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Literary and Political Journal.
JULY TO DECEMBER,
WM. S. ORR AND COMPANY, LONDON.
Was there ever a time that did not think highly of its own importance ? Was there ever a time when the world did not believe itself to be going to pieces, and when alarming pamphlets on “the present crisis” did not lie unbought on the counters of the booksellers ? Poor mortals that we are, how we do inake the most of our own little portion in the general drama of history! Nor are we quite wrong, after all. There is nothing really to laugh at in our laborious anxieties about this same “present crisis,” which is always happening, and never over. “ We live in earnest times "_what is there in the incessant repetition of this stereotyped phrase, but an explicit assertion, as it were, by each generation for itself, that the great sense of life, transmitted already through so many generations, is now, in turn, passing through it? The time that we ourselves are alive, the time that our eyes behold the light, and that the breath is strong in our nostrils, that is the crisis for us; and although it belongs to a higher than we to determine the worth of what we do, yet that we should do everything with a certain amount of vehemence and bustle, seems but the necessary noise of the shuttle, as we weave forth our allotted portion of the general web of exist. ence.
Well, eighty years ago, there was “a crisis” in England. That was the time, reader, when our great-grandfathers, laudably intent on bring ing about your existence and mine, were, for that purpose, paying court
VOL. XXXVIII.-NO. CCXXIII.
to our reluctant great-grandmothers. George III., an obese young sovereign of thirty-three, had then been ten years on the throne. Newspapers were not so numerous as now; parliament was not open to reporters; and, had gentlemen of the liberal press been alive with their present political opinions, every soul of them would have been hanged. Nevertheless, people got on very well ; and there was enough for a nation of seven millions to take interest in and talk about, when they were in an inquisitive humour. Lord North, for example, an ungainly country gentleman, with goggle eyes and big cheeks, had just succeeded the Duke of Grafton as the head of a Tory ministry ; Lord Chatham, throwing off his gout for the occasion, had, at the age of sixty-two, resumed his place in the public eye as the thundering Jove of the Opposition ; Bute and Scotchmen were still said to be sucking the blood of the nation; and Edmund Burke, then in the prime of his strength and intellect, was publishing masterly pamphlets, and trying to construct, under the auspices of the Marquis of Rockingham, a new Whig party. Among the potabilities out of parliament were, Dr. Samuel Johnson, then past his sixty-first year, and a most obstinate old Tory; his friend Sir Joshua, fourteen years younger; Goldy, several years younger still; and Garrick, fifty-four years of age, but as sprightly as ever. In another circle, but not less prominently before the town, were Parson Horne and Mrs. Macaulay; and all England was ring