Edited with Introduction & Notes by George A. Aitken
Author of "The Life of Richard Steele," Etc.
New York Hadley & Mathews 156 Fifth Avenue London: Duckworth & Co. 1899
_The original numbers of the _Tatler_ were reissued in two forms in 1710-11; one edition, in octavo, being published by subscription, while the other, in duodecimo, was for the general public. The present edition has been printed from a copy of the latter issue, which, as recorded on the title-page, was "revised and corrected by the Author"; but I have had by my side, for constant reference, a complete set of the folio sheets, containing the "Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff" in the form in which they were first presented to the world. Scrupulous accuracy in the text has been aimed at, but the eccentricities of spelling—which were the printer's, not the author's—have not been preserved, and the punctuation has occasionally been corrected.
The first and the most valuable of the annotated editions of the Tatler was published by John Nichols and others in 1786, with notes by Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, Dr. John Calder, and Dr. Pearce, Bishop of Rochester; and though these notes are often irrelevant and out of date, they contain an immense amount of information, and have been freely made use of by subsequent editors. I have endeavoured to preserve what is of value in the older editions, and to supplement it, as concisely as possible, by such further information as appeared desirable. The eighteenth-century diaries and letters published of late years have in many cases enabled me to throw light on passages which have hitherto been obscure, and sometimes useful illustrations have been found in the contemporary newspapers and periodicals.
The portraits of Steele, Addison, and Swift, the writers most associated with the _Tatler_, have been taken from contemporary engravings in the British Museum; and the imaginary portrait of Isaac Bickerstaff in the last volume is from a rare picture drawn by Lens in 1710 as a frontispiece to collections of the original folio numbers._
G. A. A.
When the first number of the Tatler appeared in 1709, Steele and Addison were about thirty-seven years of age, while Swift, then still counted among the Whigs, was more than four years their senior. Addison and Steele had been friends at the Charterhouse School and at Oxford, and though they had during the following years had varying experiences, their friendship had in no way lessened. Addison had been a fellow of his college, had gained the patronage of Charles Montague and Lord Somers, had made the grand tour, and published an account of his travels; had gained popularity by his poem "The Campaign," written in celebration of the victory at Blenheim; had been made an Under-Secretary of State, and finally (in December 1708) had been appointed secretary to Lord Wharton, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Steele, on the other hand, had enlisted in the Guards, without taking any degree; had obtained an ensign's commission after dedicating to Lord Cutts a poem on Queen Mary's death; and had written a little book called "The Christian Hero," designed "to fix upon his own mind a strong impression of virtue and religion, in opposition to a stronger propensity towards unwarrantable pleasures." At the close of the same year (1701) he brought out a successful comedy, "The Funeral," which was followed by "The Lying Lover" and "The Tender Husband," plays which gave strong evidence of the influence of Jeremy Collier's attack on the immorality of the stage. "The Tender Husband" owed "many applauded strokes" to Addison, to whom it was dedicated by Steele, who wished "to show the esteem I have for you, and that I look upon my intimacy with you as one of the most valuable enjoyments of my life." In 1705 Steele married a lady with property in Barbados, and on her death married, in 1707, Mary Scurlock, the "dear Prue" to whom he addressed his well-known letters. For the rest, he had been made gentleman-waiter to Prince George of Denmark, and appointed Gazetteer, with a salary of L300, less a tax of L45 a year. He was disappointed in his hopes of obtaining the Under-Secretaryship vacated by Addison.
From 1705 onwards there is evidence of frequent and familiar intercourse between Swift and Addison and Steele. After Sir William Temple's death, Swift had become chaplain to the Earl of Berkeley, who gave him the living of Laracor; and during a visit to England in 1704 he had gained a position in the front rank of authors by the "Tale of a Tub" and the "Battle of the Books." At the close of 1707 he was again in England, charged with a mission to obtain for the Irish clergy the remission of First Fruits and Tenths already conceded to the English, and throughout 1708 what he calls "the triumvirate of Addison, Steele and me" were in constant communication. In that year Swift published a pamphlet called "A Project for the Advancement of Religion and the Reformation of Manners," which anticipated many of the arguments used in the Tatler and Spectator; and he also commenced his attack on John Partridge, quack doctor and maker of astrological almanacs. On the appearance of Partridge's "Merlinus Liberatus" for 1708, Swift—borrowing a name from the signboard of a shoemaker—published "Predictions for the year 1708, wherein the month and day of the month are set down, the persons named, and the great actions and events of next year particularly related, as they will come to pass. Written to prevent the people of England from being further imposed on by vulgar almanack-makers. By Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq." Isaac Bickerstaff professed to be a true astrologer, disgusted at the lies told by impostors, and he said that he was willing to be hooted at as a cheat if his prophecies were not exactly fulfilled. His first prediction was that Partridge would die on the 29th of March; and on the 30th a second pamphlet was published, "The accomplishment of the first of Mr. Bickerstaff's Predictions ... in a letter to a person of quality, in which a detailed account is given of Partridge's death, at five minutes after seven, by which it is clear that Mr. Bickerstaff was mistaken almost four hours in his calculation.... Whether he had been the cause of this poor man's death, as well as the predictor, may be very reasonably disputed." The joke was maintained by Swift and others in various pieces, and when Partridge, in his almanac for 1709, protested that he was still living, Swift replied, in "A Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.," which was advertised in the fifth number of the Tatler, that he could prove that Partridge was not alive; for no one living could have written such rubbish as the new almanac. In starting his new paper Steele assumed the name of the astrologer Isaac Bickerstaff, rendered famous by Swift, and made frequent use of Swift's leading idea. He himself summed up the controversy in the words, "if a man's art is gone, the man is gone, though his body still appear."
Much has been written on the interesting question of the early history of the periodical press; but with one exception none of its predecessors had much effect on the Tatler. John Dunton's Athenian Mercury was the forerunner of our Notes and Queries; and it was followed by the British Apollo (1708-11), the second title of which was "Curious Amusements for the Ingenious. To which are added the most Material Occurrences, Foreign and Domestic. Performed by a Society of Gentlemen." The Gentleman's Journal of 1692-4, a monthly paper of poems and other miscellaneous matter, was succeeded, in 1707, by Oldmixon's Muses' Mercury; or, The Monthly Miscellany, a periodical which contained also notices of new plays and books, and numbered Steele among its contributors. Defoe's Review, begun in 1704, aimed at setting the affairs of Europe in a clearer light, regardless of party; but, added Defoe, "After our serious matters are over, we shall at the end of every paper present you with a little diversion, as anything occurs to make the world merry; and whether friend or foe, one party or another, if anything happens so scandalous as to require an open reproof, the world will meet with it there." Accordingly, of the eight pages in the first number, one and a half pages consist of "Mercure Scandale; or, Advice from the Scandalous Club, Translated out of French." The censure was to be of the actions of men, not of parties; and the design was to expose not persons but things. A monthly supplement, dealing with "the immediate subject then on the tongues of the town," was begun in September 1704; and pressure on the space before long pushed the Advices from the Scandal Club out of the ordinary issue of the Review. Subsequently Defoe wrote more than once in praise of the way in which his work had been taken up by Isaac Bickerstaff.
Probably the Tatler was started by Steele without any very definite designs for the future. According to the first number, published on April 12, 1709, the aim was to instruct the public what to think, after their reading, and there was to be something for the entertainment of the fair sex. The numbers were published three times a week, on the post-days, at the price of one penny. Each paper consisted of a single folio sheet, and the first four were distributed gratuitously. Steele probably thought that his position of Gazetteer would enable him to give the latest news, and he says that these paragraphs brought in a multitude of readers; but as the position of the Tatler became established, the need for the support of these items of news grew less, and after the first eighty numbers they are of rare occurrence. Quite early in the career of the paper Addison, speaking of the distress which would be caused among the news-writers by the conclusion of a peace, said that Bickerstaff was not personally concerned in the matter; "for as my chief scenes of action are coffee-houses, playhouses, and my own apartment, I am in no need of camps, fortifications, and fields of battle to support me.... I shall still be safe as long as there are men or women, or politicians, or lovers, or poets, or nymphs, or swains, or cits, or courtiers in being."
