EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION
JOHN LOUIS HANEY, PH.D.
Assistant Professor of English and History, Central High School, Philadelphia; Research Fellow in English, University of Pennsylvania
PHILADELPHIA THE EGERTON PRESS 1904
COPYRIGHT, 1904 BY JOHN LOUIS HANEY
PRESS OF THE NEW ERA PRINTING COMPANY, LANCASTER, PA.
MY FRIEND AND TEACHER
PROFESSOR FELIX E. SCHELLING
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
"Among the amusing and instructive books that remain to be written, one of the most piquant would be a history of the criticism with which the most celebrated literary productions have been greeted on their first appearance before the world." It is quite possible that when Dr. William Matthews began his essay on Curiosities of Criticism with these words, he failed to grasp the full significance of that future undertaking. Mr. Churton Collins recently declared that "a very amusing and edifying record might be compiled partly out of a selection of the various verdicts passed contemporaneously by reviews on particular works, and partly out of comparisons of the subsequent fortunes of works with their fortunes while submitted to this censorship." Both critics recognize the fact that such a volume would be entertaining and instructive; but, from another point of view, it would also be a somewhat doleful book. Even a reader of meagre imagination and rude sensibilities could not peruse such a volume without picturing in his mind the anguish and the heart-ache which those bitter and often vicious attacks inflicted upon the unfortunate victims whose works were being assailed.
Authors (particularly sensitive poets) have been at all times the sport and plaything of the critics. Mrs. Oliphant, in her Literary History of England, said with much truth: "There are few things so amusing as to read a really 'slashing article'—except perhaps to write it. It is infinitely easier and gayer work than a well-weighed and serious criticism, and will always be more popular. The lively and brilliant examples of the art which dwell in the mind of the reader are invariably of this class." Thus it happens that we remember the witty onslaughts of the reviewers, and often ignore the fact that certain witticisms drove Byron, for example, into a frenzy of anger that called forth the most vigorous satire of the century; and others so completely unnerved Shelley that he felt tempted to write no more; and still others were so unanimously hostile in tone that Coleridge thought the whole detested tribe of critics was in league against his literary success. There were, of course, such admirable personalities as Wordsworth's—for the most part indifferent to the strongest torrent of abuse; and clever craftsmen like Tennyson, who, although hurt, read the criticisms and profited by them; but, on the other hand, there are still well-informed readers who believe that the Quarterly Review at least hastened the death of poor Keats.
It has been suggested that such a volume of the "choice crudities of criticism" as is here proposed would likewise fulfill the desirable purpose of avenging the author upon his ancient enemy, the critic, by showing how absurd the latter's utterances often are, and what a veritable farrago of folly those collected utterances can make. We may rest assured that however much hostile criticism may have pained an author, it has never inflicted a permanent injury upon a good book. If there appear to be works that have been thus more or less obscured, the fault will probably be found not in the critic but in the works themselves. According to this agreeable theory, which we would all fain believe, the triumph of the ignorant or malevolent critic cannot endure; sooner or later the author's merit will be recognized and he will come into his own.
The present volume does not attempt to fulfill the conditions suggested by Dr. Matthews and Mr. Collins. A history of contemporary criticism of famous authors would be a more ambitious undertaking, necessitating an extensive apparatus of notes and references. It seeks merely to gather a number of interesting anomalies of criticism—reviews of famous poems and famous poets differing more or less from the modern consensus of opinion concerning those poems and their authors. Although most of the chosen reviews are unfavorable, several others have been selected to afford evidence of an early appreciation of certain poets. A few unexpectedly favorable notices, such as the Monthly Review's critique of Browning's Sordello, are printed because they appear to be unique. The chief criterion in selecting these reviews (apart from the effort to represent most of the periodicals and the principal poets between Gray and Browning) has been that of interest to the modern reader. In most cases, criticisms of a writer's earlier works were preferred as more likely to be spontaneous and uninfluenced by his growing literary reputation. Thus the volume does not attempt to trace the development of English critical methods, nor to supply a hand-book of representative English criticism; it offers merely a selection of bygone but readable reviews—what the critics thought, or, in some cases, pretended to think, of works of poets whom we have since held in honorable esteem. The short notices and the well-known longer reviews are printed entire; but considerations of space and interest necessitated excisions in a few cases, all of which are, of course, properly indicated. The spelling and punctuation of the original texts have been carefully followed.
The history of English critical journals has not yet been adequately written. The following introduction offers a rapid survey of the subject, compiled principally from the sources indicated in the bibliographical list. I am indebted to Professor Felix E. Schelling of the University of Pennsylvania, and to Dr. Robert Ellis Thompson and Professor Albert H. Smyth of the Philadelphia Central High School for many suggestions that have been of value in writing the introduction. Dr. Edward Z. Davis examined at my request certain pamphlets in the British Museum that threw additional light upon the history of the early reviews. Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and Professor J.H. Moffatt read the proofs of the introduction and notes respectively, and suggested several noteworthy improvements.
CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, PHILADELPHIA.
Preface vii Introduction xiii Bibliography lvi
GRAY Odes (Monthly Review) 1 GOLDSMITH The Traveller (Critical Review) 5 COWPER Poems, 1782 (Critical Review) 10 BURNS Poems, 1786 (Edinburgh Magazine) 13 Poems, 1786 (Critical Review) 15 WORDSWORTH Descriptive Sketches (Monthly Review) 16 An Evening Walk (Monthly Review) 19 Lyrical Ballads (Critical Review) 20 Poems, 1807 (Edinburgh Review) 24 COLERIDGE Christabel (Edinburgh Review) 47 SOUTHEY Madoc (Monthly Review) 60 LAMB Blank Verse (Monthly Review) 65 Album Verses (Literary Gazette) 66 LANDOR Gebir (British Critic) 68 Gebir (Monthly Review) 69 SCOTT Marmion (Edinburgh Review) 70 BYRON Hours of Idleness (Edinburgh Review) 94 Childe Harold (Christian Observer) 101 SHELLEY Alastor (Monthly Review) 115 The Cenci (London Magazine) 116 Adonais (Literary Gazette) 129 KEATS Endymion (Quarterly Review) 135 Endymion (Blackwood's Magazine) 141 TENNYSON Timbuctoo (Athenaeum) 151 Poems, 1833 (Quarterly Review) 152 The Princess (Literary Gazette) 176 BROWNING Paracelsus (Athenaeum) 187 Sordello (Monthly Review) 188 Men and Women (Saturday Review) 189
Notes 197 Index 223
To the modern reader, with an abundance of periodicals of all sorts and upon all subjects at hand, it seems hardly possible that this wealth of ephemeral literature was virtually developed within the past two centuries. It offers such a rational means for the dissemination of the latest scientific and literary news that the mind undeceived by facts would naturally place the origin of the periodical near the invention of printing itself. Apart from certain sporadic manifestations of what is termed, by courtesy, periodical literature, the real beginning of that important department of letters was in the innumerable Mercurii that flourished in London after the outbreak of the Civil War. Although the British Museum Catalogue presents a long list of these curious messengers and news-carriers, the only one that could be of interest in the present connection is the Mercurius Librarius; or a Catalogue of Books Printed and Published at London[A] (1668-70), the contents of which simply fulfilled the promise of its title.
Literary journals in England were, however, not a native development, but were copied, like the fashions and artistic norms of that period, from the French. The famous and long-lived Journal des Scavans was begun at Paris in 1665 by M. Denis de Sallo, who has been called, since the time of Voltaire, the "inventor" of literary journals. In 1684 Pierre Bayle began at Amsterdam the publication of Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, which continued under various hands until 1718. These French periodicals were the acknowledged inspiration for similar ventures in England, beginning in 1682 with the Weekly Memorial for the Ingenious: or an Account of Books lately set forth in Several Languages, with some other Curious Novelties relating to Arts and Sciences. The preface stated the intention of the publishers to notice foreign as well as domestic works, and to transcribe the "curious novelties" from the Journal des Scavans. Fifty weekly numbers appeared (1682-83), consisting principally of translations of the best articles in the French journal.
A few years later (1686), the Genevan theologian, Jean Le Clerc, then a resident of London, established the Universal Historical Bibliotheque; or, an Account of most of the Considerable Books printed in All Languages, which was continued by various hands until 1693 in a series of twenty-five quarto volumes. Contemporary with this review was a number of similar publications which had for the most part a brief existence. Among them was the Athenian Mercury, published on Tuesdays and Saturdays (1691-1696), the History of Learning, which appeared for a short time in 1691 and again in 1694; Works of the Learned (1691-92); the Young Student's Library (1692) and its continuation, the Compleat Library (1692-94); Memoirs for the Ingenious (1693); the Universal Mercury (1694) and Miscellaneous Letters, etc. (1694-96). Samuel Parkes includes among the reviews of this period Sir Thomas Pope Blount's remarkable Censura Celebrium Authorum (1690). That popular bibliographical dictionary of criticism (reprinted 1694, 1710 and 1718) is only remembered now for its omission of Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonson and Milton from its list of "celebrated authors." Neither that volume nor the same author's De Re Poetica (1694) finds a proper place in a list of periodicals. They should be grouped with such works as Phillips' Theatrum Poetarum (1675) and Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatic Poets (1691) among the more deliberate attempts at literary criticism.
