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JANUARY, 1836.


A Preface is the medium through which a writer is permitted to introduce himself to his readers. In availing ourselves, on the present occasion, of this privilege of authorship, we desire to explain at some length the scope, character and tendency of this Magazine, to point out the objects which it will attempt to compass, to make known the materials of which it will be composed, and to state the principles on which it will be conducted.

Whoever reflects on the current affairs of life, or throws a retrospective glance on the history of past times, cannot fail to detect in the constituent elements of society the principles of constant change and gradual progression. The mind of man is active, restless, and insatiably curious ; every new fact discovered is but a stepping stone to further research, and the appetite for knowledge, instead of being surfeited or palled, grows keener and keener after each repast. The understanding has every attribate of expansibility, and unless forcibly repressed by the strong arm of despotism, or deadened by the torpor of superstition, the genius and intellect of man will incessantly scek after fresh objects to gratify his taste, to minister to his wants, to elevate his moral feelings, and improve his social condition. The fool alone is sluggish and remains stationary ; his contracted mind never enlarges the sphere of its ideas : he cannot advance with the tide of civilization, but resembles the country lout, who, standing on an open plain, fixes the limits of the universe by his horizon, which the wise man justly considers to be only the boundary of his sight.

In tracing the history of man from primitive barbarism to final civilization, the principle of change and progressive amelioration is visible at every step. He commences existence as a savage : the protecting branches of a tree, a natural cavern, or the hollow of a rock, are his places of rest and shelter ; wild roots are his food, and water his drink. Emerging from this most forlorn of conditions, he becomes a hunter, if living in the interior of a country; a fisher, if he dwells on the coast. As Vol. 1.–No. 1.


soon as he has learned to subdue the tamer animals and reduce them into possession, he assumes the character of a shepherd. By an easy and obvious gradation, the agricultural æra next succeeds, for the same motives which induced the shepherd to acquire an ownership in his flocks and herds, prompted the farmer to extend this principle of exclusive occupancy to land and divide it into regular allotments. But food alone is insufficient for man. He requires a dwelling, clothing, domestic furniture, and implements. Accordingly we find that as civilization advanced, the division of labour was concurrently established, and a distinct class of the community devoted themselves to manufactures. From this date, society began to branch out into very numerous ramifications. Cities were built in which some particular trade was specially pursued, as local circumstances proved more favorable to one species of commodity than to another, and the wholesale merchant was separated from the retailer. The town and country acted and reacted on each other, and the rural and mechanical population provided for their mutual wants by the intervention of barter. The benefits accruing to each were soon felt, and a sense of common interest led to the formation of roads to facilitate intercourse, and to the establishment of markets, in which the aggregate produce of labour was concentrated in one convenient spot.

But the onward movement of civilization did not stop with internal trade. Ships were navigated to neighbouring lands, and the sea, though an apparent limit to foreign communication, proved a cheaper mode of conveyance than land carriage. It was soon perceived that different parts of the globe had different climates, and that commodities denied to one country were redundant in another. Hence the origin of external com

The discovery of the properties of the magnet conquered space, and the sailor fearlessly pursued his way over the trackless ocean. Astronomy came to the aid of the magnet, and by teaching the secret of finding the longitude by lunar observations, disarmed the most remote navigation of all its terrors. Contemporaneously with these triumphs of intellect, machinery of every description was intently studied : chemistry was applied to the useful arts, and the magical powers of steam, like the gigantic strength of the Briareus of fable, invested every artificer with a hundred arms.

Who, that reflects even on this rough and scanty outline of the progressive civilization of society, can deny the truth of the general principle on which we have insisted, to wit, that man is imbued with desires to improve his condition and gifted with capacity to accomplish those desires. In art, in science, in literature, in mechanism, in civil engineering, in whatever department man has exerted his genius, he has extracted pure ore from the rich mint of nature. His very errors have been the heralds of truth. The attempts of the Alchemist to find the philosopher's stone have led to the discoveries of modern chemistry, and the researches after the Elixir of


Life conduced to the perfection of medical science. Invention is the highest of the faculties, and it is the gift of few; but when an original idea is once struck out, hundreds, nay thousands, have the talent not only to improve it, but to apply it to the various wants and comforts of mankind. Compare the first hut built by man with existing structures : contrast the first boat that ever swam the sea with the productions of naval architecture : imagine the first road that ever was formed, and then turn your minds to carriages impelled by steam on iron railways. If you reflect and trace in your minds the progressive development of civilization from the initial point of barbarism down to our times, you must conclude that man was created, not to be a stationary or retrograde being, but a being admirably fitted in every respect to advance in moral and social improvement.

