« PreviousContinue »
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PERIODICAL PAPERS
WHICH HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED BETWEEN
THE CLOSE OF THE IDLER
AND THE PRE
So numerous have been the periodical papers from the year 1760, to the beginning of the nineteenth century, that, in order to include an account of them in this and the subsequent essay, it will be necessary to drop all biographical detail, and confine our notices, in a great degree, to historical and critical memoranda relative to each work.
At the commencement of the present reign, the public was inundated with a swarm of political essayists, for and against the measures of Lord Bute, who, in 1762, was generally supposed to hold the reins of government. On these papers, which are now capable of exciting little interest,
354 PAPERS PUBLISHED BETWEEN THE CLOSE
we shall be very brief in our remarks; the first that claims our attention is
1. THE AUDITOR, a paper written by Arthur Murphy, Esq. who, in concert with Dr. Smollett, undertook the defence of Lord Bute's administration; it was begun in 1762, and, like most of the productions of Mr. Murphy, is conducted with ability.
2. The Briton, the offspring of Dr. Smollett, supported the same party; it first appeared on the 29th of May, 1762, and was continued until February 12th, 1763; in point of composition it is inferior to the Auditor.
3. THE NORTH BRITON. This once celebrated paper issued from the press immediately after the publication of the first number of the Briton, and taking the opposite side in politics, annihilated a friendship which had existed for many years between the author, Mr. Wilkes, and Smollett. To No 45 of this collection, we are indebted for the verdict which pronounced the illegality of general warrants; a result that elevated Wilkes, for some time, to the highest pitch of popularity. When Wilkes was compelled to relinquish the direction of the North Briton, it
was conducted to its final termination by Mr. James Brooke, a gentleman intimately acquainted with the literary characters of his age, and who died, at the advanced period of eighty, in November 1807.
These party papers, the most eminent in their day, were accompanied and followed by several others, of which to mention the titles only will suffice, namely,
4. The PATRIOT,
Mr. Ridley, in ridicule of this pertinacious host of politicians and projectors, has introduced into one of his Schemers, dated July 8th, 1762, the following proposal for twenty additional essays of the kind. “As I perceive a great alteration in the good people of England since the publication of the Briton, the North Briton, the Patriot, the Auditor, the Englishman, the Moderator, &c. and find that honesty, decency, and religion, are every where exalted and encouraged through the influences of these political writers, I intend to encrease the advantages of this kingdom by
sending into the press a few more wise and politi
I shall therefore first, to try the experiment, only publish twenty, viz. the Speaker, the Answerer, the Rejoinder, the Replier, the Continuer, the Annexer, the Objector, the Dauber, the Complimenter, the Flatterer, the Growler, the Puffer, the Maligner; and that my pupils may be pleased in all parts, the Taffy, the Teague, the Sawney, the planter, the India-man, the Farmer, and the Londoner." *
This number of the Schemer and the two subsequent are actually occupied by specimens of the opening papers of these supposed essayists. I shall copy the first.
The Speaker, No 1. “ It is full time, I think, in this whirlwind of periodical authors, that I' began to speak. For what tongue can be silent, what lips unopened, what mouth shut, and what teeth but must wag, when all the world is in an uproar.—Speak I will, though I know not what to say; speak I must, for the words burn within me, and strive for utterance; and I shall either commend or abuse some one or other just as I may be hired or paid; wherefore any person wanting one to speak for him in any matter of business, love, politics, or religion, may come to me; for I can instruct
* Schemer, p. 190.
them to whine, either at the foot of a mistress, or in a tub of enthusiasm ; or to speak politics in a coffee-house, or nonsense on a bench, or before a bench."
Relinquishing the field of temporary politics, let us now return to subjects of a more miscellaneous and interesting natire.
10. THE INVESTIGATOR. The volume to which this title is affixed, contains only four essays, which were published at distant periods, but thrown together in the year 1762. They embrace rather copious dissertations on Ridicule, on Elizabeth Canning, on Naturalization, and on Taste, and were written by Mr. Ramsay, the painter, the son of Allan Ramsay, the Scotch poet. Their primary object is, to shew the utility and necessity of experimental reasoning in philological and moral enquiries. The first and fourth of these tracts are the most elaborately composed, and that on Taste is conducted in the form of dialogue; but the theory of poetry which he has attempted to support is cold, limitary, and inconclusive.
11. The Genius. This paper, the production of George Colman, Esq. was originally published in the St. James's Chronicle; it was printed