« AnteriorContinuar »
This gives you a certain dignity peculiar to your present situation, and makes the equity, even of a Lord High Chancellor, appear but a degree towards the magnanimity of a Peer of Great Britain.
Forgive me, my Lord, when I cannot conceal from you, that I shall never hereafter behold you, but I shall behold you, as lately, defending the brave and the unfortunate *.
When we attend to your Lordship engaged in a discourse, we cannot but reflect upon the many requisites which the vain-glorious speakers of antiquity have demanded in a man who is to excel in oratory; I say, my Lord, when we reflect upon the precepts by viewing the example, though there is no excellence proposed by those rhetoricians wanting, the whole art seems to be resolved into that one motive of speaking, sincerity in the intention. The graceful manner, the apt gesture, and the assumed concern, are impotent helps to persuasion, in comparison of the honest countenance of him who utters what he really means. From whence it is, that all the beauties which others attain with labour, are in your Lordship but the natural effects of the heart that dictates.
It is this noble simplicity, which makes you surpass mankind in the faculties wherein mankind are distinguished from other creatures, reason and speech.
If these gifts were communicated to all men in proportion to the truth and ardour of their hearts, I should speak of you with the same force as you express yourself on any other subject. But I resist my present impulse as agreeable as it is to me; though indeed, had I any pretensions to a fame o thris kind, I should, above all other themes, attempt a panegyrick upon my Lord Cowper: for the only *The Duke of Marlborough.
sure way to a reputation for eloquence, in an age wherein that perfect orator lives, is to choose an argument, upon which he himself must of necessity be silent. I am, my Lord,
Your Lordship's most devoted,
most obedient, and most humble servant,
IV. TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
CHARLES, LORD HALIFAX.
From the Hovel at Hamptonwick, April 7, 1711.
WHEN I first resolved upon doing myself this honour, I could not but indulge a certain vanity in dating from this little covert, where I have frequently had the honour of your Lordship's company, and received from you very many obligations. The elegant solitude of this place, and the greatest pleasures of it, I owe to its being so near those beautiful manors wherein you sometimes reside. It is not retiring from the world, but enjoying its most valuable blessings, when a man is permitted to share in your Lordship's conversations in the country. All the bright images which the Wits of past ages have left behind them in their writings, the noble plans which the greatest Statesmen have laid down for administration of affairs, are equally the familiar objects of your knowledge. But what is peculiar to your Lordship above all the illustrious personages that have appeared in any age, is, that wit
and learning have from your example fallen into a Your patronage has produced those arts, which before shunned the commerce of the world, into the service of life; and it is to you we owe, that the man of wit has turned himself to be a man of business. The false delicacy of men of genius, and the objections which others were apt to insinuate against their abilities for entering into affairs, have equally vanished. And experience has shown, that men of letters are not only qualified with a greater capacity, but also a greater integrity in the dispatch of business. Your own studies have been diverted from being the highest ornament, to the highest use to mankind; and the capacities which would have rendered you the greatest poet of your age, have to the advantage of Great Britain been employed in pursuits which have made you the most able and unbiassed patriot. A vigorous imagination, an extensive apprehension, and a ready judgment, have distinguished you in all the illustrious parts of administration, in a reign attended with such difficulties, that the same talents, without the same quickness in the possession of them, would have been incapable of conquering. The natural success of such abilities, has advanced you to a seat in that illustrious house, where you were received by a crowd of your relations. Great as you are in your honours, and personal qualities, I know you will forgive an humble neighbour the vanity of pretending to a place in your friendship, and subscribing himself, my Lord,
Your Lordship's most obliged,
and most devoted servant, RICHARD STEELE.
PREFACE TO THE OCTAVO EDITION, 1710.
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 voJume, made my acknowledgments to Dr. Swift, whose pleasant writings, in the name of Bickerstaff, created an inclination in the town towards any thing 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. Twisden, 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 epistie from Mr. Downes the prompter, with others which were very well received by the publick. 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 dependance 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 Play-house," 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 mentioned this only to defend myself against the imputation of being moved rather by party than