No. 555. Saturday, November 6, 1712. Steele.

--Respue quod non es--'
Pers.

All the Members of the imaginary Society, which were described in my First Papers, having disappear'd one after another, it is high time for the Spectator himself to go off the Stage. But, now I am to take my Leave, I am under much greater Anxiety than I have known for the Work of any Day since I undertook this Province. It is much more difficult to converse with the World in a real than 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. The Fictitious Person might contemn those who disapproved him, and extoll his own Performances, without giving Offence. He might assume a mock-Authority, without being looked upon as vain and conceited. The Praises or Censures of himself fall only upon the Creature of his Imaginations; and if any one finds fault with him, the Author may reply with the Philosopher of old, Thou dost but beat the Case of Anaxarchus. When I speak in my own private Sentiments, I cannot but address my self to my Readers in a more submissive manner, and with a just Gratitude, for the kind Reception which they have given to these Dayly Papers that have been published for almost the space of Two Years last past.

I hope the Apology I have made as to the Licence allowable to a feigned Character, may excuse any thing which has been said in these Discourses of the Spectator and his Works; but the Imputation of the grossest Vanity would still dwell upon me, if I did not give some Account by what Means I was enabled to keep up the Spirit of so long and approved a Performance. All the Papers marked with a C, an L, an I, or an O, that is to say, all the Papers which I have distinguished by any Letter in the name of the Muse CLIO, were given me by the Gentleman, of whose Assistance I formerly boasted in the Preface and concluding Leaf of my Tatlers. I am indeed much more proud of his long-continued Friendship, than I should be of the Fame of being thought the Author of any Writings which he himself is capable of producing. I remember when I finished the Tender Husband, I told him there was nothing I so ardently wished, as that we might some time or other publish a Work written by us both, which should bear the Name of the Monument, in Memory of our Friendship. I heartily wish what I have done here, were as Honorary to that Sacred Name, as Learning, Wit, and Humanity render those Pieces which I have taught the Reader how to distinguish for his. When the Play above-mentioned was last Acted, there were so many applauded Stroaks in it which I had from the same Hand, that I thought very meanly of my self that I had never publickly acknowledged them. After I have put other Friends upon importuning him to publish Dramatick, as well as other Writings he has by him, I shall end what I think I am obliged to say on this Head, by giving my Reader this Hint for the better judging of my Productions, that the best Comment upon them would be an Account when the Patron to the Tender Husband was in England, or Abroad.

The Reader will also find some Papers which are marked with the Letter X, for which he is obliged to the Ingenious Gentleman who diverted the Town with the Epilogue to the Distressed Mother. I might have owned these several Papers with the free Consent of these Gentlemen, who did not write them with a design of being known for the Authors. But as a candid and sincere Behaviour ought to be preferred to all other Considerations, I would not let my Heart reproach me with a Consciousness of having acquired a Praise which is not my Right.

The other Assistances which I have had, have been conveyed by Letter, sometimes by whole Papers, and other times by short Hints from unknown Hands. I have not been able to trace Favours of this kind, with any Certainty, but to the following Names, which I place in the Order wherein I received the Obligation, tho' the first I am going to name, can hardly be mentioned in a List wherein he would not deserve the Precedence. The Persons to whom I am to make these Acknowledgments are Mr. Henry Martyn, Mr. Pope, Mr. Hughs, Mr. Carey of New-College in Oxford, Mr. Tickell of Queen's in the same University, Mr. Parnelle, and Mr. Eusden of Trinity in Cambridge. Thus, to speak in the Language of my late Friend Sir ANDREW FREEPORT, I have Ballanced my Accounts with all my Creditors for Wit and Learning. But as these excellent Performances would not have seen the Light without the means of this Paper, I may still arrogate to my self the Merit of their being communicated to the Publick.

I have nothing more to add, but having swelled this Work to five hundred and fifty five Papers, they will be disposed into seven Volumes, four of which are already publish'd, and the three others in the Press. It will not be demanded of me why I now leave off, tho' I must own my self obliged to give an Account to the Town of my Time hereafter; since I retire when their Partiality to me is so great, that an Edition of the former Volumes of Spectators of above Nine thousand each Book is already sold off, and the Tax on each half-Sheet has brought into the Stamp-Office one Week with another above £20. a-Week arising from this single Paper, notwithstanding it at first reduced it to less than half the number that was usually Printed before this Tax was laid.

I humbly beseech the Continuance of this Inclination to favour what I may hereafter produce, and hope I have in many Occurrences of Life tasted so deeply of Pain and Sorrow, that I am Proof against much more prosperous Circumstances than any Advantages to which my own Industry can possibly exalt me.

I am, My Good-natured Reader, Your most Obedient, Most Obliged Humble Servant, Richard Steele.

Vos valete et plaudite [1]. Ter.

[The following Letter [2]] regards an ingenious Sett of Gentlemen, who have done me the Honour to make me one of their Society.

