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IN conformity with an ancient and most excellent custom, We, the Editor of this new Magazine, beg to make our bow to the public, and to say what we are going to do.
Now, we are not going to do wonders; wonders are getting too common for us to have anything to do with them. Every body does wonders now-a-days; and, as we dislike to follow in a beaten track, we intend to go back to the old, but highly-to-beapproved, fashion, of doing the best we can, and no more.
Firstly, and foremostly, our constant aim will be to present a book worth reading. Prose, Poetry, Philosophy, History, Metaphysics, Criticism, Romance, Reality, Fact and Fiction, Knowledge and Learning-our Magazine will comprise them all. Wisdom and Wit, Gravity and Gaiety, Fantasy and Fun, Pathos, Humour, Mirth and Cheerfulness-these are our Prime Ministers. We will have no dulness, no sleepiness, no dreaminess. We will be solid, but not solemn ; weighty, but not ponderous; philosophical, but not prosaical. Our views shall be cheerful, our morality sound, our politics impartial. We swear ourselves foes to Bigotry, Superstition, and Intolerance. "Peace on earth and goodwill to men," is our creed-Universality our motto-Progression our watchword-Human Happiness our aim. Wheresoever we find merit we will defend it, however humble its dwelling-place, and wheresoever we find falsehood and error, we will attack them, however high their habitation. We refuse to give, and we disdain to take, quarter. Truth is our object; when we feel to be right, we will defend ourselves to the last; when we are found to be wrong, we will frankly confess ourselves in error. The events of the day, the throbs of society, the prospects of the race; these shall be our subjects, and wheresoever good is to be done, there shall our labours be directed.
As a means of furthering these objects, it is our intention to collect, and to present, from month to month, such information connected with Literary, Scientific and Mechanics' Institutions, in London and the Country, as may be interesting and important. Much good may be done by thus putting these various societies in communication with each other, and letting each one know how the others are succeeding, and what they are doing: friendly feelings will be engendered, and co-operation promoted. We shall give reports of lectures, meetings of classes, accounts of the condition, progress, and prospects of the Institutions; and we confidently anticipate that the information thus disseminated amongst the public will be the means, not only of promoting the prosperity of the individual Societies, but of widely extending the great benefits for which they were originally planned.
Now as to our Opinions. In the first place, we are unconnected with party or sect. We are careless of creed, or clime, or complexion, and we hold out the right-hand of fellowship to all men. We demand the rights of conscience and we give
Next, we are proud of humanity, and thankful to God that our lot is bound up in it. We reject the gloomy notions of the few who would have us believe that there is no bright side to human nature-no goodness in the world; and we hold firmly and stedfastly to the belief that there is happiness for all men.
Our Politics are simple. We are Conservatives—of what is good; and Destructives-of what is evil. We love peace ;-we are patriotic; and we respect legitimate authority.
As to our Philosophy-but, no! let that explain itself! suffice it to say, that it is neither transcendental nor utilitarian.
For the rest-We are passionately fond of the Fine Arts; we can find out whether there is anything good in a new Play; we can criticise Pictures and Music; and "we can hunt a Poetaster down." If these be not excellent qualifications for an Editor, why, then, we should like to know what are.
And now, we would say one word to those who may honour us by becoming our correspondents. We beg to assure them that all communications addressed to us shall receive our best attention, and as it is our firm determination to wield the Editorial sceptre with mercy and kindliness, we shall carefully consider what we are about before we pain a contributor by rejecting him.
But-and it is well to say it boldly, and at once, for we cannot but suppose that we shall be forced to reject, sometimes— our right to reject must not be called in question.. We may be often wrong in our determination; often insensible to the excellence of an article; often captious; and, it may possibly be, apparently ill-natured; but as we are asked to judge, our judgment must be taken. We know, full well, that rejected contri
butors are apt to feel annoyed, and that they will accuse the unhappy Editor who slights them, of partiality, want of taste, ill manners and so forth; but they are wrong, they may depend upon it. As to being annoyed, it is silly and nonsensical. Have not all the great--aye the greatest writers of the day, been rejected? and has not the lesson done them good? Has it not incited them, unfailingly urged them, to higher and nobler achievements? Nay-have not we-we ourself-we, Nicodemus East-we, the Editor of this Magazine-been rejected a hundred times? But what of that? Has it damped our ardour, or put us out of temper? Not a jot. Have we not rather, when we have been rejected, sat ourself down again with renewed energy, and, upon the same principle that a man fights better after-to speak figuratively-his claret has been tapped-written such brilliant, magnificent, and genius-full articles, that the Magazines have been compelled to admit us? And we trust that our example will not be lost upon our correspondents. We hope they will give us credit, at all times, for impartiality, carefulness, and kind criticism; but, understand us well! as we believe it is absolutely necessary that rule we should-why, by the help of our good righthand, and our well-developed organ of firmness, rule we will.
It only remains for us to say, that we commence our labours with spirits as high as our intentions are good, and that we will devote our best energies to the work in which we are engaged.
THE POLITICAL ARGUMENT AGAINST CAPITAL
I HAVE long believed the punishment of death to be nothing better than murder protected by law-murder "most foul, strange, and unnatural;" and my object in these pages is to state and explain, in a simple and straightforward manner, the reasons which have brought me to this conclusion; not that I imagine it is of consequence to the world to know what I think, or how I have come to think as I do, but because I have reasons for believing that a great many persons are halting between two opinions on the subject of which I treat, and I fancy that the remarks I have to offer may possibly help them to a determination.
A great deal that is very fine and learned has been said and written, from time to time, upon this matter; a great deal that is very philosophical, grave, and no doubt excellent; but I have never met with a sustained and comprehensive, and, at the same time, plain and intelligible statement of the subject; that is to say, a view of it that common-place people can understand and appreciate, and that is likely to make its way to the hearts and minds of the multitude. I am not so vain as to think that I can supply this desideratum to perfection; but still I believe I can explain, in a simple and rational manner, the principal points connected with this question, and by a fair and legitimate chain of argument, expose the impolicy, irrationality and irreligion of this species of punishment. If in my attempt to do so I should be fortunate enough to make but one individual a convert to my views, I shall be more than amply rewarded for the time and trouble the task may cost me, and the abuse and opposition I may encounter.
It may help to show the importance of this subject, if we stay for a moment or two, to reflect upon what an awful thing it is to deprive a fellow creature of life.
Of all a man's fears, the one that surpasses and surmounts the rest is the fear of death. And no wonder; for death is the ceasing of all he knows, feels, and enjoys; the breaking of all his ties, and bonds, and relationships; the sudden snapping of his hopes, his desires, his aspirations; and although he knows that he is immortal, and cannot taste forgetfulness, still he looks on death as the period of so stupendous a change in his being, that he shrinks from-fears-dreads the contemplation.
And if the fear of death have one shape more terrible than another, it is the fear of death by violence, death in a moment, death in health. The all-benevolent Deity has provided that death shall, in the natural course of things, follow disease and enfeeblement; that the frame shall be insensibly prepared for the final blow; that the faculties shall be dimmed, and the fears gradually set at rest, so that the hand of the Destroyer shall be scarcely felt. This was ordered in mercy; for had the natural course of death been sudden and violent, men's brains would have been maddened by their dread of the stroke, their lives would have been passed in perpetual terror, and they would have been