English Literary Periodicals

By Walter Graham | Go to book overview

VIII
THE EDINBURGH, QUARTERLY, AND WESTMINSTER REVIEWS1

In two ways the Review of the nineteenth century differed from earlier periodicals of the same type--it was comparatively free from the bookseller's influence, and it was affected as never before by political partisanship. John Dunton first made periodical criticism an adjunct of the book-selling and publishing business; he was the pioneer in comprehending and utilizing the advertising possibilities of early periodic publications to further the sale of books. Dunton frequently issued elaborate "reviews" before the books themselves were published. His Compleat Library of 1692 was an advertising medium for his own wares, just as his Athenian Mercury had been for some months before this.2 It cannot be denied that in the century which followed, trade interests controlled to a large degree the reviewing of books in the columns of periodicals. The Monthly and the Critical Reviews lacked the independence of the later Edinburgh and Quarterly.

As for party politics in criticism, it does not appear that such an element was original with the nineteenth century. From early in the seventeenth century, politics and the press had enjoyed a sort of illicit connection. News writers in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I were in

____________________
1
The multitude of periodical enterprises in the nineteenth century makes it impossible, in a sketch of this sort, to attempt anything like a comprehensive treatment; and all that may be hoped for in the following pages is an outline of the main developments among reviews, magazines, and other literary periodicals during the last one hundred and thirty years.
2
See R. P. McCutcheon, "John Dunton's Connection with Book Reviewing," Studies in Philology, XXV, 3 ( July 1928), 346-361.

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