The periodical literature of the English people contains a living record of their esthetic and intellectual progress. Half sheets, essays, magazines, reviews--these afford an opportunity for the examination and appraisement of the cultural progress of Great Britain, from the seventeenth century to our own time. The periodicals, are, in effect, the "score keepers"; from generation to generation they have marked the steps forward. More than this, they have rendered immense service to literature, both by direct contribution, and by the essential support they have given men and women in their younger days--who, perhaps through the very training they were thus able to obtain, achieved literary eminence.
A main purpose of this work has been to show clearly the importance of the growth of English periodicals on the development of English authors, and to sketch the relations of the chief writers with periodicals from the seventeenth century to our own day. This effort has made it necessary, on the one hand, to show the development of periodical types, and on the other, to describe to some extent the most important individual serials of a literary character. Such a descriptive survey has comprehended the gradual emergence of the modern critical periodical from seventeenth century news sheets, book catalogues and journals of abstracts; the development of types such as the "learned" periodical and miscellany of entertainment before 1700, and the single-essay serial, magazine, and review, in the years following. It has related the half sheet folio of 1690, designed "to lie for common chat and entertainment on every coffee-house board," to the "magazine" of 1740, perused at his leisure by the English squire