Studies in Newspaper and Periodical History: 1995 Annual

By Michael Harris ; Tom O'Malley | Go to book overview

3
The World of Edward Moore and the World of the English Parson

Christopher T. Hamilton

The first number of Edward Moore's periodical the World appeared in London on January 24, 1753. For the following three years, on each Thursday, the World's essays circulated throughout London coffeehouses and were devoured by readers (many of whom, as Macaulay reminds us, were "men of high rank and fashion"), who maintained that only the uncultivated were unfamiliar with the new periodical. Finally, on December 30, 1756, after 209 numbers, the journal expired, but only after enjoying almost unprecedented success, at least judging by the typical life span of the mid -- eighteenth-century periodical. 1 By 1755 the World had reached sales of up to two thousand copies per week and was so popular that many of its numbers were strung up in coffeehouses for public perusal. 2 Under the pseudonym Adam Fitz-Adam, Moore gloried in his success and tentatively compared his work to the Spectator papers that had taken London, and indeed almost all of England, by storm some forty-two years earlier: "I have the pleasure, and something more than the pleasure, of finding that two thousand of my papers are circulated weekly. This number exceeds the largest that was ever printed even of the Spectators, which in no other respects do I pretend to equal" ( World 111).

The comparison Moore draws between the two papers, and the very nature of the periodical press, which, as is frequently noted, offers a unique firsthand look at the represented society, invite further estimations of

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