The subject of each article was to be indicated by the name of the coffee-house or other place from which it was supposed to come: "All accounts of gallantry, pleasure, and entertainment shall be under the article of White's Chocolate-house; Poetry, under that of Will's Coffee-house; Learning, under the title of Grecian; Foreign and Domestic News you will have from Saint James's Coffee-house; and what else I have to offer on any other subject shall be dated from my own Apartment." For some time each number contained short papers from all or several of these places; but gradually it became usual to devote the whole number to one topic. The motto of the first forty numbers was "Quicquid agunt homines ... nostri farrago libelli"; but in the following numbers it was changed to "Celebrare domestica facta"; and afterwards each number generally had a quotation bearing upon the subject of the day. Writing some time after the commencement of the fatter, Steele said, in the Dedication prefixed to the first volume, "The general purpose of this paper is to expose the false arts of life, to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and to recommend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and our behaviour." And elsewhere he says: "As for my labours, which he is pleased to inquire after, if they but wear one impertinence out of human life, destroy a single vice, or give a morning's cheerfulness to an honest mind; in short, if the world can be but one virtue the better, or in any degree less vicious, or receive from them the smallest addition to their innocent diversions; I shall not think my pains, or indeed my life, to have been spent in vain." At the close, speaking in his own name, Steele wrote: "The general purpose of the whole has been to recommend truth, innocence, honour, and virtue, as the chief ornaments of life; but I considered, that severity of manners was absolutely necessary to him who would censure others, and for that reason, and that only, chose to talk in a mask. I shall not carry my humility so far as to call myself a vicious man, but at the same time must confess my life is at best but pardonable."
With his usual generosity, Steele more than once spoke in the warmest terms of the assistance rendered to him by Addison. In the preface to the collected edition he said: "I have only one gentleman, who will be nameless, to thank for any frequent assistance to me, which indeed it would have been barbarous in him to have denied to one with whom he had lived in an intimacy from childhood, considering the great ease with which he is able to despatch the most entertaining pieces of this nature. This good office he performed with such force of genius, humour, wit, and learning that I fared like a distressed prince, who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid; I was undone by my auxiliary; when I had called him in I could not subsist without dependence on him." And in 1722, after Addison's death, in a preface to his friend's play, "The Drummer," Steele wrote of the Tatler, "That paper was advanced indeed! for it was raised to a greater thing than I intended it! For the elegance, purity, and correctness which appeared in his writings were not so much my purpose, as (in any intelligible manner, as I could) to rally all those singularities of human life, through the different professions and characters in it, which obstruct anything that was truly good and great."
It is only fair to Steele to point out that the original idea of the Tatler was entirely his own, and that he alone was responsible for the regular supply of material. Addison was in Ireland when the paper was begun, and did not know who was the author until several numbers had appeared. His occasional contributions were of little importance until after eighty numbers had been published; and of the whole 271 numbers Steele wrote about 188 and Addison only 42, while they were jointly responsible for 36. Swift contributed only to about a dozen numbers; and the assistance received from other writers was so slight that it does not call for notice here. Steele, unlike Addison, was probably at his best in the Tatler, where he had a freer hand, and described, in a perfectly fresh and unaffected style, the impressions of the moment. Hastily composed in coffee-house or printing-office, as they often were, and at very short notice, his papers frequently appeal to the reader of the present day more than the carefully elaborated and highly finished work of his friend, who wrote only when he found a suitable topic. And if Addison's art is of a higher standard than Steele's, it is to Steele that we owe Addison. A minor poet and the author of a book of travels and of an unsuccessful opera, Addison found no opportunity for his peculiar genius until his friend provided the means in the Tatler. It is tolerably certain that he would himself never have taken the necessary step of founding a periodical appealing to the general public; and Steele himself said with perfect truth, "I claim to myself the merit of having extorted excellent productions from a person of the greatest abilities, who would not have let them appear by any other means."
If more is said here of Steele than of Addison, it is because it is Steele whose name is most intimately connected with the Tatler. The field in which Addison shone brightest was the Spectator, where the whole plan was arranged in the manner best suited to his genius. But his influence is, nevertheless, visible in the development of the earlier paper, and some of his individual articles are equal to anything he afterwards wrote. It is only necessary to mention his papers on the Distress of the News-Writers; on the poetaster, Ned Softly; on the pedant and "broker in learning," Tom Folio; on the Political Upholsterer, who was more inquisitive to know what passed in Poland than in his own family; and on the Adventures of a Shilling. His, too, are the Vision of Justice; the story of a dream; and the amusing account of the visit to London of Sir Harry Quickset, who, with his old-world breeding, was the forerunner of Sir Roger de Coverley.
Unlike the members of the Spectator's Club, the dramatis personae introduced in the Tatler do not occupy a very prominent place in the development of the work. Isaac Bickerstaff himself, an old man of sixty-four, "a philosopher, an humourist, an astrologer, and a censor," is rather vaguely sketched, and his familiar, Pacolet, is made use of chiefly in the earlier numbers. The occasional references to Bickerstaff's half-sister, Jenny Distaff, and her husband, Tanquillus, and to his three nephews and their conduct in the presence of a "beautiful woman of honour," gave Steele a framework for some charming sketches of domestic life. It is not until No. 132 that we have the amusing account of the members of Bickerstaff's Club, the Trumpet, in Shire Lane. There were Sir Geoffrey Notch, a gentleman of an ancient family, who had wasted his estate in his youth, and called every thriving man a pitiful upstart; Major Matchlock, with his reminiscences of the Civil War; Dick Reptile, and the Bencher who was always praising the wit of former days, and telling stories of Jack Ogle, with whom he pretended to have been intimate in his youth. Very little use was afterwards made of this promising material.
The poet John Gay has given an excellent account of the work accomplished by Steele and Addison in a pamphlet called "The Present State of Wit" (1711). Speaking of the discontinuance of the Tatler, he says: "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.... There is this noble 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 have asserted that anything witty could be said in praise of a 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 a 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 sense.
"It is incredible to conceive the effect 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, nor 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.
"Lastly, 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 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."
Gay's opinion has been confirmed by the best judges of nearly two centuries, and there is no need to labour the question of the wit and wisdom of the Tatler. But some examples may be cited in illustration of the topics on which Steele and his friends wrote, and the manner in which they dealt with them. The very first numbers contained illustrations of most of what were to be the characteristics of the paper. There is the account of the very pretty gentleman at White's Chocolate-house thrown into a sad condition by a passing vision of a young lady; the notice of Betterton's benefit performance; the comments on the war; the campaign against Partridge, with the declaration that all who were good for nothing would be included among the deceased; the discussion on the morality of the stage, with praise of Mrs. Bicknell and reproaches upon a young nobleman who came drunk to the play; the comparison of the rival beauties, Chloe and Clarissa; the satire on the Italian opera, and on Pinkethman's company of strollers; and the allegorical paper on Faelicia, or Britain. All these and other matters are dealt with in the four numbers which were distributed gratuitously; as the work progressed the principal change, besides the disappearance of the paragraphs of news, was the development of the sustained essay on morals or manners, and the less frequent indulgence in satire upon individual offenders, and in personal allusions in general. This change seems to have been the result partly of design, and partly of circumstances, including Addison's influence on the work. Steele himself said, as we have seen, that the Tatler was raised to a greater height than he had designed; but no doubt he realised that he must feel his way, and be at first a tatler rather than a preacher. After some grave remarks about duelling in an early paper (No. 26), he makes Pacolet, Bickerstaff's familiar, say, "It was too soon to give my discourse on this subject so serious a turn; you have chiefly to do with that part of mankind which must be led into reflection by degrees, and you must treat this custom with humour and raillery to get an audience, before you come to pronounce sentence upon it."
Follies and weaknesses are ridiculed in the Tatler in a genial spirit, by one who was fully alive to his own imperfections, and point is usually given to the papers by a sketch of some veiled or imaginary individual. In this way Bickerstaff treats of fops, of wags, of coquettes, of the lady who condemned the vice of the age, meaning the only vice of which she was not guilty; of impudence; and of pride and vanity. In a graver tone he attacks the practice of duelling; gamesters and sharpers; drunken "roarers" and "scowrers"; and brutal pastimes at the Bear Garden and elsewhere. The campaign against swindlers exposed Steele to serious threats on more than one occasion.
Of what Coleridge called Steele's "pure humanity" there is nowhere better evidence than in the Tatler. It is enough to cite once more the well-known examples of the account of his father's death and his mother's grief; the stories of Unnion and Valentine, of the Cornish lovers, of Clarinda and Chloe, and of Mr. Eustace, and the charming account of the married happiness of an old friend, with the pathetic picture of the death of the wife, and the grief of husband and children. In the last number Steele said, "It has been a most exquisite pleasure to me to frame characters of domestic life"; and we know from his letters that when he wrote of children he was only expressing the deep affection which he felt for his own. Equally in advance of his time was his respect for women, one of whom—Lady Elizabeth Hastings—he has immortalised in the words, "To love her is a liberal education." In the same number he wrote, "As charity is esteemed a conjunction of the good qualities necessary to a virtuous man, so love is the happy composition of all the accomplishments that make a fine gentleman." In a time of much laxity he constantly dwelt on the happiness of marriage; "wife is the most amiable term in human life." But good nature must be cultivated if the married life is to be happy, and all unnecessary provocations avoided. "Dear Jenny," says Bickerstaff to his sister, "remember me, and avoid Snap-Dragon." Women must be rightly educated before they can expect to be treated by, and to influence men as they should. The make of the mind greatly contributes to the ornament of the body; "there is so immediate a relation between our thoughts and gestures that a woman must think well to look well." The habit of scandal-mongering and other weaknesses are the result of an improper training of the mind. "All women especially," says Thackeray, "are bound to be grateful to Steele, as he was the first of our writers who really seemed to admire and respect them." His pity extended to the hunted deer: "I have more than once rode off at the death," he says; "to be apt to shed tears is a sign of a great as well as a little spirit."
