Alexander Chalmers.

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THE BRITISH POETS,



PUBLISHED BY



LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY



EDITED BY PROFESSOR CHILD,

OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY.



A COMPLETE COLLECTION", FROM CHAUCER TO'
WORDSWORTH.



This Series of British Poets has secured the*
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(1)



THE BRITISH POETS.



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iliterature of Great Britain ever published." — Home Journal.

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are already issued: —
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The remainder of the series will be published as
fast as the volumes ean be prepared.



THE BRITISH ESSAYISTS,

PUBLISHED BY

LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY.

112 WASHINGTON STREET, BOSTON.



BRITISH ESSAYISTS;

WITH PREFACES, HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL,
BY A. CHALMEKS, F.S.A.



Tatler.
Spectator,
Guardian,
Kambler,



In 38 vols. 16mo.
Adventurer,
World,
Connoisseur,
Idler,



Mirror,
Lounger,
Observer,
Looker-on.



The volumes are of the exact size and style of
Little, Brown & Co.'s edition of the " British
Poets," and sold at the same price, — seventy-five
cents per volume.



Notices of tlje $ress.
" Xo greater service can be done in the cause of good letters,
than the extensive dissemination of these standard compositions.
They embrace the best models of style in the English language.
They are truly works that no library, even of the most meagre
pretensions, can afford to be without."— Boston Daily Advertiser.



THE BRITISH ESSAYISTS.



" Their claim?, indeed, are very great to the respect and atten-
tion of the reading world. An eminent critic and essayist of
our age has said, 'If ever the best Tatlers and Spectators -were
equalled in their own kind, we should be inclined to guess that
it must have been by the lost comedies of Menander.' This is
meant to apply to the contributions of Addison; but the other
essayists were, in some instances, by no means the inferiors of
Addison, though their talents differed from his, and were per-
haps less adapted to essay-writing. But such men as Steele,
Johnson, and Hawkesworth, were among the first writers of
their time." — Boston Chronicle.

" ' The Tatler,' ' The Rambler,' ' The Spectator,' « The Guar-
dian,' ' The Adventurer,' written by such men as Steele, Johnson,
Addison, Hawkesworth, are standard compositions, — models of
good old English. So varied and often amusing are they, so cer-
tain to cultivate a pure style, that we hardly know how a more
judicious selection could be made, of works to make a family
library, than this edition of these Essays." — Boston Post.

" A beautiful edition, — just the right size to hold in the hand
without fatigue, and with type that can never hurt or weary the
eyes." — Philadelphia Bulletin.

" As models of English prose they stand unrivalled, and deserve
a place in every library, public or private, but especially in
every school and town library in the country." — Boston Atlas.

" By unanimous consent of the literary world they stand at the
head of the class of literature to which they belong. A com-
plete set of them would furnish a greater variety of entertaining
reading than any other series of books." — Cincinnati Gazette.

" These volumes are of the most convenient size for the iise for
which they are designed as travelling companions, or as suited
to a fireside use. We would commend these Essays to a new
generation of readers, and would commend them highly. They
inculcate wise and good lessons; their spirit is generous and
large; they embody the forms and manners of a past age; they
are classical in their contents and moral and religious in their
whole influence." — Christian Examiner.



THE



BRITISH ESSAYISTS



PREFACES,

HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL,

BY

A. CHALMERS, F. S. A.

VOLUME XXXV.



BOSTON:

LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY.
M.DCCC.LVI.



RIVERSIDE. CAMBRIDGE:

STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY

H. 0. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY.



LOOKER-ON.



No. 1—32.



THESE PAPERS

ARE DUTIFULLY INSCRIBED TO HIS BEST BENEFACTOR
AND PATRON,

HIS MUCH-HONOURED FATHER,

AS AN HUMBLE EXPRESSION OF HIS LOVE ;

AND

A STILL HUMBLER TRIBUTE TO MANLY VIRTUE AND
UNBLEMISHED INTEGRITY OF LIFE,

BY

WILLIAM ROBERTS, A. M.,

Late Fellow of C. C. Coll.. Oxon.



