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they are so encumbered in the volumes of angry politics and long-forgotten contests, that they have suffered the common lot of those who associate with bad company. With respect to their general merit as compositions, if the publick be allowed the decisive judge of what is addressed to its collective capacity, we may gather what that decision long has been, by the difficulty with which we recover the dates or even the names of many papers which once proudly “strutted and fretted their hour" on the stage of political contest, and are now known not to the common but to the curious reader, and are to be found not in shops, but in ancient repositories, in which no place either of honour or distinction is allotted to them. We are now, however, entering on a new æra in the history of Essay Writing, a period during which the greatest talents were again called forth to combine wit and genius in the service of virtue, and to detach the public mind from the unprofitable speculations of political rancour.
The following extract from the scarce pamphlet mentioned in the Preface to the Tatler, and supposed to have been written by Gay, may throw some light on the rivals of the Tatler.
“ The expiration of Bickerstaff's Lucubrations was attended with much the same consequences as the death of Melibæus's ox in Virgil ; as the latter engendered swarms of bees, the former immediately produced whole swarms of little satirical scribblers. · " One of these authors called himself the GROWLER, and assured us, that, to make amends for Mr. STEELE's silence, he was resolved to growl at us weekly, as long as we should think fit to give him any encouragement. Another gentleman, with more modesty, calls his paper the WHISPERER, and a third, to please the ladies, christened his the TELL-TALE.
" At the same time came out several Tatlers ; each of which, with equal truth and wit, assured us, that he was the genuine Isaac Bickerstaff,
“ It may be observed, that when the Squire laid down his pen, though he could not but forsee that several scribblers would soon snatch it up, which he might, one would think, easily have prevented, he scorned to take any further care about it, but left the field fairly open to any worthy successor. Immediately some of our wits were for forming themselves into a club, headed by one Mr. Harrison, and trying how they could shoot in this bow of Ulysses ;' but soon found that this sort of writing requires so fine and particular a manner of thinking, with so exact a knowledge of the world, as must make them utterly despair of success.
“ They seemed indeed at first to think, that what was only the garnish of the former Tatlers was that which recommended them, and not those substantial entertainments which they every where abound in.
“ Accordingly they were continually talking of their Maid, Night-cap, Spectacles, and Charles Lillie. However there were now and then some faint endeavours at Humour, and sparks of Wit, which the Town, for want of better entertainment, was content to hunt after, through an heap of impertinencies : but even those are at present become wholly invisible, and quite swallowed up in the blaze of the Spectator.'
ORIGINAL DEDICATION TO VOL. I:
TO LIEUTENANT-GENERAL CADOGAN,
SIR, In the character of Guardian, it behoves me to do honour to such as have deserved well of society, and laid out worthy, and manly qualities, in the service of the public. No man has more eminently distinguished himself this way, than Mr. Cadogan; with a contempt of pleasure, rest, and ease, when called to the duties of your glorious profession, you have lived in a familiarity with dangers, and with a strict eye upon the final purpose of the attempt, have wholly disregarded what should befall yourself in the prosecution of it; thus has life risen to you, as fast as you resigned it, and every new hour, for having so frankly lent the preceding mo. ments to the cause of justice and of liberty, has come home to you, improved with honour: This happy distinction, which is so very peculiar to you, with the addition of industry, vigilance, patience of
labour, thirst and hunger, in common with the meanest soldier, has made your present fortune unenvied. For the public always reap greater advantage, from the example of successful merit, than the deserving man himself can possibly be possessed of; your country knows how eminently you excel in the several parts of military skill, whether in assigning the encampment, accommodating the troops, leading to the charge, or pursuing the enemy: the retreat being the only part of the profession which has not fallen within the experience of those, who learned their warfare under the Duke of Marlborough. . But the true and honest purpose of this Epistle is to desire a place in your friendship, without pretending to add any thing to your reputation, who, by your own gallant actions, have acquired that your name through all ages shall be read with honour, wherever mention shall be made of that llustrious captain.
and most humble servant,