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LITERARY HOURS,” AND OF
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
ROBERT BALDWIN, PATER-NOSTER ROW ; ALSU FOR WILLIAM BLACK WOOD,
During the composition of the “ Essays on Pe. riodical Literature,” it became my duty accurately to read through nearly every work in this department which had been published for a century: it will not appear extraordinary, therefore, that in turning over so many volumes, although now neglected or forgotten, I should occasionally meet with
of value, equal, or approaching to, those which constitute the pages of what may, not improperly, be termed our “ Classical Essay. ists."' These, indeed, proving more numerous than I had, at first, reason to expect, it occurred to me, that, by throwing them together, under the advantages of a proper arrangement, their merits, now lost and buried in the surrounding crude mass of materials, might be rendered conspicuous, and the tribute of applause, due to their respective authors, be at length adequately apportioned.
The Papers which, at present, form the “ British Classical Essayists,” consist of the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian; the Rambler, Adventurer, and Idler; the World, Connoisseur, and Mirror; the Lounger, Observer, and LookerOn. These, it may be said, display the literary harvest of this province of English composition; while the volumes now presented to the public may, not unaptly, be considered as gleanings; which, though, when scattered widely over the ground, they attracted but little comparative attention, will now, it is hoped, when collected and put in order, form a sheaf not less rich in quality, or beautiful in appearance, than the more immediate product of the field. To the similitude, indeed, existing between the occupation of gleaning, and that of gathering together the far separated leaves of this collection, is to be attributed the 'choice of the name which distinguishes its title-page. *
Of the four volumes composing the Gleaner, the first and second are constructed of papers which were published from the year 1713 to the close of the Idler in 1760; and the third and fourth, of those which have appeared between the last period and the year 1797, when the
* The title of Gleaner has not hitherto been applied, I believe, to any periodical paper, on the Addisonian model, published in Great Britain. In the Eastern and Western world, however, two papers, under this appellation, have already been printed; one, if I recollect aright, at Bombay; and the other, of which I possess a copy, at Boston, in 1798, in three vols. 12mo.
Looker-On had received from its author a last revision and a more enlarged form.
Though from the year 1709 to the termination of the year 1760, one hundred and twentytwo periodical papers have been published, independent of eight, which are now honoured with the appellation of classical, I have been under the necessity of limiting my attention, while forming the first two volumes, to only nineteen of the number. This is to be attributed, in some degree, to the political aspect of several of these works; politics, for reasons too obvious to be dwelt upon, being excluded from my design ; but more especially is it attributable to the imbecility which pervades so large a portion of these hasty, and, too frequently, inelegant productions. Even from the volumes to which I have had recourse for this part of the selection, and which extend to thirty-five, it will excite no surprise that I have been able to construct but two; when it is known that the sole object of the undertaking is, the juxtaposition of what either amounts to excellence, or, at least, rises above the limit of mediocrity. Of the papers which have been laid under contribution for the first and second volumes of the Gleaner, the following is a list : namely, the Englishman, 1713; the Lay Monastery, 1713; the Censor,