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The directors of a public company are called upon, as a matter of course, to prepare a synopsis of the state of their affairs, and to make a few remarks in their report upon its management in the past, its condition at present, and the prospect of the future. It has become customary in much the samo way for the Conductors of this serial to lay before their readers a few observations by way of Preface to the several successive volumes they have been privileged to add to the literature of research, culture, improvement, and free discussion. On this occasion, considering that those who are best qualified to speak about the purpose, plan, difficulties, and progress of this work, have, in the body of this volume, given an epitome of the history of this literary venture during the twenty-one years in which it has now held its place among serials, the responsible Conductors might well have refrained from any merely prefatory observations. This they would readily have consented to do, were it not that they have little other opportunity of holding specific intercourse with the reader than such as is afforded to them by these half-yearly recurrences of greeting and explanation, of which they are unwilling to lose even a single one. For where the pressure of the hand may not be felt, nor the play of the light of friendship in the eye be seen, words are the only medium through which the mind can find access to mind in a direct form; and the Conductors wish at all times to treat with loving confidence those for whom they labour, and through whom their labour, it it is to be effective at all, must produce the desired results—the promotion of a love of faithful investigation, the exercise of critical thought, and the culture of dispassionate reflectiveness on all matters of interest in regard to life, thought, motives, and events.
It is never to be forgotten in the perusal of these volumes that its Conductors cater for those who are supposed to have a high sense of the value of truth attained by the efforts of reason, and of the culture by which the intellectual and moral nature is quickened and refined--those who feel the nobleness of thought. The Conductors certainly desire to aid in the task of popular elevation, but they cannot condescend to court popular favour at the expense of truth, freedom, or the moral integrity of the critical faculties. They seek the countenance and support, and earnestly ask the aid of all those who think, and desire that men should learn to think truly and thoroughly -to create, in short, a reasoned and reasonable public opinion. To that their labours tend, in that they hope they may end. The subjoined review of their efforts in this behalf they now present to the favourable consideration of the reader.
The Leading Articles, if less varied, are of higher mark, we believe, even than usual; they indicate a living energy of mind, a broad unconventional force, a rare and notable fertility of suggestiveness. For compass, accuracy, and explicit conciseness, there can be few readers who will not acknowledge the excellence and the informingness of the papers on Deity; and hackneyed as political questions are, there is in the series of papers on Government not a little of originality and worth. The Debates, being, as they are, in
great part the contributions of our widely scattered constituency of subscribers, may be regarded as a strong body of public opinion upon the several themes discussed, and as evidences of the culture and endeavour which we have succeeded in drawing round us in sympathizing helpfulness with our aim to give boldness and precision to inquiry, and superinduce that consistent and uniform motion of mind which actually becomes rest. For their friendly co-operation in our purpose, and their help in our difficult task, we, in the name of our readers, thank them, and congratulate them on the variousness, the vigour, and the value they have added to this volume. It contains no fewer than fifty-two articles devoted to the consideration of seven debates on highly important subjects, the fulness, variety, spirit, education, and usefulness of which a fair perusal will amply confirm; while we may confidently aver that the impartiality, charity, aptness, and acuteness they display make them good exampless of honest critical discussion.
In addition to these The Topic has, as usual, afforded an opportunity for the consideration of matters of more passing interest, having closer connection with the stir of the times, in condensed jottings of reasoned thought regarding them.
In "Toiling Upward” the biographer of Dr. J. A. Langford has composed a companion prize to our recent memoir of Thomas Cooper. The Essayist has dealt with the higher literature and philosophy in a gratifying spirit, and with much ability. The Reviewer has fulfilled his function by giving us choice matter from various sources, accompanied with good reasons for approving of certain books, and that sort of living interest in bookmakers and their readers which induces sympathetic approval because it produces that friendly considerativeness which arises from knowledge of aims, achievements, and obstacles.
Our Collegiate Course—though press of matter has somewhat curtailed the space allotted to it-presents a hopeful appearance of usefulness and interest, and by its explanatory fulness seems to add to the delight of poetry the charms of associative beauty. The Societies' Section is improved, and gives promise of still further adaptation to the purposes of progress, and the extension of material aid in the acquisition of intellectual power. Our Inquirers' columns continue to be useful and beneficial in the intercommunication between the reader in difficulty and the reader whose information can supply what is wanted. The Literary Notes possess informing value, and are a multum in parvo of intelligence on books and their authors, and the projects and achievements of men of letters.
Truth is the perfection of reason, and the discovery of truth is, among men, the result of reasoning. In this magazine we seek to bring into co-operative discursive activity the powers of the readers and the contributors, to examine and to learn, to consider and to test. We exercise no jurisdiction over opinion, and we engage in no special propaganda. , Our desire is to excite thought and to train intellect; we believe that these, rightly employed, cannot greatly err in those searches and researches on which the possibility of attaining truth has been made to depend. Let us all more earnestly strive to fulfil our part in the co-operative corporation of truth-seekers, and progress and benefit are sure.
The Philosopby of Politics,
REPRESENTATIVE OR PARLIAMENTARY
GOVERNMENT. “Truth scarce ever yet carried it by vote anywhere at its first appearance ; new opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because thay are not already common. But truth, like gold, is not the less so for being newly brought out of the mine. It is trial and examination must give it price, and not any antique fashion; and though it be not current by the public stamp, yet it may, for all that, be as old as nature, and as certainly not less genuine.”—JOIN LOOKE.
POLITICs is that department of science which concerns itself with communities existing under Government. Civic life is conditioned by the constitution of the human mind, or the properties of human nature, and the character of the circumstances in which our life-lot is cast. The chief end of Government is, as Mr. James Mill has defined it, “ to increase to the utmost the pleasures, and diminish to the utmost the pains, which men derive from each other” as fellow-citizens, who require to live, labour, act, and suffer together ; or, as our pleasures and our pains arise from our being persons and having property, we may briefly regard Government as the whole of the agencies by which life and property are protected in common; that is, by which any portion of society is made a commonwealth. The legislative experience of mankind is, that human passions require regulation and control, that properly balanced and associated feeling is essential to well-being, that virtue is the safeguard of civilization. The excellence and stability of any social polity, therefore, depends on its power of exciting, sustaining, and energising civil virtue. Virtue in politics is proportioned selfrestraint; that is, a yielding of so much of one's own desire, wishes, and indulgence, as may be requisite to secure and maintain, in the