William Wagstaffe [?], 'The Character of Richard Steele Esq;', 1713
An excerpt from the most popular anti-Steele pamphlet of 1713. It sought to undo the effectiveness of Steele's position on Dunkirk and his new journal, the 'Englishman'.
Mr. St--1e, Sir, having lately had a Welsh Estate left him by his Wife's Mother, began to look upon himself as a considerable Person in Land, as well as Sense, as is Natural for those, who have been Indigent and Necessitous all their Lives. (1) He was told by the Minor Poets, his Companions at Button's,(2) That a Man of his Sense must undoubtedly advance himself by being in the Senate, and that he knew the World, as Dick himself insinuates in his Treatise upon Demolition, as well as any Man in England, and had all the Qualifications requisite for a Minister of State. (3) There was no great Occasion to press him to any Thing of this Nature: He embraced it with all the Eagerness imaginable, but offered at first a sort of Nolo Episcopari, that it might go down the more plausibly. He considered wisely, that his Wit and Credit began to run very low, that the Chief of his Assistants had deserted him, that C. Lilly had lately refused to lend him Half a Crown, Jacob dun'd him more than was consistent with goad Manners, and if he got into the House he could not be Arrested. (4) What seduced him more, than all these Considerations, was a Pension from the Party, double the Income of the Stamp-Office at Present, and in Hand, for Speaking in the House; (5) and he has amassed together a Multitude of set Speeches, which he designs to get Extempore for that Purpose. He is at this Time so elated, I
53 Addison and Steele: The Critical Heritage
am told, that he has already promised several Places under him, when he is Secretary or Lord Treasurer. Mr. Button is an Auditor of the Exchequer, and Mr. Bat. Pigeon in the Room of Sir Clement, Master of the Ceremonies. He has declared publickly, he does not question overturning the Ministry, and doing that before the first Sessions of Parliament is over, which my Lord Wh---on and S----rs have been foil'd at, for Three Years together. (6)
I need not tell you, Sir, how exulted he seem'd at Stockbridge, and after what Manner he address'd the Bailiff and his Brethren. (7) There was nothing there to perplex him, but the Payment of a 300 1. Bond, which lessened the Sum he carried down, and which an odd Dog of a Creditor had Intimation of, and took this Opportunity to recover. But, Alas! We may date the Ruin of the Man, and the Loss of his Intellects from this Juncture; as soon as he came to Town the Political Cacoethes began to break out upon him with greater Violence, because it had been suppressed, and He, who had lived so long upon the Lucubrations of others, was resolv'd at last to do Something. Mr. John Snow has since received such Marks of his Favour and Esteem, that he has appealed to him in the Dispute betwixt Himself and his Prince, Whether it was expedient to demolish Dunkirk or not, and has chosen Himself and the Bailiff of a petty Corporation to be Directors of Her Majesty. To convince his Electors he can write, he has Dedicated a Book to their Bailiff, and for their Civility in attempting to choose him, has inflicted the Punishment of Reading it, upon the Corporation ....