Steele's teaching on morals and right living enters intimately into his literary criticism. His love for Shakespeare was real and intelligent; there is no formal discussion of the rules of the drama, but throughout the Tatler there are references which show the keenest appreciation of Shakespeare's powers as poet and philosopher. "The vitiated tastes of the audience at the theatre could only be amended," says Steele, "by encouraging the representation of the noble characters drawn by Shakespeare and others, from whence it is impossible to return without strong impressions of honour and humanity. On these occasions, distress is laid before us with all its causes and consequences, and our resentment placed according to the merit of the persons afflicted. Were dramas of this nature more acceptable to the taste of the town, men who have genius would bend their studies to excel in them." Still more remarkable are the allusions to "Paradise Lost," for Milton was then even less appreciated than Shakespeare. As in so many other things, Addison's more elaborate criticism in the Spectator was foreshadowed in the Tatler by Steele; and the comparison of passages by Milton and Dryden must have been very striking to the reader of that time, who usually knew Shakespeare or Chaucer only through the adaptations of Dryden or Tate.
Though it is not true, as some have represented, that the Tatler is for the most part a mere society journal, concerned chiefly with the gossip of the day, yet its contributors made use of the scenes and events familiar to their readers in order to bring home the kindly lessons they wished to teach; and in so doing they have given us a picture of the daily life of the town which would alone have given lasting interest to the paper. The distinctly "moral" papers have had countless imitators, and sometimes therefore they are apt to pall upon us, but the social articles are at least as interesting now as when they were written, and one of the reasons why some excellent judges have prefered the Tatler to the Spectator, is that there is a greater proportion of these gossiping papers, combining wisdom with satire, and bringing before us as in a mirror the London of Queen Anne's day. Bickerstaff takes us from club to coffee-house, from St. James's to the Exchange; we see the poets and wits at Will's, the politicians at White's, the merchants at Garraway's, the Templars at the Smyrna; we see Betterton and the rest on the stage, and the ladies and gentlemen in the front or side boxes; we see Pinkethman's players at Greenwich, Powell's puppet-show, Don Saltero's Museum at Chelsea, and the bear-baiting and prize-fights at Hockley-in-the-Hole. We are taken to the Mall at St. James's, or the Ring in Hyde Park, and we study the fine ladies and the beaux, with their red heels and their amber-headed canes suspended from their waistcoats; or we follow them to Charles Lillie's, the perfumer, or to Mather's toy-shop, or to Motteux's china warehouse; or to the shops in the New Exchange, where the men bought trifles and ogled the attendants. Or yet again we watch the exposure of the sharpers and bullies, and the denunciation of others who brought even greater ruin on those who fell into their clutches. We see the worshipping and the flirtations in the church, with Smalridge and Atterbury, Hoadly and Blackall among the preachers, and hear something of the controversies between High and Low Church, Whig and Tory. We hear, too, of the war with France, and of the hopes of peace. Steele tells us not only of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, but of privates and non-commissioned officers, of their lives and tragedies, of their comrades and friends. All Sergeant Hall knew of the battle was that he wished there had not been so many killed; he had himself a very bad shot in the head, but would recover, if it pleased God. "To me," says Steele, recalling his own service as a trooper, "I take the gallantry of private soldiers to proceed from the same, if not from a nobler impulse than that of gentlemen and officers.... Sergeant Hall would die ten thousand deaths rather than a word should be spoken at the Red Lattice, or any part of the Butcher Row, in prejudice to his courage or honesty." His letter to his friend was "the picture of the bravest sort of man, that is to say, a man of great courage and small hopes."
Something must be said of the events of 1710, which led to the discontinuance of the Tatler. The trial of Dr. Sacheverell in March was followed by the fall of the Whigs in the autumn; and in October Steele lost his post of Gazetteer. Swift says it was "for writing a Tatler some months ago, against Mr. Harley, who gave him the post at first." There was a growing coldness between Swift and his old friends, and on the 3rd of November Swift wrote, "We have scurvy Tatlers of late, so pray do not suspect me." On the preceding day Swift's first paper in the Tory Examiner had been published. He still met Steele from time to time, and he says that he interceded for him with Harley, but was frustrated by Addison. However this may be, it is certain that Harley saw Steele, and that as the result of their interview Steele retained his post as Commissioner of the Stamp Office, and brought the Tatler to a close on January 2, 1711, without consulting Addison. "To say the truth, it was time," says Swift; "for he grew cruel dull and dry." It is true that there is a falling off towards the close of the Tatler, but that it was not want of matter that brought about the abandonment of the paper is proved by the commencement only two months later of the Spectator. Steele himself said that on many accounts it had become an irksome task to personate Mr. Bickerstaff any longer; he had in some places touched upon matters concerning Church and State, and he could not be cold enough to conceal his opinions. Gay tells us, in "The Present State of Wit," that the town being generally of opinion that Steele was quite spent as regards matter, was the more surprised when the Spectator appeared; people were therefore driven to accept the alternative view that the Tatler was laid down "as a sort of submission to, or composition with, the Government for some past offences."
Excellent testimony to the immediate popularity of the Tatler is furnished by the fact that its successive numbers were reprinted in Dublin and in Edinburgh. At least sixty-nine numbers of the Dublin issue, in quarto, were printed. The Scottish re-issue was a folio sheet, commenced about February 1710, and continued until the close of the paper. The date of each number of the Edinburgh paper—"printed by James Watson, and sold at his shop next door to the Red Lion, opposite to the Lucken Booths"—is five or six days later than that of the original issue; it was evidently worked off as soon as the London post came in. Other evidence of the popularity of the Tatler in the provinces is afforded by the foundation of the "Gentleman's Society" at Spalding. Maurice Johnson, a native of Spalding and a member of the Inner Temple, gives this account of the matter: "In April 1709, that great genius Captain Richard Steele ... published the Tatlers, which, as they came out in half-sheets, were taken in by a gentleman, who communicated them to his acquaintances at the coffee-house then in the Abbey Yard; and these papers being universally approved as both instructive and entertaining, they ordered them to be sent down thither, with the Gazettes and Votes, for which they paid out of charity to the person who kept the coffee-house, and they were accordingly had and read there every post-day, generally aloud to the company, who would sit and talk over the subject afterwards. This insensibly drew the men of sense and letters into a sociable way of conversing, and continued the next year, 1710, until the publication of these papers desisted, which was in December, to their great regret." Afterwards the Spectator was taken in, and a regular society was started in 1712, by the encouragement of Addison, Steele, and other members of Button's Club.
One indication of the popularity of the Tatler in its own day is the long subscription list prefixed to the reprint in four octavo volumes. Some copies were printed on "royal," others on "medium" paper; and the price of the former was a guinea a volume, while that of the latter was half a guinea. There was also an authorised cheap edition, in duodecimo, at half a crown a volume, besides a pirated edition at the same price. A still more conclusive proof of the success of the Tatler was the number of papers started in imitation of its methods. Addison mentioned some of those periodicals in No. 229, where details will be found of the "Female Tatler," "Tit for Tat," and the like. But besides these, several spurious continuations of the Tatler appeared directly after the discontinuance of the genuine paper, including one by William Harrison, written with Swift's encouragement and assistance. But Harrison, as Swift said, had "not the true vein for it," and his paper reached only to fifty-two numbers, which were afterwards reprinted as a fifth volume to the collected edition of the original Tatler. Gay said that Steele's imitators seemed to think "that what was only the garnish of the former Tatlers was that which recommended them, and not those substantial entertainments which they everywhere abound in." The town, in the absence of anything better, welcomed their occasional and faint endeavours at humour; "but even those are at present become wholly invisible, and quite swallowed up in the blaze of the Spectator." Steele himself said that his imitators held the censorship in commission.
[Footnote 1: No. 18.]
[Footnote 2: No. 89.]
[Footnote 3: No. 271.]
[Footnote 4: Spectator, No. 532.]
[Footnote 5: Tatler, No. 18.]
[Footnote 6: No. 163.]
[Footnote 7: No. 158.]
[Footnote 8: Nos. 155, 160.]
[Footnote 9: No. 249.]
[Footnote 10: Nos. 100, 102.]
[Footnote 11: No. 117.]
[Footnote 12: No. 86.]
[Footnote 13: No. 10.]
