The Spectator (1711)

¶ Fox Jumps Dog ¶

The Spectator was a short-lived London daily publication It was founded by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and spanned the period, 1711 to 1712.

 
The Spectator was a short-lived London daily, put out to print by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele.[1]  It lasted for little more than 18 months (during the years 1711 & 1712) and, most issues contained a single essay penned by either Addison or Steele. Lest you be confused, it ain’t related to the current London magazine apart from the latter adopting the former’s name:

The Spectator (^ the modern day incarnation) was first published in 1828 and is issued weekly. It focuses on culture, current affairs and takes a right-wing political standpoint. It thus contrasts nicely (neatly?) with the avowedly left-wing New Statesman—another London weekly that too focuses on culture and current affairs:

Back on course now—returning to piste, so to speak (/piːst/ [think French alps and snow white, not the past tense of an English drunk]); off the dunes and back onto the straitlaced tarmac (oh Thesiger how I burn [Sand City] oh Sir Burton how I yearn [Date grove])—The Spectator (1711) is of interest to those interested in English literature in various ways. One is that one of its 555 issues—№ 476, set out in full below—underpins the English Style Guide and another is that a revised and edited version of all 555 issues (or papers) of The Spectator (1711), in three compendious volumes (1891), was overseen by Henry Morley, who is widely considered to have been the first Professor of English literature (‘interest,’ ‘interested;’ ‘one is,’ ‘one of;’ ‘555 issues,’ ‘555 issues;’ I know, I know). Henry Morley (1822–1894), in addition to liquorice allsorts, wrote a popular book containing biographies of famous English writers, download options are to be found below.[2]  (It is now thought probable that Morley was not the one responsible for penning the now quintessential English language pangram concerning a dog and a fox).[3]  Morley was the son of an apothecary and was born in Hatton Garden, London.[4]  He gained entry to King’s College London in 1838. And following his father’s footsteps became a fellow of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries soon thereafter. Yet a business venture into the art of apothecary (where in times and places the craft is little more than the concoction of placebo potions and snake oil, think for instance of Soho’s now notorious Serpentine Slimming Tea Leaves) resulted in financial failure and to avoid debtor’s prison (think for example of John Cleland, [author of 📙 Fanny Hill {a.k.a., “Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure”}]), he begun writing satirical articles for paid publication. Fortuitously, these essays caught the eye of Charles Dickens. At Dickens’ invitation in 1850, Morley returned to London and became an editor of, and a contributor to, Household Words (one of Dickens’ publications). From 1865 onward, Morley served as professor of English literature at University College London and was noted for his knowledge of English literature and being an engaging and warm teacher (incidentally, one of his doting students was Rabindranath Tagore).[5]  Morley’s principal work was English Writers (composed in ten stupendous volumes from his early UCL days until death). His First Sketch of English Literature—the study for the larger work—is now out of copyright and thus, downloadable below; at only 901 pages, it serves as a brief introduction to his principle voluminous work (i.e., English Writers).

Set out below, in full, is issue № 476 of The Spectator (1711). The original text is identifiable by the dark grey vertical bar, comments by the orange bar. In sum, the essay by Addison describes two modes or forms of essay. One being the formulaic and well-structured variety, the other being of the more meandering and nebulous kind. Some great thinkers are given more free reign and will be forgiven for their verbose and flowery style but they are exceptions to the rule. Like the strictures of poetic meter, academic essays, be they journal articles, reports or essays produced as part of one’s undergraduate studies, will be rigorously straitjacketed. It may be APA, CMS, MLA or some such but within any such convention there will be an abstract, key words will be drawn from a preexisting bank, hypotheses will need to be logically articulated, methods ‘will’ precede results, the background context stroke ‘relevant’ literature review will necessarily cite the already most highly cited works. The analysis following the presentation of the results will be cautious, conditional and replete with caveats. No conclusion will pass peer review or get a pass unless it ends with a call for further research… We were once told that to be able to break the rules — to be a little flowery, to be whimsical in an instance or two, to express what might be without backing it up with cast iron (‘The Rule of D’ ;)) irrefutable fact — may only be done when the rules have first been thoroughly learnt and secondly, evidence of this is documented in a dozen or so texts of a prosaic and somber tenor (I am writing a scholarly article, you, my audience, want only to read a contribution that follows this genre’s tried and tested structure).

The Spectator, № 476

… lucidus Ordo! Hor.

