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No page more grateful to th’ harmonious nine Than that wherein thy labours we survey :
Where folemn themes in fuller splendor shine, (Delightful mixture,) blended with the
gay. Where in improving, various joys we find, A welcome respite to the wearied mind.
Thus when the nymphs in some fair verdant mead,
The lovely violet's azure-painted head
Thus splendid Iris, with her varied dye,
Shines in the æther, and adorns the sky.
BRITON. The provocation that gave rise to this furious contest, as it will presently appear to have been, was the increasing demand for Cave's publication, and the check it gave to the sale of its rival, which at one time was so great as to throw back no fewer than feventy thousand copies on the hands of the proprietors. To revenge this injury, the confederate booksellers gave out, that Sylvanus Urban, whom, for no conceivable reason, they dignified with the appellation of Doctor, was become mad, alligning as the cause of his insanity, his publication in the Magazine of sundry mathematical problems, essays and questions on abstruse subjects, sent him by many of his learned correspondents. Cave who for some months had been rebutting the calumnies of his adversaries, and that with such success as provoked them to the outrage above-mentioned, now felt that he had them at mercy. With that sagacity which we frequently observe, but wonder at in men of now parts, he seemed to antici
pate the advice contained in the second and third ftanzas of Johnson's ode, and forbore a reply, though not his revenge, which he gratified in such a manner as seems to absolve him from the guilt imputable in most cases to that passion; this he did by inserting as an article of public intelligence in his Historical Chronicle for the month of February 1738, the following paragraph : “ Monday 20. About 8 “ o'clock the famous Dr. Urban, having some time
past been possessed with a violent frenzy, broke “ loose from his nurse, and run all through the ftreets “ of London and Westminster diftributing quack
bills, swearing he would go visit his beautiful “ Garden of Eden ; raving against Common Sense *, and “ the London Magazine, and singing a mad song set
to music by Peter the Wild Youth; but being at “ laft secured, was conveyed to his lodgings in Moor“ fields, where he continues uttering horrid impreca« tions against several booksellers and printers. 'Tis " thought this poor man's misfortune is owing to his “ having lately perplexed himself with biblical questions, “ mathematical problems, astronomical equations, and " methods to find the longitude.”—This filly para'graph, and such like buffoonery, inserted in the newusPepers at the charge of the proprietors of the London
Magazine, is all the answer given to the remarks on their 'inimitable preface, some passages of which are quoted in the ' beginning of this magazine t.
party paper fo intitled. + In the course of many years observation I am able to recollect one, and only one, instance of this method of treating a scurrilous adversary. An ingenious mechanic, of the name of Newsham, who with the assistance of the fate Dr. Defaguliers, had made many confiderable improvements in the construction of
The publication in the manner above-mentioned of this senseless and malignant fiction, and the care and attention of Cave in the compilation of his magazine, together with the assistance he received from a variety of ingenious and learned correspondents, enabled him in a short time to triumph over his rivals, and increased the sale thereof to a number that no other could ever equal.
It was no part of Cave's original design to give the debates in either house of parliament, but the oppofition to the minister, and the spirit that conducted it, had excited in the people a great eagerness to know what was going forward in both, and he knew that to gratify that desire was to encrease the demand for his pamphlet. Indeed the experiment had already been made, for the speeches in parliament had for some time been given in the Political State of Great Britain, a publication above spoken of, and though drawn up by persons no way equal to such an undertaking, were well received. These for the most part were taken by stealth, and were compiled from the information of listeners and the under-officers and door-keepers of either house ; but Cave had an interest
engines for extinguilting fires, had obtained a patent for one in particular which conjoined in one and the same machine the active powers of both the hands and feet : an ignorant and impudent pretender invaded his right, and the more to exasperate him, wrote with his own hand and subscribed a letter to Mr. Newsham, made up of the fouleft abuse and a discusion of the principles of mechanics in language, which for its nonsense and bad spelling conveyed no ideas. Mr. Newsham printed and dispersed some thousand copies verbatim et literatim of this letter, and without a single remark thereon sunk the reputation of his adversary fo low as ever after to be irretrievable.
with fome of the members of both, arising from an employment he held in the post-office, that of inspector of the franks, which not only gave him the privilege of sending his letters free of postage, but an acquaintance with, and occasions of access to many of them. .
Of this advantage he was too good a judge of his own interest not to avail himself. He therefore determined to gratify his readers with as much of this kind of intelligence as he could procure and it was safe to communicate : his resolution was to frequent the two houses whenever an important debate was likely to come on, and from such expresions and particulars in the course thereof as could be collected and retained in memory, to give the arguments on either lide. This resolution he put into practice in July 1736. His method of proceeding is variously reported; but I have been informed by some who were much about him, that taking with him a friend or two, he found means to procure for them and himself admission into the gallery of the house of commons, or to some concealed station in the other, and that then they privately took down notes of the several speeches, and the general tendency and substance of the arguments. Thus furnished, Cave and his associates would adjourn to a neighbouring tavern, and compare and adjust their notes, by means whereof and the help of their memories, they became enabled to fix at least the substance of what they had fo lately heard and remarked.
The reducing this crude matter into form, was the work of a future day and of an abler hand, viz. Guthrie, the historian, a writer for the booksellers, whom Cave retained for the purpose : the speeches thus composed were given monthly to the public,
and perused and red with great eagerness; those who contemplated them thought they discovered in them not merely the political principles, but the stile and manner of the speaker; the fact is, that there was little discrimination of the latter between the speeches of the best and the worst orators in either assembly, and in most instances the persons to whom they were ascribed were here made to speak with more eloquence and even propriety of diction than, in the place of debate they were able to do : Sir John Barnard, for instance, a man of no learning or reading, and who by the way had been bred a quaker, had a stile little better than an ordinary mechanic, and which abounded with such phrases as, if so be—fet case-and-nobody more so-and other such vulgarisms, yet was he made in the magazine to debate in language as correct and polished as that of Sir William Wyndham or Mr. Pulteney; though it must be confessed that so weighty was his matter on subjects of commerce, that Sir Robert Walpole, as I have been credibly informed, was used to say, that when he had answered Sir John Barnard, he looked upon that day's business in the house of commons to be as good as over.
The vigorous opposition to the minister, and the motion in both houses of the thirteenth of February, 1740-1 to remove him, were a new æra in politics; and, as the debates on that occasion were warmer than had ever then been known, the drawing them up required, in Cave's opinion, the pen of a more nervous writer than he who had hitherto conducted them. Johnson, who in his former publications in prose, had given no very favorable specimens of stile, had by this time, by the study of the best of our old English