results. 

At the age of fifteen Addison entered Oxford, where, 
beside his degree, he gained a probationary fellowship, and 
afterwards a fellowship. His Latin poems and his knowl- 
edge of Latin literature gave him a reputation for classical 
learning that extended to the literary circles of London, and 
brought him into connection with Dryden, an old man, but 
still the acknowledged leader of the literary set. 

While connected with the university he attracted the atten- 
tion of certain political leaders. A poetical address entitled 
A Poem to His Majesty, composed in 1695, and a Latin poem 
on the Peace of Ryswick, written two years later, gave evi- 
dence that the author might be useful to the party then in 
power the Whigs. In order that he might fit himself for 
diplomatic employments by foreign travel, Charles Montague 
afterwards Earl of Halifax obtained for him, through 
Somers, the Lord-keeper, a pension of 300 a year ; and 
in 1699 he left England, not to return until 1703. Steele 
affirms that his friend, when a young man, had some idea of 
entering the Church, and that his change of purpose was due 
to the influence of Montague. 

Addison, on account of his keen powers of observation and 
his genuine interest in human nature, was well fitted to bene- 
fit by foreign travel. During his stay on the continent he 
visited most of the countries of Western Europe, an intel- 
ligent observer of social and political institutions and a 



xiv INTRODUCTION. 

devoted student of literature. His intellect was quickened 
by intercourse with able and cultivated men, among whom 
may probably be included the famous French writers, Male- 
branche and Boileau. 

Unfortunately the Whigs were out of office when he re- 
turned to England, and for a year he was given no position. 
However, his personal charm and his literary abilities were 
constantly gaining him new friends, and it was at this time 
that he became a member of the famous Kit-Cat Club, to 
which all the great Whigs belonged. Steele was also a mem- 
ber of the club, and his intimacy with his former compan- 
ion was now renewed. 

Addison's active political life began in 1706, when, as a 
reward for his poem, The Campaign, written to celebrate the 
battle of Blenheim, he was made an undersecretary of state. 
When he entered upon his new duties he was thirty-four years 
old, and from this time until a few weeks before his death, 
he was an influence for good in the affairs of the nation. 

On losing his first position he was appointed, in 1708, 
secretary to Wharton, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and 
was also made keeper of the records in Birmingham Tower, 
Dublin. In the meantime he had accompanied Halifax on 
a complimentary mission, to invest the Elector of Hanover 
with the order of the Garter. At the age of thirty-six he 
entered Parliament, and remained a member during the rest 
of his life, though on account of diffidence he made no 
speeches. Swift remarked, when speaking of his reelection 
in 1710, "If he had a mind to be chosen king, he would 
hardly be refused." 

With the fall of the Whigs in 1710, Addison lost his sec- 
retaryship. In a letter to a friend, written in 1711, he said 
that within twelve months he had lost a place of ^2000 a 
year and an estate in the Indies of ^"14,000. The accession 
of George I., which restored the Whigs to power, brought 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

him again into political life. Several positions of trust were 
given him-, and finally, in 1717, a year after his marriage 
with the Countess of Warwick, he was made one of the 
secretaries of state. In eleven months he retired on account 
of ill health, with a pension of 1500 a year. 

Although hampered by physical weakness he still kept up 
his interest in political affairs, and in 1719 he entered actively 
into the controversy over the Peerage Bill. His strong feel- 
ing in regard to the bill resulted in a circumstance that must 
always cause pain to the readers of the Spectator, namely, 
his estrangement from his old friend Steele. The latter 
from conscientious motives voted, in opposition to his party, 
against a bill which, historians now believe, would have been 
most pernicious in its effects. Addison died so soon after 
the controversy that there was no opportunity for a recon- 
ciliation. 

