English Literature Of The 19th Century:
Thomas Babington Macaulay
Scientific Literature Of The Early Victorian Period
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Periodical Literature And Criticism
Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century
Periodical Literature And Criticism
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Dickens, who was much more than a novelist, gave a new impulse to periodical literature by starting "House-hold Words" on lines of his own devising. Charles Knight and others had in the thirties issued weekly journals which made popular instruction their chief aim. Dickens sought to meet the public who had shown their approval of his novels, to give them rational entertainment by lively and picturesque descriptions of places, travels and whatever was of general interest. While he wrote much himself, and obtained novels from Bulwer and Lever, he gathered around him a staff of younger men whom he specially trained for this work. The plan proved successful, not only in the first form, but in "All the Year Round."
In 1859 "Macmillan's Magazine" was started with the design of giving for a shilling (instead of 2 1-2 shillings, the price of older monthlies), a supply of literature by the Kingsleys and writers of equal excellence. Almost immediately the rival "Cornhill Magazine" appeared with Thackeray as editor, and with illustrations from some of the best artists. It maintained a high literary tone, Mat-thew Arnold and Ruskin being among its contributors. Its success was seen in its unprecedented sale of 100,000 copies. The desire to reach the widest possible audience prevented these magazines from taking distinct sides in politics.
Weekly newspapers had for a long time been published whose chief object was to comment on public affairs. "The Examiner," founded in 1808 by Leigh Hunt and his brother, had a brilliant career of nearly seventy years, under various editors, as an advocate of the Liberal cause. "The Spectator" was founded in 1828 to represent the attitude of more orthodox Liberals towards the questions of the day. It attained a high reputation for its unswerving honesty. In recent years it has represented the Broad Church attitude in regard to public affairs. It departed from Gladstone's policy when he began to advocate Home Rule for Ireland. The "Saturday Review," founded about 1840, as an independent Tory paper, has always been imbued with classical culture. Avoiding the scandalous personalities of earlier satirical papers, it commented freely and sharply on the public utterances and records of prominent men, and waged relentless war on folly and ignorance. It was written "by gentlemen for gentlemen," and became the highest critical authority in politics, literature and social matters. It still pursues its well-marked course, brilliant in execution, but critical rather of evil, than inspiring to good.
Sir Arthur Helps (1813-1875) was respectable as a historian and essayist, and was honored by being chosen by Queen Victoria to edit the speeches of her husband and her own "Journals of Life in the Highlands." He was educated at Eton and Cambridge, where he was a friend of Tennyson. Afterwards he was secretary to several ministers, and of the Privy Council, and used his leisure in essays and historical writing. His most popular work is "Friends in Council" (1847), which reports the discussion of ethical and aesthetic questions by a group of well educated persons. Occasionally a slight story is introduced to illustrate the attitude of a disputant. Helps had already published biographies of Columbus and the Spanish Conquerors of the New World, and he combined these studies in his "History of the Spanish Conquest in America". (1855-61) . The latter, though accurate and carefully written, has not superseded Prescott. Helps, having won a wide circle of readers, published more dialogues and essays and one mildly philosophic romance, "Realmah." For his editorial services to the Queen he was knighted in 1872.