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and is of a literary character also, though, judging by the motto adopted, the work is more likely to produce melancholy than amusement:—
This day are published, Price is., 'I 'HE Songs of Selma, attempted in English verse, from the original
*• of Ossian, the son of Fingal Quis talia fando Tern
penet a lacrymis? .... Printed for R. Griffiths, opposite Somerset House in the Strand ; C. Henderson, at the Royal Exchange; and G. Woodfall, Charing Cross.
How many books of this kind have been published, thrown aside, and forgotten, or consigned to the pastrycook and trunkmaker, since the "Songs of Selma" saw the light, is a question easier to ask than to solve. One thing is, though, certain—the number of people who will write, whether they have anything to say or not, increases every year, and in due course we may expect an ingenious Chancellor of the Exchequer to impose a tax on authors; which, after all, will hardly, so far as brilliancy is concerned, be so destructive as the window-tax, or so uncalled for as Mr Robert Lowe's famous "ex luce lucellum " imposition. A couple of weeks later, in the same paper (January 18-20), is the following of a very different character from that which has been already selected:—
IS removed from the Three Kings, Piccadilly, to the George Inn, Snow Hill, London ; sets out from the Broad Face, Reading, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at seven o'clock in the morning, and from the George Inn, Snow Hill, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, at seven o'clock in the morning; carries passengers to and from Reading at 6s. each, children in lap, and outside passengers at 3s.
Performed by S thomas moore and
Richard Mapleton. N.B.—Takes no charge of Writings, Money, Watches, or Jewels, unless entered and paid for as such.
This machine was evidently a nondescript, partly slow coach, partly waggon, and was extremely reasonable in its rates if it journeyed at any pace, seeing that outside passengers paid no more than-present Parliamentary rates, while the insides had no occasion to complain of excessive expenditure. But fancy the journey at seven o'clock on a January morning, with the knowledge that no brisk motion would keep the blood in circulation, that the roads were heavy, the weather indifferent, the society worse, the conversation, if any, very heavy, and the purse proportionally light! Such a company as Roderick Random and Strap fell in with in the waggon, must often have been seen on the outside of the Reading Machine. In the same paper of January 20-22, we find the advertisement of a pamphlet issued for the gratification of a morbid taste which has its representative nowadays — though, by the way, there is more excuse for a little excitement over murder and execution now than there was in the days when every week saw its batch of criminals led forth to take their final dance upon nothing:—
This day was published, price is., COME authentic particulars of the life of John Macnaghton, Esq.,
of Ben , who was executed in Ireland, on tuesday the 25th
day of December, for the Murder of Miss Mary Anne Knox, the only daughter of Andrew Knox, Esq., of Prehen, representative in the late and present Parliament for the county of Donegal. With a full account of his pretended Connexion with the young Lady; of the measures he took to seize her person previous to the Murder; -the circumstances of that fact; the manner of his being apprehended; and his conduct and behaviour from that time till his Death. Compiled from papers communicated by a gentleman in Ireland, to a person of distinction of that Kingdom now residing here.
Printed for H. Payne & W. Croply, at Dryden's Head in Paternoster Row.
John Macnaghton, Esq., was a real gentleman criminal, and though food for the halter was plenty in 1762 and thereabouts, gentlemen were "tucked up" still more rarely than within ordinary recollections; for stern as was the law a hundred years ago, it had very merciful consideration for persons of quality, and the hanging of a landed proprietor for a mere paltry murder was a very noticeable event. In the London Gazette of February 23-27, we find a record of the coronation of their illustrious and sacred Majesties, George and Charlotte, which runs thus :—
HE Gold Medals intended for the Peers and Peeresses who in their
■*■ robes attended at the Coronation of their Majesties (according to a list obtained from the proper officers) will be delivered at the Earl of Powis's house in Albemarle Street, on Wednesday and Thursday next, from ten to twelve o'clock each day.
It is therefore desired that the Peers and Peeresses, as above mentioned, will send for their Medals; and that the persons who shall be sent for them shall bring Cards, signed by such Peers or Peeresses, as the Medals shall be required for, and sealed with their Arms.
In the same paper we come upon the advertisement of a book which is even now read with interest, though the price at which a modern issue of it is offered is ludicrously small compared with that of the original edition:—
'"PHIS day is published, in small quarto, Price Thirty Shillings, Printed at Strawberry Hill, Anecdotes of Painting in England, with incidental Notes on other Arts. Collected by the late Mr George Vertue, and now first digested and published from his original Manuscripts. By Mr Horace Walpole. Vol. I. and II. With above forty Copper plates, four of which are taken from antient Paintings; the rest, heads of Artists, engraved by Grignion, Muller, Chambers, and Bannerman.
