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gress before he received or appears to have expected assistance from ADDISON, who was then in a distant country,* and in an official situation not likely to afford him the requisite leisure. Yet from the time they began to write in conjunction, if the reader will attentively compare those papers which are certainly the respective productions of STEELE and ADDISON, he will meet with a surprising similarity of humour. In many instances STEELE imitates what has been since called the ADDISONIAN manner with a closeness which would have rendered it very difficult to assign the papers to their proper authors, if we had been left without any authority but a supposed knowledge of the style. Of this happy coincidence of talent, there are many striking instances in the SPECTATOR, to which we shall have occasion to advert hereafter. In the mean time, we may remark, that it contributed to preserve the uniformity and consistency of character, or the personal identity of ISAAC BICKERSTAFF. Throughout the whole work,' says an author who well knew how to appreciate its merits, the conjuror, the politician, the man of humour, the critic; the seriousness of the moralist, and the mock dignity of the astrologer; the vivacities and the infirmities peculiar to old age, are all so blended and contrasted in the Censor of Great-Britain, as to form a character equally complex and natural, equally laughable and respectable.'t
Thirty-four of the Tatlers are attributed to STEELE and ADDISON in conjunction, and their respective shares are pointed out in the contents
* Addison left London April 10, two days before the first appearance of the Tatler.
to the present edition. Forty-one are given to ADDISON alone, of which Nos. 132, 216, 220, 224, 250, 253, 256, 259, and 265, are admirable examples of that exquisite humour which afterwards became habitual in this author's writings, and flowed from a disposition of mind, easy, equable, and fertile in ridicule, yet delicate in sentiment and expression beyond any kind of wit that had hitherto appeared. In No. 216, 'The Virtuoso's will' is replete with beauties; in almost every article is a stroke of satire which can hardly escape the notice of the dullest reader. The solemn introduction-the testator's leaving 'the female skeleton and dried cockatrice' to the widow the Winter-May-dew and embryo pickle' to the eldest daughter the nest of a hummingbird' to the youngest on the birth of her first child, and heightened by the condition annexed,
if she marries with her mother's consent,' are uncommon felicities of humour. The character of a Virtuoso* was the frequent butt of the wits of the BICKERSTAFF School, and almost every modern Essayist has attempted the same subject. Dr. JOHNSON is, I think, among the last who followed them with success, yet perhaps with more extravagance of fiction than true humour admits.
Among the occasional contributors to the TATLER, SWIFT has been often mentioned. It is not improbable that he frequently gave hints, but there is not much that can be assigned to his pen. He wrote, in No. 9, the Description of the Morning:' in No. 32, the history of Madonella:
They employed their wit less laudably on the Royal Society of which the enemies were for some time very numerous and very acrimonious, for what reason it is hard to conceive, since the philosophers professed not to advance doctrines, but to produce facts.' JOHNSON's Life of BUT
in No. 35, from internal evidence, the family of Ix: in No. 59, the letter signed Obadiah Greenhat: in No. 63, Madonella's Platonic College: in No. 66, the first article, on pulpit oratory: in No. 67, the proposal for a Chamber of Fame*: in No. 68, a continuation of the same: in No. 70, a letter on oratory signed Jonathan Rosehat: in No. 71,a letter on the irregular conduct of a clergyman: No. 230, entire: in No. 238, the poetical description of a shower; and No. 258, a short letter on the words Great Britain.' These are all the communications that can with any confidence be ascribed to SWIFT, a writer who, with a rich fund of humour, an easy and flowing style, perhaps more correct than that of any of his contemporaries, with habits of observationf, and a keen discernment of folly and weakness, was nevertheless ill qualified for this species of composition. His wit was so licentious, that no subject however sacred, and no character however amiable, were safe; his invective has more of malignity than virtuous indignation: his characters are drawn in hideous distortion; and perhaps no man ever attempted to ridicule vice or folly with less of the salutary and gentle spirit of correction.
Of his life it would be unnecessary to give a
* Dr. HAWKESWORTH claims also No. 74, and 81, for Swift; but from the notes on these papers, they are more justly given to ADDISON and STEELE. In his Journal to Stella, he disclaims Nos. 237, 249, 257, and 260, which had been imputed to him by his correspondents. See his Works, vol. xviii. p. 211, 8vo. edition, 1801.
† Of this qualification his Polite Conversation' and ' Advice to Servants' are decisive proofs. These two performances,' says JOHNSON, shew a mind incessantly attentive, and, when it was not employed upon great things, busy with minute ocurrences. It is apparent that he must have had the habit of noting whatever he observed: for such a number of particulars could never have been assembled by the power of recollection?
detail here. It has been written by Lord ORRERY, by HAWKESWORTH, by DELANY, by JohnSON, and lastly by Mr. SHERIDAN. In these writers, considerable discordance of opinion occurs ; yet an examination of their opinions and authorities, and what evidence may be derived from his works, leave us the melancholy regret that a man of so many accomplishments should have so few claims to our esteem. It is with too much truth, that Johnson has stated that he seems to have wasted life in discontent, by the rage of neglected pride, and the languishment of unsatisfied desire. He is querulous and fastidious, arrogant and malignant; he scarcely speaks of himself but with indignant lamentations, or of others but with insolent superiority when he is gay, and with angry contempt when he is gloomy.'
Mr. SHERIDAN, indeed, has published an elaborate vindication of Swift; but, having determined that his character should be that of pure and unmixed excellence, he has plunged into a series of inconsistencies from which he never knows how to extricate himself, or the object of his admiration. Mr. Monck BERKELEY, who has since attempted a vindication of SwIFT, cannot excuse SHERIDAN's want of judgment, in the case of - the two ladies who were unfortunately attached to the DEAN. The truth is, SHERIDAN was proud of the original information and materials which he had been able to collect, and did not perceive that although they might furnish an impartial life of Swift, they could not support a continued panegyric.
Yet for this Swift is not accountable. His conduct measured by his own principles is seldom mysterious, and becomes so only when attempts are thus made to render it consistent with a char
acter which he did not possess. Doubts have been justly entertained of his religion; and there are many proofs that it was a religion which did little honour to the church of which he was a member. His notions of what became the dignity of the sacerdotal office appear to have been very lax. In his Journal, December, 1712, is the following singular passage : « This morning I presented one Diaper, a poct, to Lord Bolingbroke, with a new poem, which is a very good one; and I am to give a sum of money
Lord. I have contrived to make a Parson of him, for he is half one already, being in Deacon's orders, and a small cure in the country, but has a sword at his tail here in town. 'Tis a poor, little, short wretch, but will do best in a gown, and we will make Lord Keeper give him a living.' This passage
Mr. SHERIDAN has quoted as a proof of Swift's good offices to men of genius and merit:' but of what value in
any man's character is such patronage, when over-balanced by the insult offered to religion, and to the church whose dignity he professed to support, by making the Lord Keeper give a living to a poor, little, short wretch,' whose only merit was that of writing a poem which has never since been heard of. Connected with this anccdote, and in a subsequent part of the Life, we have another instance of the difficulty Mr. SHERIDAN experienced in his attempt to construct a Christian Hero from the materials of an inconsistent HUMOURIST. Although Swift professed to make the Lord Keeper give livings to persons whom he could not mention without contcmpt, his biographer informs us that he was more circumspect in matters within his own gift. He was extremely exact and conscientious in promoting this