The Spectator

views updated

The Spectator

by Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele


A series of periodical essays published in London from 1711 to 1714.


The Spectator ostensibly records the activities of the Spectator Club, which is made up of several fictional characters, each representing a distinct segment of society. Through the eyes of Mr. Spectator, a shy observer of the others and of London society, the authors comment on social and cultural issues.

Events in History at the Time of the Essays

The Essays in Focus

For More Information

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) and Richard Steele (1672-1729) became friends as schoolboys in London. Later they both attended Oxford University, though Steele left for a career in the army before graduating, while the more academic Addison stayed on, earning his Masters degree in 1693. By 1705 Steele had left the army and Addison had ended a decade of teaching and then travel. Both were living in London and pursuing writing, Steele for The London Gazette, the government’s official newspaper, and Addison as an adjunct to a civil service career. In 1709 Steele started The Tatler, a thrice-weekly periodical featuring commentary on cultural and political issues to which Addison soon became a regular contributor. Two months after The Tatler ceased publication in January 1711, the two friends jointly launched The Spectator, in which they perfected the blend of casual style, light-hearted cultural commentary, and moral instruction that they had developed in The Tatler. In contrast to The Tatler, however, The Spectator pointedly avoided partisan political content, affirming instead such values as refinement, humor, civility, and politeness.

Events in History at the Time of the Essays

Political and social divisions

When she came to the throne in 1702, Queen Anne, England’s last Stuart monarch, faced the legacy left by a century of civil war, revolution, and social turmoil. In choosing the ministers who would make up her government, she also faced the bitter partisan strife that had dominated English politics since the 1680s. That decade saw the rise of the nation’s first political parties, the Whigs and the Tories, which had originated in conflicts over the succession of Anne’s father, James II. While highly contentious in itself, this political dissension merely reflected the deeper discord that had wracked English society for decades. By the end of Anne’s reign in 1714, however, English society had begun to formulate a response to this enduring discord. Nowhere is this response better represented than in the optimistic, good-natured, and avowedly apolitical pages of The Spectator.

During the latter half of the seventeenth century, profound economic changes had intensified the nation’s disunity. Before 1660, the English economy had relied on the manufacture and export of a single commodity, wool. Over the next 50 years, however, English trade expanded rapidly, so that by the early eighteenth century London had become Europe’s most important commercial center. Sugar from the West Indies, tobacco from America, and cotton from the Middle East were among the many products made available cheaply and abundantly as England accelerated the building of a global colonial trade empire. While this expansion brought strength to the nation and prosperity to its people, it also brought tensions, as a new social group of influential


“There is no Place in the Town which I so much like to I frequent as the Royal-Exchange,” writes Joseph Addison in an early Spectator essay celebrating this busy center of London trading. He continues:

It gives me a secret Satisfaction, and in some measure gratifies my Vanity, as I am an Englishman, to see so rich an Assembly of Countrymen and Foreigners consulting together upon the private Business of Mankind, and making this Metropolis a kind of Emporium for the whole Earth.

(Spectator 69, vol. 1, pp. 259-60)

merchants and others vied with the gentry for political power and social status. This new social group, which found its earliest voice in such publications as The Spectator, would begin to emerge over the course of the eighteenth century as the growing middle class.

In politics, the liberal, reforming Whigs promoted this rising commercial interest, while the more conservative Tories defended the relatively declining influence of the Crown and the country gentry. The political landscape was highly complex, but in general the Whigs stood for the following:

  • “Money” interests, i.e., merchants and others whose wealth was based on cash, not land (represented by the character of “Sir Andrew Freeport” in The Spectator).
  • The incorporated City of London as a political entity, backed by its mercantile and professional population.
  • A strong Parliament, with rights to limit the monarch’s power and to decide the succession of the Crown.
  • Religious tolerance of Low-Church Anglicans (who were less conservative than High-Church Anglicans) and of Dissenters, or Protestants who did not conform to the Anglican Church.
  • Aggressive foreign policy, and use of the navy to support British trade.

Tories, by contrast, embraced the following:

  • The “squirearchy” or country gentry, whose wealth was based on smaller estates (represented by the character of “Sir Roger de Coverley” in The Spectator).
  • The royal court as a center of power and influence in London.
  • A strong Crown, backed by the principle of a single legitimate line of succession whatever the heir’s religious faith.
  • Religious uniformity and the government-supported Anglican Church (Church of England).
  • Less aggressive foreign policy and fewer foreign entanglements.