Between 1692-94 appeared the Gentleman's Journal; or, the Monthly Miscellany. Consisting of News, History, Philosophy, Poetry, Music, Translations, etc. This noteworthy paper, edited by Peter Anthony Motteux while he was translating Rabelais, included among its contributors Aphra Behn, Oldmixon, Dennis, D'Urfey and others. In many ways it anticipated the plan of the Gentleman's Magazine (1731), which has usually been accorded the honor of priority among English literary magazines. The History of the Works of the Learned; or, an Impartial Account of Books lately printed in all Parts of Europe was begun in 1699 and succumbed after the publication of its thirteenth volume (1711). Among its editors was George Ridpath, who was afterwards immortalized in Pope's Dunciad. The careers of the Monthly Miscellany (1707-09) and Censura Temporum (1709-10) were brief. About the same time an extensive series of periodicals was begun by a Huguenot refugee, Michael De la Roche, who fled to England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and became an Episcopalian. After several years of hack-work for the booksellers, he published (1710) the first numbers of his Memoirs of Literature, containing a Weekly Account of the State of Learning at Home and Abroad, which he continued until 1714 and for a few months in 1717. In the latter year he began at Amsterdam his Bibliotheque Angloise (1717-27), continued by his Memoires Litteraires de la Grande Bretagne (1720-1724) after the editorship of the former had been placed in other hands on account of his pronounced anti-Calvinistic views. At Amsterdam, Daniel Le Clerc, a brother of the Jean Le Clerc already mentioned, published his Bibliotheque Choisee (1703-14) and his Bibliotheque Ancienne et Moderne (1714-28). Both of these periodicals suggested numerous ideas to De la Roche, who returned to London and conducted the New Memoirs of Literature (1725-27). His last venture was a Literary Journal, or a Continuation of the Memoirs of Literature, which lasted about a year.
Contemporary with De la Roche, Samuel Jebb conducted Bibliotheca Literaria (1722-24), dealing with "inscriptions, medals, dissertations, etc." In 1728 Andrew Reid began the Present State of the Republick of Letters, which reached its eighteenth volume in 1736. It was then incorporated with the Literary Magazine; or the History of the Works of the Learned (1735-36) and the joint periodical was henceforth published as a History of the Works of the Learned until 1743. Other less extensive literary journals of the same period were Archibald Bower's Historia Literaria (1730-34); the Bee; or, Universal Weekly Pamphlet (1733-35), edited by Addison's cousin, Eustace Budgell; the British Librarian, exhibiting a Compendious Review or Abstract of our most Scarce, Useful and Valuable Books, etc., published anonymously by the antiquarian William Oldys, from January to June, 1737, and much esteemed by modern bibliophiles as a pioneer and a curiosity of its kind; a Literary Journal (1744-49) published at Dublin; and, finally, the Museum; or the Literary and Historical Register. This interesting periodical printed essays, poems and reviews by such contributors as Spence, Horace Walpole, the brothers Warton, Akenside, Lowth and others. It was published fortnightly from March, 1746 to September, 1747, making three octavo volumes.
The periodicals enumerated thus far can hardly be regarded as literary in the modern acceptation of the term; they were, for the most part, ponderous, learned and scientific in character, and, with the exception of the Gentleman's Journal and Dodsley's Museum, rarely ventured into the domain of belles-lettres. An occasional erudite dissertation on classical poetry or on the French canons of taste suggested a literary intent, but the bulk of the journals was supplied by articles on natural history, curious experiments, physiological treatises and historical essays. During the latter half of the eighteenth century theological and political writings, and accounts of travels in distant lands became the staple offering of the reviews.
A new era in the history of English periodicals was marked by the publication, on May 1, 1749, of the first number of the Monthly Review, destined to continue through ninety-six years of varying fortune and to reach its 249th volume. It bore the subtitle: A Periodical Work giving an Account, with Proper Abstracts of, and Extracts from, the New Books, Pamphlets, etc., as they come out. By Several Hands. The publisher was Ralph Griffiths, who continued to manage the review until his death in 1803. It seems remarkable that this periodical which set the norm for half a century should have appeared not only without preface or advertisement, but likewise without patronage or support of any kind. From the first it reviewed poetry, fiction and drama as well as the customary classes of applied literature, and thus appealed primarily to the public rather than, like most of its predecessors, to the learned. Its politics were Whig and its theology Non-conformist. Griffiths was not successful at first, but determined to achieve popularity by enlisting Ruffhead, Kippis, Langhorne and several other minor writers on his critical staff. In 1757 Oliver Goldsmith became one of those unfortunate hacks as a result of his well-known agreement with Griffiths to serve as an assistant-editor in exchange for his board, lodging and "an adequate salary." About a score of miscellaneous reviews from Goldsmith's pen—including critiques of Home's Douglas, Burke's On the Sublime and the Beautiful, Smollett's History of England and Gray's Odes—appeared in the Monthly Review during 1757-58. The contract with Griffiths was soon broken, probably on account of incompatibility of temper. Goldsmith declared that he had been over-worked and badly treated; but it is quite likely that his idleness and irregular habits contributed largely to the misunderstanding.
Meanwhile, a Tory rival and a champion of the Established Church had appeared on the field. A printer named Archibald Hamilton projected the Critical Review: or, Annals of Literature. By a Society of Gentlemen, which began to appear in February, 1756, under the editorship of Tobias Smollett and extended to a total of 144 volumes when it ceased publication in 1817. Its articles were of a high order for the time and the new review soon became popular. The open rivalry between the reviews was fostered by an exchange of editorial compliments. Griffiths published a statement that the Monthly was not written by "physicians without practice, authors without learning, men without decency, gentlemen without manners, and critics without judgment." Smollett retorted that "the Critical Review is not written by a parcel of obscure hirelings, under the restraint of a bookseller and his wife, who presume to revise, alter and amend the articles occasionally. The principal writers in the Critical Review are unconnected with booksellers, unawed by old women, and independent of each other." Such literary encounters did not fail to stimulate public interest in both reviews and to add materially to their circulation.
When the first volume of the Critical Review was complete, the "Society of Gentlemen" enriched it with an ornate, self-congratulatory Preface in which they said of themselves:
"However they may have erred in judgment, they have declared their thoughts without prejudice, fear, or affectation; and strove to forget the author's person, while his works fell under their consideration. They have treated simple dulness as the object of mirth or compassion, according to the nature of its appearance. Petulance and self-conceit they have corrected with more severe strictures; and though they have given no quarter to insolence, scurrility and sedition, they will venture to affirm, that no production of merit has been defrauded of its due share of applause. On the contrary, they have cherished with commendation, the very faintest bloom of genius, even when vapid and unformed, in hopes of its being warmed into flavour, and afterwards producing agreeable fruit by dint of proper care and culture; and never, without reluctance disapproved, even of a bad writer, who had the least title to indulgence. The judicious reader will perceive that their aim has been to exhibit a succinct plan of every performance; to point out the most striking beauties and glaring defects; to illustrate their remarks with proper quotations; and to convey these remarks in such a manner, as might best conduce to the entertainment of the public."
Moreover, these high ideals were entertained under the most unfavorable circumstances. By the time the second volume was complete, the editors took pleasure in announcing that in spite of "open assault and private assassination," "published reproach and printed letters of abuse, distributed like poisoned arrows in the dark," yea, in spite of the "breath of secret calumny" and the "loud blasts of obloquy," the Critical Review was more strongly entrenched than before.
There was more than mere rhodomontade in these words. Not only did open rivalry exist between the two reviews, but they were both made the subject of violent attacks by authors whose productions had been condemned on their pages. John Brine (1755), John Shebbeare (1757), Horace Walpole (1759), William Kenrick (1759), James Grainger (1759) and Joseph Reed (1759) are the earliest of the many writers who issued pamphlets in reply to articles in the reviews. In 1759 Smollett was tried at the King's Bench for aspersions upon the character of Admiral Sir Charles Knowles published in the Critical Review. He was declared guilty, fined L100, and sentenced to three months' imprisonment. Yet in spite of such difficulties, the Critical Review continued to find favor among its readers. The articles written by its "Society of Gentlemen" were on the whole far more interesting in subject and treatment than the work of Griffiths' unfortunate hacks; but the Monthly was also prospering, as in 1761 a fourth share in that review was sold for more than L755.