The revilers of the human race who, partly from sheer ignorance and partly from morbid selfishness, wish to choke and dam up the stream of political amelioration and stagnate its waters, are constantly invoking the wisdom of our ancestors and warning posterity against moving one inch beyond the beaten paths of their forefathers. But who are these ancestors to whom appeal is made ? are they the aboriginal Britons of whom we only know that they were destitute of clothes, and were wont to smear their bodies with paint ? Is the Norman æra the standard of purity, when the serfs were slaves, and sold with the cattle that ploughed the ground ? Or shall we select the times of the Plantagenets, when the country was torn asunder by civil war, and the white and red roses were steeped in the blood of thousands of our countrymen? Perhaps we may be referred to the age of the Tudors, and be told to admire the adulteries and murders of Henry the Eighth, the rabid bigotry of Mary, and the remorseless despotism of Elizabeth ? Or must we learn political and moral wisdom from the Stuart dynasty, and unite into one bright model the pedagogue emptiness of the first James, the dissembling insincerity of the first Charles, the profligate libertinism of Charles the Second, and the treachery, baseness, and superstition of James the Second ? Or shall we seek for perfect virtue in a nearer approach to modern times, and hope to find it in the memorable declaration of the minister Walpole, who boasted that he knew the price of every member of the House of Commons ? Or must we descend to the reign of George the Third, a reign streaming with blood, commemorative of the legalized murder of the human race on sea and land in the four quarters of the globe: a reign which mortgaged the labour and intellect of the living and of future generations, first to enslave America, which has established her freedom ; secondly to restore to the throne of France that hated race of Bourbons, who are now vagrants on the Continent; a reign emphatically antichristian, being one continued violation of the divine commandment “ Thou shalt not kill :" a reign in which oligarchical power, erected on the ruins of pre

rogative and privilege, usurped all legislative authority in the domination of rotten boroughs ? If the wisdom of our ancestors is to be found any where, it must be detected in some one or other of these periods of history, or else the expression is an unmeaning sound. Let the advocates of the stationary system pick out any one that they please : we, who insist on the progressively advancing system, reject them all.

How monstrous then is the fallacy of directing the minds of the present generation to precedents drawn from antiquity? The foundations of the British Constitution were laid in the times of Feudalism, when none, except the clergy, could read or write. In those days the Great Council of the nation were solely occupied in regulating matters of war. The Lords Spiritual had no other policy than scheming to outwit the king and the Lords Temporal. When these three sections united and made common cause with each other, their sole object was to plunder and enslave the people. Are we who live in the nineteenth century to respect the authoity of those usurpers, who, partly by force and partly by fraud, endeavoured to keep the mass of the population in bondage, and check the advance of civilization ?

What could our ancestors know of the wants of modern society ? Since they have mouldered into dust, a new world has been discovered : America has become wealthy and populous : Australasia is rapidly following her example : the vast continent of India is an appendage to the crown ; a regular trade is carried on with the distant shores of China : and so extensive have our colonial possessions become, that the sun never sets on the British Empire. What did our progenitors know of the true principles of trade? What ideas could they entertain of foreign commerce ? What progress had they made in manufactures ? What opinions could they have formed of the magical powers of modern machinery ? Could they ever have supposed, in the boldest flight of imagination, that a national debt would have been accumulated vastly exceeding in amount the value of all the gold and silver in the world, and that the interest of that debt would be regularly paid by steam? Is it not, then, sheer impudent folly to call on the people of the nineteenth century to regulate their affairs by the wisdom of their ancestors, who could neither read nor write, and who could not possibly form the most distant conceptions of the existing relations of society?

The conclusion, then, to which we arrive, is this : That common sense recommends every generation to think for itself, to consult its own immediate interests, and study its own character : and, instead of looking backward to look forward, always taking the present time as the initial point from which it ought to start in the career of progressive amelioration. In every art and science this rule is invariably adopted, and if it were not, all knowledge would become stationary, and soon begin to retrograde. The astronomer, the anatomist, the engineer, the merchant,

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