[Footnote 14: No. 30.]
[Footnote 15: No. 142.]
[Footnote 16: No. 184.]
[Footnote 17: No. 27.]
[Footnote 18: No. 210.]
[Footnote 19: No. 168.]
[Footnote 20: Nos. 127, 186.]
[Footnote 21: Nos. 25, 26, 29, 31, 38, 39.]
[Footnote 22: Nos. 56, &c.]
[Footnote 23: Nos. 40, 45.]
[Footnote 24: No. 134.]
[Footnote 25: See Nos. 115, 271.]
[Footnote 26: No. 181.]
[Footnote 27: No. 5.]
[Footnote 28: No. 82.]
[Footnote 29: No. 94.]
[Footnote 30: No. 172.]
[Footnote 31: Nos. 95, 114.]
[Footnote 32: No. 49.]
[Footnote 33: No. 33.]
[Footnote 34: No. 149.]
[Footnote 35: No. 85. See, too, No. 104.]
[Footnote 36: Nos. 141, 248.]
[Footnote 37: No. 212.]
[Footnote 38: Nos, 40, 42, 47.]
[Footnote 39: No. 68.]
[Footnote 40: No. 8.]
[Footnote 41: No. 6.]
[Footnote 42: No. 87.]
In the last Tatler I promised some explanation of passages and persons mentioned in this work, as well as some account of the assistances I have had in the performance. I shall do this in very few words; for when a man has no design but to speak plain truth, he may say a great deal in a very narrow compass. I have in the dedication of the first volume made my acknowledgments to Dr. Swift, whose pleasant writings, in the name of Bickerstaff, created an inclination in the town towards anything that could appear in the same disguise. I must acknowledge also, that at my first entering upon this work, a certain uncommon way of thinking, and a turn in conversation peculiar to that agreeable gentleman, rendered his company very advantageous to one whose imagination was to be continually employed upon obvious and common subjects, though at the same time obliged to treat of them in a new and unbeaten method. His verses on the Shower in Town, and the Description of the Morning, are instances of the happiness of that genius, which could raise such pleasing ideas upon occasions so barren to an ordinary invention.
When I am upon the house of Bickerstaff, I must not forget that genealogy of the family sent to me by the post, and written, as I since understand, by Mr. Twysden, who died at the battle of Mons, and has a monument in Westminster Abbey, suitable to the respect which is due to his wit and his valour. There are through the course of the work very many incidents which were written by unknown correspondents. Of this kind is the tale in the second Tatler, and the epistle from Mr. Downes the prompter, with others which were very well received by the public. But I have only one gentleman, who will be nameless, to thank for any frequent assistance to me, which indeed it would have been barbarous in him to have denied to one with whom he has lived in an intimacy from childhood, considering the great ease with which he is able to dispatch the most entertaining pieces of this nature. This good office he performed with such force of genius, humour, wit and learning, that I fared like a distressed prince who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid; I was undone by my auxiliary; when I had once called him in, I could not subsist without dependence on him.
The same hand writ the distinguishing characters of men and women under the names of Musical Instruments, the Distress of the News-writers, the Inventory of the Playhouse, and the Description of the Thermometer, which I cannot but look upon as the greatest embellishments of this work.
Thus far I thought necessary to say relating to the great hands which have been concerned in these volumes, with relation to the spirit and genius of the work; and am far from pretending to modesty in making this acknowledgment. What a man obtains from the good opinion and friendship of worthy men, is a much greater honour than he can possibly reap from any accomplishments of his own. But all the credit of wit which was given me by the gentlemen above mentioned (with whom I have now accounted) has not been able to atone for the exceptions made against me for some raillery in behalf of that learned advocate for the episcopacy of the Church, and the liberty of the people, Mr. Hoadly. I mention this only to defend myself against the imputation of being moved rather by party than opinion; and I think it is apparent, I have with the utmost frankness allowed merit wherever I found it, though joined in interests different from those for which I have declared myself. When my Favonius is acknowledged to be Dr. Smalridge, and the amiable character of the dean in the sixty-sixth Tatler drawn for Dr. Atterbury, I hope I need say no more as to my impartiality.
I really have acted in these cases with honesty, and am concerned it should be thought otherwise: for wit, if a man had it, unless it be directed to some useful end, is but a wanton frivolous quality; all that one should value himself upon in this kind is, that he had some honourable intention in it.
As for this point, never hero in romance was carried away with a more furious ambition to conquer giants and tyrants, than I have been in extirpating gamesters and duellists. And indeed, like one of those knights too, though I was calm before, I am apt to fly out again, when the thing that first disturbed me is presented to my imagination. I shall therefore leave off when I am well, and fight with windmills no more: only shall be so arrogant as to say of myself, that in spite of all the force of fashion and prejudice, in the face of all the world, I alone bewailed the condition of an English gentleman, whose fortune and life are at this day precarious; while his estate is liable to the demands of gamesters, through a false sense of justice; and to the demands of duellists, through a false sense of honour. As to the first of these orders of men, I have not one word more to say of them: as to the latter, I shall conclude all I have more to offer against them (with respect to their being prompted by the fear of shame) by applying to the duellist what I think Dr. South says somewhere of the liar, "He is a coward to man, and a brave to God."
To Mr. Maynwaring.
The state of conversation and business in this town having been long perplexed with pretenders in both kinds, in order to open men's eyes against such abuses, it appeared no unprofitable undertaking to publish a paper which should observe upon the manners of the pleasureable, as well as the busy part of mankind. To make this generally read, it seemed the most proper method to form it by way of a letter of intelligence, consisting of such parts as might gratify the curiosity of persons of all conditions, and of each sex. But a work of this nature requiring time to grow into the notice of the world, it happened very luckily, that a little before I had resolved upon this design, a gentleman had written Predictions, and two or three other pieces in my name, which had rendered it famous through all parts of Europe; and by an inimitable spirit and humour, raised it to as high a pitch of reputation as it could possibly arrive at.
By this good fortune, the name of Isaac Bickerstaff gained an audience of all who had any taste of wit, and the addition of the ordinary occurrences of common journals of news brought in a multitude of other readers. I could not, I confess, long keep up the opinion of the town, that these lucubrations were written by the same hand with the first works which were published under my name; but before I lost the participation of that author's fame, I had already found the advantage of his authority, to which I owe the sudden acceptance which my labours met with in the world.
The general purpose of this paper, is to expose the false arts of life, to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and recommend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and our behaviour. No man has a better judgment for the discovery, or a nobler spirit for the contempt of such impostures, than your self; which qualities render you the most proper patron for the author of these essays. In the general, the design, however executed, has met with so great success, that there is hardly a name now eminent among us for power, wit, beauty, valour, or wisdom, which is not subscribed, for the encouragement of the two volumes in octavo, on a royal or medium paper. This is indeed an honour, for which it is impossible to express a suitable gratitude; and there is nothing could be an addition to the pleasure I take in it, but the reflection that it gives me the most conspicuous occasion I can ever have, of subscribing myself,
Your most obliged, most obedient, and most humble Servant,
[Footnote 43: This Preface was originally prefixed to the fourth volume of the collected edition issued in 1710-11.]
[Footnote 44: No. 238.]
[Footnote 45: No. 9.]
[Footnote 46: See No. 11.]
[Footnote 47: No. 193.]
[Footnote 48: Addison.]
[Footnote 49: Nos. 153, 18, 42, 220.]
[Footnote 50: Benjamin Hoadly, afterwards Bishop of Bangor, Salisbury, and Winchester, successively, was in 1709 engaged in controversy with Dr. Francis Atterbury, who represented the high-church party. George Smalridge, afterwards Bishop of Bristol, was a Jacobite.]
[Footnote 51: See Nos. 72, 114.]
[Footnote 52: Arthur Maynwaring was descended from the ancient family of the Maynwarings of Over Peover, Cheshire. He was born in 1668, at Ightfield, Shropshire, and was educated at the Shrewsbury Grammar School and at Christ Church, Oxford, where Smalridge was his tutor. Filled with prejudices against the Revolution, he came to London to study law, but a political satire which he published brought him under Dryden's notice, and the kind reception given him by several Whig statesmen, to whom he was introduced, caused him to change his views on politics, and after his father's death in 1693 he gave up the law and determined to push his fortunes at the Court. He was made a Commissioner of Customs and afterwards Auditor of the Imprests. He was admitted to the Kit-Cat Club, and in 1706 the interest of Godolphin procured him a seat in the House of Commons. Upon the fall of the Whig ministry in 1710, Maynwaring set up the Medley, a weekly paper in which the attacks of the Examiner were answered, and wrote various political pamphlets. But his health soon broke down, and he died in November, 1712. Mrs. Oldfield, the actress, was the sole executrix of his will, by which he divided his small property of some L3000 between her, a son that he had by her, and his sister. There appear to have been many good points in his character. His "Life and Posthumous Works" were published by Oldmixon in 1715. "Maynwaring, whom we hear nothing of now, was the ruling man in all conversations, indeed what he wrote had very little merit in it" (Pope, in Spence's "Anecdotes," 1820, p. 338). Steele says that Harley told him that he had to thank Maynwaring for his post of Gazetteer.]
