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THE BRITISH

CONTROVERSIALIST,

AND

LITERARY MAGAZINE:

DEVOTED TO THE IMPARTIAL AND DELIBERATE DISCUSSION OF

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS IN

RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY, POLITICS,

SOCIAL ECONOMY, ETC.,

AND TO THE PROMOTION OF SELF-CULTURE

AND GENERAL EDUCATION.

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LONDON:
HOULSTON AND WRIGHT,

65, PATERNOSTER ROW.

MDCCCLXVI.

THE NEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY

386250
ASTOR, LENOX AND

TILDEN FOUNDATIONS.

LONDON: PRINTED BY J. AND W. RIDER,

BARTHOLOMEW CLOSR.

PREFACE.

TIME, with haste has silent brought round again a halting day, and calls us to a reckoning once more. Promise and performance rise together for comparison, and self-criticism becomes the duty of readers and of conductors alike. How have the months gone with us in our intellectual career, and what gains have now we garnered from the Past for behoof of the Future ? What efforts have we made, and how have we progressed with our several schemes? Have we written with honesty and earnestness ? Have we read with thought and care ? have we perused, and marked, and determined upon the contributions brought before us with a due sense of responsibility, and a settled love of truth and truthfulness? Well will it be if the soul's “summer of gladness” come to us on thoughtful reflection!

The spirit in which the work of the contributors and the conductors of this serial has been done is only to be judged of by the fruit of their labours ; and this the reader has before him, and of this he is the privileged critic. Against his decision there is no appeal. Let our aim, however, be distinctly understood and our work be judged by the ever-presiding intent of its conductors. The educative influeiçe of conòrçversy, tho kcenness of interest it evokes, the energy of intelšeot to which it stintulates, and the habit of weighing evidence and balancing reason with reasoif to which it trains, are accepted by them as indubitable as well as invéluable. They believe that the search for truth is the duty, of man, and that the universe is so constituted that if truth is indeed honesěly anu. Boʻsistently sought, men will ultimately discover the way of its attainment. But they hold also that, as a general rule, honest controversy clears the light around a truth, and brings not only itself, but its various correlations more distinctly before the mind. Those who hold the truth need not fear investigation ; those who may be holding error as truth ought to welcome it. No opinion should advance a claim that men ought to accept for itself without seeking a reason for their having faith in it. “If the opinion is right,” by denying to men the opportunity of examining its reliability, men“ are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.” In this belief it is the aim of this serial to subject the various topics of thought, as they arise, to impartial and painstaking controversy, and the Debates in this volume will be found to be exemplifications not only of the utility, but of the power of discussion to set opinions more strongly, because contrastedly, before the minds of thinking men.

To further the self-culture of the earnest and thoughtful forms another portion of the main purpose of our Magazine. The variety of the leading papers, the subjects chosen by their author, and the style in which he treats every topic that he touches, must commend them to the diligent study of all who love reflective writing and philosophic thinking. The department entitled Toiling Upward contains both encouragement and warning to those who desire to fulfil the true designs of their lives. The Reviewer has been diligently accommodated to the promotion of self-improvement in the reader. In The Essayist and The Poetic Critique, scope is given for effort in the practice of literary culture, and in the Debates an opportunity is afforded for the expression of earnest convictions and logical views. The Inquirer supplies a means of asking from a wide constituency, counsel, help, and information, and forms already a concise and unique library of reference. Our Collegiate Course has somewhat narrowed its sphere of late, but additional width of aim will be imparted to it in immediately succeeding volumes. The Eloquence of the Month forms permanent records, not only of ably expressed thought, but of that sort of thought which initiates and constitutes history. As a supply of rhetorical examples for perusal in societies, the specimens given can scarcely fail to be useful and valued. The Societies' Section keeps its place, but has improved less than any of the other departments:. A slight deciing in the popularity of The Topic may also be noted. It was.pbasined expressly that our readers might each furnish brief jottings of his opinions on the matters which arose from time to time, to enable us, from a wide survey: of: popular thought, to cull the best statements of concisely expressed reasonings on public events and things. This we hope yet to see fulfilled in this department. Our Literary Notes contain a concise summary of the month's news regarding books, authors, and literature.

If our readers agree with us in our general estimate of the labours out of which this volume has grown, they will grant that visible progress is being made towards the attainment of the objects of the serial, and that the endeavours put forth for the increased efficacy of the Magazine merit most continued tokens of public approbation. But still more, we hope that they will see to it that their part also is faithfully done, and that co-operating with us they may increase the value and usefulness of the Magazine by their own efforts to use it well, and so commend it to the use of others. We on our part shall not remit our labours to make its pages more and more worthy of perusal and commendation.

THE

BRITISH CONTROVERSIALIST.

Literature, Science, and Jrt.

John LOCKE, one of the most independent thinkers among English philosophers, considered it advisable to devote an entire book of his “ Essay on the Human Understanding” to a consideration of words.” In that work he maintains that “when a man speaks to another, it is that he may be understood; and the end of speech is, that those sounds (words) as marks may make known his ideas to the hearer." Hence it is deduced that words are signs. And so they are,-signs at once of things and of thoughts. They are the symbols by which we mark to ourselves, and represent to others our thoughts of things. The philologist Eichhoff finely characterizes them as “the shadows of the soul,”-shadows bearing in them a portion of the vital force of the spirit, and capable of acting on another mind with a living energy and power. Rightly were they called of old “winged words;" for ideas are transmitted from one to another through their intervention, and in their flight they convey thought from mind to mind. The chief end of language, therefore, is to communicate thought, and its perfection depends upon its being easily and thoroughly understood. Although it fulfils many subsidiary purposes this is the primary and radical intention, which overrules and pervades its existence and use. Words are really serviceable only when they excite in the mind of another an idea precisely similar to that of which it stands as a sign in our own. The very nature of words, however, makes it all but inevitable that they may be misapprehended or misunderstood, and so become “doubtful and uncertain in their signification." Thought is the essence of the human soul. Within the wonderful tissues of man's frame there exists a something whose tendencies and workings, whose living power, in the exercise of its spontaneous activities, produces thought. This, man projects out of himself; shadows it forth, and contemplates it apart from himself in language, in embodied signs. Before these signs can be useful there must be a reciprocity of feeling, thinking, and regis. tration; a consent regarding the signs by which thought is ex. pressed. To exchange ideas, or to hold intelligible intercourse with others in any language, this co-suggestiveness of words must be secured ; and a simultaneous similarity of meaning must be

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