Imagens da página

longer, had not the controversy been taken up by much abler hapds.

The Examiner is paper which all men who speak without prejudice allow to be well written. Though his subject will admit of no great variety, he is continually placing it in so many different lights, and endeavouring to inculcate the same thing by so many beautiful changes of expression, that men who are concerned in no party may read him with pleasure. His way of assuming the question in debate is extremely artful; and his letter to Crassus is, I think, a masterpiece. As these papers are supposed to have been written by several hands, the critics will tell you, that they can discern a difference in their styles and beauties, and pretend to observe, that the first Examiners abound chiefly in wit, the last in humour.

Soon after their first appearance, came out a paper from the other side, called The Whig Esaminer, * written with so much fire, and in so excellent a

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

printed about 1711, a copy of which (perhaps an unique) is among the many curious tracts bequeathed by archbishop Secker to the Lambeth Library. N.

* Five numbers only of this paper were published un that title, by Mr. Addison and Mr. Arthur Maynwaring: and, from its being laid down to make room for “ The Medley," Mr. Oldmixon concludes it to have been principally the work of the latter. Both were published in professed opposition to “The Examiner.” At the end of the 25th Medley, May 26, 1712, appeared the following curiosity: “ In a few days will be published an improvement of the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Swift's late proposal to the most honourable the lord high treasurer, for correcting, improving, and ascertainiog, the English tongue; wherein, beside abundance of other particulars, will be more clearly shown, that to erect an academy of such men, who (by being no christians) have unhappily prevented their ecclesiastical preferment; or (by being buffoons and scandal-bearers) can never expect the employment of an envoy from those who prefer such services at home, to the doing them no service abroad; and that to give thema

style, as put the tories in no small pain for their favourite hero: every one cried, Bickerstaff must be the author; and people were the more confirmed in this opinion upon its being so soon laid down, which seemed to show that it was only written to bind the Examiners to their good behaviour, and was dever designed to be a weekly paper. The Examiners, therefore, have no one to combat with at present, but their friend the Medley; the author of which paper, though he seems to be a man of good sense, and expresses it luckily enough pow and then, is, I think, for the most part, perfectly a stranger to fine writing. * sume I need not tell you, that The Examiner carries inuch the more sail, as it is supposed to be written by the direction, and under the eye, ' of some great persons who sit at the helm of affairs, and is consequently looked on as a sort of public uotice which way they are steering us. The reputed author is Dr. Swist, with the assistauce sometimes of Dr. Atterbury and Mr. Prior.

I pre

good pensions, is the true and only method toward the end proposed : in a letter to a gentleman, that mistook the doctor's project.” And in the Medley following, stood this advertisement: “Whereas, since my last, there has been published a very ingenious pamphlet, call. ed, “Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter;" this was prevented the coming out of a pamphlet, entitled, “Reasons for not correcting, &c." which was advertised in my paper of Monday last, and was intended to be published the Thursday foll wing.” This was to have been called, “Reasons for not correcting, improving, and a certaining, the English Tongue at this Time. In a Letter to Dr. Swift.” See the Medley, No. 24. Rudely, however, as Dr. Swist was in many instaqces attacked by Mr. Maynwaring, it must be owned, he was the po Jitest of his opponents. N.

* This reflection was certainly intended for Oldmixon, being by to means applicable to Mr. Maynwaring. N.'

[ocr errors][merged small]

The Medley is said to be written by Mr. Oldmison,*. and supervised by Mr. Maynwaring,t who perhaps might entirely write those few papers which are so much better than the rest. I

Before I proceed farther in the account of our weekly papers, it will be necessary to inform you, that, at the beginning of the winter, to the infinite surprise of all men, Mr. Steele fluug up his Tattler; and, instead of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. subscribed bimself Richard Steele to the last of those papers, after a handsome compliment to the towo, for their kind acceptance of liis endeavours to divert them. The chief reason he thought fit to give, for his leaving off writing, was, that, having been so long looked on in all public places and companies as the author of those papers, he found that his most intimate friends and acquaintance were in paip to

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

* Oldmixon concludes the Whig Examiner to have been principally the work of Mr. Maynwaring, as it was laid down to make room for the Medley. N.