Cui lecta potenter erit res, nec facundia deseret hunc nec lucidus ordo. Lit: “The speaker who has chosen a theme suited to his powers will never be at a loss for felicitous language or lucid arrangement.” A quote from Horace’s The Art of PoetryArs Poetica in its Latin original—(c. 19 B.C.E., lines 39 and 40)]

Friday, September 5. 1712.
 
Among my Daily Papers, which I bestow on the Publick, there are some which are written with Regularity and Method, and others that run out into the Wildness of those Compositions, which go by the Name of Essays. As for the first, I have the whole Scheme of the Discourse in my Mind, before I set Pen to Paper. In the other kind of Writing, it is sufficient that I have several Thoughts on a Subject, without troubling myself to range them in such order, that they may seem to grow out of one another, and be disposed under the proper Heads. Seneca and Montaigne are Patterns for Writing in this last Kind, as Tully and Aristotle excel in the other. When I read an Author of Genius, who writes without Method, I fancy my self in a Wood that abounds with a great many noble Objects, rising among one another in the greatest Confusion and Disorder. When I read a Methodical Discourse, I am in a regular Plantation, and can place my self in its several Centers, so as to take a view of all the Lines and Walks that are struck from them. You may ramble in the one a whole Day together, and every Moment discover something or other that is new to you, but when you have done you will have but a confused imperfect Notion of the Place; in the other, your Eye commands the whole Prospect, and gives you such an Idea of it, as is not easily worn out of the Memory.

Seneca — Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c.4 BC – AD 65) was born in Cordoba but raised in Rome, where he was schooled in rhetoric and philosophy. Seneca’s influence on later generations is said to be immense—during the Renaissance he was “a sage admired and venerated as an oracle of morality, a master of literary style and a model for the composition of dramatic art.[6]
Montaigne — Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533–1592) was a key French Renaissance era philosopher. He is known for developing and setting the parameters of the ‘essay’ as a literary genre. Thus his work and thought very much ties in with Joseph Addison’s essay here. Many of the essays Montaigne produced combined casual anecdotes, autobiography and intellectual insight and often supported the latter with references.[7]
Tully — Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BCE) was a Roman statesman scholar and academic skeptic. Tully, as Addison affectionately refers to him, is considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. Cicero’s extensive writings include treatises on rhetoric, philosophy and politics.[8]
Aristotle — Aristotle (384–322 BCE) was many things to many (wo)men. In terms of writing style, in his “Rhetoric,” he proposes that a speaker (or writer of essays) can use three basic kinds of appeals to persuade his or her audience: (1) ethos (an appeal to the speaker’s character) (2), pathos (an appeal to the audience’s emotion) and (3), logos (an appeal to logical reasoning).[9]

Irregularity and want of Method are only supportable in Men of Great Learning or Genius, who are often too full to be exact, and therefore chuse [choose] to throw down their pearls in Heaps before the Reader, rather than be at the Pains of stringing them.
 
Method is of Advantage to a Work, both in respect to the Writer and the Reader. In regard to the fist, it is a great help to his Invention. When a Man has plann’d his Discourse, he finds a great many thoughts rising out of every Head, that do not offer themselves upon the general Survey of a Subject. His Thoughts are at the same time more intelligible, and better discover their Drift and Meaning, when they are placed in their proper Lights, and follow one another in a regular Series, than when they are thrown together without Order and Connexion. There is always an Obscurity in Confusion, and the same Sentence that wou’d have enlightened the Reader in one Part of a Discourse, perplexes him in another. For the same Reason likewise every Thought in a Methodical Discourse shews is self in its greatest beauty, as the several Figures in a piece of Painting receive new Grace from their Disposition in the Picture. The Advantages of a Reader from a Methodical Discourse, are correspondent with those of the Writer. He comprehends every thing easily, takes it in with Pleasure, and retains it long.
 
Method is not the less requisite in ordinary Conversation, than in Writing, provided a Man would talk to make himself understood. I, who hear a Thousand Coffee-house Debates every Day, am very sensible of this want of Method in the Thoughts of my honest Countrymen. There is not one Dispute in Ten, which is managed in those Schools of Politicks, where, after the three first Sentences, the Question is not entirely lost. Our Disputants put me in mind of the Skuttle Fish, that when he is unable to extricate himself blackens all the Water about him, till he becomes invisible. The Man who does not know how to methodize his Thoughts, has always, to borrow a phrase from the Dispensary, a barren Superfluity of Words. The Fruit is lost amidst the Exuberance of Leaves.
 
