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On Feb. 13, 1741, the same Lord, being called to order for saying that there were Lords who were influenced by a place, exclaimed, according to the Bishop, "By the eternal G-d, I will defend my cause everywhere-." But Lords calling to order, he recollected himself and made an excuse." (Parl. Hist. xi. 1063). In the Gent. Mag. xi. 419, 'the Hurgo Toblat resumed :-"My Lords, whether anything has escaped from me that deserves such severe animadversions your Lordships must decide."'
Once at least in Johnson's reports a speech is given to the wrong member. In the debate on the Gin Bill on Feb. 22, 1743 (Gent. Mag. xiii. 696), though the Bishop's notes show that he did not speak, yet a long speech is put into his mouth. It was the Earl of Sandwich who had spoken at this turn of the debate. The editor of the Parl. Hist. (xii. 1398), without even notifying the change, coolly transfers the speech from the 'decent' Secker', who was afterwards Primate, to the grossly licentious Earl. A transference such as this is, however, but of little moment. For the most part the speeches would be scarcely less lifelike, if all on one side were assigned to some nameless Whig, and all on the other side to some nameless Tory. It is nevertheless true that here and there are to be found passages which no doubt really fell from the speaker in whose mouth they are put. They mention some fact or contain some allusion which could not otherwise have been known by Johnson. Even if we had not Cave's word for it, we might have inferred that now and then a member was himself his own reporter. Thus in the Gent. Mag. for February 1744 (p. 68) we find a speech by Sir John St. Aubyn that had appeared eight months earlier in the very same words in the London Magazine. That Johnson copied a rival publication is most unlikely-impossible, I might say. St. Aubyn, I conjecture, sent a copy of his speech to both editors. In the Gent. Mag. for April 1743 (p. 184), a speech by Lord Percival on Dec. 10, 1742, is reported apparently at full length. The debate itself was not published till the spring of 1744, when the reader is referred for this speech to the back number in which it had already been inserted. (Ib. xiv. 123).
The London Magazine generally gave the earlier report; it was, however, twitted by its rival with its inaccuracy. In one debate, it was said, 'it had introduced instead of twenty speakers but six, and those in a very confused manner. It had attributed to Cæcilius words remembered by the whole audience to be spoken by M. Agrippa.' (Gent. Mag. xii. 512). The report of the debate of Feb. 13, 1741, in the 1 E'en in a bishop I can spy desert, Secker is decent, Rundel has a heart.' Pope, Epil. Sat. 11. 70.
London Magazine fills more than twenty-two columns of the Parl. Hist. (xi. 1130) with a speech by Lord Bathurst. That he did speak is shewn by Secker (ib. p. 1062). No mention of him is made, however, in the report in the Gent. Mag. (xi. 339). But, on the other hand, it reports eleven speakers, while the London Magazine gives but five. Secker shows that there were nineteen. Though the London Magazine was generally earlier in publishing the debates, it does not therefore follow that Johnson had seen their reports when he wrote his. His may have been kept back by Cave's timidity for some months even after they had been set up in type. In the staleness of the debate there was some safeguard against a parliamentary prosecution.
Mr. Croker maintains (Croker's Boswell, p. 44) that Johnson wrote the Debates from the time (June 1738) that they assumed the Lilliputian title till 1744. In this he is certainly wrong. Even if we had not Johnson's own statement, from the style of the earlier Debates we could have seen that they were not written by him. No doubt we come across numerous traces of his work; but this we should have expected. Boswell tells us that Guthrie's reports were sent to Johnson for revision (ante, p, 118). Nay, even a whole speech now and then may be from his hand. It is very likely that he wrote, for instance, the Debate on buttons and button-holes (Gent. Mag. viii. 627), and the Debate on the registration of seamen (ib. xi. 1). But it is absurd to attribute to him passages such as the following, which in certain numbers are plentiful enough long after June 1738. "There never was any measure pursued more consistent with, and more consequential of, the sense of this House' (ib. ix. 340). It gave us a handle of making such reprisals upon the Iberians as this Crown found the sweets of' (ib. x. 281).' "That was the only expression that the least shadow of fault was found with' (ib. xi. 292).
