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which STEELE availed himself of all occasional contribution. We have noticed, in our account of STEELE, the unprecedented sale of the SPECTATOR. Dr. Johnson, estimating by its weekly returns at the Stamp-office, averages it so low, as at sixteen hundred and eighty daily. Dr. FLEETWOOD, in his letter to the Bishop of Salisbury, at fourteen thousand*. The immense difference can only be accounted for by some gross miscalculation on the part of JOHNSON; while, with respect to FLEETWOOD, he has possibly given us a maximum for an average. They might, also, be the calculations of different periods ; for, on the imposition of the stamp-duty, the SPECTATOR experienced a momentary check in its circulation, which was reduced one half: but it soon recovered. The greatest number of the SPECTATORS, however, were published anterior to the tax, and could not be retrospectively affected : Johnson's calculation was probably made in this moment of depression.
* WILLIAM FLEETWOOD, who was born in the year 1656, was educated at Eton and Cambridge. He graduated at King's College, and took orders about the period of the Revolution. He afterward became a Fellow of Eton, and rector of St. Austin's, in London. Here he acquired great popularity as preacher, and was soon after chosen lecturer of St. Dunstan's, in Fleet-street. Just before the decease of King William he was nominated to a canonry at Windsor. In 1705, resigning his living and his lectureship, he retired to a small preferment which be possessed in the vicinage of Eton, and would have abandoned the world for a life of literary leisure : but he was raised unexpectedly by Queen Anne, to fill the vacant see of St. Asaph. His known zeal for liberty and the Protestant succession was yet farther rewarded, on the arrival of GEORGE I., with the valuable bishopric of Ely'; and on this he died incumbent in 1723, at Tottenham in Middlesex, aged sixty-seven.
His literary labours, though he never intermitted in bis ecclesiastical duties, were prodigious. •Forty-two of his publications,' says DRAKE, are noticed in the Biographia Britannica, all subservient to the best and most useful of purposes.' In politics he was an uncompromising Whig, and his powerful advocacy of civil and religious freedom, rendered him particularly obnoxious to the Tories. Bishop FLEETWOOD did not think a blind Faith necessary to Salvation, and he had the manliness to avow it. His celebrated preface to the · Four Funeral Sermons' is inserted in No. 384 of the SpectATOR. The intemperate party in power, who were exasperated with the Bishop for his politics, not bis creed, moved in the House of Commons, and carried the motion, that it should be burnt at Smithfield by the hands of the common hangman! It is introduced with some excellent observations by STEELE.
ADDISON informs us that the SPECTATOR, at its commencement, sold three thousand daily; and we know that the increase was rapid. It is likely, however, that the sale often fluctuated.
When the SPECTATOR was first bound in volumes, an edition of nine thousand copies was disposed of immediately. An octavo edition, like the TATLER, was afterwards printed, at one guinea per volume; and inferior editions were multiplied at lower prices.
A spurious continuation of the SPECTATOR was begun on the 3d of January, 1715, and closed on the Sd of August following. It reached to fifty-nine numbers, and was republished in duodecimo, as the SPECTATOR, volume ninth, and last. Printed for W. MEARS, at the Lamb, without Temple-bar, 1726. It is a miserable farrago, and cannot dare any comparison with the sham TATLER.
The character of Sir Roger de Coverley, alluded to in the outset of this essay, is one of the most exquisite pieces of comic painting which English literature possesses,
It has continued without a rival
for upwards of one hundred years ; and it is not the least circumstance in its praise, that it can bear even now to rank unflinchingly with those masterly delineations of life and manners, which, since SHAKSPEARE, only the Author of WAVERLEY has been able to achieve. For the first outline, or skeleton of this character, we are indebted certainly to STEELE ; but ADDISON, after availing himself of this elementary suggestion, departs materially from the original draft, as he brings out his picture into relief. This has occasioned many critics to charge the character with inconsistency; and without question the Sir Roger de Coverley of STEELE is a very altered personage
in the hands of ADDISON. Let it, however, always be remembered, that we are primarily indebted to Steele for Sir Roger de Coverley, even as we have him: ADDISON finished, but STEELE invented him. This important fact is unaccountably overlooked by JOHNson, in the following critique upon this imaginary personage.
It is recorded by Budgell, that of the characters feigned or exhibited in the SPECTATOR, the favourite of ADDISON was Sir Roger de Coverley, of whom he had formed a very delicate and discriminate idea, which he would not suffer to be violated; and therefore, when Steele had shewn bin innocently picking up a girl in the Temple, and taking her to a tavern, he drew upon himself so much of his friend's indignation, that he was forced to appease him by a promise of forbearing Sir Roger for the time to come.
• The reason which induced CERVANTES to
bring his hero to the grave, para mi sola nacio Don Quixote, y yo para el, made Addison declare, with undue vehemence of expression, that he would kill Sir Roger; being of opinion that they were born for one another, and that
other hand would do him wrong.
• It may be doubted whether Addison ever filled up his original delineation. He describes his Knight as having his imagination somewhat warped, but of this perversion he has made very
The irregularities in Sir Roger's conduct seem not so much the effects of a mind deviating from the beaten track of life, by the perpetual pressure of some overwhelming idea, as of habitual rusticity, and that negligence which solitary grandeur naturally generates.
* The variable weather of the mind, the flying vapours of incipient madness, which from time to time cloud reason, without eclipsiug it; it requires so much nicety to exhibit, that ADDISON seems to have been deterred from prosecuting his own design.'
Dr. BEATTIE, who still assumes with JohnSON, that the origination of Sir Roger de Coverley is with ADDISON, attributes, nevertheless -much of this opinion upon the character to oversight in the learned biographer.
• He seems to think that ADDISON had formed an idea of Sir Roger, which he never exhibited complete; that he has given a small degree of discomposure to the Knight's mind, but made very little use of it; that Sir Roger's irregularities are the effects of babitual rusticity, and of negligence created by solitary grandeur; and, in short, that
ADDISON was deterred from prosecuting his own design with respect to Sir Roger.
• Now I beg leave to observe, in the first place, that it never was, or could be, Addison's purpose to represent Sir Roger as a person of disordered understanding. This would have made his story either not humorous at all, or humorous in that degree of extravagance, which Addison always avoided, and for avoiding which Dr. Johnson justly commends him. Sir Roger has peculiarities; that was necessary to make him a comic character ; but they are all amiable, and tend to good: and there is not one of them that would give offence, or raise contempt or concern,
any rational society. At Sir Roger we never laugh, though we generally smile; but it is a smile, always of affection, and frequently of esteem.
Secondly, I cannot admit that there is in this character any thing of rusticity (as that word is generally understood), or any of those habits or ways of thinking that solitary grandeur creates. No man on earth affects grandeur less, or thinks less of it, than Sir Roger; and no man is less solitary. His affability, good humour, benevolence, and love of society, his affection to his friends, respect to his superiors, and gentleness and attention to his dependants, make him a very different being from a rustic, as well as from an imperious landlord, who lives retired among flatterers and vassals. Solitary grandeur is apt to engender pride, a passion from which our worthy baronet is entirely free; and rusticity, as far as it is connected with the mind, implies awkwardness and ignorance, which, if one does not despise, one may pity and