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LIST OF EMBELLISHMENTS.
[Those marked thus * are Vignettes printed with the letter-press.]
View of the House at Paris, in front of which Henri Quatre was assassinated.
*Representation of Capt. Clapperton's Funeral Ceremony.
Percy Monument at Beverley, co. York...........................
Remains of the Inn of the Prior of Lewes, Southwark
Representations of ancient Seals and miscellaneous Antiquities; viz. Seal of
Gower's Monument in St. Saviour's Church, Southwark.......... *Stone Coffin in St. Martin's Church-yard, Salisbury..
*Painted Glass at St. Thomas's Church, Salisbury..
Seal of Tavistock Abbey, Betsy Grimbald's Tower, and Sepulchral Vestiges pre
served at the Vicarage, Tavistock.......
Wanstead House, Essex.....
St. John's Chapel, Walham Green, Fulham..
Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, Middlesex....................
*Norman Arches in the Chapter-house of Bristol Cathedral...
It has been suggested by a friend, that this is one of those clasps by which books were anciently fastened with a thong; the ring at the end or the hole at the back might be placed on a pin fixed to one of the sides of the book, as required by the bulk or looseness of the contents.
The Binder will please to cancel pp. 531-532 of June Magazine.
A task of greater difficulty has seldom fallen upon the Conductors of a Periodical Publication than that which the Editors of the Gentleman's Magazine are now called upon to perform, by writing a Preface to the HUNDREDTH Volume of their labours.
On reaching a period in the history of that work, which has very few precedents in the annals of literature, it may be expected from its Editors that they should not merely present to their Patrons and Friends an account of the progress and general contents of the former volumes, and advert to the public and private principles by which all its Conductors have been actuated, but that they should speak of their present plans and resources. Were this, however, all which is incumbent upon them, they might hope to acquit themselves, if not with credit, at least without disgrace, for to the past they can allude with pride, and to the future with confidence; but they are aware that it is their duty to state the honest exultation which they naturally feel at the long and uninterrupted success which has attended the Magazine,-to notice with delicacy the causes which have preserved it from the fate that has attended so many of its contemporaries,-to allude to the grounds upon which they build their hopes that it is destined to survive for another hundred years, and, more than all, to express the deep gratitude with which they are impressed for the assistance of able contributors, and for the large share of patronage by which their exertions have been cheered and rewarded. In adverting to points of so personal a nature, egotism cannot be avoided; but there are occasions when silence as well as speech may have its source in vanity, and if ever a modest allusion to literary services be justifiable, it is when gratitude dictates the assurance that every effort will be used to retain the patronage which those services have acquired.
The able Preface to the "General Index to the Gentleman's Magazine from 1787 to 1818," contains so satisfactory a history of the work, that it is only necessary to refer to it for an account of its institution and progress, and for the names of the eminent writers who originally contributed to its pages. But it is desirable to notice briefly the valuable
information upon the most interesting subjects which is scattered through the work, and which, it may be said without vanity, because the fact has been universally admitted, render its numerous volumes a general repository of intelligence-a kind of inexhaustible store-house, as it were-of materials for History, Antiquities, and Biography, even if Science and Art may not also be included.
The collections for History may be divided into that which is contemporaneous with the respective volumes, and that which relates to much earlier periods. For some time after the commencement of the Magazine, its character was more political than at present; and the volumes were for many years remarkable for the Debates of both Houses of Parliament. To those Debates particular allusion is made, because the Gentleman's Magazine was the first Journal that dared to risk the punishment of a breach of the privilege of Parliament, by reporting its proceedings, thus setting the example of enabling Constituents to know how their Representatives speak and act. So important was the precedent, that Newspapers soon imitated the plan; and when more accurate reports were given by the daily press than the limits of the Magazine rendered possible, the system was adopted of stating in a very abridged form the most material occurrences in Parliament; but the honour of being the FIRST person who incurred the danger of fearful penalties for printing the Debates, belongs to CAVE, the original editor, and which is alone sufficient to entitle his memory to respect.
From the appearance of the first number of this Miscellany to the present time, scarcely a single memorable event, of any kind, domestic or foreign, has occurred of which a notice is not to be found; and the value of such a general record, either for amusement or for higher purposes, is too obvious to be insisted upon.