The spread of literary culture

Just as the rising commercial class now claimed a share of the political power previously held by the royal court, so too it asserted a right to the cultural fruits that had previously been a court monopoly. As a recent historian notes, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, high culture—painting, music, theater, and especially literature—had “slipped out of the palace and into the coffee houses, reading societies, debating clubs, assembly rooms, galleries and concert halls; ceasing to be the handmaiden of royal politics, it became the partner of commerce” (Brewer, p. 3). It was in exactly such newly expanded public spaces in London, and particularly in the many coffee houses, that English gentlemen might be found perusing the latest issue of The Spectator before passing it to the next eager customer.

Literature was the most pervasive and thus the most influential of the cultural products seized on by the new commercial class. In the past, printing had been rigorously controlled by the government. In 1696, however, the government allowed the Licensing Act of 1663, under which state censorship had been enforced, to lapse. Over the next two decades, the relaxation of censorship combined with a highly charged political environment (there were 10 general elections between 1695 and 1715) to produce an intense outburst of political journalism. Much of this writing was published in the form of single-issue pamphlets, but in 1704 a versatile Whig writer named Daniel Defoe began issuing thrice-weekly essays of political opinion called The Review (1704-13). In this early periodical Defoe, best known today for his novel Robinson Crusoe (1719), is credited with inventing the editorial article. Newspapers also expanded, from one or two official summaries of foreign affairs (such as The London Gazette, where Steele worked in the early 1700s) to a growing number of private dailies and weeklies. Some carried domestic news, while others took on the important task of supplying financial information to the growing business community. Lloyd’s News, one of the earliest, was published briefly in 1696—from Edward Lloyd’s London coffee house—and carried shipping information for the new marine insurance company that would become Lloyd’s of London. (The paper would be resumed in 1736.)

Women comprised another major audience for the new literary media, particularly in London. While literacy rates in general were rising, those among London women climbed most sharply of all groups measured, from an estimated 22 percent in the 1670s to 66 percent in the 1720s (Brewer, p. 168). While written from a male perspective, Defoe’s Review, The Tatler, and The Spectator all deliberately included material directed at women, most of it moralizing or instructive (as was much of the material directed at men). Indeed, as Addison writes in an early Spectator essay, “there are none to whom this Paper will be more useful than to the female World” (Addison and Steele, The Spectator 10, vol. 1, p. 43). Among the many imitations of The Tatler and The Spectator were two that aimed more exclusively at women, The Female Tatler (1709-10) and, later, The Female Spectator (1744-46).

Addison and Steele: forging a civil society

Two specific issues bitterly divided the Whigs and the Tories during Queen Anne’s reign (1702-14). The first was the same as that which had created the parties in the 1680s: the succession of the throne. Now it was Anne’s succession that was to be decided, not her father’s. The Whigs wished to settle the throne on Princess Sophia of Hanover (the nearest Protestant Stuart relative) or her heir, while some Tories favored Anne’s Catholic younger brother, James, as the legitimate heir to the throne, despite his Catholicism. Although the Whigs had seemingly secured victory with the Act of Settlement in 1701, by which Parliament gave Sophia or her heir title to the throne, the succession continued to be controversial. It grew more so, first as the ill and, at this point, childless Anne approached death during the years of The Spectator’s publication, and then after Sophia predeceased Anne in 1714, leaving her German son George as her designated heir. While most Tories approved the Act of Settlement, many did so with strong reservations, for they disliked the idea of a German king on the British throne. Others opposed it outright. Nevertheless, on Anne’s death Sophie’s German son acceded to the British throne as George I. Tory supporters of the Catholic Stuarts—called Jacobites, from Jacobus, Latin for James—would revolt twice against the Whig-supported Hanoverian dynasty, in 1715 and 1745.


London in the early eighteenth century was a city in which public places were taking on an increasingly important social role. For men, the most common meeting place was the coffee house, a type of establishment that had begun appearing in London in the late seventeenth century. By 1714 there were nearly 700 coffee houses in the city. In these dirty, smoke-filled rooms men of all classes could mix and enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a newspaper (provided by the coffee house) or chatting about politics. Later in the century, the coffee house would be partly replaced by the gentlemen’s club, which had begun making an appearance by the time of Addison and Steele. The two essayists were members of the famous Kitcat Club, where Whig publisher Jacob Tonson hosted writers and Whig leaders.

