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No. 1. THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1710-11.
Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
I HAVE observed, that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition,
*Of the three periodical papers, in which Mr. Addison was happily induced to bear a part, the only one, which was planned by himself,* was the Spectator. And, how infinitely superior is the contrivance of it, to that of the other two!
The notion of a club, on which it is formed, not only gave a dramatic air to the Spectator, but a sort of unity to the conduct of it; as it tied together the several papers, into what may be called one work, by the reference they all have to the same common design.
This design too, was so well digested from the first, that nothing occurs afterwards (when the characters come out and shew themselves at full length, in the course of the work) for which we are not prepared, by the general outline of them, as presented to us in the introductory papers; so that, if we did not know the contrary, we might suspect that these papers, like the preface to a book, had been written after the whole was printed off, and not before a syllable of it was composed. Such was the effect of the original plan, and the care of it's author,
"Primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum !”
As for his coadjutor, Sir Richard Steele, he knew the world, or rather what is called the town, well, and had a considerable fund of wit and humour; but his wit was often forced, and his humour ungraceful; not but his style would give this appearance to each, being at once incorrect and heavy. His graver papers are universally hard, and laboured, though, at the same time, superficial. Some better writers contributed, occasionally, to carry on this work; but its success was, properly, owing to the matchless pen of Mr. Addison.
* Mr. Tickell says, it was projected in concert with Sir Richard Steele, which comes to the same thing.
married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper and my next as prefatory discourses to my following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling, digesting, and correcting, will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.
I was born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to son whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreamt that she was brought to bed of a judge: whether this might proceed from a law-suit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour my mother's dream: for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use of my coral till they had taken away the bells from it.
As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall pass it over in silence. I find, that during my non-age, I had the reputation of a very sullen youth, but was always a favorite of my schoolmaster, who used to say, that my parts were solid, and would wear well. I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence; for during the space of eight years, excepting