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Title: The Scribbler 1822-04-18 Volume 1, Issue 43

Date of first publication: 1822

Author: Samuel Hull Wilcocke (1766-1833) (Editor)

Date first posted: Jan. 13, 2020

Date last updated: Jan. 13, 2020

Faded Page eBook #20200125

This eBook was produced by: Cindy Beyer & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net


Montreal. Thursday, 18th April, 1822. No. XLIII.

Quisnam igitur liber? sapiens; sibi qui imperiosus;

Quem neque pauperies, neque mors, neque vincula terrent;

Responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores

Fortis et in se ipso totus.


That man alone is free, alone is wise,

Who fears nor poverty, nor death, nor chains,

Scorns to be bribed, and dares refuse to bow

His head to ermined pride, and illgot wealth;

Strong in himself, himself his only lord.

Edita ne brevibus pareat mea charta libellis

Dictatur potius ton d’apameibomenos.


Rather than leave my page half-filled I’d scrawl,

“A cobbler there was and he lived in a stall.”


To Inspector General Macculloh,

I have had the good or bad fortune to intercept another of these singular productions of nature, which I lose no time in communicating.


[1] This letter came with the following note;

Sir,—You may think me an odd sort of a wight to send you such frivolous communications as the inclosed, but in my opinion there is no better method of putting a stop to people’s using or indulging themselves in such low vulgar language than to shew it in the most ridiculous light possible. The other Ant Peg was so well received that I hope you will give this a place in your next Scribbler, and oblige a friend.


My dear Neffew,

I rit to you some time ago jist to inform you that I was keeping tavern a little ways from Montreal and I raly beleave the letter cood not a bin gone a week before I sea it full length in a little divilish kind of a newspaper called the Scribbler. Now Jonny you may depend I never was so ratton mad in all my live long days; and if my ould father had not always forbid swareing in his family I shude have been timted to let fly an othe or tue. Says I to my little Nab the minite I sea it how under the son do you think this come to be printed. Poor Nab sea that I was in a plagy sweat about it. I dont know mam, says she, but sure they be sad retches that stop pepel’s letters and peer and peep into pepel’s secrets. Yes, says I, and print em too, its more shame for them folks that knows better to print sich stuff than to them that rites it. But, says I, I will say this much if I never spick another word, I due vum, I swan, and I snore, I’ll niver right another letter as long as I live. But thank fortune now the winter is over and gone, as the poet says; and I have done so much better than I expected after seaing that letter printed that I feel quite nicely and rugged,[2] for as I told you pepel seemed to be stark-mad, and in spite of every thing as I said before I have had a rite down good run, and I have sartainly made more than a thousand dollars this winter. What do you think of that Jonny? As for the Manshonhouse, the Sitty-tavern and all the rest, I defy them all. Tisent every one that knows how to tickle the young fellers and please every body so well as I due. If this goes safe, Jonny I will right you agin, but if it gits into that tarnal Scribbler you’ll never here agin from your old infectionate

Ant Peg in the Country.

[2] This is so downright a yankeeism that it must be perfectly unintelligible to an English reader without an explanation. In the dialect of the eastern States, rugged means healthy, ruddy, blooming!!!

It was matter of great surprise to me that for ten months my essays made their weekly appearance, without exciting or provoking any public printed remark, or criticism. I was almost au desespoir for fear that I should continue to walk over the course without a single one venturing to enter the lists; I have purposely inserted in my papers some blunders, and have started some peculiar topics, in the hopes of provoking animadversion; at length, to my great satisfaction, two or three writers have come forward. One who signed Jacusnesus, in the Montreal Gazette, a fortnight ago, I answered the following week, and have apparently written him down. To D. H. in the Quebec Mercury of last week I have sent my answer; and my own individual reply to Mores in last week’s Gazette, appears in this week’s, in which I trust I shall be found to have done justice to the gentlemanly language, and apparently worthy, though mistaken, motives that induced that writer to take up his pen, whilst I have repelled with becoming indignation his personal insinuations against me, for, whilst deprecating personality, he has deeply dipped his pen in the blackest gall that flows from the vile recesses of calumny that are to be found in the dens of the despicable and profligate men at the head of the late North West Company. The maxim upon which I always have acted, and mean to act, is, never to suffer any thing to go unanswered; but, although I do not intend to occupy the pages of the Scribbler with my answers to attacks that may be made upon me or upon my writings, excepting in case the editors of papers in which they appear should refuse to publish my replies, I should be doing injustice to myself, as well as to an ingenious correspondent to whom I am indebted for several valuable communications, were I to refrain from publishing the following letter.