The second major divisive issue was the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), which pitted Britain, the Netherlands, and their allies against France and Spain. Because the Whigs had called for the war over strenuous Tory opposition, early victories under the Whig leader and British commander John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, helped the Whigs keep control of the government in the first part of Anne’s reign. Both Addison and Steele were committed Whigs, and in 1704 Whig leaders invited Addison to celebrate Marlborough’s brilliant victory at Blenheim by writing a poem about it. The result, The Campaign, was a success that led to lucrative positions for Addison in the Whig administration. Beginning in 1709 Steele’s The Tatler, too, while often self-consciously trivial in subject matter and always casual in style, explicitly supported the war and other Whig policies. Tory periodicals battled openly with The Tatler, the leading example being The Examiner, which was edited by the Tory leader Henry St. John and (from October 1710 to June 1711) by the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift (see Gulliver’s Travels, also covered in WLAIT 3: British and Irish Literature and Its Times).

In the second part of Anne’s reign, the war began going less smoothly for Britain and her allies, and in 1710 the Whig government was ousted from power—temporarily, as it turned out. The brief hiatus (1710-14) would be followed by five decades of Whig ascendancy after the accession of George I. But during the hiatus, Addison lost his job in government, Steele lost his with The London Gazette, and political pressure contributed also perhaps to the folding of The Tatler in January 1711. (Steele’s political attacks in The Tatler had often targeted the Tory leader Robert Harley, who now ran the government.) The stage was set, therefore, for the two friends to launch a joint venture.

Steele’s editorial influence had shaped The Tatler, but Addison’s would dominate The Spectator, though to a lesser degree. For one thing, Steele devoted much of his time to other projects during The Spectator’s publication, becoming the leading writer for the Whigs in opposition. In contrast to his highly partisan output for the Whigs, Steele, the more political writer, allowed his non-partisan instincts to come to the fore in his Spectator essays. For instance, both men supported the Hanoverian succession, but in The Spectator Addison avoids this controversial topic altogether while Steele mentions it only once (in issue 384). Though political content was common in The Tatler, it was rare in its successor, for Addison’s outlook guided his friend’s.

While The Spectator’s non-partisan content no doubt reflects the evolving aims of both writers, it especially reflects those of Joseph Addison. No greater ill can befall a people, Addison writes, than partisan strife, which divides a single nation into two hostile camps:

The Effects of such a Division are pernicious to the last degree, not only with regard to those advantages which they give the Common Enemy, but to those private Evils which they produce in the Heart of almost every particular Person….. A furious Party Spirit, when it rages in its full Violence … fills a Nation with Spleen and Rancour, and extinguishes all the Seeds of Good-Nature, Compassion and Humanity.

(Spectator 125, vol. 1, p. 441)

More than any other writer of his time, Addison in his Spectator essays helped formulate a cohesive response to these ills: an emerging ideal of a civil society in which “Good-Nature, Compassion and Humanity” might outweigh partisan division. While never fully attained, this ideal would be immensely powerful in shaping British social values over the remainder of the eighteenth century and beyond.

The Essays in Focus

Contents summary

The Spectator comprises 555 issues published daily (except Sunday) from March 1, 1711, to December 6, 1712, plus 80 further numbered issues published thrice weekly by Addison alone from June 18 to December 20, 1714. Of the original 555 issues, Steele was responsible for 251 and Addison for 274; the remaining essays were contributed by other writers, including Alexander Pope, the leading poet of the age (see The Rape of the Lock, also in WLAIT 3: British and Irish Literature and Its Times). All issues were signed only with a single code letter. The signing scheme was complex, since each essayist might use more than one letter. Addison, for example, signed his essays C, L, I, or O at various times, making up the word “Clio.” (In Greek mythology, Clio was the muse of history.) In addition, both Addison and Steele regularly incorporated material submitted by correspondents, though Steele did this far more frequently than Addison (perhaps two-thirds of Steele’s issues consist of such submissions). The original 555 issues were numbered, bound, and sold in seven volumes; the 80 issues that Addison published in 1714 were bound and sold as volume eight.

Except for the issues including correspondence, which might consist mainly of one or more letters, most issues are made up of a single brief essay two to five pages in length. The majority of these essays adhere to the fictional premise of the Spectator Club and speak through the imaginary character of the Spectator, though some depart from this formula and seem to be written in the author’s own voice (for example, Addison’s critical essays on Paradise Lost).

