« EelmineJätka »
Zealots in Religion and
COMPOSED of Essays both elegant and instructive,
and commodiously distributed, because daily and cheaply, the Spectator, at its first appearance, met with general and unparalleled approbation. Its sale was numerous and extensivet, and we cannot be surprised at its success: for justness and ingenuity of re flection, clearness and force of reasoning, appositeness and beauty of illustration; knowledge without ostenta tion, but adapted to use; familiarity without meanness; Javity without solemnity; perspicuity, and propriety: such are the prominent excellencies of this matchless work.
The Spectator, as a moralist, puts impertinence to silence, and vanity out of countenance; he makes deep impressions, affects the secret springs of the mind, charms the fancy, and soothes the passions. He leads the reader to sweetness of temper; rouses him to generosity; and inculcates humanity in a manner, that he must be miserably stupid who is not affected by his lessons.
When the Spectator appeared, looseness of manners and sprightly licentiousness, were considered as good breeding and refinement. Wit, humour, and elegance,
The first paper appeared March 11, 1711; and the work was continued daily to December, 1712. The number sold was sixteen hundred and eighty.-It be gan again on June 18, 1714, and ended December 21, of the same year.-A tax was put upon it, as on other papers, in the month of July, 1712. After the tax of one penny on each half sheet was put, though it reduced its circulation to half the number that was usually printed before, it brought into the Stamp Office, one week with another, above 201. a week.
+ The Spectator found its way in Scotland; and was read there, like the news-papers, regularly on Sunday.
The partiality for the Spectator was so great, that the first complete edition of it, of above nine thou sand, was immediately sold.
prevailed in the plays of Wicherley; and Congreve had been employed in varnishing error, and bederking wickedness.-The Spectator exercised these talents in adorning justness of thought and rectitude of conduct. To turn men from impropriety, folly, and vice, to de cency, wisdom, and virtue, was his principal object. He attempted, and succeeded, in undermining the interests of ignorance and irreligion, and substituting in its stead learning and piety. Such is the praise he deserves, and which is well expressed in the following elegant verses, written by Tickell, and addressed
To the Author of the Spectator.
"In courts licentious, and a shameless stage, How long the war shall wit with virtue wage? Thy spotless thoughts, unshock'd,the priest may hear, And the pure vestal in her bosom wear. To conscious blushes and diminish'd pride,
Thy glass betrays what treach'rous love would hide;
And with his tailor, share the fopling's heart:
"The brainless stripling, who, expell'd the town,
"Such readers scorn'd, thou wing'st thy daring Above the stars, and tread'st the fields of light; Fame, heav'n, and hell, are thy exalted theme, And visions such as Jove himself might dream; Men sunk to slav'ry, though to glory born; Heav'n's pride when upright, when deprav'd its
Thus, as the poet has energetically expressed it, amiable and unassuming manners, manly liberal sentiments, benevolent affections, and rational piety, are recommended in every page of the Spectator. We therefore have good reason to hope, that an indulgent public will welcome its Miniature. Our object has been, by a judicious selection, and by omitting the papers which had only a temporary adaptation, to render 邊 more universal the circulation of such an invaluable work of morality.
With this view, we have endeavoured to let the serious and the gay relieve each other by their distribution. Passing over most of those essays which at; tacked the reigning fashions of the time, we have sedulously selected those where the natural history of the human mind is skilfully described, and which exhibit faithful pictures even of the present manners. In our time, as all strictness of behaviour in the fair sex seems to be ridiculed, and their character destroyed in the vortex of fashionable dissipation; and as it is evident that they place their ambition and pleasures on objects which will last no longer than youth and good fortune, we have carefully preserved those Essays, in which our mild moralist gently marks and attacks the little foibles and errors of women, where he earnestly exhorts them, for their own happiness and comfort, to become, by their virtues, shining ornaments to their parents, husbands, and children.
We have also assiduously retained those essays which so powerfully enforce the duties of social life, and unfold the causes of misconduct and distress; but particularly those which insist on the necessity of piety towards the Supreme Being, which awfully display his attributes, and prove the comforting and glorious hope of immortality.
As Biography greatly engages our attention and affections, we have affixed to the Spectator in Miniature a rapid sketch of the characters of its various authors, men of extraordinary talents, who, having
shewn themselves the supporters of rational freedom, were, during their lives, exposed to the shafts of party malevolence and envy:
"Urit enim fulgore suo qui prægravat artes Intra se positas: extinctus amabitur idem."
Such has been the fate of the various writers in the Spectator; attacked, when living, by the clamours of partisans, and the rage of envious literary mediocrity, they have survived their enemies; and impartial posterity has attached to their names the fame that they so justly deserve.
Mottos, illustrative of their speculations, and gene. rally chosen from poets, who by laconism of expression and harmony of numbers give a finer turn to a thought than prose writers, were affixed to the papers of the Spectator; we have preserved them in its Miniature. The illiterate and the fair will also find in our edition their English translation.
After having laid before the reader an account of our labours, of their object, and of their extent, we shall conclude this Preface by expressing the wish, that some eloquent essayist, some modern Spectator, may rise, to ridicule the contemptible follies of the day, to check the growing profligacy of manners, and stop the alarming progress of zealous fanaticism: and that, instead of contradictory, absurd, and idle reports of newswriters, the daily press, by presenting short aud moral essays, may again be turned into a vehicle of wisdom and virtue; and applied to make men wise and good, rather than prejudiced and talkative politicians.
In short, as it has been our aim to diffuse amongst our readers, by the Spectator in Miniature, solid good sense, sound morality, and pure devotion, we have only to hope that our efforts may prove successful *.
*The present edition is intended as a specimen of what the public may expect, if they should think such a publication worthy of their patronage. We shall then be able to present them, upon a similar plan, with ve lumes from all the other esteemed classical writers.