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Fraser's Magazine

Fraser's Magazine was a general interest magazine published in London in the 19th century. It began in 1830 as "Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country". A new series began in 1870. In 1882, it was succeeded by Longman's Magazine.

It was founded by Hugh Fraser and William Maginn in 1830 and loosely directed by Maginn (and later Francis Mahony) under the name Oliver Yorke until about 1840. It circulated until 1882.

In its early years the publisher James Fraser (no relation to Hugh) played a role in soliciting contributors and preparing the magazine for the press. After James Fraser's death in 1841 the magazine was acquired by George William Nickisson, and in 1847 by John William Parker. Its last notable editor was James Anthony Froude (1860–1874).

Sharing the Tory politics of Blackwood's Magazine, Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country was founded in 1830 by Hugh Fraser and William Maginn, and edited by the latter until his death in 1842. Like the Athenaeum, Fraser's had no direct links with a publishing house and was aimed a general middle-class audience. Establishing a reputation for its wit and confrontational style, it attacked the laissez-faire policies of the Whig government and was outspoken in support of the Tory paternalist campaign for factory reform. It was an important channel of German thought, and published Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus in 1833-34. Other contributors included William Thackeray, who contributed a series of critical articles on art, 'Strictures on Pictures', during 1839-1845, and Charles Kingsley, whose novel, Yeast, was published in serial form during 1848. The Christian Socialist, J. W. Parker, became editor in 1847. Ruskin 's series of essays on political economy, Munera Pulveris, began publication in 1862, but was terminated because of Ruskin's opposition to current economic theory, just as Unto This Last had been brought to an abrupt end by the Cornhill Magazine in 1860. (See also Graham, English Literary Periodicals, Gross, Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, Houghton, Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, Thrall, Rebellious Frasers.)

You can download copies of this magazine from the Internet archive at:

1830-1882: HathiTrust has volumes 1-24, 26-48, and 50-80 of the first series, and 1-26 of the second series. Access to volumes published after 1874 may be restricted outside the United States. See below for the volumes not in this set.

1841: Google Books has volume 24 of the first series, covering July-December 1841.
1842: Google Books has volume 25 of the first series, covering January-June 1842.
1854: Google Books has volume 49 of the first series, covering January-June 1854.

You can read the first volume where they outline their hopes and intentions for the magazine at:;view=1up;seq=16

Here is a wee story from one of the issues...

ADAM MELDRUM was a man who could not have been bred out of Scotland. In almost every other country the common people are illiterate: they have no familiarity even with the literature of their own country. Many copies of the popular works published in England during the seventeenth century are still to be met with; but the books printed in Scotland at that time have been read out of existence.

Since my boyhood I have made acquaintance, more or less intimate, with many of the old royal or baronial burghs that are planted along the eastern seaboard, and in each of them I have found at least one man of the artisan class wl\o was in the best sense of the word a learned man—a man with a true instinct for, and an absolute devotion to, science or letters or philosophy. One was a watchmaker, who busked the most seductive flies, and knew every salmon cast in the river; another, who acted as letter-carrier to the community, was learned in the ecclesiastical controversies of the early Church, and in the precise distinctions between the king 'de facto’ and the king de jure; there was a tailor who was versed in moths and butterflies, and a shoemaker who had formed an exquisite collection of the rarer sea-weeds. In like manner, Adam Meldrum, who in his working hours mended old boats, was the naturalist of Peelboro’, and knew by heart the plays of Shakespeare and the 'Pseudodoxia Epidemica’ of Sir Thomas Browne.

This mender of old boats, with the strange fire in his eyes, was rather a puzzle to the worthies of Peelboro’. 'Uncle Ned,’ or 'Daddy Longlegs’ the 'character’ of a Scotch burgh has always a number of apparently irrelevant aliases: by what process of transmutation Adam Meldrum became 'Uncle Ned’ or 'Daddy Longlegs’ it is needless to conjecture—was considered mad by some, uncanny by others. The boys sometimes called him 'the warlock,’ which, being translated, means 'the male witch.’ If we were to call him one of the primitive saints of science—for science, as well as religion, has its saints—we might, I think, be nearer the mark. The vision and faculty divine is not the exclusive possession of the maker of rhymes. Adam loved nature as the poet loves her. His heart beat when he discovered a rare plant or a rare bird, as the lover’s beats in the presence of his mistress. The earth he trod was consecrated ground, and the plants, the trees, the birds, the sea, the stars, spoke to him of an incalculable beneficence.

There is, therefore, some other hand that twines the thread of life than that of nature; our ends arc as obscure as our beginnings; the line of our days is drawn by night, and the various effects thereon by a pencil that is invisible; whereof, though we confess our ignorance, I am sure that we do not err if we say it is the hand of God.

