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The purpose of this reprint of the Spectator is to preserve the original freshness of the text, to reject, in the words of Thomas Sprat, “all amplifications, digressions, and swellings of style,” and to return back to the primitive purity and shortness.” If some of our classics have become corrupt in the careless hurry to meet the demands of the public, the Spectator has suffered, in a more leisurely way, from the attentions of a number of editorial adepts, painfully eager to uphold its reputation for elegance. Even as early as 1764 "innumerable corruptions” had crept in, to the sorrow of the editor of the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. He was persuaded to undertake a new edition ; but his plan was interrupted. It was left to the Bissets and the Chalmerses, and the cheap retailers of their texts, to set a detestable fashion of flamboyant emendation. In this plight the Spectator remained till 1868, when the late Mr. Henry Morley brought out his one-volume edition, which claimed to reproduce “the original text, both as first issued, and as corrected by its authors." An edition in eight volumes appeared in 1897-8, under the care of the present editor, who collated the text and prepared fresh illustrative notes. The edition now offered in four volumes is a reprint of that work. Errors in the first issue have been corrected, and supplementary notes have been included.
The Spectator was published daily, in single sheets of foolscap folio, printed, in double columns, on both sides. The first number appeared on ist March 1711, and the last on 6th December 1712. The sheets were afterwards republished in monthly parts ; and in November 1711, a revised edition in octavo volumes was announced. Two volumes, “well bound and gilt, two guineas,” were issued to the subscribers on 8th January 1712, by "S. Buckley, at the Dolphin in Little-Britain, and J. Tonson, at
Shakespear's-Head, over-against Catherine-street in the Strand.” The third and fourth appeared sometime in April of that year ; and the fifth, sixth, and seventh early in 1713. These seven volumes constitute the Second or First Collected edition, and with an eighth, edited by Addison in 1715, from the supplementary papers which he had published from 18th June to 20th December 1714, supply the text of the present edition. The collected edition has the superior interest of showing the final form in which the writers desired to leave their work. In it and its immediate reprints, rather than in the stray sheets of the earlier issue, the contemporaries of Steele and Addison found their amusement and sought their models of style. Had the latter been reprinted, it would have been necessary to incorporate the many errata indicated in the columns of the early issue, with the result that we should have had neither the Spectator of the “tea-equipage” nor the carefully revised edition.
It is hoped that the reproduction of the antique manner of the original in regard to spelling, punctuation, italics, and capital letters will not be condemned as antiquarian pedantry. A slight perusal must convince the reader that these are not to be excused as the caprice of the printer or the lazy fancy of the editors. The punctuation is rhetorical rather than logical, and should not, any more than should the old-fashioned guise of a few words, mar the simple enjoyment of the most modern reader. Printers' errors are, of course, not reproduced : and a few slight alterations (which are duly noted) have been made to avoid misunderstanding. The most serious interference is in the case of such plurals as Opera's, and such possessives as Peoples, which have been changed to Operas and People's forms which are found in the original text. The Latin and Greek mottoes and quotations have been revised. Many of them seem to have been written down, like Steele's story of Mr. Inkle, 'as they dwelt upon the memory,' though not always with the same literary pleasure to the reader. Verbal errors and impossible verses in the quotations in the text have been corrected ; but the fashion of contemporary scholarship has been preserved, for it would have been an historical impropriety to supplant the worthy Tonson by the more learned Teubner. The extracts from English writers have been left untouched. The memorial
ingenuity shown in these is often too interesting to be lost; and sometimes the passages were intentionally misquoted. The reader will find the chief deviations from the original texts indicated in the Notes. Verses, such as Pope's Messiah or Addison's 'Pieces of Divine Poetry,' which were printed for the first time in the Spectator, are given in the ordinary type of the Papers ; but the quoted passages have been set up in type of a smaller size. The humorous ' Advertisements' which reappeared in the Collected Edition will be found in their places in these volumes. Some of the original advertisements, in small type of the kind which Mr. Bickerstaff commended for 'giving the reader something like the satisfaction of prying into a secret,' are referred to in the Notes, when they illustrate the text of the Papers. The page of this edition is smaller, but it contains a larger portion of the letterpress.
When Eustace Budgell wrote his preface to the Characters of Theophrastus, he chid La Bruyère for "hinting at so many Grecian customs,” which obliged the reader to peruse explanations which were longer than the sentences in the text. We may charge that critic and his greater associates in the Spectator with a like neglect of consideration towards a modern editor and modern readers. It is an increasingly difficult task to know how much requires to be explained, and to escape the absurdities and superfluities which Addison, in one of the Spectators, satirizes as a common vice in “a new edition of a Classick Author.” The editor ventures to claim that he has avoided excess in the seductive record of Various Readings, and that he has made the few notes of " different senses” and
new elegances” in respectful obedience to Mr. Spectator's editorial canon. In the notes proper he has endeavoured, when possible, to explain matters by the aid of contemporary writings. Of these the Tatler stands first in importance, not merely because it came as a kind of prelude to the Spectator, but because it was the direct model for the literary plan and details of the later journal. It had already introduced, in almost identical form, to the public which welcomed the Spectator, the notion of the Club, the types of the coterie, their policy of reformation of manners, their polite attention to the fair sex, their critical hobbies, their concern about Italian Operas and the rudeness of Starers, and a hundred other matters, even to the detail of the rural Andromache who could take a gate in good style, or of the Upholsterer who had gossip of the Indian Kings. This close relationship is indeed a serious temptation to editorial extravagance, for there is hardly a page of the earlier publication which does not afford some illustration of a passage in the later. Further aid has been derived from the writings of Steele, Addison, Budgell, and others directly connected with the Spectator. The works of Dryden, Shadwell, Swift, and Pope have often given point to the commentary ; and certain books which were popular at the time or were likely to be known to the writers—such as Menagiana, the Characters of La Bruyère, and the editions of the French critics—have yielded not a little information on matters which could not be explained by the light of nature. To these contemporary aids, together with the invaluable prints by Hogarth, must be added the familiar collections of Nichols, the Essays of Nathan Drake, and the theatrical histories of Downes, Baker, and Genest. The older annotated editions of the Spectator have been examined with some profit, though not without a fixed suspicion of their authority; and use has been made of Mr. Henry Morley's edition, and of Mr. Austin Dobson's Selections from Steele and other well-known volumes. Of the value of Mr. Dobson's contributions to the literature of the Spectator and its time it would indeed be superfluous, if not impertinent, to speak.
The Biographical Index in the eighth volume contains a brief account of all contemporary persons mentioned in the Spectator. Those whose names were historical to Addison's readers, and such of his time as are historical to us, are entered for the sake of completeness, but are not described. Of such as Longinus, or Dryden, or even Addison himself, it is unnecessary to write biographies, however meagre; but it may be useful to put on record such minor worthies as Kidney of the St. James's, Powell the puppet showman, and perhaps Sir Richard Blackmore. In the Subject Index only the page references are given, as the addition of a brief description would have seriously increased the bulk of the last volume.
The text is printed from the copy in the Library of the University of Edinburgh ; that of the sixth volume, which is missing, is supplied from the copy in the British Museum. The
whole has been collated with the set of original sheets in the
G. GREGORY SMITH.
For the early Bibliography of the Spectator, see Prof. Gregory Smith's