THE WEEKLY JOURNAL OF BELLES-LETTRES
For the beginning of the weekly journal devoted to belles-lettres, we are accustomed to look to the Examiner of Leigh Hunt, which began in 1808 and was conducted with independence and brilliance, by various editors, until 1881. The Examiner is a work of vital interest in any literary history of England, because of its criticisms, although its literary significance was less deliberate than accidental--chiefly the result of Hunt's championship of his friends. When the occasion for this championship had passed, the literary influence of the Examiner to a large degree vanished. It was only during the first twenty years, therefore, that the Examiner was a critical periodical of great value. Yet the success of this weekly paper unquestionably caused it to affect the form and the quality of later literary journals.
The Examiner was anticipated by at least two periodicals whose influence on later publications may be discerned. One was the Literary Journal; "a review of literature, science, manners, and politics," of 1803, a Thursday publication of thirty pages, selling for one shilling. At first its "literary" values were limited to one small department of poetry, although the letterpress of belletristic nature steadily increased in volume and importance. The Journal was projected and edited by James Mill and, until its conclusion in 1806, was his chief interest. It was the earliest true precursor of the Literary Gazette and Athenaeum.1____________________
See Alexander Bain, Life of James Mill, Lon. 1882, pp. 41-47. James Anderson Bee, or Literary Intelligencer ( Dec. 22, 1790-Jan.