The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 3. Accession of George III; Loyal Tory Pamphleteers
Save the honest Monitor, these Grub-street railers vanished with the whig feud which called forth their exertions, and the splendid success of the great commoner’s ministry almost succeeded in silencing criticism. It required a new ferment of public opinion, a new conflict of principles and a renewed struggle for the possession of power to reawaken the fires of controversy, which, this time, were not to be quenched. George III’s accession and his personal policy gave the signal. The new king was determined to choose his own ministers and break up the band of ruling whigs. The now loyal tories were to share in the government, and the system of king William’s time was to be revived. The first literary sign of the change was a rally of pamphleteers for the defence and propagation of the royal views. In 1761, Lord Bath—the William Pulteney who, in the last reign, had led the opposition to Walpole and helped to set on foot The Craftsman—published his Seasonable Hints from an Honest Man, which contained an able exposition of the whig system and its vices, and outlined the new programme. Others followed, professional writers for the most part, such as the veteran Shebbeare and the elder Philip Francis—in his Letter from the Cocoa-Tree to the Country Gentlemen, which was not devoid of skill—and Owen Ruffhead, formerly editor of The Con-Test. But, in spite of the real ability displayed by these writers, their frequent ignorance of the true course of events and the lack of good faith habitual to them prevented them from attaining to any real excellence.