Tom Puzzle is one of the most Emminent Immethodical Disputants of any that has fallen under my Observation. Tom has read enough to make him very Impertinent: His Knowledge is sufficient to raise Doubts, but not to clear them. It is a pity that he has so much Learning, or that he has not a great deal more. With these Qualifications Tom sets up for a Free-thinker, finds a great many things to blame in the Constitution of his Country, and gives shrewd Intimations that he does not believe [in] another World. In short, Puzzle is an Atheist as much as his Parts will give him leave. He has got about half a Dozen runs upon the Unreasonablenss of Bigottry and Priest-craft. This makes Mr. Puzzle the Admiration of all those who have less Sense than himself, and the Contempt of all those who have more. There is none in Town whom Tom dreads so much as my Friend Will Dry. Will, who is acquainted with Tom’s Logick, when he finds him running off the Question, cuts him short with a What then? We allow all this to be true, but what is it to our present Purpose? I have known Tom eloquent half an Hour together, and triumphing, as he thought, in the Superiority of the Argument, when has been non-plus’d, on a sudden, by Mr Dry’s desiring to tell the Company, what it was that he endeavoured to prove. In short, Dry is a Man of a clear methodical Head, but few Words, and gains the same Advantages over Puzzle, that a small Body of regular Troops would gain over a numberless undisciplined militia.

Tom Puzzle — a fictitious character (I’m sure). Emblematic of a writer/essay style that is flowery, nonconformist and where going off-piste is de rigueur. It is a style where sailing willy-nilly off course for no apparent reason is to be expected. A clear purpose and point that draws to a logical conclusion may be partially or even mostly absent.
Will Dry — another character whom I do deeply suspect is a figment of Addison’s creative imagination. Served to us to illustrate a writer/essay style that is more formal and succinct than flowery and verbose and more structured along conventional academic journal article layout lines than free flowing and meandering.

— § —

Notes & Downloads

[1] ^ (return)  Gloriously glamorous

Joseph Addison (1672–1719) was an English essayist. Richard Steele (1672–1729) was an Irish essayist. Both Addison (painted on the left) and Steel (painted on the right) were active politically
With wigs, velvets & silk stockings down to high-heeled boot. It’s Addison and Steele
Joseph Addison (1672–1719) was an English essayist. Richard Steele (1672–1729) was an Irish essayist. Both Addison (painted on the left) and Steel (painted on the right) were active politically and members of the Whig party (a now defunct British political grouping (active between the 1680s and 1850s) which was noted for supporting constitutional monarchism (a strong parliamentary system and no absolute monarchical powers). The Whigs played a central role in what’s now know as the Glorious Revolution of 1688 — the name given to the events leading to the deposition of King James II of England (Reigned: 1685–1688) and his replacement by Mary II (James’ daughter), and her Dutch husband, William III (of Orange) who reigned as England’s King from 1689 to 1702.

 

[2] ^ (return)  “Liquorice allsorts” — Liquorice allsorts are assorted liquorice confectionery sold as a mixture. Made of liquorice, sugar, coconut, aniseed jelly and, fruit flavourings, they were first produced in Sheffield, England, by George Bassett & Co. (1842) Now known simply as Bassett's the brand is owned by Cadbury which itself is now a brand owned by Mondelēz International (headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.). It is said, and I do like this, that in 1899, Charlie Thompson, a Bassett’s sales representative, tripped over and dropped a tray of sample sweets that he was showing to a dashingly handsome client in Leicester, mixing up the various sweets. He frantically scrambled to re-arrange them but, the client was intrigued by the new creation … as a consequence, Bassett's began to mass-produce the allsorts and they became a successful product. "Liquorice allsorts" is also now a phrase used to describe a person who struggles to make decisions and/or to describe someone who is in an altered state of mind (e.g., stoned and reciting random disjointed thoughts) and/or to describe a wide range of e.g., attributes, publications or talents.

 

[3] ^ (return)  Pangram — A pangram (pan- meaning all) is a sentence that contains all of the letters of a given alphabet. In English, this is the most widely cited one: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This pangram’s popularity is probably due to it being concise and clear. Today it is commonly used, inter alia, for displaying examples of font families on computers.

Foxes and hedgehogs, thinking fast and thinking slow, reasoned vs. impassioned
Thinking fast vs. Thinking slow / Impassioned vs. Reasoned / Foxes vs. hedgehogs.

 

[4] ^ (return)  Hatton Garden — Hatton Garden is a street and commercial area in the Holborn district of central London. It takes its name from Sir Christopher Hatton, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who established a mansion here (long since gone). Today, Hatton Garden is famous as London’s jewellery quarter and is the UK’s diamond trading business. The area has an extensive underground infrastructure of vaults, tunnels, offices and workshops (so more troglodyte than Tiffany’s).