In 1760 appeared a curious anonymous satire entitled The Battle of the Reviews, which presented, upon the model of Swift's spirited account of the contest between ancient and modern learning, a fantastic description of the open warfare between the two reviews. After a formal declaration of hostilities both sides marshal their forces for the struggle. The "noble patron" of the Monthly is but slightly disguised as the Right Honourable Rehoboam Gruffy, Esq. His associates Sir Imp Brazen, Mynheer Tanaquil Limmonad, Martin Problem, and others were probably recognized by contemporary readers. To oppose this array the Critical summons a force that contains only two names of distinction, Sampson MacJackson and Sawney MacSmallhead (i.e., Smollett). The ensuing battle, which is described at great length, results in a victory for the Critical Review, and the banishment of Squire Gruffy to the land of the Hottentots.
Dr. Johnson's well-known characterization of the two reviews was quite just. On the occasion of his memorable interview (1767) with George III, Johnson gave the King information concerning the Journal des Savans and said of the two English reviews that "the Monthly Review was done with most care; the Critical upon the best principles; adding that the authors of the Monthly Review were enemies to the Church." Some years later Johnson said of the reviews:
"I think them very impartial: I do not know an instance of partiality.... The Monthly Reviewers are not Deists; but they are Christians with as little Christianity as may be; and are for pulling down all establishments. The Critical Reviewers are for supporting the constitution both in church and state. The Critical Reviewers, I believe, often review without reading the books through; but lay hold of a topick and write chiefly from their own minds. The Monthly Reviewers are duller men and are glad to read the books through."
Goldsmith's successor on the Monthly staff was the notorious libeller and "superlative scoundrel," Dr. William Kenrick, who signalized his advent (November, 1759) by writing an outrageous attack upon Goldsmith's Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe. His utterances were so thoroughly unjustified that Griffiths, who had scant reason for praising poor Oliver, made an indirect apology for his unworthy minion by a favorable though brief review (June, 1762) of The Citizen of the World. During 1759 the Critical Review published a number of Goldsmith's articles which probably enabled the impecunious author to effect his removal from the garret in Salisbury Square to the famous lodgings in Green Arbour Court. After March, 1760, we find no record of his association with either review, although he afterwards wrote for the British Magazine and others.
During the latter half of the century several reviews appeared and flourished for a time without serious damage to their well-established rivals. The Literary Magazine; or Universal Review (1756-58) is memorable for Johnson's cooeperation and a half-dozen articles by Goldsmith. Boswell tells us that Johnson wrote for the magazine until the fifteenth number and "that he never gave better proofs of the force, acuteness and vivacity of his mind, than in this miscellany, whether we consider his original essays, or his reviews of the works of others." The London Review of English and Foreign Literature (1775-80) was conducted by the infamous Kenrick and others who faithfully maintained the editor's well-recognized policy of vicious onslaught and personal abuse. Paul Henry Maty, an assistant-librarian of the British Museum, conducted for five years a New Review (1782-86), often called Maty's Review, and dealing principally with learned works. It apparently enjoyed some authority, but both Walpole and Gibbon spoke unfavorably of Maty's critical pretensions. The English Review; or, an Abstract of English and Foreign Literature (1783-96), extended to twenty-eight volumes modelled upon the plan of the older periodicals. In 1796 it was incorporated with the Analytical Review (1788) and survived under the latter title until 1799. The Analytical Review deprecated the self-sufficient attitude of contemporary criticism and advocated extensive quotations from the works under consideration so that readers might be able to judge for themselves. It likewise hinted at the tacit understanding then existing between certain authors, publishers and reviews for their mutual advantage, but which was arousing a growing feeling of distrust on the part of the public. The British Critic (1793-1843) was edited by William Beloe and Robert Nares as the organ of the High Church Party. This "dull mass of orthodoxy" concerned itself extensively with literary reviews; but its articles were best known for their lack of interest and authority. The foibles of the British Critic were satirized in Bishop Copleston's Advice to a Young Reviewer (1807) with an appended mock critique of Milton's L'Allegro. In 1826 it was united with the Quarterly Theological Review and continued until 1843.
The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine; or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor (1799-1821) played a strenuous role in the troublous times of the Napoleonic wars. It continued the policy of the Anti-Jacobin, or Weekly Examiner (1797-98) conducted with such marked vigor by William Gifford, but it numbered among its contributors none of the brilliant men whose witty verses for the weekly paper are still read in the popular Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin. The Review was conducted by John Richards Green, better known as John Gifford. Its articles were at times sensational in character, viciously abusing writers of known or suspected republican sentiments. From its pages could be culled a new series of "Beauties of the Anti-Jacobin" which for sheer vituperation and relentless abuse would be without a rival among such anthologies.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the principal reviews in course of publication were the Monthly, the Critical, the British Critic, and the Anti-Jacobin. The latter was preeminently vulgar in its appeal, the Critical had lost its former prestige, and the other two had never risen above a level of mediocrity. There was more than a lurking suspicion that these periodicals were, to a certain extent, booksellers' organs, quite unreliable on account of the partial and biassed criticisms which they offered the dissatisfied public. The time was evidently ripe for a new departure in literary reviews—for the establishment of a trustworthy critical journal, conducted by capable editors and printing readable notices of important books. People were quite willing to have an unfortunate author assailed and flayed for their entertainment; but they did not care to be deceived by laudatory criticisms that were inspired by the publisher's name instead of the intrinsic merits of the work itself.
Such was the state of affairs when Francis Jeffrey, Henry Brougham and Sydney Smith launched the Edinburgh Review in 1802, choosing a name that had been borne in 1755-56 by a short-lived semi-annual review. There were several significant facts associated with the new enterprise. It was the first important literary periodical to be published beyond the metropolis. It was the first review to appear quarterly—an interval that most contemporary journalists would have condemned as too long for a successful review. Moreover, it was conducted upon an entirely different principle than any previous review; by restricting its attention to the most important works of each quarter, it gave extensive critiques of only a few books in each number and thus avoided the multitude of perfunctory notices that had made previous reviews so dreary and unreadable.
The idea of founding the Edinburgh Review was apparently suggested by Sydney Smith in March, 1802. Jeffrey and Francis Horner were his immediate associates; but during the period of preparation Henry Brougham, Dr. Thomas Brown, Dr. John Thomson and others became interested. After some delay, the first number appeared on October 10, 1802, containing among its twenty-nine articles three by Brougham, five by Horner, six by Jeffrey and nine by Smith. Although there was a slight feeling of disappointment over the mild political tone of the new review, its success was immediate. The edition of 750 copies was speedily disposed of, and within a month a second edition of equal size was printed. There was no regular editor at first, although the publication of the first three numbers was practically superintended by Smith. Afterwards Jeffrey became editor at a salary of L300. He had previously written some articles (including a critique of Southey's Thalaba) for the Monthly Review and was pessimistic enough to anticipate an early failure for the new venture. However, at the time he assumed control (July, 1803) the circulation was 2500, and within five years it reached 8,000 or 9,000 copies. Jeffrey's articles were recognized and much admired; but the success of the Edinburgh was due to its independent tone and general excellence rather than to the individual contributions of its editor. Its prosperity enabled the publishers to offer the contributors attractive remuneration for their articles, thus assuring the cooeperation of specialists and of the most capable men of letters of the day. At the outset, ten guineas per sheet were paid; later sixteen became the minimum, and the average ranged from twenty to twenty-five guineas. When we recall that the Critical Review paid two, and the Monthly Review sometimes four guineas per sheet, we can readily understand the distinctly higher standard of the Edinburgh Review.
Horner left Scotland for London in 1803 to embark upon a political career. During the next six years occasional articles from his pen—less than a score in all—appeared in the review. Smith and Brougham likewise left Edinburgh in 1803 and 1805 respectively; but they ably supported Jeffrey by sending numerous contributions for many years. During the first quarter-century of the review's existence, this trio, with the cooeperation of Sir James Mackintosh and a few others, constituted the mainstay of its success. Jeffrey's remarkable critical faculty was displayed to best advantage in the wide range of articles (two hundred in number) which he wrote during his editorship. It is true that his otherwise sound judgment was unable to grasp the significance of the new poetic movement of his day, and that his best remembered efforts are the diatribes against the Lake Poets. Hence, in the eyes of the modern literary dilettante, he figures as a misguided, domineering Zoilus whose mission in life was to heap ridicule upon the poetical efforts of Wordsworth, Coleridge and the lesser disciples of romanticism.
