The politics of Blackwood's 1817-1846 : a study of political, economic and social articles in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine and of selected contributors
This study rests upon two main foundations: the first sixty volumes of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (particularly the five hundred or so articles on political, economic and social questions) and the first eighty volumes of the Blackwood Papers (with attendant letterbooks and financial records). By combining these sources in a systematic and comprehensive manner for the first time, it has been possible to analyse and explain the political evolution of Blackwood's during its first thirty years. The Magazine's political coverage is shown to be more diverse in viewpoint than treatment in general works would suggest, although Blackwood's always operated within what its founder called 'avowed and determined principles.' Those principles included loyalty to the established Church, defence of the agricultural interest, and resistance to constitutional innovation. Expressed in these terms, the standpoint of Blackwood's might appear narrowly defensive. Such a construction, however, would underrate the imaginative and wide-ranging manner in which the Magazine's writers addressed the complex and controversial problems of their day. Six of those writers have been selected for detailed criticalbiographical discussion: Archibald Alison, George Croly, Thomas De Quincey, William Johnston, Alfred Mallalieu and David Robinson. Although each of them made a distinctive and useful contribution to the Magazine, it is argued that David Robinson did more than anyone to make the political reputation of Blackwood's. His contributions, like those of the other political writers, were anonymous. The role of anonymity in periodical writing is discussed in the conclusion, together with an assessment of the characteristics of political journalism in a monthly magazine like Blackwood's, compared in general terms with daily newspapers and quarterly reviews. It is argued in the conclusion that, for all the consistency of its general principles, Blackwood's Magazine cannot be adequately crurracterised by anyone political label extending over the whole period covered by this study.