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The work, as may be supposed, was never reprinted, and is now become scarce.
The rival candidates for popularity during the publication of the TATLER were very numerous. A list is given of thirteen, which made in all fifty-five publications each week. The superior attractions of the TATLER were soon felt by some of those, and excited all the hostility of which they were capable, but which was so feeble that while few years pass without an edition of the TATLER being printed in some part of the kingdom, it is with the utmost difficulty the productions of its contemporaries can be procured. Among them, Mr. THOMAS BAKER, the author of the FEMALE TATLER, laboured hard to gain fame by depreciating the lucubrations of ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, chiefly by vulgar and personal remarks on STEELE's character, gait, &c. The hostility of the authors of the EXAMINER is rather better known. Another enemy was a Monsieur BOURNELLE, whose work is entitled "Annotations on the TATLER in two parts," 24mo. It was originally written in French, and translated into English by WALTER WAGSTAFF, Esq. 1710. The author, however, and his translator seem to have been one and the same person, perhaps Dr. William Wagstaffe, who was unfriendly to STEELE, and
* Or, as some think, one Oldisworth, an under-spurs leather," and a coxcomb, as SWIFT calls him, who was also a writer in the EXAMINER.
had published a false and injurious character of him, which, as the writer of Dr. WAGSTAFFE'S life acknowledges, "does indeed want some apology." The annotator, whóever he was, points clearly to STEELE as the author of the TATLER: and his petulant annotations are minute remarks, quaintly expressed in a strain of coarse irony and undisguised malignity, with such a mixture of the sort of wit that is nearest allied to madness, as sufficiently justifies STEELE's imputation of insanity in No. 79. There are, however, some passages in both parts of the book, less obnoxious to this general censure, that might incline one to think the writer a distant kinsman of the STAFFS, in consequence of the left hand favours of some open-hearted woman of the family *.
But if STEELE had his enemies, he had also his imitators, whose performances, however, are now little known. One, indeed, by assuming the name and character of TATLER and BICKERSTAFF, endeavoured to gain the more particular notice of the public, and had some claims to it. STEELE'S Tatler terminated Jan. 2, 1710, and on the 13th of the same month appeared the first number of what has been since called the Spurious Tatler, which was conducted by SWIFT and the
* Tatler, cr. oct. 1786, Vol. III. p. 41.
little HARRISON" already mentioned *. numbers are with tolerable certainty attributed to SWIFT, but there are SwIFTIANA in many others. The first number, chiefly, if not entirely, from his pen, is an ingenious though somewhat impudent imposition on the public, pretendingly accounting for BICKERSTAFF'S resuming his functions. Nos. 5, and 20, are published by Dr. HAWKESWORTH in SWIFT'S works; but it is singular that the former of these should have escaped the animadversion of HAWKESWORTH's purer morals. No. 28, is asserted to be SWIFT's by the authors of the notes on the TATLER, edit. 1786, and 1797, who observe "that his account of himself, under the reigned name of Hiereus, is so arrogant vain, that a transcript of it here would be censured as invidious."
and 24, are printed as SWIFT's in the Supplement to his Works, III Vols. 1779, and in the late very splendid and correct edition of his works by the editor of that Supplement. HARRISON, however, was the principal author: and it appears from a passage in Swift's journal, that "upon Steele's leaving off, there were two or three Scrub Tatlers came out +.' This, which upon the whole has but little merit, and is very ambiguous as to moral
* Dr. SEWELL, a poet and physician of some note, is mentioned as an assistant in this work. Cibber's Life of SEWELL. BAKER, the author of the FEMALE TATLER, was ong of these.
tendency, consists of fifty two papers, ending May 19, 1710, nearly three months after the commencement of the SPECTATOR, of which paper a sneering notice is taken in No. 26. It imposed on the world so far as to be printed at least three times, as the fifth volume of the TATLER. I have not, however, seen any edition of later date than 1727, and I believe it never was printed by the proprietors of the genuine work.
The sale of the TATLER, according to all accounts, was very extensive, and must have been a source of great emolument to STEELE. The first four numbers, we are told, were given gratis*, and the price was then fixed at a penny, which was doubled afterwards. The size, folio, a half-sheet printed on both sides, and deserving the character which an angry correspondent in No. 160 gives it," tobaccopaper and scurvy letter." They were, however, when collected in volumes, reprinted in royal octavo, and large letter, at one guines per volume, and a most numerous list of subscribers," the greatest beauties and wits in the whole island of Great Britain," engaged to
*The first four numbers of the original folio were "printed for the author;" the remaining number "sold by John Morphew, near Stationers' Hall, where advertisements are taken in." When collected into volume, they were "to be delivered to fubscribers by Charles Lillie, perfumer, at the corner af Beaufort Buildings, in the Strand, and John Morphew, near Stationer's Hall." But they are entered in Stationer's Hall as the sole property, in folio, octavo, twelves, and all other volumes whatever, of JOHN NUTT.
take the work at that unprecedented price*. These very generous subscriptions are handsomely acknowledged by STEELE in No. 162. The splendid octavo edition was followed by another in 12mo" on a neat Elzevir letter" a very beautiful book, and like the others printed in the same year, very accurate. The papers were in general corrected by the authors, with some, but few, omissions and additions.
STEELE'S manner of taking leave of the public, as Mr. Bickerstaff, is graceful and characteristic. "The general purpose of the whole," it is said in the last paper, "has been to recommend truth, innocence, honour, and virtue, as the chief ornaments of life; but I considered that severity of manners was absolutely necessary to him who would cenşure others, and for that reason and that only, chose to talk in a mask. I shall not carry my humility so far as to call myself a vicious man, but at the same time must confess, my life is at best but pardonable. And with a greater character than this, a man would make but an indifferent progress in attacking prevailing and fashionable vices, which Mr. Bickerstaff has done with a freedom of spirit, that would
* "To print by subscription was, for sometime, a practice peculiar to the English. The first considerable work, for which this expedient was employed, is said to have been DRYDEN'S Virgil; and it had been tried again with great suc cess when the TATLERS were collected into volumes," JOHNSON'S LIFE of POPE.