There are in the early volumes of the Edinburgh no more conspicuous qualities than that air of vivacity and graceful wit, so thoroughly characteristic of Sydney Smith. The reader who turns to those early numbers may be disappointed in the literary quality of the average article, for he will instinctively and unfairly make comparison with more recent standards, instead of considering the immeasurably inferior conditions that had previously prevailed; but we may safely assert that the majority of Smith's articles can be read with interest to-day. He was sufficiently sedate and serious when occasion demanded; yet at all times he delighted in the display of his native and sparkling humor. Although most of his important articles have been collected, far too much of his work lies buried in that securest of literary sepulchres—the back numbers of a critical review.
Henry Brougham at first wrote the scientific articles for the Edinburgh. Soon his ability to deal with a wide range of subjects was recognized and he proved the most versatile of the early reviewers. In the first twenty numbers are eighty articles from his pen. A story that does not admit of verification attributes to Brougham a whole number of the Edinburgh, including an article on lithotomy and another on Chinese music. Later he became especially distinguished for his political articles, and remained a contributor long after Jeffrey and Smith had withdrawn. A comparatively small portion of his Edinburgh articles was reprinted (1856) in three volumes.
Although the young men who guided the early fortunes of the review were Whigs, the Edinburgh was not (as is generally believed) founded as a Whig organ. In fact, the political complexion of their articles was so subdued that even stalwart Tories like Walter Scott did not refrain from contributing to its pages. Scott's Marmion was somewhat sharply reviewed by Jeffrey in April, 1808, and in the following October appeared the article by Jeffrey and Brougham upon Don Pedro Cevallos' French Usurpation of Spain. The pronounced Whiggism of that critique led to an open rupture with the Tory contributors. Scott, who was no longer on the best terms with Constable, the publisher of the Edinburgh, declared that henceforth he could neither receive nor read the review. He proposed to John Murray—then of Fleet Street—the founding of a Tory quarterly in London as a rival to the northern review that had thus far enjoyed undisputed possession of the field, because it afforded "the only valuable literary criticism which can be met with." Murray, who had already entertained the idea of establishing such a review, naturally welcomed the prospect of so powerful an ally. Like a good Tory, Scott felt that the "flashy and bold character of the Edinburgh's politics was likely to produce an indelible impression upon the youth of the country." He ascertained that William Gifford, formerly editor of the Anti-Jacobin newspaper, was willing to take charge of the new review, which Scott desired to be not exclusively nor principally political, but a "periodical work of criticism conducted with equal talent, but upon sounder principle than that which had gained so high a station in the world of letters."
In February, 1809, appeared the first number of the Quarterly Review. Three of its articles were by Scott, who continued to contribute for some time and whose advice was frequently sought by both editor and publisher. Canning, Ellis, and others who had written for the then defunct Anti-Jacobin became interested in the Quarterly; but the principal contributors for many years were Robert Southey, John Wilson Croker and Sir John Barrow. This trio contributed an aggregate of almost five hundred articles to the Quarterly. In spite of its high standard, the new venture was a financial failure for at least the first two years; later, especially in the days of Tory triumph after the overthrow of Napoleon, the Quarterly flourished beyond all expectation. Gifford's salary as editor was raised from the original L200 to L900; for many years Southey was paid L100 for each article. Gifford was distinctly an editor of the old school, with well-defined ideas of his official privilege of altering contributed articles to suit himself—a weakness that likewise afflicted Francis Jeffrey. While it appears that Gifford wrote practically nothing for the review and that the savage Endymion article so persistently attributed to him was really the work of Croker, he was an excellent manager and conducted the literary affairs of the Quarterly with considerable skill. His lack of system and of business qualifications, however, resulted in the frequently irregular appearance of the early numbers.
On account of his failing health, Gifford resigned the editorship of the Quarterly in 1824, and was succeeded by John Taylor Coleridge, whose brief and unimportant administration served merely to fill the gap until an efficient successor for Gifford could be found. The choice fell upon Scott's son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart, who, from 1825 to 1853, proved to be a most capable editor. The subsequent history of the review under Whitwell Elwin (1853-1860), William Macpherson (1860-1867), Sir William Smith (1867-1893), Mr. Rowland Prothero (1894-1899) and the latter's brother, Mr. George Prothero, the present editor, naturally lies beyond the purposes of this introduction.
The period of Lockhart's editorship of the Quarterly was likewise the golden epoch of the Edinburgh. Sydney Smith's contributions ceased about 1828. In the following year Jeffrey was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates. He felt that the tenure of his new dignity demanded the relinquishment of the editorship of an independent literary and political review; accordingly, after editing the ninety-eighth number of the Edinburgh, he retired in favor of Macvey Napier, who had been a contributor since 1805. Napier conducted the review with great success from 1829 until his death in 1847. His policy was to prefer shorter articles than those printed when he assumed control. At first, each number contained from fifteen to twenty-five articles; but the growing length and importance of the political contributions had reduced the average to ten. The return to the original policy naturally resulted in a greater variety of purely literary articles.
Macaulay had begun his association with the Edinburgh by his remarkable essay on Milton in 1825—a bold, striking piece of criticism, full of the fire of youth, which established his literary reputation and gave a renewed impetus to the already prosperous review. During Napier's editorship he contributed his essays on Croker's Boswell, Hampden, Burleigh, Horace Walpole, Lord Chatham, Bacon, Clive, Hastings and many others. Napier experienced some difficulty in steering a middle course for the review between Lord Brougham, who sought to use its pages to further his own political ambitions, and Macaulay, who vigorously denounced the procedure. The Edinburgh was no longer conspicuous among its numerous contemporaries; but the literary quality was much higher than at first. Among the other famous contributors of this period were Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, Thackeray, Bulwer, Hallam, Sir William Hamilton and many others. This was undoubtedly the greatest period in the history of the review. Its power in Whig politics is shown by the fact that Lord Melbourne and Lord John Russell sought to make it the organ of the government.
Napier's successor in 1847 was William Empson, who had contributed to the Edinburgh since 1823 and who held the editorship until his demise in 1852. Next followed Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who, however, resigned in 1855 to become Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Palmerston's cabinet. During his regime he wrote less than a score of articles for the review. His immediate successor was the late Henry Reeve, whose forty years of faithful service until his death in 1895 brings the review practically to our own day. When Reeve began his duties by editing No. 206 (April, 1855) Lord Brougham was the only survivor of the contributors to the original number. In 1857, when a discussion arose between editor and publisher concerning the denunciatory attitude assumed by the review toward Lord Palmerston's ministry, Reeve drew up a list of his contributors at that time, including Bishop (afterwards Archbishop) Tait, George Grote, John Forster, M. Guizot, the Duke of Argyll, Rev. Canon Moseley, George S. Venables, Richard Monckton Milnes and a score of others—most of them "names of the highest honour and the most consistent adherence to Liberal principles." Within the four decades that followed, the personnel of the review has made another almost complete change. A new group of contributors, under the editorship of Hon. Arthur R.D. Elliot, is now striving to maintain the standards of old "blue and yellow." A caustic note in the (1890) Annual Index of Review of Reviews said of the Edinburgh:
"It has long since subsided into a respectable exponent of high and dry Whiggery, which in these later days has undergone a further degeneration or evolution into Unionism.... Audacity, wit, unconventionality, enthusiasm—all these qualities have long since evaporated, and with them has disappeared the political influence of the Edinburgh."
The two great rivals which are now reaching their centenary[B] are still the most prominent, in fact the only well-known literary quarterlies of England. During their life-time many quarterlies have risen, flourished for a time and perished. The Westminster Review, founded 1824, by Jeremy Bentham, appeared under the editorship of Sir John Bowring and Henry Southern. As the avowed organ of the Radicals it lost no time in assailing (principally through the vigorous pens of James Mill and John Stuart Mill) both the Edinburgh and the Quarterly. In 1836 Sir William Molesworth's recently established London Review was united with the Westminster, and, after several changes of joint title, continued since 1851 as the Westminster Review. Since 1887 it has been published as a monthly of Liberal policy and "high-class philosophy." The Dublin Review (London, 1836) still continues quarterly as a Roman Catholic organ; similarly the London Quarterly Review, a Wesleyan organ, has been published since 1853. Of the quarterlies now defunct, it will suffice to mention the dissenting Eclectic Review (1805-68) owned and edited for a time by Josiah Conder; the British Review (1811-25); the Christian Remembrancer (1819-68), which was a monthly during its early history; the Retrospective Review (1820-26, 1853-54) conducted by Henry Southern and afterwards Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas as a critical review for old and curious books; the English Review (1844-53); and the North British Review (1844-71), published at Edinburgh. The impulse toward the study of continental literature during the third decade of the century gave rise to the Foreign Quarterly Review (1827-46); the Foreign Review and Continental Miscellany (1828-30) and the British and Foreign Review (1835-44), continued as the British Quarterly Review (1845-86).
