Boswell's Life of Johnson (1904)/Volume 1/Appendix A

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APPENDIX A.

Johnson's Debates in Parliament.

(Pages 136 and 174.)

The publication of the 'Debates' in the Gentleman's Magazine began in July 1732. The names of the speakers were not printed in full; Sir Robert Walpole was disguised—if a disguise it can be called—as Sir R—t W—le, and Mr. Pelham as Mr. P—lh—m. Otherwise the report was open and avowed. During the first few years, however, it often happened that no attempt was made to preserve the individuality of the members. Thus in a debate on the number of seamen (Gent. Mag. v. 507), the speeches of the 'eight chief speakers' were so combined as to form but three. First come 'the arguments made use of for 30,000 men;' next 'an answer to the following effect;' and lastly, 'a reply that was in substance as follows.' Each of these three speeches is in the first person, though each is formed of the arguments of two members at least, perhaps of many. In the report of a two days' debate in 1737, in which there were fourteen chief speakers, the substance of thirteen of the speeches was given in three (ib. vii. 746, 775). In July 1736 (ib. vi, 363) we find the beginning of a great change. 'To satisfy the impatience of his readers,' the publisher promises 'to give them occasionally some entire speeches.' He prints one which likely enough had been sent to him by the member who had spoken it, and adds that he shall be 'grateful for any authentic intelligence in matters of such importance and tenderness as the speeches in Parliament' (ib. p. 365). Cave, in his examination before the House of Lords on April 30, 1747, on a charge of having printed in the Gentleman's Magazine an account of the trial of Lord Lovat, owned that 'he had had speeches sent him by the members themselves, and had had assistance from some members who have taken notes of other members' speeches' (Parl. Hist. xiv. 60). It was chiefly in the numbers of the Magazine for the latter half of each year that the publication took place. The parliamentary recess was the busy time for reporters and printers. It was commonly believed thai the resolution on the Journals of the House of Commons against publishing any of its proceedings was only in force while parliament was sitting. But on April 13, 1738, it was unanimously resolved 'that it is an high indignity to, and a notorious breach of the privilege of this House to give any account of the debates, as well during the recess as the sitting of parliament' (Parl. Hist. x. 812). It was admitted that this privilege expired at the end of every parliament. When the dissolution had come every one might publish what he pleased. With the House of Lords it was far otherwise, for 'it is a Court of Record, and as such its rights and privileges never die. It may punish a printer for printing any part of its proceedings for thirty or forty years back' (ib. p. 807). Mr. Winnington, when speaking to this resolution of April 13, said that if they did not put a speedy stop to this practice of reporting 'they will have every word that is spoken here hy gentlemen misrepresented by fellows who thrust themselves into our gallery' (ib. p. 806). Walpole complained 'that he had been made to speak the very reverse of what he meant. He had read debates wherein all the wit, the learning, and the argument had been thrown into one side, and on the other nothing but what was low, mean, and ridiculous' (ib. p. 809). Later on, Johnson in his reports 'saved appearances tolerably well; but took care that the Whig Dogs should not have the best of it' (Murphy's Johnson, p. 45). It was but a few days after he became a contributor to the Magazine that this resolution was passed. Parliament rose on May 20, and in the June number the reports of the debates of the Senate of Lilliput began. To his fertile mind was very likely due this humorous expedient by which the resolution of the House was mocked. That he wrote the introduction in which is narrated the voyage of Captain Gulliver's grandson to Lilliputia can scarcely be doubted. It bears all the marks of his early style. The Lords become Hurgoes, and the Commons Clinabs, Walpole becomes Walelop, Pulteney Pulnub, and Pitt Ptit; otherwise the report is much as it had been. At the end of the volume for 1739 was given a key to all the names. The London Magazine had boldly taken the lead. In the May number, which was published at the close of the month, and therefore after parliament had risen, began the report of the proceedings and debates of a political and learned club of young noblemen and gentlemen, who hoped one day to enter parliament, and who therefore, the better to qualify themselves for their high position, only debated questions that were there discussed. To the speakers were given the names of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Thus we find the Hon. Marcus Cato and the Right Hon. M. Tullius Cicero. By the key that was published in 1742 Cicero was seen to be Walpole, and Cato, Pulteney. What risks the publishers and writers ran was very soon shown. In December 1740 the ministers proposed to lay an embargo on various articles of food. As the members entered the House a printed paper was handed to each, entitled Considerations upon the Embargo. Adam Smith had just gone up as a young student to the University of Oxford. There are 'considerations' suggested in this paper which the great authority of the author of the Wealth of Nations has not yet made pass current as truths. The paper contained, moreover, charges of jobbery against 'great men,' though no one was named. It was at once voted a malicious and scandalous libel, and the author, William Cooley, a scrivener, was committed to Newgate. With him was sent the printer of the Daily Post, in which part of the Considerations had been published. After seven weeks' imprisonment in the depth of winter in that miserable den, 'without sufficient sustenance to support life,' Cooley was discharged on paying his fees. He was in knowledge more than a hundred years before his time, and had been made to suffer accordingly. The printer would have been discharged also, but the fees were more than he could pay. Two months later he petitioned for mercy. The fees by that time were £121. His petition was not received, and he was kept in prison till the close of the session (Parl. Hist. xi. 867-894).

