The title of two British political magazines, one that ran from 1711 to 1712 and a second that started in 1828 and is still going. The second sometimes claims descent from the first but there is no direct connection other than the name.
The Spectator`s stated aim was to give a non-partisan look at British political affairs and daily life (hence the name, Mr Spectator being a neutral observer) but this was Blatant Lies as it was a mouthpiece for Addison and Steele's Kit-Cat Whig political thought, albeit handled rather more subtly than in most publications of the time. Sometimes referenced were the cast of Mr Spectator's fictional friends, who were mostly made up of stereotypes and Strawmen Politicals representing different strands of influence in British society at the time. After its end in 1712, the magazine was briefly revived in 1714 without Steele's involvement. It continued to have influence for years later due to, unusually, being re-issued as compilation books throughout the eighteenth century.
- Author Filibuster: One very early segment is basically Addison's love letter to the British Constitution as seen in the form of an allegorical dream.
- Bungling Inventor: Steele, and some advertising for his inventions sometimes shows up in The Spectator. The best-known one is probably a portable fish pond on wheels intended to deliver fresh fish to inland areas, this being before methods of preservation like refrigeration.
- The Casanova: Steele in Real Life, and the character Will Honeycomb in the magazine, possibly in an Author Avatar fashion.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Addison repeatedly criticises the fashion for Italian opera in London, pointing out that most of the people attending it don't speak the language anyway.
- Perspective Flip: One segment is supposedly written by one of four Iroquois envoys who visited London in 1710, and is used to criticise negative aspects of 1710s British society through alien eyes—in particular vicious political partisanship and declining church attendance.
- Strawman Political: The best-known example is Mr Spectator's friend "Sir Roger de Coverley" (punningly named after a popular dance of the time), a caricature of a Tory squire who was used to gently mock the Tories' policies as being old-fashioned.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Addison-penned articles make use of many quotes from classical literature, sometimes in the original Greek. Of course, it was aimed at an educated audience.
- Weird Trade Union: The fashion for proliferating clubs in the early eighteenth century was mocked, with clubs devoted to absolutely everything being referenced in the magazine. One that became a particular Running Gag was the 'Ugly Club of Oxford', with readers writing in keen to apply and boasting of their deformities.