Retirement is a bitch.
Retirement is a bitch. Your wife has passed away. Most of your mates are in exile, prison, or the grave. Even the cops you once eluded have died, retired, or forgotten you. You skulk around your run-down mansion in the suburbs of London, puttering in your garden, infuriating your neighbours by running a used-car dealership out of your home, and “hobbling over to the news agent,” as one neighbour put it, for the daily papers to read about younger men doing what you used to. // Read the full text, “The biggest jewel heist in British history” written for Vanity Fair (2016, March 19), by Mark Seal.

 

[5] ^ (return)  Rabindranath Tagore — Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was a Bengali poet and writer who was born in Calcutta. He has been variously described as a producer of “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse” and was the first non-European as well as the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. A little know fact that’s well worth knowing is that at the age of sweet sixteen, he released a collection of poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha (“Sun Lion”), these were seized upon by literary authorities as being, beyond reasonable doubt, long-lost classics!

 

[6] ^ (return)  Seneca — Seneca’s prose works include a dozen essays and one hundred twenty-four letters dealing with moral issues. These writings constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for ancient Stoicism. As a tragedian, he is best known for plays like Medea, Thyestes, and Phaedra. In the year 41, he was exiled to the Corsica (under emperor Claudius) but was allowed to return in 49 to become a tutor to Nero. When Nero became emperor in 54, Seneca became his advisor and, together with the praetorian prefect Sextus, provided competent government for the first five years of Nero’s reign. Seneca’s influence over Nero declined with time. In AD 59, Nero ordered the murder of his mother and this was the start of a reign of terror that caused the deaths of many others, including his wife Octavia—Nero basically went radio rentals; became unhinged in extremis. Romans had had enough and, in 65, Seneca was forced to take his own life for alleged complicity in a plot to assassinate Nero (contemporary historians believe with near certainty that he was innocent. His stoic and calm suicide has become the subject of numerous paintings (and lest we forget his wife, who tried in vein to take her life by his side too). With full indebtedness to a write up by Josho Brouwers, we can assume as true the following regarding Seneca’s death. In AD 65, a coup for the decapitating of Nero was in the making. It was led by one Gaius Calpurnius Piso (and is now referred to as “Piso’s plot”). However, this Italian job went pear-shaped pretty quickly. Some of the conspirators were crucified (Judaean-style) but the aristocrats amongst the flock (including Piso himself) were, according to ancient Roman custom, obligated to commit suicide. Seneca — the father of stoicism — was stoic in his acceptance of philosophically accepting that whatever happens/happened is just as it is supposed to be. So upon learning that he would have to take his own life for being part of a plot that he was not, he protested to a reasonable degree but upon learning that Nero’s dead horse had not deemed Seneca’s alibis to be of merit, Seneca stoically accepted his fate. According to Tacticus, a contemporary writer of Seneca’s, the father of stoicism told his dinner guests not to cry and asked again and again, “are your maxims of philosophy, or the preparation of so many years’ study against evils to come? Who knew not Nero’s cruelty? After a mother’s and a brother’s murder, nothing remains but to add the destruction of a guardian and a tutor.” Seneca then turned and embraced his wife, asking her not too grieve too much. But Paulina told him flatly that she, too, had resolved to die. Together, they cut the veins on their arms. However, in the event — which became rather comic — Paulina fainted and was resuscitated by her slaves (it wasn’t Nero’s order for her to die) In the meantime, Seneca was dictating his last words to scribes. As bleeding to death was taking too long, he asked one of his friends to prepare a poison, perhaps inspired by the death of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (who had been condemned to drink hemlock), however, the poison had little effect. He then has the idea of sitting in a nice warm bath as he deduced that this would probably aid the outpouring of blood. As Brouwers write. “Some of the war blood-infused water he sprinkled about, proclaiming it a libation to Jupiter the Liberator. Seneca expired soon afterwards. He was then, according to his wishes, cremated without any of the usual, and often ostentatious, funeral rites.”

 

[7] ^ (return)  Michel de Montaigne — Montaigne’s essays were seen as an important contribution to both writing form and skepticism (the word essay itself comes from the French word essais, meaning “attempts” or “tests.”). His seminal work—The Essays (Essais in its French original) written, redrafted and revised between 1570 and 1592, was published in 1580 (the work’s stated aim was to jot down for posterity, “some traits of [his] character and of [his] humours”)—crafted rhetoric designed to intrigue and sought to involve the reader, sometimes appearing to move in a stream-of-thought from topic to topic and at other times employing a structured style that would give a more emphasis to the didactic nature of his work. The arguments Montaigne put forward were often supported with quotations from Ancient Greek, Latin, and Italian texts e.g., the works of Plutarch. Montaigne, it is shown, had a direct influence on a plethora of Western writers including Francis Bacon, Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, Edward Gibbon, Woolf, Marx, Sigmund Freud (less so I suspect Lucian Freud), my conformist, not wanting to break the mold, Charles Darwin and my dear anodyne Friedrich Nietzsche.

