1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

Leigh Hunt, in "Among my Books" The Indicator (1823; 1845) 2:148.



Swift was decidedly a reader; the Tale of a Tub, in its fashion as well as substance, is the work of a scholarly wit; the Battle of the Books is the fancy of a lover of libraries. Addison and Steele were too much given up to Button's and the town. Periodical writing, though its demands seem otherwise, is not favorable to reading; it becomes too much a matter of business, and will either be attended to at the expense of the writer's books, or books, the very admonishers of his industry, will make him idle. Besides, a periodical work, to be suitable to its character, and warrant its regular recurrence, must involve something of a gossiping nature, and proceed upon experiences familiar to the existing community, or at least likely to be received by them in consequence of some previous tinge of inclination. You do not pay weekly visits to your friends to lecture them, whatever good you may do their minds. There will be something compulsory in reading the Ramblers, as there is in going to church. Addison and Steele undertook to regulate the minor morals of society, and effected a world of good, with which scholarship had little to do.