Snippets 83. Some of the most interesting magazines over the years have been frustratingly short-lived. One such example is The British Apollo, which ran for little more than 3 years, from February 1708 to May 1711. The magazines were later gathered together into book volumes. However, it was a twice-weekly and later thrice-weekly publication, so there are many issues to enjoy. The magazines followed a question/answer format (with also some poetry and other information). The British Apollo was launched by Aaron Hill, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, who subsequently became a successful playwright and poet. He based his publication on the format of Athenian Mercury, which ran from 1691 to 1697, and assembled a team of experts to help answer the questions. The legacy of his work lives on in modern-day “agony aunt” columns.
At the height of its popularity, The British Apollo had over a thousand subscribers, but its success was hampered by the quality of the questions being send in, some of which are clearly a little repetitive. Hill sold off the publication in 1710, and it was a very sensible move, because it soon declined financially from that point onwards.
The following is a good example of the question/answer format of the British Apollo, and offers an insight into romantic concerns of the time.
Q. A lady has obliged me to choose a husband for her, and if the question don’t puzzle Apollo, I desire to know by what infallible mark I may find a good humoured man, but if I inquire for what is not in nature, then one that will make a civil husband?
A. Let him be of a suitable age and condition; of an even temper, and stranger to the spleen; learned, without pedantry; well bred, without affectation; abounding more in sense than wit; well travelled through himself; the consciousness of his own ignorance will restrain him from a contempt of his wife; fully acquainted with the town, without being touched by the vices of it; slow of promise, but sudden of performance; as unapt to give as to take an affront; tender and compassionate, but firm to his honour: to all this let there be added a good estate, the want of which sometimes sours the best dispositions. Now to acquaint you where to meet such a person – but that is without the limits of your question.
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