In Spectator 1 (March 1, 1711), Addison introduces the Spectator character himself, a Londoner who has studied literature and traveled widely but who has remained almost totally silent for all his life. The only place where he opens his mouth is in his own club. “Thus I live in the world, rather as a Spectator of Mankind, than as one of the Species,” he declares (Spectator 1, vol. 1, p. 8). His role as Spectator allows him to become familiar with many different aspects of society without ever taking part—and especially without taking sides in the disputes between Whigs and Tories.

In the next issue, Steele describes the other members of the Spectator’s Club. Sir Roger de Coverley is an old-fashioned but hearty and good-natured country gentleman, a bachelor whose heart was broken many years ago and who has worn the same style of clothes ever since, so that (as he boasts) his clothes have been in and out of fashion 12 times since then. Kind but naive, he is loved rather than respected, and people take advantage of him. Sir Andrew Freeport is “a Merchant of great Eminence in the City of London: A Person of indefatigable Industry, strong Reason, and great Experience. His Notions of Trade are noble and generous, and … he calls the Sea the British Common” (Spectator 2, vol. 1, p. 13). He often repeats “frugal Maxims, amongst which the greatest Favourite is ‘A Penny saved is a Penny got’” (Spectator 2, vol. 1, p. 13). Next to Sir Andrew sits Captain Sentry, a brave but modest soldier, who will advance no further in rank because he lacks the desire to flatter his superiors. Will Honeycomb, a handsome older man-about-town who preserves the appearance of energetic youth, knows all the in’s and out’s of ladies’ fashions and always turns the conversation to the subject of women. Two other members are briefly described but unnamed: a lawyer who knows more about ancient Greek and Latin literature than about English law, and a clergyman, infirm but wise, who (the Spectator says) rarely visits the club.

In Spectator 10 Addison elaborates upon the periodical’s twin aims: edification and entertainment. Wishing to make his readers’ “instruction agreeable and their diversion useful,” the Spectator declares that he “shall endeavor to enliven Morality with Wit, and to temper Wit with Morality” (Spectator 10, vol. 1, p. 41). He aspires to a role in society similar to that played by the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates:

It was said of Socrates, that he brought Philosophy down from Heaven, to inhabit among men; and I shall be ambitious to have it said of me, that I brought Philosophy out of Closets and Libraries, Schools and Colleges, to dwell in Clubs and Assemblies, at Tea-Tables and in Coffee-houses.

(Spectator 10, vol. 1, p. 42)

Accordingly, the essays’ fluid, informal style and broad range of subject matter deliberately recall the sorts of conversations commonly found in such social settings.

Relations between the sexes interest the imaginary Spectator greatly, and many papers include his often whimsical observations on ladies’ fashions from a male perspective, on love and marriage, and on the differences between men and women. Yet their generally light approach does not prevent the essayists from probing darker aspects of such topics. Steele devotes several essays to prostitution, for example, relating how he began thinking about the subject after being accosted by a young prostitute one evening. Beneath the teenaged girl’s “forced Wantonness,” he sees the reality of her hunger and cold and he gives her some money (Spectator 266, vol. 2, p. 209). Much more offensive to him than prostitutes are women who harshly condemn them without compassion. When people are “too warmly provoked at other People’s personal sins,” he writes, it “often makes me a little apt to suspect the Sincerity of their Virtue” (Spectator 266, vol. 2, p. 208). “Will Honeycomb,” he continues, keeping to the fictional premise of the Spectator Club, “calls these over-offended Ladies, the Outragiously [sic] Virtuous” (Spectator 266, vol. 2, p. 208). A number of other essays explore the situations of those who exist, like the prostitutes, both within English society yet outside it in some definable way: examples include Jews, Gypsies, beggars, and servants.

In a follow-up essay, Steele discusses the role of male customers and pimps (as well as madams) in perpetuating prostitution. Steele’s treatment of prostitution thus exemplifies another technique common in The Spectator over the nearly two years of publication. Both Steele and Addison make discursive forays into areas that catch their attention, devoting two or more issues to it before moving on. Often the issues are not consecutive, so that the essayist returns to a subject after writing about another, and often he includes correspondence from a reader who has a point to raise about what was said earlier (as Steele did in his follow-up on prostitution). Favorite subjects repeatedly explored from new angles in this way include love and marriage, religion, manners, the theatre, and the nature of wit (a perennial concern of both writers). The fictional format facilitates these excursions, as when the eccentric and somewhat crusty Sir Roger tells the Spectator the story of how his heart was broken as a young man by a beautiful widow who lived near his country estate. At the end of the essay (by Steele), the Spectator observes that Sir Roger’s broken heart helps to explain “all that Inconsistency which appears in some Parts of my Friend’s Discourse” (Spectator 113, vol. 1, p. 404).

