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The Coverley Papers   By:

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The following selection comprises all numbers of the Spectator which are concerned with the history or character of Sir Roger de Coverley, and all those which arise out of the Spectator's visit to his country house. Sir Roger's name occurs in some seventeen other papers, but in these he either receives only passing mention, or is introduced as a speaker in conversations where the real interest is the subject under discussion. In these his character is well maintained, as, for example, at the meeting of the club described in Spectator 34, where he warns the Spectator not to meddle with country squires, but they add no traits to the portrait we already have of him. No. 129 is included because it arises naturally out of No. 127, and illustrates the relation between the town and country. No. 410 has been omitted because it was condemned by Addison as inconsistent with the character of Sir Roger, together with No. 544, which is an unconvincing attempt to reconcile it with the whole scheme. Some of the papers have been slightly abridged where they would not be acceptable to the taste of a later age.

The papers are not all signed, but the authorship is never in doubt. Where signatures are attached, C, L, I, and O are the mark of Addison's work; R and T of Steele's, and X of Budgell's. [Footnote: Spectator 555.]

I have availed myself freely of the references and allusions collected by former editors, and I have gratefully to acknowledge the help of Miss G. E. Hadow in reading my introductory essay.

O. M. M.




Spectator 1 Addison (C)

" 2 Steele (R)

" 106 Addison (L)

" 107 Steele (R)

" 108 Addison (L)

" 109 Steele (R)

" 110 Addison (L)

" 112 " (L)

" 113 Steele (R)

" 114 " (T)

" 115 Addison (L)

" 116 Budgell (X)

" 117 Addison (L)

" 118 Steele (T)

" 119 Addison (L)

" 120 " (L)

" 121 " (L)

" 122 " (L)

" 123 " (L)

" 125 " (C)

" 126 " (C)

" 127 " (C)

" 128 " (C)

" 129 " (C)

" 130 " (C)

" 131 " (C)

" 132 Steele (T)

" 269 Addison (L)

" 329 " (L)

" 335 Addison (L)

" 359 Budgell (X)

" 383 Addison (I)

" 517 " (O)


APPENDIX I. On Coffee Houses

APPENDIX II. On the Spectator's Acquaintance

APPENDIX III. On the Death of Sir Roger

APPENDIX IV. On the Spectator's Popularity



It is necessary to study the work of Joseph Addison in close relation to the time in which he lived, for he was a true child of his century, and even in his most distinguishing qualities he was not so much in opposition to its ideas as in advance of them. The early part of the eighteenth century was a very middle aged period: the dreamers of the seventeenth century had grown into practical men; the enthusiasts of the century before had sobered down into reasonable beings. We no longer have the wealth of detail, the love of stories, the delight in the concrete for its own sake of the Chaucerian and Elizabethan children; these men seek for what is typical instead of enjoying what is detailed, argue and illustrate instead of telling stories, observe instead of romancing. Captain Sentry 'behaved himself with great gallantry in several sieges' [Footnote: Spectator 2.] but the Spectator does not care for them as Chaucer cares for the battlefields of his Knight. 'One might ... recount' many tales touching on many points in our speculations, and no child and no Elizabethan would refrain from doing so, but the Spectator will not 'go out of the occurrences of common life, but assert it as a general observation.' [Footnote: Spectator 107] He is in perfect harmony with his age, too, in the intensely rational view which he takes of ghosts [Footnote: Spectator 110] and witches, [Footnote: Spectator 117] for it was a period in which men cared very little for things which 'the eye hath not seen'... Continue reading book >>

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