[Footnote 53: Swift.]
[Footnote 54: "Encouragement of these volumes," in the octavo edition. The list of subscribers to the original octavo edition comprised the names of some four hundred of the most prominent persons of the day.]
BY ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, ESQ.
No. 1. [STEELE.
Tuesday, April 12, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines ... nostri farrago libelli. Juv., Sat. I. 85, 86.
* * * * *
Though the other papers which are published for the use of the good people of England have certainly very wholesome effects, and are laudable in their particular kinds, yet they do not seem to come up to the main design of such narrations, which, I humbly presume, should be principally intended for the use of politic persons, who are so public spirited as to neglect their own affairs to look into transactions of State. Now these gentlemen, for the most part, being men of strong zeal and weak intellects, it is both a charitable and necessary work to offer something, whereby such worthy and well-affected members of the commonwealth may be instructed, after their reading, what to think; which shall be the end and purpose of this my paper: wherein I shall from time to time report and consider all matters of what kind soever that shall occur to me, and publish such my advices and reflections every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday in the week for the convenience of the post. I have also resolved to have something which may be of entertainment to the fair sex, in honour of whom I have taken the title of this paper. I therefore earnestly desire all persons, without distinction, to take it in for the present gratis, and hereafter at the price of one penny, forbidding all hawkers to take more for it at their peril. And I desire my readers to consider, that I am at a very great charge for proper materials for this work, as well as that before I resolved upon it, I had settled a correspondence in all parts of the known and knowing world. And forasmuch as this globe is not trodden upon by mere drudges of business only, but that men of spirit and genius are justly to be esteemed as considerable agents in it, we shall not, upon a dearth of news, present you with musty foreign edicts, or dull proclamations, but shall divide our relation of the passages which occur in action or discourse throughout this town, as well as elsewhere, under such dates of places as may prepare you for the matter you are to expect, in the following manner:
All accounts of gallantry, pleasure, and entertainment, shall be under the article of White's Chocolate-house; poetry, under that of Will's Coffee-house; learning, under the title of Grecian; foreign and domestic news, you will have from St. James's Coffee-house; and what else I shall on any other subject offer, shall be dated from my own apartment.
I once more desire my readers to consider that as I cannot keep an ingenious man to go daily to Will's under twopence each day merely for his charges, to White's under sixpence, nor to the Grecian without allowing him some plain Spanish, to be as able as others at the learned table; and that a good observer cannot speak with even Kidney at St. James's without clean linen; I say, these considerations will, I hope, make all persons willing to comply with my humble request (when my gratis stock is exhausted) of a penny a piece; especially since they are sure of some proper amusement, and that it is impossible for me to want means to entertain them, having, besides the helps of my own parts, the power of divination, and that I can, by casting a figure, tell you all that will happen before it comes to pass.
But this last faculty I shall use very sparingly, and not speak of anything until it is passed, for fear of divulging matters which may offend our superiors.
White's Chocolate-house, April 11.
The deplorable condition of a very pretty gentleman, who walks here at the hours when men of quality first appear, is what is very much lamented. His history is, that on the 9th of September, 1705, being in his one and twentieth year, he was washing his teeth at a tavern window in Pall Mall, when a fine equipage passed by, and in it a young lady, who looked up at him; away goes the coach, and the young gentleman pulled off his nightcap, and instead of rubbing his gums, as he ought to do out of the window till about four o'clock, he sits him down, and spoke not a word till twelve at night; after which, he began to inquire, if anybody knew the lady. The company asked, "What lady?" But he said no more until they broke up at six in the morning. All the ensuing winter he went from church to church every Sunday, and from play-house to play-house all the week, but could never find the original of the picture which dwelt in his bosom. In a word, his attention to anything but his passion, was utterly gone. He has lost all the money he ever played for, and been confuted in every argument he has entered upon since the moment he first saw her. He is of a noble family, has naturally a very good air, and is of a frank, honest temper: but this passion has so extremely mauled him, that his features are set and uninformed, and his whole visage is deadened by a long absence of thought. He never appears in any alacrity, but when raised by wine; at which time he is sure to come hither, and throw away a great deal of wit on fellows, who have no sense further than just to observe, that our poor lover has most understanding when he is drunk, and is least in his senses when he is sober.
Will's Coffee-house, April 8.
On Thursday last was presented, for the benefit of Mr. Betterton, the celebrated comedy, called "Love for Love." Those excellent players, Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Bracegirdle, and Mr. Doggett, though not at present concerned in the house, acted on that occasion. There has not been known so great a concourse of persons of distinction as at that time; the stage itself was covered with gentlemen and ladies, and when the curtain was drawn, it discovered even there a very splendid audience. This unusual encouragement, which was given to a play for the advantage of so great an actor, gives an undeniable instance, that the true relish for manly entertainments and rational pleasures is not wholly lost. All the parts were acted to perfection; the actors were careful of their carriage, and no one was guilty of the affectation to insert witticisms of his own, but a due respect was had to the audience, for encouraging this accomplished player. It is not now doubted but plays will revive, and take their usual place in the opinion of persons of wit and merit, notwithstanding their late apostacy in favour of dress and sound. This place is very much altered since Mr. Dryden frequented it; where you used to see songs, epigrams, and satires in the hands of every man you met, you have now only a pack of cards; and instead of the cavils about the turn of the expression, the elegance of the style, and the like, the learned now dispute only about the truth of the game. But, however the company is altered, all have shown a great respect for Mr. Betterton: and the very gaming part of this house have been so much touched with a sense of the uncertainty of human affairs (which alter with themselves every moment) that in this gentleman, they pitied Mark Antony of Rome, Hamlet of Denmark, Mithridates of Pontus, Theodosius of Greece, and Henry the Eighth of England. It is well known he has been in the condition of each of those illustrious personages for several hours together, and behaved himself in those high stations, in all the changes of the scene, with suitable dignity. For these reasons, we intend to repeat this favour to him on a proper occasion, lest he who can instruct us so well in personating feigned sorrows, should be lost to us by suffering under real ones. The town is at present in very great expectation of seeing a comedy now in rehearsal, which is the twenty-fifth production of my honoured friend Mr. Thomas D'Urfey; who, besides his great abilities in the dramatic, has a peculiar talent in the lyric way of writing, and that with a manner wholly new and unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans, wherein he is but faintly imitated in the translations of the modern Italian operas.
St. James's Coffee-house, April 11.
Letters from the Hague of the 16th say, that Major-General Cadogan was gone to Brussels, with orders to disperse proper instructions for assembling the whole force of the allies in Flanders in the beginning of the next month. The late offers concerning peace were made in the style of persons who think themselves upon equal terms. But the allies have so just a sense of their present advantages, that they will not admit of a treaty, except France offers what is more suitable to her present condition. At the same time we make preparations, as if we were alarmed by a greater force than that which we are carrying into the field. Thus this point seems now to be argued sword in hand. This was what a great general alluded to, when being asked the names of those who were to be plenipotentiaries for the ensuing peace, answered, with a serious air, "There are about a hundred thousand of us." Mr. Kidney, who has the ear of the greatest politicians that come hither, tells me, there is a mail come in to-day with letters, dated Hague, April 19, N.S., which say, a design of bringing part of our troops into the field at the latter end of this month, is now altered to a resolution of marching towards the camp about the 20th of the next. There happened the other day, in the road of Scheveling, an engagement between a privateer of Zealand and one of Dunkirk. The Dunkirker, carrying 33 pieces of cannon, was taken and brought into the Texel. It is said, the courier of Monsieur Rouille is returned to him from the Court of France. Monsieur Vendome being reinstated in the favour of the Duchess of Burgundy, is to command in Flanders.
Mr. Kidney added, that there were letters of the 17th from Ghent, which give an account, that the enemy had formed a design to surprise two battalions of the allies which lay at Alost; but those battalions received advice of their march, and retired to Dendermond. Lieutenant-General Wood appeared on this occasion at the head of 5000 foot, and 1000 horse, upon which the enemy withdrew, without making any further attempt.
From my own Apartment.