As we look through the volumes containing the works of 
Addison, we realize that his interest did not lie wholly in 
state matters. Two years after his return from the conti- 
nent, he published his Remarks on Several Parts of Italy, 
and the following year, in 1705, his opera, Rosamond, was 
brought out. This, by the way, was an unsuccessful venture. 
When Steele began his Tatler, in 1709, Addison became a 
frequent contributor, and his work in the Spectator, which 
followed in 1711, was of still greater importance. His fame 
as a writer rests chiefly upon the essays in these two period- 
icals. He contributed articles to the Guardian, the successor 
of the Spectator, and in June, 1714, he began without Steele 
a new series of the Spectator, which was published three 
times a week until December. His three periodicals the 
Whig Examiner, the Freeholder, and the Old Whig were 
political papers. 

Great contemporary fame came to Addison from his play 
of Cato, acted at Drury Lane in April, 1713. This drama, 



XVI INTRODUCTION. 

which was written according to French canons, contained 
such fine phrases about liberty that it was claimed by 
both Whigs and Tories. Pope wrote an eloquent prologue, 
and Swift, after a long period of estrangement, attended a 
rehearsal. A comedy, The Drummer, acted in 17 15, was un- 
successful. This work marks the close of Addison's purely 
literary activity, his later writings being political in character. 
After his retirement from office in 1718, his health con- 
tinued to fail, and he died on the i7th of June, 1719. The 
same spirit that had made him so attractive while he was in 
the full enjoyment of his powers characterized him to the 
very end. Even when he was on his deathbed, his chief 
concern was for others rather than for himself. Believing 
that he had once, in connection with some almost forgotten 
matter, injured Gay, he sent for him and begged his forgive- 
ness ; and calling for his stepson Warwick just before his 
end, he said, " See in what peace a Christian can die." 

STEELE. 

Richard Steele properly Sir Richard Steele has been 
better loved and oftener misrepresented than almost any 
other English writer. The temptation to paint him as the 
exact opposite of Addison, has in most cases proved too 
strong to enable his biographers to deal fairly with his char- 
acter. Thackeray's fascinating account in his English Hu- 
mourists, the most popular sketch of Steele, while correct in 
certain details, is on the whole misleading. One who desires 
to form a just estimate of this interesting man should read 
Mr. Aitken's careful biography or the short but sympathetic 
"life " by Mr. Austin Dobson. 

Steele was born in Dublin in March, 1672. He was, 
consequently, something less than two months older than 
Addison. Of his family little is known. Unfortunately 



INTRODUCTION. xviv 

he lost both parents at an early age : his father, who was 
a solicitor, died when he was about five years old, and his 
mother not long after. In later years he speaks of his 
mother as "a very beautiful woman, of a noble spirit." 
In his uncle, Henry Gascoigne, secretary to the Duke of 
Ormond, the boy found a kind guardian. At the age of 
twelve he was sent to the Charterhouse School in London ; 
and two years later, on Addison's arrival, the friendship 
between the two boys began. 

Steele entered Oxford when seventeen, but did not finish 
his course there. Mr. Aitken remarks : " Steele left Oxford 
without taking a degree, which was not at all unusual at the 
time, but we are told that he took with him the love of the 
whole society." 

Having a desire to try the life of a soldier, he enlisted 
in 1694 as a private in the Duke of Ormond's regiment of 
Guards, and remained in the army for twelve years. In 
1700 he became Captain Steele. 

His military duties do not seem to have interfered with 
his development as a writer ; for his first promotion was due 
to a patriotic poem, The Procession, composed just after the 
death of Queen Mary, in 1695, and dedicated to Lord Cutts. 
He was rewarded by an ensign's commission in that lord's 
regiment, and soon after became his secretary. His Christian 
Hero, a little book published in 1701, was designed, he after- 
wards informs his readers, to " fix upon his own mind a strong 
impression of virtue and religion in opposition to a stronger 
propensity towards unwarrantable pleasures." Mr. Aitken 
justly remarks : " We must remember that the standard of 
morality was low even among those who considered them- 
selves on a higher moral level than Steele, and that his ideal 
was far above that of most of his contemporaries." Find- 
ing that his friends failed to understand his attitude in the 
Christian Hero, and that they were inclined to accuse him of 



xvill INTRODUCTION. 

posing as a moralist, he produced not long after a comedy, 
The Funeral, which was intended to "enliven his character." 
His third play, The Tender Husband, acted after Addison's 
return from the continent, was dedicated to his friend, who, 
besides writing the prologue, contributed " many applauded 
strokes." The author says : " My purpose in this application 
is only to show the esteem I have for you, and that I look 
upon my intimacy with you as one of the most valuable 
enjoyments of my life." 