CONTENTS.



VOL. XXXV.



NO. PAGE

Introduction to the Work, with an Exposition of the Mo-
tives inciting the Author to undertake it 11

1. Some Account of the ancient and peaceful Family of the

Olive-Branches, particularly of the Mother of Simon. 27

2. A further Account of the Nature of the Work— Declara-

tion of Hostilities — A very curious Dream 35

3. Character and Plan of the Society of which Simon Olive-

Branch is perpetual President — The Government of
Echo — Advantages of Peace and Forbearance in Con-
versation — Mr. Blunt's Character, and Conversion,
brought about by Means of the singular Institutions
of the Author's Club— Mr. Barnaby, the Churchwar-
den — Mr. Anthony Allworth 44

4. The Effect of sudden Preferment in loosening "ancient

Connections — Tom Varnish — Anthony Trueman's Let-
ter — Epistle from former self to present self 54

5. Female Society — Madam Olive-Branch perpetual Presi-

dentess — Miranda's elegant Harangue — Vickery's in-
comparable Tetes 62



Vlll CONTENTS.

NO. PACK

6. First Paper on the Subject of Eeligion — General

Thoughts on the Contemplation of Kature's Works,
and the beautiful Analogies arising therefrom — The
Reader prepared for a Succession of Papers on the
Subject of Religion — Fears of Madam Olive-Branch
for the Success of the Undertaking 72

7. Qualifications of Simon Olive-Branch for the Work-

Assistances received — More invited — Statement of Ob-
ligations — Answers to Applications for Redress 81

8. On the Uses to which Solitude may be turned— Intro-

duction of Eugenio to the Reader — His Person — His
Habits— His Excellences— A poetical Dialogue 89

9. Plan of a Female Boarding- School, by a projecting

Friend, designed to carry into Effect the Principles
and Reasoning set forth in a Dissertation on the Rights
of Women — An extraordinary new and true Story
of the Cougnontain Secouima 97

10. Wit of an April-fool Day .' lu-
ll. Modern Biography — Heads and Particulars of the Life
of a Jackass — Dialogue, after the Maimer of Fonte-
nelle, between a Modern Biographer and a Kennel-
scraper 115

12. Physical and moral Effects of fine Weather — More of

Eugenio— Letter to his Amelia— Stanzas on Winter-
Love can soften its Rigours 125

13. Comparative Biography — Some touching Resemblances

between Crassus and Lord Chatham — Letter from the
Projector — A Biographical Apparatus 133

14. Letters from various Ladies, and the Perplexity into

which Simon Olive-Branch is thrown thereby — Be-
linda Daub— Sarah Solemn— Lucinda Heartfree—
Grace Latitude— Martha Muscle— Rachael Unruly. . 14?.

15. Short History of Physiognomy— Opinions thereon— Let-

ters from Benjamin Invoice and Peter Poker 153



CONTENTS. IX

NO. PAGE

16. First Part of a Solemn Dream on the Empire of Nothing

—Great City of Tintinabia 162

17. Our Misconceptions as to the Bias of our own Talents —

Dick Addle, his long Course of Blunders in the In-
quiry, and final Success— Mr. Isaac Olive-Branch's
authentic List of accidental Discoveries — Will Weth-
erail's Letter 174

18. Pleasures of the Country — A rustic Celebration — A Pe-

tition to Mr. Simon Olive-Branch— Letter from Euge-
nio to Amelia — Verses to the Bee 185

19. Epistle from Oxford, exhibiting an Account of a most

extraordinary Invention — Particulars in a Letter from
Tiberius Vosterhusius 195

20. Second Part of the Vision of the Empire of Nothing—

An interesting Account of the Academy — Region of
Expectation — Land of Promise — Island of Gapers —
Paradise of Fools — City of Shim-sham — Introduction
at the Court of his Inane Majesty 204

21. Some Morality in Gaming — Ravages of that Vice on

the Character and Attributes of the Female Sex —
Unexaggerated Histories of two living Females 224



.- .- -



22. Dissertation on Dreams 235

23. Letter to the King 246

24. Further Account of the Club— Its Discipline— Cogni-

zance and Jurisdiction of its Departments— Absent
Disciple , 259

25. Moral Uses of Calculation— An Arabian Ghost Story. .' 269

26. Nature of Advice— Qualifications for giving it— An Al-

lusion respecting it in Lucian's Dialogue — Simon's
Gratitude for honourable Abuse 281

27. Further Development of the Plan of the Religious Pa-

pers — Letter from Amelia to Eugenio, with some con-
solatory Verses 291



X CONTENTS.

