Category Archives: Journal

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

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

Full Title:

PROSPECTUS

OF A NEW WEEKLY PAPER,

SUBMITTED TO MEN OF AFFLUENCE, MEN OF LIBERALITY,

AND MEN OF LETTERS.

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,

A NEW WEEKLY PAPER,

To be Called,

THE PORT FOLIO

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

Item of the Day: The Port Folio (1801)

Full Title: The Port Folio. By Oliver Oldschool, Esq. Volume 1. No. 4. Philadelphia, Saturday, January 24th, 1801.

One of the most mischievous articles of the new-fangled creed of “Equality” is that, which teaches the unlearned and the unwise to believe themselves competent to discharge all the functions of the well-taught and the sage. In former times a diligent apprenticeship was thought at least not less necessary to form a good legislator, a good judge, or a wise politician, than to make a mender of old shoes, or a patcher of old garments. But now, while statutes and acts of assembly most cautiously provide for the education of these latter, all men are supposed to be instinctively legislators, judges and politicians. Many a worthy mechanic is spoiled by being a chairman of a town meeting, and rendered worthless to his country, his family and himself: and many a fool, whose folly might have been concealed in retirement, inflamed with a desire to imitate his superiors, like Sancho’s apple, has exposed himself to contempt and disgrace.

“Non omis fert omnia tellus,” and the variety of soils cannot exceed the variety of men’s talents. The human mind is limited in its operations, and is distracted and weakened by a variety of pursuits. Very few excel in more than one and it is an old and true adage, that “a Jack of all trades, is good at none.” The folly of Chrysippus, an old Stoic, who affected to believe that a wise man is ipso facto, “et sutor bonus, et solus formosus, et rex,” of all trades and professions, was formerly the subject of much mirth; but we have surpassed him in folly, for, now-a-days, “sutor est,” ipso facto “sapiens, et rex” and good at everything.

Whenever I observe a tradesman talking politics by noon-day at street corners, frequenting state-house meetings, wearing the tri-coloured badge of party, or putting his family upon allowance for a month, to pay for a dinner to celebrate the success of a party favourite, I infer, that while his attention is absorbed by these things, his journeymen and apprentices are idle, his customers neglected, and that he is hastening to ruin, at the rate of a galloping consumption.

It is true, that the nature of our government and the frequent recurrence of our elections (hardly affording a sufficient interval for finishing a heel-tap) require and suppose a certain degree of activity and information from every citizen. God forbid that the honest and industrious should, in these times, refuse the duty they owe to their country. But I affirm, that valuable information is not to be had from town-meetings, turbulent demagogues and beer-house politicians; these darken and obscure the judgment and set the bad passions at work. An honest man, if left to himself, will generally judge correctly in important affairs, and the activity of that citizen who is busied in his own affairs, is most beneficial to himself and to society.

“Let the Cobbler, then, stick to his last.”

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

Item of the Day: Whimsical Method of Punishing Libellers in Russia.

Full Title: The Universal magazine of knowledge and pleasure: containing news, letters, poetry, musick, biography, history, geography, voyages, criticism, translations, philosophy, mathematicks, husbandry, gardening, cookery, chemistry, mechanics, trade, navigation, architecture, and other arts and sciences, which may render it instructive and entertaining to gentry, merchants, farmers and tradesmen: to which occasionally will be added an impartial account of books in several languages and of the state of learning in Europe also of the stage, new operas, plays and oratorios. Vol. LXI. Published monthly according to an act of Parliament. London: John Hinton.


[Extracted from The Universal Magazine for September 1777.]

Whimsical Method of Punishing LIBELLERS in Russia.
Recommended to the Consideration of the British Legislature.

Everybody knows that the government in Russia is arbitrary, and consequently ever watchful over the few daring subjects who presume to make any advances towards that liberty, to which, as natives of the earth, all men seem so duly intitled. The punishment inflicted upon such unconstitutional delinquents is, however, not so severe as one might expect: but, in my opinion, much more exemplary than is to be found in a country celebrated for the equity of its decisions, and the salutary purpose of its laws. –While I resided at Moscow, there was a gentleman who thought fit to publish a quarto volume in vindication of the liberties of the subject, grosly reflecting upon the unlimited power of the Czar Peter, and exposing the iniquity of the whole legislature (if it may be so called) of that empire. The offender was immediately seized by virtue of a warrant signed by one of the principal officers of state; he was tried in a summary way, his book determined to be a libel, and he himself, as the author, condemned to “eat his own words.” This sentence was literally carried into execution on the following day. A scaffold was erected in the most populous part of town; the imperial provost was the executioner, and all magistrates attended at the ceremony. The book was severed from the binding, the margins were cut off, and every leaf was rolled up, as near as I can recollect, in the form of a lottery ticker, when it is taken out of the wheel at Guildhall by the blue-coat boy. The author of the libel was then served with them separately by the provost, who put them into his mouth, to the no small diversion of the spectators. The gentleman had received a complete mouthful before he began to chew; but he was obliged, upon pain of the severest bastinado, to swallow as many leaves as the Czar’s serjeant surgeon and physician thought it possible for him to do without immediate hazard to his life. As soon as they were pleased to determine that it would be dangerous to proceed, the remainder of the sentence was suspended for that time, and resumed again the next day, at the same place and hour, and strictly conformable to the same ceremony. I remember it was three days before this execution was over; but I attended it constantly, and was convinced that the author had actually swallowed every leaf of the book. Thus, I think, he may be very justly to have eaten his own words. Some part of this punishment seemed to give the culprit little or no concern; but I could not help observing, that now and then he suffered great torture: which, from an accurate attention, I discovered to arise from particular leaves on which the strongest points of his arguments were printed.On recollecting this mode of execution, I confess I wished it to be adopted by the law of England: for setting aside the ridicule which it naturally brings upon the offender, it contains a spirit of equity that renders it in a particular manner worthy of consideration of the British legislature.