Such were the risks run by Cave and Johnson and their fellow-workers. That no prosecution followed was due perhaps to that dread of ridicule which has often tempered the severity of the law. 'The Hurgolen Branard, who in the former session was Pretor of Mildendo,' might well have been unwilling to prove that he was Sir John Barnard, late Lord Mayor of London.

Johnson, it should seem, revised some of the earliest Debates. In a letter to Cave which cannot have been written later than September 1738, he mentions the alterations that he had made (ante, p. 136). The more they were written by him, the less authentic did they become, for he was not one of those 'fellows who thrust themselves into the gallery of the House.' His employer, Cave, if we can trust his own evidence, had been in the habit of going there and taking notes with a pencil (Parl. Hist. xiv. 60). But Johnson, Hawkins says (Life, p. 122), 'never was within the walls of either House.' According to Murphy (Life, p. 44), he had been inside the House of Commons once. Be this as it may, in the end the Debates were composed by him alone (ante, p. 137). From that time they must no longer be looked upon as authentic records, in spite of the assertions of the Editor of the Parl. Hist. (xi. Preface). Johnson told Boswell (atite, p. 137) 'that sometimes he had nothing more communicated to him than the names of the several speakers, and the part which they had taken in the debate;' sometimes ' he had scanty notes furnished by persons employed to attend in both Houses of Parliament.' Often, his Debates were written 'from no materials at all—the mere coinage of his own imagination' (Post, under Dec. 9, 1784).

'He never wrote any part of his works with equal velocity. Three columns of the Magazine in an hour was no uncommon effort, which was faster than most persons could have transcribed that quantity' (ib.). According to Hawkins (Life, p. 99), 'His practice was to shut himself up in a room assigned to him at St. John's Gate, to which he would not suffer any one to approach, except the compositor or Cave's boy for matter, which, as fast as he composed it, he tumbled out at the door.'

