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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 designedly omitted; such as the Templar of 1796, the Medical Spectator, &c. &c.
OF THE WHOLE WORK. TABLE
PAPERS, FROM THE YEAR
1709, TO THE YEAR 1809; BEING THE
IT has been my endeavour, that, in conformity
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 Historical Enquiry, it became necessary, amid pro
ductions so numerous and varied, and occupying such a lapse of time, to distribute the work in two divisions; and, in doing this, not only t connect these divisions by a general similarity of design, and by bringing forward an uninterrupte 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 accom panied 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 impor tance of their assistance. Thus the keeping of the picture is, I flatter myself, sufficiently pre
In the second division, which continues the his tory, and is indissolubly connected with the first, by an unbroken chain of periodical literature, the figure of JOHNSON stands pre-eminently conspi cuous; and imparts, by his towering superiority, and by the due disposition of his coadjutors and
Veh at ted fathers aphy has
ody of cre
rous contrus Guardian. to the bul Thus the i myself, su
hich continues nnected with riodical lite
towering su of his coadjut
followers, the requisite unity and simplicity of design.
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 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
1809; in the construction of which, the day of 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