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Notwithstanding the able assistance of his right honourable friends, Mr. Moore wrote sixty-one of these papers, and the second letter in No. 130. In his first paper, he declines prefixing mottoes, principally, "because the follies he intends to treat of, and the characters he means to exhibit, are such as the Greeks and Romans were entirely unacquainted with." But this excuse would have been as applicable to the Spectator as to the World: it is probable he had not much intimacy with classical learning, and it is certain that the mottoes which were sent were never rejected*. His style is easy and unaffected, and always appropriate to his subjects, which have great variety. If he had not more knowledge of the world than some of his predecessors, he could at least employ it very agreeably. He had professed that the paper should contain novelty of ridicule, and it must be allowed that he seldom betrays the servile copyist when treating of those subjects which had been handled by others. The few narratives he gives are pleasing and instructive, particularly the description ot domestic happiness in No. 16, which in the original edition he had nearly spoiled by the introduction of so improbable a circumstance as a chariot. In Nos. 31 and 186, the almost ludicrous distresses of a credulous clergyman, which remind us, in some degree, of
* Some time after this, when he projected a Magazine, he told the Wartons, in confidence, that " he wanted a dull plodding fellow of one of the Universities, who understood Latin and Greek." Wooll's Life of Warton.
Parson Adams, are related with characteristic simplicity. The circumstance of the post-chaise might have been suggested by a similar story in "Greville's Maxims and Reflections," published about this time.
Moore excelled principally in assuming the serious manner for the purposes of ridicule, or of raising idle curiosity, as in No. 144; his irony, also, is admirably concealed, as in Nos. 139 and 145: the plot of the latter, if it may be so termed, is very artfully managed. However trite his subject, he enlivens it by original turns of thought. Some of the papers are mere exercises of humour, which have no direct moral in view, and for this he in one place offers an apology, or at least acknowledges that he aimed at no higher purpose than entertainment.
In the last paper, the conclusion of the work is made to depend on a fictitious accident which is supposed to have happened to the author, and occasioned his death. When the papers were collected in volumes, Mr. Moore superintended the publication, and actually died while this last paper was in the press: a circumstance somewhat singular, when we look at the contents of it, and which induces us to wish that death may be less frequently included among the topics of wit.
It has been the general opinion, for the honour of rank, that the papers written by men of that description in this work, are far superior to those of Moore, or of any of his assistants of " low degree." Whatever may be in this, it cannot be denied, that the first in point of genius, taste, and elegance, are those we owe to the pen of
Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, a name so well known that it is unnecessary in this place to detail the circumstances of his long and active life. A laudable spirit of ambition led him early to cultivate talents that were calculated to adorn society, and give dignity to the highest stations. That in one memorable instance he perverted these talents, has been again and again repeated, with just indignation, in every vehicle of public instruction; and his biographer has shrunk from the defence of his conduct in this instance, while he adverts to it with respectful delicacy. It is, indeed, utterly incapable of apology, and is, perhaps, as little to the credit of his understanding as of his morals, for it is not very clear that he comprehended the nature or utility of his own plan. He calls it the art of pleasing, or the acquisition of the graces. He speaks of it as a something above the common advantages of genius, virtue, or reputation, as if any thing consistent with honour or honesty could not be obtained by these.
That this nobleman, however, had a respect for pure morality and decorous manners, is sufficiently attested by the papers he contributed to the work before us. He was now at an advanced period of life. Few men had seen more of the world, or knew better how to expose the vices and follies which are sanctioned by high practice and fashion; and it is worthy of remark,
VoL. XXII. c
that when he wrote in Fog's Journal*, and other papers established for political purposes, his lucubrations almost always turned on subjects of morals, manners, or taste.
His services in this paper were purely voluntary, but a circumstance occurred to his first contribution which had nearly disgusted him from sending a second. He sent his paper to the publisher without any notice from whence it came: it underwent a very slight inspection, and was at least delayed, if not rejected, on account of its length. Fortunately Lord Lyttelton saw it at Mr. Dodsley's, and knew the hand. Moore, when informed of this discovery, read the manuscript more attentively, discovered its beauties, and thought proper not only to publish it directly, but to introduce it with an apology for the delay, and a compliment to the author. It is not, however, greatly to the credit of Moore's discernment, that he did not at once see how little such a paper could suffer by a comparison with any which preceded it.
His Lordship then continued his correspondence occasionally, and wrote in all twenty-three papers, certainly equal, if not superior, in brilliancy of wit and novelty of thought, to the most popular productions of this kind. Of these, Nos. 49, 90, 91, 98, 105, and 151, are perhaps unrivalled, both for matter and manner. No. 148, on civility and good-breeding, contains the outline of the purer part of his celebrated system. Of this paper, Dr. Maty gives the following
* See preface to the Guardian, p. 48.
anecdote. Lord Chesterfield being at Bath, showed one of his last Worlds to his friend General Irwine, who dined with him almost every day. The General, in the course of conversation, mentioned good-breeding, when distinguished from mere civility, as a subject that deserved to be treated by him. His Lordship at first declined it, but on his friend's insisting, and urging the singular propriety of its being undertaken by a man who was so perfect a master of the thing, he suddenly called for pen and ink, and wrote this excellent piece off-hand, as he did all the others, without any rasure or interlineation. This paper, ever after, went by the name of General Irwine's paper*.
As it is always a matter of curiosity as well as utility to know how two persons of eminent, but very different talents, treat the same subject, No. 96, on passionate men, may be pointed out to be read with No. 11, of the Rambler.
Nos. 100 and 101 are connected with a small portion of literary history, of which it may be necessary to take some notice, although it can never be without regret that literary animosities are recollected or recorded. These papers were supposed to have been written to conciliate Dr. Johnson, then about to publish his Dictionary, whom Lord Chesterfield was conscious he had offended. The nature of this offence was for many years reported in various ways, but from Mr. BoswelPs account it appears there was no particular incident which produced a quarrel,
* Maty's Life of Lord Chesterfield, prefixed to his Miscellaneous Works.