Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 5. Minor Reviews in New England and New York

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XIX. Later Magazines

§ 5. Minor Reviews in New England and New York

The other New England reviews that were in existence in 1850 or that were established later had something of a theological cast. Orestes A. Brownson in Brownson’s Quarterly Review (founded in 1844) continued to present his personal interpretation of the Roman Catholic faith until 1864, when he began a “National Series,” announcing that the Quarterly “ceases to be a theological review” and “is to be national and secular, devoted to philosophy, science, politics, literature, and the general interests of civilization, especially American civilization.” After one volume of this series the Review was abandoned for eight years. In 1873 the indefatigable editor renewed it for the purpose, as he said, of showing that he was still loyal to the church; and he again protested this loyalty when in 1875 he brought the venture to a final close. While Brownson was erratic in literary as well as in other judgments, he was an original thinker and a forceful personality, and the reviews of secular books in his quarterly are of constant value to the student of American literature and American thought.

The New Englander, founded at Yale College in 1843 to support evangelical Christianity though not avowedly a theological journal, passed through a variety of changes, and in time found itself devoted chiefly to history and economics. In 1885 it was known as The New Englander and Yale Review, and in 1892 it became The Yale Review. In 1896 it relinquished history to the newly founded American Historical Review, and when in 1911 the American Economic Association made plans for a journal of its own the occupation of the Review was gone. It then passed under the editorship of Wilbur L. Cross, who has continued it as a general literary magazine and review, printing poems, descriptive essays, and timely articles of moderate length, as well as more serious dissertations. For a time The New Englander and Yale Review tried the experiment of monthly and then of bi-monthly issue, but for the great part of its career the journal has been, as it is now, published quarterly.

The Christian Examiner (dating from 1824), a bi-monthly which bore something the same relation to the faculty of Harvard that The New Englander did to that of Yale, continued to 1869. It contained a large number of articles on purely literary topics, some of them fully the equal of those in the North American.

In connection with these semi-theological periodicals of New England may be conveniently mentioned The Princeton Review, which expressed the devotion of the faculty of Princeton College to conservative Presbyterianism, and was frankly a religious journal. It always contained, however, some articles of general literary interest. During its career from 1825 to 1884 it under-went changes in name and in place and frequency of publication that need not be traced here.

New York was the centre for political rather than religious reviews. The Democratic Review, founded in 1838, partook somewhat of the nature of a general magazine. Among its contributors were many of the most prominent American authors, including the New Englanders; and it also accepted contributions from relatively unknown writers, like Whitman in his early period. The contents included a little poetry and fiction, much on historical and political subjects, and some literary criticism. For a time The Democratic Review was a periodical of large relative importance, but it must have felt keenly the competition of the popular illustrated Harper’s Monthly, and later of the Atlantic. Between 1853 and its death in 1859 it adopted sundry changes of name, and tried experiments in monthly, weekly, and quarterly publication. The American Whig Review had a briefer career, beginning in 1845 and coming to an end in 1852. It was a monthly, containing some verse and fiction, and a considerable amount of general literary criticism.

Among later attempts made to publish a review in New York may be mentioned The New York Quarterly, which ran from 1852 to 1855, The National Quarterly Review, 1860 to 1880, and The International Review, a bi-monthly, 1874 to 1883. All these, and especially the two last mentioned, show distinguished names on the list of contributors, and contain articles of value. Their successive deaths were doubtless due to the fact that the form of periodical to which they belonged had had its day. The latest venture, The Unpartizan Review (until 1919 the Unpopular Review), established in 1914 by Henry Holt and Company, and especially in charge of the senior member of that firm, frankly makes an appeal to a limited group of readers, and gives an opportunity for the publication of clever and valuable essays that might not see the light elsewhere.