« ForrigeFortsett »
THERE would be something manifestly incongruous in prefixing a laboured introduction to what, in the first conception, was so airy, brilliant, and unexpected, as the great majority of Addison's papers in the Spectator. The kind humourist throughout the series studied the delectation of his readers; and we shall humbly endeavour to imitate his example in what of prefatory matter we have here to submit,-at any rate, to be as little wearisome as possible.
The Spectator, as is well known, grew out of the Tatler. Richard Steele, the descendant probably of some Cromwellian soldier or adventurer', installed by that victorious Vandal in the possession of an expelled Irish native, but bearing in his nature evident cross-threads of the joyous, reckless, imaginative, Hibernian character, having charge of the Government Gazette under the Whig ministry, while the great war in Spain and Flanders was going on, thought it a good opportunity for trying a fresh literary venture. Captain Steele's success with
had not hitherto been great. His Christian Hero, though most commendable and moral, was felt to be somewhat dry; on the whole the public preferred, when in want of a sermon, to go to the 'great and good' Archbishop Tillotson for it, or to Dr. South, or Baxter, or some other recognized divine, rather than to the captain of a marching regiment. His plays again, the Conscious Lovers,' the “Tender Husband,' and the Lying Lover,' while free from that grossness which then, for the most part, in spite of Jeremy Collier's invectives, had possession of the stage, were without that brilliancy of dialogue and that skilful entanglement of plot, which might have commanded interest and enhanced attention, even though coarser stimulants were wanting. Impecunious and improvident, Steele
1 The name occurs in the list of adventurers who advanced money in 1649 for the Irish expedition : see Prendergast's Cromwellian Settlement, 2nd edit,