To History and Antiquities, and more especially to whatever is connected with our own country, a large proportion of each volume has been dedicated. Upon various abstruse points in our annals, dissertations and facts, more or less valuable, occur; and those who are acquainted with the nature of historical materials can testify to the utility of collecting scattered memorials, many of which, from being local, might not have come to the knowledge of historians but for the publicity thus given to them. In plates and descriptions of Antiquities, by which is meant ancient buildings, carvings, seals, rings, medals, and other remains of former ages, the Magazine is peculiarly rich, it being a common practice for the individuals by whom they were discovered, to transmit accurate drawings of the respective articles, most of which have been fully illustrated by other correspondents. The collection on
this subject may be safely pronounced unrivalled, and forms data for an important volume. On the subsidiaries, or as they are termed "handmaids," of History, namely, Architecture, Heraldry, and Genea logy, as well as in relation to the Arts, and Early Literature, much information may be found; and perhaps one of the most interesting departments is that in which light is thrown on the descent of illustrious families, where their rise, decline, and fall are traced, affording, in many instances, striking examples of the instability of human greatness. The Literary Antiquary has always found a source of amusement and instruction in the numerous papers on early writers, particularly Poets, the works of many of whom have been elucidated in the most satisfactory
It is for Biography, however, that the value of the Gentleman's Magazine is most remarkable. There is scarcely an eminent individual of this Country, about whom some information is not to be obtained; and it may be said without fear of refutation, that there is not a literary person of the last or present century, whose life could be properly written with. out reference to its volumes. Many of their earliest productions are contained in them, and the poetical niches were often filled with the first aspirations of a Muse, which afterwards soared to the highest pinnacle of fame. Unfortunately the authors of many of the beautiful pieces which occur in the first twenty volumes are not known, but the merit of the articles would justify their being collected and republished, leaving it to critics to assign them to the great names to which they unquestionably belong. The Obituary has long possessed the highest reputation; and the best evidence of its value is the copious manner in which the statements are transferred to other publications. From Politics the Magazine has gradually receded; but whenever political opinions are expressed, they indicate an undeviating adherence to Church and State, a warm attachment to the Crown, Laws, Establishments, and Religion of our country, a distrust of theoretical experiments upon what the experience of ages has taught us to reverence, an abhorrence of the fanciful ravings of enthusiasts, religious or political, and a desire to preserve unchanged those Institutions of our forefathers, under which England has acquired the highest renown among nations.
To these remarks on the long series of past volumes, all which will be added is, that their contents are rendered available, and that the scattered information upon any one subject may be instantly collected, by means of the highly valuable Indexes, not only for each year, but which are digested into five separate volumes, ably classed, and arranged. With this assistance the Gentleman's Magazine forms in itself an Encyclopedia
of almost Universal Knowledge ;-a Library of the most rational and delightful information, upon all which instructs or interests mankind; ranging from Science to Art,-from History to Poetry,-from the Belles Lettres to Antiquities, and presenting a fund of materials for Biography, which may be drawn upon without fear of exhaustion, and which, from its infinite variety, may be resorted to, either for the acquisition of wisdom, or to divert a tiresome hour, with the certainty of finding something we did not know before.
To the various kinds of information, chiefly upon subjects of permanent interest, which distinguish the Gentleman's Magazine, and to the temperate spirit which has always actuated its Conductors, may be ascribed its having lived in security through the political and personal storms which have wrecked all its rivals, and so many other Journals. Works, which owe their existence to party spirit, or their interest to the bitterness of controversy, generally terminate with the motives that gave them birth; but a periodical publication, which originated in the desire to perpetuate historical facts, to communicate information in which every literary man is interested, to afford an arena for discussion on all questions excepting those of religion and politics, to record so much of passing events as posterity may desire to know, to prevent the merits of deceased persons dying with them; and in which the dryness of historical or critical essays is relieved by Poetry and papers of a lighter and more popular kind, was likely to become, as it has, a permanent and valuable work. That personal feelings should occasionally have been brought into action in the animation of controversy was to be expected; but on these occasions the Editors have uniformly endeavoured to sooth rather than to exasperate; and by firmly refusing to admit a word calculated to increase animosity, and pouring oil over the agitated waters, they have often had the gratification of preserving friendships, and retaining valuable Contributors.
Of the future it is always wise to speak with diffidence. The Editors are not insensible to the lamentable change, which, within a few years, has taken place in the literary taste of their countrymen. They cannot be unconscious that the characteristics of the day are, a desire to peruse what amuses, without giving the reader the trouble to think; an impatience to acquire knowledge without submitting to the necessary labour; an eagerness for novelty and excitement; a contempt for historical details, which produces an unwillingness to read the annals of our Country in a more extended form than a volume of the size of Goldsmith's "History of England for Schools;" a belief that language is almost intuitive; that there is a fashionable, if not a royal road to knowledge; and that Science, History,