From Murphy we get the following curious story:—

'That Johnson was the author of the debates during that period [Nov. 1740 to Feb. 1743] was not generally known; but the secret transpired several years afterwards, and was avowed by himself on the following occasion: Mr. Wedderburne (now Lord Loughborough), Dr. Johnson, Dr. Francis (the translator of Horace), the present writer, and others dined with the late Mr. Foote. An important debate towards the end of Sir Robert Walpole's administration being mentioned, Dr. Francis observed, "that Mr. Pitt's speech on that occasion was the best he had ever read." He added, "that he had employed eight years of his life in the study of Demosthenes, and finished a translation of that celebrated orator, with all the decorations of style and language within the reach of his capacity; but he had met with nothing equal to the speech above mentioned." Many of the company remembered the debate; and some passages were cited with the approbation and applause of all present. During the ardour of conversation, Johnson remained silent. As soon as the warmth of praise subsided, he opened with these words:—"That speech I wrote in a garret in Exeter Street." The company was struck with astonishment. After staring at each other in silent amaze, Dr. Francis asked how that speech could be written by him? "Sir," said Johnson, "I wrote it in Exeter Street. I never had been in the gallery of the House of Commons but once. Cave had interest with the door-keepers. He, and the persons employed under him, gained admittance: they brought away the subject of discussion, the names of the speakers, the side they took, and the order in which they rose, together with notes of the arguments advanced in the course of the debate. The whole was afterwards communicated to me, and I composed the speeches in the form which they now have in the Parliamentary Debates." To this discovery Dr. Francis made answer:—"Then, sir, you have exceeded Demosthenes himself, for to say that you have exceeded Francis's Demosthenes, would be saying nothing." The rest of the company bestowed lavish encomiums on Johnson: one, in particular, praised his impartiality; observing, that he dealt out reason and eloquence with an equal hand to both parties. "That is not quite true," said Johnson; "I saved appearances tolerably well, but I took care that the Whig Dogs should not have the best of it."' Murphy's Life of Johnson, p. 343.

Murphy, we must not forget, wrote from memory, for there is no reason to think that he kept notes. That his memory cannot altogether be trusted has been shown by Boswell (ante, p. 391, note 4). This dinner with Foote must have taken place at least nineteen years before this account was published, for so many years had Dr. Francis been dead. At the time when Johnson was living in Exeter-street he was not engaged on the magazine. Nevertheless the main facts may be true enough. Johnson himself told Boswell (Post, May 13, 1778) that in Lord Chesterfield's Miscellaneous Works (ii. 319) there were two speeches ascribed to Chesterfield which he had himself entirely written, Horace Walpole (Letters, i. 147) complained that the published report of his own first speech 'did not contain one sentence of the true one.' Johnson, in his preface to the Literary Magazine of 1756, seems to confess what he had done, unless, indeed, he was altogether making himself the mere mouth-piece of the publisher. He says:—'We shall not attempt to give any regular series of debates, or to amuse our readers with senatorial rhetorick. The speeches inserted in other papers have been long known to be fictitious, and produced sometimes by men who never heard the debate, nor had any authentick information. We have no design to impose thus grossly on our readers.' (Works, v. 363.) The secret that Johnson wrote these Debates was indeed well kept. He seems to be aimed at in a question that was put to Cave in his examination before the House of Lords in 1747. 'Being asked "if he ever had any person whom he kept in pay to make speeches for him," he said, "he never had."' (Parl. Hist. xiv. 60.) Herein he lied in order, no doubt, to screen Johnson. Forty-four years later Horace Walpole wrote (Letters, ix. 319), 'I never knew Johnson wrote the speeches in the Gentleman's Magazine till he died.' Johnson told Boswell 'that as soon as he found that they were thought genuine he determined that he would write no more of them, "for he would not be accessory to the propagation of falsehood."' (Ante, p. 175.) One of his Debates was translated into French, German, and Spanish (Gent. Mag. xiii. 59), and, no doubt, was accepted abroad as authentic. When he learnt this his conscience might well have received a shock. That it did receive a shock seems almost capable of proof. It was in the number of the Magazine for February 1743—at the beginning of March, that is to say—that the fact of these foreign translations was made known. The last Debate that Johnson wrote was for the 22nd day of February in that year. In 1740, 1741, and 1742, he had worked steadily at his Debates. The beginning of 1743 found him no less busy. His task suddenly came to an end. Among foreign nations his speeches were read as the very words of English statesmen. To the propagation of such a falsehood as this he would no longer be accessory. Fifteen years later Smollett quoted them as if they were genuine (History of England, iii. 73). Here, however, Johnson's conscience was void of offence; for 'he had cautioned him not to rely on them, for that they were not authentic' (Hawkins, Life, p. 129.)