> T 0. PAGE

28. Infelicities of fasmonable Life— Its Devotion to little

Attainments — The Baseness of its Qualifications —
Memorandums of a Senator — Contempt thrown on
these Frivolities by Juvenal 299

29. The Refinement of the present Age— In what most re-

markable — Strenua Inertia — Extraordinary Advertise-
ment of a Coffin-maker 308

30. Delights of Conversation — Minutes of the Club — A

sworn Contradictor — Two opposite Characters ren-
dered mutual Correctives — Inaptitude of our present
Modes of Education to advance the Pleasures of
Conversation — Account of an English Embassy into
India — Advertisement for an agreeable Converser. . . 318

31. Prosecution of the Subject of Analogy — A future Life

considered — Some natural Mysteries 328

32. Completion of this particular Part of the Subject — Ex-

amples of disinterested Poverty and virtuous Patron-
age in two Persons, the one a high legal Character,
and the other a poor Curate — Genuine Letters between
them — Two other Letters, exhibiting Portraits of
Chai-aeters honourable to Humanity and the Clerical
Body 336



INTRODUCTION.



In the present state of literature, I am doubtful
whether it be an evidence of merit, that a fourth
edition of this book is called for. The popularity
which the dullest performances can, under certain
circumstances, obtain, robs my friend Mr. Olive-
Branch of this ground of self-commendation ; or, at
best, leaves it very equivocal. The absence of those
circumstances, which bring to the productions of
the day their popularity, should be shown, before
this testimony is cleared of its ambiguity, and pub-
lic favour becomes an argument of genuine desert.
These papers will demonstrate for themselves, how
far they are entitled to this distinction, to Such as
are disposed and qualified to examine their spirit and
tendency. To those, however, whose observations
have led them to draw no favourable inferences from
public patronage, I deem it a respect due to their
prejudices to assure them, that, by this little work
of my friend's, religion is not philosophized, and
philosophy is not sophisticated ; truth is not made to
consist in infidelity ; and the old distinctions of virtue
and vice are maintained. Magnetically fixed on an
axis of immutable, direction, the tenor of these vol-
umes have kept at polar distances the denominations
of good and ill ; and the ear of profligacy has been
tickled with no soft appellations, confounding things
in their natures irreconcilable. Ancient and pre-



12 INTRODUCTION.

scriptive rules have been adhered to, in rejection of
modern discoveries in morals ; and sense, experience,
and conscience, are gravely set up, in defiance of
the polite system of ethics which at present prevails.
Yet, with all these disadvantages in the plan of The
Looker-on, it has lived to a fourth edition. And it is
pleasing to think, that there is yet a party in the
country which can relish the formal cut of Mr.
Olive-Branch's morality. There must needs, my
friendship and these facts suggest to me, be some-
thing in the manner and character of this pious old
gentleman that resists the unpropitiating effect of his
doctrines, and disguises the salutary roughness of his
admonitions. Vigorous in mind, though puny in
structure ; waxing in virtue, though waning in
strength; a certain adolescence about the heart
counteracts the decline of his years, and gives a
spreading and active effect to his goodness, at a time
of life when virtue for the greater part consists in
negatives, and gives no proofs of its existence but in
the forbearances of impotency. He has collected
these transcripts of instruction from among a multi-
plicity of papers, devolved to him through a prudent
ancestry, remarkable for their inheritance of inno-
cence, and the antiquity of their estate, in a charac-
teristic probity. He chose this juncture, it should
have seemed an inauspicious one, to produce this
little fund of morality, assuming to himself the task
of giving it applicability to the times, and furnishing
it with the vehicle which he thought might most
attractively display it. Nothing, as it appeared to
him, was better suited to this purpose than a period-
ical paper, on account of the scope and variety of
such a work, and the versatility of its style and mat-
ter, as the interests of virtue might require, or as
this or that folly might seem ripest for reprobation.