I am sorry I am obliged to trouble the public with so much discourse upon a matter which I at the very first mentioned as a trifle—viz. the death of Mr. Partridge, under whose name there is an almanack come out for the year 1709, in one page of which it is asserted by the said John Partridge, that he is still living, and that not only so, but that he was also living some time before, and even at the instant when I writ of his death. I have in another place, and in a paper by itself, sufficiently convinced this man that he is dead, and if he has any shame, I don't doubt but that by this time he owns it to all his acquaintance: for though the legs and arms, and whole body of that man may still appear and perform their animal functions; yet since, as I have elsewhere observed, his art is gone, the man is gone. I am, as I said, concerned, that this little matter should make so much noise; but since I am engaged, I take myself obliged in honour to go on in my lucubrations, and by the help of these arts of which I am master, as well as my skill in astrological speculations, I shall, as I see occasion, proceed to confute other dead men, who pretend to be in being, that they are actually deceased. I therefore give all men fair warning to mend their manners, for I shall from time to time print bills of mortality; and I beg the pardon of all such who shall be named therein, if they who are good for nothing shall find themselves in the number of the deceased.
[Footnote 55: This motto was repeated at the head of each of the first 40 numbers in the folio issue.]
[Footnote 56: These were the days on which the post left London for the different parts of the country.]
[Footnote 57: White's Chocolate-house, five doors from the bottom of the west side of St. James's Street, was established in 1698. It was burnt on April 28, 1733, while kept by Mr. Arthur. Plate VI. of Hogarth's "Rake's Progress" depicts gamblers engrossed in play in a room in this house during the fire; see also Plate IV. Swift gives it a bad character in his "Essay on Modern Education;" it had a strong character for gambling (Timbs's "Clubs and Club Life in London," where, at p. 48, there is a sketch of White's from an old drawing). The house became a private club, as we now have it, about 1736.]
[Footnote 58: Will's Coffee-house, named after Will Urwin, its proprietor, was the corner house on the north side of Russell Street, Covent Garden, at the end of Bow Street. The present house, 21 Russell Street, is probably part of the old building. Will's was ceasing to be the resort of the wits in 1709; it was in its glory at the close of the seventeenth century. The wits' room, where Dryden presided, was on the first floor.]
[Footnote 59: The Grecian, in Devereux Court in the Strand, was probably the most ancient coffee-house in or about London. In 1652 an English Turkey merchant brought home with him a Greek servant, who first opened a house for making and selling coffee. This man's name was Constantine, and his house was much resorted to by lawyers, Greek scholars, and Members of the Royal Society. (See Thoresby's Diary, i. 111, 117.) Foote and Goldsmith afterwards frequented it. In Dr. King's "Anecdotes" there is a story of two gentlemen friends who disputed at the Grecian Coffee-house about the accent of a Greek word to such a length that they went out into Devereux Court and drew swords, when one of them was killed on the spot.]
[Footnote 60: The St. James's Coffee-house was the last house but one on the S.W. corner of St. James's Street. It was frequented by Whig statesmen, and was closed about 1806. Swift and Steele were at a supper given by the keeper on the 19th November, 1710.]
[Footnote 61: Cf. the Spectator, No. 31: "Laying down my penny upon the bar."]
[Footnote 62: Wine.]
[Footnote 63: A waiter. See Nos. 10, 26.]
[Footnote 64: This introduction was repeated in Nos. 2 and 3 of the original issue.]
[Footnote 65: "The reader is desired to take notice of the article from this place from time to time, for I design to be very exact in the progress this unhappy gentleman makes, which may be of great instruction to all who actually are, or who ever shall be, in love." (Original folio.) For Viscount Hinchinbroke ("Cynthio"), see No. 5.]
[Footnote 66: April 7, 1709. Cibber acknowledges that Steele did the stage very considerable service by the papers on the theatre in the Tatler.]
[Footnote 67: For further particulars of Thomas Betterton (1635-1710), see Nos. 71 and 167. Cibber says: "I never heard a line in tragedy come from Betterton wherein my judgment, my ear and my imagination were not fully satisfied.... The person of this excellent actor was suitable to his voice, more manly than sweet, not exceeding the middle stature, inclining to be corpulent; of a serious and penetrating aspect; his limbs nearer the athletic than the delicate proportion; yet, however formed, there arose from the harmony of the whole a commanding mien of majesty."]
[Footnote 68: By Congreve, 1695.]
[Footnote 69: Mrs. Elizabeth Barry on this occasion spoke an epilogue, written by Rowe. She was the daughter of Edward Barry, barrister, whose fortunes were ruined by his attachment to Charles I. Tony Aston, in his "Supplement to Cibber's Apology," says she was woman to Lady Shelton, of Norfolk, his godmother; and Curll tells us that she was early taken under the protection of Lady Davenant. She was certainly on the stage in 1673. At her first appearance there was so little hope of her success, that at the end of the season she was discharged [from] the theatre. It is probable that at this time she became acquainted with Lord Rochester, who took her under his protection, and gave her instructions in her theatrical performances. By his interest she seems to have been restored to the stage, and, improving daily in her profession, she soon eclipsed all her competitors, and in the part of Monimia in "The Orphan" established her reputation, which was enhanced by her performance as Belvidera in "Venice Preserved," and as Isabella in "The Fatal Marriage." "In characters of greatness," says Cibber, "Mrs. Barry had a presence of elevated dignity, her mien and motion superb, and gracefully majestic; her voice full, clear, and strong, so that no violence of passion could be too much for her, and when distress or tenderness possessed her she subsided into the most affecting melody and softness. In the art of exciting pity she had a power beyond all the actresses I have yet seen, or what your imagination can conceive. In scenes of anger, defiance, or resentment, while she was impetuous and terrible, she poured out the sentiment with an enchanting harmony.... In tragedy she was solemn and august, in comedy alert, easy, and genteel, pleasant in her face and action, filling the stage with a variety of gesture. She could neither sing nor dance, no not in a country dance. She adhered to Betterton in all the revolutions of the theatre, which she quitted about 1707, on account of ill-health." She returned, however, for one night with Mrs. Bracegirdle, April 7, 1709, and performed Mrs. Frail in "Love for Love" for Betterton's benefit. She died at Acton in 1713. Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Bracegirdle, Mr. Betterton, and Mr. Varbriggen were sworn as Comedians in Ordinary to her Majesty, 30th Oct., 2 Anne (1703). On the 3rd March, 1692, Mrs. Barry received L25 for acting in "The Orphan" before their Majesties, and on the 10th June, 1693, L25 for Caius Marius. (Lord Chamberlain's Records, Warrant Books, No. 20, p. 151; No. 18, pp. 30, 242.)]
[Footnote 70: Mrs. Anne Bracegirdle was the daughter of Justinian Bracegirdle, of Northamptonshire. By the imprudence of her father, who ruined himself by becoming surety for some friends, she was early left to the care of Betterton and his wife, whose attentions to her she always acknowledged to be truly paternal. By them she was first introduced to the stage, and, while very young, performed the page in "The Orphan." Increasing in years, and in ability, she became the favourite performer of the times. Cibber describes her in these terms: "Mrs. Bracegirdle was now but just blooming in her maturity; her reputation, as an actress, gradually rising with that of her person; never any woman was in such general favour of her spectators, which, to the last scene of her dramatic life, she maintained by not being unguarded in her private character. This discretion contributed not a little to make her the Cara, the darling of the theatre: for it will be no extravagant thing to say scarce an audience saw her that were less than half of them lovers, without a suspected favourite among them: and though she might be said to have been the universal passion and under the highest temptations, her constancy in resisting them served but to increase the number of her admirers. And this perhaps you will more easily believe, when I extend not my encomiums on her person beyond a sincerity that can be suspected; for she had no greater claim to beauty than what the most desirable brunette might pretend to. But her youth and lively aspect threw out such a glow of health and cheerfulness, that, on the stage, few spectators that were not past it, could behold her without desire. There were two very different characters in which she acquitted herself with uncommon applause: if anything could excuse that desperate extravagance of love, that almost frantic passion of Lee's Alexander the Great, it must have been when Mrs. Bracegirdle was his Statira: as when she acted Millamant, all the faults, follies, and affectation of that agreeable tyrant were venially melted down into so many charms and attractions of a conscious beauty." In the theatrical disputes of the times, she adhered to her benefactor Betterton, and continued to perform with applause until 1707, when, on the preference being given to Mrs. Oldfield in a contention between that actress and Mrs. Bracegirdle, she left the stage, except for one night, when she returned with Mrs. Barry to the theatre, and performed Angelica for Betterton's benefit (the performance described in this number). She died in 1748.]
[Footnote 71: Thomas Doggett died in 1721. In 1695 he created the character of Ben in Congreve's "Love for Love." Afterwards he was associated with Steele in the management of Drury Lane Theatre.]
[Footnote 72: D'Urfey's "Modern Prophets" was produced in 1709. Thomas D'Urfey died in 1723, aged 70, leaving Steele a watch and chain, which his friend wore at the funeral. He wrote many plays and songs. See also Nos. 11, 43.]
[Footnote 73: See No. 4.]
