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Observator, in Dialogue, The
1684. The “Notorious Falsehoods,” “Malicious Scandals,” and “Poysonous Doctrines” of the SeasonL’ESTRANGE, Roger. The Observator, in Dialogue. The First Volume…[Nos. 1 (Wednesday April 13, 1681)-470 (Wednesday, January 9, 1683)]. London: Printed by J. Bennet, for William Abington, 1684.First collected edition of The Observator, Nos. 1-470. Folio (13 1/8 x 8 1/8 inches; 333 x 207 mm.). [2], [4, “To the Reader”], [8, “The Table”], [3, contents], [1, blank] pp. followed by The Observator Nos. 1-470 (unpaginated). Engraved frontispiece portrait of Roger L’Estrange, dated 1684, by R. White after G. Kneller.Modern antique-style panelled calf. Covers decoratively ruled and tooled in blind, spine richly tooled in gilt in compartments with six raised bands and red morocco gilt lettering label, board edges and turn-ins decoratively tooled in blind, marbled endpapers. An excellent copy.“The Reader will find in the First Number of This Collection, the True Intent, and Design of the Undertaking; And he will likewise find, in the very Date of it, (April 13. 1681.) the Absolute Neccessity of some Such Application, to Encounter the Notorious Falshoods; the Malicious Scandals, and the Poysonous Doctrines of That Season” (“To the Reader”).“On 28 March 1681 Charles secured the constitutional initiative against the whigs by unexpectedly dismissing the new parliament assembled at Oxford. Within a few days one of L'Estrange's most effective pamphlets, part one of The Dissenters' Sayings, was on sale and on 13 April 1681 he issued the first number of The Observator which, appearing at an average of three times a week over the next six years, was to prove the most powerful organ of tory propaganda. The paper is composed throughout as a dialogue between two speakers, A (later Tory, Observator and, briefly, Courantier) and Q (later Whig, then Trimmer). It is normally Q's role to be slapped down, but he is always allowed to make some telling points and the best of the papers convey an enlivening sense of a vigorous mind in dialogue with itself. Deploring its influence, Burnet noted that the ‘greater part of the clergy…being now both sharpened and furnished by these papers, delivered themselves up to much heat and indiscretion’ (Bishop Burnet's History, ed. Burnet and Burnet, 1.461). Its success, as well as advancing L'Estrange's influence, allowed him to restore his finances through gifts and testimonials” (ODNB).“This journal, of two double-columned folio pages, began its career on 13 April, 1681, and ran to 9 March, 1686/7. After no. 5, readers could not be sure how many issues they would receive a week; but, as a rule, the tireless editor supplied them with three or four numbers devoted to abuse of dissenters, whigs, trimmers and Titus Oates. Throughout, he employed a device, which he had not originated, but which his example made popular for a generation—the trick of casting each number in the form of a dialogue. It is needless to attempt to chronicle the changes in the form of title and in the persons of his interlocutors, since, in order to avoid the mistakes already made by bibliographers, one would need to examine every page of the periodical—an appalling task. It is enough to say that L’Estrange had a large share in the final discrediting of Oates; that, until it suited the king’s purpose to issue the declaration of indulgence, clerical and royal favour crowned his ecclesiastical and political zeal; and that his many critics had abundant excuse for the diatribes they continued to issue against him. Defoe, who was probably in London during the larger part of The Observator’s life, may thus early have determined that, if ever he should edit a paper of his own, he would avoid the awkward dialogue form and an extravagance that defeated its own ends” (The Cambridge History of English and American Literature).
      [Bookseller: David Brass Rare Books, Inc. ]
Last Found On: 2013-01-08           Check availability:      ABAA    

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