That they should generally have passed current shews how unacquainted people at that time were with real debating. Even if we had not Johnson's own statement, both from external and internal evidence we could have known that they were for the most part 'the mere coinage of his imagination.' They do not read like speeches that had ever been spoken. 'None of them,' Mr. Flood said, 'were at all like real debates' (Post, under March 30, 1771). They are commonly formed of general statements which suit any one speaker just as well as any other. The scantier were the notes that were given him by those who had heard the debate, the more he had to draw on his imagination. But his was an imagination which supplied him with what was general much more readily than with what was particular. Had De Foe been the composer he would have scattered over each speech the most ingenious and probable matters of detail, but De Foe and Johnson were wide as the poles asunder. Neither had Johnson any dramatic power. His parliamentary speakers have scarcely more variety than the characters in Irene. Unless he had been a constant frequenter of the galleries of the two Houses, he could not have acquired any knowledge of the style and the peculiarities of the different members. Nay, even of their modes of thinking and their sentiments he could have gained but the most general notions. Of debating he knew nothing. It was the set speeches in Livy and the old historians that he took as his models. In his orations there is very little of 'the tart reply;' there is, indeed, scarcely any examination of an adversary's arguments. So general are the speeches that the order in which they are given might very often without inconvenience be changed. They are like a series of leading articles on both sides of the question, but all written by one man. Johnson is constantly shifting his character, and, like Falstaff and the Prince, playing first his own part and then his opponent's. It is wonderful how well he preserves his impartiality, though he does 'take care that the Whig dogs should not have the best of it.'

He not only took the greatest liberties in his reports, but he often took them openly. Thus an army bill was debated in committee on Dec. 10, 1740, and again the following day on the report in the full House. 'As in these two debates,' he writes, 'the arguments were the same, Mr. Gulliver has thrown them into one to prevent unnecessary repetitions.' (Gent. Mag. Dec. 1742, p. 676.) In each House during the winter of 1742-3 there was a debate on taking the Hanoverian troops into pay. The debate in the Lords was spread over five numbers of the Magazine in the following summer and autumn. It was not till the spring of 1744 that the turn of the Commons came, and then they were treated somewhat scurvily. 'This debate,' says the reporter, who was Johnson, 'we thought it necessary to contract by the omission of those arguments which were fully discussed in the House of Hurgoes, and of those speakers who produced them, lest we should disgust our readers by tedious repetitions.' (ib. xiv. 125.) Many of these debates have been reported somewhat briefly by Bishop (afterwards Archbishop) Seeker. To follow his account requires an accurate knowledge of the times, whereas Johnson's rhetorick for the most part is easily understood even by one very ignorant of the history of the first two Georges. Much of it might have been spoken on almost any occasion, for or against almost any minister. It is true that we here and there find such a correspondence between the two reports as shews that Johnson, as he has himself told us, was at times furnished with some information. But, on the other hand, we can no less clearly see that he was often drawing solely on his imagination. Frequently there is but the slightest agreement between the reports given by the two men of the same speeches. Of this a good instance is afforded by Lord Carteret's speech of Feb. 13, 1741. According to Johnson 'the Hurgo Quadrert began in this manner':—

'As the motion which I am about to make is of the highest importance and of the most extensive consequences, as it cannot but meet with all the opposition which the prejudices of some and the interest of others can raise against it; as it must have llie whole force of ministerial influence to encounter without any assistance but from iustice and reason, I hope to be excused by your Lordships for spending some time in endeavouring to shew that it wants no other support; that it is not founded upon doubtful suspicions but upon uncontestable facts,' and so on for eight more lines. (Gent. Mag. xi. 339.)

