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and by constantly accumulating new matter, becomes a kina of market for wit and utility. The opportunities which it affords to men of abilities to communicate their studies, kindle up a spirit of invention and emulation. An unexercised genius soon contracts

a kind of mossiness, which not only checks its growth, but abates its natural vigor. Like an untenanted house it falls into decay, and frequently ruins the possessor.

The British magazines at their commencement, were the repositories of ingenuity: they are now the retailers of tale and nonsense. From elegance they sunk to simplicity, from simplicity to folly, and, from folly to voluptuousness. The Gentleman's, the London, and the Universal Magazines, bear yet some marks of their originality; but the Town and Country, the Covent-Garden, and Westminster are no better than incentives to profligacy and dissipation. They have added to the dissolution of manners, and supported Venus against the Muses.

America yet inherits a large portion of her first-imported virtue. Degeneracy is here almost a useless word. Those who are conversant with Europe, would be tempted to believe that even the

air of the Atlantic disagrees with the constitution of foreign vices; if they survive the voyage, they either expire on their arrival, or linger away in an incurable consumption. There is a happy something in the climate of America, which disarms them of all their power both of infection and attraction.

But while we give no encouragement to the importation of foreign vices, we ought to be equally carefully not to create any. A vice begotten might be worse than a vice imported. The latter, depending on favor, would be a sycophant; the other, by pride of birth would be a tyrant: to the one we should be dupes, to the other slaves.

There is nothing which obtains so general an influence over the manners and morals of a people as the press; from that, as from a fountain, the streams of vice or virtue are poured forth over a country and of all publications, none are more calculated to improve or infect than a periodical one. All others have their rise and their exit; but this renews the pursuit. If it has an evil tendency, it debauches by the power of repetition; if a good one, it obtains favor by the gracefulness of soliciting it. Like a lover, it courts its mistress with unabated ardor, nor gives up the pursuit without a conquest.



The two capital supports of a magazine are utility and entertainment: the first is a boundless path, the other an endless spring. To suppose that arts and sciences are exhausted subjects, is doing them a kind of dishonor. The divine mechanism of creation reproves such folly, and shows us by comparison, the imperfection of our most refined inventions. I cannot believe that this species of vanity is peculiar to the present age only. I have no doubt but that it existed before the flood, and even in the wildest ages of antiquity. 'Tis folly we have inherited, not created; and the discoveries which every day produce, have greatly contributed to dispossess us of it. Improvement and the world will expire together: and till that period arrives, we may plunder the mine, but can never exhaust it? That "we have found out every thing," has been the motto of every age. Let our ideas travel a little into antiquity, and we shall find larger portions of it than now: and so unwilling were our ancestors to descend from this mountain of perfection, that when any new discovery exceeded the common standard, the discoverer was believed to be in alliance with the devil. It was not the ignorance of the age only, but the vanity of it, which rendered it dangerous to be ingenious. The man who first planned and erected a tenable hut, with a hole for the smoke to pass, and the light to enter, was perhaps called an able architect, but he who first improved it with a chimney, could be no less than a prodigy; yet had the same man been so unfortunate as to have embellished it with glass windows, he might probably have been burnt for a magician. Our fancies would be highly diverted could we look back, and behold a circle of original Indians haranguing on the sublime perfection of the age: yet 'tis not impossible but future times may exceed us almost as much as we have exceeded them.

I would wish to extirpate the least remains of this impolitic vanity. It has a direct tendency to unbrace the nerves of invention, and is peculiarly hurtful to young colonies. A magazine can never want matter in America if the inhabitants will do justice to their own abilities. Agriculture and manufactures owe much of their improvement in England, to hints first thrown out in some of their magazines. Gentlemen whose abilities enabled them to make experiments, frequently chose that method of communication, on account of its convenience. And why should not the same spirit operate in America? I have no doubt of seeing, in a

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little time, an American magazine full of more useful matter than I ever saw an English one: because we are not exceeded in abilities, have a more extensive field for inquiry, and, whatever may be our political state, our happiness will always depend upon ourselves.

