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THE ART OF ADVERTISEMENT THE SPECTATOR' OF STEELE
IF we look at the records of art and commerce, these enterthe past, we are struck by prises, in exchange, did their nothing so forcibly as by the best to support the journalists uniformity of human life. One in affluence. At the outset of age differs from another in the eighteenth century, adstyle and costume, in wit and vertisement, as we know it wisdom, in virtue and courage. to-day, was perfectly underMoral standards shift and stood, and The Spectator' of sway. Genius comes and goes Steele and Addison made its as it chooses. But life has appeal to the public, and filled been lived with the same pur- its coffers by precisely the same poses and in accordance with methods which modern the same rules from the be- newspapers have made familiar. ginning of time. There has "The Spectator' was, in the probably never been a century slang of these days, a good in which the art of advertise- "medium." It might, we imment has not flourished. He agine, charge a high rate, , who has had something to sell because it fell into the proper has always desired to find a hands. It was to be seen in buyer. He has displayed his the coffee-houses; it lay upon wares where best he might my lady's table; it was read catch the public eye. He has by those who set the fashion used his friends as agents of and guided the taste of the distribution. He has implored town. As an arbiter of letters his clients to spread abroad and the drama it was supreme, the excellent worth of his com- and it is hardly fanciful to modities. Those whom the suppose that its word of comvoice of interested persons mendation might help to fill a failed to reach were attracted, theatre, or to sell an edition. no doubt, by words inscribed If, then, we wish to reconupon walls and scaffoldings. struct the social life of Queen With the introduction of peri- Anne's reign, we cannot do odical literature a new and a better than study the adverbetter way was discovered. If tisements of The Spectator,' the journals made known to which have served Mr Lawtheir readers the enterprises of rence Lewis 1 for an entertain
1 The Advertisements of The Spectator.' Being a Study of the Literature, History, and Manners of Queen Anne's England as they are reflected therein, as well as an illustration of the Origins of the Art of Advertising. By Lawrence Lewis. London: Constable & Co.
ing and wrong - headed little attend several patients in Norbook.
folk and Suffolk, is, at their The age of Anne resembled Request, for the Publick Good, in not a few points our present obliged to publish the Success age. It had the same wants; he met with in the following it knew the same weaknesses. Cures perform’d by him there, It pursued by the like devious viz., the Lady Yollop, aged 70, methods the same phantoms. Couched of a Cataract, and Above all, it hoped to arrive at restor'd to Sight; Mr Carter, health and beauty by short an Attorney, aged 75, restor'd cuts, and the purveyors of to perfect Sight,” and so on. patent medicines and quack With the utmost prudence, nostrums as ready to Read puts the necessity of humour it as these gentry are proclaiming
his wonderful to deceive the sanguine suf- cures upon his patients, and ferers of our own day. Here hopes to win, at & blow, a are a dozen practitioners eager discreet reputation for modesty to cure the small - pox, the and a wider field for the king's evil, rheumatism, gout, exercise of his talents. All or what you will. Here are advertisers have not the experienced operators ready to mountebank's touch, but all “sweat, bathe, or cup” their acclaim their superiority over patients. That eminent em
em- rivals and their skill in compirio, Sir William Read him- bating fashionable complaints. self, whom the Queen had And nothing follows the fashion consulted and made a knight, more obediently than disease. did not disdain to make Where to - day we read of known his prowess in the anæmia and neuritis, we heard columns of The Spectator.' then of hypochondriack melanSurely, if any understood the choly and the vapours, inart of advertising it was stantly oured by admirable he. Once a mountebank, he confects, famous drops, or anhad doubtless proclaimed his geliok snuffs. Quacks are not skill from the front of alone in the desire of publicity. booth. Moreover, like many To The Spectator' resorted another eminent physician, he also those who had lost watches knew what might be accom- or snuff - boxes, dogs or lace, plished by proper entertain. jewels or lottery-tickets. As ment.
