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never be deaf to sound admonition. But it is so far from being practicable to obviate all objections to which a publication like this is liable, that it would even be useless to string them together, unless it were for the sake of ludicrously illustrating the diversities of human taste. Such censures pour in, not merely from the impartially rigid, but from the prejudiced and inimical, and from observers who see the self-same object in curiously contrasted lights of falsehood. The medley of counsels on his conduct, which the present Editor has received, rivals a game at cross purposes in whimsicality. He has been upbraided by one epistolary censor for impious criticisms on the metaphors of Ecclesiastes; and cautioned by another to revoke his fanatical praises of the Psalms of David, as savouring of Jumperism, 1
“ A Friend to the Church of England” complains that the Work has forsaken the banners of the English Church; whilst a foreign Journalist laments that it is still Englishly illiberal towards the Catholics; although the present Editor has never admitted one disrespectful, much less intolerant, sentiment against that body of believers.
The length of the articles has been sometimes found fault with, as obstructive to variety. Were the Editor | really convinced that his papers could be compressed and multiplied with advantage, he would immediately and zealously act on this suggestion. But he has strong grounds for believing, that no benefit could be derived from his doing so. An augmented variety of articles would make it necessary either that individual correspondents should write on a greater number of subjects, some of which would necessarily be foreign to their particular habits and abilities ; or that the circle of his contributors should be widely extended. But to a very great number of contributors, it would not be possible for the proprietors of this, or of any other work, to offer acknowledgments for their communications, at all worthy of their acceptance. It is a truth neither unknown nor dishonourable, that no important periodical publication can be supported by gratuitous contributions. And for the usefulness of the literary
profession, it is of no slight consequence that its honest industry should be profitable. But setting aside, if they should be thought indelicate, all' ideas of profit, it is still but a sorry invitation to literary men, to tell them that, whether their subject be grave or gay, they must be stinted to a very few pages, and that their sentences
to be counted on the fingers of the Editor. Sometimes, it is true, and with painful feelings, he has been obliged to abridge the contributions of his coadjutors ; but, on the whole, the system of compression could not be carried to rigour without either alienating useful writers, or requesting them to contribute mere scraps and fragments. Were the public even clearly disposed to patronize the scrap-system of literature, 'a spirited editor would be disposed to set his face against their taste. But England has, in fact, of late shewn decided symptoms of a predilection for a very different system of periodical writing.
The Editor pledges himself that whilst the Work remains under his superintendence, it shall inculcate neither licentious nor arbitrary principles. He declares his consciousness, however, of having no pretensions to rank among the periodical publishers of the time, who struggle for the honour of directing, or deeply influencing, political opinion. And he here uses the word honour, not ironically, but in good earnest. For he is aware that it would not be for the interests of the commonwealth, if all journalists, even with a leaning to liberal opinion, were to be equally abstinent with himself in commenting on public men and public measures. It is better, with all its drawbacks, that political zeal should be alive than dead; ảnd its spirit may be honourably warm without outraging authority, or assassinating private character. But it does not follow, from the general utility of political discussion, that it should invariably pervade every species of literary compilation, or that there should be no calm spot in the world of periodical literature where all minds of common charity and candour may meet without the asperities of party feeling. There is no scarcity of polemical writers on political subjects; and there is no call for any man to add himself to
their number, unless he is conscious of his habits and pursuits having peculiarly fitted him to come with power into the contest. Impressed with this consideration, the present Editor the more willingly undertook this work, as the Proprietors declared their wish for its main object to be literary, and not political. Had the case been otherwise, there might have been room to charge him with inconsistency, in abstaining from the most interesting public questions of the day. But the circumstance which has been now mentioned, and the opinions of his countrymen, as far as he has heard them expressed, have set his mind at rest, that the motives of his reserve have not been mistaken. Sooner than be justly chargeable with servile or selfish motives of silence, he would expose his peace and character tu any annoyances, in which the declaration of independent opinions could involve him. But, whilst concerned with these volumes, he thinks himself more likely to be usefully employed in stamping the Work with a purely literary character, than by coming forward in the arena of politics.
