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As these eyes must one day cease to gaze on Teraminta, and this heart shall one day pant no more for her indignation, that is to say, since this body must be earth, I shall commit it to the dust in a manner suitable to my character; therefore, as there are those who dispute whether there is any such real perfon as Ifaac Bickerstaff or not, I shall excuse all persons who appear what they really are from coming to my funeral ; but all those who are in their way of life, persona, as the Latins have it, persons assumed, and who appear what they really are not, are hereby invited to that folemnity.
The body shall be carried by six watchmen who are never feen in the day.
Item: The pall shall be held up by the fix most known pretenders to honesty, wealth, and power, who are not pofsessed of any of them. The two first, a half-lawyer, a complete justice; the two next, a chymist, a projector; the third couple, a treasury folicitor and a small courtier.
To make my funeral (what that folemnity when done to common men really is in itself) a very farce, and since all mourners are mere actors on these occasions, I shall desire those who are professedly such to attend me. I humbly therefore beseech Mrs. Barry to act once more, and be my widow. When she swoons away at the church-porch, I appoint the merry Sir John Falstaff and the gay Sir Harry Wildair to support her. I desire Mr. Pinkethman to follow in the habit of a cardinal, and Mr. Bullock in that of a privy counsellor. To make up the rest of the appearance, I desire all the ladies from the balconies to weep with Mrs. Barry, as they hope to be wives and widows themselves. I invite all who have nothing else to do to accept of gloves and scarves.
Thus, with the great Charles V. of Spain, I resign the glories of this transitory world, yet, at the same time, to thew you my indifference, and that my desires are not too much fixed upon anything, I own to you I am as willing to stay as go,
therefore leave it in the choice of my gentle readers whether I shall hear from them or they hear no more from me.
MR. BICKERSTAFF THROWS OFF THE MASK, AND EXITS.
JHE printer having informed me that there are as
many of these printed papers as will make four volumes, I am now come to the end of
ambition in this matter, and have nothing further to
say to the world under the character of Isaac Bickerstaff
. This work has, indeed, for some time been disagreeable to me, and the purpose of it wholly lost by my being so long understood as the author. I never designed in it to give any man any secret wound by my concealment, but spoke in the character of an old man, a philosopher, a humourist, an astrologer, and a censor, to allure my reader with the variety of my subjects, and insinuate, if I could, the weight of reason with the agreeableness of wit. The general purpose of the whole has been to recommend truth, innocence, honour, and virtue, as the chief ornaments of life ; but I considered that severity of manners was absolutely necessary to him who would censure others, and for that reason, and that only, chose to talk in a mask. I shall not carry my humility so far as to call myself a vicious man, but at the same time must confess best but pardonable. And with no greater character than this, a man would make but an indifferent progress in attacking prevailing and fashionable vices, which Mr. Bickerstaff has done with a freedom of spirit that would have lost both its beauty and efficacy, had it been pretended to by Mr. Steele.
As to the work itself, the acceptance it has met with is the best proof of its value; but I should err against that candour
life is at
which an honest man should always carry about him, if I did not own that the most approved pieces in it were written by others, and those which have been most excepted against, by myself. The hand that has assisted me in those noble discourses upon the immortality of the foul, the glorious prospects of another life, and the most sublime ideas of religion and virtue, is a person who is too fondly my friend ever to own them ; but I should little deserve to be his, if I usurped the glory of them. I must acknowledge at the same time that I think the finest strokes of wit and humour in all Mr. Bickerstaff's lucubrations, are those for which he also is beholden to him.
As for the satirical part of these writings, those against the gentlemen who profess gaming, are the most licentious; but the main of them I take to come from losing gamesters, as invectives against the fortunate, for in very many of them I was very little else but the transcriber. If any have been more particularly marked at, such persons may impute it to their own behaviour (before they were touched upon) in publicly speaking their resentment against the author, and professing they would support any man who should insult him. When I mention this subject, I hope Major-General Davenport, Brigadier Bisset, and my Lord Forbes, will accept of my thanks for their frequent good offices, in professing their readiness to partake any danger that should befal me in fo just an undertaking, as the endeavour to banish fraud and cozenage from the presence and conversation of gentlemen.
But what I find is the least excusable part of all this work is, that I have in some places in it touched upon matters which concern both church and state. All I shall say for this is, that the points I alluded to are such as concerned every Christian and freeholder in England; and I could not be cold enough to conceal my opinion on subjects which related to either of those characters. But politics apart, I must confess, it has been a most exquisite pleasure to me to frame characters of domestic life, and put those parts of it which are least observed into an agreeable view; to inquire into the seeds of vanity and affectation, to lay before the readers the emptiness of ambition : in a word, to trace human life through all its mazes and recesses, and shew much shorter methods than men ordinarily practise, to be happy, agreeable, and great.
But to inquire into men's faults and weaknesses has something in it fo unwelcome, that I have often seen people in pain to act before me, whose modesty only makes them think themselves liable to censure. This, and a thousand other nameless things, have made it an irksome talk to me to personate Mr. Bickerstaff any longer; and I believe it does not often happen, that the reader is delighted where the author is displeased.
All I can now do for the further gratification of the town, is to give them a faithful index and explication of passages and allusions, and sometimes of persons intended in the several scattered parts of the work. At the same time, I shall discover which of the whole have been written by me, and which by others, and by whom, as far as I am able, or permitted.
Thus I have voluntarily done what I think all authors should do when called upon. I have published my name to my writings, and given myself up to the mercy of the town (as Shakespeare expresses it) “with all my imperfections on my head.” The indulgent reader's Most obliged, most obedient, humble Servant,
THE Author's PREFACE.- Forming parts of first articles of the
Tatler,” Nos. 1 and 4, dated April 12th and 18th, both 1709, by Steele. The part from number one, with other portions omitted, was originally inserted in the first three or four numbers (which were printed for the author, and circulated gratuitously), as a sort of prospectus.
Page 2.—THE COFFEE-HOUSES OF London.—Gallantry, &c., under the article of White's chocolate-house ; Poetry, under Will & coffee-house ; Learning, under the title of the Grecian; Foreign and Domestic News from St. James' coffee-house.—The “ Tatler," unlike the “Spectator,” its successor, had three or four short “ leaders” on different subjects of public interest, one of them a news article, and these were dated from what was regarded as the head-quarters of information on each topic. The coffeehouses were then, and had been from their establishment, about fifty years previously, in a great measure substitutes for the newspaper. The subject of the coffee-houses and clubs has been so forestalled in the valuable notes of Mr. Wills to the companion of this work, “ Sir Roger de Coverley," and elsewhere, as to render only a very brief notice of them necessary.
White's chocolate-house was situated on the west side of St. James' Street, and appears to have been the resort of the beaux and men of pleasure. It was afterwards moved to the opposite side of the way higher up.
Wills' coffee-house, so called after the name of its proprietor, was situated at the north corner of Great Russell Street, Covent Garden and Bow Street, being No. l-in the latter street, formed the scene of a sort of literary coterie, the chief wits of the time meeting there, with Dryden in his day as their monarch. Unfortunately, what emanated from it was not
A few trifling obligations to preceding anonymous annotators are marked with inverted commas.