The Bishop's note begins as follows:—

'Carteret. I am glad to see the House so full. The honour of the nation is at stake. And the oldest man hath not known such circumstances as we are in. When storms rise you must see what pilots you have, and take methods to make the nation easy. I shall (1) go through the foreign transactions of several years; (2) The domestic; (3) Prove that what I am about to propose is a parliamentary-method.' (Parl. Hist. xi. 1047.)

Still more striking is the difference in the two reports of a speech by Lord Talbot on May 25, 1742. According to the Gent. Mag. xii. 519, 'the Hurgo Toblat spoke to this effect':—

'So high is my veneration for this great assembly that it is never without the utmost efforts of resolution that I can prevail upon myself to give my sentiments upon any question that is the subject of debate, however strong may be my conviction, or however ardent my zeal.'

The Bishop makes him say:—

'I rise up only to give time to others to consider how they will carry on the debate,' (Parl. Hist. xii. 646.) 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 [[w:Gin Act 1743|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' Seeker[1], 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 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 Seeker (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. Seeker 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. 136). 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. i). 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. 174), '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 liis composition of them began November 19, 1740, and ended February 23 [22], 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[2],' in the House of Commons, moved an address to the King for the removal of Sir Robert 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:—

Gentleman's
Magazine.
Debate or part
of debate of
July 1741 {Parliament was dissolved on April 25, 1741} Feb. 13, 1741
Aug. 1741
Feb. 13, 1741
Sept. 1741
Jan. 27, 1741
Mar. 2, 1741
Oct. 1741
Mar. 2, 1741
Nov. 1741
Mar. 2, 1741
Dec. 1741 {The new Parliament met on Dec. 1.} Dec. 9, 1740
Supplement to 1741
Dec. 2, 1740
Dec. 12, 1740
Jan. 1742
Feb. 3, 1741
Feb. 27, 1741
Feb. 1742
Jan. 26, 1741
April. 13, 1741
Mar. 1742
Feb. 24, 1741
April 13, 1741
April 1742
Jan. 27, 1741
Feb. 24, 1741
May. 1742
Nov. 25, 1740
June 1742
Nov. 25, 1740
April. 8, 1741
July 1742 {The Session on July 15.} April 8, 1741
Dec. 1, 1741
Dec. 4, 1741
Aug. 1742
Dec. 4, 1741
Sept. 1742
Dec. 4, 1741
Dec. 8, 1741
Oct. 1742
Dec. 8, 1741
May. 25, 1742
Nov. 1742 {The Session Opened on Nov. 16.} May. 25, 1742
Dec. 1742
May. 25, 1742
June. 1, 1742
Supplement to 1742
Dec. 10, 1740
June. 1, 1742
Jan. 1743
Dec. 10, 1740
Feb. 1743
Feb. 13, 1741
Mar. 1743
Feb. 13, 1741
April 1743 The Session ended on April 21 Feb. 13, 1741
May 1743
Mar. 9, 1742
Nov. 16, 1742
June 1743
Mar. 9, 1742
Feb. 1, 1743
July 1743
Mar. 9, 1742
Mar. 23, 1742
Feb. 1, 1743
Aug. 1743
Feb. 1, 1743
Sept. 1743
Feb. 1, 1743
Oct. 1743
Feb. 1, 1743
Nov. 1743
Feb. 22, 1743
Dec. 1743 The Session opened on Dec. 1 Feb. 22, 1743
Supplement to 1743
Feb. 22, 1743
Jan. 1744
Feb. 22, 1743
Feb 1744
Dec. 10, 1742
Feb. 22, 1743
Mar. 1744
Dec. 10, 1742


During the rest of 1744 the debates were given in the old form, and in a style that is a close imitation of Johnson's. Most likely they were composed by Hawkesworth (ante, p. 293). 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.

  1. 'E'en in a bishop I can spy desert,

    Seeker is decent, Rundel has a heart.'

    Pope, Epil. Sat. 11. 70.

  2. So Smollett calls him in his History of England, iii. 16.