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long and brilliant career to run of glory, and dominion, and benefactions to mankind.

Such general declamation, it may be objected, can afford no accurate insight into the subjects of our inquiry, namely, the state of the nation, and the spirit of the times. We simply answer, that we had no such purpose in view ; but that we gladly seized the opportunity of recurring to the fair and enlivening prospect of national eminence and grandeur at a moment of impatient gloom, and unmanly despondency. For such a prospect ought to have its use: it must say to every Englishman with a silent but powerful voice, that reason, and history, and the comparison of past times with the present, all forbid him to despair of the prosperity of England. Away, then, with these idle and criminal forebodings of decay and degradation ! Instead of sinking our own energies, and destroying the spirit of the people, by dismal apprehensions of revolution, and convulsion, and bankruptcy, let it be the cordial endeavour of us all to preserve our country feared and honoured abroad, tranquil and happy within herself, the light of nations, the umpire of the earth!

But we must come to particulars ; and study in the remaining part of this paper rather to be calm and candid in our examination, than dogmatic and positive in our assertions. Now the state of a great nation, like England, is a subject infinitely too extensive to come within the limits of any single discussion. We have before us a vast and varied tract of country, which it is scarcely possible even to traverse at a journey, much less to examine with that caution and accuracy, which can alone add certainty to our progress, or value to our researches. So such mighty topics start up, and demand attention, that we are absolutely encumbered and bewildered by their multiplicity and magnitude.

We must, therefore, break the subject into parts, and consider each in detail. But where all the departments have their peculiar interest and dignity, it is difficult to adjust the point of precedence in instituting a general inquiry. We have, however, determined to begin with the state of literature and the press: first, because this arrange

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ment will be most convenient to ourselves in the prosecution of our plan: and secondly, because there is no topic of more intrinsic moment, or of more vital importance to the safety and well-being of a nation.

Yet the whole state of the press is itself too large a theme to be comprehended at a grasp. We must, therefore, content ourselves at present with the periodical literature of Great Britain: and even here we shall find that we have at least enough to do.

It is not within the scope of our intention to enlarge upon the power of the press, or to trace its wonder-working effects, whether beneficially or perniciously exerted. These things are very generally understood: and for ourselves we really believe that there are very few objects, which resolute men could not effect in this country with the press at their command. The press might be represented by an allegorical writer, as a double-handed giant, holding the scales of justice on one side, and a fire-brand on the other; scattering in one direction the seeds of discord and disorder, immorality and infidelity; cutting away the mounds, which had been raised by wise and virtuous institutions, and making a channel for the waters of anarchy and disunion to rush forward in an impetuous, resistless torrent, and spread themselves over the land: in another, striving with noble and unceasing efforts to heal the wounds, and stop the devastation, which had been thus made ; promoting happiness, advancing knowledge, and diffusing the blessings of peace, harmony, and good government. In one light, it might be exhibited as a destroying, in another as a protecting, angel : in one as a minister of ruin, in another of salvation. But we must pause, lest we should appear to be doing exactly that, from which we have declared it is our intention to abstain.

Nor is it necessary to introduce many observations upon the vast increase of periodical publications within the last fifty years. The speech of Lord John Russell on Reform, when he brought forward that subject in the present session of Parliament, must have sufficiently informed the country of their enormous progress and their present aggregate amount. The community at large cannot but be aware in

what manner public journals of all kinds have advanced during the past half century, with the most rapid and continual augmentation, not only in variety and number, but in the skill and energy with which they are conducted. They must be sensible also of the great extension of education among the middling and lower orders; and of the natural action and re-action of these circumstances upon each other. The supply and the demand have of course increased in the same ratio. On the one hand, the periodical productions, while they diffused information, have created an appetite for more: and on the other, the nation having been thus stimulated to greater intellectual voracity than of old, has made it the constant employment of a far larger body of persons to furnish it with food. The stock of knowledge and the desire of knowledge are reciprocally cause and effect: fresh publications beget more readers, and more readers occasion fresh publications.

