Friday, 14 October 2011

The Spectator on Blogging (1711)

A man who publishes his Works in a Volume, has an infinite Advantage over one who communicates his Writings to the World in loose Tracts and single Pieces.  We do not expect to meet with any thing in a bulky Volume till after some heavy Preamble...This gave Occasion to the famous Greek Proverb....That a great Book is a great Evil.

On the contrary, those who publish their Thoughts in distinct Sheets, and as it were by Piece-meal, have none of these Advantages.  We must immediately fall into our Subject, and treat every part of it in a lively Manner, or our Papers are thrown by as dull and insipid: our Matter must lie close together, and either be wholly new in itself, or in the Turn it receives from our Expressions.  At the same is expected that every Sheet should be a kind of Treatise, and make out in Thought what it wants in Bulk: that a point of Humour should be worked up in all its Parts; and a Subject touched upon in its most essential Articles, without the Repetitions, Tautologies, and Enlargements that are indulged to longer Labours. An Essay Writer must practise in the Chymical Method, and give the Virtue of a full Draught in a few Drops. Were all books reduced thus to make their Quintessence, many a bulky Author would make his Appearance in a Penny Paper....The Works of an Age would be contained on a few Shelves; not to mention Millions of Volumes that would be utterly annihilated. (Addison, No 124, full text at

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