English Literary Periodicals

By Walter Graham | Go to book overview

V
THE GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE AND ITS PRECURSORS

While the essay periodical of Addison and Steele was rising to the height of its popularity, as a form, and gradually declining to a minor status, other important developments were taking place. The main stream of tendency in the various and widely different periodicals of the late seventeenth century had been, after all, toward the miscellany form. The Gentleman's Journal was the first genuine miscellany, and the only example of the type before 1700. It combined in itself all the features of proved value which had been used by the publishers of other serials. The Post Angel, Muses Mercury, and Monthly Miscellany continued this development, although adding little to the pioneer efforts of Motteux. By 1710 the ingredients of the eighteenth-century miscellany were pretty well determined. Instructive or moral essays, entertainment in the form of poetry, fiction, epigrams, riddles, etc., biographical notices, feature articles on scientific subjects of interest to the curious, information on a variety of the world's affairs, and, for a long time, news matter--all these miscellaneous elements were common in the periodicals that later came to be known as "magazines," and most of them continue to make up the major part of the letterpress in the popular periodic miscellanies of our own day.

Fiction, which had been for several years among the contents of entertaining periodicals, became in 1710, for the first time, the entire substance of one. Records of Love; or Weekly Amusements for the Fair Sex (January

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