The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 11. Magazines
In regard to other forms of periodical literature before the Revolution, it is often difficult to draw precise distinctions. Newspapers are easily enough distinguished in general by the attempt to give items of current news. Outside the regular news sheets, there is a strange assortment of colonial productions usually classed as magazines, but in many cases hardly recognizable as such. For instance, William Livingston’s Independent Reflector, or Weekly Essays and also Andrew Oliver’s Censor, are nothing more than single essays published serially. The Censor was published in weekly reply to “Mucius Scaevola” and other writers of the Spy. The very meaning of the word “magazine” in the eighteenth century makes classification difficult. It was literally a “storehouse,” being applied to literature as a “collection”; almost any assemblage of writings, especially if published serially, could be referred to as a “magazine.” Even the regular London magazines of the period were made up largely of excerpts from weekly reviews and periodicals, along with a summary of the news of the month. A department called “Poetical Essays” was usually more original, but on the whole both The Gentleman’s Magazine and The London Magazine could be described fairly enough as collections of material from various sources.