‘In a chastening of the follies of

‘In The Tatler(1709-11), and in The Spectator(1711-14), where the periodical essay took shape, the short story is oftenonly imperfectly distinguished from the graceful discussions of the

The novel with its wealth of characters, and broadfield unrestricted by the need of driving home a moral reflection, was the goaltowards which they tended.’ .12  But there are hundreds of little narratives in thesetwo famous periodicals, and in the many succeeding imitations, which are sowell directed towards a chastening of the follies of the day, that, althoughstories rn miniature, and rich neither in characters nor in plot, their brevityin no sense brings triviality with it.

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Addison’s are the ripest and mostgraceful of these. And when he borrowed the Oriental apologue from the wealthof Oriental literature then rolling into England, or imitated it, as in TheVision of Mirza  he was at his best innarrative. Yet the Eastern tales of TheSpectator are necessarily deprived of the close application to contemporaryEngland which was so characteristic elsewhere of this short story.

‘ But it was Dr.Johnson who crystallized this apologue of the periodicals. His stories inThe Rambler are the finest example of this minor art. In the Lingering Expectationof an Heir , or the bitter tale of Misella , the narrative and the moralexactly balance, each lending point to the other; and one reads with pleasureand profit a well-balanced story which would never have been written save forthe essay often a dull one which accompanies it. The art was minor, and yet, inits lesser way,, it was admirable. Nowhere has reflection upon human naturebeen more perfectly and more unpretentiously embodied in narrative form.

12. AshmunMargaret p.23,24


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