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ADDISON'S PREFACE TO DRYDEN'S VIRGIL. If any one should inquire why Mr. Addison was content the world should know he translated one of Virgil's Georgics, and at the same time desired to conceal his writing what Mr. Dryden placed as a preface to his translation of the Georgics, it will be no difficult thing to satisfy him. The version was what many people had done, and anybody might do; but the essay was an untried strain of criticism, which bore a little hard upon the old professors of that art, and therefore was not so fit for a young man to take upon himself. In this light Mr. Dryden's justice and Mr. Addison's prudence are alike conspicuous. The former was above assuming unjustly the praise of other people's writings, and the latter was remarkable for keeping so strict a rein upon his wit that it never got the start of his wisdom.--Biographia Britannica.
ADDISON AND STEELE'S FIRST MEETING WITH SWIFT.
THE first introduction of Addison and Steele to Swift is said to have been at the St. James's Coffee-house, (then' the great Whig resort,) upon the following occasion. One day, when all the leading wits were present, a gentleman in boots, just come out of the country, stumbled into the room. A stalwart figure (Swift) had for some time been walking to and fro without speaking to anybody, when, on the entrance of the booted Squire, up went the walking priest to him, and asked the question aloud: "Pray, sir, do you remember any good weather in the world ?” The Squire, unprepared for anything in the way of allegory, stammered out, "Yes, sir, I thank God, I remember a great deal of good weather in my time.” To which the querist rejoined, " That is more than I can say. I never remember any weather that was not too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry; but, however God Almighty contrives it, at the end of the year 'tis all very well”—took up his hat, and, without another word, walked out of the room.- -Quart. Rev. cxcii.
1 See some amusing reference to this Whig Coffee-house in the Spectatator, Nos. 24 and 403.
EARLY MEMORIAL OF SWIFT AND ADDISON'S
FRIENDSHIP. The following inscription, in the autograph of Addison, occurs on the fly-leaf of a presentation copy of his “Remarks on several Parts of Italy,” 8vo, 1705, now in the possession of George Daniel, Esq. of Canonbury,
“ To Dr. Jonathan Swift, the most agreeable companion, the truest friend, and the greatest Genius of his age, This Book is presented by his most humble Servant the Author.”
This is the earliest memorial on record of the friendship of these distinguished men. The date of the presentation, however, is not given.
ORIGIN OF THE PSEUDONYME
“No wonder the run upon Swift was great at the time, for he had lately started that wonderful joke against Partridge in which the rest of the wits joined so eagerly, and which not only kept the town in fits of laughter for a great many months, but was turned to a memorable use by Steele. In ridicule of that notorious Almanac-maker and all similar impostors, Swift devised sundry Predictions after their own manner for the year 1708, the very first of which' announced nothing less than the death of Partridge himself, which event, after extremely cautious consultation with the star of his nativity, he fixed for the 29th of March, about eleven at night; and he was casting about for a whimsical name to give to the assumed astrologer who was to publish this joke, when his eye caught a sign over a locksmith's house, with Isaac Bickerstaff underneath. Out accordingly came Mr. Bickerstaff's predictions, followed very speedily by an account of the accomplishment of the first of them upon the 29th instant.' What he most counted upon of course was, that Partridge should be fool enough to take the matter up gravely; and he was not disappointed. In a furious pamphlet the old astrologer declared he was perfectly well, and they were knaves that reported it otherwise. Whereupon Mr. Bickerstaff retorted with a vindication more diverting than either of its predecessors; Rowe, Steele, Addison, and Prior contributed to the entertainment in divers amusing ways; Congreve, affecting to come to the rescue, described, under Partridge's name, the distresses and reproaches Squire Bickerstaff had exposed him to, insomuch that he could not leave his doors without somebody twitting him for sneaking about without paying his funeral expenses. And all this, heightened in comicality by its contrast with the downright rage of Partridge himself, who was continually advertising himself not dead, and by the fact that the Company of Stationers did actually proceed, as if in earnest he were, so contributed to make Mr. Bickerstaff talked about far and wide, that Steele afterwards said no more than the truth when he gave Swift the merit of having rendered that name famous through all parts of Europe, and raised it by his inimitable spirit and humour to as high a pitch of reputation as it could possibly arrive at.”—Quart. Rev. cxcii.
THE FIRST TATLER.
