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“ An essay writer must practise in the chemical method, and give the virtue of a full
SPECTATOR, No. 124.
Printer in Ordinary to His Majesty;
· WHEN a periodical work sincerely espouses the cause of virtue, it takes its stand on a permanent foundation; and, in a simple avowal of its principles, includes nearly all that can be presented to the reader in a Preface. Adhering to its original design, it leaves nothing to explain; nothing which requires an apology; nothing which can be reviewed with the blush of shame, or the painful emotions of regret. Such is precisely the case with the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE, of which the Fourth Volume is now completed. The conductors of this work are not conscious, that, in any one instance, among the multifarious articles which fill their pages, they have deviated from their primary intentions, or departed from the ground on which it was first established.
To reduce the standard of moral rectitude, and give a modern garb to virtue, in order to render it fashionable, would be an easy task; and in the eyes of the thoughtless and dissipated, this might probably be deemed an acquisition; but they flatter themselves, that among the readers of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE, few of this description are to be found.
The criterion of moral good is fixed on an immoveable basis; and nothing but a dishonourable and temporizing spirit of accommodation, can induce those who rally round it, to sanction its approximation towards the expediencies of a degenerate age. With publications that are, or that may be denominated Liberal, the press unhappily too much abounds; and it is painful to reflect, that titles of such equivocal import have been adopted, as convenient vehicles to propagate licentiousness by most of the friends of vice, from the Peer of Pisa, to those who hoist the ensigns of Infidelity in the atmosphere of Newgate.
But although the young, the profligate, the frivolous, and the idle, may embrace libertinism,
“ To fill the void of an unfurnish'd brain,
To palliate dullness, and give time a shove," the extensive circulation of the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE demonstrates, that the community is far from being proselyted to infidelity. The thoughtful and considerate, on whom the sanctions of morals are more influential than the impulses of passion, still discountenance by their frowns, those literary pests which can accommodate their elastic principles to the haunts of iniquity, fortifying vice with argument, and furnishing its votaries with weapons to repel the dictates of moral obligation, to contemn the calls of duty, and to defy the restraints of law.
It was among these respectable classes of society that the IMPERIAL MAGAZINE was first expected to find readers; and in their calculations, the conductors of this work have not been deceived. The circulation has extended to three quarters of the globe, has contributors to its pages from each, and has furnished numerous articles for the periodical publications of foreign countries.
The door which it has always held open, for the investigation of ethical and scientific subjects, has attracted the attention of literary gentlemen in various departments. It is to their pens that the proprietor acknowledges his obligations, for several valu