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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

VIII. Historical and Political Writers

§ 6. The Craftsman and its Contributors

The Craftsman had a much longer, as well as a merrier, life than was reached by most of the political periodicals proper of the early Hanoverian period—The Englishman, The Examiner and the rest (it is unnecessary to go back upon earlier sheets of a more mixed kind); for, in one way or another, it lasted for nine or ten years, and, according to Goldsmith, sold much more rapidly than of old had The Spectator itself. It was edited by Nicholas Amhurst, a light-hearted Oxonian, who, a few years earlier, had been invited to leave his university for his university’s good, and was published by him in conjunction with an enterprising London printer, Richard Francklin. The signatures of the contributors were intentionally chosen and interchanged so as to mystify the ill- and defy the well-informed (including Walpole, who employed more than one doughty pen on the preparation of retorts). Among these contributors were, in addition to Amhurst (who started the paper under the name Caleb D’Anvers), Bolingbroke, Pulteney and Pulteney’s cousin David; also, the chief of the opposition wits (in truth, there were not many wits on the other side), Arbuthnot and Swift, and, probably, Gay and Pope. Amhurst was, in 1741, succeeded in the editorship by Thomas Cooke (commonly called “Hesiod Cooke” from his translation of Hesiod, 1728); and among the later writers in the journal were Lyttelton and Akenside. Eustace Budgell, formerly a follower of Addison and a writer in The Spectator, as well as a whig official, had, after (according to his own account) losing a fortune in the South Sea, turned against Walpole and became a contributor to The Craftsman.

Of Bolingbroke’s contributions, with which we are here chiefly concerned, the bulk is held to belong to the years 1727–31. The first of these, as it seems, appeared in no. 16 of The Craftsman (27 January, 1727), with the title The First Vision of Camelick. Under the thin disguise of an eastern allegory, this piece is a virulent attack on the arbitrary rule of Walpole, who is denounced, with extreme malignity, as a vizier of “blunt, ruffianly malignity … his face bronzed over with a glare of confidence.” He tramples on the backs of the parliament men on his way to the throne; nor is it till his collapse that the radiant volume of the constitution reappears, while heaven and earth resound with the cry of liberty, and “the Heart of the King is glad within him.” Among other acknowledged papers by Bolingbroke in the earlier numbers of The Craftsman are two out of three bearing the signature “John Trot” (afterwards qualified as “yeoman”), of which the earlier controverts, not very frankly, the arguments of The London Journal, then supposed to be under the direction of Benjamin Hoadly (bishop of Salisbury, and, afterwards, of Winchester), on the subject of the unwillingness of Walpole’s government to declare war against Spain. A later paper, which forms one of a supplementary set printed by Francklin, as The Craftsman Extraordinary, discusses the alleged failure of the ministry to obtain anything from that power in the preliminaries of the congress of Cambray, and ends with an adjuration to the bishop to feed “the Flock committed to his Charge,” in obedience to the Apostolical Constitutions, lib. II, c. 6, cited for his benefit in both Latin and English.