INTRODUCTION. 13

He did not think that this branch of literature was
exhausted ; for besides its infinite capability of diver-
sification, which tends so much to protract its interest,
its successful cultivators had been comparatively but
few. Its difficulty had been proved by a multitude
of imbecile imitations of the original Spectatorial
plan. Some bolder writers, in affecting to deviate
from that plan, have been instances to show, that,
where a great and original genius has primarily
trodden, guided as it were by the hand of nature, he
has struck out the true path ; and though the foot-
steps of the first adventurer may be avoided, the
same track must still be pursued.

Rules insensibly form themselves upon his model,
and the design of the great projector must lead all
subsequent attempts. It is the description indeed of
a liberal, as distinguished from a servile imitation,
that it is studious only of the principle and spirit of
its model ; and, without straining the resemblance
to a mechanical conformity, raises a likeness not
discernible in the detail, but stamped upon the gener-
ality of the whole ; not existing in outward admeas-
urement and correspondence of feature, but furtively
produced from a latent consentaneity of genius and
character. Ignorance of these rules, or inability to
follow them, has been one of the causes of the com-
mon failure of attempts to copy the graces and
urbanity of The Spectator. There is, indeed, a sort
of physical languor in all imitations ; the conception
and execution must be connate in the mind, to carry
to their perfection the productions of genius. It is
not so in the manual and mechanical arts ; and the
ground of the distinction is obvious. What is sensi-
ble and tangible, and what is purely ideal and intel-
lectual, must proceed by very different principles of
growth to their consummation ; and it is easy to see,



14 INTRODUCTION.

that the nature of one will scarcely endure the hand-
ling of different operator.-, and perishes under the
ponderous accumulation of pretended improvements ;
while the perfection of the other arises from use and
repetition, and the multiplied efforts of ingenuity and
industry.

As there is no room for originality in this species
of composition, disadvantaged as in many respects
are the efforts of imitation, yet it is all that we can
aspire to ; and grace and dignity in the execution
of a secondary part, must content our ambition.
The delicacy of Addison's morality, the vivacity of
his comments, and above all the spirit of his plan,
are the just objects of judicious imitation ; and he
will most egregiously have foiled, who aims only at
forcing into his work a few of the principal ingredi-
ents of The Spectator, without having sounded the
secret of those happy combinations of language, and
that easy control of imagery and illustration, which
finish and adorn the admonitions, the raillery, and
the reasonings of that master production. Many of
our late j>eriodical writers, disdaining to imitate
another's plan, have struck out a course in which no
plan has been disclosed. They have miscarried, I
think, in their attempts. A mere succession of
essays, not connected by any common design, and
conspiring to no general effect, is accordingly all that
they have produced ; and for want of that character-
istic colouring, which in some instances has made
this sort of publication the history of the mind of a.
thoughtful individual, whose character, insinuated
through the work, has fixed the regards of the reader,
there is a total failure of that collateral interest which
carries one forwards from subject to subject with a
superadded curiosity and delight. Something to
organize the parts into correspondence, and to con-



INTRODUCTION. 15

stitute a whole ; some common attraction to a general
design ; touches of moral painting that produce a
sort of portrait of the writer, and clothes him with a
conciliating parental character, a varied intertexture
of narration and anecdote ; and a polished freedom
of general raillery ; are, I think, among the essential
requisites of this kind of composition. And a loose
compilation of essays, having no cement or lining of
this sort, must consequently fail of producing all this
satisfaction in the reader's mind.

Thus much has been said on the requisites and
perfections of a periodical paper, because it appears
to have been treated too much as a branch of com-
position to which no rules were applicable, as dis-
pensing with all order and design, and implying
nothing more than a succession of detached essays.
Sir Roger de Coverley, Will. Wimble, and the Short-
faced Silent Man, are not characters necessary to a
periodical paper; but they serve as illustrations of
the principles and perfections alluded to ; and true
taste will condescend to imitation, and choose rather
to proceed in the track already marked out by orig-
inal excellence, than proudly to take a new course
that justifies its departure from models, by no hope
or promise of compensation to the reader.