Something useful will always arise from exercising the invention, though perhaps, like the witch of Endor, we shall raise up a being we did not expect. We owe many of our noblest discoveries more to accident than wisdom. In quest of a pebble we have found a diamond, and returned enriched with the treasure. Such happy accidents give additional encouragement to the making experiments; and the convenience which a magazine affords, of collecting and conveying them to the public, enhances their utility. Where this opportunity is wanting, many little inventions, the forerunners of improvement, are suffered to expire on the spot that produced them; and, as an elegant writer beautifully expresses on another occasion,

"They waste their sweetness on the desert air."

In matters of humor and entertainment there can be no reason to apprehend a deficiency. Wit is naturally a volunteer, delights in action, and under proper discipline is capable of great execution. 'Tis a perfect master in the art of bush-fighting; and though it attacks with more subtilty than science, has often defeated a whole regiment of heavy artillery.-Though I have rather exceeded the line of gravity in this description of wit, I am unwilling to dismiss it without being a little more serious.-'Tis a qualification which, like the passions, has a natural wildness that requires governing. Left to itself, it soon overflows its banks, mixes with common filth, and brings disrepute on the fountain. We have many valuable springs of it in America, which at present run purer streams, than the generality of it in other countries. In France and Italy, 'tis froth highly fomented in England it has much of the same spirit, but rather a browner complexion. European wit is one of the worst articles we can import. It has an intoxicating power with it, which debauches the very vitals of chastity, and gives a false coloring to every thing it censures or defends. We soon grow fatigued with the excess, and withdraw like gluttons sickened with intemperance. On the contrary, how happily are the sallies of innocent humor calculated to amuse and


sweeten the vacancy of business! We enjoy the harmless luxury without surfeiting, and strengthen the spirits by relaxing them.

The press has not only a great influence over our manners and morals, but contributes largely to our pleasures; and a magazine when properly enriched, is very conveniently calculated for this purpose. Volumnious works weary the patience, but here we are invited by conciseness and variety. As I have formerly received much pleasure from perusing these kind of publications, I wish the present success; and have no doubt of seeing a proper diversity blended so agreeably together, as to furnish out an olio worthy of the company for whom it is designed.

I consider a magazine as a kind of bee-hive, which both allures the swarm, and provides room to store their sweets. Its division into cells, gives every bee a province of its own; and though they all produce honey, yet perhaps they differ in their taste for flowers, and extract with greater dexterity from one than from another. Thus, we are not all philosophers, all artists, nor all poets.



Paris, February 21, 1802, since the Fable of Christ.

I received, by Mr. Livingston, the letter you wrote to me, and the excellent work [the Principles of Nature] you have published. I see you have thought deeply on the subject, and expressed your thoughts in a strong and clear style. The hinting and intimating manner of writing that was formerly used on subjects of this kind, produced skepticism, but not conviction. It is necessary to be bold. Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it. Say a bold thing that will stagger them, and they will begin to think.

There is an intimate friend of mine, Colonel Joseph Kirkbridge of Bordentown, New Jersey, to whom I would wish you to send your work. He is an excellent man, and perfectly in our sentiments. You can send it by the stage that goes partly by land and partly by water, between New York and Philadelphia, and passes through Bordentown.

I expect to arrive in America in May next. I have a third part of the Age of Reason to publish when I arrive, which, if I mistake not, will make a stronger impression than any thing I have yet published on the subject.

I write this by an ancient colleague of mine in the French Convention, the citizen Lequinio, who is going Consul to Rhode Island, and who waits while I write.

Yours in friendship,



[From Travels in the U. S. of America in 1806, 7, and 9, 10, and 11, by John Mellish.]

I continued in New York, transacting various mercantile business, until the 25th of September; during which time I again called on Thomas Paine, in company with his friend, formerly mentioned. Paine was still at the house of Mrs. Palmer, but his leg had got much better, and he was in good spirits. News had arrived that morning that peace had been concluded between France and England; but Paine said, he did not believe it; and again affirmed, that while the present form of government lasted in England, there would be no peace. The government was committed in a war system, and would prosecute it as long as they could command

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