'Johnson told me himself,' says Boswell (ante, p. 150), 'that he was the sole composer of the Debates for those three years only (1741–2–3). He was not, however, precisely exact in his statement, which he mentioned from hasty recollection; for it is sufficiently evident that his. composition of them began November 19, 1740, and ended February 23 , 1742-3.' Some difficulty is caused in following Boswell's statement by the length of time that often elapsed between the debate itself and its publication. The speeches that were spoken between Nov. 19, or, more strictly speaking, Nov. 25, 1740, and Feb. 22, 1743, were in their publication spread through the Magazine from July 1741 to March, 1744. On Feb. 13, 1741, Lord Carteret in the House of Lords, and Mr. Sandys, 'the Motion-maker',' in the House of Commons, moved an address to the King for the removal of Sir Robert So Smollett calls him in his History of England, iii. 16.
Walpole. Johnson's report of the debate in the Lords was published in the Magazine for the next July and August. The year went round. Walpole's ministry was overthrown, and Walpole himself was banished to the House of Lords. A second year went by. At length, in three of the spring numbers of 1743, the debate on Sandys's motion was reported. It had been published in the London Magazine eleven months earlier.
Cave, if he was tardy, nevertheless was careful that his columns should not want variety. Thus in the number for July 1743, we have the middle part of the debate in the Lords on Feb. 1, 1743, the end of the debate in the Commons on March 9, 1742, and the beginning of another in the Commons on the following March 23. From the number for July 1741 to the number for March 1744 Johnson, as I have already said, was the sole composer of the Debates. The irregularity with which they were given at first sight seems strange; but in it a certain method can be discovered. The proceedings of a House of Commons that had come to an end might, as I have shown, be freely published. There had been a dissolution after the session which closed in April 1741. The publication of the Debates of the old parliament could at once begin, and could go on freely from month to month all the year round. But they would not last for ever. In 1742, in the autumn recess, the time when experience had shewn that the resolution of the House could be broken with the least danger, the Debates of the new parliament were published. They were continued even in the short session before Christmas. But the spring of 1743 saw a cautious return to the reports of the old parliament. The session closed on April 21, and in the May number the comparatively fresh Debates began again. In one case the report was not six months after date. In the beginning of 1744 this publication went on even in the session, but it was confined to the proceedings of the previous winter.
The following table shews the order in which Johnson's Debates were published:
in a style that is a close imitation of Johnson's. Most likely they were composed by Hawkesworth (ante, p. 252). In 1745 they were fewer in number, and in 1746 the reports of the Senate of Lilliputia with its Hurgoes and Clinabs passed away for ever. They had begun, to quote the words of the Preface to the Magazine for 1747, at a time when 'a determined spirit of opposition in the national assemblies communicated itself to almost every individual, multiplied and invigorated periodical papers, and rendered politics the chief, if not the only object, of curiosity.' They are a monument to the greatness of Walpole, and to the genius of Johnson. Had that statesman not been overthrown, the people would have called for these reports even though Johnson had refused to write them. Had Johnson still remained the reporter, even though Walpole no longer swayed the Senate of the Lilliputians, the speeches of that tumultuous body would still have been read. For though they are not debates, yet they have a vast vigour and a great fund of wisdom of their own.
JOHNSON'S LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER AND MISS PORTER IN 1759. (Page 340.)
Malone published seven of the following letters in the fourth edition, and Mr. Croker the rest.
'TO MRS. JOHNSON IN LICHFIELD.
"The account which Miss [Porter] gives me of your health pierces my heart. God comfort and preserve you and save you, for the sake of Jesus Christ.
'I would have Miss read to you from time to time the Passion of our Saviour, and sometimes the sentences in the Communion Service, beginning "Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
'I have just now read a physical book, which inclines me to think that a strong infusion of the bark would do you good. Do, dear mother, try it. 'Pray, send me your blessing, and forgive all that I have done amiss to you. And whatever you would have done, and what debts you would have paid first, or any thing else that you would direct, let Miss put it down; I shall endeavour to obey you.
'I have got twelve guineas' to send you, but unhappily am at a loss how
Six of these twelve guineas Johnson appears to have borrowed from Mr. Allen,
the printer. See Hawkins's Life of Johnson,
p. 366 n.