Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

a cluster of people, I always mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club.

Thus I live in the world rather as a Spectator of mankind than as one of the species ; by which means I have made myself a speculative statesman, soldier, merchant, and artizan, without ever meddling with any practical part in my life. I am very well versed in the theory of a husband or a father, and can discern the errors in the economy, business and diversion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as standers-by discover blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the game. I never espoused any party with violence, and am resolved to observe an exact neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I shall be forced to declare myself by the hostilities of either side. In short, I have acted in all the parts of my life as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preserve in this paper.

I have given the reader just so much of my history and character, as to let him see I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. As for other particulars in my life and adventures, I shall insert them in following papers, as I shall see occasion. In the mean time, when I consider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own taciturnity; and since I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fulness of my heart in speech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out, if possible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is pity so many useful discoveries which I have made should be in the possession of a silent man. For this reason, therefore, I shall publish a

the precursor of the present Stock Exchange in Capel Court. The herc of Mrs. Centlivre's comedy, “A Bold Stroke for a Wife," performs at “ Jonathan’s” his most successful deception on the city guardian of his mistress.

The other coffee-houses will be noticed as they occur in the text.

sheet-full of thoughts every morning, for the benefit of my contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the secret satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain.

There are three very material points which I have not spoken to in this paper; and which, for several important reasons, I m ist keep to myself, at least for some time : I mean an account of my name, my age, and my lodgings. I must confess, I would gratify my reader in any thing that is reasonable; but as for these three particulars, though I am sensible they might tend very much to the embellishment of my paper, I cannot yet come to a resolutiou of communicating them to the public. They would indeed draw me out of that obscurity which I have enjoyed for many years, and expose me in public places to several salutes and civilities, which have been always very disagreeable to me; for the greatest pain I can suffer, is the being talked to, and being stared at. It is for this reason likewise, that I keep my complexion and dress as very great secrets; though it is not impossible, but I may make discoveries of both in the progress of the work I have undertaken.

After having been thus particular upon myself, I shall in tomorrow's paper give an account of those gentlemen who are concerned with me in this work; for, as I have before intimated, a plan of it is laid and concerted (as all other matters of importance are) in a club.' However, as my friends have engaged me to

1 The word club, a: applied to convivial meetings, is derived from the Saxon cleafan, to divide, “because,” says Skinner, “the expenses are divided into shares or portions.”

“Clubs were more general in the days of the “Spectator” than perhaps at any other period of our history. Throughout the previous half-century public discord had dissevered private society; and, at the Restoration, men yearned for fellowship; but as, even yet political danger lurked under an unguarded expression or a rash toast, .ompanions could not be

[ocr errors]

stand in the front, those who have a mind to correspond with me may direct their letters to the SPECTATOR, at Mr. Buckley's, in Little Britain.' For I must further acquaint the reader, too carefully chosen. Persons, therefore, whose political opinions and private tastes coincided, made a practice of meeting in clubs. This prin. ciple of congeniality took all manner of odd social turns; but the political lubs of the time played an important part in history.

The idea of uniting the authors of a periodical in a club—though an obvious one-was calculated to bring out sparkling contrasts of character. But it was not successfully elaborated. Each personage was greatly dissociated from the club in future papers. Hence the faults some critics have found with the character of Sir Roger; for, taken in connection with the society, it is not so coherent as if the club scheme had been efficiently developed. But viewed separately, what—as the reader of the previous pages will own-can be more harmonious or natural ?

The eccentric clubs were fruitful sources of satire to the “Spectator.” He is merry on the “Mummers,” the “Two-penny,” the “Ugly,” the "Fighting,” the “ "Fringe-Glove," the “Hum-drum,” the “Doldrum,” the "Everlasting,” and the “Lovers?” clubs; on clubs of fat men, of tall men, of one-eyed men, and of men who lived in the same street. This last was

social arrangement almost necessary at a time when distant visits were impossible at night, not only from the bad condition of the streets, but from the ravages of the dastardly “Mohock Club;” of which hereafter._*

1 "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 1st, 1711.

The above names form the imprint to the “Spectator's” early papers From No. 18 appears, in addition, “Charles Lillie [perfumer, bookseller, and Secretary to the Tatler’s ‘Court of Honour ') at the corner of Beaufort Buildings, in the Strand.” From the date, August 5th, 1712, (No. 449,) Jacob Tonson's imprint is appended. About that time he removed from Gray's Inn Gate to “the Strand, over against Catherine Street.”