[Footnote 74: William, First Earl Cadogan (1675-1726), was an able officer who took a very prominent part in Marlborough's campaigns. In January, 1709, he was made lieutenant-general, and he was dangerously wounded at the siege of Mons. He was appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London in December.]
[Footnote 75: The news-paragraphs in the earlier numbers of the Tatler are here preserved for the sake of completeness, but for the most part the details recorded are not of permanent interest, and do not call for comment. The reader may be reminded generally that in the spring of 1709 the French, after the battle of Oudenarde and the fall of Lille, followed by a very severe winter, were driven to think of terms of peace. The negotiations, however, fell through for the time, and the campaign was begun in the Netherlands, where Marlborough and Prince Eugene had an army of 110,000 men. The French were entrenched under Villars between Douay and Bethune, and were strengthened by part of the garrison of Tournay. Marlborough seized the opportunity of attacking the half-defended town, which was obliged to surrender on July 29, after a siege of nineteen days. The French then made a great effort, and brought an army of 100,000 men into the field, with the result that the battle of Malplaquet (Sept. 11) was a very bloody and hard-earned victory for the allies. The subsequent fall of Mons brought the campaign to a close.]
[Footnote 76: Marlborough.]
[Footnote 77: A merchant entrusted by Lewis XIV. to negotiate terms of peace with the Dutch.]
[Footnote 78: General Wood played a distinguished part in the battles of Donauwerth (1704) and Ramilies (1706).]
[Footnote 79: See the Introduction.]
[Footnote 80: "A Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., against what is objected to him by Mr. Partridge in his Almanack for the present year 1709. By the said Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., London, printed in the year 1709." (Advertisement in folio issue.) In a pamphlet called "Predictions for the Year 1712. By Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.; in a Letter to the author of the Oxford Almanack. Printed in the year 1712," this "Vindication" is thus noticed: "I can't but express my resentment against a gentleman who personated me in a paper called 'Mr. Bickerstaff's Vindication.' I'm grieved to find the times should be so very wicked, that one impostor should set up to reform another, and that a false Bickerstaff should write against an imaginary Partridge. And I am heartily concerned that one who shows so much wit, such extreme civility, and writes such a gentlemanlike style, should prefix my name to writings in which there appears so little solidity and no knowledge of the Arabian philosophy. If this paper should be transmitted to posterity (as, perhaps, it might have been by the authority of the name it wears in the front) it might have been a lasting reflection upon me to the end of the world.... Till seeing four volumes of writings—the collected edition of the Tatler—pretended to be mine, and a serious philosopher's name prefixed to papers as free from my solidity as they are full of wit, I thought it high time to vindicate myself, and give the world a taste of my writings; for I am now persuaded 'twill be more for my reputation to convince than to despise mankind."]
No. 2. [STEELE.
From Tuesday, April 12, to Thursday, April 14, 1709.
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Will's Coffee-house, April 13.
There has lain all this evening, on the table, the following poem. The subject of it being matter very useful for families, I thought it deserved to be considered, and made more public. The turn the poet gives it is very happy; but the foundation is from a real accident which happened among my acquaintance. A young gentleman of a great estate fell desperately in love with a great beauty of very high quality, but as ill-natured as long flattery and an habitual self-will could make her. However, my young spark ventures upon her, like a man of quality, without being acquainted with her, or having ever saluted her, till it was a crime to kiss any woman else. Beauty is a thing which palls with possession; and the charms of this lady soon wanted the support of good humour and complaisancy of manners. Upon this my spark flies to the bottle for relief from his satiety. She disdains him for being tired with that for which all men envied him; and he never came home, but it was: "Was there no sot that would stay longer? Would any man living but you? Did I leave all the world for this usage?" To which he: "Madam, split me, you are very impertinent!" In a word, this match was wedlock in its most terrible appearances. She, at last weary of railing to no purpose, applies to a good uncle, who gives her a bottle of water. "The virtue of this powerful liquor," said he, "is such, that if the woman you marry proves a scold (which, it seems, my dear niece, is your misfortune, as it was your good mother's before you), let her hold six spoonfuls in her mouth, for a full half hour after you come home—" But I find I am not in humour for telling a tale, and nothing in nature is so ungrateful as story-telling against the grain, therefore take it as the author has given it you.
A Tale—for the Ladies.
Miss Molly, a famed toast, was fair and young, Had wealth and charms, but then she had a tongue From morn to night, the eternal larum run, Which often lost those hearts her eyes had won.
Sir John was smitten, and confessed his flame, Sighed out the usual time, then wed the dame: Possessed he thought of every joy of life, But his dear Molly proved a very wife. Excess of fondness did in time decline, Madam loved money, and the knight loved wine. From whence some petty discords would arise, As, "You're a fool"; and, "You are mighty wise!"
Though he and all the world allowed her wit, Her voice was shrill, and rather loud than sweet, When she began,—for hat and sword he'd call. Then, after a faint kiss, cry, "B'y, dear Moll: Supper and friends expect me at the Rose." And, "What, Sir John, you'll get your usual dose! Go, stink of smoke, and guzzle nasty wine, Sure, never virtuous love was used like mine!"
Oft as the watchful bellman marched his round, At a fresh bottle gay Sir John he found. By four the knight would get his business done, And only then reeled off, because alone; Full well he knew the dreadful storm to come, But armed with bordeaux, he durst venture home.
My lady with her tongue was still prepared, She rattled loud, and he impatient heard: "'Tis a fine hour? In a sweet pickle made! And this, Sir John, is every day the trade. Here I sit moping all the live-long night, Devoured with spleen, and stranger to delight; 'Till morn sends staggering home a drunken beast, Resolved to break my heart, as well as rest."
"Hey! Hoop! d'ye hear my damned obstreperous spouse! What, can't you find one bed about the house! Will that perpetual clack lie never still! That rival to the softness of a mill! Some couch and distant room must be my choice, Where I may sleep uncursed with wife and noise."
Long this uncomfortable life they led, With snarling meals, and each, a separate bed. To an old uncle oft she would complain, Beg his advice, and scarce from tears refrain. Old Wisewood smoked the matter as it was, "Cheer up!" cried he, "and I'll remove the cause.
"A wonderous spring within my garden flows, Of sovereign virtue, chiefly to compose Domestic jars, and matrimonial strife, The best elixir t' appease man and wife; Strange are th' effects, the qualities divine, 'Tis water called, but worth its weight in wine. If in his sullen airs Sir John should come, Three spoonfuls take, hold in your mouth—then mum: Smile, and look pleased, when he shall rage and scold, Still in your mouth the healing cordial hold; One month this sympathetic medecine tried, He'll grow a lover, you a happy bride. But, dearest niece, keep this grand secret close, Or every prattling hussy'll beg a dose."
A water-bottle's brought for her relief, Not Nantz could sooner ease the lady's grief: Her busy thoughts are on the trial bent, And female-like, impatient for th' event:
The bonny knight reels home exceeding clear, Prepared for clamour, and domestic war. Entering, he cries, "Hey! where's our thunder fled? No hurricane! Betty, 's your lady dead?" Madam, aside, an ample mouthful takes, Curtsies, looks kind, but not a word she speaks: Wondering, he stared, scarcely his eyes believed, But found his ears agreeably deceived. "Why, how now, Molly, what's the crotchet now?" She smiles, and answers only with a bow. Then clasping her about,—"Why, let me die! These nightclothes, Moll, become thee mightily!" With that, he sighed, her hand began to press, And Betty calls, her lady to undress; "Nay, kiss me, Molly, for I'm much inclined." Her lace she cuts, to take him in the mind. Thus the fond pair to bed enamoured went, The lady pleased, and the good knight content.
For many days these fond endearments passed, The reconciling bottle fails at last; 'Twas used and gone: Then midnight storms arose, And looks and words the union discompose. Her coach is ordered, and post-haste she flies, To beg her uncle for some fresh supplies; Transported does the strange effects relate, Her knight's conversion, and her happy state!
"Why, niece," says he, "I prithee apprehend The water's water. Be thyself thy friend; Such beauty would the coldest husband warm, But your provoking tongue undoes the charm: Be silent, and complying; you'll soon find, Sir John, without a medecine, will be kind."
St. James's Coffee-house, April 13.
