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" An essay writer must practise in the chemical method, and give the virtue of a fall
SPECTATOR, No. 124.
Printer in Ordinary to His Majesty;
When a periodical work sincerely espouses the cause of virtue, it takes its stand on a permanent foundation; and, in a simple avowal of its principles, includes nearly all that can be presented to the reader in a Preface. Adhering to its original design, it leaves nothing to explain; nothing which requires an apology; nothing which can be reviewed with the blush of shame, or the painful emotions of regret. Such is precisely the case with the ÎMPERIAL MAGAZINE, of which the Fourth Volume is now completed. The conductors of this work are not conscious, that, in any one instance, among the multifarious articles which fill their pages, they have deviated from their primary intentions, or departed from the ground on which it was first established.
To reduce the standard of moral rectitude, and give a modern garb to virtue, in order to render it fashionable, would be an easy task; and in the eyes of the thoughtless and dissipated, this might probably be deemed an acquisition; but they fatter themselves, that among the readers of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE, few of this description are to be found.
The criterion of moral good is fixed on an immoveable basis; and nothing but a dishonourable and temporizing spirit of accommodation, can induce those who rally round it, to sanction its approximation towards the expediencies of a degenerate age. With publications that are, or that may be denominated Liberal, the press-unhappily too much abounds; and it is painful to reflect, that titles of such equivocal import have been adopted, as convenient vehicles to propagate licentiousness by most of the friends of vice, from the Peer of Pisa, to those who hoist the ensigns of Infidelity in the atmosphere of Newgate.
But although the young, the profligate, the frivolous, and the idle, may embrace libertinism,
“ To fill the void of an unfurnish'd brain,
To palliate dullness, and give time a sbove," the extensive circulation of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE demonstrates, that the community is far from being proselyted to infidelity. The thoughtful and considerate, on whom the sanctions of morals are more influential than the impulses of passion, still discountenance by their frowns, those literary pests which can accommodate their elastic principles to the haunts of iniquity, fortifying vice with argument, and furnishing its votaries with weapons to repel the dictates of moral obligation, to contemn the calls of duty, and to defy the restraints of law.
It was among these respectable classes of society that the ImPERIAL MAGAZINE was first expected to find readers; and in their calculations, the conductors of this work have not been deceived. The circulation has extended to three quarters of the globe, has contributors to its pages from each, and has furnished numerous articles for the periodical publications of foreign countries.
The door which it has always held open, for the investigation of ethical and scientific subjects, has attracted the attention of literary gentlemen in various departments. It is to their pens that the proprietor acknowledges his obligations, for several valu
able communications, with which the pages of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE have been enriched, and for many more which are held in reserve for ensuing numbers. Of these papers, several have been so long in the Editor's hands, that to prevent their highly esteemed authors from thinking themselves neglected, some apology may be necessary.
Favoured as we have been with abundance and variety, in the articles which have been communicated, we sometimes find it exceedingly difficult to make selections from among papers, that are perhaps equally meritorious, without incurring the charge of partiality.' Against surmises of this kind, we have no means of defending ourselves, but by pleading our integrity, our equity, and the rectitude of our intentions.
It sometimes happens, that communications transmitted to us, are located by time, event, and circumstance. Such
papers must always wait the arrival of favourable opportunities for their appearance, since, without this, they would lose half their interest, and nearly all their efficacy. As the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE is not under the control of
any party, it is not the mere organ of sectarian dogmas. Its pages are open
for the investigation of doubtful propositions, and the reception of moral and scientific truths, from what quarter soever they may arrive. Against vice, atheism, and infidelity, the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE declares determined and perpetual war; and keeping these objects continually in view, the local differences which subsist between the advocates of hostile creeds, under the sanctions of Christianity, are surveyed as articles of minor importance. Hence, papers advocating the cause of truth against the attacks of these foreign assailants, will always be more acceptable, than such as attempt to extinguish the flames of civil discord, by throwing a faggot into the sectarian fire.
From the unremitting efforts which are making by the emissaries of infidelity, to diffuse its pernicious principles throughout the community, the advocates of virtue, the friends of revelation, the supporters of social order, and those who believe in the existence of a God, are called upon to rally round the throne of eternal Truth. To these points, during the ensuing year, particular attention will be paid, in the pages of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE ; of which some propositions, and other articles in the January number, may be considered as specimens.
In this volume there is one trifling irregularity, which has unavoidably occurred, but which, it is hoped, will not again so glaringly return. When the portraits, with which it is ornamented, were prepared for publication, it was intended to accompany them with the memoirs of the individuals in the same numbers, in which they appeared, or in those which immediately succeeded. But it has occasionally happened, that the informatiou expected was not attainable until a longer time had elapsed than had been taken into calculation. It is on this account, the volume being bound, that the plates appear to be distributed without any strict regard to order.