“He makes admirable you read, the whole panorama punch," said
said Swift, “and of life passes before you. To-day treats you in gold vessels.” “Hamlet is to be performed A long experience of country at the desire of several Ladies fairs had taught him to blow of Quality”; to-morrow Mr his own trumpet, and this he Penkethman takes his benefit did to excellent purpose. “Sir at Drury Lane in "The AmorWilliam Read,” thus runs theous Widow, or the Wanton best contrived of his adver- Wife," with Mrs Oldfield, Dogtisements, “principal Oculist, gett, Wilks, and Johnson in having been lately sent for to the cast. What would we not
give to see him! On December calls “impostors” and “mur. 10th, 1714, subscribers are in- derers.” This, we would have formed that the first volume of thought, was the best proof of Pope's translation_of Homer honesty. Not even the blame“shall be delivered Two Months less Addison gets off scot-free. sooner than the Time prom- Mr Lewis thinks that there is ised." The announcements of “much to support an inference houses to let remind us how that Addison's papers on 'Pararapidly fashionable neighbour- dise Lost' were printed with hoods fall into disgrace. “A the ulterior motive of pronew - built brick house” in moting the sale of Tomson's Hoxton was then deemed suit- edition of Milton's epic, in able for a gentleman's family. which the public had taken A house in Soho Square, boast- but languid interest.” Even ing “four rooms of a floor, with if this were the case, Addison's closets, coach - house, stables, sin would not be unpardonable. laundry," was still highly es- Favourable reviews of books teemed. In brief, there is no not uncommonly have the corner of life which the adver- ulterior (and just) motive of tisements of The Spectator' promoting sales. There is do not illumine, and those who nothing disgraceful, as far as are interested in the history of we know, in Milton's epic that manners owe a debt of grati- its sale should not be promoted. tude to Mr Lawrence Lewis. In truth, those who are not
Unhappily Mr Lewis has not sensitive with the higher senbeen content to record the sitiveness of modern America manners and customs of the will not understand Mr Lewis's age of Queen Anne. He has argument at all.
His moral thought it his duty gravely to peroration, on the other hand, censure the morality of Steele is easily intelligible. and his colleagues. He values cannot but see, he writes, very lightly the publishers'
of a ethics of the early eighteenth higher responsibility
which century. No foolish laudatio most editors feel for matter, temporis acti for him! Give not only in the 'editorial' and him modern New York and 'news, but also in the adverthe Yellow Press for sound tising columns, is something virtue and austere incorrup- peculiar to a better age than tibility! As though patent that of Queen Anne.” Inmedicines were unknown in the stantly we recognise the tone United States, he solemnly re- and style of
own old primands Steele for publishing friend Mr Pecksniff, discovadvertisements of quacks and ering in The New York nostrums. And lest Steele's Journal' or in "The Boston ghost might claim the benefit Herald' the “higher responsof the doubt he denounces him ibility
which Steele and as inconsistent, because in his Addison, poor wretched hacks own text he inveighs against of Queen Anne's reign, were the charlatan dootors, whom he never privileged to know.
