« AnteriorContinuar »
PREFACE TO THE OCTAVO EDITION, 1710.
IN the last Tatler I promised some explanation of passages and persons mentioned in this work, as well as some account of the assistances I have had in the performance. I shall do this in very few words; for when a man has no design but to speak plain truth, he may say a great deal in a very narrow compass. I have, in the dedication of the first volume, made my acknowledgments to Dr. Swift, whose pleasant writings, in the name of Bickerstaff, created an inclination in the town towards any thing that could appear in the same disguise. I must acknowledge also, that, on my first entering upon this work, a certain uncommon way of thinking, and a turn in conversation peculiar to that agreeable gentleman, rendered his company very advantageous to one whose imagination was to be continually employed upon obvious and common subjects, though at the same time obliged to treat of them in a new and unbeaten method. His verses on the "Shower in Town," and the "Description of the Morning," are instances of the happiness of that genius, which could raise such pleasing ideas upon occasions so barren to an ordinary invention.
When I am upon the house of Bickerstaff, I must not forget that genealogy of the family sent to me by the post, and written, as I since understand, by Mr. Twisden, who died at the battle of Mons, and has a monument in Westminster-abbey, suitable to the respect which is due to his wit and his valour. There are through the course of the work very many incidents which were written by unknown correspondents. Of this kind is the tale in the second Tatler, and the epistle from Mr. Downes the prompter,
with others which were very well received by the publick. But I have only one gentleman, who will be nameless, to thank for any frequent assistance to me, which indeed it would have been barbarous in him to have denied to one with whom he has lived in an intimacy from childhood, considering the great ease with which he is able to despatch the most entertaining pieces of this nature. This good office he performed with such force of genius, humour, wit, and learning, that I fared like a distressed prince, who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid; I was undone by my auxiliary; when I had once called him in, I could not subsist without dependence on him.
The same hand writ the distinguishing characters of men and women under the names of "Musical Instruments,' "The Distress of the News-writers," "The Inventory of the Play-house," and "The Description of the Thermometer," which I cannot but look upon as the greatest embellishments of this work.
Thus far I thought necessary to say relating to the great hands which have been concerned in these volumes, with relation to the spirit and genius of the work; and am far from pretending to modesty in making this acknowledgment. What a man obtains from the good opinion and friendship of worthy men, is a much greater honour than he can possibly reap from any accomplishments of his own. But all the credit of wit which was given me by the gentleman above-mentioned, with whom I have now accounted, has not been able to atone for the exceptions made against me for some raillery in behalf of that learned advocate for the episcopacy of the church, and the liberty of the people, Mr. Hoadly. I mentioned this only to defend myself against the imputation of being moved rather by party than opinion; and I think it is apparent, I have with the utmost frankness allowed merit wherever I found it, though joined in interests different from those for which I have declared
myself. When my Favonius is acknowledged to be Dr. Smalridge, and the amiable character of the Dean in the sixty-sixth Tatler, drawn for Dr. Atterbury; I hope I need say no more as to my impartiality.
I really have acted in these cases with honesty, and am concerned it should be thought otherwise : For wit, if a man had it, unless it be directed to some useful end, is but a wanton frivolous quality; all that one should value himself upon in this kind is, that he had some honourable intention in it.
As for this point, never hero in romance was carried away with a more furious ambition to conquer giants and tyrants, than I have been in extirpating gamesters and duellists. And indeed, like one of those knights too, though I was calm before, I am apt to fly out again, when the thing that first disturbed me is presented to my imagination. I shall therefore leave off when I am well; and fight with windmills no more: only shall be so arrogant as to say of myself, that, in spite of all the force of fashion and prejudice, in the face of all the world, I alone bewailed the condition of an English gentlemen, whose fortune and life are at this day precarious while his estate is liable to the demands of gamesters, through a false sense of justice; and to the demands of duellists, through a false sense of honour. As to the first of these orders of men, I have not one more word to say of them: as to the latter, I shall conclude all I have more to offer against them, with respect to their being prompted by the fear of shame, by applying to the duellist what I think Dr. South says somewhere of the liar, "He is a coward to man, and a bravo to God."
N° 1. TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines
nostri est farrago libelli.
Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream, Our motley paper seizes for its theme. "THOUGH the other papers, which are published for the use of the good people of England, have certainly very wholesome effects, and are laudable in their particular kinds, they do not seem to come up to the main design of such narrations, which, I humbly presume, should be principally intended for the use of politic persons, who are so public spirited as to neglect their own affairs to look into transactions of state. Now these gentlemen, for the most part being persons of strong zeal, and weak intellects, it is both a charitable and necessary work to offer something, whereby such worthy and well-affected members of the commonwealth may be instructed, after their reading, what to think: which shall be the end and purpose of this my paper, wherein I shall, from time to time, report and consider all matters of what kind soever that shall occur to me, and publish such my advices and reflections every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday in the week, for the convenience of the post. I resolve to have something which may be of entertainment to the
fair sex, in honour of whom I have invented* the title of this paper. I therefore earnestly desire all persons, without distinction, to take it in for the present gratis, and hereafter at the price of one penny, forbidding all Hawkers to take more for it at their peril. And I desire all persons to consider, that I am at a very great charge for proper materials for this work, as well as that, before I resolved upon it, I had settled a correspondence in all parts of the known and knowing world. And forasmuch as this globe is not trodden upon by mere drudges of business only, but that men of spirit and genius are justly to be esteemed as considerable agents in it, we shall not, upon a dearth of news, present you with musty foreign edicts, or dull proclamations, but shall divide our relation of the passages which occur in action or discourse throughout this town, as well as elsewhere, under such dates of places as may prepare you for the matter you are to expect, in the following manner.
"All accounts of gallantry, pleasure and entertainment, shall be under the article of White's Chocolate-houset poetry, under that of Will's Coffee-house; learning, under the title of Grecian ;§ foreign and domestic news, you will have from Saint James's Coffee-house; and what else I have to offer on any other subject shall be dated from my own apartment.
"I once more desire my reader to consider, that as I cannot keep an ingenious man to go daily to Will's under two-pence each day, merely for his
* taken. Original T.
+ White's Chocolate house was then lower down in St. James's-Street than it is at present, and on the other side.
Will's Coffee-house was on the North side of Russel Street in Covent Garden, now the house, No. 23, Great Russel Street. § The Grecian was, and still is, in Devereux Court, in the Strand.