A most determined effort to rival the older quarterlies resulted in the National Review, founded in 1855 by Walter Bagehot and Richard Holt Hutton. Its articles were exhaustive, well-written and thoroughly characteristic of their class. In addition to the excellent work of both editors, there were contributions by James Martineau, Matthew Arnold, and Hutton's brother-in-law, William Caldwell Roscoe. Yet, in spite of the high standards maintained until the end, the National ceased publication in 1864. The many failures in this class of periodicals seem to indicate quite clearly that the spirit of the age no longer favors a quarterly. For our energetic and progressive era such an interval is too long. The confirmed admirer of the elaborate essays of the Edinburgh and the Quarterly will continue to welcome their bulky numbers; but the average reader is strongly prejudiced in favor of the more frequent, more attractive and more thoroughly entertaining monthlies.
It is one of the curiosities in the history of periodical literature that no popular monthly developed during the first half of the nineteenth century: the great quarterlies apparently usurped the entire field. We have already seen that the Critical Review came to an end in 1817 whilst the Monthly continued until 1843. In both cases, however, the publication amounted to little more than a sheer struggle for existence. The Monthly's attempt to imitate in a smaller way the plan of the quarterlies proved an unqualified failure. Neither of the two periodicals established at the beginning of the century ever achieved a position of critical authority. The Christian Observer, started (1802) by Josiah Pratt and conducted by Zachary Macaulay until 1816, was devoted mainly to the abolition of the slave-trade. Its subsequent history until its demise in 1877 is confined almost wholly to the theological pale. The second periodical was the Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature (1806-37), which achieved some literary prominence for a time under the editorship of W.J. Fox. During the last two years of its existence, Richard Hengist Horne and Leigh Hunt became its successive editors, but failed to avert the final collapse.
It would be useless to enumerate the many short-lived attempts, such as the Monthly Censor (1822) and Longman's Monthly Chronicle (1838-41) that were made to provide a successful monthly review. The first of the modern literary monthlies was the Fortnightly Review, established in 1865, evidently upon the model of Revue des Deux Mondes, which had been published at Paris since 1831. Like the great French periodical, it was issued fortnightly (at first) and printed signed articles. It was Liberal in politics, agnostic in religion and abreast of the times in science. The publishers, Messrs. Chapman and Hall, secured an experienced editor in George Henry Lewes, who had contributed extensively to most of the reviews then in progress. The success of the new review was assured by the presence of such names as Walter Bagehot, George Eliot, Sir John Herschel, Mr. Frederic Harrison and Herbert Spencer on its list of contributors. It provided articles of timely interest in politics, literature, art and science; in its early volumes appeared serially Anthony Trollope's Belton Estate and Mr. George Meredith's Vittoria.
Lewes edited the first six volumes, covering the years 1865-66. The review was then made a monthly without, however, changing its now inappropriate name, and the editorship was accepted by Mr. John Morley, who conducted the Fortnightly with great success for sixteen years. Most of the earlier contributors were retained; others like Mr. Swinburne, J.A. Symonds, Professor Edward Dowden and (Sir) Leslie Stephen established a standard of literary criticism that was practically unrivalled. The authority of its scientific and political writers was equally high; as for serial fiction, Mr. Morley published Mr. Meredith's Beauchamp's Career and The Tragic Comedians, besides less important novels by Trollope and others. More recently the publication of fiction has been exceptional. The (1890) Review of Reviews Index said of the Fortnightly:
"While disclaiming 'party' or 'editorial consistency,' and proclaiming that its pages were open to all views, the Fortnightly seldom included the orthodox among its contributors. The articles which startled people and made small earthquakes beneath the crust of conventional orthodoxy, political and religious, usually appeared in the Fortnightly. It was here that Professor Huxley seemed to foreshadow the expulsion of the spiritual from the world, by his paper on 'The Physical Basis of Life,' and that Professor Tyndall propounded his famous suggestion for the establishment of a prayerless union or hospital as a scientific method for testing the therapeutic value of prayer. Mr. Frederic Harrison chanted in its pages the praises of the Commune, and prepared the old ladies of both sexes for the imminent advent of an English Terror by his plea for Trade Unionism. It was in the Fortnightly also that Mr. Chamberlain was introduced to the world, when he was permitted to explain his proposals for Free Labour, Free Land, Free Education, and Free Church. Mr. Morley's papers on the heroes and saints (Heaven save the mark!) of the French Revolution appeared here, and every month in an editorial survey he summed up the leading features of the progress of the world."
Since Mr. Morley's retirement in 1883, the editors of the Fortnightly have been Mr. T.H.S. Escott (1883-86), Mr. Frank Harris (1886-94) and the present incumbent, Mr. W.L. Courtney.
The Fortnightly was not long permitted to enjoy undisputed possession of the field. In 1866, while it was still published semi-monthly, the Contemporary Review was launched. Alexander Strahan, the publisher, selected Dean Alford as its editor in order to assure a more reserved tone than that of its popular predecessor. Although Liberal in politics, like the Fortnightly, it assumed a very different and apparently corrective attitude in religious matters. Most of its articles for many years were upon theological subjects and were written by scholars comparatively unknown to the public. The gradual change in policy furthered by its later editors, especially Mr. James Knowles and Mr. Percy Bunting has brought the Contemporary nearer to the general type of popular monthlies. Its principles seem to tend toward "broad evangelical, semi-socialistic Liberalism."
In 1877 Mr. Knowles found it impossible to conduct the Contemporary any longer in the independent manner that seemed essential to him; accordingly, he withdrew and established the Nineteenth Century, which in deference to the new era and a desire to be abreast of the times, recently adopted the somewhat awkward title of the Nineteenth Century and After. Like the Fortnightly, it presented a brilliant array of names from the first. The initial number contained a Prefatory Sonnet by Tennyson, and articles by Gladstone, Matthew Arnold, Cardinal Manning, and the Dean of Gloucester and Bristol. It is sufficient to state that this standard has since been maintained by Mr. Knowles and has made his Nineteenth Century and After the most popular of the monthlies.
The National Review (not to be confounded with Bagehot and Hutton's quarterly of that name), is the youngest and least important of the monthly reviews. It was established in 1883 as a Conservative organ under the editorship of Mr. Alfred Austin and Professor W.J. Courthope. Well-known writers have contributed to its pages, yet it has never assumed a place of first importance in the periodical world. Its present editor is Mr. Louis J. Maxse.
It is well to bear in mind that these reviews all seek to discuss the most important subjects of contemporary interest, and to secure the services of writers best qualified to treat those subjects. In the narrow sense of the term, they are not literary reviews; the function of periodicals that discuss present day politics, sociology, theology, history, science, art and numerous other generic subjects is more inclusive and appeals to a much larger audience than the periodical of literary criticism. In the quarterlies and monthlies we look for the most authoritative reviews of the important books of the day; but for general literary review and gossip, a new class of monthlies, best represented by Dr. Robertson Nicoll's Bookman (1891) and the American Bookman (1895) and The Critic (1881) has appeared. These fill a gap between the more substantial monthlies and the very popular weekly papers.
The last-mentioned class was practically developed during the nineteenth century. The frequency of publication forbade a strict devotion to the cause of belles-lettres; hence, in most cases, politics or music and art were included in the scheme. At first literature was granted meagre space in newspapers of the Weekly Register and Examiner type. William Cobbett, profiting by his previous experience with Porcupine's Gazette and the Porcupine, began his Weekly Political Register in 1802 and continued its publication until his death in 1835. It was so thoroughly political in character that it hardly merits recognition as a literary periodical. The Examiner, begun in 1808 by John Hunt, enjoyed during the thirteen years of his brother Leigh's cooeperation a wide reputation for the excellence of its political and literary criticism. Under Albany Fonblanque, John Forster and William Minto it continued with varying success until 1880.
The first truly literary weekly review was the Literary Gazette, established in 1817 by Henry Colburn, of the New Monthly Magazine, under the joint editorship of Mr. H.E. Lloyd and Miss Ross. After the first half-year of its existence, Colburn sold a third share to the Messrs. Longman and another third to William Jerdan, who became sole editor and eventually (1842) sole proprietor. The original price of a shilling was soon reduced to eight pence. Jerdan set the prototype for later literary weeklies in his plan, which embraced "foreign and domestic correspondence, critical analyses of new publications, varieties connected with polite literature, philosophical researches, scientific inventions, sketches of society, biographical memoirs, essays on fine arts, and miscellaneous articles on drama, music and literary intelligence." Thus Jerdan followed his friend Canning's advice by avoiding "politics and polemics" and by aiming to present "a clear and instructive picture of the moral and literary improvement of the times, and a complete and authentic chronological literary record for general reference." He secured the services of Crabbe, Barry Cornwall, Maginn, Campbell, Mrs. Hemans and others: with such an array of contributors he was able to crush the several rival weeklies that soon entered the field.