Immediately after the production of his play Steele mar- 
ried, but his wife died in a little over a year. In 1707 he 
married as a second wife a Welsh lady, Mary Scurlock, the 
" Dear Prue " to whom he wrote so many interesting notes 
and letters. Before his second marriage he left the army, 
and the following year, in 1707, he was made Gazetteer, at 
a salary of ^300 a year (less a tax of ^45). As the Gazette 
was the official organ of the government, the position 
which he held for several years must have required tact 
and judgment. 

The fact that Steele was a sincere patriot rather than 
a successful politician is illustrated by his experience as a 
member of Parliament. He gave up several lucrative posi- 
tions in order to become a member, but was expelled from 
the House of Commons a Tory house before the end of 
his first year. The publication of his Crisis, and a bitter 
attack by Swift, were the causes that led to this result. When 
the Whigs came into power on the accession of George I., he 
again entered Parliament, and the following year he was 
knighted. His manly stand in the controversy over the 
Peerage Bill in 1719 resulted in the loss of the patent which 
constituted him manager of Drury Lane Theatre. This cir- 
cumstance marks the close of his political career. 

It is chiefly because of the Tatler and the Spectator that 
Steele occupies an important place in English literature. 



INTRODUCTION. XIX 

After the Spectator was discontinued he published the Guard- 
ian, which was followed by the Englishman, a political paper. 
Later still came two short-lived periodicals, the Lover and 
the Reader, and a compilation entitled The Ladies Library. 
The best of his political pamphlets was his Apology for 
Himself and His Writings. The Conscious Lovers, his most 
successful play, was produced in 1722; this was his latest 
literary effort. 

Steele had always found it difficult to meet his expenses, 
and his closing years, which were spent in Carmarthenshire, 
Wales, were troubled by money difficulties and ill health. 
Before the end, however, his debts had all been paid. 

His biographer says : "The last glimpse we have of him 
comes from the actor Benjamin Victor, who had sought from 
him an introduction to Walpole : ' I was told he retained 
his cheerful sweetness of temper to the last, and would 
often be carried out on a summer's evening, when the coun- 
try lads and lasses were assembled at their rural sports, and 
with his pencil, give an order on his agent, the mercer, for 
a new gown to the best dancer.' " He died in September, 
1729. 

BUDGELL. 

Of Eustace Budgell little need be said, since his work is 
of small importance. Through the influence of Addison, 
who was his cousin, he obtained several positions of trust; 
but in later years his character deteriorated, and finally, in 
1737, he drowned himself in the Thames. As a writer he 
was an imitator of Addison, and besides other. works, he 
wrote a number of papers for the Spectator. 



INTRO D UCTION. 



IV. JOURNALISM AND PARTY LITERATURE. 

The facts just stated make us realize that the life of the 
literary man of the so-called " Augustan Age " in England 
was a life of political and social importance. Almost every 
writer of note for Pope must be excepted was at some 
time during his career the mouthpiece of a party. Swift, 
the most truly original genius of them all, was always a 
stanch defender of the national church and, except during 
the first few years of his public life, a zealous Tory. Defoe, 
now known chiefly as the author of Robinson Crusoe, was an 
indefatigable pamphleteer and journalist, on the side of the 
Liberals. The age of Queen Anne was preeminently an age 
of party literature : besides party pamphlets and newspapers 
there were party poems, party sermons, party plays; and in 
the case of Addison's Cafe, a play claimed by both Whigs 
and Tories at once. 

