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hands but those which had penned the Lucubrations.
This immediately alarmed these gentlemen; who (as it is said Mr. Steele phrases it) had “ the censorship in commission.” They found the new Spectator come on like a torrent, and swept away all before him; they despaired ever to equal him in wit, humour, or learning (which had been their true and certain way of opposing him); and therefore rather chose to fall on the author, and to call out for help to all good christians, by assuring them again and again, that they were the first, original, true, and undisputed Isaac Bickerstaff.
Meanwhile, the Spectator, whom we regard as our shelter from that flood of false wit and impertinence which was breaking in upon us, is in every one's hand, and a constant topick for our morning conversation at tea-tables and coffeehouses. We had at first, indeed, no manner of notion, how a diurnal paper could be continued in the spirit and style of our present Spectators * ; but, to our no small surprise, we find them still rising upon us, and can only wonder from whence so prodigious a run of wit' and learning can proceed; since soine of our best judges seem to think that they have hitherto, in general, outshone even the squire's first Tatlers. Most people
* The ablest of our modern writers, who hath himself succeeded so happily in the Rambler, thus characterizes the Spectator : “ It comprises precepts of criticism, sallies of invention, descrip
« tions of life, and lectures of virtue ; it employs wit in the cause .66 of truth, and makes elegance subservient to piety : it has now -“ for more than half a century supplied the English nation, in a “ great measure, with principles of speculation, and rules of prac“ tice; and given Addison a claim to be numbered among the * benefactors of mankind."
fancy, from their frequency, that they must be composed by a society : I, with all, assign the first place to Mr. Steele and his friend. · I have often thought that the conjunction of those two great geniuses (who seem to stand in a class by themselves, so high above all our other wits) resembles that of two famous statesmen in a late reign, whose characters are very well expressed in their two mottos, viz. prodesse quam conspici * ; and otium cun dignitate op. Accordingly the first was continually at work behind the curtain ; drew up and prepared all those schemes and designs, which the latter still drove on; and stood out exposed to the world, to receive its praises or censures.
Meantime, all our unbiassed well wishers to learning are in hopes, that the known temper and prudence of one of these gentlemen will hinder the other from ever launching out into party, and rendering that wit, which is at present a common good, odious and ungrateful to the better part of the nation.
If this piece of imprudence does not spoil so excellent a paper, I propose to myself the highest satisfaction in reading it with you, over a dish of tea, every morning next winter.
As we have yet had nothing new since the Spectator *; it only remains for me to assure you, that I am
P. S. * The motto of lord Somers. of That of the earl of Halifax.
" I The Spectators are printed in a larger and a smaller volume : « so I believe they are going to leave them off; and indeed people
P.S. Upon a review of my letter, I find I have quite forgotten the British Apollo *; which might possibly happen from its having of late retreated out of this end of the town into the city; where I am informed, however, that it still recommends itself by deciding wagers at cards, and giving good advice to the shopkeepers and their apprentices.
« grow weary of them, though they are often prettily written.” Journal to Stella, Nov. 2, 1712.-We fear there was (to say the best of it) some prejudice in this prediction. A similar reflection is thrown out on the Tatler, in p. 35.
* « The British Apollo, or Curious Amusements for the Ingeni. « ous; to which are added the most material Occurrences foreign «c and domestick. Performed by a Society of Gentlemen.” This paper, which was published twice a week, began Feb. 13, 1708 ; and was continued on that plan till March 26, 1711, when three folio volumes were completed: after that time, it got into a fresh channel, and sunk into obscurity.