Toward the end of its prosperous first decade, however, the misfortunes of the Literary Gazette began. Colburn's publications had been roughly handled in its pages and he accordingly aided James Silk Buckingham in founding the Athenaeum. The first number appeared on January 2, 1828, as an evident rival of the older weekly. For a time the new venture was on the verge of failure and the proprietors actually offered to sell it to Jerdan. Within half a year Buckingham was succeeded by John Sterling as editor. Frederic Denison Maurice's friends purchased the Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review (begun 1819) and merged it with the Athenaeum in July, 1828. For a year Sterling and Maurice contributed some of the most brilliant critical articles that have appeared in its pages. The working editor at that time was Henry Stebbing who had been associated with the Athenaeum since its inception and who was the only survivor[C] of the original staff when the semi-centennial number was published on January 5, 1878.
Even the high standards set by Maurice and Sterling failed to win public favor. The crisis came about the middle of 1830 when Charles Wentworth Dilke became "supreme editor," enlisted Lamb, George Darley, Barry Cornwall and others on his staff, and reduced the price of the Athenaeum from eightpence to fourpence. The apparent folly of reducing the price and increasing the expenses did not lead to the generally prophesied collapse; this first experiment in modern methods resulted in the rapid growth of the Athenaeum's circulation, to the serious detriment of the Literary Gazette. Jerdan tried to stem the tide by publishing lampoons on the dullness of Dilke's paper; but when the Athenaeum was enlarged in 1835 from sixteen to twenty-four pages Dilke's triumph was evident. The Literary Gazette was compelled to reduce its price to fourpence in its effort to regain the lost subscriptions. Dilke labored earnestly to improve his paper and when, in 1846, he felt that it was established on a firm basis, he made Thomas Kibble Hervey editor and devoted his own time to furthering his journalistic enterprises. However, he continued to contribute to the weekly; his valuable articles on Junius and Pope together with several others were afterwards reprinted as Papers of a Critic.
Jerdan withdrew from the Literary Gazette in 1850. The hopeless struggle with the Athenaeum, involving a third reduction in price to threepence, lasted until 1862, when the Gazette was incorporated with the Parthenon and came to an end during the following year. Hervey edited the Athenaeum until 1853 when ill-health necessitated his resignation. The later editors include William Hepworth Dixon, Norman MacColl and at present Mr. Vernon Rendall. After the withdrawal of Dixon in 1869 a reformation in the staff and management of the Athenaeum took place.
"Some old writers were parted with, and a great many fresh contributors were found. While special departments, such as science, art, music and the drama, were of necessity entrusted to regular hands, indeed, the reviewing of books, now more than ever the principal business of 'The Athenaeum,' was distributed over a very large staff, the plan being to assign each work to a writer familiar with its subject and competent to deal with it intelligently, but rigidly to exclude personal favouritism or prejudice, and to secure as much impartiality as possible. The rule of anonymity has been more carefully observed in 'The Athenaeum' than in most other papers. Its authority as a literary censor is not lessened, however, and is in some respects increased, by the fact that the paper itself, and not any particular critic of great or small account, is responsible for the verdicts passed in its columns." (Fox Bourne.)
Half a year after the inception of the Athenaeum, the first number of the Spectator was issued (July 6, 1828) by Robert Stephen Rintoul, an experienced journalist who had launched the ill-fated semi-political Atlas two years before and therefore decided to confine his new venture to literary and social topics. The political excitement of the time soon aroused Rintoul's interest, and he undertook the advocacy of the Reform Bill with all possible ardor. From him emanated the famous battle-cry: "The Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." He conducted the Spectator with great skill until 1858, when he sold it two months before his death. Although he wrote little for its pages, Rintoul made the Spectator a power in furthering all reforms. The literary standard, while somewhat obscured for a time by its politics, was high. In 1861 the Spectator passed into the hands of Mr. Meredith Townsend who sold a half share to the late Richard Holt Hutton with the understanding that they should act as political and literary editors respectively. During the four years of the American Civil War, the Spectator espoused the cause of the North and was consequently unpopular; but the outcome turned the sentiment in England and likewise the fortunes of the Spectator. Hutton's contributions included his most memorable utterances upon theological and literary subjects. In the midst of religious controversy he was able to discuss delicate questions without giving offense, to enlist all parties by refraining from expressed allegiance to one. The Spectator of Hutton's day was, in Mrs. Oliphant's opinion, "specially distinguished by the thoughtful tone of its writing, the almost Quixotic fairness of its judgments, and the profoundly religious spirit which pervades its more serious articles." Hutton retired shortly before his death in 1897. The present editor is Mr. J. St. Loe Strachey.
The Saturday Review was established in November, 1855, by A.J. Beresford Hope. Its first editor was John Douglass Cook, who had indexed the early volumes of the Quarterly for Murray and had gained his journalistic experience with the Times and the Morning Chronicle. Though possessed of no great personal ability, Cook had the useful editorial faculty of recognizing talent, and consequently gathered about himself the most promising writers of the younger generation, including, among others, Robert Talbot Cecil, the late Lord Salisbury. The Saturday Review at once became the most influential and most energetic of the weekly papers. Its politics, independent at first, later assumed a pronounced Conservative complexion. Cook remained editor until his death (1868) when he was succeeded by his assistant, Philip Harwood. Since the latter's retirement in 1883 the more recent editors include Mr. Walter H. Pollock, Mr. Frank Harris and the present incumbent, Mr. Harold Hodge. Professor Saintsbury wrote of the Saturday Review:
"Its staff was, as a rule, recruited from the two Universities (though there was no kind of exclusion for the unmatriculated; as a matter of fact, neither of its first two editors was a son either of Oxford or Cambridge), and it always insisted on the necessity of classical culture.... It observed, for perhaps a longer time than any other paper, the salutary principles of anonymity (real as well as ostensible) in regard to the authorship of particular articles; and those who knew were constantly amused at the public mistakes on this subject."
Such "salutary principles of anonymity" were not observed by the Academy, a Monthly Record of Literature, Learning, Science and Art, which began to appear in October, 1869, and was published for a short time by John Murray. Its founder, Dr. Charles E. Appleton, edited the Academy until his death in 1879. All the leading articles bore the authors' signatures, and, following the example of the more ambitious monthlies, Dr. Appleton secured the best known writers as contributors. The first number opened with an interesting unpublished letter of Lord Byron's; its literary articles were by Matthew Arnold, Gustave Masson and Mr. Sidney Colvin, theology was represented by the Rev. T.K. Cheyne and J.B. Lightfoot (later Bishop of Durham), science by Thomas Huxley and Sir John Lubbock (now Lord Avebury), and classical learning by Mark Pattison and John Conington. This remarkable array of names did not diminish in subsequent numbers. Besides those mentioned Mr. W.M. Rossetti, Max Mueller, G. Maspero, J.A. Symonds, F.T. Palgrave and others contributed to the first volume. Later such names as William Morris, John Tyndall, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walter Pater and Robert Louis Stevenson appeared in its pages.
In spite of its brilliant program, the size of the Academy, even at its price of sixpence, was too slight to rank as a monthly. After four years' experience, first as a monthly, then as a fortnightly, it became and has remained a weekly. The editorial succession since the death of Dr. Appleton has been C.E. Doble (1879-81); Mr. James Sutherland Cotton (1881-96); Mr. C. Lewis Hind (1896-1903); and Mr. W. Teignmouth Shore. The issue of November 7, 1896, announced Mr. Cotton's retirement and the inauguration of a new policy, which, in addition to technical improvements, promised the issue of occasional supplements of a purely academic and educational character, and the beginning of the series of Academy Portraits of men of letters. At the same time the publication of signed articles was abolished and the Academy remained anonymous until the recent editorial change. A new departure in October, 1898, made the Academy an illustrated paper—the most attractive though not the most authoritative of the weeklies. It has departed widely from the set traditions of Dr. Appleton, but most readers will agree that the departure has been justified by the needs of the hour. There is small satisfaction in reading a one-page review from the pen of an Arnold or a Pater; we feel that such authorities should express themselves at length in the pages of the literary monthlies; that the reader of the weekly should be content with the anonymous (and less expensive) review written by the staff-critic. Whatever the personal bias, it is at least certain that under present conditions the Academy appeals more generally to the popular taste. Its recent absorption of a younger periodical is indicated in the compounding of its title into the Academy and Literature—a change that does not commend itself on abstract grounds of literary fitness and tradition.
