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It has become so customary to give a book a preface, that it seems necessary to adhere to the rule, even in a new volume of a periodical publication. Most books of the present day are judged of by their preface : it is, therefore, necessary, to secure a candid perusal and an impartial decision on the merits of a work, that it be commenced by a few remarks, which shall serve as an ante-past of its subject-matter and style of treatment.
This is the object of the following prefatory remarks.
The Family Magazine has now been before the community two years, during which time it has had about ten thousand different patrons. These need no preface to enable them to judge of its merits ; but there are hundreds of thousands who have not yet had an opportunity to learn its character, and to these it may be proper to give an explanation of the object and plan of the work.
Its object is emphatically to furnish“ knowledge for the people," and especially for the young. It is not its aim to explore the unknown regions of science and art, nor to pioneer the way into the arcana of nature. This is left to more aspiring minds. Ours is an humbler, though not less useful sphere of action--we aim to collect the materials that are interspersed throughout the vast world of letters, and put them into the hands of the people, fitted for their use. There is a vast “ treasury of knowledge,” that is unproductive and useless to the great mass of the people ; and perhaps the greater part of the valuable principles wrought out by philosophic investigation and research, are in this condition, and need only to be brought into practical use, to become subservient to their highest physical, intellectual, and moral improvement.
It is gratifying to know, that we have not hitherto labored in vain, and that our efforts to diffuse “useful and entertaining knowledge,” are duly appreciated by a liberal and an enlightened community.
Among the most cheering testimonials of this fact, we consider that of having received, in two years, advance payment from ten thousand patrons. And we here pledge ourselves, that no labor or expense, in the future progress of the work, will be withheld, that may be necessary to maintain and advance its claims to public patronage. In the incipient stage of every enterprise of this nature, there is a want of means and of confidence in ultimate success, that prevents the enlargement of the plan to the greatest desirable extent. This difficulty in the
This difficulty in the progress of the present work, is now overcome ; and we are enabled to commence the third volume with improvements, that will greatly enhance its value and increase its claims upon the community.
The number of embellishments will be increased, especially of those that illustrate the sciences. The numerous specimens of architecture, that are an honor and an ornament to the young and growing west, will oftener be made subjects for embellishing our pages.
Arrangements are also made for securing an additional number of able correspondents; and, in doing this, care has been taken to have each one write upon subjects in which he is known to excel.
One of the ablest jurists in our country, will furnish an article for each number, on Law, in which will be given a plain exposition of the Federal constitution, and of the nature of contracts. It is believed that the great mass of the American people are lamentably ignorant of their country's. institutions, and that much may be done in this way to enlighten their minds, and cherish in them an ardent love for that social compact, which is their pride and the world's admiration.
Music, whose magic influence has been so powerful in all ages, to purify the heart and refine the affections, will hereafter find a place in every number of the magazine.
We shall not undertake to teach its elementary principles, but shall give in each number a piece adapted to the voice, piano-forte, or guitar, with choice selections of poetry. To accomplish this object, we have engaged a gentleman, whose acquirements in this science are of the first order, and he will furnish many pieces that have never been published in America.
As an ante-past of what may be expected in future, we give the following.