To be had of W. Bathoe, Bookseller, in the Strand, near Exeter Exchange.
As we have no wish whatever to paint the lily, we will, although the subject is a kindred one, leave Horace Walpole's book without a fresh criticism to add to the thousand and odd already passed upon it, and will pass on to the land "where the men are all brave and the women all beautiful," and where, in Faulkner's Dublin Journal, also of February 1762, we come upon the cry of a young man for his mother. In the advertisement is the nucleus of a story quite equal to "Tom Jones," provided, of course, that its author possessed the fancy of a Fielding. We are not aware of any literary gentleman who would succeed, though we are acquainted with plenty who would most confidently make the attempt;
Albemarle St., Feby. 26, 1762.
their only doubt, if doubt possessed them at all, being not in their own powers, but in the discernment of the reading public. To them, therefore, we present the groundwork of a story which would naturally enlist the sympathies of England and Ireland. A little might also be thrown in for the benefit of Scotland, which would hardly like to be left out of so fascinating a romance:—
WHEREAS a lady who called herself a native of Ireland was in England in the year 1740, and resided some time at a certain village near Bath, where she was delivered of a son, whom she left with a sum of money under the care of a person in the same parish, and promised to fetch him at a certain age, but has not since been heard of; now this is to desire the lady, if living, and this should be so fortunate as to be seen by her, to send a letter, directed to T. E. to be left at the Chapter Coffee house, St Paul's Churchyard, London, wherein she is desired to give an account of herself, and her reasons for concealing this affair: or if the lady should be dead, and any person is privy to the affair, they are likewise desired to direct as above.— N.B. This advertisement is published by the person himself, not from motives of necessity, or to court any assistance (he being, by a series of happy circumstances, possessed of an easy and independent fortune) but with a real desire to know his origin.—P.S. The strictest secrecy may be depended on.
Foundlings seem to have been better off a hundred years ago than now, for in all stories they come out very well, and in this present instance T. E. seems to have been able to help himself. It is not unlikely, however, that some sharp adventurer, knowing how weak is human nature, had hit upon the expedient of attracting maternal sympathies— Bath was a great place at that time for interesting invalids —with a view to a system of extortion. This may, or may not be, and at this distance of time it is useless to speculate. Accordingly we turn once more to the London Gazette, and in a number for April 1762 find this :—
rTK HE following persons being fugitives for debt, and beyond the seas, on or before the twenty-fifth day of October, one thousand seven hundred and sixty, and having surrendered themselves to the Gaolers or Keepers of the respective Prisons or Gaols hereafter mentioned, do hereby give notice, that they intend to take the benefit of an Act of Parliament passed in the first year of the reign of His present Majesty King George the Third, intituled An Act for relief of Insolvent Debtors, at the next General or Quarter Sessions of the Peace, to be held in and for the County, Riding, Division, City, Town, Liberty or Place, or any adjournment thereof, which shall happen next after thirty days from the first Publication of the undermentioned names, viz.,
James Colburn, late of Smith Street, in the parish of St James, in the county of Middlesex, Baker.
Fugitive surrendered to the Keeper of Whitechapel Prison, in the County of Middlesex.
Charles Watkins, late of the Bankside, in the parish of St Saviour, Southwark, in the county of Surrey, Waterman.
Fugitive surrendered to the Keeper of the Poultry Compter, in the City of London.
James Buckley, formerly of Cock Alley, late of Star Alley, in the Parish of Aldgate, Lower Precinct, London, Cordwainer.
This is one of the first notices given of an intention to take the benefit of an Act that was much wanted. The slowness of people to take advantage of any boon, no matter how priceless, is here once again shown, for there are but three claimants for redemption, two of whom had been published before. By the middle of 1762 the Cock Lane ghost had had its two years' run and was discovered, and it must have been just about the time of the trial of Parsons and his family—viz., in June—that the following appeared in the British Chronicle:—
This day is published, price 6d.
ATRUE account of the several conversations between the supposed Apparition in Cock Lane, and the Gentlemen who attended.
Together with the Death and Funeral of Mrs K , and many other
circumstances not made known to the World.
Published for the conviction of the incredulous.
Printed for E. Cabe, at his Circulating library in Ave Marie lane; and to be had of all Pamphlet shops and News carriers.