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(BEING THE FIFTEENTH OF A NEW SERIES.)
PRINTED BY JOHN NICHOLS AND SON, 25, PARLIAMENT-STREET;
WHERE LETTERS ARE PARTICULARLY REQUESTED TO BE SENT, POST-PAID;
AND BY PERTHES AND BESSER, HAMBURGH.
TO SYLVANUS URBAN, Gent. In imitation of some Latin verses in vol. xci. i. p. 260.
OH learn’d SYLVANUS, pride of every land
frame feels natural decay,
jewel sparkles in its case,
purer lustre every moment glows,
O wise old man, 'twas yours long time to prove,
IT has been our pleasing duty, during the course of the present Volume, to point out the retrenchments which the House of Commons has been able to effect in the various branches of the public service. The arrangements for the reduction of the Five per Cents, and the measures for dividing the Pension List between the present and the succeeding generations, have enabled the Ministers, in union with the curtailment of our Establishments, to procure a clear surplus of five millions of revenue, as a Sinking Fund; and to repeal the War Malt Tax, nearly the whole of the Salt Tax, half of the Leather Tax, and several minor imposts. The firmness with which our Rulers have held to the great principles of public credit, entitles them to the lasting gratitude of the Country. They have secured what can alone preserve the integrity of our Financial arrangements-an efficient Sinking Fund. The Revenue, notwithstanding the evident pressure on all classes, partic on the Agricultural interest, has even exceeded the former year. May we not hope, then, with respect to public affairs, that the prospect will brighten ?
The situation of the Sister Kingdom is too afflicting to contemplate ; but it has afforded to Great Britain an opportunity of displaying one of her most glorious distinctions. This irresistible call on her humanity, we are proud to say, has met with a correspondent feeling in all who possess the ability to succour human woe.
On opening the present Volume, our Readers will doubtless perceive some slight alterations in the editorial and typographical arrangements. We think proper to notice this circumstance, because our pages, from the even tenor and unshaken stability of this Publication, have not, like many others, been exposed to the whims and caprice of fashion. For the purpose of compressing more matter into each Number, we have adopted a type rather smaller and much closer than heretofore; and in order to introduce more original papers (the omission of which has been the cause of continual complaints), we have abridged some departments, and condensed others. Thus, in our Historical Chronicle, that information alone has been selected which is valuable for future reference. Our Obituary, which may be considered of the highest importance to the Biographer and Genealogist, has undergone a material alteration. Every individual of whom any biographical or interesting memorials can be obtained, is placed in the first department of the Obituary, according to rank or situation in life. With regard to those persons of whom no particulars can be gained, we have united the advantages of a Topographical and Chronological arrangement.
Of these alterations many of our Readers have expressed their decided approbation ; while others have lamented the change, and exclaimed, with regret, “Quantum mutatus ab illo !" One of our old and esteemed Friends, in particular, assures us that if he had the hands of Briareus, every one of them, were the question put to the vote, should be held up against the new-fangled plan of condensing the “Deaths ;" another declares they present so confused a mass, that it would require the eyes of Argus to discriminate one from another; a third accuses us of curtailing the usual number of deceased individuals; a fourth expatiates on the inutility of recording a dry list of names; and many object to the “innovation," without even a "why” or a “where
On the con
fore.” “In medio tutissimus ;"—to these serious complaints we reply, that “ Briareus,” with his numerous votes, induces us, in our next Volume, to introduce more break-lines in the list of Deaths, though some portion of information must necessarily be sacrificed. This is all the concession we can make; for we must beg leave to inform our friend Argus, that the Index of Names, to which are affixed the initials of each individual, will so far prevent confusion, as to enable him to see his way (to use a less classical phrase than that of our Correspondent) with half an eye."
It is really amusing to observe the contrasted opinions of our different Readers who possess tastes distinctly opposite : some would urge us to adopt all the novelties of the age, and pursue every caprice of fashion; others sigh for the days of “olden time," and view with suspicion every species of innovation. Our youthful Readers advise us to appear as Gentlemen, and assure us that we have the fairest claim to that honourable appellation. They are anxious for sprightly Essays, humorous tête-à-têtes, splendid typography, flowing margins, and all the bel-esprit of the passing day. Many of our venerable Correspondents and earliest acquaintances (amongst whom, we are proud to say, are included some of the most distinguished Literati of the age) express their disapprobation at the least deviation from our usual course. They are alarmed lest the belles lettres of Genius and Science should be sacrificed to the bel esprit of “the fashionable world,” or to the rage of “ modern Vandalism.” Some Correspondents admit that our success is unparalleled; but they contend that, by conforming to “ the spirit of the times,” we might elevate ourselves beyond rivalry. trary, our old friends remind us of the high character SYLVANUS URBAN has maintained during the eventful period of Ninety-two years ; whilst numerous rivals, who for a short time " fretted their hour away,” have sunk into oblivion.
They affirm that his Publication is the most valuable record of modern times, and that it would therefore be unworthy the dignified name of old SYLVANUS to stoop from his towering height, and enter the lists with the numerous ephemerides of the day. He would be like another Ajax ignobly fighting with the bleating herd.
To these conflicting opinions we can only reply, “Non nostrum tantas componere lites.” We have stated sufficient to prove the impossibility of gratifying the varied tastes of all. The attempt would doubtless expose us to the same disappointment as the old man in the fable experienced : in his anxiety to please all he gave satisfaction to none. However, we shall always receive the hints of our Correspondents with the most perfect good humour, and endeavour to take advantage of every useful suggestion.
The most essential character of the GENTLEMAN's Magazine will, notwithstanding, be always rigidly preserved. Our pages will continue to display the same ardent and unalterable attachment to our venerable Constitution, both in Church and State. Our columns shall still be devoted to sound and useful Literature, and ever be open to fair and temperate discussion ; but they shall never become the vehicle of malevolent bickerings, or insidious attacks on individuals. We would sooner fall than build our prosperity on the ruins of private reputation. So long as we receive the able assistance of our learned coadjutors, and experience the same liberal patronage from the Publick, we confidently flatter ourselves that this Publication will still pre-eminently maintain its character, and long remain the arena where youthful and aspiring Genius may first plume its wings.
June 29, 1822.