Some drafts by Richard Steele for The Tatler, The Spectator, and The Guardian
WITH the transfer of the Blenheim Papers to the British Library in 1978, a large body of Sir Richard Steele's letters and literary manuscripts became more easily available for examination by scholars. They are now bound as Add. MSS. 61686-61688, most of the literary material being gathered in the last of these three volumes. The staff of the Department of Manuscripts took evident pains to relate Steele's drafts and memoranda to published works when preparing the Catalogue of Additions to the Manuscripts: The Blenheim Papers, 3 vols. (London, 1985), and several useful identifications were made. Nevertheless a large proportion of the drafts have remained unidentified. The present paper will discuss seven fragments in Steele's autograph, all from Add. MS. 61688, which can be shown to relate to the three most important periodicals with which he was involved. The Tatler, The Spectator, and The Guardian. Two can be claimed with reasonable certainty to be drafts of particular papers, two possibly so; it is suggested that another is an unpublished essay intended for The Tatler; and two fragments shed light on that old but still interesting question, the nature and extent of Steele's collaboration with Addison.