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My worthy correspondent Mr. Shuttleworth, in the after-part of his letter, intrusts me with his sentiments concerning some very momentous subjects; but I should not deserve the honour of his friendship, were I to impart to the Public what has been communicated to me in confidence.
Not knowing his direction, and not having been favoured with a cipher from him, I can only say, that n. p. had no more influence in the matter of the c.p. and the p.b. than th-m-n of th—m—n ; and of this Mr. Shuttleworth may rest assured.'
With respect to the Latin words, which have been the innocent cause of so much uneasiness to him, they are taken from a Roman poet, but no Roman Catholic: in metre accommodated to the course of my friend's studies, they signify,
That for our father's land to die, it is a comely thing.
As, indeed, I meddle not with the high matters of politics I shall only add, that it is to be hoped that there are very few who consult Shuttleworth's Dictionary.
Since I have been desired to advise the Authors of Newspapers to write intelligibly, I must say something on that subject, lest my silence should be construed into an acknowledgment of my little credit with those gentlemen. Of their skill in the learned languages, I pretend not to give any opinion.
us much, however, I may be allowed to say without offence, that they are the historians of the vulgar; that, in our country, the persons who pass under the name of the vulgar, are not unconcerned spectators of national events; and, that what relates to all, ought to be understood of all.'
A man may write in the native language of his readers, and yet be unintelligible. For example,
when contrary propositions are positively asserted, when paragraphs encounter with paragraphs, and jostle in the dark,' what must be the state of him who sits down to spell the newspapers with the determined resolution of believing whatever he sees in print?
The reis a pleasure in giving good advice, and therefore I must take this opportunity of going a little beyond my friend's commission.
A witty statesman, of the days of our fathers, observed, that John Bull was always in the garret, or in the cellar.' John's own sister Margaret, although not quite so delicate in her sensations, has much of the family disposition. If the wind sets in to the east, then we are a betrayed, and abandoned, and lost people; but on the wind coming round to the west, what nation so glorious and well-governed as ours! Our perfidious enemies shall know what it is to rouse the Lion, to annoy the Thistle, or to put the Harp out of tune.
Such being the disposition of readers apt to be depressed or elevated on every occasion, or on no occasion, the writers of newspapers ought to be cautious as well in slackening as in over-bracing the nerves of their customers; and the only method I can recommend for attaining this happy medium is, that they report nothing but what they believe to be true;' or, if that be to require too much of flesh and blood, that they report nothing which they believe to be fictitious.'
The Britannia, captain George Manly commander, is totally lost on the coast of Barbary; " every soul on board perished.'
On board the Britannia there was the only son of a widow, whose single fund of subsistence depended on that pittance of his wages which her dutiful child allotted to her. In the same ship there was a sober and industrious young man, who had quitted
his wife a few months after marriage, that he might provide for a young creature whom he hoped to see in its mother's arms at his return.
It is confidently reported, that six or seven men of the crew of the Britannia got safely to < shore, and that they were made slaves, unless, as ' is to be feared, they were murdered by the natives." Here there is a gleam of miserable and dubious hope darting on the minds of those who had relations on board the Britannia.
The Britannia is safely arrived at Port Mahon so that the report of her having been lost is without foundation. The inference is most logical.
In the very next paragraph it is said, We have the pleasure of informing the Public, that a capital 'figure-dancer will soon make his appearance on 'the stage.'
Are not such things to be found in the newspapers of every week; and is it not a cruel sporting with the sensibilities of human nature, thus to wring the souls of parents and wives, of the aged and the helpless, and that merely to fill up the columus of a newspaper?
It is of high national importance that the very earliest notice should be given of the next appearance of a figure-dancer; but, surely, there was no necessity of saying any thing of the Britannia, in whose welfare the fate of so many little families were involved, until it should have been certainly known whether she was wrecked, or had safely arrived in port.
Of late years there has a practice crept in, of making the newspapers not only the vehicle of public intelligence, but also of the misfortunes, real or imaginary, of private families. For example, ⚫ We hear that Mrs. Gadabout was lately detected in an illicit commerce with her husband's postillion, and 'that a process of divorce will be brought,' &c.
Invention immediately busies itself in accounting for this incident. After the first ceremonies of surprise and deep regret, the education of the lady is scrutinized; it was too strict, or it was too loose : the character of the husband is laid before the inquest of gossips: he was morose and sullen, or he had set an example of extravagance and libertinism, which poor Mrs. Gadabout inconsiderately followed. Then some one, more expert in tracing effects to their cause, recollects having heard, that something of a like nature befel the family many years ago; and that the grand-aunt of Mrs. Gadabout's father, if common fame lie not, stept aside with the Duke of Buckingham, when he attended Charles II. into Scotland.
In this state of uncertainty things remain for a week or two, when fresh intelligence is communicated to the Public, The report of Mrs. Gada'bout's affair is premature. The former article was 'copied from another paper. We hope that all 'concerned will accept of this apology.' Doubtless a most satisfying apology to all concerned !
The writers of newspapers are the historians of the day, but I see no cause why they should be the historians of the lie of the day.
N° 76. SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 1780.
REFINEMENT and delicacy of mind are not more observable in our serious occupations, than in the style of our amusements. Of those who possess them,
the most vacant hours will generally be informed by taste, or enlivened by imagination; but with men destitute of that sentiment which they inspire, pleasure will commonly degenerate into grossness, conviviality into intemperance, and mirth into riot.
Mr. Melfort is one of my friend Mr. Umphraville's early acquaintance, who continues to reside in this city, and of whom he still retains some resemblance.
That gentleman, in his youth, had applied to the study of the law, and was admitted to the bar ; but, having soon after succeeded to a tolerable fortune, he derives no other benefit from his profession than an apology for residing part of the year in town, and such a general acquaintance there, as enables him to spend his time in that society which is suited to his disposition. He is often, indeed, to be seen in court; but he comes there only as he does to the coffee-house, to inquire after the news of the day, or to form a party for some of those dinners which he usually gives. In my friend's last visit to town, he met with this gentleman, and came under an engagement to dine with him. I was asked to be of the party, and attended him accordingly.
The company was a large one. Besides Mrs. Melfort and her two daughters, there were three other young ladies who appeared to be intimate in the family. The male part of the company was still more numerous. It consisted, besid our landlord, Mr. Umphraville, and myself, of two lawyers, a physician, a jolly-looking man in the uniform of a sea-officer, and a gentleman advanced in life, who had somewhat of the air and manner of a foreigner, and, I afterwards learned, had left this country at an early age, and lived chiefly abroad ever since.
Mr. Umphraville, who was seated next Mrs.