Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 January 2010
This book is a study of the intellectual and political identity of the Edinburgh Review, the first and most influential of 19th-century British periodicals, from its foundation, in 1802, to 1832. It is at the same time a study in the early-19th-century attempt to understand modern commercial (or, as we would say today, capitalist) society and its most salient political characteristics.
Given the nature of the historical evidence on which this work is based, it is necessary in advance to remind the reader that the contributions to the Edinburgh Review (like most of the texts discussed in this book) were in fact writings for a periodical publication, often hurriedly drafted, and always subject to the editor's revision. It is important to bear this character in mind, since it would be misleading to attach to the contradictions, repetitions and rhetorical exploits which characterised the style of the Review the same value as if they were found in carefully planned and closely considered works, published on the responsibility of individual authors.
In assessing the authorship of articles in the Edinburgh Review I have relied on the attributions of the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, since it has proved more complete and more accurate than all previously published indexes of the Review itself. A few personal doubts about, or additions to, these attributions are indicated in the footnotes.
For reasons of convenience all articles from 19th-century periodicals are cited here with the names of their (known or supposed) authors, without constantly reminding the reader that the articles were of course anonymous, and that their authorship is always, in principle, a matter of inference.