Page images

these family circles of fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters, laughed, joked, and wept over are here; but where are the many grave fathers, annous mothers, and bright-eyed children, who took such pleasure in those little diurnal essays, as they were brought up with the morning meal? Where are those eager politicians who thronged the coffee-houses, and anxiously inquired for the Dutch mail ? Where the critics who discussed the merits of the “ Distressed Mother" Wills's coffee-house, at No. 1, Bow Street ? Where the lounging parsons, who talked about pas. sive obedience, and were enthusiastic for Sacheverell, in their meetings at Childs's in St. Paul's Churchyard ? Where the Whigs of St. James's in Pall Mall, and the Kit Cat in Shire Lane? The Tories of Ozinda's and the Cocoa Tree? Where the learned gentlemen who frequented the Grecian in Devereux Court? Where the stock-jobbers who bargained at Jonathan's in Change Alley? Where the benchers who met at Squire's, between Holborn and Gray's Inn ? Where the terrible Mohocks who cut and slashed people's faces, pushed their rapiers between the legs of respectable aldermon, and rolled women in barrels down Snow Hill ? Has the Everlasting Club itself not been everlasting? Did it really sit out the last century, and break up at its close ; or is it now still heroically sitting?

As we read Tae SPECTATOR, the age of Queen Anne is really before us ; and how differently represented than in the history which Swift gives us of the last four years of the queen's reign! In The SPECTATOR we see English life as it then was, and not the mere caricatures of a party politician, whose gods were the Lord Treasurer Oxford, and the Secretary Bolingbroke. We cannot now look back with much pleasure on the furious party conflicts of The SPECTATOR's day, nor on the ribaldry, invective, and buffoonery which were then poured in torrents from the press, nor on the fierce bigotry of the pulpit, nor on the ignorance and absurdities of the “ fair sex," nor on the jealousies of rival wits, nor on the supercilious infidelity of the fashionable world. But all that was evil in those times has now passed away, and all that was good yet remains to us in The Spectators. They are imbued with Addison's humanity, and however excellent Steele's papers, and some of the occasional contribu. tions are, Addison was, after all, The Spectator, and it is his essays that have given the work its enduring fame.

Dr. Johnson justly remarked, that while Addison wrote half THE SPECTATOR, and there was all England to write the other half, yet not half of


this other half is good. This is true. Those who say that Addison was neglectful of Steele, forget how great were Steele's obligations to Addi

Even Swift gave Steele the merit of many of Addison's best papers, until the seven volumes were concluded ; and from his connexion with Addison, Steele undoubtedly gained a higher position in English literature than he could ever have obtained by his individual efforts. But when we consider The Spectator as a series, we can look charitably on the papers of all the contributors. These writers form a group of which Addison is the central figure. There is the joyous and good-natured Steele, the meek and gentle Hughes, the sensitive and passionate Budgell, the earnest and industrious Grove, the kind and generous Parnell, the virtuous and metrical Byrom, the good and amiable Pearce, the brave and pompous Philips, the laurelled but unpoetical Eusden, the economical and equable Martyn, the literary and mercantile Motteux, the sociable and affectionate Tickell. They all loved and honoured the great and good man whose genius has thrown a halo even round their most indifferent contributions; most of them we may now love and honour; and though we cannot respect, we may even pity, the sensualist Motteux, the buffoon Henley, and the suicide Budgell.

It remains to add that the text of this edition has been carefully corrected by a comparison with that of the earlier ones, and the numerous errors which had crept into the classical quotations rectified by a reference to the respective authors. Original notes have been added where they seemed necessary, and are distinguished by the letter M.




MY LORD, 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.

