« PreviousContinue »
the acrimony and effervescence of party zeal, and to support the characters of public men in the eyes of the people, appear to be the objects of this production; which, as far as I can form an opinion, from the few pages before me, is written with elegance and candour.
84. The Spy. In the title-page these essays are announced to be written“ in the Manner of the Spectator," and that they “ will be chiefly directed to the Exposure of Folly; the Satirising of Absurdity; the Detection of Duplicity; and the Chastisement of Villany; by holding them up to universal Contempt and Execration. Pulemics and Politics are equally excluded.”
I have seen but six numbers of the Spy; the first dated April 4th, 1808; and the sixth, May 9th, 1808. It is, perhaps, premature to form an estimate of talent from so imperfect a specimen; but, I apprehend, at present it may be said, that the execution is not adequate to the intentions of the writer.
* A few periodical papers, the objects of which were too confined and professional for general readers, I have de-, signedly omitted; such as the Templar of 1796, the Medical Spectator, &c. &c.
CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE WORK. TABLE
OF PERIODICAL PAPERS, FROM THE YEAR
COMMENCEMENT OF THE TATLER.
It has been my endeavour, that, in conformity
possess one harmonious
With this object steadily in view, have the different portions of these Essays been constructed; so as, I trust, to afford a clear, and distinctly arranged, retrospect of Periodical Literature for the last hundred years.
To the due execution of the plan, which was intended to blend Biography, Criticism, and His. torical Enquiry, it became necessary, amid pro
ductions so numerous and varied, and occupyin: such a lapse of time, to distribute the work ini two divisions; and, in doing this, not only to connect these divisions by a general similarity design, and by bringing forward an uninterrupted series of periodical essays; but to select also from each division such prominent objects, as, by being placed on the fore-ground, might relieve, and for a centre of union to, the surrounding groupes.
In the first division, therefore, of these Essays it will be found that the biography of STEELE and Addison has been given at full length; and, as they are the undisputed fathers of periodical composition, this biography has been accompanied with a large body of critical matter; whilst to the other numerous contributors to the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, attention has been given, in proportion to the bulk and importance of their assistance. Thus the keeping of the picture is, I flatter myself, sufficiently preserved.
In the second division, which continues the history, and is indissolubly connected with the first, by an unbroken chain of periodical literature, the figure of Johnson stands preeminently conspicuous; and imparts, by his towering superiority, and by the due disposition of his coadjutors and
rm followers, the requisite unity and simplicity of
The Addisonian and Johnsonian papers, therefore, the Biographies of Steele, and Addison, and Johnson, have been fixed upon as the primary objects of illustration. Upon these, the fullest light, which I have been able to collect, has been thrown; while the residue of this extensive subject has been finished, and brought forward, with a stronger or a fainter outline, with a force and
prominency of shade or illumination, correspond a bunge
ing, I hope, with the value which, in the opinion of the best judges, should be attached to its component parts.
Whatever shall be thought of the structure and arrangement of these volumes, I trust that neither industry, nor purity of motive, will be found wanting. I shall only add, that, with the exception of a few political productions, almost every paper which could be procured, has been read through; and that, in commencing, carrying on, and finishing the work, the chief inducements have been a love of literary occupation, and an ardent wish to promote the interests of useful learning and practical morality.
I close this undertaking with a Table of Periodical Papers, from the year 1709 to the year
Dinected with a riodical literes In-eminee towering state
1809; in the construction of which, the day or month of the commencement of each paper, whenever it could be satisfactorily ascertained, has been given. There will be found also in this Table three periodical works not previously noticed; namely, a Tatler, published at Edinburgh in 1711; and The WANDERER, and The Entertainer: the Tatler I have not been able to procure; but the other two have lately fallen into my possession. The Wanderer is the production of a Mr. John Fox, and consists of twenty-six essays, which were published weekly; the first dated February 9th, 1717, and the last August 1st, 1717; they were collected the year following in an octavo volume, with the addition of an Heroic Poem, entitled, Public Spirit. The Wanderer is employed on miscellaneous topics, avowedly excluding politics; but the style is bad, and the matter trifling.
The Entertainer extends to forty-three weekly numbers, 12mo. commencing on November 6th, 1717, and terminating on August 27th, 1718. It is a violent Tory and High-church paper, written with great vulgarity and abusive warmth; and is, indeed, in every respect, below mediocrity,
The few papers, in the following Table, to which an asterisk * is prefixed, I have not been