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AMONG the awful and awakening events of the present day, the demise of one of the most popular Sovereigns who ever held the sceptre of England since the days of the Henrys and Edwards; and the advancement to the Throne of a young and amiable Princess, on whose future wisdom and prudence the dearest hopes and most important interests of the kingdom are suspended; in such times of popular feeling, and amid the perpetual libration of hope and fear, it is not to be expected that the still small voice of Literature will be heard with the usual attention, or find the mind in that state of calm and leisure, which are necessary to its success. Yet the strongest reasons forbid us to move from our accustomed road, or break the chain of our various argument, to second the more perishable, though more imposing impressions of the day.
We belong emphatically to past times : yet we must not form a gulf between the past and the present ; or let it be supposed that there is no link which unites all knowledge however remote, and no analogies which can unfold the secret alliance that subsists between them. The knowledge of the past, it must be remembered, is not to be gathered up like spontaneous flowers under our feet; its archives are not to be read with a cursory and casual glance like a recent inscription ; nor are its original records stamped with the signet of official authority. As the sands of the desert are heaped around the sacred vestiges of Antiquity on the shores of the Nile, so even in our own history, truth is mingled with error, light with darkness, partiality with candour, sincerity with falsehood; and it is the peculiar office of the Antiquary to examine and separate these heterogeneous materials, and scrutinize into their comparative importance. Hence the absolute value of minute details and fragmentary documents, amid which Truth often takes up her retired abode, when she avoids the more open and showy plains of History. The Antiquary also learns the value of comparison, when he finds one mass of truth lie apart from another to which it originally belonged, and from which it had been finally separated; while the parts of junction have been perhaps for ever disfigured or destroyed. The study of Antiquity has ever been an important and a valuable part of our Magazine, and we have reason, we think, to be proud of our Antiquarian lore. Thus, as Scaliger observes, we ascend to general conclusions, from particular enquiries—Observatione specialium ad generalia ascendendo. Our modern historians know the value of this science; and if the names (how illustrious !) of Robertson and Hume are ever superseded, and their light dimmed, it will be solely that they trusted to their eminent genius and great accomplishments to afford them those conclusions, which could only be safely drawn from a humbler but more authentic method of inquiry. We therefore exhort our Contributors to continue to us on these subjects their valuable and various support.
The Proprietors of the GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE trust that the pledge has been redeemed which was made to their Readers on the commencement of the New SERIES; that, without altering the constitution of the Work-or withdrawing, in any degree, its attention from English antiquities and English architecture,it would embrace a larger circle of Literature, and enter upon a more varied and entertaining range of subjects.
1. It is on their constant regard to the standard and classical Literature of England, that the Proprietors rely as their chief strength. In the course of the New Series, the works of Milton, of Pope, of Gray, of Cowper, Byron, Coleridge, Crabbe, Bowles, Joanna Baillie, and Talfourd; the Biographies of Bolingbroke and Temple, of Walpole and Wraxall, of Mackintosh, Byron, Crabbe, Coleridge, Johnson, Goldsmith, Hannah More, Brydges, and Dibdin, have in succession passed under no superficial or hasty review; and in every Number, one recent Publication of the highest character, is made the subject of a lengthened criticism.
2. It is intended to continue the selections from the manuscript continuation of Mr. Green's learned and interesting “ Diary of a Lover of Literature ;” as well as to add further contributions to the illustration of Boswell's Life of Johnson, until that work shall have been accompanied to its close; for the original may be considered as a central point, round which, for the period of half a century, the Literature of our Country is collected.
3. The Proprietors speak with confidence of the satisfaction which the review of the several works published by both Record Commissions has generally given, and the interest it has excited. The examination of these works and these results of the late Parliamentary Committee, will be continued.
4. In the Communications and Correspondence such subjects are generally discussed as are recommended by their intrinsic and permanent value, or by those circumstances which invest inferior objects with occasional importance. In the recent numbers the Proprietors particularly refer to the many valuable articles on Philology, on Anglo-Saxon Literature, on Ancient Poetry; Dissertations on points of our National History, and illustrious characters; Antiquities and Architecture; Family History; and Original Letters and Documents illustrative of these several subjects.
5. The Retrospective Review will tontinue to present much that is curious in old English Poetry; and indeed it is a department of the Magazine to which the Reader's attention is particularly directed
6. In the Review of New Publications, the endeavour is to judge of the works submitted to the Reviewer, carefully and impartially; no one is recommended to public notice without mentioning the the grounds of approbation, nor any one censured without declaring the circumstances that call for animadversion.
7. The Obituary of Eminent Persons, distinguished in the State, the Public Service, or Learned Professions; in Literature, Science, and the Arts ; will be maintained with persevering care.
8. Literary and Scientific Intelligence. An account of the Transactions of Scientific and Learned Societies; and of the progress of the Arts, and Public Exhibitions.
9. Historical Chronicle. A Record of passing events; of Honours and Preferments in Church and State ; and the Births and Marriages of the Nobility and Gentry.
10. The Embellishments comprise views of places remarkable for their architecture, or interesting from their history, and other objects of curiosity.
Lastly, it may be mentioned, that on subjects connected with the Established Church, they have been treated openly, but still reasonably and temperately; and the same disposition shall continue to advocate her rights, defend her character, and promote all due amendment of her defects.
Such is the outline of the Plan which the Proprietors of the Gentleman's Magazine offer to the public attention. Successfully to execute their design, the assistance of able and learned writers is secured, and the co-operation of their old Correspondents is confidently anticipated.
The Gentleman's Magazine (price 28. 6d.) is published by WilLIAM PICKERING, Chancery-lane; but Communications for the Editor are requested to be addressed, post paid, to the Printers, J. B. Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament Street.
London: printed by J. B. Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament-street,