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Hampton Court, and which he affectedly called the Hovel at Hampton Wick. He had not resided, however, many years in this his favourite villa, when, embarrassed from the usual causes, excessive generosity and vain profusion, he borrowed one thousand pounds of Addison on the credit of the mansion and its furniture, giving bond and judgment for the repayment of the money at the expiration of twelve months. On the forfeiture of the bond, Addison's attorney proceeded to execution: the house and furniture were sold; the surplus Addison remitted to Steele, with a genteel letter, stating the friendly reason of this extraordinary procedure; namely, to awaken him, if possible, from a lethargy that must end in his inevitable ruin. Steele received the letter with his wonted composure and gaiety, and met his friend as usual. This account is part of a letter from Victor to Garrick; from a man of reputed veracity, observes Mr. Nichols, and who professes that he had his relation, first from the celebrated actor Mr. Wilks, and afterwards a full confirmation of it from Steele's own lips, who, it is said, always considered this step as meant by his friend to do him service.

*

* Vide Victor's Original Letters, vol. i. p. 328, 329. edit. 1776, 8vo. 3 vols. and Note to the Tatler, vol. iv, Dedication.

The intention certainly was good, and the plan so far judicious, as it seemed calculated to accelerate the desired reformation. Experience, however, unfortunately proved, that to be of service to Steele in this particular was impossible. In spite of every admonition, and of every embarrassment into which this conduct plunged him, he still persisted in the same ruinous career, inthe same wanton profusion and unreflecting gaiety. Were it not that a discrepancy as extraordinary is frequently observed between the character of an author and his compositions, any reader of the Spectator would justly be surprised at the complete opposition, on the subject of economy, between the precepts and the life of Steele. "I am astonished," says, this amiable but inconsistent character, " that men can be so insensible of the danger of running into debt. One would think it impossible a man who is given to contract debts should not know, that his creditor has, from that moment in which he transgresses payment, so much as that demand comes to, in his debtor's honour, liberty, and fortune. One would think he did not know that his creditor can say the worst thing imaginable of him, to wit, That he is unjust,' without defamation; and can seize his person without being guilty of

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an' assault. Yet such is the loose and abandoned turn of some men's minds, that they can lives under these constant apprehensions, and still go on to increase the cause of them. Can there be a more low and servile condition than to be ashamed or afraid to see any one man breathing? Yet he that is much in debt, is in that condition with relation to twenty different people.-The debtor is the creditor's criminal, and all the officers of power and state, whom we behold make so great a figure, are no other than so many persons in authority to make good his charge against him. Human society depends upon his having the vengeance law allots him; and the debtor owes his liberty to his neighbour, as much as the murderer does his life to his prince."*.

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Who, after reading this passage, so descriptive of the misery of being in debt, and so pointed in exposing its folly, would imagine that the author, from no motive of dishonesty, but merely from inattention to the state of his finances, was, through every stage of life, a debtor. This was, however, as we have already seen, unfortunately the case; and no prosperity, though great, could, for any length of time, place Sir Richard in a state of affluence. His expences, from want of

Spectator, No. 82.

calculation, were ever greater than his income." A singular instance of this negligence, as to his pecuniary resources, has been recorded by some of his biographers.

Sir Richard had constructed a very elegant theatre in his house for the recitation of select passages from favourite authors, and wishing to ascertain whether it was as well calculated to gratify the ear as the eye, desired the carpenter, who had completed the work, to ascend a pulpit placed at one end of the building and speak a few sentences. The carpenter obeyed, but when mounted found himself utterly at a loss for the matter of his harangue. Sir Richard begged he would pronounce whatever came first into his head. Thus encouraged, the new-made orator began, and looking steadily at the knight, in a voice like thunder, exclaimed, Sir Richard Steele, here has I, and these here men, been doing your work for three months, and never seen the colour of your money. When are you to pay us? I cannot pay my journeymen without

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* Old Richard Nutt, one of the first printers of the Tatler, used to say that Steele paid fifty pounds per annum to his barber, and that he never rode out on airing, which he did often, but in a black fullbottomed dress periwig, the price of one of which, at that time, nearly amounted to this sum.

money, and money I must have." Sir Richard replied, that he was in raptures with the eloquence, but by no means admired the subject.

The anxiety and apprehension attendant on involved circumstances must be hourly intruding to poison the sources of convivial pleasure or domestic comfort; and Sir Richard, though he bore the consequences of his extravagance with more equanimity and good temper than will generally be found in similar situations, was frequently compelled to exercise all his powers of persuasion, and all his fertility of invention, in order to mitigate the severity, or escape the pursuit, of his numerous and importunate creditors.* Of the necessities to which he was sometimes driven to avoid arrest, and of the stratagems to which he had recourse, to disguise his difficulties and elude detection, the following incident, as preserved

Steele, Savage, and Phillips, it is said, one night after having supped together at a Tavern in Gerrard-street, Soho, sallied out in high spirits. They were met by a tradesman, at the top of Hedgelane, who, after begging them pardon for addressing them on the subject, told them, that " at the top of the lane he had seen two or three suspicious looking fellows, who appeared to be bailiffs; so that if any of them were apprehensive of danger, he would advise them to take a different route." Not one of them waited to thank the man, but flew off different ways; each conscious, from the embarrassment of his own affairs, that such a circumstance was very likely to happen to himself.

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