WHILST Mr. Addison was in Ireland, Sir Richard Steele began to publish the Tatler, which appeared for the first time, April 12, 1709. Addison discovered Steele to be the author from an observation on Virgil which he himself had communicated to his friend. The remark in question was concerning the judgment of Virgil, in omitting, on one occasion, the usual epithet of Pius, or Pater, to Æneas. That occasion was when he meets with Dido in the cave: where Pius would have been absurd, and Pater a burlesque. He therefore substitutes in their place Dux Trojanus, the Trojan leader.
THE TATLER IN THE INQUISITION. THE Inquisition was pleased in their great wisdom to burn the predictions of Isaac Bickerstaff
, Esq. for the year 1708, and to condemn both the authors and readers of them, as Dr. Swift was assured by Sir Paul Methuen, then ambassador to that crown (Portugal).
Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., Astrologer, was an imaginary person, almost as well known in that age as Mr. Paul Pry or Mr. Samuel Pickwick in ours. Swift had assumed the name of Bickerstaff in a satirical pamphlet against Partridge, the maker of almanacks.
1 The Tatlers, were published under that name.
OURIOUS NOTICE OF ERRATA IN TATLER, NO. 101.
(WRITTEN BY STEBLE AND ADDISON.) “I must desire my readers to help me out, from time to time, in the correction of these my essays; for as a shaking hand does not always write legibly, the press sometimes prints one word for another; and when my paper is to be revised I am, perhaps, so busy in observing the spots of the moon that I have not time to find out the errata that are crept into my lucubrations."
Addison prefixed the above as an introduction to the indication of an erratum in his preceding paper, which is now rectified according to his direction.
THE LAST TATLER.
is an extract of a letter from Swift to Mr. Johnson, dated Jan. 2, 1710.
“ Steele's last Tatler came out to-day; you will see it before this comes to you, and how he takes leave of the world. He never told so much as Addison of it, who was surprised as much as I."
In another part of the same letter he adds, “I dined with Mr. Secretary St. John, and at six went to Darteneuf's to drink punch with him and Mr. Addison, and little Harrison, a young poet, whose fortune I am making. Steele was to have been there, but came not, nor ever did twice, since I knew him, to any appointment.”
EXTENSIVE SALE OF THE SPECTATOR.
The number of copies daily distributed was at first three thousand, which graduallyincreased to four thousand and more. It is said that as many as twenty thousand were oftentimes sold in a single day; and the writer of a recent article on Steele (in the Quarterly Review) thinks that as many as thirty thousand were sometimes circulated. After its price was doubled in consequence of the stamp-duty, it paid £29 a week on account of the half-penny stamp, besides a circulation of upwards of 10,000 in volumes. Rare as was the intercourse between the capital and the highlands of Scotland, the Spectator soon found its way regularly to that part of the kingdom.
Mr. Stewart, of Dalguise, a gentleman of Perthshire, of very great respectability, who died near ninety, about twelve or fourteen years ago, informed us, that when, as usual in that country, the gentlemen met after church on Sunday, to discuss the news of the week, the Spectators were read as regularly as the Journal. He informs us also that he knew the perusal of them to be general through the country.
About seventeen months after the first publication of the Spectator, on the 1st of August, 1712, a stamp duty took place, and every single half-sheet paid one halfpenny to the Queen. The red stamp produced a mortality among the weekly authors, which is facetiously called the “ fall of the leaf.” (See Spectator, No. 445.) On the seventh day after the tax began to operate, Swift writing to a friend says, “the Observator is fallen; the Medleys are jumbled together with the Flying Post; the Examiner is deadly sick; the Spectator keeps up, and doubles its price," &c.
The Guardian being published daily during the interval between the seventh and eighth volumes of the Spectator, and subjected to the same stamp duty, was sold originally at the doubled price of the papers in the seventh, the eighth, and part of the sixth volumes of the Spectator; that is, at two pence each number.
SPRING-GARDEN, AFTERWARDS VAUXHALL. THE Spring-garden mentioned by Mr. Addison in Spectator, No. 383, is now known only by the name of Fauxhall or Vauxhall, and was originally the habitation of Sir Samuel Morland, who built a fine room there in 1667. The house was afterwards rebuilt, and about the year 1730 Mr. Jonathan Tyers became the occupier of it; and from a large garden belonging to it, planted with stately trees, and laid out in shady walks, it obtained the name of Spring-garden. The house was converted into a tavern, a place of entertainment, and was much frequented by the votaries of pleasure. Mr. Tyers opened it in 1730, with an advertisement of a Ridotto al Fresco, a term which the people of this country had till that time been strangers to. The reputation and success of these summer entertainments encouraged the proprietor to make his garden a place of musical entertainment for every
1 This was written in 1803.