A consideration of periodicals of the Tatler, Spectator and Rambler class evidently lies beyond our present purpose; though Addison's papers on Paradise Lost and similar articles show an occasional critical intent. The magazines, however, have in various instances shown such an extensive interest in matters literary that a brief account of their development will not be amiss. The primary distinction between the review and the magazine is well understood; the former criticizes, the latter entertains. Hence fiction, poetry and essays are better adapted than book-reviews to the needs of the literary magazine. As already stated, Peter Motteux's Gentleman's Journal (1692-94) probably deserves recognition as the first English magazine, though its brief career is forgotten in the honor accorded to the Gentleman's Magazine, established in 1731 by Edward Cave and which, still under the editorship of "Sylvanus Urban, Gentleman," is now approaching its three hundredth volume. In the early days its lists of births, deaths, marriages, bankrupts, events, etc., must have made it a useful summary for the public. In literature it printed merely a "Register of New Books" without comment of any sort. It is exasperating to find such books as Pamela or Tom Jones listed among "New Publications" without a word of criticism or commendation. We could spare whole reams of pages devoted to "Army Promotions" and "Monthly Chronicle" for a few lines of literary review.
Although the booksellers refused to aid Cave in establishing his magazine, the demonstration of its success brought forth numerous rivals. As they all followed Cave's precedent in ignoring literary criticism, it will suffice to mention merely the names of the London Magazine (1732-79); the Scots Magazine (1739-1817), continued as the Edinburgh Magazine until 1826; the Universal Magazine (1743-1815); the British Magazine (1746-50); the Royal Magazine (1759-71); and finally the British Magazine, or Monthly Repository for Gentlemen and Ladies (1760-67) edited by Tobias Smollett, who published his Sir Launcelot Greaves in its pages—perhaps the first instance of the serial publication of fiction. Goldsmith wrote some of his most interesting essays for Smollett's magazine.
An important addition to the ranks was the Monthly Magazine begun in 1796 by Sir Richard Phillips under the editorship of John Aikin. The principal contributor was William Taylor of Norwich who, during a period of thirty years, supplied to the Monthly Magazine and other periodicals a series of 1,750 articles of remarkable quality. His contributions gave the Magazine standing as a literary review. Hazlitt accorded to Taylor the honor of writing the first reviews in the style afterwards adopted by the Edinburgh Reviewers, which established their reputations as original and impartial critics. He is remembered to-day as the author of an unread Historic Survey of German Poetry which was vigorously assailed by Carlyle in the Edinburgh Review. The New Monthly Magazine was started in 1814 by Henry Colburn and Frederick Shoberl in opposition to Phillips' magazine. Its first editors were Dr. Watkins and Alaric A. Watts. At a later time Campbell, Bulwer, Theodore Hook and Harrison Ainsworth successively assumed charge. Under such capable direction the magazine naturally won a prominent place among the periodicals of the day. During its later years the New Monthly was obscured by more ambitious ventures and came to an inglorious end in 1875—thirty-two years after the suspension of Phillips' Monthly Magazine.
A most significant event in the history of the magazine was the founding of the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine in April, 1817, by William Blackwood. The new magazine was projected to counteract the influence of the Edinburgh Review, but under its first editors, James Cleghorn and Thomas Pringle, it failed to win favor. After six numbers were issued, a final disagreement between Blackwood and the editors resulted in the withdrawal of the latter. The name of the monthly was changed to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine—popularly Blackwood's or "Maga"—and henceforth until his death Blackwood was his own editor. John Wilson (Christopher North) and John Gibson Lockhart, the most important of the early contributors to Blackwood's, published in that famous seventh number the clever Chaldee Manuscript—an audacious satire upon the original editors, the rival publisher Constable, the Edinburgh Review and various literary personages under a thinly veiled allegory in apocalyptic style. It at once attracted wide attention (including a costly action for libel within a fortnight) and was suppressed in the second impression of the number. The same number of Blackwood's set the precedent for the subsequent critical vituperation that made the magazine notorious. It contained an abusive article on Coleridge's Biographia Literaria and the first of a series of virulent attacks on "The Cockney School of Poetry." Much of the literary criticism in the first few volumes is inexcusably brutal; fortunately, Blackwood's soon became less rampant in its critical outbursts. The cooeperation of James Hogg and the ill-fated Maginn introduced new articles of varied interest, particularly the witty letters and the parodies of "Ensign O'Doherty." Wilson's Noctes Ambrosianae became a characteristic feature of Blackwood's; John Galt and Susan Ferrier won popularity among the novel readers of the day; and in the trenchant literary criticism of Lockhart, Wilson, Hogg and their confreres an equally high standard was maintained.
After the death of the elder Blackwood in 1834, the management of the magazine passed to his sons successively. John Blackwood, the sixth son, enjoyed the distinction of "discovering" George Eliot and beginning, by the publication of her Scenes of Clerical Life in 1857, a relationship that was both pleasant and profitable to the firm. A few years earlier appeared the first contributions of another remarkable literary woman—Mrs. Margaret Oliphant, whose association with Blackwood's lasted over forty years. Her history of the house of Blackwood was published in the year of her death (1897).
Blackwood's is still a strong conservative organ. The already quoted Index of the Review of Reviews says of it: "With a rare consistency it has contrived to appear for over three score years and ten as a spirited and defiant advocate of all those who are at least five years behind their time. Sometimes Blackwood is fifty years in the rear, but that is a detail of circumstance. Five or fifty, it does not matter, so long as it is well in the rear." Such gentle sarcasm merely emphasizes the fact that Blackwood's has always aimed to be more than a magazine of belles-lettres. The publishers celebrated the appearance of the one thousandth number in February, 1899, by almost doubling its size to a volume of three hundred pages, including a latter-day addition to the Noctes Ambrosianae and other features.
An important though short-lived venture was the London Magazine, begun in January, 1820, under the editorship of John Scott. By its editorial assaults upon the Blackwood criticisms of the "Cockney School," it became the recognized champion of that loosely defined coterie. The initial attack in the May number was further emphasized by more vigorous articles in November and December of 1820, and January, 1821. Lockhart, who was the recipient of the worst abuse, demanded of Scott an apology or a hostile meeting. The outcome of the controversy was a duel on February 16th between Scott and Lockhart's intimate friend, Jonathan Henry Christie. Scott was mortally wounded, and died within a fortnight; the verdict of wilful murder brought against Christie and his second at the inquest resulted in their trial and acquittal at the old Bailey two months later. It would have been well for the London Magazine and for literature in general if that unfortunate duel could have been prevented or at least diverted into such a ludicrous affair as the meeting between Jeffrey and Tom Moore in 1806.
The most famous contributions to the London Magazine during Scott's regime were Lamb's Essays of Elia. Those charming productions, now ranked among our dearly treasured classics, were not received at first with universal approbation. The long and justly forgotten Alaric A. Watts said of them: "Charles Lamb delivers himself with infinite pain and labour of a silly piece of trifling, every month, in this Magazine, under the signature of Elia. It is the curse of the Cockney School that, with all their desire to appear exceedingly off-hand and ready with all they have to say, they are constrained to elaborate every sentence, as though the web were woven from their own bowels. Charles Lamb says he can make no way in an article under at least a week." In July, 1821, the London Magazine was purchased by Taylor and Hessey. Although Thomas Hood was made working-editor, the Blackwood idea of retaining editorial supervision in the firm was followed. Within a few months De Quincey contributed his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater—the most famous of all the articles that appeared in the magazine. Lamb[D] and De Quincey continued to write for the magazine for several years. Other contributors, especially of literary criticism, were Barry Cornwall, Carlyle, Hazlitt, Henry Cary and, toward the end, Walter Savage Landor. The magazine became less conspicuous after 1824 and dragged out an obscure existence until 1829; but it is probable that no other periodical achieved the standard of purely literary excellence represented by the London Magazine during the first five years of its existence.
In February, 1830, James Fraser published the first number of Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country. The magazine was not named after the publisher but after its sponsor, Hugh Fraser, a "briefless barrister" and man about town. The latter enlisted the aid of Maginn who had severed his connection with Blackwood's in 1828. In general, Fraser's was modelled upon Blackwood's; but a unique and popular feature was the publication of the "Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters" between 1830-38. This famous series of eighty-one caricature portraits chiefly by Daniel Maclise, with letter-press by Maginn, has been made accessible to present-day readers in William Bates' Maclise Portrait Gallery (1883) where much illustrative material has been added to the original articles. It is evident that the literary standard of Fraser's soon equalled and possibly surpassed that of Blackwood's. Among its writers were Carlyle (who contributed a critique to the first number, published Sartor Resartus in its pages, 1833-35, and, as late as 1875, his Early Kings of Norway), Thackeray, Father Prout and Thomas Love Peacock. Maclise's plate of "The Fraserians" also includes Allan Cunningham, Theodore Hook, William Jerdan, Lockhart, Hogg, Coleridge, Southey and several others. It is unlikely that all of them wrote much for Fraser's; but the staff was undoubtedly a brilliant assemblage. James Anthony Froude became editor in 1860 and was assisted for a time by Charles Kingsley and Sir Theodore Martin. He was succeeded by his sub-editor, William Allingham, during whose administration (1874-79) the fortunes of Fraser's suffered a decline. The gradual failure was due to the competition of the new shilling magazines rather than to incompetence on the part of the editor. The end came in October, 1882, when Fraser's was succeeded by Longman's Magazine which is still in progress.