Whilst he thus declares himself deeply conscious of being answerable for the .general character and moral tendency of the Work which he conducts, he must also remark, that his responsibility is not to be too rigorously interpreted as extending to every shade and expression of opinion which the publication may contain. It is impossible to give exact harmony and consistency to the sentiments of a numerous and changing body of contributors; and the spirit and originality of an amusing paper might often be more injured by pruning its eccentricities, than by suffering them to remain.
Under this plea the Editor has no desire to excuse himself for one article, which has given offence, rather too justly, on the other side of the Atlantic. He inserted it without reflection, but had observed its unfairness, and felt dissatisfied with himself for having published it, long before the fair and temperate reply which Mr. Everitt made to it had reached him. In adverting to this paper he will have occasion for once, and he hopes
only for once, to touch upon politics ; but it shall be but generally, and nothing but the necessity of self-defence shall make him resume the subject. With reluctance, but from a sense of duty, he must criticise a paper in his own work, communicated to him by a valued friend, to whose taste and sentiments he would defer, perhaps, on any occasion but the present. But when his friend deprecates our literary feuds with America, he applies, in the Editor's opinion, the most faulty methods of appeasing them. He denies, and it is to be hoped we all deny, any systematic hatred towards the Ame, ricans; but he charges the large majority of that people with being vain, vulgar, and boisterous, and full of national prejudices; which, when they come to this country, take the form of unmeasured hatred and rude. ness. Hard words these; and, perhaps, not very usefully uttered even if true. But if they be not true if this sweeping computation of the tolerable or intolerable character of a whole nation can be even suspected of exaggeration, how unfair and how dangerous to have made it. For his own part the Editor can say that he believes he has known more Americans than the writer of the paper. Possibly, in the course of his life, not less than an hundred-men of various vocations, characters, and degrees of education. He has argued with them, and heard them argue, on national subjects; but he can safely declare, that he never thought them more boisterous than other men; on the contrary, rather distinguished, in general, by coolness and self-possession. Exceptions of warmth, as among the people of all countries when their prejudices are ruffled, he may have observed; but unmeasured hatred, or rudeness, never.
If we dislike the American manner, (our own, the world says, is not perfect) we should not rake up its
, imperfections when we protest our wish to put an end to a paper war with that people. It is an useless jar in the tones of our harmony to talk of their disagreeable peculiarities at the moment of confessing that those faults have not eaten into the heart and substance of their national character, and after quoting travellers, who attest“ the gallantry, high feeling, and humanity of their troops, and the general religion and hospitality of their people,"
But the Americans are told they should be satisfied with our full acknowledgments of their virtues. And so they would have been, no doubt, if the compliments from our press had not come to them so bedaubed with inconsistent aspersions, as to resemble oranges that have been dipped in the kennel. For, in test tifying their humanity, we parenthetically bemoan their ferocity. We reproach them, and yet say we are willing to be well with them. We hold out to them the olivebranch, and whip them with it as a conciliatory ceremony. With all this we tell them, however, that they must not be offended, because it is our way to caricature and gibbet Kings and Queens, and Bishops, for the popular entertainment, forgetting that the Americans have nothing to do with our treatment of Kings and Bishops, and that our literature should be as dissimilar as possible to either gibbets or caricatures. Farther, we enjoin them silence and good humour. The charms of silence we illustrate. by harangues on their soreness and irritability; and we suggest their vulgar manners, their scanty literature, and the prospect of their language being for ever amenable to our correction, as themes on which they may meditate during their pleased and pensive taciturnity.
But we admire the writings of Washington Irving, and, it might have been added, the pictures of Lesley, and of the American Newton.* And this is a pledge of our perfect liberality. So thinks the Editor's friend, but not so the Editor. For the Americans have gone before us in this species of justice, having praised our British books abundantly, and yet without obtaining credit for entire freedom from prejudices. Nor, in strictness, have they deserved it. It is on neither side an excuse for national abuse to have paid compliments to individuals. The charitable feeling between two kindred and free nations ought to extend much farther, and exclude all collective animosity. How to produce this Christian spirit is, to be sure, the problem which can never be practically
* The Editor calls him American, because there is an ingenious English artist of the same name.