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ally subservient to the cause of reason and of truth. He has dissipated the prejudice that had long connected gaiety with vice, and easiness of manners with laxity of principles. He has restored virtue to its dignity, and taught innocence not to be ashamed. This is an elevation of literary character above all Greek, above all Roman fame. No greater felicity can genius attain, than that of having purified intellectual pleasure, separated mirth from indecency, and wit from licentiousness; of having taught a succession of writers to bring elegance and gaiety to the aid of goodness : and if I may use expressions yet more awful, of having turned many to rightcousness." .“ As a teacher of wisdom, he may be confidently followed. His religion has nothing in it enthusiastic or superstitious; he appears neither weakly credulous nor wantonly sceptical ; his morality is neither dangerously lax nor impracticably rigid. All the enchantment of fancy and all the cogency of argument are employed to recommend to the reader his real interest-the care of pleasing the Author of his being."

Richard Steele, the editor, and after Addison the principal contributor to the Spectator, was born in 1671, graduated at Oxford, and entered the army as ensign in the Guards. In 1709 he projected the Tatler, which aimed at and achieved a radical reform in the journalism of the



day—a topic to which we shall soon revert. In 1713 he was elected to the House of Commons, from which body he was expelled, a year later, for using his journalistic pen too freely. The expulsion does not seem to have done him any harm, for we find him within a year Surveyor of the Royal Stables, Governor of the Royal Company of Comedians, a knight, and a member of the House once

He was a voluminous and able writer ; but his first book, The Christian Hero, which was written for the purpose of reclaiming its author from dissolute habits, was an utter failure, if judged according to its design. He possessed many noble natural qualities, and was in spirit and work a reformer of high order : in his age, however, personal character was a term of only Pickwickian signification, and entirely unlike the way of our own good era —the man who worked for the public purity was seldom held to account for his own. His married life, like that of his literary partner, was unhappy; he married twice, finding neither time a wife who was intellectually his peer, or who, on the other hand, could understand how to expect true affection from a man who was apparently powerless against physical temptations of any sort.

Whatever may have been Steele's lapses from propriety and virtue, there is no doubt that in his letters he showed evidences of a tender, yearning affection, which a woman of active sympathies should have been able to translate and turn to account : there is also ample evidence that he exhibited infirmity of purpose to a degree which would have discouraged any one but an angel. Steele's nature is so transparent, that it is easy to imagine that he chose his companions by his eye rather than his mind, and that sad as his conjugal relations seem to have been, the person principally to blame was that warm-hearted, susceptible, morally reckless individual, Steele himself. The time has passed when it was considered the proper thing for such glorious beings to be, like wild beasts, in the custody of keepers who were held responsible for their condition ; yet it is impossible to make Steele's acquaintance, through his writings, without being conscious of an intense regret that so lovable a nature should have lacked the moral support and assistance of sympathetic companionship

For the sake of his reputation, Steele is unfortunate in having constantly to be contrasted with Addison. His motives in writing for the Tatler and Spectator were identical with Addison's; both wished to improve the manners and morals of the day; and though Steele's papers do not always compare favorably with those of Addison, there are some of them which Addison could scarcely excel. Unlike his partner, he was without a settled literary style ; but in whatever manner he wrote, he never neg. lected to display a great amount of spirit and excellent taste. While Addison was trying, with his Cato, to lead the theatre-going public from low comedy to noble drama, Steele boldly attempted to raise the tone of conedy itself. Hazlitt says of his plays, that "they were the first that were written expressly with a view not to imitate the manners, but to reform the morals of the age.” For Addison's ability Steele had the liveliest appreciation, and the frequent occasion he found for writing in Addison's own vein shows, besides his own rare adaptiveness, in what esteem he held the style of his greatest contributor.

Of the remaining contributors to the Spectator but little need be said. Hughes, Budgell, Byrom, Brome, Grove, Tickell, Parnell, Henry and others contributed papers to the Spectator, but none of them attained to the excellence of Steele and Addison.


The purpose and effect of the early periodical essayists is but imperfectly understood by the present generation. There are now living many people who can recall the time when the newspapers of America and England

ical papers.

printed only news and political leaders : in the days of the essayists, the periodical literature of England would have been comparatively readable had its imperfections been unmixed with graver faults. By the very smallness of their number, newspapers were important partisan mouthpieces, either for or against the government; their support came more from subsidies and special grants than from subscribers and advertisers; there was there. fore no commercial limit to prosiness even of their polit

They contained no matter which was purely literary, and they were diverting only when they indulged in personalities-a species of writing in which the early newspaper partisans of England excelled even the ablest revilers who have made American Presidential campaigns endurable to the vulgar mind. Reviews, magazines, and literary weeklies such as to-day offer speedy and pleasing antidotes to the respectable citizen who has unknowingly absorbed partisan views from his favorite daily, were then almost unknown, and of those few which existed it can safely be said that the antidote was almost as unendurable as the poison. In society there was no lack of wit, humor, gayety, raillery, satire, sarcasm ; but all these faculties were in the service either of partisanship or licentiousness. That there were many people who could appreciate writings of moral tone and literary

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