The magazines established soon after Fraser's followed for the most part a policy that demands for them mere passing mention in the present connection. Literary criticism and reviews were largely abandoned in favor of lighter and more entertaining material. The Dublin University Magazine (1833-80) and Tait's Edinburgh Magazine (1832-61) best represent the transitional stage. During its early history, the latter employed prominent contributors, who gave it an important position. Such magazines as the Metropolitan (1831-50) and Bentley's Miscellany (1837-68) set the standards for similar periodicals since that time. Charles Dickens' experience with Bentley's led to the publication of his weeklies, Household Words (1850 to date) and All the Year Round (1859), which was incorporated in 1895 with the former. Macmillan's Magazine, first of the popular shilling monthlies, began in 1859 and was soon followed by Thackeray's Cornhill Magazine (1860) and Temple Bar (1860). All of these magazines are still in progress. The occasional publication of an article by a literary critic hardly justifies their inclusion within the category of critical reviews, as their essential purpose is to instruct and entertain, rather than to sit in judgment upon contemporary letters.
There are in course of publication to-day numerous literary periodicals of varying scope and importance that have not even been mentioned by title in our hasty survey. Enough has been said, however, to give some idea of the magnitude of the field, and to show that most of the great names of modern English literature have been more or less closely associated with the history of the literary reviews. Those reviews have usually sought to foster all that is highest and best in our intellectual development; and although English literary criticism has been, on the whole, less convincing, less brilliant and less authoritative than that of France, it has during the past century set a fairly high standard of excellence. It seems difficult to understand why the literary conditions in England, instead of developing critics like Sainte-Beuve, Gaston Paris, Brunetiere and others whose utterances redound to the lasting glory of French criticism, should be steadily tending toward a lower and less influential level. Mr. Churton Collins in his pessimistic discussion of "The Present Functions of Criticism" deplores the spirit of tolerance and charity manifested toward the mediocre productions of contemporary writers; he attributes the degradation of criticism to the lack of critical standards and principles, and indirectly to the neglect of the study of literature at the English Universities. The plea for an English Academy has been made at different times and with different ends in view, but under modern conditions such an institution would hardly solve the problem. Mr. Collins shows how the intellectual aristocracy of the past has been superseded by the present omnivorous reading-public afflicted with a perpetual craving for literary novelty. The inevitable rapidity of production results in a deluge of poor books which are foisted upon readers by a "detestable system of mutual puffery." This condition of affairs naturally offers few opportunities for the development of critical ideals; but it hardly applies to the incorruptible reviews of recognized standing. The reasons for the lack of authority in modern English criticism are more deeply grounded in an inherent objection to the restraint imposed upon an artist by artificial canons of taste, and in a well-founded impression that many of the greatest literary achievements evince a violation of such canons.
It is not to be inferred that criticism is thereby disdained and disregarded. The critical dicta of a Dryden or a Johnson, a Coleridge or a Hazlitt, and, more recently, an Arnold or a Pater, are valued and studied because they emphasize the vital elements essential to the proper appreciation of a literary product; and, moreover, because such critics, in transcending the limitations of their kind, establish higher and juster standards for the criticism of the future. On the other hand, the great majority of critical utterances must necessarily be ephemeral; they may exert considerable contemporary influence, but are usually forgotten long before the works that called them forth. Unless this criticism is more than a perfunctory examination of the merits and defects of the work under consideration, it cannot endure beyond its own brief day.
Several fruitless attempts have been made to reduce criticism to an exact science, which, quite disregarding the factor of personal taste, could refer all literature to a more or less fixed and arbitrary set of critical principles. The champions of this objective criticism point to the occasionally ludicrous divergence of the views expressed in criticism of certain poets or novelists, and insist that there is no occasion for such a bewildering difference of opinion. They seem to forget that the criticism which we esteem most highly at all times is the subjective criticism in which the personality of a competent and sincere critic is manifest. Literature, like music, painting and the other arts, has its own laws of technique—fundamental canons that must be observed in the successful pursuit of the art; but at a certain point difference of opinion is not only possible but profitable. The critics who would unite in condemning a thirteen-line sonnet or a ten-act tragedy could not be expected to agree on the relative merits of Milton's and Wordsworth's sonnets. Unanimity of opinion is as impossible and undesirable concerning the poetic achievement of Browning and Whitman as it is concerning the music of Brahms and Wagner, or the painting of Turner and Whistler. Great artists who have taken liberties with traditions and precedents have done much to prevent the critics from falling into a state of self-complacency over their scientific methods and formulas.
The most helpful form of criticism is the interpretative variety, not necessarily the laudatory "appreciation" that is so popular in our day, but an honest effort to understand and elucidate the intention of the writer. The proper exercise of this art occasionally demands rare qualifications on the part of the critic; at the same time it adds dignity to his calling and value to his utterance. It serves to dispel the popular conception of a critic as a disappointed litterateur who begrudges his more brilliant fellow craftsmen their success and who dogs their triumphs with his ill-tempered snarling. Interpretative criticism needs few rules and no system; yet it serves a noble purpose as a guide and monitor for subsequent literary effort.
The question of anonymous criticism has occasioned much thoughtful discussion. In former times anonymity was often a shield for the slanderer who saw fit to abuse and assail his victim with the rancorous outburst of his malice; but it is also clear that the earlier reviewers were mere literary hacks whose names would have given no weight to the critique and hence could be omitted without much loss. The authorship of important Edinburgh and Quarterly[E] articles in the days of their greatness was usually an open secret. Later periodicals, like the Fortnightly and the Academy found it a profitable advertisement to publish the signatures of their eminent critics. The tendency of the present day is largely in favor of anonymity; no longer as a cover for the dispensation of malicious vituperation, but as a necessary safe-guard for the unbiased and untrammeled exercise of the critical function. Certain abuses of the privilege are inevitable. Mr. Sidney Colvin in looking over the criticisms of Mr. Stephen Phillips' poetry recently discovered in three periodicals convincing parallels that led Mr. Arthur Symons to confess to the authorship of all three critiques. The average reader would in most cases be strongly influenced by the united verdict of the critics of the Saturday Review, the Athenaeum and the Quarterly Review; in this instance his convictions would undoubtedly be rudely shattered when he learned the truth. Under such conditions anonymous criticism is a menace, not an aid to the reader's judgment.
In conclusion, it must be borne in mind that criticism is not an end but a means to an end. All the literary criticism ever uttered would be useless as such if it did not evince a desire to further the development of literary art. The Iliad and the Oedipus were written long before Aristotle's Poetics, and it is not likely that either Homer or Sophocles would have been a greater poet if he could have read the Stagirite's treatise. Yet the Poetics, as a summary of the essential features of that art, served an important purpose in later ages and exerted far-reaching influences. Criticism in all ages has necessarily been of less importance than art itself—it guides and suggests, but cannot create. Literary history shows that true criticism must be in conformity with the spirit of the age; it cannot oppose the trend of intelligent opinion. It may praise, censure, advise, interpret—but it will always remain subservient to the art that called it forth. There is no reason to believe that criticism can ever be established in the English-speaking world upon a basis that will subject to an arbitrary and irrevocable ruling the form and spirit of the artist's message to mankind.
[Footnote A: Reprinted in Professor Arber's The Term Catalogues (1668-1709). London, privately printed, 1903.]
[Footnote B: See the centenary number of the Edinburgh Review (October, 1902). During the editor's recent tenure of government office, the review was temporarily edited by Mr. E.S. Roscoe.]
[Footnote C: See his letter in Athenaeum, January 19, 1878. See also "Our Seventieth Birthday," Athenaeum, January 1, 1898.]
[Footnote D: Mr. Bertram Dobell in his Side-Lights on Charles Lamb (1903) directs attention to some hitherto unknown articles of Lamb's in the London Magazine.]
[Footnote E: In July, 1902, the Quarterly Review published its first signed article—the widely-discussed paper on Charles Dickens by Mr. Algernon Charles Swinburne. Since then several other noteworthy articles have appeared over the authors' signatures.]
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