Daily Archives: November 8, 2006

Item of the Day: The Port Folio Prospectus (1801)

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A young man, once known among village-readers, as the humble historian of the hour, the conductor of a Farmer’s Museum, and a Lay Preacher’s Gazette, again offers himself to the public as a volunteer-editor. Having, as he conceives, a right to vary, at pleasure, his fictitious name, he now, for higher reasons than any fickle humour might dictate, assumes the appellation of OLDSCHOOL. Fond of this title, indicative of his moral, political, and literary creed, he proposes publishing, every Saturday, on a super-royal quarto sheet,


To be Called,


By Oliver Oldschool, Esq.

Warned by the “waywardness of the time,” and the admonitions of every honest printer, the Editor begins his work on a Lilliputian page, and like a saving grocer, gives of his goods only a small sample; but Subscribers, if peradventure the Editor should have any, must not “despise the day of small things.” It is proposed always to give plenty of letter press, in proportion to the public demand, and, as the exigency of the season, or copiousness of materials may require to double, treble, and even quadruple the number of pages in the PORT FOLIO. Hereafter, more may be done, if more be wanted, and if more be fostered. . . .

More certain and confident respecting that which he can shun, than that which he can accomplish, he stipulates, with perfect sincerity, not to do certain things, and makes his public contract as Theologians, at the beginning of the century, used to divide their sermons, with a First, negatively,

He will not publish an impartial paper, in that style of cold, callous, supine, and criminal indifference, which views, with equal eye, a chieftain, and a follower — a man of sense, and a fool — the philosophy of the Greeks, and the philosophy of the French — a stable government, and the uproar of anarchy. He will not make his paper “a carte-blanche on which every fool and knave may scribble what he pleases.” To gratify the malignancy of fanatics, he will not asperse the government or the church, the laws or the literature of England. Remembering that WE ARE AT PEACE with that power — that the most wholesome portions of our polity are modelled from hers — that we kneel at shrines, and speak a language common to both, he will not flagitiously and foolishly advert to ancient animonisites, nor with rash hand, attempt to hurl the brand of discord between the nations.

He will not strive to please the populace, at the expence of their quiet, by infusing into every ill-balanced and weak mind, a jealousy of rulers, a love of innovation, an impatience of salutary restraint, or the reveries of liberty, equality, and the rights of man.

He will not labour to confound the moral, social, and political system, nor desperately essay “to break up the fountains of the great deep” of government. He will not calumniate Talents and Authority, and the “higher powers,” whether of Genius or Wealth, or “Might and Dominion.” He will not repeat to “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” the Fairy-Tales of France, that all men are kings and emperors, and nobles, and judges, and statesmen. To plunder property, and to suffocate genius, he will not invite either a Wat Tyler, or a Jack Cade.

He will not, with political adversaries, maintain any other than well-manner’d controversy, and will not, in the rage of a zealot, forget the principles of a gentleman.

And, lastly, He will not print any other than a uniform, correct, and independent paper; nor gratify the caprice of parties, sects, or individuals, by departing no, not for a moment, from that scheme of political and literary composition, which has hitherto been pursued by the Editor, with sufficient approbation from the good, the loyal, and the studious. He will not be an inconstant and luke-warm supporter to principles and law; nor, like the parasite of the poet,

“Supple to every wayward mood, strike sail,

And shift, with shifting humour’s peevish gale:

Nor be a glass, with flattering grimace,

Still to reflect the temper of each face.”


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Filed under 1800's, Journal, Posted by Rebecca Dresser