Great things are done by the gratuitous endow-
ments of nature ; but, if the richest in those endow-
ments will choose a path where great geniuses have
already trodden, they must bound their ambition to
the praise of vigorous imitation.

As affording room for a great diversity of topic
and instruction, and as a powerful agent of moral
culture, Mr. Olive-Branch adopted the plan of a pe-
riodical paper. And the public are to assign him his
portion of credit in the conduct of it. Happily for
the success of his scheme, his own character, as it



16 INTRODUCTION.

floats upon the surface of these papers, is well adapt-
ed to aid the impression of his morality ; for some-
thing there surely is, in almost every heart of com-
mon goodness, that bespeaks attention to the mild
admonitions of considerate age, where gray hairs are
the blossoms of wisdom, and not the fruit of worldly
anxieties.

These papers upon the whole, therefore, it must
be said, owe much to the personal and complexional
advantages of the writer. Thej r have given an exte-
rior comeliness to his lessons and persuasions, more
efficacious by much than the decorations of an arti-
ficial style, or the agency of personal satire. His
morality is grave and independent, and his good
humour would be ill understood if construed into
courtesy to fashionable vices ; it is in him only the
boon of temperance, and the health of an honest and
cheerful mind. In respect to the matter of these
volumes, the reader will find that the vices of fash-
ionable life, and the characteristic infirmities of the
rich, are not endeavoured to be discountenanced by
raising a fictitious contrast in the pretended exemp-
tions of the poor. And the author seems to have
thought, that the needy and the affluent, the vulgar
and the great, are not distinguished in the substance
of immorality, but in the modes ; that profligacy is
not the prerogative of the rich ; and that sin and
folly are not less in degree, because more homely in
their practice, and less notorious in their career.
Vice is of a subtile and mutable nature, and contracts
itself to every size of understanding or estate. His
censures and reprobation are, therefore, fastened on
the quality of the thing ; and the inherent turpitude
of base actions are exposed, in whatever guise they
may appear.

On the other hand, it is a gross mistake to regard



INTRODUCTION. 17

vice as less vicious, because it dazzles with the glit-
ter of polished life ; or that the tones of satire are to
be softened into complaisance, because injustice and
profligacy are decorated with ribbons, and operate
through the medium of softer habitudes. The pleas-
antry in which The Spectator abounds was not meant
as indulgence to crime and infamy, or to alter the old
rules of ethics, by giving new names and notions to
actions authentically virtuous or vicious. Mr. Addi-
son employed that fine raillery of his, where severer
treatment had been justified ; because he felt that
the first consideration with the writer was to attract
readers ; and the votaries of pleasure and ease will
only bear to hear the exposure of their own errors
and immoralities, where the satire is sheathed in a
courtesy of phrase ; and where truth, in the disguise
of raillery and ridicule, plays amusively about the
heart, and penetrates by the avenues of pleasure to
the seat of corruption.

The reader will perhaps think that Mr. Olive-
Branch is not without a share of this seasonable and
sober sort of humour, where he has treated on sub-
jects that called for the exercise of it ; and perhaps
he might be justified in a little less frequent use of it
than some of his predecessors, because, in the pres-
ent conjuncture, a hardihood, the effect of the spread-
ing infidelity of the times, has entered into the vices
of every class of society, which seems to require a
robust er satire, and a less qualified exposure.

Politics and religion are introduced with some re-
serve. And, I think, he should totally have declined
them, as not suited to a light and popular production,
if the attacks of the present innovators on those sub-
jects had not been characterized by such a vulgar
intrepidity, as to need no subtlety of argument to
encounter them. The appeal from these fanatics is

VOL. XXXV. 2



18 INTRODUCTION.

only to common sense and common nature. The
Looker-on, therefore, contains a few papers on the
subjects of religion and politics. Religion, because