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they had little or no notion before; and though we cannot yet say that any of them have come up to the beauties of the original, I think we may venture to affirm, that every one of them writes and thinks much more justly than they did some time since. The vast variety of subjects which he has treated of in so different a manner, and yet all so perfectly well, made the world believe that it was impossible they should all come from the same hand”. This set every one upon guessing who was the squire's friend; and most people at first fancied it must be Dr. Swift; but it is now no longer a secret, that his only great and constant assistant was Mr. Addison. This is that excellent friend to whom Mr. Steele owes so much, and who refuses to have his name set before those pieces which the greatest pens in Enge land would be proud to own. Indeed, they would hardly add to this gentleman's reputation, whose works in Latin and English poetry long since convinced the world that he was the greatest master in Europe of those two languagest. I am assured from good hands, that all the visions, and other tracts in that way of writing, with a very great number of the most exquisite pieces of wit and raillery throughout the lucubrations, are entirely of this gentleman's composing; which may in some measure account for that different genius which appears in the winter papers from those of the summer, at which time, as the Examiner often hinted, this friend of Mr.Steele was in Ireland. Mr. Steele confesses, in his last volume of the Tatler, that he is obliged to Dr. Swift for his Town Shower, and the Description of the Morning; with some other hints received from him in private conversation. I have also heard, that several of those letters which came as from unknown hands were written by Mr. Henley*; which is an answer to your query, who those friends are whom Mr. Steele speaks of in his last Tatler. ..But to proceed with my account of our other papers. The expiration of Bickerstaff's Lucubrations was attended with much the same consequences as the death of Meliboeus's ox in Virgil: as the latter
* Dr. Felton tells us, “The grave and facetious squire Bickerstaff hath drawn mankind in every dress, and every disguise of nature, in a style ever varying with the humours, fancies, and folr lies he describes;” that, “he hath shown himself a master in every turn of his pen, whether his subject be light or serious;” and, from his having “laid down the rules of common life with so much judgment, in such lively and agreeable language,” recommends him as a model of manners and of style, N. .
+ “I may recommend Mr. Addison and Mr. Prior, as perfect patterns of true poetic writing. Mr. Addison is more laboured, like his great master Virgil; he hath weighed every word; nor is there any expression in all his lines, that can be changed for any juster, or more forcible than itself. Mr. Prior enjoys the freest and easiest Muse in the world, and perhaps is the only man who may rival Horace, in an admirable felicity of expression, both in the sublime and familiar way. Like our celebrated Cowley, he hath excelled in all kinds of poetry. In his works we meet an assembly of the Muses. Since the Roman Swan expired, none hath taken bolder and happier flights, or touched the lyre with a more masterly hand; and, since our Chaucer's days, none hath told a merry or heroic tale so well.” Fr. Lton.
* Anthony, son of sir Robert Henley, of the Grange, was bred at Oxford; where he distinguished himself by an early taste for polite learning, and an intimate acquaintance with the ancient poets; which naturally exciting a congenial spirit, he became no inconsiderable writer. Being on all occasions a zealous asserter of liberty, he was the mover of the address for promoting Mr. Hoadley; and occasionally assisted in some of the whig publications. The 31st number of the Medley, in particular, is by his hand; as are many of the Tatlers, in the fifth volume. He affected a low simplicity in his writings; was remarkably happy in touching the o the passions; and died, much lamented, in Augusts * 7 : 1. N.
engendered swarms of bees, the former immediately produced whole swarms of little satirical scribblers. One of these authors called himself the Growler; and assured us, that, to make amends for Mr. Steele's silence, he was resolved to growl at us weekly, as long as we should think fit to give him any encouragement. Another gentleman, with more modesty, called his paper the Whisperer. And a third, to please the ladies, christened his the Telltale. At the same time came out several Tatlers; each of which, with equal truth and wit, assured us that he was the genuine Isaac Bickerstaff”. It may be observed, that when the squire laid down his pen, though he could not but foresee that several scribblers would soon snatch it up, which he might, one would think, easily have prevented, he scorned to take any farther care about it, but left the field fairly open to any worthy successor. Immediately some of our wits were for forming them: selves into a club, headed by one Mr. Harrison, and trying how they could “shoot in this bow of Ulysses;" but soon found that this sort of writing requires so fine and particular a manner of thinking, with so exact a knowledge of the world, as must make them utterly despair of success. They seemed indeed at first to think, that what was only the garnish of the former Tatlers was that
* Dr. Swift, when he had written his celebrated “Predictions,” being at a loss what name to prefix to them, observed a sign over a house where a locksmith dwelt, with Bickerstaff written under it; which being a name somewhat uncommon, he chose to call himself by it. It was afterward adopted by Mr. Steele, and retained by his successor Mr. Harrison.—“Upon Steele's leaving off, there were two or three Tatlers came out; and one of them holds on still, and to-day it advertised against Harrison's; and so there must be disputes which are genuine, like the straps for razors." Journal to Stella, Jan, 13, 1719-11. N.
which recommended them, and not those substantial entertainments which they every where abound in. Accordingly they were continually talking of their maid, nightcap, spectacles, and Charles Lillie. However, there were now and then some faint endeavours at humour, and sparks of wit; which the town, for want of better entertainment, was content to hunt after, through a heap of impertinences: but even those are at present become wholly invisible, and quite swallowed up in the blaze of the Spectator. You may remember I told you before, that one cause assigned for the laying down the Tatler was want of matter; and, indeed, this was the prevailing opinion in town, when we were surprised all at once by a paper called the Spectator, which was promised to be continued every day, and was written in so excellent a style, with so nice a judgment, and such a noble profusion of wit and humour, that it was not difficult to determine it could come from no other 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 coffehouses. 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 some of our best judges seem to think that they have hitherto, in general, outshone even the squire's first Tatlers. Most people 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, PR opesse au AM conspic1 t , and otium cum DIGNITATE t. 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.
* 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, descriptions of life, and lectures of virtue; it employs wit in the cause 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 practice; and given Addison a claim to be numbered among the benco factors of mankind.” N.
+ The motto of lord Somers. N.
1 That of the earl of Halifax. N.