That calumnious attack on the character of the Scribbler which appeared this week in the columns of the Gazette, would not require much notice, were it not that the author has contrived to cast the mantle of religion and holy zeal over the baser motives of his conduct. It is evident that the work which he pleases to reprobate as hostile to good morals is a just and faithful exposure of those irregular habits and eccentricities of life which the general sense of mankind has agreed to condemn. How then it can operate against the interests of religion and morality is not easily conceived. Mores, amidst a profusion of verbiage, has adduced but one solitary example in proof of his doctrine, and it amounts only to an abuse of his own reasons, for he can not but be aware that no writings, far less satirical ones, can be so conducted that an impure mind will not find in them some aliment congenial to its own taste. If it be a crime to expose the inordinate pretensions and insolent behaviour of men who have blundered themselves into prosperity on the pinions of commerce, and who only maintain their consequence by purchasing respect—if it be a crime to hold up to public detestation flagrant instances of debauchery, villainy, and brutality—or if it be a crime to enter a caveat against cock-fighting, and man-fighting, and to satirize a pious and learned clergyman for encouraging such sanguinary sports,—the Scribbler is certainly guilty in no common degree.

The very imputation of immorality cast upon your valuable paper being made in a place which never before felt the benefit of wholesome chastisement from pen or pulpit, is an indirect evidence of its excellence. This evinces that the satire is felt, that the “galled jade winces,” that it is merely the cry of the sufferer from wounded pride, and exasperated feeling;—it proceeds from one who has been much pleased with himself and flattered by others, because he is a pretty man, reads novels, and is very loquacious withal. It is to be hoped, however, that reformation will be the result after the turmoil of passion has subsided; and particularly that he will appear less delighted with his own conversation, and occasionally allow others an opportunity of remark.


I can not pass over without the severest reprehension a paragraph that appeared in the Canadian Courant of Saturday last. In reply to correspondents, the conductors of that paper, “acknowledging the force of the appeal which X. Y.[3] makes to the feelings of the community, knowing that the abuse he complains of calls aloud for redress, and feeling as he does on the subject,” yet decline publishing his letter because “it would be of no avail and they do not wish to attempt the correction of abuse justly chargeable to high authority when they are sure of failing in the endeavour.” Can there be a more craven, cowardly motive assigned? Can there be a more shameful, a more venal, dereliction from the important duties owing to the public by a public writer? What authority can be so high—what power so great—what influence so mighty—what injustice so firmly seated, that it is not the bounden duty of the British press to attack, to expose, and to counteract, if the abuses they occasion call aloud for redress? I beg to inform X. Y. that I am fearless, and incorruptible, pledged, by having suffered injustice, to make war against oppression, and unconquerable in my determination to expose whatever deserves exposure, be it in the high or in the low; and that, provided his animadversions do not relate to external politics, or controversial divinity, the pages of the Scribbler are open to him, and to all who hold that maxim of Horace

Principibus placuisse viris, non ultima laus est.

To cringe to great men is both mean and wicked.

[3] After the Scribbler was in type, the Courant of yesterday made its appearance, in which X. Y.’s communication is inserted. The very shameful sentiment, however, before avowed, would make me unwilling to cut out this paragraph, were it even practicable.

Struggling between my unwillingness to enter into the barren and thorny path of word-sifting, and my desire to oblige a correspondent, I must beg his pardon for having curtailed his communication, which indeed my space would not allow of giving entire. A short time ago some passages in English authors, alleged to be ungrammatical, were proposed in the Herald for correction; and an insertion which appeared in the Courant on the subject has been considered by the original proposer as meant to ridicule him. This has given occasion to a letter of which the following is the substance.