Woven into nearly all of these scenarios is a central concern to which both essayists return over and over: literature. Seemingly extemporaneous references to literary works abound in the essays. After relating his encounter with the young prostitute, for instance, Steele smoothly moves on to examine the depiction of a prostitute in a play, The Humourous Lieutenant, by the Jacobean playwright John Fletcher (1579-1625). Similarly, after Sir Roger’s story about his broken heart, Steele has the Spectator conclude the essay by quoting in full an appropriate poem by the Latin poet Martial (first century b.c.e.).

While both writers incorporate critical observations about literary works into their essays, Addison does so more methodically than the relatively breezy Steele. Repeatedly, Addison devotes several separate issues (consecutive or otherwise) to self-contained interludes of literary criticism. The best known of Addison’s critical series are:

  • His seven Saturday essays on Milton’s Paradise Lost (nos. 267, 273, 279, 285, 291, 297, 303).
  • His two essays on the old English ballad Chevy Chase (nos. 70, 74).
  • The 11 consecutive essays of his “Pleasures of the Imagination Series” (nos. 411-21).

In this last series Addison discusses the origins and workings of the imagination, and its capacity to transform human experience. In describing the force of imagination he writes:

We have already seen the Influence that one Man has over the Fancy of another, and with what ease he conveys into it a Variety of Imagery; how great a Power then may we suppose lodged in him, who knows all the ways of affecting the Imagination, who can infuse what Ideas he pleases, and fill those Ideas with Terrour [sic] and Delight to what Degree he thinks fit?

(Spectator 421, vol. 3, p. 12)

Addison includes art and architecture as well as natural beauty among the aesthetic experiences that stimulate the imagination. He makes special reference to literature in this regard, examining not only poetry but also historical and scientific writing.

As he bids his readers goodbye in the last issue of the first Spectator (no. 555), Steele explains the purpose of the fictional Spectator Club and of the authors’ anonymity:

It is much more difficult to converse with the
World in a real than in a personated Character.
That might pass for Humour in the Spectator,
which would look like Arrogance in a Writer who sets his Name to his work.
(Spectator 555, vol. 3, p. 439)

Before signing his name to the essay, he praises his partner; while not giving Addison’s name, he lists the titles of other works that Addison was known to have written and alerts the reader to the letters Addison used to sign his pieces (see above). Steele does name some of the other contributors, thanking them and saying that it is now “high time” for the Spectator to take his leave (Spectator 555, vol. 3, p. 439).

The ideal of politeness

“I shall endeavor as much as possible to establish among us a Taste of polite Writing,” Addison proclaims in one essay (Spectator 58, vol. 1, p. 217). Politeness, for Addison and Steele, as well as those who followed them, was an ideal that meant much more than etiquette. In its emphasis on politeness—on manners, but also on morality and aesthetic appreciation— The Spectator proposed a coherent response to the partisan wrangling and civic discord that had long characterized English society. As historian John Brewer writes:

The aim of politeness was … to replace political zeal and religious bigotry with mutual tolerance and understanding. The means of achieving this was a manner of conversing and dealing with people which, by teaching one to regulate one’s passions and to cultivate good taste, would enable a person to realize what was in the public interest and for the public good.
(Brewer, p. 102)

Both Addison and Steele viewed the social and political strife they abhorred as springing from human passions, yet they also recognized that passions cannot be eradicated. “The entire Conquest of our Passions is such a difficult work,” Steele writes, that we should “only attempt to regulate them” (Spectator 71, vol. 1, p. 268). The essayists believed that only the “pleasures of the imagination” could “regulate” the passions in this way. But those were sophisticated pleasures that had previously been available only to the upper class. To bring them to the emerging middle class (and to reinforce them in the upper class) was the job of the new politeness, and thus the job that Addison and Steele set out to achieve with The Spectator.