This literary activity could not have existed had it not 
been for the recently acquired liberty of the press. In 1695 
Parliament failed to appoint the usual licenser, without whose 
leave no book or newspaper might be published. Before 
this, the discussion of public matters had been left for the 
most part to those who were sufficiently daring or sufficiently 
unprincipled to disregard the law. Since the press was no 
longer fettered, the best intellects were free to express them- 
selves on all matters of general interest, and party leaders 
eagerly sought the services of writers who could gain the ear 
of the people. The writer on political subjects had at that 
time an unusual advantage over the orator, when it came to 
influencing public opinion, because speeches made in Parlia- 
ment were not, as now, printed and circulated. 



INTRODUCTION. 



V. THE TATLER AND SPECTATOR AND THEIR 
PREDECESSORS. 

There were so many newspapers and pamphlets published 
during the early years of Queen Anne's reign, that one might 
suppose the literary needs of the community to have been 
sufficiently provided for. These, however, were in almost 
every instance written for a special class of persons, and 
owed their success to the fact that they appealed to the reli- 
gious or political prejudices of their subscribers. The Tatler 
and the Spectator, on the other hand, were distinctively liter- 
ary periodicals ; the Tatler rarely discussed political ques- 
tions, the Spectator ignored them completely. Before these 
productions appeared, there were a few publications that 
provided matters of social and literary interest, and these 
may be regarded as in a certain sense their predecessors. 
One of these was John Dunton's Athenian Mercury, begun in 
1690, which contained questions to the editor on a great 
variety of subjects, and furnished appropriate answers ; but 
if any paper might be called the true predecessor of Steele's 
Tatler, it was Defoe's Weekly Rariew of the Affairs of France, 
the first number of which was given to the public in Feb- 
ruary, 1704. This paper had a department called, at one 
time, Advice from the Scandalous Club. Speaking of this 
department, Defoe remarked, in 1710: "When first this 
paper appeared in the world, I erected a court of justice for 
the censuring and exposing of vice ; . . . but tired with the 
mass of filth, the stench of which was hardly to be endured, 
I laid aside the Herculean labors for a while, and am glad 
to see the society honored by the succession in those just 
endeavors of the venerable Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq." 

When Defoe made these remarks, the Tatler, which was 
published three times a week, had been running nearly a 



xxii INTRODUCTION. 

year. The name, Isaac Bickerstaff, which Steele assumed 
when he began his periodical, had been already made famous 
by Swift, who used it in a pamphlet in which he made a 
humorous attack upon John Partridge, the compiler of an 
astrological almanac. According to Steele, his paper was 
intended to " gratify the curiosity of persons of all conditions 
and of each sex " ; and the general purpose of the writers 
was " to expose the false arts of life, to pull off the dis- 
guises of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and to recom- 
mend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and 
our behavior." The Tatler reached 271 numbers. Of these 
Steele wrote about 188, Addison 42, and 36 were the result 
of their joint labors. It was probably discontinued because 
certain articles dealing with political questions had given 
offence to persons of influence. 

The last number of the Tatler was published January 2, 
1711, and the first number of the Spectator came out on the 
first day of March, in the same. year. This paper, which 
was given to the public every day except Sunday, consisted 
of a single sheet, and contained one essay and a number of 
advertisements. If the essay were unusually brief, letters 
from real or supposed correspondents, or answers to such 
communications, were inserted. The original series ended 
with No. 555, published December 6, 1712. The continua- 
tion by Addison, which was published in 1714, is included 
in complete editions of the Spectator, Of the 555 numbers 
of the original periodical, Addison wrote 274, Steele 236, 
and the remaining 45 were contributed by different persons, 
Budgell being one. In the tenth number Addison remarked 
that the sale had reached 3000 copies a day ; and doubtless 
the sale increased until August, 1712, when a tax of a half- 
penny reduced the number to something over 1600 copies a 
day. Addison estimated that, on an average, each copy 
was read by twenty persons. These facts are important 



INTRODUCTION. xxiii 

because they help us to understand why it was that this pub- 
lication had such an important influence in moulding public 
opinion. 