Letters from Venice say, the disappointment of their expectation to see his Danish Majesty, has very much disquieted the Court of Rome. Our last advices from Germany inform us, that the minister of Hanover has urged the council at Ratisbon to exert themselves in behalf of the common cause, and taken the liberty to say, that the dignity, the virtue, the prudence of his electoral highness, his master, were called to the head of their affairs in vain, if they thought fit to leave him naked of the proper means to make those excellences useful for the honour and safety of the Empire. They write from Berlin of the 13th, O.S., that the true design of General Fleming's visit to that Court was, to insinuate, that it will be for the mutual interest of the King of Prussia and King Augustus to enter into a new alliance; but that the ministers of Prussia are not inclined to his sentiments. We hear from Vienna, that his Imperial Majesty has expressed great satisfaction in their high mightinesses having communicated to him the whole that has passed in the affair of a peace. Though there have been practices used by the agents of France, in all the Courts of Europe, to break the good understanding of the allies, they have had no other effect, but to make all the members concerned in the alliance, more doubtful of their safety from the great offers of the enemy. The Empire is roused by this alarm, and the frontiers of all the French dominions are in danger of being insulted the ensuing campaign: advices from all parts confirm, that it is impossible for France to find a way to obtain so much credit, as to gain any one potentate of the allies, or make any hope for safety from other prospects.
From my own Apartment, April 13.
I find it of very great use, now I am setting up for a writer of news, that I am an adept in astrological speculations; by which means, I avoid speaking of things which may offend great persons. But at the same time, I must not prostitute the liberal sciences so far, as not to utter the truth in cases which do not immediately concern the good of my native country. I must therefore boldly contradict what has been so assuredly reported by the news-writers of England, that France is in the most deplorable condition, and that their people die in great multitudes. I will therefore let the world know, that my correspondent, by the way of Brussels, informs me, upon his honour, that the gentleman who writes the Gazette of Paris, and ought to know as well as any man, has told him, that ever since the king has been past his 63rd year, or grand climacteric, there has not one man died of the French nation who was younger than his Majesty, except a very few, who were taken suddenly near the village of Hochsted in Germany; and some more, who were straitened for lodging at a place called Ramilies, and died on the road to Ghent and Bruges. There are also other things given out by the allies, which are shifts below a conquering nation to make use of. Among others, 'tis said, there is a general murmuring among the people of France, though at the same time all my letters agree, that there is so good an understanding among them, that there is not one morsel carried out of any market in the kingdom, but what is delivered upon credit.
[Footnote 81: William Harrison (1685-1713) was a favourite with Swift and Addison. He wrote verses, and a continuation of the Tatler, and afterwards obtained office in the diplomatic service; but his health soon broke down, and he died when 28.]
[Footnote 82: There is a similar story in Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy."]
[Footnote 83: The Rose Tavern, in Russell Street, adjoined Drury Lane Theatre, and was a favourite resort during and after the play.]
[Footnote 84: The Battle of Blenheim.]
No. 3. [STEELE.
From Thursday, April 14, to Saturday, April 16, 1709.
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Will's Coffee-house, April 14.
This evening, the comedy called "The Country Wife" was acted in Drury Lane, for the benefit of Mrs. Bignell. The part which gives name to the play was performed by herself. Through the whole action, she made a very pretty figure, and exactly entered into the nature of the part. Her husband in the drama, is represented to be one of those debauchees who run through the vices of the town, and believe when they think fit they can marry, and settle at their ease. His own knowledge of the iniquity of the age, makes him choose a wife wholly ignorant of it, and place his security in her want of skill how to abuse him. The poet, on many occasions, where the propriety of the character will admit of it, insinuates, that there is no defence against vice, but the contempt of it: and has, in the natural ideas of an untainted innocent, shown the gradual steps to ruin and destruction, which persons of condition run into, without the help of a good education how to form their conduct. The torment of a jealous coxcomb, which arises from his own false maxims, and the aggravation of his pain, by the very words in which he sees her innocence, makes a very pleasant and instructive satire. The character of Horner, and the design of it, is a good representation of the age in which that comedy was written; at which time love and wenching were the business of life, and the gallant manner of pursuing women was the best recommendation at Court. To which only it is to be imputed, that a gentleman of Mr. Wycherley's character and sense, condescends to represent the insults done to the honour of the bed, without just reproof; but to have drawn a man of probity with regard to such considerations, had been a monster, and a poet had at that time discovered his want of knowing the manners of the Court he lived in, by a virtuous character in his fine gentleman, as he would show his ignorance, by drawing a vicious one to please the present audience. Mrs. Bignell did her part very happily, and had a certain grace in her rusticity, which gave us hopes of seeing her a very skilful player, and in some parts, supply our loss of Mrs. Verbruggen. I cannot be of the same opinion with my friends and fellow-labourers, the Reformers of Manners, in their severity towards plays, but must allow that a good play acted before a well-bred audience, must raise very proper incitements to good behaviour, and be the most quick and most prevailing method of giving young people a turn of sense and breeding. But as I have set up for a weekly historian, I resolve to be a faithful one; and therefore take this public occasion to admonish a young nobleman, who came flustered into the box last night, and let him know, how much all his friends were out of countenance for him. The women sat in terror of hearing something that should shock their modesty, and all the gentlemen in as much pain, out of compassion to the ladies, and perhaps resentment for the indignity which was offered in coming into their presence in so disrespectful a manner. Wine made him say nothing that was rude, therefore he is forgiven, upon condition he will never hazard his offending more in this kind. As I just now hinted, I own myself of the Society for Reformation of Manners. We have lower instruments than those of the family of Bickerstaff, for punishing great crimes, and exposing the abandoned. Therefore, as I design to have notices from all public assemblies, I shall take upon me only indecorums, improprieties, and negligences, in such as should give us better examples. After this declaration, if a fine lady thinks fit to giggle at church, or a great beau come in drunk to a play, either shall be sure to hear of it in my ensuing paper: for merely as a well-bred man, I cannot bear these enormities.
After the play, we naturally stroll to this coffee-house, in hopes of meeting some new poem, or other entertainment, among the men of wit and pleasure, where there is a dearth at present. But it is wonderful there should be so few writers, when the art is become merely mechanic, and men may make themselves great that way, by as certain and infallible rules, as you may be a joiner or a mason. There happens a good instance of this, in what the hawker just now has offered to sale; to wit, "Instructions to Vanderbank; a Sequel to the Advice to the Poets: A Poem, occasioned by the Glorious Success of her Majesty's Arms, under the Command of the Duke of Marlborough, the last Year in Flanders." Here you are to understand, that the author finding the poets would not take his advice, he troubles himself no more about them; but has met with one Vanderbank, who works in arras, and makes very good tapestry hangings. Therefore, in order to celebrate the hero of the age, he claps me together all that can be said of a man that makes hangings, as:
Then, artist, who dost Nature's face express In silk and gold, and scenes of action dress; Dost figured arras animated leave, Spin a bright story, or a passion weave By mingling threads; canst mingle shade and light, Delineate triumphs, or describe a fight.
Well, what shall this workman do? Why, to show how great an hero the poet intends, he provides him a very good horse:
Champing his foam, and bounding on the plain, Arch his high neck, and graceful spread his mane.
Now as to the intrepidity, the calm courage, the constant application of the hero, it is not necessary to take that upon yourself; you may, in the lump, bid him you employ raise him as high as he can, and if he does it not, let him answer for disobeying orders:
Let fame and victory in inferior sky, Hover with ballanced wings, and smiling fly Above his head, &c.
A whole poem of this kind may be ready against an ensuing campaign, as well as a space left in the canvas of a piece of tapestry for the principal figure, while the underparts are working: so that in effect, the adviser copies after the man he pretends to direct. This method should, methinks, encourage young beginners: for the invention is so fitted to all capacities, that by the help of it a man may make a receipt for a poem. A young man may observe, that the jig of the thing is, as I said, finding out all that can be said of his way [whom] you employ to set forth your worthy. Waller and Denham had worn out the expedient of "Advice to a Painter." This author has transferred the work, and sent his advice to the Poets; that is to say, to the turners of verse, as he calls them. Well, that thought is worn out also, therefore he directs his genius to the loom, and will have a new set of hangings in honour of the last year in Flanders. I must own to you, I approve extremely this invention, and it might be improved for the benefit of manufactory: as, suppose an ingenious gentleman should write a poem of advice to a calico-printer: do you think there is a girl in England, that would wear anything but the taking of Lille, or the Battle of Oudenarde? They would certainly be all the fashion, till the heroes abroad had cut out some more patterns. I should fancy small skirmishes might do for under-petticoats, provided they had a siege for the upper. If our adviser were well imitated, many industrious people might be put to work. Little Mr. Dactile, now in the room, who formerly writ a song and a half, is a week gone in a very pretty work upon this hint: he is writing an epigram to a young virgin who knits very well ('tis a thousand pities he is a Jacobite); but his epigram is by way of advice to this damsel, to knit all the actions of the Pretender and the Duke of Burgundy last campaign in the clock of a stocking. It were endless to enumerate the many hands and trades that may be employed by poets, of so useful a turn as this adviser's. I shall think of it; and in this time of taxes, shall consult a great critic employed in the custom-house, in order to propose what tax may be proper to put upon knives, seals, rings, hangings, wrought-beds, gowns and petticoats, where any of those commodities bear mottoes, or are worked upon poetical grounds.