Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/324

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Later Magazines

general literary magazine of high grade. It was not till the stirring of political and sociological movements emphasized the need of an organ in which distinctly New England thought could find expression that the Atlantic was founded. The real father of the Atlantic was Francis H. Underwood, who projected a magazine as early as 1853 when he was in the offices of John P. Jewett and Co. of Boston. This firm had come into prominence as the publishers of Uncle Tom's Cabin, then at the height of its fame, and a serial story by Mrs. Stowe was to have been a feature of the new periodical. Financial considerations prevented the appearance of the magazine as planned. After the firm of Jewett failed, Underwood became connected with Phillips, Sampson and Co., and at length persuaded them to undertake the venture. According to a familiar story the plan was really launched at a dinner given by Phillips, the senior member of the firm, to Underwood, Cabot, Motley, Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, and Emerson. Later, Lowell was decided upon as the first editor. To Holmes is given the credit of suggesting the name "Atlantic Monthly. " Underwood went to England in the interest of the project, and elicited promises of support from some English writers. Later a number of manuscript offerings from these men were entrusted to Charles Eliot Norton, who was returning from Europe, and were mysteriously lost en route. New Englanders afterward felt a pious thankfulness for this accident, since it helped to make more certain that the Atlantic should be distinctly American. [1]

The first issue of the magazine, that for November, 1857, contained contributions from Emerson, Whittier, Lowell, C. E. Norton, J. T. Trowbridge, and others. The most notable feature was The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, which ran as a serial in the first twelve numbers, and was followed in successive years by The Professor at the Breakfast-Table and The Professor s Story [Elsie Venner]. With the failure of the publishers in 1859 the Atlantic passed to Ticknor and Fields, and a little later James T. Fields, the junior member of this firm, succeeded Lowell in editorial charge. Fields was one of the few publishers who have been regarded by most of their authors as

  1. See Dr. Edward Waldo Emerson s The Early History of the Saturday Club, 1918, Chap. II.