The Spectator Club is perhaps Richard Steele’s finest achievement. This essay was published in The Spectator. In this essay, Steele has given an account of the members of the Club. These members represent important sections of society. Steele describes six of the members of the Club they are Sir Roger de Coverley, Captain Sentry, Sir Andrew Freeport, Will Honeycomb, the Clergyman and the Student of Law.
Steele talks about the first gentleman of his company whose name is Sir Roger de Coverley. The people, who knew about the county of Sir Roger,knew Sir Roger. Sir Roger was a man of extra ordinary nature and had a good sense. He always found fault with the ways of the world but this unusual nature never made him any enemies. Sir Roger had a unique capacity to please others. Sir Roger was a bachelor because he was disappointed in the love of a beautiful widow. Before this disappointment Sir Roger was a normal happy young man. He moved in society of important persons like Lord Rochester and Sir George Etherege. However, after being ill-used by the widow he lost all his joviality and interest in social life for more than a year . He became very serious. Gradually his joviality returned. However, he grew careless about his dress. He wore a coat and jacket of a cut, which was in fashion at that time. Now Sir Roger was fifty-six years old but was quite hale and hearty. He had a house in village and town. He had such a good nature that people loved him. He also treated his servants well. He was also the justice of the quorum and showed his judicial abilities on thec hair of the justice at a quarter- session.
After this, Steele has described another companion of the club. He is a lawyer. He was also a bachelor. He was a man of sharp wit and clear understanding. He chose his occupation rather to obey the direction of his old father than to incline to his own tendencies. He took to the study of law in obedience to his father. He was more interested in the study of drama and dramatic criticism. The philosophers like Aristotle and Longinus were well understood by him. His father used to send to him various questions on law in order to ensure his son’s progress in legal studies. The son outwitted the father by getting them answered through a lawyer whom he had engaged for the purpose. No body took him as a fool but only his friends knew that he had a great wit. He liked to read the books, which were not of the age he lived. He was familiar with the writings, customs, actions and manners of ancient writers, which made him a keen observer of the worldly affairs. He was a good critic. His real hour of business was the time of the play. The presence of an able critic among the audience would rouse the actors to give the best performance possible.
Next the author has discussed about Sir Andrew Free port who was is a good businessman of London. He was very laborious, experienced and had a great understanding. His knowledge of commerce was extensive. He had his own ideals of the ways of enlarging a country’s trade. He was of the opinion that a dominion may be extended by art and industry than by power.Diligence or industry alone would help the country to gain things of permanent value, and sloth or idleness more than the sword had caused the ruin of many nations. He knew many short maxims. He had a unique art of speech.he was a self made person and believed that England too could become richer than other kingdoms, by methods which had so benefited him.
After Sir Andrew, the author has described the merits of Captain Sentry. He was very courageous intelligent and had good understanding. He was such a man who had not received good consideration of his abilities. He had been Captain in military for some years and fought bravely on fronts. He left the army because even though he rendered meritorious service, which any one could see and appreciate, promotion did not come to him. He used to say that only that man could hold a position in military who gets over his false modesty. He was of the opinion that it is cowardice to stand back modestly.Similarly a man who failed to assert himself and demand what was his due was a coward. He was frank in speaking about the weaknesses of his officers. This frankness was a part of his character. Though he commanded many persons in military, he was never haughty. He never became a flatterer,although he obeyed his superiors.
The author then talks about Will Honeycomb. Though he was old, there were no traces of the passage of time in his brain or in his person. He had an attractive personality and could impress women by his talk. He dressed well and was well acquainted with the history of every fashion that remained in vogue in England. Will Honeycomb was always interested in matters pertaining to women. In his conventions he talked mostly of women, their dresses, their manners and their fashions. He had a good knowledge of history. He could tell that the hairstyles or hats of our wives and daughters resemble to those of the wenches of French Kings. But the author says tha the was a gentleman. Leaving the relations of women he was an honest and worthy man.
At the end of the essay, the author tells us about one of his companions who seldom waited him. He was a philosopher and clergyman. He lived a sacred life. He was very weak in constitution. Because of ill health, he could not fulfill the responsibilities which promotion in the church might have brought him. He spoke on divine topic with authority. He wished for the good of the world even after his death.