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THE purpose of this reprint of the Spectator is to preserve the original freshness of the text, to reject, in the words of Thomas Sprat, "all amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style," and to “return back to the primitive purity and shortness.” If some of our classics have become corrupt in the careless hurry to meet the demands of the public, the Spectator has suffered, in a › more leisurely way, from the attentions of a number of editorial adepts, painfully eager to uphold its reputation for elegance. Even as early as 1764 "innumerable corruptions" had crept in, to the sorrow of the editor of the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. He was persuaded to undertake a new edition; but his plan was interrupted. It was left to the Bissets and the Chalmerses, and the cheap retailers of their texts, to set a detestable fashion of flamboyant emendation. In this plight the Spectator remained till 1868, when the late Mr. Henry Morley brought out his one-volume edition, which claimed to reproduce "the original text, both as first issued, and as corrected by its authors." An edition in eight volumes appeared in 1897-8, under the care of the present editor, who collated the text and prepared fresh illustrative notes. The edition now offered in four volumes is a reprint of that work, Errors in the first issue have been corrected, and supplementary notes have been included.
The Spectator was published daily, in single sheets of foolscap folio, printed, in double columns, on both sides. The first number appeared on 1st March 1711, and the last on 6th December 1712. The sheets were afterwards republished in monthly parts; and in November 1711, a revised edition in octavo volumes was announced. Two volumes, "well bound and gilt, two guineas," were issued to the subscribers on 8th January 1712, by "S. Buckley, at the Dolphin in Little-Britain, and J. Tonson, at GOOS3