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[118] writers was never long sustained above mere invective, though it sometimes began with tolerable Hudibrastic or Popean couplets. The Dunciad and Hudibras were well known and often quoted in such bitter controversies as the famous Whitefield warfare in Charleston between 1740 and 1745. A Tale of a Tub and Gulliver's travels also furnished admirable epithets for one's foes. Occasionally some journalist tried to moderate the heat of battle by recurring to the dignity of Addison. In political controversy, especially if he happened to be a liberal, he preferred Cato's letters,1 Locke, or Algernon Sidney, throughout the early period. Thus it was that the colonists from Boston to Savannah were constantly imbibing advanced British constitutional theories.

After 1750, general news became accessible, and the newspapers show more and more interest in public affairs. The literary first page was no longer necessary, though occasionally used to cover a dull period. A new type of vigorous polemic gradually superseded the older essay. A few of the well-known conventions were retained, however. We still find the fictitious letter, with the fanciful signature, or a series of papers under a common title, such as The Virginia-Centinel, or Livingston's Watch-Tower. The former is a flaming appeal to arms, running through The Virginia gazette in 1756, and copied into Northern papers to rouse patriotism against the French enemy. The expression of the sentiment, even thus early, seems national. This whole series, though somewhat florid in style, shows the familiarity of the cultivated Southerner with his favourite English poets,--Young, Pope, Shakespeare. Livingston's well-known Watch-Tower,2 a continuation of his pamphlet-magazine The independent Reflector, has already the keen edge of the Revolutionary writings of fifteen and twenty years later. The fifty-second number even has one of the popular phrases of the Revolution: “Had I not sounded the Alarm, Bigotry would e'er now have triumphed over the natural Rights of British Subjects.” 3

This expression “natural rights,” occurring so early as 1755

1 Cato's letters or The British Cato, a series of political papers by Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard, published in London from 1720 to 1723.

2 Appearing in Gaine's Mercury in 1754-1755.

3 The italics are not in the original.

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