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rendered necessary, and he had recourse
to money-lenders to raise the first
loans required; then to friends to pay the
interest on and to obtain renewals of these
loans; then to other money-lenders to replace
the original sums; and then to other
friends to repay a portion of the first friendly
loans, until, by the time his wife returned
from the second visit to the Continent, he
found himself so inextricably involved that
he dared not face his position, dared not
think of it himself, much less take her into
his confidence, and so he went blindly on,
paying interest on interest, and hoping
ever, with a vague hope, for some relief
from his troubles.

That relief never came to James Ashurst
in his lifetime. He struggled on in the
same hopeless, helpless, hand-to-mouth
fashion for about eight years more, always
impecunious in the highest degree, always
intending to retrieve his fallen fortune,
always slowly, but surely, breaking and becoming
less and less of a man under the
harass of pecuniary troubles, when the illness
which for some time had threatened
him set in, and, as we have seen, he died.


THERE are characters to whom History vouchsafes
no more than a passing sneer or a disparaging
monosyllable. Whether, for instance, she
guides the pen of Johnson, of Scott, of Macaulay,
or of Thackeray, the most dignified of the
Muses misses no opportunity of calling the
author of The Christian Hero "Dick." Sir
Richard Steele is seldom distinguished in her
pages by his proper title without a spirit of
merriment, as if royalty had knighted him in
jest. Yet the mere mention of his beloved and
loving partner in genius and in fame, is always
graced with some prefix of respect. Where, in
the annals of the Augustan age of English literature,
does History condescend to sport with the
memory of the Right Honourable Joseph Addison,
and call him "Joe"?

This difference in distinguishing Steele from
his friend is the more painful to those who
admire him for the sake of his works, because it
is greatly deserved. Contemporary and subsequent
opinion has, no doubt, been harsh in
selecting "Dick's" sins, as the sponsors who
gave him that name; but his many virtues
were obscured from all, except from his intimate
companions. His own irrepressible candour
flourished his worst faults in the faces
of Mankind; who must not, therefore, be
blamed for forming their judgment of him from
the only evidence presented to them on the
surface. With Addison the result was precisely
opposite. The surface of his character
shone with a polish that always commanded
respect; and it was natural that his failings,
concealed within a grave and stately exterior,
should never have linked his name with the
lightest touch of familiarity.

But, besides the personal shortcomings which
Steele was too open-hearted to conceal, he
laboured under a disadvantage from which his
foremost associates were free; but which has
since been entirely overlooked. During the
time of his greatest popularity the doctrine of
Caste was paramount. Reaction from the
grand democratic convulsion of the previous
century, had produced a democracy blind to its
own interests. Tory mobs passionately assaulted
opponents of passive obedience and the
divine right of kings. So fervent was the
worship of the Tuft, that the public at large
liked their nobility and gentry the better for
lording it over them. A fool of quality held
his own, as a matter of course, against a Solon of
humble birth, even in good company. Whatever
the discussion, a well-born disputant in
danger of defeat had only to ask the question,
"Who are you, sir?" to be certain of victory,
if his adversary's answer denoted him to be
nothing better than a plebeian. In case of any
sort of confusion respecting paternity, defeat
would be the more crushing. This kind of
humiliation Sir Richard Steele had constantly
to endure. When teaching in the Tatler "the
minuter decencies and inferior duties of life,"
Steele excited the ire of all the sharpers, duellists,
rakes, mohocks, sots, and swearers extant.
The more prominent ruffians of gentle blood
retorted upon him the withering non sequitur
that nobody could find out who his father was.
When he insisted, in his famous Crisis, that
Dunkirk should be demolished according to
treaty, Dr. Wagstaffe thought he had demolished
Steele, by logically declaring that "he
was ashamed of his name," and that he owed
"his birth and condition to a place more barbarous
than Carrickfergus." As a convincing
argument against reinstating him in the governorship
of Drury Lane Theatre, Dennis
taunted him with being "descended from a
trooper's horse;" the elegant sentence finishing
with such a fling at his colleague, Cibber, as
unmistakably directed the venom against
Steele's birth, and not against a well-known incident
in his youthful career. The authors of
the Examiner, of the Female Tatler, and other
scandalisers flungwith more dirtdoubts at
his origin, and Steele cleared it all off, except
that which defiled his name. If he had been
once for all explicit on that head, his foes would
have ceased to trouble him, and the doubt
would have ceased to trouble his friends. It
manifestly did trouble them. In the last number
of the Englishman, Steele wrote thus: "In
compliance to the prepossessions of others,
rather than, as I think it a matter of consideration
myself, I assert (that no nice man of my
acquaintance may think himself polluted by
conversing with me) that whoever talks to me
is speaking to a gentleman born." No more.
Neither in Steele's private correspondence, nor
in his public writings is this assertion coupled