« PreviousContinue »
Essay 1. Sketches Biographical and Critical of
the Occasional Contributors to the Rambler, Adventurer, and Idler.
Essay 2. The same continued.
ESSAY 3. The same concluded
Essay 1. Observations on the Periodical Papers
which were written during the Publication of the Rambler, Adventurer, and Idler.
Essay 2. Observations on the Periodical Papers
which have been published between the Close of the Idler and the present period.
Essay 3. The same concluded.
PART V. Essay. Conclusion of the whole Work. Table
of Periodical Papers from the year 1709 to the year 1809, being the completion of a Century from the commencement of the Tatler.
Hadleigh, Suffolk, | July 1st, 1808.
THE PUBLICATION OF THE TATLER, SPECTATOR, AND GUARDIAN.
That the highly-finished models of Periodical Composition which had been given to the world by Steele and Addison, should excite a spirit of emulation, and give birth to a number of competitors, was an event equally to be wished for and expected. Such, however, was the literary excellence of which the Spectator had to boast, that many years elapsed before a Paper was
produced whose merits afforded any very just title to the claim of rivalship. In the interim, it properly becomes a part of our province not wholly to overlook the crowd of publications which, under the appellation of periodical, issued in succession from the press. An attention to these various works, and they are infinitely more numerous than has been generally supposed, will, if duly proportioned to their moral and literary rank, not only be singularly curious, as affording à novel view of the progress of polite literature, but will, at the same time, prove the best introduction to the classical labours of the Rambler,
The popularity which attended the periodical productions of Steele and Addison, and the admiration which they had excited throughout the kingdom, speedily established a decided taste for a species of composition alike adapted to grave or gay subjects, to the purposes of instruction and amusement; and fortunate would it have been for the interests of general literature, had the swarm of imitators strictly confined themselves to the plan of the Spectator, to a laudable attempt at reforming the morals and the manners of the age. The facility, however, with which this mode of writing might be rendered a vehicle for slander, for rancorous politics and virulent satire, soon tempted many to deviate from the salutary example of the authors of the Tatler and Spectator; and the former of these papers had not run half its course before it was assailed by a multitude of writers, who were actuated by no other motives than those of envy and ill-nature. Of a few of these antagonists, Addison has condescended to take some notice in the Tatler, No 229, and has probably preserved the names of several productions which had otherwise been unknown to posterity. “I was threatened,” he observes, “ to be answered weekly tit for tat; I was undermined by the Whisperer; haunted by Tom Brown's Ghost; scolded at by a Female Tatler.-I have been annotated, re-tattled, eramined, and condoled.”
In the catalogue of periodical works which I am about to place before the reader, I shall, as a matter of mere curiosity, enumerate, as far as my researches have enabled me to proceed, every Paper, literary or political, which, in its form or mode of publication, has adopted the plan of the Spectator and Freeholder. As the principal intention, however, of these pages is to mark the progress of elegant literature, and of moral improvement, and to ascertain how far the periodical Essayists have contributed towards their promotion, I shall dwell on those productions alone which have been written, not only in the