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have lost both its beauty and efficacy, had it been pretended to by Mr. Steele.
From a scarce pamphlet in the Lambeth library supposed to be written by Gay, we have authority to add, that Steele's disappearing was bewailed as some general calamity : everyone wanted so agreeable an amusement: and the coffee-houses began to be sensible that his Lucubrations alone had brought them more customers than all their other newspapers put together. Never man threw up his pen under stronger temptations to have employed it longer; for his reputation was at a greater height, says this writer, than ever any living author's was before him. There was this difference between him and all the rest of the polite and gallant authors of the time; the latter endeavoured to please the age by falling in with them, and encouraging them in their fashionable vices, and false notions of things. It would have been a jest some time since, for a man to have asserted that any thing witty could be said in praise of a married state; or that devotion and virtue were any way necessary to the character of a fine gentleman. Bickerstaff ventured to tell the town, that they were a parcel of fops, fools, and vain coquettes : but in such a manner, as even pleased them, and made them more than half-inclined to believe that he spoke truth *. * “ The present state of Wit," reprinted in the last edition
of Swift's Works.
I. TO MR. MAYNWARING*.
SIR, THE state of conversation and business in this town having been long perplexed with Pretenders in both kinds; in order to open mens eyes against such abuses, it appeared no unprofitable undertaking to publish a Paper, which should observe upon the manners of the pleasurable, as well as the busy part of mankind.
To make this generally read, it seemed the most proper method to form it by way of a Letter of Intelligence, consisting of such parts as might gratify the curiosity of persons of all conditions, and of each sex. But a work of this nature requiring time to grow into the notice of the world, it happened very luckily, that, a little before I had resolved upon this design, a gentleman had written predictions, and two or three other pieces in my name, which rendered it famous through all parts of Europe ; and, by an inimitable
* Arthur Maynwaring, Esq,
spirit and humour, raised it to as high a pitch of reputation as it could possibly arrive at.
By this good fortune the name of Isaac Bickerstaff gained an audience of all who had any taste of wit ; and the addition of the ordinary occurrences of common Journals of News brought in a multitude of other readers. I could not, I confess, long keep up the opinion of the town, that these Lucubrations were written by the same hand with the first works which were published under my name; but, before I lost the participation of that author's fame, I had already found the advantage of his authority, to which I owe the sudden acceptance which my labours met with in the world.
The general purpose of this paper is to expose the false arts of life, to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity, and attectation, and to recommend a general simplicity in our dress, our discourse, and our behaviour. No man has a better judgment for the discovery, or a nobler spirit for the contempt of all imposture, than yourself; which qualities render you the most proper patron for the author of these Essays In the general, the design, however executed, has met with so great success, that there is hardly a name now eminent among us for power, wit, beauty, valour, or wisdom, which is not subscribed for the encouragement of these volumes. This is, indeed, an honour, for which it is impossible to express a suitable gratitude; and there is nothing could be an addition to the pleasure I take
it but the reflection, that it gives me the most conspicuous occasion I can ever have, of subscribing myselt, Sir, Your most obliged, most obedient,
and most humble servant,