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THE seventh volume of the SPECTATOR,
1 originally intended to be the last, was concluded Dec. 6, 1712, and the first paper of the GUARDIAN made its appearance March 12, 1713. This work had been actually projected by STEELE before the conclusion of the SPECTATOR. In a letter to POPE, dated Nov. 12, 1712, he announces his intention in these words, “ I desire you would let me know whether you are at leisure or not? I have a design which I shall open a month or two hence, with the assistance of the few like yourself. If your thoughts are unengaged, I shall explain myself farther.” To this, which indicates that Pope had previously assisted STEELE, though of that assistance we have no direct proof, he answers that he shall be very ready and glad to contribute to any design that tends to the advantage of mankind, which, he adds, “ I am sure, all yours do *.”
* Stella's Letters to his friends, vol. 2. p. 338, 339,
• It would appear that STEELE undertook this work without any previous concert with his illustrious colleague, and that he pursued it for many weeks with vigour and assiduity, and with very little assistance from his friends, or from the letter-box.
To the character of Nestor Ironside, the GUARDIAN, some objections have been offered. Dr. Johnson thinks, " it was too narrow and too serious: it might properly enough adınit both the duties and decencies of life, but seemed not to include literary speculation, and was in some degree violated by merriment and burlesque. What had the GUARDIAN of the Lizards to do with clubs of tall or of little men, with nests of ants, or with STRADA's Prolusions ?”
Dr. JOHNSON's opinions are so generally entitled to reverence, that it is not without reluctance the present should be in some measure rejected. It appears to have been written in an unlucky moment of caprice. To scrutinise the titles assumed by the EssAYISTs, in this severe manner, would be to disfranchise the whole body, and probably no one would suffer more than the RAMBLER, a name which Dr. WARTON has criticised, and with as little reason. And what shall be said of names intrinsically so contemptible as IDLER and LOUNGER? But
“ It were to consider too curiously to consider so." , · The views of our Essayists in the choice of a name, have been either to select one that did not pledge them to any particular plan, or one
that expressed humility, or promised little, and might afterwards excite an agreeable surprize by its unexpected fertility. Of the former class are the SPECTATOR, WORLD, MIRROR: of the latter class are the TATLER, RAMBLER, IDLER, ADVENTURER. The CONNOISSEUR is a name of some danger, because of great promise; and the GUARDIAN might perhaps have been liable to the saine objection, if he had not tempered the austerity of the preceptor with the playfulness of the friend and companion, and partaken of the amusements of his pupils while he provided for their instruction. And with respect to his “ literary speculations, as well as his inerriment and burlesque,” we may surely allow him some latitụde, when we consider that the public at large was put under his guardianship, and that the demand for variety became consequently more extensive.
But those points are scarcely worth contesting: The GUARDIAN was in effect a continuation of the SpectATOR, under another name. conducted on the same plan, and with the same laudable intentions, and in general was written by the same authors. It was published daily until Oct. 1, 1713, No. 175, when it was abruptly closed by STEELE, in consequence of a quarrel between him and TONSON, the bookseller. POPE informs us that he stood engaged to his bookseller in articles of penalty for all the GUARDIANS ; and by desisting two days, and altering the title of the paper to that of the ENGLISHMAN, was quit of the obligation, these papers, the ENG
LISHMEN, being printed for BUCKLEY. Mr. Hughes gives the following account of this affair in a letter to ADDISON, dated Oct. 6, 1713, " I do not doubt but you know, by this time, that Mr. STEELE has abruptly dropt the GUARDIAN. He has this day published a paper called the ENGLISHMAN, which begins with an answer to the EXAMINER, written with great boldness and spirit, and shews that his thoughts are at present on politics. Some of his friends are in pain about him, and are concerned that a paper should be discontinued, which might have been generally entertaining without engaging in party matters.”
ADDISON could not be ignorant of STEELE's conduct in this affair, as he had written some GUARDIANS only a week before it closed; but the nature of Steele's bargain with Tonson is not sufficiently explained to enable us to form any judgment of it. As STEELE got rid of it merely by desisting to conduct the paper, or to write, the terms must have been very loosely worded. And why should STEELE's conduct injure the paper, or stop its progress ? ADDISON wrote above fifty GUARDIANS - with powers truly comic, with nice discrimination of character, and accurate observation of natural or incidental deviations from propriety,” and with such assistance, if TONson had engaged him, the GUARDIAN might have been continued notwithstanding STEELE's retirement. But it is useless to conjecture where we have so little information. It is certain, that Steele's plunge into politics was at this time violent, as, when in the following year the SPECTATOR was revived, it does not appear that he took
share in it. The abrupt change, however, which this writer made from GUARDIAN to ENGLISHMAN does not appear in a very favourable light: he might wish to get
rid of his engagement, whatever it was, with Tonson, and he might wish to carry his politics to a new paper in which politics might be in place; but unless there was something very unjust in Tonson's conduct, of which we have no information, he had no right to damnify Tonsor's property by entitling his new paper, " The ENGLISHMAN, being the sequel of the GUARDIAN ;” and declaring in his first paper, that he had for valuable considerations purchased the lion, desk, pen, ink, and paper, and all other goods of Nestor Ironside, Esq. who has thought fit to write no more himself, but has given me full liberty to report any sage expressions or maxims which may tend to the instruction of mankind, and the service of his country.” He then goes on to tell, with some humour, that Nestor advised him to turn patriot, &c. This paper extended to its 57th number, and being almost entirely of a political cast, has seldom been reprinted.
But another difficulty, not easily got over, arises from the dedications and preface to the GUARDIAN, when published in two volumes octavo by Tonson, in 1714. The first volume is dedicated to GENERAL CADUGAN, and the second to Mr. PULTENEY, and the annotators seem to have no doubt that STEELE wrote these