A measure of their success in this campaign to forge a civil society is that “politeness” provided the same sort of civic lubricant for the eighteenth century that its descendant, “respectability,” would provide for the nineteenth. As this ideal took hold over the decades following its publication, The Spectator would continue to be read widely, its essays representing “the very embodiment of politeness” for their readers (Brewer, p. 100).

Sources and literary context

Addison and Steele select brief, apropos quotations from classical poets—given in the original Greek or Latin—at the beginning of each issue. Among their favorite sources for these epigraphs are the lyric poet Horace (Latin; first century b.c.e.), and the epic poets Virgil (Latin; first century b.c.e.), and Homer (Greek; c. eighth century b.c.e.).

The essay as a literary form can be defined as a short, personal, monothematic, nonfictional prose piece. It has been around since classical times, when it was practiced by authors such as Plutarch (Greek; first to second century c.e.), Cicero (Latin; first century b.c.e.), and Seneca (Latin; first century c.e.). The term essai (French for “attempt”) was not used, however, until the Renaissance, when the influential French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-92) applied it to his own works; like Addison, Montaigne too strove to emulate the spirit of Socrates in his writing. Shortly after Montaigne, the English scientist and writer Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was the first to write essays in English. In their own essays, Addison and Steele cite Plutarch, Cicero, Seneca, Montaigne, and Bacon as models.


In 1712 the Tory government passed the Stamp Act, which taxed all printed matter and was aimed at controlling the press. At a penny per issue, the tax effectively doubled the price of The Spectator. Though it kept up for several months, in the end (like many other periodicals) The Spectator was forced to fold because of the tax. Steele explains this in the final issue (no, 555).

Closer contemporary inspiration can be found in the early periodicals of Daniel Defoe and others. Defoe’s Review was generally partisan, but at the end of each issue Defoe included light or humorous material under the heading “The Scandalous Club.” While Defoe did not populate his “club” with imaginary characters, it can be viewed as a direct ancestor of Addison and Steele’s Spectator Club. Also some of the Spectator Club’s members have a basis in real-life models. The Tory knight Sir John Pakington, for example, is said to have inspired the Club’s eccentric but affable Sir Roger.


The Tatler’s popularity supplied a ready-made audience for The Spectator, which rapidly enjoyed an even greater success than its predecessor. By the tenth issue, Addison could claim that his publisher was distributing 3,000 copies daily and that each copy was being read by 20 people (which he thought a conservative estimate). While these copies sold at the inexpensive price of one penny each, in 1712 the publisher of the collected issues paid Addison and Steele £1,150, a small fortune, for the copyright. The Spectator was read throughout Britain and its colonies, from Scotland to America, where Benjamin Franklin modeled his own prose style on it. According to one count, it inspired more than 600 imitations. By 1750, it was considered a classic, and any educated English speaker would have been familiar with at least some of the essays. They have been reprinted in schoolbooks, anthologies, style manuals, and other literary collections from the eighteenth century on; they were especially widely read in the Victorian era.

At the time of publication, however, knowing of Steele’s participation, the Tory press blasted The Spectator. Two anonymous Tory pamphlets were printed in 1711, for example: “A Spy upon the Spectator” and “The Spectator Inspected,” both harshly critical. Yet by 1716, in his “Essay Upon Wit,” the poet and physician Sir Richard Blackmore praised the periodical for having “all the Perfection of Writing, and all the advantages of Wit and Humour, that are required to entertain and instruct the People” (Blackmore in Bloom and Bloom, p. 253). While Steele was considered the greater writer during The Spectator’s publication, Addison’s reputation as an essayist has eclipsed his friend’s among later critics. Yet Steele’s easy warmth and approachability continue to be seen as a perfect counterpart to Addison’s drier, weightier style.

—Colin Wells

For More Information

Addison, Joseph, and Sir Richard Steele. The Spectator. Ed. Henry Morley. 3 vols. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1891.

Becker, Marvin B. The Emergence of Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century: A Privileged Moment in the History of England, Scotland, and France. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana: University of Indiana Press, 1994.

Bloom, Edward A., and Lillian D. Bloom. Addison and Steele: the Critical Heritage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.

Brewer, John. The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century. London: HarperCollins, 1997.

Downie, J. A. Robert Harley and the Press: Propaganda and Public Opinion in the Age of Swift and Defoe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Olsen, Kirsten. Daily Life in 18th-Century England. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1999.

Speck, W. A. Society and Literature in England 1700-60. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1983.

About this article

The Spectator

Updated About content Print Article