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that would have lost both its beauty and efficacy, had it been pretended to by Mr. Steele.
As to the work itself, the acceptance it has met with is the best proof of its value; but I should err against that candour, which an honest man should always carry about him, if I did not own, that the most approved pieces in it were written by others, and those which have been most excepted against, by myself. The hand that has assisted me in those noble discourses upon the immortality of the soul, the glorious prospects of another life, and the most sublime ideas of religion and virtue, is a person who is too fondly my friend ever to own them; but I should little deserve to be his, if I usurped the glory of them*. I must acknowledge at the same time, that I think the finest strokes of wit and humour in all Mr. Bickerstaff's Lucubrations, are those for which he also is beholden to him.
As for the satirical parts of these writings, those against the gentlemen who profess gaming are the most licentious; but the main of them I take to come from losing gamesters, as invectives against the fortunate for in very many of them I was very little else but the transcriber. If any have been more particularly marked at, such persons may impute it to their own behaviour, before they were touched upon, in publicly speaking their resentment against the author, and professing they would support any man who should insult him. When I mention this subject, I hope major-general Davenport, brigadier Bisset, and my lord Forbes, will accept of my thanks for their frequent good offices, in professing their readiness to
* Addison was the assistant here alluded to.
partake any danger that should befall me in so just an undertaking, as the endeavour to banish fraud and cozenage from the presence and conversation of gentlemen.
But what I find is the least excusable part of all this work is, that I have, in some places in it, touched upon matters which concern both Church and State. All I shall say for this is, that the points I alluded to, are such as concerned every Christian and freeholder in England; and I could not be cold enough to conceal my opinion on subjects which related to either of those characters. But politics apart.
I must confess it has been a most exquisite pleasure to me to frame characters of domestic life, and put those parts of it which are least observed into an agreeable view; to inquire into the seeds of vanity and affectation, to lay before my readers the emptiness of ambition: in a word, to trace human life through all its mazes and recesses, and show much shorter methods than men ordinarily practise, to be happy, agreeable, and great.
But to inquire into men's faults and weaknesses has something in it so unwelcome, that I have often seen people in pain to act before me, whose modesty only makes them think themselves liable to censure. This, and a thousand other nameless things, have made it an irksome task to me to personate Mr. Bickerstaff any longer; and I believe it does not often happen that the reader is delighted where the author is displeased.
All I can now do for the further gratification of the town is, to give them a faithful index and explication of passages and allusions, and sometimes of persons intended in the several scattered parts of the work. At the same time, I shall discover which
of the whole have been written by me, and which by others, and by whom, as far as I am able or permitted*.
Thus I have voluntarily done, what I think all authors should do when called upon. I have published my name to my writings, and given myself up to the mercy of the town, as Shakspeare expresses it, with all my imperfections on my head.' The indulgent reader's
*This is done in the original preface to the fourth volume of the Tatler; printed at the beginning of the first volume of the present edition.
END OF VOL. IV.
G. Woodfall, Printer,