VI. THE PUBLIC TO WHICH THE SPECTATOR 
APPEALED. 

The success of the Spectator, and of the Tatler as well, 
was due in large measure to the fact that its projectors sus- 
pected the existence of a hitherto undiscovered public ; in 
fact, it may be said that they created their own public. In 
an age of bitter social prejudices they had the wisdom to 
discern the fact that in every class there were moderate, fair- 
minded persons, who would be interested in social and liter- 
ary questions, and who would welcome any well-directed 
effort toward improving the morals of the community. They 
realized, too, that in every class there were those who needed 
entertainment, and who could be entertained only by what 
was morally pure. Above all, they conceived the idea of a 
public composed largely of women. 

It is interesting to picture the different readers of the 
Spectator. We see the paper in the hands of men of fashion 
as they stroll about the narrow, dirty streets of London, in 
their powdered wigs and their velvet knee breeches ; we find 
it in the coffee-houses, where knots of eager politicians discuss 
the newest move of the party in power ; fine ladies Queen 
Anne at their head order it brought with their tea at break- 
fast; the merchant reads it after the hours of business; and 
even the country squire, who hunts often and reads seldom, 
welcomes the little sheet. 

As the fashionable man reads he finds that men who are 
familiar with life in its various aspects, men who have plenty 
of worldly wisdom, condemn his vicious habits ; and for the 
first time, very likely, he listens respectfully while his beset- 



xxiv INTRODUCTION. 

ting sins gaming, brutal pastimes, immorality of all kinds 
are severely censured. He listens because the moralist is 
both witty and wise ; and after a while he begins to suspect 
that a man may lead a pure life without being a stiff-necked 
Puritan ; that he may be a gentleman and still control his 
appetites. 

The Dissenter, as he reads, sees that men who insist upon 
the highest moral standards at the same time favor innocent 
amusements. His own narrow views are lightly but kindly 
ridiculed, and persons that he has always condemned as friv- 
olous and sinful are painted in such a way that he is forced 
to admire them. Indeed, it may safely be asserted that many 
a rigid Dissenter sincerely mourned when he read of the 
death of Sir Roger de Coverley. 

It is difficult for us who live in these days of railways 
and telegraphs to picture to ourselves the isolated life of the 
women of the eighteenth century. Those living even a short 
distance out of London found it impossible to get about ex- 
cept when the roads which were always bad were in their 
best condition ; and when they did venture out, they must, if 
they were women of position, be accompanied by a train of 
servants. The wives and daughters of country gentlemen 
had not learned to find enjoyment in reading, for there were 
few books that a refined woman could read with pleasure. 
She must choose between coarse novels or plays and pon- 
derous works on moral and religious subjects. 

We can picture a group of these country ladies, listening 
as they sew, while one of their number reads aloud from the 
Spectator. For the first time they are brought into contact 
with the busy life and the intellectual activity of the metrop- 
olis. It is because of these little groups of women, John 
Richard Green affirms, that " we find ourselves in presence 
of a new literature, of a literature more really popular than 
England had ever seen, a literature not only of the street, 



INTRODUCTION. xxv 

the pulpit, the tavern, and the stage, but which had pene- 
trated within the very precincts of the home." 

AND STEELE AS WRItERS OF THE 
SPECTATOR. 




ITER! 



Addison's work in the De Coverley Papers is, for the most 
part, so much better than Steele's that in reading these 
essays we are likely to underestimate the importance of 
Steele as a writer. Indeed, Addison's strokes are so fine 
that we almost regret the coarser touch of the other artists. 
Nevertheless, it should always be remembered that Steele was 
the originator of both the Tatler and the Spectator, and that 
h.ul it not been for his enterprising spirit and his generous 
nature, we might not have had a Sir Roger de Coverley. 