This illustrious patriot, who has been justly said to have " dispensed blessings by his life, and planned them for posterity," was born at Worcester, in 1652. He was educated at Oxford, and afterwards entered himself of the Middle Temple, where he studied the law with great vigour, judiciously blending it with polite literature. He soon distinguished himself at the bar; and in 1681 had a considerable share in a piece intituled, "A just and modest Vindication of the two last Parliaments.” In 1688 he was of counsel for the seven bishops at their trial, and argued with great learning and eloquence against the dispensing power. In the convention, which met by the Prince of Orange's summons, January 22nd, 1688-9, he represented Worcester; and was one of the managers for the House of Commons, at a conference with the House of Lords upon the word abdicated. Soon after the accession of King William and Queen Mary to the throne, he was appointed solicitor-general, and received the honour of knighthood. In

None but a person of a finished character can be a patron of a work which endeavours to cultivate and polish human life, by promoting virtue and knowledge, and by recommending whatsoever may be either useful or ornamental to society.

I know that the homage I now pay you is offering a kind of violence to one who is as solicitous to shuni applause, as he is assiduous to deserve it. But, my Lord, this is perhaps the only particular in which your prudence will be always disappointed.

While justice, candour, equanimity, a zeal for the good of your country, and the most persuasive eloquence in bringing over others to it, are valuable distinctions; you are not to expect that the public will so far comply with your inclinations, as to forbear

1692 he was made attorney-general, and in 1693 advanced to the post of lord keeper of the great seal of England. In 1695 he proposed an expedient to prevent the practice of clipping the coin; and the same year was constituted one of the lords justices of England during his Majesty's absence, as he was likewise in the two following years. In 1697 he was created Lord Somers, Baron of Evesham, and made lord high chancellor of England. In the beginning of 1700 he was removed from his post of lord chancellor; and the year after was impeached of high crimes and misdemeanours, by the House of Commons, of which he was acquitted upon trial, by the House of Lords. He then retired to a studious course of life, and was chosen president of the Royal Society. In 1706 he proposed a bill for the regulation of the law; and the same year was one of the principal managers for the union between England and Scotland. In 1708 he was made lord president of the council, from which post he was removed in 1710, upon the change of the ministry. In the latter end of Queen Anne's reign, his lordship grew very infirm in his health ; which indisposition is supposed to have been the reason that he held no other post than a seat at the council table after the accession of King George I. He died of an apoplectic fit, April 26th, 1716. Lord Somers, besides being a most incorrupt lawyer and honest statesman, was a masterorator, a genius of the finest taste, a great patron of men of parts and learning, and was the person who redeemed Milton's “ Paradise Lost" from that obscurity in which party prejudice and hatred had suffered it long to lie neglected. He wrote several pieces on the subject of politics, and translated certain parts of Plutarch and Ovid.



celebrating such extraordinary qualities. It is in vain that you hare endeavoured to conceal your share of merit in the many national services which you have effected. Do what you will, the present age will be talking of your virtues, though posterity alone will do them justice.

Other men pass through oppositions and contending interests in the ways of ambition; but your great abilities have been inrited to power, and importuned to accept of advancement. Nor is it strange that this should happen to your Lordship, who could bring into the service of your sovereign the arts and policies of ancient Greece and Rome; as well as the most exact knowledge of our own constitution in particular, and of the interests of Europe in general; to which I must also add, a certain dignity in yourself, that (to say the least of it) has been always equal to those great honours which have been conferred upon you.

It is very well known how much the Church owed to you, in the most dangerous day it ever saw, that of the arraignment of its prelates ;* and how far the civil power, in the late and present reigo, has been indebted to your counsels and wisdom.

But to enumerate the great advantages which the public has received from your administration, would be a more proper work for an history, than for an address of this nature.

Your Lordship appears as great in your private life, as in the most important offices which you have borne. I would, therefore, rather choose to speak of the pleasure you afford all who are admitted to your conversation, of your elegant taste in all the polite arts of learning, of your great humanity and complacency of manners, and of the surprising influence which is peculiar to you, in making every one who converses with your Lordship prefer you to himself, without thinking the lesst meanly of his own talents. But if I should take notice of all that might be observed in your

* Trial of the Seven Bishops, June 29th, 1688. + This must certainly be an error; and for less we should read more.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »