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The craftsman
Vol. XXIII, Number 2 (November 1912)

An unsuspected literary ancestor,   pp. 249-252 PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 250


AN UNSUSPECTED LITERARY ANCESTOR
FIRST PAGE OF THE FIRST VOLUME OF OLD ENGLISH
MAGAZINE.
I have had Leisure, for these many Years,
to make my Observations on Men and
Things."
   And he proceeds to set forth these ob-
 servations with no little candor and force.
 Ile discusses Liberty of the Press, and
 cites Bible writers, Greeks, Romans and his
 own countrymen as the apostles of literary
 and rhetorical freedom.
   He voices his contempt for the hypocrisy
 and corruption of the "professions" in
 terms that would fit the twentieth century
 without much alteration.
   He writes of political and industrial con-
ditions and affairs of national and inter-
national importance as keenly and wittily as
he condemns or praises certain celebrities
of his day. To one gentleman, for instance,
he accords this flattering and unusual label:
"a   Treasurer  with  clean  and   empty
Hands !"
   Party prejudice he also scores in no un-
 certain language, and exposes the super-
 ficiality of mere names. "We cool byDe-
 grees," he writes, "as we grow old, in our
 affection for empty Names and idle Dis-
 tinctions; being taught by Experience that
 One as well as the Other is all Vanity and
 Vexation of Spirit."
   Ile nrges the need for coalition, which
 he defines as "the cordial Union and Co-
 operation of Persons of all Denominations
 in the true Interest and Service of their
 Country, without any Attachment to vain
 Names-which can serve only to keep alive
 our destructive Animosities and promote
 the sinister Views of ambitious Alen, at the
 Expence of our private Happiness and the
 publick good. As This is the only Coalition
 which can either be desired or justified, so
 I hope my Countrymen will no longer suf-
 fer thlemrcelves to be imposed on by artful
 Demogogutes and ill designing Patrons of
 Faction; especially since Experience has, I
 think, sufficiently taught them the Mischief
 and Folly of such Conduct. Intead of di-
 viding ourselves into oppcsite Parties, and
 branding one another with odious Distinc-
 tions, let us Chearfully concur in the com-
 mon Cause, and make the Interest of Great-
 Britain the only Rule of all our Actions.
 Let us not, for the future, run blind-fold
 into any Proposals, however romantick and
 unreasonable, because they are offered by
 one Set of Men: nor madly shut our Ears
 to any Objections, however just and well-
 grounded, because they are started by an-
 other. This will be the surest and only
 Method of restoring Peace and Commerce:
 or reviving our drooping Manufactures;
 or lessening our Debts, and reducing our
 Taxes; at the same Time that it will most
 effectually secure us from foreign Violence
 and protect us against domestick Corrup-
 tion."
 What could be more apropos today than
 this earnest plea for co6peration which
 comes to us thus by pure chance---an echo
 from the beginning of the eighteenth cen-
 tury ?
 The papers of this early "Craftsman"
 are not wholly serious, however.  Their
 wisdom is frequently allied with wit. One
 chapter, for example, gives us the point of
 view of the embryo "Suffragist" of 1727,
 and the phrasing is so apt, the sense so logi-
 cal, that we cannot resist the temptation to
quote some of it here.
250


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