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OH SUBJECTS OF PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND THE
CONDUCTED BY THE EDITOR OF THE EXAMINER,
Omnis cogitatio motusque animi, aut in consiliis capiendis de rebus honcstis et
FROM OCTOBER 1810, TO MARCH 1811, INCLUSIVE.
PRINTED AND. PUBLIsHED BY JOHN HUNT, EXAMINER-OFFICE, BEAU-
OF all pieces of fiction, the most amiable and the least interesting are Prospectuses. The reader, who in his love of inquiry, used to catch at every new opportunity of being amused and instructed, has been so often disappointed in this way, that he is prepared to resist every titing in the shape of a promise; and, in fact, the more ardent the promise^ the colder becomes his incredulity. In vain the Prospectus comes before him ou the most advantageous terms and softest paper: in vain, like the scheme of a lottery, it sets in array its gigantic types to catch his eye, and make him pay for treasures he will never realize: in vain the writer promises him all sorts of intellectual feasts, research the' most various and profound, a style the most pithy and accomplished, and poetry, in one word, original. He recognizes the old story; he anticipates at once, in the composition before him, all the beauties of the style, the poetry, and the research :— in short, he crumples up the paper, and forgets the writer as quickly as he does the street-herald, who insinuates into your hand the merits of a pair of boots, or the attracting qualities of a monster.
In presenting, therefore, a new Magazine to. the notice of the Public, the Proprietors are not at nil inclined, either by their pride or their interest, to take such infallible means of rendering it ridiculous. The Reflector will be an attempt to improve upon the general character of Magazines, and all the town knows, that much improvement of this kind may be effected without any great talent. Reform of periodical writing is as ruuch wanted in Magazines, as it formerly was in Reviews, and .still is in Newspapers. It is true, there are still to be found some agreeable and instructive articles in the Maguzines—a fevy guineas thrown by richer hands into the poor's bo$:—indolent genius will now and then contribute a lucky paragraph, and should enquiry have no better place of resort, it will scarcely fail of a brief answer from among a host of readers. But the field is either given up to the cultivation of sorry plants, or it is cut up into a petty variety of produce to which every thing important is sacrificed. It is needless to descant on the common lumber that occupies the greater portion of these publications— •on the want of original discussion; or the recipes for and against cooking and coughing; or the stale jests; or the plagiarisms; or the blinking pettiness of antiquarianism, which goes toiling like a mole under every species of rubbish, and sees up object so stu
b v pendous pendous as an old house or a belfry; or lastly, on the quarrels between Verax and Philalethes, who fight for months together upon a straw, and prove at last, to the great edification of the reader, that neither is' to be' beileved.—The old Magazines are notoriously in their dotage; and as to the new dnesj that have lately appeared, they have returned to the infancy of their species—to pattern-drawing, doll-dressing, and a song about Phillis. These flimsy publications, though unworthy of notice in themselves, are injurious to the taste of the town in more than one respect, inasmuch as they make a shew of employing the Arts, while they are only degrading and wasting them. Their principal feature is superb embellishment, otherwise called unique, splendid, and unrivalled; that is to say, two or three coloured plates of fine ladies and fashions, hastily tricked up by some unfortunate engraver, who, from want of a better taste in the country, is compelled to throw away his time and talents upon these gorgeous nothings. To suit the style of the ornamental part, the literary presents you with a little fashionable biography'; some remarks at length on eating, drinking or dressing; an anecdote or two; a design or two for handkerchiefs and settees; a country-dance; a touch of botany, a touch of politics, a touch of criticism; a faux pas-; and av story to be continued, like those of the Improvissatori, who throw down thejr ha-ts at an interesting point and must be paid more to proceed. The original poetry need not be described: of all the antiquities of a Magazine, this is the most antique,—a continual round of sad hours, of lipS, darts, and epitaphs, of sighings Ah achy! and wonderings Ah .where! .' . . . ; . ,.
It is thus, that in the best as well as worst Magazines, you see a multiplicity of trifles taking place of all that is - most important in the character of the times—that-character, which, as it is the most useful feature, ought also to- be the most prominent and most engaging feature in this species of publication.' A Magazine should properly be a Chronicle for:'posterity', but what will posterity care for our queries upon wooden legs, and our squabbles upon a turnip? And what will it think of the intellect of an age^ which in thd midst of so many and such mighty interests could be content with a trifling so frivolous ? .'" . These are faults easily avoided by such as have the least regard for the age and its reputation; and to avoid the grosser faults of Magazines will be,the first aim, perhaps the best recommendation, of the Reflector.—One of Us first cares will be Politics, which the Magazines generally dismiss in crude and impatient sketches. Politics, in times like these, should naturally take the lead in periodical discussion, because they have an imparlance and interest almost unexampled in history, and because Ificy are now, in their turn, exhibiting their reaction upon literature, as literature in the preceding age exhibited its action upon them. People, fond of books, and of the gentler arts of peace, are very apt to turn away from politics as from a barren and fearful ground, productive of nothing but blood-stained laurels; they see there, no doubt, the traces of the greatest misery and folly; but if they look a little more narrowly, they will see also the seeds of the most flourishing and refreshing arts. What such men neglect from distaste, less minds neglect from regarding politics in too common, too every-day a light, and in our own age, we have seen a whole nation, which has been called "thinking," gradually lose the habit of looking out upon the times at large, because it has been occupied with a thousand petty squabbles and interests. This is a fault, which as it is one of the most fatal to political character, a writer should be most earnest to deprecate. It becomes us all to philosophize as much as possible in an age, when human intellect, opposed to human weakness, has been called so unobstructedly into play, and has risen so fearfully into power. Each number of the Reflector will contain, besides a Retrospect of the Quarterly Events, an Essay or two upon Domestic or Foreign Policy; and in ascending from particulars to generals, it will endeavour to view the times in that historical light, which striking in broad and centrical masses, and not wasting itself on the corners and detail of the picture, gives prominence, clearness, and effect to the principal objects. Its opinions will be exactly those of the Examiner, speaking freely of all parties without exception, attached most strongly to the Constitution in letter and in spirit, and for that single reason most anxious for Reform. The Editor speaks of his independence in this matter without fear of rebuff', not only because he knows not a single politician personally, and is conscious of having as undisturbed opinions on the subject as he has upon the theatre or the weather, but because the readers of the Examiner have acknowledged the consistency of that paper, and he has had the good fortune to make the most infamous writers in town his enemies. The only piece of interest he shall solicit for the Reflector, is to recommend it to those gentlemen as a work, which he trusts will be worthy of their, unqualified abuse and most ferocious patronage.
In Theatrical Criticism, the Magazines, generally speaking, have always been the unambitious and unthinking followers of the Daily Papers; and personal interest is of so active and social a disposition that it always finds means to corrupt a trading spirit, equally petty in its views of reputation. It is true, th« Newspapers themselves at last begin to be ashamed of praising writers, who have become bye-words for nonsense, and they dis
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