The Spectator, Number 1
The Latin (from Horace's Art of Poetry, II 143-144:

"He thinks not how to give you smoke from light, / But light from smoke that he may draw his bright / Wonders forth after." (Ben Jonson)

Sir. Richard Steele Joseph Addison

Anyone who enjoys the editorial page or a news magazine (with a bit of Art Buchwald) is indebted to Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, the cofounders of contemporary journalism. This page offers a perspective on how Addison achieved success. It is an exercise in the mechanics of Eighteenth Century satire.

There are three sections:

Background Questions...

A brief historical chronology:

1660--Charles II restored to power--return of the Established (Anglican) church / secret Catholic--significant
agricultural reform (harvesting tools) ironically displaces farmers who came to the cities looking for work

1664--all dissenting religions outlawed--thousands jailed--associated with regicide (Charles I)

1667-1745--Swift (GULLIVER and MODEST PROPOSAL)--Mercantile economics--people as commodities: Who was SIR WILLIAM PETTY

1665 / 1666--plague kills 70,000 in London / fire of London destroys 13,000 houses--Catholics accused

1672-1719--ADDISON (see below)

1673--Test Act mandated that all holders of office be Anglicans

1681--emergence of political parties: TORY (Conservative) supported the monarchy - Anglican clergy rejected influence of wealthy middle class as the industrial revolution took hold--land is the only wealth
WHIGS (Liberals) opposed the king; merchants, some clergy who were dissenters, supported toleration

1685--James II in power--suspended the Test Act--crisis / son would be the next (Catholic) king--

1686-1783--wars with France establish a colonial empire; more tolerance for dissenters, but not without
periods of violent anti-Catholic riots


1688--Deposition of James II--glorious revolution--WHIGS negotiated to have James’ daughter (Protestant) and her husband, William of Orange take power ; called the Glorious or Bloodless revolution

1689--Bill of Rights abolished divine right.

1702-1714--Queen Anne; war with France and Spain supported by the Whigs who grew rich selling weapons; she, a Protestant, broke with the WHIGS over toleration and formed a TORY government

1711--Turkey “the tinderbox of Europe” -Turks invade Poland and Austria, sold 80,000 prisoners as slaves. Led by Viziers, sultans’ chief administrators-Britain’s policy was to keep Turks out of Europe to protect trade routes

--cannibalism practiced in Ireland

A look at Addison's life and philosophy:


I. Background:

II. Literary Interests:

III Editorial Philosophy:

A--THE SPECTATOR is the name of a conservative club, the members of which present their observations including SIR ROGER De COVERLY, a Tory Squire, described as “endearing, eccentric, a bit absurd but
always amiable and innocent”

B--THE SPECTATOR “ with the widest possible variety of topics: manners, and morals, literature and philosophical ideas, fads, fashions....but wisely steered around politics.”

C--the intent was to improve mind, morals and manners--balance between the old conservative religious Puritans and the corrupt morals of the court--self control and good taste.

A primary source excerpt:

Read the following from The Spectator (March 4, 1712), then using the above information, explain how Addison achieves his satiric effect. Pay very careful attention to devices of style. The excerpt by_____is in diary form:

MONDAY, eight o 'clock.--I put on my clothes and walked into the parlour.

Nine o 'clock, ditto--Tied my knee-strings and washed my hands.

Hours ten, eleven, and twelve.--Smoked three pipes of Virginia. Read the Supplement and Daily Courant. Things go ill in the North. Mr. Nisby's opinion thereupon.

One o 'clock in the afternoon.--Chid Ralph for mislaying my tobacco-box.

Two o 'clock.--Sat down to dinner. Mem: Too many plums and no suet.

From three to four.--Took my afternoon's nap.

From four to six.--Walked into the fields. Wind S.S.E.

From six to ten.--At the club, Mr. Nisby's opinion about the peace.

Ten o 'clock.--Went to bed, slept sound.

TUESDAY (being holiday), eight o 'clock.--Rose as usual.

Nine o 'clock.--Washed hands and face, shaved, put on my double-soled shoes.

Ten, eleven, twelve.--Took a walk to Islington.

One.--Took a pot of Mother Cob's mild.

Between two and three.--Returned: dined on a knuckle of teal and bacon. Mem.: Sprouts wanting.

Three--Nap as usual.

From four to six.-Coffee-house. Read the news. A dish of twist. Grand Vizier strangled.

From six to ten.--At the club. Mr. Nisby's account of the great Turk.

Ten--Dream of the Grand Vizier. Broken sleep.

WEDNESDAY, eight o 'clock. --Tongue of my shoe-buckle broke. Hands, but not face.

Nine.--Paid off the butcher's bill. Mem.: To be allowed for the last leg of mutton.

Ten, eleven.--At the Coffee-house. More work in the North. Stranger in a black wig asked me how
stocks went.

From twelve to one.--Walked in the fields. Wind to the south.

From one to two.--Smoked a pipe and a half.

Two.--Dined as usual. Stomach good.

Three.--Nap broke by the falling of a pewter dish.

Mem.: Cookmaid in love, and grown careless.

From four to six.--At the coffee-house. Advice from Smyma, that the Grand Vizier was first of all strangled arid afterwards beheaded.

Six o 'clock in the evening.--Was half-an-hour in the club before anybody else came. Mr. Nisby of opinion, that the Grand Vizier was not strangled the sixth instant.

Ten at night. --Went to bed. Slept without waking till nine next morning.

THURSDAY, nine o 'clock. --Stayed within till two o'clock for Sir Timothy; who did not bring me my annuity according to his promise.

Two in the afternoon .--Sat down to dinner. Loss of appetite. Small-beer sour. Beef overcorned.

Three.--Could not take my nap.

Four and five--Gave Ralph a box on the ear. Turned off my cookmaid. Sent a message to Sir Timothy. Mem.: did not go to the club to-night. Went to bed at nine o'clock.

FRIDAY.--Passed the morning in meditation upon Sir Timothy, who was with me a quarter before twelve.

Twelve o 'clock.--Bought a new head to my cane and tongue to my buckle. Drank a glass of purl to recover appetite.

Two and three. --Dined and slept well.

From four to six.--Went to the coffeehouse. Met Mr. Nisby there. Smoked several pipes. Mr. Nisby of opinion that laced coffee is bad for the head.

Six o 'clock.--At the club as steward. Sat late.

Twelve o 'clock.--Went to bed, dreamt that I drank small-beer with the Grand Vizier.

SATURDAY.--Waked at eleven; walked in the field; wind N.E.

Twelve.--Caught in a shower.

One in the aftenoon.--Returned home, and dried myself.

Two.--Mr. Nisby dined with me. First course marrow-bones, second ox-cheek, with a bottle of
Brooke's and Hellier.

Three o 'clock. --Overslept myself.

Six.--Went to the club. Like to have fallen into a gutter. Grand Vizier certainly dead, &c.