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were afterwards collected in two small volumes; Miss Marshall, the Edinburgh novelist, who has been already mentioned, about the close of the year 1770 set up a periodical paper in London, in which, she tells us, she had the assistance of several gentlemen of known literary merit, although the sale proved insufficient to enable her to go on with it;* and there were of course many more such instances. But we have no se of periodical papers of this time, of the same character with those
* Letters, vol. ii. pp. 202, 229. The very title of this forgotten work is probably now irrecoverable, as well as the names of the meritorious literati who were to lend it the aid of their reputation and abilities. Its ingenious, sensible, and good-humoured projector says, “ From a grateful sense of the Duchess of Northumberland's goodness [her first novel had been presented to the queen by the duchess], I sent her grace the introductory paper in manuscript, begging the favour of being allowed the honour of dedicating the work to her grace; and next day I was waited on by a gentleman, probably one of her suite; who informed me that her grace not only accepted the dedication, and would most cheerfully patronize the work, but would also furnish me with some anecdotes which might be useful in the publication. But whether this gentleman, displeased with my je ne scais quoi, or disguisted at my Scots accent, had prejudiced her grace against me; or whether my not waiting on the duchess to receive the anecdotes, I cannot say; but I never had the good fortune to hear from my patroness again.”. In reply to an application she made to Lord Lyttelton for his advice, as to whether she should continue the publication, his lordship wrote—“On considering the question you do me the honour to put to me, my answer is this: if you write for fame, go on; if for money, desist, unless the Duchess of Northumberland or Lord Chesterfield will enable you to bear the expense of continuing the paper till it becomes so well known as to support itself. This they surely could do without any inconvenience to their opulent fortunes ; and this I would do, if I were in their circumstances, with great pleasure.”
already mentioned, that is still reprinted and read. Goldsmith's Citizen of the World, occupied as it is with the adventures and observations of an individual, placed in very peculiar circumstances, partakes more of the character of a novel than of a succession of miscellaneous papers; and both the letters composing that work and the other delightful essays of the same writer were published occasionally, not periodically or at regular intervals, and only as contributions to the newspapers or other journals of the day,—not by themselves, like the numbers of the Spectator, the Rambler, and the other works of that description that have been mentioned. Our next series of periodical essays, properly so called, was that which began to be published at Edinburgh, under the name of The Mirror, on Saturday, the 23rd of January, 1779, and was continued at the rate of a number a-week till the 27th of May, 1780. The conductor and principal writer of The Mirror was the late Henry Mackenzie, who died in Edinburgh, at the age of eightysix, in 1831, the author of The Man of Feeling, published anonymously in 1771, The Man of the World, 1773, and Julia de Roubigné, 1777, novels after the manner of Sterne, which are still universally read, and which have much of the grace and delicacy of style as well as of the pathos of that great master, although without any of his rich and peculiar humour. The Mirror was succeeded, after an interval of a few years, by The Lounger, also a weekly paper, the first number of which appeared on Saturday, the 5th of February, 1785, Mackenzie being again the leading contributor; the last (the 101st) on the 6th of January, 1787. But with these two publications the spirit of periodical essay-writing, in the style first made famous by Steele and Addison, expired also in Scotland, as it had already done a quarter of a century before in England.
A hotter excitement, in truth, had dulled the public taste to the charms of those ethical and critical disquisitions, whether grave or gay, which it had heretofore found sufficiently stimulating; the violent war of parties, which, after a lull of nearly twenty years, was resumed on the accession of George III., made political controversy the only kind of writing that would now go down with the generality of readers ; and first Wilkes's famous North Briton, and then the yet more famous Letters of Junius, came to take the place of the Ramblers and Idlers, the Adventurers and Connoisseurs. The North Briton, the first number of which appeared on Saturday, the 5th of June, 1762, was started in opposition to The Briton, a paper set up by Smollett in defence of the government on the preceding Saturday, the 29th of May, the day on which Lord Bute had been nominated first lord of the treasury. Smollett and Wilkes had been friends up to this time; but the opposing papers were conducted in a spirit of the bitterest hostility, till the discontinuance of The Briton on the 12th of February, 1763, and the violent extinction of The North Briton on the 23rd of April following, fifteen days after the resignation of Bute, with the publication of its memorable "No. Forty-five.” The celebrity of this one paper
has preserved the memory of the North Briton to our day, in the same manner as in its own it produced several reimpressions of the whole work, which otherwise would probably have been as speedily and completely forgotten as the rival publication, and as the Auditors, and Monitors, and other organs of the two factions, that in the same contention helped to fill the air with their din for a season, and then were heard of no more than any other quieted noise. Wilkes's brilliancy faded away when he proceeded to commit his thoughts to paper, as if it had dissolved itself in the ink. Like all convivial wits, or shining talkers, he was of course indebted for much of the effect he produced in society to the promptitude and skill with which he seized the proper moment for saying his good things, to the surprise produced by the suddenness of the flash, and to the characteristic peculiarities of voice, action, and manner with which the jest or repartee was set off, and which usually serve as signals or stimulants to awaken the sense of the ludicrous before its
expected gratification comes ; in writing, little or nothing of all this could be brought into play ; but still some of Wilkes’s colloquial impromptus that have been preserved are so perfect, considered in themselves, and without regard to the readiness with which they may have been struck out, -are so true and deep, and evince so keen a feeling at once of the ridiculous and of the real,-that one wonders at finding so little of the same kind of power in his more deliberate efforts. In all his published writings that we have looked into-and, what with essays, and pamphlets of one kind and another hey fill a good many volumes --we scarcely recollect anything that either in matter or manner rises above the veriest common-place, unless perhaps it be a character of Lord Chatham, occurring in a letter addressed to the Duke of Grafton, some of the biting things in which are impregnated with rather
subtle venom. A few of his verses also have some fancy and elegance, in the style of Carew and Waller. But even his private letters, of which two collections have been published, scarcely ever emit a sparkle. And his House of Commons speeches, which he wrote beforehand, and got by heart, are equally unenlivened. It is evident, indeed, that he had not intellectual lung enough for any protracted exertion or display. The soil of his mind was a hungry, unproductive gravel, with some gems imbedded in it. The author of the Letters of Junius made his debut about four years after the expiration of The North Briton, his first known communication having appeared in the Public Advertiser on the 28th of April, 1767; but the letters, sixty-nine in number, signed Junius, and forming the collection with which every reader is familiar, extend only over the space from the 21st of January, 1769, to the 2nd of November, 1771.* Thus it appears
that this celebrated writer had been nearly two years beofre the public before he attracted any consider. able attention ; a proof that the polish of his style was not really the thing that did most to bring him into notoriety ; for, although we may admit that the composition of the letters signed Junius is more elaborate and sustained than that of the generality of his contributions to the same newspaper under the name of Brutus, Lucius, Atticus, and Mnemon, yet the difference is by no means so great as to be alone sufficient to account for the prodigious sensation at once excited by the former, after the
* The 69th Letter, addressed to Lord Camden, is without a date; and there are other private letters to Woodfall, the printer of the Public Advertiser, the last two of which are dated 10th May, 1772, and 19th January, 1773.