These things are no discovery: but we have thought it of use to mention them at the outset, as tending to demonstrate the immense influence which the periodical press has acquired in this age over the opinions, and consequently over the actions, of men; as well as the momentous importance, thus necessarily attached to the subject, which we must now hasten to discuss. For the rest we have only to desire of our readers that they would peruse the following remarks with the love of truth upon their minds, with steadiness of attention, and a forgetfulness, as far as may be, of their preconceived notions ; as we have written them in a spirit of sober conviction, and calm impartiality, but at the same time of unwavering firmness and inflexible determination.

There are three principal classes of periodical publications : Reviews, Magazines, and Newspapers. We shall begin with the Reviews, as being the most grave, imposing, and dignified performances, and deriving weight not merely from what is written, but from the personal character and station of the writers.

Now what is a Review ? A Review, considered in the abstract, is a periodical work, established for the purpose of keeping strict watch over the literature of the day, forming a just and candid judgment upon every publication which appears worthy of notice; and of preventing the corruption of public morals, and the vitiation of public taste. This at least is what a review ought to be. But upon a modern review such a definition is a satire. We must explain the reasons, and reveal “ the secrets of the prisonhouse."

Here let us allow, once for all, that the cause is not to be found in want of talent. If there was no talent in our reviews, there would be no talent in England or in Scotland. They are written by the master-spirits of the age--the most commanding intellects in the country-by men who might reflect a lustre upon any age or upon any country. When we name the names of Jeffrey or Gifford; Mackintosh or Brougham; or Sidney Smith or Malthus; Barrow or Croker; Monk,Elmsley, Blomfield or Mitchell ; Southey, or Scott, or Milman; with a host of others, who might be mentioned in the same rank, no reasonable man can doubt for a moment, that there is a vast quantity of talent and knowledge employed upon the reviews of Great Britain in the nineteenth century. We are no friends to Reviews or to Reviewers: but we shall not on that account withhold our applause from men, who have well earned, and long possessed, the admiration of all, who are qualified either to perceive genius, or to appreciate learning.

Nor, while we are conferring praise shall we hesitate to acknowledge the good which the Reviews have unquestionably done. In many cases they have contributed to diffuse information, to enlighten public opinion, to dispel the fogs of ignorance, or the mists of prejudice : on many occasions they have been staunch, steady, strenuous, energetic and skilful advocates in the cause of science, civilization, and humanity. We bestow this merited eulogium with alacrity and pleasure: it is to us an infinitely more gratifying task, than to deal out censure and condemnation, as we must hereafter do, in no scanty measure, and with no sparing hand.

Moreover, it has been of use in some instances, that our two principal Reviews are the organs of the two great parties in the state. They have been made the vehicles and the depositaries of the leading sentiments of both, put

into a definite and intelligible shape, and expressed with more moderation, than can be found either in parliamentary speeches, or in the daily or weekly journals. The very man, perhaps, who had lately thundered forth some vehement and inflammatory harangue in the House of Commons, or at some popular meeting in the country, has qualified the warmth of his opinion upon maturer thought, and mitigated the asperity of his political wrath, when he has seated himself quietly at his desk, and prepared an article for the Edinburgh or Quarterly Review. On the whole, that both Whigs and Tories, or any party, which possesses much influence in the kingdom, should have some permanent literary receptacle for their general doctrines on great constitutional questions is a thing evidently desirable in many points of view: but we cannot go the length of saying, that such a work would have any possible right to dignify itself with the title of a Review ; or pretend to criticise the measure and reasonings of the opposite side under the character of a judge. Yet Reviewers, properly speaking, are judges; while party-men at best are but good pleaders.

We have not yet, however, quite done with our praise. On all topics,—but, alas ! how few are these-in which party can have no share, the Reviewers have proved, not unfrequently, wise and efficient guides : they have promoted the love and the study of the physical and exact sciences: they have taught the nation to think upon political economy, and many other subjects, which deeply involve the highest interests of man: they have introduced, now and then, stricter and better habits of investigation : and pursued analytical arguments of the greatest beauty and precision: they have made acquisitions to the stock of literature, worthy the established reputation of the most eloquent statesmen, the soundest divines, the deepest mathematicians, and the most accomplished scholars of the day.

What has been here said will, we trust, be sufficient to prove that we write without any emotions of envy, or malice, or disappointment. We have no such feelings : we have no occasion for such feelings. We have never been brought before the great literary tribunals, and dismissed

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