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After the Tatler in 1711, the famous Spectator made its appearance, and this was followed, at various intervals, by many lived a bachelor - how great, how exquisite a pleasure there is in being really beloved! It is inipossible that the most beauteous face in nature should raise in me such pleasing ideas as when I look upon that excellent woman. That fading in her countenance is chiefly caused by her watching with me in my fever. This was followed by a fit of sickness, which liad like to have carried me off last winter. I tell you, sincerely, I have so many obligations to her that I cannot, with any sort of moderation, think of her present state of health. But, as to what you say of fifteen, she gives me every day pleasure beyond what I ever knew in the possession of her beauty when I was in the vigor of youth. Every moment of her life brings me fresh instances of her complacency to my inclinations, and her prudence in regard to my fortune. Her face is to me much more beautiful ihan when I first saw it; there is no decay in any feature which I cannot trace from the very instant it was occasioned by some anxious concern for my welfare and interests. Thus, at the same time, methinks, the love I conceived towards her for what she was, is heightened by my gratitude for what she is. The love of a wife is as much above the idle passion commonly called by that name, as the loud laughter of buffoons is inferior to the elegant mirth of gentlemen. Oh! she is an inestimable jewel! In her examination of her household affairs, she shows a certain fearfulness to find a fault, which makes her servants obey her like children; and the meanest we have has an ingenuous shame for an offence not always to be seen in children in other families. I speak freely to you, my old friend; ever since her sickness, things that gave me the quickest joy before turn now to a certain anxiety. As the children play in the next room, I know the poor things by their steps, and am considering what they must do should they lose their mother in their tender years. The pleasure I used to take in telling my boy stories of battles, and asking my girl questions about the disposal of her baby, and the gossiping of it, is turned into inward reflection and melancholy.'
“He would have gone on in this tender way, when the good lady entered, and, with an inexpressible sweetness in her countenance, told us
she had been searching her closet for something very good to treat such an old friend as I was.' Her husband's eyes sparkled with pleasure at the cheerfulness of her countenance; and I saw all his fears vanish in an instant. The lady observing something in our looks which showed we had been more serious than ordinary, and seeing her husband receive her with great concern under a forced cheerfulness, immediately guessed at what we had been talking of; and applying herself to me, said, with a smile, ‘Mr. Bickerstaff, do not believe a word of what he tells you; I shall still live to have you for my second, as I have often promised you, unless le takes more care of himself than he has done since his coming to town. You must know he tells me, that he finds London is a much more healthy place than the country; for he sees several of his old acquaintances and school. fellows are here — young fellous with fair, full-bottomed periuigs. I could scarce keep him this morning from going out open-breasted. My friend, who is always extremely delighted with her agreeable humor, made her sit down with us. She did it with that easiness which is peculiar to women of sense; and to keep up the good humor she had brought in with her, turned her raillery upon me. 'Mr. Bickerstaff, you remember you followed me one night from the playhouse ; suppose you should carry me thither to-morrow night, and lead me in the frout box. This put us into a long
periodicals under the same editor the Guardian
the Englishman — the Lorer, whose love was rather insipid - the Render, of whom the public saw no more after his second appearance the Theutre, under the pseudonym of Sir John Eilgar, which Steele wrote while Governor of the Royal Company of Comedians, to which post, and to that of Surveyor of the Royal Stables at Hampton Court, and to the Commission of the Peace for Middlesex, and to the honor of knighthood, Steele had been preferred soon after the accession of George I. ; whose cause honest Dick had nobly fouglıt, through disgrace, and danger, against the most formidable enemies, against traitors and bullies, against Bolingbroke and Swift in the last reign. With the arrival of the King, that splendid
field of discourse about the beauties who were the mothers to the present, and shived in the boxes twenty years ago. I told her, ‘I was glad she bad transferred so many of her charms, and I did not question but her eldest daughter was within half a year of being a toast.'
