5 December 1762
I then went to Dempster’s, where I met with the Kellie family. I let myself out in humorous rhodomontade rather too much. We were very hearty. We disputed much whether London or Edinburgh was the most agreeable place to a Scotch gentleman of small fortune. Lady Betty said that it must be very cutting to find so many people higher than one’s self and to see so many splendid eqipages, none of which belong to one. “Lady Betty,” said I, “you have the pleasure of admiring them. But your taste is too gross—you want to have the solid equipages themselves, to embrace and carry in your arms the thick tarry wheels.”
In reality, a person of small fortune who has only the common views of life and would just be as well as anybody else, cannot like London. But a person of imagination and feeling, such as the Spectator finely describes, can have the most lively enjoyment from the sight of external objects without regard to property at all. [spec 411] London is undoubtedly a place where men and manners may be seen to the greatest advantage. The liberty and the whim that reigns there occasions a variety of perfect and curious characters. Then the immense crowd and hurry and bustle of business and diversion, the great number of public places of entertainment, the noble churches and the superb buildings of different kinds, agitate, amuse, and elevate the mind. Besides, the satisfaction of pursuing whatever plan is most agreeable, without being known or looked at, is very great. Here a young man of curiosity and observation may have a sufficient fund of present entertainment, and may lay up ideas to employ his mind in age.
11 December 1762
The Spectator mentions his being seen at Child’s, which makes me have an affection for it. I think myself like him, and am serenely happy there.
8 January 1763
Mrs. Gould and Mrs. Douglas and I went in the Colonel’s chariot to the Haymarket. As we drove along and spoke good English, I was full of rich imagination of London, ideas suggested by the Spectator and such as I could not explain to most people, but which I strongly feel and am ravished with. My look glows and my mind is agitated with felicity. My friend Temple Feels this greatly, so does Johnston in some measure, also so does McQuhae.
12 April 1763
Temple and I dined at Clifton’s, a very good chop-house in Butcher Row, near the Emple. We then went to Drury Lane gallery and saw Macbeth. We endeavoured to work our minds into the frame of the Spectator’s, but we could not. We were both too dissipated.
22 April 1763
Between five and six we set out. I imagined myself the Spectator taking one of his rural excursions.
28 May 1763
At three o’clock I went to Westminster Abbey and the verger politely showed me into one of the prebend’s stalls, where I sat in great state with a purple silkk cushion before me. I heard service with much devotion in this magnificent and venerable temple. I recalled the ideas of it which I had from The Spectator.
--Boswell’s London Journal, 1762-63, ed. F. A. Pottle (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950).
Benjamin Franklin, from the Autobiography:
[LOA ed., p. 1319: “About this time I met with an odd Volume of the Spectator…” to p. 1320, “…of which I was extreamly ambitious.”
--Writings, ed. J.A. Leo Lemay (New York: Library of America, 1987), pp. 1319-20.
From the Correspondence of Alexander Pope:
William Wycherly to Pope, 17 May 1709
But hitherto your Miscellanys, have safely run the Gantlet, through all the Coffee-houses; which are now entertain’d, with a whimsical new Newspaper, from and to the Coffee houses, called the Tatler, which I suppose you have seen, and is written, by one Steel, who thinks himself sharp upon this Iron Age, since an Age of War; and who likewise, writes the other Gazetts, and this under the Name of Bickerstaff; So this is the newest thing I can tell you of, except it be of the Peace, which now (most People say,) is drawing to such a Conclusion, as all Europe is, or must be satisfy’d with…
Pope to John Caryll, 31 July 1710
…I’ve one reason to hope I’ve some share in your affection, which is my having a great deal for you; it being, I believe (as you may’ve heard me say before), with affections as with arrows, which then make the deepest impression in others’ breasts, when they are drawn at first nearest our own. From Hence I should confidently believe myself happy in your opinion, but for one thing, and that (to deal frankly with you) is your having treated me so often in a style of compliment; which has been too much honoured in being called the smoke of friendship, for it is a sort of smoke often seen where there is no fire. What the Tatler observes of women, that they are more subject to be infected with vanity than men, on account of their being more generally treated with civil things and compliments, [tat 120, 123] is not strictly true in respect to that class of men who are looked upon to pique themselves upon their wit, and are no less usually entertained with fine Flamms, (as the old Earl of Leicester used to call’em) the world is never wanting, when a coxcomb is upon accomplishing himself, to help to give him the finishing stroke. I know no condition so miserable and blind as that of a young fellow who labors under the misfortune of being thought to think himself a wit; he must from that moment expect to hear no more truth than a prince or an emperor; and can never (if he have any sense) have any satisfaction in his own praise, since if given to his face, it can’t be distinguished from flattery, and if behind his back, how can he be certain of it? In short, praise to young scriblers is like rain to young plants; if moderate nothing revives and encourages ‘em so much, but if too lavish, nothing more overcharges and injures ‘em.
--The Correspondence of Alexander Pope, vol. I, ed. George Sherburn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956).