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The first number of the Spectator was published on the 1st of March, 1711, about two morths after the last of the Tatler. It immediatey took its place as the most interesting publication of the day, and the sale, which has been estimated at 14,000 daily copies, rose on some occasions to 20,000. At first it was a daily, came out every morning, and was considered as an indispensable accompaniment of breakfast. In this form it continued till December 6, 1712, when it was dropped for a year and a half to reappear on the 18th of June, 1714. The continuation, though equal in merit to the original work, came out three times a week, and was dropped before the end of the year, Dec. 20. The ginal publication was on a folio sheet, containing at the end, a few advertisements, but no reference as in the Tatler, to the political occurrences of the day. It was afterwards collected into volumes, and in this form became a permanent ornament of every bookshelf.
The whole number of papers is six hundred and thirty-five, of which Addison wrote two hundred and seventy-four. Much speculation has been wasted upon the reasons of his choice of a signature. Steele speaks of him as using the letters which form the name of Clio—which, if we tako into account his early fondness for Herodotus, will not be thought improbable. Nichols, who can see no ground for such a choice, supposes him to have used them as initials of the place where he wrote--C. for Chelsea
London-. Islington—0. Office—"a supposition," which, as Drake gravely observes, “wants confirmation."
A more important question has been started as to the original conception of the whole work, which is evidently planned with greater care than its predecessor. If we were to take the circumstances into consideration, we should say that it was planned in concert with Steele, that the charao ter of the Spectator was drawn by Addison, and the club, including Sir Roger, sketched, and why not conceived, by Steele! Such would be the natural reasoning from the facts, which nothing but enmity towards Steele ould have perplexed with so many idle and groundless conjectures.
Of the numerous eulogiums which this admirable work has called forth, be following is perhaps the most judicious and comprehensive:
“While the circle of mental cultivation was thus rapidly widening in France, a similar progress was taking place, upon a larger scale, and under still more favorable circumstances, in England. To this progress nothing contributed more powerfully than the periodical papers published under various titles by Addison and his associates. The effect of these in reclaiming the public taste from the licentiousness and grossness introduced into England at the period of the Restoration; in recommending the most serious and important truths by the united attractions of wit, humor, im agination, and eloquence; and, above all, in counteracting those superstitious terrors which the weak and ignorant are so apt to mistake for relig. ious and moral impressions—has been remarked by numberless critics, and is acknowledged even by those who felt no undue partiality in favor of the authors. Some of the papers of Addison, however, are of an order still higher, and bear marks of a mind which, if early and steadily turned to philosophical pursuits, might have accomplished much more than it ventured to undertake. His frequent references to the Essay on Human Understanding, and the high encomiums with which they are always ac. companied, show how successfully he had entered into the spirit of that work; and how completely he was aware of the importance of its object. The popular nature of his publications, indeed, which rendered it necessary for him to avoid every thing that might savour of scholastic or of metaphysical discussion, has left us no means of estimating his philosophical depth, but what are afforded by the results of his thoughts on the particular topics which he has occasion to allude to, and by some of his incidental comments on the scientific merits of preceding authors. But these means are sufficiently ample to justify a very high opinion of his sound and un. prejudiced judgment, as well as of the extent and correctness of his lite. rary information. Of his powers as a logical reasoner he has not enabled us to form an estimate; but none of his contemporaries seem to have been more completely tinctured with all that is most valuable in the metaphysical and ethical systems of his time."
a I quote the following passage from Addison, not as a specimen of his metaphysical ao umen, but as a proof of his good sense in divining and obviating a difficulty which I believe most persons will acknowledge occurred to themselves when they first entered on meta physical studies:
“ Although we divide the soul into several powers and faculties, there is no such division in the soul itself; since it is the whole soul that remembers, understands, wills, or imaginea Our mannor of considering the memory, understanding, will, imagination, and the like fro “To this simplicity and perspicuity, the wide circulation which his orks have so long maintained among all classes of readers, is in a great easure to be ascribed. His periods are not constructed, like those of ohnson, to “ elevate and surprise,” by filling the ear and dazzling the ncy; but we close his volumes with greater reluctance, and return to e perusal of them with far greater alacrity. Franklin, whose fugitive
“But what chiefly entitles the name of Addison to a place in this Dis. course, is his Essays on the Pleasures of Imagination; the first attempt in England to investigate the principles of the fine arts; and an attempt which, notwithstanding many defects in the execution, is entitled to the praise of having struck out a new avenue to the study of the human mind, more alluring than any which had been opened before.
In this respect, it forms a most important supplement to Locke's Survey of the Intellectual Powers; and it has, accordingly, served as a text, on which the greater part of Locke's disciples have been eager to offer their comments and their corrections. The progress made by some of these in exploring this interesting region has been great; but let not Addison be defrauded of his claims as a discoverer.
“Similar remarks may be extended to the hints suggested by Addison on Wit, on Humor, and on the Causes of Laughter. It cannot, indeed, be said of him, that he exhausted any one of these subjects; but he had at least the merit of starting them as Problems for the consideration of philosophers; nor would it be easy to name among his successors, a single writer, who has made so important a step towards their solution, as the original proposer.
“The philosophy of the papers, to which the foregoing observations reler, has been pronounced to be slight and superficial, by a crowd of modern netaphysicians who were but ill entitled to erect themselves into judges on such a question. The singular simplicity and perspicuity of Addison's style have contributed much to the prevalence of this prejudice. Eager for the instruction, and unambitious of the admiration of the multitude, he every where studies to bring himself down to their level; and even when je thinks with the greatest originality, and writes with the most inimitale felicity, so easily do we enter into the train of his ideas, that we can ardly persuade ourselves that we could not have thought and written in. he same manner. He has somewhere said of “fine writing,” that it consists of sentiments which are natural, without being obvious:" and is definition has been applauded by Hume, as at once concise and just of the thing defined, his own periodical essays exhibit the most perfect camples.
des, is for the better enabling us to express ourselves in such abstracted subjects of specubation, not that there is any such division in the soul itsell.” In another part of the same faper, Addison observes, that " what we call the faculties of the soul, are only the differen
ys or modes in which the soul can exert hersell.-(Spectator, No. 600.)
publications on political topics have had so extraordinary an influence on public opinion, both in the Old and New Worlds, tells us that his style in writing was formed apon the model of Addison : Nor do I know any thing in the history of his life which does more honor to his shrewdness and sagacity. The copyist, indeed, did not possess the gifted hand of his master,
—" Museo contingens cuncta lepore;” —but such is the effect of his plain and seemingly artless manner, that the most profound conclusions of po, litical economy assume, in his hands, the appearance of indisputable truths; and some of them, which had been formerly confined to the speculative few, are already current in every country in Europe, as proverbial maxims."—Stewart's History of the Progress of Moral and Political Pha. losophy, &c., pp. 305–307.
The Notes to the Spectator are drawn from various sources, which may generally be known by the initial
Na 1. THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1710-11.
Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 148.
One with a flasb begins, and ends in smoke,
I HAVE observed, that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor,
* Of the three periodical papers, in which Mr. Addison was happily induced to bear a part, the only one, which was planned by himself,* was the Spectator. And, how infinitely superior is the contrivance of it, too that of the other two!
The notion of a club, on which it is formed, not only gave a dramatic air to the Spectator, but a sort of unity to the conduct of it; as it tied together the several papers, into what may be called one work, by the reference they all have to the same common design.
This design, too, was so well digested from the first, that nothing occars afterwards (when the characters come out and shew themselves at full
* Mr. Tickell says, it was projected in concert with Sir Richard Steele, which comma the same thing.-H.