* We were pleasing ourselves with this fantastical preferment of the young lady, when, on a sudden, we were alarmed with the noise of a drum, and inimediately entered my little godson to give me a point of war. His mother, between laughing and chiding, would have him put out of the room; but I would not part with him so. I found, upon conversation with hiin, though he was a little noisy in his mirth, that the child had excellent parts, and was a great master of all the learning on the other side of eight years old. I perceived him a very great historian in Æsop's Fables;' but he frankly declared to me his mind, that he did not delight in that learning, because he did not believe they were true;' for which reason I found he bad very much turned his studies, for about a twelveinonth past, into the lives of Don Bellianis of Greece, Guy of Warwick, 'the Seven Champions,' and other historians of that age. I could not but observe the satisfaction the father took in the forwardness of his son, and that these diversions might turn to some profit. I found the boy liad made reiparks which might be of service to him during the course of his whole life. He would tell you the mismanagement of John Hickerthrift, find fault with the passionate temper in Bevis of Southampton, and loved St. George for Leing the champion of England; and by this means liad his thonghis insensibly moulded into the notions of discretion, virtue, and honor. I was extolling his accomplishments, when his mother told me that the little girl who led me in this morning was, in her way, a better scholar than he. Betty,' said she, 'deals chiefly in fairies and sprights; and sometimes in a winter night will terrify the maids with her accounts, until they are afraid to go up to bed.'
" I sat with them until it was very late, sometimes in merry, sometimes in serious discourse, with this particular pleasure, which gives the only true relish to all conversation, a sense that every one of us liked each other. I went home, considering the different conditions of a married life and that of a bachelor; and I must confess it struck me with a secret concern, to reflect, that whenever I go off I shall leave no traces behind
In this pensive mood I return to my family; that is to say, to my maid, my dog. my cat, who only can be the better or worse for what happens to me." The Taller,
conspiracy broke up; and a golden opportunity came to Dick Steele, whose hand, alas, was too careless to gripe it.
Steele married twice; and outlived his places, his schemes, his wife, his income, his health, and almost everything but his kind heart. That ceased to trouble bim in 1729, when he died, worn out and almost forgotten by his contemporaries, in Wales, wbere he had the remnant of a property.
Posterity has been kinder to this amiable creature; all women especially are bound to be grateful to Steele, as he was the first of our writers who really seemed to admire and respect them. Congreve the Great, who alludes to the low estimation in which women were held in Elizabeth's time, as a reason why the women of Shakspeare make so small a figure in the poet's dialogues, though he can himself pay splendid compliments to women, yet looks on them as mere instruments of gallantry, and destined, like the most consummate fortifications, to fall, after a certain time, before the arts and bravery of the besieger, man. There is a letter of Swift's, entitled “ Advice to a very Young Married Lady,” which shows the Dean's opinion of the female society of his day, and that if lie despised man he utterly scorned women too. No lady of our time conld be treated by any man, were he ever so much a wit or Dean, in such a tone of insolent patronage and vulgar protection. In this performance, Swift hardly takes pains to hide his opinion that a woman is a fool: tells her to read books, as if reading was a novel accomplishment; and informs her that not one gentleman's daughter in a thousand has been brought to read or understand her own natural tongue.” Addison laughs at women equally; but, with the gentleness and politeness of his nature, smiles at them and watches them, as if they were harınless, half-witted, amusing, pretty creatures, only made to be men's playthings. It was Steele who first began to pay a manly homage to their goodness and understanding, as well as to their tenderness and beauty.* In his comedies, the heroes do not rant and ravo
* “As to the pursuits after affection and esteem, the fair sex are happy in this particular, that with them the one is inuch more nearly related to the other than in men. The love of a woman is inseparable from some esteem of her; and as she is naturally the object of affection, the woman who has your esteem has also some degree of your love. A man that dotes on a woman for her beauty, will whisper his friend, That creature has a great deal of wit when you are well acquainted with her: And if you examine the bottom of your esteem for a woman, you will find you have a greater opinion of her beauty than anybody else. As to us men, I design to pass most of my time with the facetious Harry Bickerstaff; but William Bickerstaff
, the most prudent man of our family, shall be my executor.” – Taller, No. 206.