Samuel Buckley 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 Com

The upshot was some strong resolutions respecting the licentious. ness of the press (which had indeed been commented on in the Queen's Speech at the opening of Parliament) and the imposition of the halfpenny stamp on periodicals. To this addition to the price of the Spectator” in attributed its downfall.-*

-1*

mons.

VOL.

V.

that though our club meets only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have appointed a Committee to sit every night, for the inspection of all such papers as may contribute to the advancement of the public weal.

C.

No. 2. FRIDAY, MARCH 2.

Ast alli sex
Et plures, uno conclamant ore.

Juv. Sat. vii. 167.
Six more at least join their consenting voice.

The first of our society is a gentleman of Worcestershire, of al Lent descent, a baronet, his name Sir Roger de Coverly. His great grandfather was inventor of that famous country-dance

? V. Introductory remarks.—G.

· Whenever any striking individuality appears in print, the public love to suppose that, instead of being the embodied representative of a class, it is an actual portrait. A thousand conjectures were afloat as to the original of Sir Roger de Coverly, at the time and long after tho “Spectator's ” papers were in current circulation. These were revived by a passage in the preface to Budgell's “Theophrastus,” in which he asserted in general terms that most of the characters in the “Spectator" were conspicuously known. It was not, however, till 1783, when Tyers named Sir John Packington of Westwood, Worcestershire, that any prototype to Sir Roger was definitively pointed out.

Tyers's assertion is not tenable. Except that Sir Roger and Sir John were both baronets and lived in Worcestershire, each presents few points of similitude to the other :-Sir Roger was a disappointed bachelor ; Sir John was twice married: Sir Roger, although more than once returned knight of the shire, was not an ardent politician ; Sir Johu was, and sat for his native county in every parliament, save one, from his majority till his death. Westwood House-" in the middle of a wood that is cut into twelve large ridings; the whole encompassed with a park of six or seven iniles," * -bears no greater resemblance to the description of Coverly Hall than the scores of country-houses which have wood about them. Sir Roger is neither litigant nor lawyer, despite the universal applause bestow ed by the Quarter Session on his expositions of “a passage in the Game Act.” Sir Juho was a barrister, and besides having been Recorder of the which is called after him.' All who know that sbire, are very well acquainted with the parts and merits of Sir Roger. He is a gentleman that is very singular in his behaviour, but his singulacity of Worcester, proved himself so powerful a plaintiff that he ousted the then Bishop of Worcester from his place of Royal Almoner for interfering in the county election.

* Nash's Worcestershire.

The account of the “Spectator” himself and of each member of his clut was most likely fictitious; for the “Tatler” having been betrayed into personalities gave such grave offence, that Steele determined not to fall again into a like error. Had indeed the originals of Sir Roger and his clubcompanions existed among, as Budgell asserts, the “conspicuous characters of the day,” literary history would assuredly have revealed them. But a better witness than Budgell testifies to the reverse. The “Spectator" emphatically disclaims personality in various passages. In No. 262 he jays: “When I place an imaginary name at the head of a character, I examine every syllable, every letter of it, that it may not bear any resemblance to one that is real.” In another place: “I would not make myself merry with a piece of pasteboard that is invested with a public character.”

| The real sponsor to the joyous conclusion of every ball has only been recently revealed after a vigilant search. An autograph account by Ralph Thoresby, of the family of Calverley of Calverley in Yorkshire, dated 1717, and which is now in the possession of Sir W. Cal. verley Trevelyan, states that the tune of “Roger a Calverley” was named after Sir Roger of Calverley, who lived in the time of Richard the First. This knight, according to the custom of that period, kept minstrels, who took the name, from their office, of “ Harper. Their descendants possessed lands in the neighbourhood of Calverley, called Harperfroids and Har per's Spring. “The seal of this Sir Roger, appended to one of his charters, is large, with a chevalier on horseback.”

The earliest printed copy of the tune which has yet been traced is in 'a choice collection to a ground for a treble violin,” by J. Playford, 1685. It appears again in 1695 in H. Playford's “Dancing Master.” Mr. Chappell, author of the elaborate work on English Melodies, believes it to have been a hornpipe. That it was popular about the "Spectator's” time is shown from a passage in a satirical history of Powel the puppet-man (1715): -"Upon the preludes being ended each par y fell to bawling and calling for particular tunes. The hobnailed fellows, whose breeches and lungs seemed to be of the same leather, cried out for ' Cheshire Round,' 'Roger of Coverley,' 'Joan's Placket,' and 'Northern Nancy.""

Steele owned that the notion of adapting the name to the good genie) old knight, originated with Swift.-—*

« ZurückWeiter »