Mr. Editor,

When I gave the sentences for insertion to the Editor of the Herald, I expected that some person would correct their errors; and little supposed that the Editor of the Courant would make them the subject of ridicule. In all civilized countries but in this, where education is only a secondary consideration, such things instead of being considered as childish, employ the pen of men of erudition. That this sapient innovator, whose coinage of new words &c. establishes my assertion, has attempted, as appears by his own words, which are as follows, “I have endeavoured,” (he ought to have added, “in vain, for I have not the abilities,”) “to correct the errors of a grammarian in the last Herald,” to correct the childish question, as he has called it, is manifest; and not being able to accomplish the attempt, published his celebrious production against it. And that too, Mr. Editor, in the open defiance of one of the simplest rules of English grammar, which says, “a verb must agree with its nominative case in number and person.” For this violation of syntax I refer you to the third sentence of the production in question; wherein he says, “the reason for the conduct of the pedant need not be given.”[4] Thus has this editor given an instance of the third person singular agreeing with the verb in the plural form. I thought at first that it was a typographical error; but on second consideration I recollected that the same solecism had been frequently used in some of his former papers.

N. B. The sentences still remain uncorrected.


[4] G—— is probably not aware that the verb neuter, to need, “to be in want of,” is distinct in meaning and in conjugation from the verb impersonal, not to need, “there is no necessity for” which, properly speaking, has neither person nor number, though needs is right when used in the contrary sense, “there is a necessity for,” as exemplified in the sentences, “needs must, when the devil drives,” “it needs a man of ability to do so.” But, altho’ I am not inclined to go the length of the great Locke, who, disgusted with verbal cavillings and petty criticisms, more frequent in his age than ours, scruples not to speak of grammar as unnecessary to the perfect knowledge either of the dead or the living languages, yet I consider that much more time and paper is wasted upon such nugæ than the utmost benefit which the detection of trivial inaccuracies of language can produce, is worth.


To be sold by Auction, the 25th instant, at the house of A. N. MacLeod, Esq. A select library of 1000 volumes, and a small cabinet of curiosities. Catalogues to be had of Cuvillier & Cartier.


Just Published. By T. G. Preston, St. François Xavier Street, a Print of the Episcopal Parish Church of Montreal, from the graver of a first rate artist; 9 inches by 16, price 2s. 6d.



I must consider again before I can admit Sappho to the honours of insertion; yet her playful wit, and vivid fancy are so attractive that I hope she will try her silken hand again: but let her read No. XI of the Scribbler, and study to avoid the fault of Cunegonda. Hudibras (whose scrap was mislaid) Captain Flash and Skimmerhorn next week; and as soon as possible, A dialogue between the widow Ogledem and Lord Goddamnhim, by Jack in the Corner, Rion Grapheus’ biographical memoirs of the Loverules, Jarrets, etc. if * * * * * My Quebec aides-de-camp, will very soon see their reports in print, but they are requested, (particularly the Reporter to the Agricultural Society, always to transmit a key.) Pluto, Rob-Roy, Jeremy Tickler, Tim Twist, Argus, Humphry Clinker, Trip etc. are received and will be attended to. The many enquirers after the letters from Pulo Penang, are informed they will be continued as soon as ever space will admit. The Invisible Spy is too trivial and incorrect. Will o’ the Wisp, to whom many thanks are due for his prompt compliance with my request, would have seen his excellent verses in this number, had they not been left out for want of room, after having been sent to the printer.

I am happy to find that my fellow-labourer Gamaliel Optick, Esquire, editor of The Microscope, at Albany, has declared that he will admit communications from Montreal, to a limited extent, into his very spirited satirical miscellany. The distance, however, rendering it possible that he may be imposed on by misrepresentations, it is necessary that every communication, (post paid,) having a personal bearing, should be accompanied by the name of the author and countersigned by Mr. N. Bennett, agent for The Microscope, in Montreal. This may be of admirable utility, for when my correspondents transmit me such communications as my printer may not deem it safe to publish, I shall advise their being sent to Mr. Optick. I warmly recommend his paper to the public of Montreal. It is published in Albany every Saturday at fifty cents per twelve numbers, payable in advance, and subscriptions received by Mr. N. Bennett, St. Paul Street, Montreal.

L. L. M.


Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected. Where multiple spellings occur, majority use has been employed.

Punctuation has been maintained except where obvious printer errors occur.


[The end of The Scribbler 1822-04-18 Volume 1, Issue 43 edited by Samuel Hull Wilcocke]