English Literary Periodicals

By Walter Graham | Go to book overview

III
IMITATORS OF THE TATLER AND SPECTATOR BEFORE 1750

The success of Addison and Steele as authors of periodical essays is attested by the extraordinary number of imitators which sprang into existence before the middle of the eighteenth century. Most of these are now forgotten; but it should not be thought that all were without merit. Some, by their original devices, and by their slightly different application of old features, deserve mention in any history of English literary periodicals. Such essay serials as are considered in the following pages to a greater or less degree exemplify the remarkable adaptability of this type of publication when employed for the conveyance of instruction, persuasion, or entertainment.1

Unscrupulous efforts to capitalize the popularity of Steele's and Addison's work appeared in several publications, whose authors pretended (in some cases, at least) their folio half-sheets to be continuations of either the Tatler or the Spectator. On January 4, two days after the last of Steele's Tatlers was issued, another Tatler, printed and sold by J. Baker, began as No. 272, "with the character of Mr. Steele, alias Isaac Bickerstaff." This shortlived publication (only two numbers survive) may or may not have been an attempt to dupe readers. But there is no doubt about the object of another, started within two days, as Nos. 272, 273, and printed for Morphew, the printer of the original Tatler. Under the title was the

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1
See George S. Marr, Periodical Essayists of the 18th Century, N. Y. 1924; Nathan Drake, Essays . . . Illustrative of the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, Lon. 1805; and my Beginnings of English Literary Periodicals, N. Y. 1926.

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