The First Review

The First Review

Born in 1802 in the Buccleuch Place lodgings of its founding editor, Francis Jeffrey, the Review swiftly transformed the landscape of literary criticism.

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ADVERTISEMENT, from the Edinburgh Review 1802

IN committing this Work to the judgement of the Public, the Editors have but little to observe.

It will be easily perceived, that it forms no part of their object, to take notice of every production that issues from the Press; and that they wish their Journal to be distinguished, rather for the selection, than for the number, of its articles.

Of the books that are daily presented to the world, a very large proportion is evidently destined to obscurity, by the insignificance of their subjects, or the defects of their execution, and it seems unreasonable to expect that the Public should be interested by any account of performances, which have never attracted any share of its attention. A review of such productions, like the biography of private individuals, could afford gratification only to the partiality of friends, or the malignity of enemies.—The very lowest order of publications are rejected, accordingly, by most of the literary journals of which the Public is already in possession. But the Conductors of the EDINBURGH REVIEW propose to carry this principle of selection a good deal farther; to decline any attempt at exhibiting a complete view of modern literature; and to confine their notice, in a great degree, to works that either have attained, or deserve, a certain portion of celebrity.

As the value of a publication, conducted upon this principle, will not depend very materially upon the earliness of its intelligence, they have been induced to prefer a quarterly, to a monthly period of publication, that they may always have before them a greater variety for selection, and be occasionally guided in their choice by the tendencies of public opinion.

In a Review which is published at so long intervals, it would be improper to continue any article from one number to another; and, for this reason, as well as for the full discussion of important subjects, it may, sometimes, be found necessary to extend these articles to a greater length, than is usual in works of this nature. Even with these allowances, perhaps the reader may think, that some apology is necessary for the length of a few articles in the present Number.—If he cannot find an excuse for them, in the extraordinary interest of the subjects, his candour will probably lead him to impute this defect to that inexperience, which subjects the beginning of all such undertakings to so many other disadvantages

October 1802

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