If, then, we are to believe "The Spectator'is likely to come Mr Lewis, the “bright and their way, and they may well brainy ” editors of New York congratulate each other on their try upon their own vile bodies “superior ethical standard." every patent medicine which And for what offence is it they advertise. They test the that “The Spectator' would cut of every reach-me-down" be liable to prosecution or coat, they examine the drains exclusion"? Here is one of the of every jerry-built house, they offending and offensive parabreak their teeth upon every graphs : “If the gentleman kind of candy, which they an- that sent a letter to Aldersgate nounce in their columns. It is Coffee House on Friday, the not surprising that they who 2nd instant, will come to the carry this enormous weight of person it was directed to, 'twill responsibility upon their shoul- be taken very kindly.” Shame! ders should die young or be- Breathes there a single ward come prematurely old. And politician, police - captain, or not merely do they guard the Tammany Boss whose rugged pockets of their readers, they cheek does not blush at the protect their morals also, in a mere sound of these vile words! manner of which “poor Dick It is, indeed, an infamy to ask Steele "- that, we believe, is the pure - minded American the proper note of patronage- citizen, whose morals are closely knew nothing. 'The Spec- guarded by the United States tator' is, in Mr Lewis's opin- Mail, to contemplate even for ion, a real sink of iniquity. a moment the villainous age of The delicate morals of the Anne. We are astonished that United States could not be Mr Lewis should be so reckexposed to its contamination lessly imprudent as to have even for an hour. “Its adver- mentioned The Spectator' in tisements," we are told,“ would print. But he did it, he probably render "The Spec- pleads, with a good motive. tator,' if it were being pub- He writes to unmask the imlished to-day, liable to criminal posture of the past. He comprosecution or exclusion from plains that in the soft candlethe United States Mail." Well, light the gentleman in the well, there is compensation in great powdered wig looks better all things. If the United States than he is. At this distance, Mail strains at a gnat, it swal- “we do not know,” says he, lows with perfect ease a whole “he paid for his stars perhaps caravan of camels. Those vast by the sale of places in Church and truculent abortions known and State, by treachery to as Sunday Papers easily go friends, by cruelty, by betrayal into the maw which would re- of public trusts. We do not ject the delicate and dainty fan- guess that physically, mentally, cies of Steele, were they offered and morally he is corrupt. it. Neither Mr Lewis nor the So, if only to make us content United States Mail need be dis- with our own age, which for tressed. Nothing resembling all its faults is on the average
ever so much a better one in offered to-day where of old one which to live, it is well occa- was thought sufficient. In two sionally to see this place and centuries advertisers and adyonder people near at hand, in vertisements have increased the merciless sunlight of con- more rapidly than any class or temporary evidence.” How any industry. The ingenuity brave an aspect wears the and capital that are wasted Pharisee when he makes broad upon them pass belief. In the his phylacteries! And as for foolish project of making Mr the poor, silly, little age of Jones and Mrs Smith buy Queen Anne, that has nothing what they do not want, thouto say in defence. It knew sands of busy and quick-witted nothing concerning the higher persons are engaged. Never morality of the United States in the world's history has there Mail. It came into existence been so vast a squandering of and died, and never heard that energy. The mind of the man there was such a thing as graft who has no need of anything is or boodle!
beguiled by anecdotes; his eye The advertisement of to-day is flattered by blurred images is the same in character as the called pictures. Eloquence is advertisement of the eighteenth poured out upon him; he is century. That is to say, the given conundrums to guess; he same merchants are clamour. is invited to arrive at a box ing to sell the same wares. of cigarettes through a lotteryTake up, any newspaper you office. The old habit of buying like und you will discover and selling is absurdly and quacks, publishers, and theat- wastefully complicated. That rical managers insisting upon a man should buy what he the same recognition in the wants appears a paradox to same voice as in the age of the modern advertiser, whose Anne. The diseases to be only object is to sell the man cured have changed with the that which he does not want. years.
The taste in literature And so well has the artifice and the drama is not the same succeeded that the journals of as it was when Steele and London are perishing, because Addison pleased the town. the most highly gifted of their But it is evident that medi- staff are led away to the more cine and amusement, health lucrative profession of writing and beauty, are sought with advertisements, a profession so no less energy now than then. lucrative indeed that all who And now, as then, the people are engaged in it wear fur is marvellously credulous. It coats and drive in broughams. still believes every word that And it assumed its present stands in print. It will waste shape no more than two cenits money on any nostrum, turies ago in Sam Buckley's merely because it is asked, with office in Warwick Lane ! as light a heart as ever it did. But though the sum of adThe problem, then, is unaltered. vertisements has increased imOnly a hundred solutions are measurably, in style and dignity