An Old Traveller.

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Filed under 1770's, Journal, Legal, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Gentleman’s Magazine (1764)

Full Title: The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle. Volume XXXIV. For the Year M.DCC.LXIV. By Sylvanus Urban, Gent. London: Printed by D. Henry and R. Cave, at St. John’s Gate.

Poetical Essays: June 1764.

To the Rev. Gentleman on his being presented with a Pair of Garters by a Lady.

Since P—r, substitute of Venus now,
To whom a crowd of vot’ries daily bow,
From the rich stores of her abundant grace,
Mov’d with thy fair rotundity of face;
(That face where smiles eternal vigils keep,
For sure you smile when you are fast asleep)
Has on your Reverendship bestow’d the garter
From angry rivals, brother, hope no quarter;
But, by the lusty sun, she judges right,
Thou are a blooming, full proportion’d knight
But what, my rose of Sharon, means this gift,
Is now the business of thy brains to sift;
Say, did the fair present this mystic garter
Merely to make thy person something smarter?
Nought can be added to the man she loves,
Brawny as Mars, and sleek as Venus’ doves.
Perhaps she meant “but Friendship’s holy knot,
“The union incorporeal” — You sot
‘Twas not the ethereal touch of soul and soul
These garters typify’d. ’twas cheek by jole;
And, but for virgin shame, herself would own
The purpose was — to have the stocking thrown.

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Filed under 1760's, Culture, Journal, Poetry, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

Item of the Day: The Gentleman’s Magazine (1752)

Full Title: The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. Volume XXII. For the Year M.DCC.LII. By Sylvanus Urban, Gent. London: Printed for Edward Cave, at St. John’s Gate.

For December, 1752.
New Method of extracting lightening from the clouds, by B. Franklin

Philadelphia, Oct. 19. 1752.

As frequent mention is made in the newspapers from Europe, of the success of the Philadelphia experiment for drawing the electric fire from clouds by means of pointed rods of iron erected on high buildings, etc, it may be agreeable to inform the curious that the same experiment has succeeded in Philadelphia, tho’ made in a different and more easy manner, which is as follows:

Make a small cross of two light strips of cedar, the arms so long as to reach to the four corners of a large thin silk handkerchief when extended; tie the corners of the handkerchief to the extremities of the cross, so you have the body of a kite; which being properly accommodated with a tail, loop, and string, will rise in the air, like those made of paper; but this being of silk is fitter to bear the wind and wet of a thunder gust without tearing. To the top of the upright stick of the cross is to be fixed a very sharp pointed wire, rising a foot or more above the wood. To the end of the twine, next the hand, is to be ty’d a silk ribbon, and where the silk and twine join, a key may be fastened. This kite is to be raised when a thunder gust appears to be coming on, and the person who holds the string must stand within a door, or window, or under some cover, so that the silk ribbon may not be wet; and care must be taken that the twine does not touch the frame of the door or window. As soon as any of the thunder clouds come over the kite, the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and the kite, with all the twine, will be electrified, and the loose filaments of the twine will stand out every way, and be attracted by an approaching finger. And when the rain has wet the kite and twine, so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it stream out plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle. At this key the phial may be charged; and from electric fire thus obtained, spirits may be kindled, and all the other electric experiments be performed, which are usually done by the help of a rubbed glass globe or tube; and thereby the sameness of the electric matter with that of lightning compleatly demonstrated.

B.F.

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Filed under 1750's, Culture, Journal, Natural Science, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

Item of the Day: National Intelligencer (1812)

Full Title: National Intelligencer, Vol. XII. No. 1791 [Washington City] 31 October 1812.

WASHINGTON THEATRE

GRAND NEW EXHIBITION

Mr. and Mrs. Dominico, From Spain. Having never performed before in this city intend exhibiting on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the following feats of

DANCING, LEAPING & VAULTING ON THE TIGHT & SLACK ROPE.

Tight rope 7 feet high, and 50 in length
Slack rope 15 feet high

Mr. Dominico respectfully informs the ladies and gentlemen of Washington, Georgetown, and their vicinages, that every exertion shall be used to render his performance entertaining. Each evening’s performance will consist of some new feats. Good Music will be provided.

TIGHT ROPE

Mr. Dominico will commence with country dances on the tight rope in all their steps and attitudes. He will place a tumbler on the rope, and stand on his head without assistance. He will perform an astonishing feat on the tight rope, by jumping over a ribbon, 5 feet high and lighting on the rope, followed with a grand feat of balancing. He will dance with a tumbler on his forehead, one in each hand, and pass with them through the feet of a chair, and perform many other surprising feats.

SLACK ROPE

The Slack Rope exercises will terminate by Mr. Dominico turning himself round with such velocity that his features cannot be distinguished. On the slack rope he will go through several feats which he hopes will produce general satisfaction.

The doors will open at six, performance at seven o’clock. Box one dollar, Pit 50 cents. Children half price.

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Filed under 1810's, Culture, Journal, Posted by Rebecca Dresser