Richard Steele-The Spectator Club (Essay Summary)


The Spectator

The essay “The Spectator Club” is the second essay in the ‘The Spectator’. Steele conceived a club with members drawn from different stages of life, society and profession. Each of them has own individual qualities. Thus the club is the miniature version of the society of the day. Yet there is no representative of the lower classes. The club was meant to be of intellectuals. In this essay Steele gives an account of the six gentle men. They were members of the Spectator Club in addition to Mr. Spectator. This essay reveals Steele’s keen power of observation, skill in characterization and his delicate mockery which is easy and informal style.

The Good Natured Sir Roger de Coverley:

Sir Roger de Coverley is a gentleman of an ancient family. His great-grand-father was the inventor of the Coverley dance. His eccentricities proceed from his good sense. He is free from the bondage of custom and fashion. When he is in town, he lives in Soho-Square. Once he fell in love with beautiful widow. She was a perverse (wicked) lady of the next country. She rejected his love after this disappointment he remained very serious for a year and a half. Then he gradually got over it. So he keeps himself a bachelor. Before this incident, he was a fine gentleman and had relation with many important persons of the age. This incident made him careless of his dress and appearance. Now he is fifty six years old. He possesses a cheerful and gay personality. He has two houses, one in the town and the other in the country. He is good natured. So everyone loves him. He is justice of quorum and carries out his duties with great abilities. Sometime ago he won universal applause by explaining a passage in the Game-Act.

The Shrewd Critic of Drama: The Member of the Inner-Temple:


Next important person is The Templar. He is another bachelor. He is a member of the Inner-Temple. He is an honest and wise man. He took to the study of law to obey his old father, against his willingness. But his favourite subject of study was the arts and the stage. He was a well-read man in the classics. He had read the customs, manners, actions and writings of the ancients. This made him a shrewd observer of men and things. He was a good critic of drama (stage). If he was present in any performance, every actor would do the best to please him. The bachelor visits the theatre often; his scholarship enables him to be a keen judge of dramatic performance

The Successful Merchant Sir Andrew Freeport:

Sir Andrew Freeport is a merchant of great importance in London. He is a man of industry, strong reason and great experience. He has his own noble and generous ideas of trade. He calls the sea the British common. He thinks that is a stupid way to extend dominion by arms. He considers the real strength of a nation consists in its arts and industry. He approves diligence and labour. He is known for a few maxims “a penny saved is a penny got” and “sloth is a great destroyer than the sword”. He has a natural unaffected eloquence. It makes his discourse very pleasing. He has become rich by plain labour and honest methods. He thinks that England may become richer than other nations by the same methods. He has business contacts throughout the world.


The Courageous Captain Sentry:

Captain Sentry

Captain Sentry is the next important person. He is a man of great courage, good understanding, but invincible modesty. He possesses great merits. He does not want to show them. He was in the army for several years and served as captain. He behaved himself with great gallantry in several engagements. He has a small estate of his own. Being next heir to Sri Roger, he left the army. This does not make him feel unpleasant. He asserts that in the army those who are assertive and pushing and those who do no possess any false sense of modesty can rise. It was unsuitable to his shy temperament. Therefore he has left the army. His military life has furnished him with many adventures. He relates them to others in a pleasing manner.

The Gallant Will Honeycomb:

Will HoneyComb

The next member of the club, Will Honeycomb, is the next in importance. He is a gallant. According to his years, he should be in the decline of his life. He has been very careful of his person. So, age has not made any impression either on his body or mind. He is tall. He dresses himself very well. He is good at that type of conversation with which men usually entertain women. He knows the history of every fashion. His entire knowledge is confined to the female world. He can tell when the Duke of Monmouth danced at court, and which woman fell in love with him at that time. He has been given a tender attention and kind treatment by beautiful ladies of the day. His conversation is pleasing. Everyone calls him a well-bred fine gentleman.

The Pious Clergyman:


The Clergyman is the last member of the club. He comes to attend the meetings rarely. He is a learned and pious man. He is very weak in health. He cannot take heavy responsibilities of his profession. Therefore he is among divines, what a chamber-counsellor is among lawyers. He speaks any divine topic with authority. He seems to have no interest in this world. So he is hastening to the object of his soul’s desire. Thus, in the description of the members of the Spectator club, Steele depicts the cross-section of the Contemporary society and the interaction of the social classes.


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