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as indicative of shallowness in intellect.

It is not surprising, then, that the reckless and irresolute Steele, whose career was a solecism in morals, does not obtain the praise he merits. From the time of his leaving college without a degree, to the day of his death on the banks of the Towy, at the age of 58, an old man before his time, he was the victim of his own temperament. He was completely incapable of restraining himself. He was genial, good-natured to excess, fond of good society, and, to use the words of Lady Mary W. Montagu, like Fielding, so made for happiness, that it is a pity he was not immortal. But happiness never came. In politics and in the business of life he was equally unsuccessful. Even in affairs of the heart, in which, as might be supposed, he had his share, he does not seem to have prospered. The "perverse" widow (widows, as De Coverley and more of us have experienced, are too often " perverse") left a wound in his heart that, we suspect, was never quite healed. Indeed, as Charter-house boy, collegian, soldier, lover, pamphleteer, gazetteer, Parliament man, patentee, inventor of fish machines, and father of a family, poor Sir Richard failed to reach the personal success he promised himself. was a brave adventurer, but he never had the luck to secure a great prize; or, having secured it, he was unable to retain it. And the reason is plain.



He failed, as all others have failed who attempted to eat the grape and drink the wine.

But to abstract the author from the man-and, logically, this is the only way to judge him whose sole claim to notice is a literary claim-Steele must take high rank as an English man of letters. Neither he nor Addison was, it is true, a man of the highest culture. Neither took a commanding view of literature or of life. Both were inferior in range to Swift, whose vision, blurred and bleared as it was, included humanity itself, whilst their horizon was very contracted, the aim of both being avowedly limited to satirizing the conventions by which they were surrounded, and to framing characters of domestic life. They held the mirror up to Fashion and not to Nature. At best they were tea-table moralists, and in their homilies we miss the force we look for in sermons addressed to more stormy audiences. For his share in the work, Addison-partly from grace of style, and partly, no doubt, by reason of his greater specific gravity-has undoubtedly secured the larger share of credit, and although their polish has a tendency to make his writings appear weak, the underlying thought, or semi-thought, is for the most part more vigorous than what appears in his friend's essays. The one derived his insight from direct experience; the other considered our nature by aid of

reflected experience, and, paradoxical as the assertion may sound, saw deeper, and further, and clearer. But the praise of Steele is far higher than that of Addison. He was one of those whose writings are said to be greater than the writers. He planted a seed of revolution in our literature, thereafter, as we all know, to bear abundant fruit. “ Bickerstaff” must be credited with the honour due to an inventor. He gave a new form to our literature; or, as it is quaintly put by one of his contemporaries, "his "writings have set all our wits and men of letters upon a new way of thinking."


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LTHOUGH much has been written on Humour, and very many acute observations have been made on its nature and

functions, every formal attempt to define what it is has proved to be signally unsuccessful. Each definition has the demerit either of excluding men who are admittedly entitled to be ranked among the humourists, or of being so comprehensive as by its terms to embrace not only writers distinguished for their humour, but others whose claims to the honour will be generally disallowed. The difficulty of determining the true nature of humour and of discriminating it from the other kinds of literary production to which it is germane, is, indeed, very great. Addison, whilst treating the subject in one of the Spectators," expressed his opinion that it is much easier to describe what it is not, than to say what it is. He had before him Cowley's well-known defini



tion of wit. But, declining to adopt the method he approved, he was bolder than Cowley, and proceeded to give his own notions on the subject, "after Plato's "manner, in a kind of allegory." Without pronouncing on Addison's success, and having no desire myself to hazard a new definition, I may, I think, venture to express my belief that, however much they differ in manner, the great masters of humour must be divided, with respect to their matter, into two welldefined classes. The one, making the conventionalities his subject, deals with the affairs of every-day life. The minor morals form his topics. He has to do with what is incidental in human affairs; the fashions, the foibles of individuals, the eccentricities of society are the theme of his discourse. He is concerned with what is transient, and his influence ceases with the phase of civilization of which he has been the exponent. The other is the humourist of nature. He deals by choice with the old Adam that leavens us. The beggarly elements in our compusition are his favourite topic. His attention is not confined to what is dependent upon fashion for its interest, but is directed to our natural and permanent passions. He is tolerant; does not satirize folly (indeed, he believes nothing human can justly be considered folly); and his sympathy is so wide-embracing that he is lenient even with what we term the

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