 

[8] ^ (return)  Cicero — Joseph Addison affectionately called Cicero, ‘Tully’ and I’ll tally that up as: “Tally-ho” (Tally-ho dates from around 1772, and is probably derived from the French ‘taïaut,’ a cry used to excite hounds when hunting deer [and for the British, foxes with the assistance of their English Foxhounds]; it was also used by RAF fighter pilots in the WWII to tell their controller they were about to engage enemy; in addition “Tally-ho” is used to this day by NASA astronauts in audio transmissions to signify sightings of other spacecraft, space stations, and [excitingly] unidentified objects)—and he to did do it (the ending of his life) “old Roman style” (but not quite to the letter as did Seneca [see note 6 ^ above]). Towards the end of his life, Cicero turned away from his oratorical and political career and looked instead to matters of philosophy and religion. The dialogue The Nature of the Gods both explores his own views on these subjects, as a monotheist and member of the Academic School, and considers the opinion of other philosophical schools of the Hellenistic age through the figures of Velleius the Epicurean and Balbus the Stoic: is there a God? If so, does he [sic] answer prayers, or intervene in human affairs? Does he know the future? Does morality need the support of religion? It will come as no surprise that this work of Cicero’s (Tully’s) did deeply influence later thinkers like Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Now . . . “he leaned out […] and offered his neck unmoved, his head was cut off.” Was it that they fervently believed in the afterlife or what? What is it with Rome, Romans and the act of suicide? Offering one’s head ain’t quite taking one’s head but, any way. Porcia Catonis (c. 70 BC – 43 BC) was married to Marcus Junius Brutus (the most famous of Julius Caesar’s assassins) and is said to have had an affectionate nature and an addiction to philosophy. She’s said to have committed suicide and her death remains a fixation for many. Contemporary historians claimed that she did so by swallowing hot coals, yet modern ones see this as implausible and speculate that Porcia may have committed the act by burning charcoal in an unventilated room and passing to the other side by way of carbon monoxide poisoning. Those of all eras pin her perishing to her hearing that her man Brutus had died in battle. True or not, we don’t know. In Rome, suicide was never a general offense in law, and fully approved of what might be termed “patriotic suicide”; death, in other words, as an alternative to dishonor. For the Stoics, to give an example , death was a guarantee of personal freedom and an escape from an unbearable reality that had nothing left to give. According to Roman tradition, the rape of Lucrece (or ‘Lucretia’) by Sextus Tarquin and her subsequent suicide led to the overthrow of the Roman monarchy and the establishment of The Republic (the act was the sparked straw that cracked the camel’s back and acted as the red rag to the masses who’d grown sick ‘n’ tired of the tyrannical traits of Tarquin and his father, the last king [for a time] of Rome). A very definite line was drawn by the Romans between the virtuous suicide and a selfish suicide! Thus — some say — Mark Antony’s stabbing of his own heart due to lost love was seen as a weakness not a stoic act of self-sacrifice.

 

[9] ^ (return)  Aristotle — Aristotle writes in his “Poetics” that epic poetry, tragedy and comedy are all fundamentally acts of mimesis (“imitation”), each varying in imitation by medium, object, and manner. It follows that Aristotle believed each of the mimetic arts/types/styles possesses highly structured procedures for the achievement of their purposes. Bidoonism has a full page dedicated to Aristotle and that can be viewed here:  Philosophers    Aristotle.

 

Anodyne — an adjective meaning not likely to cause offence or disagreement and somewhat dull. Origin: mid-16th c. English via Latin from Greek anōdunos ‘painless’, from an- ‘without’ + odunē ‘pain’.

 

Apothecary — a term for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica (medicine) to physicians, surgeons, and patients. The modern chemist (also known as a pharmacist in American English) has now largely taken over this role. Origin: late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin apothecarius, from Latin apotheca, from Greek apothēkē ‘storehouse.’

 

Didactic — an adjective meaning, intending to teach. Origin: mid-17th c. English via from Greek didaktikos, from didaskein ‘teach.’

 

📘 “A first sketch of English literature”
— A lengthy tome penned in 1883 (Editable PDF).

Author: Anna Bidoonism

Poems, prose & literary analysis—this is who I am.