Mr. SPECTATOR, Dec. 4, 1712.

'The Academy of Painting, lately established in London, having done you and themselves the Honour to chuse you one of their Directors; that Noble and Lovely Art, which before was entitled to your Regards, as a Spectator, has an additional Claim to you, and you seem to be under a double Obligation to take some Care of her Interests.

'The Honour of our Country is also concerned in the matter I am going to lay before you: we (and perhaps other Nations as well as we) have a National false Humility as well as a National Vain-Glory; and tho' we boast our selves to excel all the World in things wherein we are out-done abroad, in other things we attribute to others a Superiority which we our selves possess. This is what is done, particularly, in the Art of Portrait or Face-Painting.

'Painting is an Art of a vast Extent, too great by much for any mortal Man to be in full possession of, in all its Parts; 'tis enough if any one succeed in painting Faces, History, Battels, Landscapes, Sea-Pieces, Fruit, Flowers, or Drolls, &c. Nay, no Man ever was excellent in all the Branches (tho' [many [3]] in Number) of these several Arts, for a distinct Art I take upon me to call every one of those several Kinds of Painting.

'And as one Man may be a good Landscape-Painter, but unable to paint a Face or a History tollerably well, and so of the rest; one Nation may excel in some kinds of Painting, and other kinds may thrive better in other Climates.

'Italy may have the Preference of all other Nations for History-Painting; Holland for Drolls, and a neat finished Manner of Working; France, for Gay, Janty, Fluttering Pictures; and England for Portraits: but to give the Honour of every one of these kinds of Painting to any one of those Nations on account of their Excellence in any of these parts of it, is like adjudging the Prize of Heroick, Dramatick, Lyrick or Burlesque Poetry, to him who has done well in any one of them.

'Where there are the greatest Genius's, and most Helps and Encouragements, 'tis reasonable to suppose an Art will arrive to the greatest Perfection: By this Rule let us consider our own Country with respect to Face-Painting. No Nation in the World delights so much in having their own, or Friends, or Relations Pictures; whether from their National Good-Nature, or having a love to Painting, and not being encouraged in the great Article of Religious Pictures, which the Purity of our Worship refuses the free use of, or from whatever other Cause. Our Helps are not inferior to those of any other People, but rather they are greater; for what the Antique Statues and Bas-reliefs which Italy enjoys are to the History-Painters, the Beautiful and noble Faces with which England is confessed to abound, are to Face-Painters; and besides we have the greatest number of the Works of the best Masters in that kind of any People, not without a competent number of those of the most excellent in every other part of Painting. And for Encouragement, the Wealth and Generosity of the English Nation affords that in such a degree, as Artists have no reason to complain.

'And accordingly in Fact, Face-Painting is no where so well performed as in England: I know not whether it has lain in your way to observe it, but I have, and pretend to be a tolerable Judge. I have seen what is done abroad, and can assure you, that the Honour of that Branch of Painting is justly due to us. I appeal to the judicious Observers for the Truth of what I assert. If Foreigners have oftentimes or even for the most part excelled our Natives, it ought to be imputed to the Advantages they have met with here, join'd to their own Ingenuity and Industry; nor has any one Nation distinguished themselves so as to raise an Argument in favour of their Country: but it is to be observed, that neither French nor Italians, nor any one of either Nation, notwithstanding all our Prejudices in their favour have, or ever had, for any considerable time, any Character among us as Face-Painters.

'This Honour is due to our own Country; and has been so for near an Age: So that instead of going to Italy, or elsewhere, one that designs for Portrait-Painting ought to study in England. Hither such should come from Holland, France, Italy, Germany, &c. as he that intends to practice any other kind of Painting, should go to those Parts where 'tis in greatest Perfection. 'Tis said the Blessed Virgin descended from Heaven, to sit to St Luke; I dare venture to affirm, that if she should desire another Madonna to be painted by the Life, she would come to England; and am of opinion that your present President, Sir Godfrey Kneller, from his Improvement since he arrived in this Kingdom, would perform that Office better than any Foreigner living. I am, with all possible Respect,

SIR Your most Humble, and Most Obedient Servant, &c.

The ingenious Letters sign'd the Weather-Glass, with several others, were received, but came too late.

(POSTSCRIPT.

It had not come to my Knowledge, when I left off the Spectator, that I owe several excellent Sentiments and agreeable Pieces in this Work to Mr. Ince of Grey's-Inn. [4] R. STEELE.)

[Footnote 1: Transposed in the volume to this place. In the number it stood last; following the next letter.]

[Footnote 2: [Give me leave before I conclude to insert a Letter which]]

[Footnote 3: [few]]

[Footnote 4: Mr. Richard Ince, a good Greek scholar, who became Comptroller of Army Accounts, and inherited a fortune, died in 1758.]

Translation of motto:
PERS. Sat. iv. 51.
'Lay the fictitious character aside.'