This, more or less formulated, was the creed at which Adam had arrived. He did not belong to any of the ecclesiastical factions which flourished in Peelboro’; he had worked out his own conclusions about life, death, and immortality; yet he had reached what, after all is said that can be said, is truly the divinest divinity. That vague something which philosophers call the ‘Ego’ 'had become a quite subordinate consideration with Adam. It was merged in a wider life. He was utterly unselfish.

An old comrade who had gone to the south and died there, had left his books to Adam. One morning a parcel arrived by the London smack. It had been despatched from the metropolis three weeks before, but in the year One they thought little of three weeks. Uncle Ned valued it beyond silver and gold. To him, indeed, it was the true El Dorado. It contained the plays of Shakespeare, the works of Sir Thomas Browne, Walton’s ‘Angler,’ White’s 'Selbome,’ George Edwards’ 'Book of Birds,’ and a few others, all of which were duly placed on the shelf beside the box-bed in the wall. They grew into his life as the sea and the stars had grown. They represented to him in the moral and intellectual world that high and noble order which he had already discerned in the physical.

Such a man—strange as it may sound to outsiders—was bound to be happy. His surroundings were mean and homely; he was very poor. He had none of the luxuries of life; a crust of 6tale bread and a cup of cold water from the spring were the dainties to which he was used. But while he was munching his dry crust he was examining with almost passionate rapture the wing-feather of some new or rare bird which he had captured. A stale crust?—or the nectar and ambrosia of the gods? What did it matter when the whole ideal volume of science on which to feast was being opened to him. To such men life is a pure flame, and they live by an invisible sun within them.

Science seeks for the unity without us, as religion seeks for the unity within us. Nothing is so hateful to science as isolation: nothing so hateful to religion. For isolation is selfishness, and selfishness at bottom is confusion and misery. Preachers have waxed pathetic upon the loneliness of a great soul; a truly great soul is never lonely. It has infinite relationships. Self ceases to be engrossing. The imperious instincts of the individual consciousness are subdued. It loses itself (as Christianity affirms) in Christ, or (as science affirms) in the immutable and unshaken order of the universe.

To Adam, as I have said, nature was simply the expression of that complaisant activity of which the sea was one aspect, and the Old Testament another, and Shakespeare another, and a rare fern and the skilful mechanism of a sea-bird’s wing another and another. Throughout the whole of a universe in which each part was thus clearly related to the rest, his imagination roamed with a freshness of wonder that never diminished; each dawn and each sunset touched him with a new joy. ‘Te veniente die, te descendente canebat.’ They were all incidents in the sure silent triumphal march of the divine order. And while such belief filled his life with an ideal rapture, it took away the sting from death. Death could only bring him a step closer—to What?—to the heart of this divine and glorious Order,—the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

I fancy this is what is sometimes called transcendentalism,—well, it is the only scrap of transcendentalism that you will find in this book. But as Uncle Ned was really the ideal or transcendental element in the hard and prosaic life of the canny Peelboro’ burghers, it was expedient that I should try to indicate its main characteristic. That I have now done; and for the rest it will be enough to add that this long gaunt bony mender of old boats was—was—(may I take the liberty, Mr. Professor?) a village x—y of the year One. The colourless brilliancy of the great teacher's style, the easy facility with which the drop of light forms itself into a perfect sphere as it falls from his pen, belong indeed to a consummate master of the art of expression, which Adam of course was not; but the mental lucidity, justice, and balance, as well as the reserve of power, and the Shakespearian gaiety of touch, which made the old man one of the most delightful companions in the world, were essentially Heleian.

To have asserted that the crazy bird-fancier was the one really notable man in the town would have utterly shocked the susceptibilities of Peelboro’, where indeed the assertion that he was not mad as a hatter or a March hare would have been received with derision and incredulity. The Doctor was perhaps the only man in the place who did him full justice; but the Doctor’s jests, like his sermons, went over the heads of his hearers. When he told the councillors of the burgh on an occasion of civic festivity that a bailie is made once a year, but a poet or a naturalist only once in many years, he took the precaution to veil the compliment in the obscurity of a learned language. (‘Consoles fiunt quotannis, et novi proconsules, Solus aut rex aut poeta non quotannis nascitur’). So no harm was done: on the contrary, the Doctor’s acquaintance with the tongues of antiquity was looked upon as a credit to the town.

Adam, I may add, was not a native of the burgh—he belonged to the fertile lowlands of Moray; but he had been little more than a lad when he migrated to Buchan. The great sorrow of his life had driven him away from his own people; but of it and of them he never spoke; and he had long ago taken root upon the bleak and stormy headland where Peelboro’ was built. For many years he had lived a solitary life—until ‘little Alister’ had been thrown upon his hands, 'little Alister’ now two-and-twenty years old, six feet one in his stockings, and (in spite of his six feet) in love over head and ears with Eppie Holdfast ol Fontainbleau.



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