A General Index to the First Twenty Volumes of the Gentleman’s Magazine, in five parts. To which is added, an index to the first volume of the miscellaneous correspondence

Published: London: E. Cave, at St. John's Gate

Date: 1753

Octavo (210 x 135 mm.), full contemporary calf, gilt ruled, raised bands with very ornate gilt compartments and gilt title label. [2], ii, [296], 4 pp. including 4 front & final blank endpapers, in good condition.

This very rare work is an index to the first twenty volumes of the Gentleman's Magazine. It was published by Edward Cave who gave the then struggling SAMUEL JOHNSON (1709-84) his first major break. Johnson was a regular contributor particularly of political material. Indeed at a time when the reporting of the proceedings of the Houses of Parliament was banned he found a way around it. He called the reports "Debates of the Senate of Magna Lilliputia". They were allegedly written by the hand of Lemuel Gulliver's grandson. These accounts began in June 1738 following the House of Commons resolution banning reporting of proceedings and ran to 1745. Although the words were his own they were an accurate representation of the participants. They cover Robert Walpole's rise and the period leading up to the War of Jenkins's Ear in North America. 'Columbia', the poetic name for America first coined and used by Johnson in the Magazine in 1738. It has its own entry in the Index. "Johnson and his collaborators evolved a complex code to record the debates, mixing allegorical byplay in the manner of Swift with studied Ciceronian oratory: speeches were put into the mouths of characters whose names transparently revealed their real identity (as ‘Walelop’ or ‘Ptit’)" (ODNB). Indeed they are held in such high regard that they are taken as an accurate record of the proceedings. This work was published two years before Johnson seminal 'Dictionary of the English Language' and it is most likely he had a hand in its construction. The Preface is written by Johnson and the contents include a list of his own contributions. The final four pages of advertisements are here placed at the end of the work. Bookplate of Sir Charles Henry Frankland (1716-68)- of Great Thirkleby Hall, Thirsk, to front pastedown, contemporary ownership signature to verso of front blank. Provenance: bookplate of Frankland. ESTC N30705; Fleeman, J.D. Johnson, 53.2GM/1.


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