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WHEN such a publication as this has reached the completion of its second Volume, the time for proclaiming the purpose for which it was established, and the objects which it seeks to effect, would appear to have gone by. It must have been less successful in embodying its views and aims than, we trust, we shall be found to have been, if these are not now sufficiently understood by its habitual readers, to render any detailed exposition of them unnecessary.
On one point only we think it right to offer a word of explanation. We have heard it objected, in all friendliness and good-feeling, to the management of this Magazine, that there seems in it a want of some definite aim, towards which its efforts should be systematically pointed; that it is too vague, desultory, and indeterminate in its objects, moving rather, like a butterfly, from flower to flower, than, like an arrow, straight to its mark. May we be permitted, with all respect for our friendly critics, to justify ourselves in this matter. The Spectator requested his friends, if at any time they found him particularly dull, to believe that he had a design under it. In like manner we, not in jest, but most seriously, request our friends to receive our assurance, that the indeterminateness of which they complain has been part of our plan; that, if our aim has been less obvious than that of some other publications, it is because it has been more comprehensive; and that it is not the less real, nor, we hope, less likely to be reached, that we are not exhibiting it at every turn, and constantly talking about it.
We have no desire to depreciate the value of their labours, whose avowed object it is to advance the material interests of particular classes of the people. We merely say that our aim has been a different one. In our first number we disclaimed the intention of addressing ourselves to the limited sympathies of any particular class. It was, therefore, necessary for us to avoid, as far as practicable, those subjects of discussion, the interest attaching to which might bear in any respect a sectional character. Our object has been, making our field as wide as possible-having something for all, and nothing which could exclude any-to present subjects of all sorts in such a dress, and to infuse into the treatment of them such a spirit, as would bear with the most improving and elevating effect upon the moral and intellectual character of readers of every class. While we have laboured assiduously to collect from all quarters valuable information— solid tangible facts—a substantial body of knowledge, we have made it our business never to present that body to our readers, without the attempt, at least, to breathe a soul into it,-to give it a value beyond its mere physical worth,—to make it, to some small extent, a means of familiarising the mind with lofty thoughts-with tender feelings-with fine and true sensibilities-with all that dwells in the nobler and better part of man.
In thus denying ourselves to objects of direct individual or sectional interest, for the sake of what we regard as higher objects of universal interest, we are perfectly aware that we place ourselves under some disadvantage in stating our claims to public support. That which we appeal to is less palpable-goes less directly home to the business and bosoms of many readers, than might be the case with other more limited objects. But our confidence is, that, once understood and appreciated, its influence will be more enduring-less liable to be disturbed by crossaccidents, or changes of popular feeling,-and establishing a relation between author and reader, more honourable in its character, and more beneficial in its results.
We may take this opportunity of saying a word or two on the future conduct of this Magazine. No exertion will be spared to maintain unimpaired the character which it has now acquired. Artists of the highest eminence are at present engaged in the preparation of illustrations for the forthcoming numbers, which, it is confidently expected, will equal any that have yet appeared even in this Magazine, and some of which will surpass anything that has ever been seen in any publication of far greater price. And we can now boast of an organized corps of literary contributors, in which are to be found both ladies and gentlemen of the highest talent and acquirements, and some of them of much literary experience.