Item of the Day: Gray’s-Inn Journal (1752)

Full Title: The Gray’s-Inn Journal. (By Arthur Murphy) In Two Volumes. Vol.. I. London: Printed by W. Faden, for P. Vaillant, in the Strand, MDCCLVI.

The Gray’s-Inn, Saturday, October 21, 1752.

It has been remarked by Writers, whom a Desire of adding to the Entertainment of the Public has incited to portion out their endeavours into periodical Essays, that the first Address, in the introductory Explanation of their Plan, has occasioned more vehement Corrosions of their Nails, and more frequent Rubbings of the Forehead, than any other successive Composition; in like Manner as we find Men, who, upon their first Admission into a Company of Strangers, betray several aukward Movements in their Deportment, arising from the different Ideas of Bashfulness and Diffidence, which agitate their Minds until the initial Ceremonies are adjusted. As I propose to hold a literary Intercourse with the Public, and flatter myself with the Hopes of conversing with many Hundreds of my Countrymen every Saturday, I cannot issue out my first Performance, without feeling an extraordinary Solicitude for the Event, and being disconcerted by those Alarms and Perturbations of Spirit, which are apt to seize People of Sensibility in their Tempers, when irresistible Principles of Action have prevailed over their Modesty, and called them forth into a conspicuous Point of View. The first Impression has always great Influence upon Mens Judgments, and the Mind will often hastily form Associations of Ideas, which it cannot afterwards easily separate. On this Account I have been not a little anxious about my first Appearance, and after much Contemplation and deep Study, I should have been entirely at a Loss how to set off, had not the Example of our parliamentary Candidates pointed out a Mode of Eloquence, to which I think proper to adhere on the present Occasion, as the most persuasive Rhetoric I can suggest to myself.

To the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders of Great-Britain,

Gentlemen,As I have the Honour, at a Meeting of my Friends to be put in Nomination to represent you, and all your Vices, Follies, and Foibles, in a new Paper, to be published every Saturday, and entitled The Gray’s-Inn Journal, I desire the Favour of your Votes and Interest, assuring you that I shall at all Times exert my most vigorous Endeavours to serve you, being a sincere Friend to the Cause of true Wit and Humour, and a steady Assertor of Decency, Virtue and Good-manners. With these Sentiments I have the Honour to be,
Gentlemen,
Your most obedient and devoted Servant,
CHARLES RANGER.
N.B. I am of no Party whatever.

Having thus declared my ambition for Literary Fame, I do not expect that all those rival Wits, who for some Time past have been making their Court to the Public, should Instantly decline the Poll; on the contrary, I am apprehensive, that, as it generally happens at Elections, much Scurrility will be discharged upon the present Writer; and I am no way doubtful but they will proceed to the Extremity of disputing my Property in Parnassus, and obliging me to make out my qualification. Of this, however, I hope to give sufficient Proof in the Sequel; and whatever Animosities may arise, I am resolved to pursue my Course, without going out of the Way, like the Countryman in the Fable, to crush the Grasshoppers that may make a Noise around me. I shall console myself in that Case with a Reflection that those Nuisances are ever found in the Sunshine.

. . .

Henceforth then be it known unto all Men, whom it may concern, that we Charles Ranger, Esq; have undertaken, and by these Presents do undertake, the conduct of a Paper entitled The Gray’s-Inn Journal, which Name it is thought proper to give it, on Account of the author’s Residence in Gray’s-Inn. We intend that this our Paper shall be a general Critique on the times, and all false Appearances in Men and Books; and as we have observed, that, what Dr. Young calls laughing Satire has always been most conducive to the End we propose, we are determined to exert some certain Powers called Wit, Humour, and Raillery, and we hereby advise our dearly beloved Readers to get their risible Faculties in order; reserving to ourselves, more majorum, the Privilege of being dull by Design. And it is therefore ordered by these Presents, that on or before Saturday next all Offences shall cease, or they who shall be found delinquent shall be prosecuted according to the Laws of honest Satire, in some subsequent Essay, or be obliged to take their Trial upon Indictment in our Court of Censorial Enquiry, the Proceedings of which shall be faithfully recorded in our True Intelligence.

Given under our Hand this 21st of October, 1752.

CHARLES RANGER.

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Filed under 1750's, Journal, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

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