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"The several Presses which are now in England, and the great encouragement which has been given
Spectator, Vol. VI. No. 367.
Printers in Ordinary to His Majesty;
The Seventh Volume of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE is now brought to a conclusion; and, with its Title-page, Preface, and Index, is here presented to the Subscribers complete in all its parts. This is a task that has been attended with no small difficulty, as the Index, from the number and diversity of the articles which it contains, has required unremitting attention to comprise the whole in the last Number for the year.
With many periodical works, it is customary to reserve these appendages until the commencement of the ensuing volume, and this plan we have occasonally adopted, when the want of time has rendered the measure imperious. In future, however, we hope, by invariably pursuing the present method, to meet the wishes of our numerous subscribers, and to avoid the appearance of decoying our readers onward from year to year.
Of the motives by which others are actuated, we presume not to judge, but for ourselves we utterly disclaim all such dishonourable expedients, being fully convinced that the pages of the IMPERIAL MAGAZine contain'a sufficiency of intrinsic merit to preclude the necessity of resorting to trick and contrivance in any of their forms. This opinion is founded on the flattering testimonies we have received from many who are competent to judge,-on the increasing number, and high respectability, of our correspondents--but, above all, on the extensive circulation wbich this Magazine has obtained. An inspection of the numerous articles contained in the seven volumes, now before the public, will enable the impartial reader to decide whether our conclusions have been dictated by ostentation or truth.
In a former volume we called the attention of our subscribers to the superior style in which the plates that ornament the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE have been executed, and these we again recommend to their attentive examination. In this department, our object has been to select the portraits of individuals distinguished in the walks either of literature, science, or the arts; and, having procured correct likenesses, to spare no expense in rendering the Engraving worthy of the countenance that it preserves.
The memoirs, which accompany these portraits, we have sometimes procured with much trouble, and at other times at a vast expense. Thus far, however, we have in general been successful in our exertions, notwithstanding unexpected impediments have occasionally, in the course of publication, separated the portrait from the memoir.
The only instance, during the present year, in which our efforts have been finally defeated, occurs in May. We then gave an interesting memoir of the late celebrated Mrs. Barbauld, fully expecting that her ait was within our reach; but we regret to state, that all our endeavours have proved unsuccessful.' Of Mr. Thomas Nuttall, now in America, whose portrait appeared in March, we were unable to obtain a memoir until December. Through causes such as these, when the volume is boond, two portraits will appear in November and December, while March and May will have to sustain the deficiency. But such deviations are at times unavoidable.
It has been observed in a preceding paragraph, that our highly respectable correspondents have of late increased in number. To all of these, without making any invidious selections, we beg to present.our most unfeigned thanks for their kind communications. We are not ignorant that to many of them an apology is due, for the apparent neglect with which their favours have been treated ;-we say apparent neglect, for we can assure them that it is nothing more. Our pages can contain only a specific quantity of matter, and in the choice of materials we are guided by variety and utility, as well as by literary merit. We therefore beg them distinctly to understand, that immediate noninsertion by no means implies total rejection. There are times and seasons when the same article will appear to considerable advantage, wbich, if inserted under less auspicious circumstances, would excite no interest, and be passed by without regard.
Against politics, articles of doubtful character, of an immoral tendency, and such as will provoke a spirit of acrimonious controversy, our pages will be invariably shat. The propriety of this conclusion, respecting the latter, we have learnt from actual experience. There have been times, when the trial was made; but we generally found that it generated an uninteresting contention, and sometimes gave birth to an unamiable spirit. In protracted discussions, the original subject is frequently displaced by foreign trifles that start in the field of conflict; and the combatants, in some instances, terminate their career of debate, by descending to personalities. Our subscribers and correspondents well
know, that the IMPERIAL MAGAzine is under no control of sect or party. It has no system to support, but that of truth. Hitherto, it has never been made the vehicle of faction, and our care will be to preserve it from all future contamination. We shall, therefore, be solicitous to admit nothing into its pages, of which the probable issues are wholly unknown.
It is not intended, by any of the preceding remarks, to exclude from the pages of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE, all subjects that present themselves for discussion. Such a measure would defeat one of its fundamental principles. Candid discussion, we conceive to be a valuable medium of eliciting truth. But, in this department, we wish to introduce such subjects only, as promise to investigation a reward somewhat commensurate to its toils. These observations will inform several of our correspondents why some of their communications have not appeared.
The general principles upon which the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE is conducted, have been so repeatedly avowed, that its readers are rather referred to its pages for information, than to any statement we may now make. We shall only say, that they have acquired stability through the lapse of seven years, and that they still remain unchanged.
It is to be lamented, that vice should find any advocates among those to whose hands the distribution of literature is consigned; but it is a well-known fact, that, to satisfy its cravings, men of talents may be found, who will turn pimps for gold, while printers and publishers will as readily paņder to its vitiated appetite. Happily for the morals of mankind, the preponderation of the British Press is still strongly on the side of virtue; but, should it once lose this decided superiority, moral, intellectual, and civil ruin would become inevitable. It is a melancholy lesson which we learn from the history of the world, that where morals are disregarded, science remains uncultivated, and the blessings of civilization wither in the pestilential soil.
These considerations furnish the friends of virtue with a powerful incentive to rally round those publications which advocate the cause they wish to servé, whether arrayed in the habit of a religious community, or taking their stand in an attitude that disdains to give truth in distortion, to degrade her with wil and visionary reveries, or to render her aspect forbidding, by drawing her features in caricature.
The IMPERIAL MAGAZINE has no reason to complain of the want of patronage. Its circulation is extensive, and among its numerous readers its contents excite an increasing interest. Convinced of its utility, its object, and its aim, the friends of virtue and piety may, however, essentially promote the cause of moral and religious truth, by communicating to their neighbours and associates a knowledge of the rank which it holds in their estimation. On this independent ground it has bitherto stood, and by this criterion we always wish its character to be decided.