about the divine beauties of Gloriana or Statira, as the characters were made to do in the chivalry romances and the highflown dramas just going out of vogue; but Steele admires women's virtue, acknowledges their sense, and adores their parity and beauty, with an ardor and strength which should win the good-will of all women to their hearty and respectful champion. It is this ardor, this respect, this manliness, which makes his comedies so pleasant and their heroes such fine gentlenien. He paid the finest compliment to a woman that perhaps ever was offered. Of one woman, whom Congreve had also admired and celebrated, Steele says, that “ to have loved her was a liberal education." “ How often," he says, dedicating a volume to his wife, “ how often has your tenderness removed pain from my sick head, how often anguish from my afflicted heart! If there are such beings as guardian angels, they are thus employed. I cannot believe one of them to be more good in inclination, or more charming in form than my wife." His breast seems to warm and his eyes to kindle when he meets with a good and beautiful woman, and it is with his heart as well as with his hat that he salutes her. About children, and all that relates to home, he is not less tender, and more than once speaks in apology of what he calls his softness. He would have been nothing without that delightful weakness. It is that which gives his works their worth and his style its charm. It, like his life, is full of faults and careless blunders ; and redeemed, like that, by his sweet and compassionate nature.
We possess of poor Steele's wild and chequered life some of the most curious memoranda that ever were left of a man's biography.** Most men's letters, from Cicero down to Walpole, or down to the great men of our own time, if you will, are doctored compositions, and written with an eye suspicious towards
The Correspondence of Steele passed after his death into the possession of his daughter Elizabeth, by his second wife, Miss Scurlock, of Carmarthenshire. She married the Hon. John, afterwards third Lord Trevor. At her death, part of the letters passed to Mr. Thomas, a grandson of a natural daughter of Steele's; and part to Lady Trevor's next of kin, Mr. Seurlock. They were published by the learned Nichols — from whose later edition of them, in 1809, our specimens are quoted.
Here we have him, in his courtship — which was not a very long
" To MRS. SCURLOCK.
“ Aug. 30, 1707. “MADAM, - I beg pardon that my paper is not finer, but I am forced to write from a coffee-house, where I am attending about business. There is a dirty crowd of busy faces all around me, talking of money ; while all my ambition, all my wealth, is love! Love which animates my heart, sweetens my humor, enlarges my soul, and affects every action of my life.
It is to my lovely charmer I owe, that many noble ideas are continually affixed to my words and actions ; it is the natural effect of that generous passion to create in the admirer some similitude of the object admired. Thus, my dear, am I every day to improve from so sweet a companion. Look up, my fair one, to that Heaven which made thee such ; and join with me to implore its influence on our tender innocent hours, and bestech the Author of love to bless the rites He has ordained - and mingle with our happiness a just sense of our transient condition, and a resignation to His will, which only can regulate our minds to a steady endeavor to please Him and each other. "I am for ever your faithful serrant,
“Rich. STEELE." Some few hours afterwards, apparently, Mistress Scurlock received the next one - obviously written later in the day :
“Saturday night (Aug. 30, 1707). “Dear, Lovely Mrs. SCURLOCK, - I have been in very good company, where your health, under the character of the woman I loved læst, has been often drunk; so that I may say that I am dead drunk for your sake; which is more than I die for you.
Rich. STEELE." • To Mrs. SCURLOCK.
“ Sept. 1, 1707. “MADAM, — It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend business. As for me, all who speak to me find me out, and I must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me.
“A gentleinan asked me this morning, “What news from Lisbon ?' and I answered, 'She is exquisitely handsome.' Another desired to know when I had last been at Ilampton Court ?' I replied, “It will be on Tuesday come se'nnight.' Pr’ythee allow me at least to kiss your hand before that day, that my mind may be in some composure. O Love!
*A thousand torments dwell about thee,
Yet who could live, to live without thee?' “Methinks I could write a volume to you ; but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion,
“I am ever yours,
“Ricn. STEELE." Two days after this, he is found expounding his circumstances and prospects to the young lady's mamma. He dates from * Lord Sunder land's office, Whitehall;" and states his clear income at 1,025. per annum. "! promise myself,” says be, “the pleasure of an industrious and virtuous life, in studying to do things agreeable to you."
They were married, according to the most probable conjectures, about the 7th Sept. There are traces of a tiff about the middle of the next month; she being prudish and fidgety, as he was impassioned and reckless. General progress, however, may be seen from the following notes. The "house in Bury Street, St. James's," was now taken. " To MRS. STEELE.
“Oct. 16, 1707. “ Dearest Being On Earth, – Pardon me if you do not see me till eleven o'clock, having met a school-fellow from India, by whom I am to be