† Arthur Maynwaring, Esq. born at Ightfield, in Shropshire, 1688, was educated at Shrewsbury, and, in 1705, sent to Christ Church, Oxford, to study the law, which he practised on his settling in London; but, coming early to an estate of about 8001, a year, he exchanged the bar for more pleasurable pursuits. He was from princí. ple a strenuous Nonjuror; but soon relinquished those opinions from conviction. In the latter end of King William's reign, he was made a commissioner of the customs, through the interest of the duke of Somerset ; and afterward, by Lord Godolphin, was appointed auditor of the imprest. He took an active part against Dr. Sacheverell; published some little tracts on that occasion ; and was the author of several political pieces, which are specified in his “ Life and Posthumous Works,” published by Mr. Oldmixon (who had assisted considerably in "The Medley") in 1715. He died Nov. 13, 1712. Mr. Maynwaring's “Medley” was laid down with Dr. Swift's “ Exami. Der;" but both those publications were afterward resumed; the former (under the title of “ The Medley and Flying Post”) by Ridpatb, a Scotchman; the latter by Oldisworth. N.

| This was exactly true. Mr. Oldmixon, in his Life of Mr. Mayn. waring, attributes each number of the Medley to its proper writer ; and see the Biographia Britannica, art. Mayawaring. N.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

act or speak before him. The town was very far from being satisfied with this reason; and most people judged the true cause to be, either that he was quite spent, and wanted matter to continue his undertaking any longer, or that he laid it down as a sort of submission to, or composition with, the government, for some past offences ; or, lastly, that he had a mind to vary his shape, and appear again in some new light.

However that were, his disappearing seemed to be bewailed as some general calamity ; every one wanted so agreeable an amusement : and the coffee-houses began to be sensible, that the esquire's lucubrations alone had brought them more customers than all their other newspapers put together.

It must indeed be confessed, that never man threw up his pen under stronger temptations to have employed it longer : his reputation was at a greater height than, I believe, ever any living author's was before him. It is reasonable to suppose that his gains were proportionably considerable ; every one read him with pleasure and good will; and the tories, in respect to his other good qualities, had almost forgiven his unaccountable imprudence is declariug against them. Lastly, it was highly improbable, if he threw off a character the ideas of which were so strongly impressed in every one's mind, however finely he might write jo any new form, that he should meet with the same reception.

To give you my own thoughts of this gentleman's writings, I shall in the first place observe, that there is this poble difference between him and all the rest of our polite and gallant authors : the latter have endeavoured to please the age by falling in with them, and encouraging them in their fashionable vices, and false notions of things. It would have been a jest some time since, for a man to bave as

[ocr errors]

serted that any thing witty could be said in praise of a 11 married state; or that devotion and virtue were any way necessary to the character of a fine gentleman. Bickerstaff ventured to tell the town, that they were &

lhe parcel of fops, fools, and vain coquettes; but in such a . manner, as even pleased them, and made them more than half inclined to believe that he spoke truth.

Instead of complying with the false sentiments or vicious tastes of the age, either in morality, criticism, or good-breeding; he has boldly assured them, that they were altogether in the wrong, and commanded them, with an authority which perfectly well became him, to surrender themselves to his arguments for virtue and good!


[ocr errors]


[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

It is incredible to conceive the essect his writings have had on the town; how many thousand follies they have either quite banished, or given a very great check to: how much countenance they have added to virtue and religion ; how many people they have rendered happy, by showing them it was their own fault if they were not so ; and lastly, how entirely they have convinced our fops and young fellows of the value and advantages of learning.

He has indeed rescued it out of the hands of pedants and fools, and discovered the true method of making it amiable and lovely to all mankind. In the dress he gives it, it is a most welcome guest at tea-tables and assemblies, and is relished and caressed by the merchants on the Change ; accordingly, there is not a lady at court, por a banker in Lombard-street, who is not verily persuaded, that Captain Steele is the greatest scholar and best casuist of any man in England.

Lasily, his writings have set all our wits and men of letters upon a new way of thinking, of which they had little or no notion before ; and though we cannot yet say

« AnteriorContinuar »