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ÀP 4 G3

J. B. NICHOLS AND SON, PRINTERS, 25, PARLIAMENT STREET.

PREFACE.

WE have in our present address the agreeable task of thanking our Correspondents for many valuable and pleasing communications with which they have favoured us; and we also trust, that our general readers are not dissatisfied with our attempts to furnish them with such information as arises in the short intervals of time that are allowed us for the composition and arrangement of our Work. The increasing number of Reviews and Magazines, including the accounts of the transactions of learned Societies, is not only a proof of a general spread of knowledge, and of an advanced stage of intellectual improvement, but is a most important auxiliary to it. In every branch of science and art in the present day, as soon as a discovery is made, or improvement suggested, however remote or obscure the place from which it proceeds, it is communicated as by an unbroken chain from mind to mind, till it has reached the remotest recesses of the community, and has passed through the examination of the most able and instructed judgments. In former days, a philosopher or scholar, at Paris or at Rome, might be carrying on important experiments, or effecting discoveries which would produce revolutions in science, which might be for years unknown to those who are employed in the same field of labour as himself, in London or Edinburgh. All paths of literature were incumbered with the same obstructions; and knowledge was in a great measure deprived of the assistance which it derives from the combination of congenial talents, stimulated and inspired by honourable association. These observations will apply to our own case as to others, and the advantage of a rapid communication of knowledge may be considered as the most powerful means of increasing it. Another branch of our duty is to afford our readers a means of forming a just and discriminate character of the books which are placed before us for review. In this case we must act neither as too partial friends, nor as prejudiced and interested enemies of the author. It is very important for the young to form a correct

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and manly taste, which would be deeply vitiated and hurt we no discrimination used in ascertaining the character of the num rous publications of the day; many of which are the productions of very inferior minds, and which are hurried prematurely into the press, for purposes which have no honourable connexion with the advancement of knowledge, or the interests of society. But while a Reviewer's duty leads him to the discovery of faults, he must also consider that it is part of his office to point out the merits of the works before him: neither private friendship, nor personal feeling, nor partial motives, must be suffered to interfere with his decisions. If the judges of Literature as of Law ever become corrupt, they may be certain that they will rapidly fall into the contempt which they have provoked ; their functions will be despised, their opinions disregarded, and the public will have recourse to men of more honourable feelings, and more enlightened minds. We trust that no such censure can ever be applicable to us; and that when surpassed in ability, we are behind none of our contemporaries in the desire of performing the duties we have undertaken conscientiously,- so that we may satisfy both the author and the reader of the integrity of the judgments we pronounce. We shall thus proceed in our course, flattering ourselves that we have obtained by our conduct a considerable share of the public confidence and esteem; and hoping to preserve it by the same means by which it has been gained.

June 1840.

E PLURIBUS UNUM.

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