In the preface to the collected edition of the Tatler, speak- 
ing of Addison and himself, Steele says : "I fared like a dis- 
tressed prince, who calls in a powerful neighbor to his aid ; 
I was undone by my auxiliary ; when I had called him in I 
could not subsist without dependence on him." In No. 532 
of the Spectator he remarks : " I claim to myself the merit 
of having extorted excellent production from a person of the 
greatest abilities, who would not have let them appear by any 
other means." Whatever else may be said of the two ver- 
satile writers, Addison and Steele, it is undoubtedly true that, 
as essayists, their success was owing in great part to the fact 
that they worked together, and that each supplemented the 
other. 

VIII. CHARACTERISTICS OF QUEEN ANNE 
LITERATURE. 

The age of Queen Anne has often been called an age of 
prose. Tired of the vagaries indulged in by the successors 
of the Elizabethans, the public demanded works character- 



XXVI INTRODUCTION. 

ized by common sense and practical utility, and delighted in 
a literary form that combined clearness and elegance. The 
higher efforts of imaginative genius were lost upon them : 
they could not feel the beauties of Shakespeare and Milton. 
Keen satire, delicate fancy, delightful humor, skill in narra- 
tion, these we find in the best writers of the age ; but it 
is safe to say that not one of them Swift, Pope, Defoe, 
Berkeley, Addison, or Steele has left a line that is inspired 
by a highly poetic imagination. This was a period when men 
looked about them and wrote of life as it appeared on the 
surface of political life, of club life, of the life of men 
and women in society. A Lear, an Othello, would have 
been out of place in this era of common sense ; instead of 
great characters moved by strong passions, we have Robinson 
Crusoe, Gulliver, Sir Roger de Coverley persons that live 
in an everyday world and meet us on our own level. Human 
nature had not changed, life had not become superficial and 
prosaic, but the taste of the age demanded that passion and 
romance should be ignored. 



IX. LITERARY QUALITIES OF THE SIR ROGER DE 
COVERLEY PAPERS. 

We find in the Sir Roger de Coverley Papers many of the 
best characteristics of the literature of this "Augustan 
Age": wit, wisdom, satire, humor, and always especially 
in Addison's papers careful attention to form. Indeed, 
the style, though it is now a little antiquated, is so good that 
we hardly think of it. The form suits the thought; it is 
never obtrusive ; the language is the language of conversa- 
tion raised to the level of art. This is why Dr. Johnson said 
that he who would form a good style should give his days 
and his nights to the study of Addison. What delights us 
most of all in these papers, however, is the kindly humor that 



INTRODUCTION. xxvil 

plays over every page ; a humor so subtle, so all-pervasive, 
that some may fail to detect it. It is this that makes us 
care for the old knight ; that arouses our sympathy for Will 
Wimble, even while we laugh at him : it is this, above all, 
that attracts us to the writers of these papers ; for it makes 
us realize that while they felt keenly the moral evils of their 
time, they could still love and pity their fellow men. 

X. THE SPECTATOR IN ITS RELATION TO ENGLISH 
LIFE AND ENGLISH LITERATURE. 

As we review the conditions under which the Spectator 
was produced and become aware of the influence that it 
exerted, we see that it should not be judged as a purely lit- 
erary work ; and what is true of the periodical as a whole, 
is true, though in a less degree, of the papers relating to Sir 
Roger de Coverley. The writers of these essays had a 
practical end in view. Their aim is well expressed by Addi- 
son, when he says : " It was said of Socrates that he brought 
philosophy down from heaven to inhabit among men ; and 
I shall be ambitious to have it said of me that I have brought 
philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools and colleges, 
to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea tables and in coffee- 
houses." While accomplishing this object, the writers of 
the Spectator introduced a style of literature that has been 
widely imitated, in other countries as well as in their own, 
and that has not yet lost popular favor. They first taught 
the English public to look upon reading as a daily enjoy- 
ment, not as a rare exercise ; and although their treatment 
of many subjects was necessarily superficial, they enlarged 
the horizon and stimulated the curiosity of thousands of 
persons living in all parts of England, and thus softened 
the prejudices and raised the moral and intellectual stand- 
ards of the community as a whole. 



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