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TO THE PUBLIC.
It was, many years since, said of the American people by the celebrated Edmund Burke, that they were “not yet hardened into the bone of manhood." And now, at this period of our existence, we may remark, that though the steady and rapid growth and improvement of our population, the spread of knowledge—the increasing demand for facts rather than theories--are hopeful evidences of an approximation to manhood, yet, we have lost nothing of the enthusiasm, the boldness and the enterprise of youth. Nothing is too difficult for the genius and activity of our citizens—every part of the civilized world bears testimony to their achievements in science and art. All is progresssteady, sure progress-yet bearing with it at every step, the characteristics of youth. It is true, that in our country, plans for the improvement and elevation of man meet with no obstruction, that errors derive no veneration from antiquity, and prejudice but little authority from custom; nevertheless, fancy is too frequently substituted for truth, visionary doctrines and crude speculations attract too much attention and admiration, and we need, as a people, the requisite patience to sift out and embody facts, to note down and register the evidences of daily experience.
It therefore follows that those who minister to the public taste too often choose brilliant and captivating novelties, rather than sober realities; and even the more substantial and necessary viands are sometimes garnished until their identity is lost.
That the press should have partaken of the character of everything else that pertains to a youthful people is not surprising, and consequently it has been charged against us, that our literature is wanting in sterling and solid qualities, that our periodicals are rather devoted to light and sparkling articles, than to
VOL. I.—MAY, 1848. 2
those which are truthful and of permanent value, and that generally the publications from our press are intended more for present effect, than for instruction and future use.
That we have given occasion for this censure is undoubtedly true, there is much that is redeeming in the character of the people and the press. There is, as we have already stated, an increasing appetite for useful information-the spirit of inquiry is more directed to the diligent and patient investigation of truth, and the simple and severe pathway of fact is gaining more favor with an intelligent community.
We have therefore become convinced that the time is propitious for combining a grave, severe, and malter-of-fact journal, with an instructive and entertaining miscellany, and have ventured to commit on trial to a discerning public the first number of the THE AMERICAN QUARTERLY REGISTER AND MAGAZINE.
The plan of our work is very comprehensive, and is intended to supply the deficiency we have adverted to, and now sensibly felt and complained of in this country.
We embody within it, a digested summary of all the events that belong to the history of the times, with the documentary proof; a department of statistics embracing tabular statements, and the facts that make up the sum of practical knowledge; biographical notices; original articles, and a miscellany, scientific and literary. By this arrangement, we hope, in the course of the year, to present to our readers a mass of valuable and interesting intelligence, and to form a Register and Magazine in the true sense of the terms.
To the preparation of the work, and in securing for it the necessary patronage, many months of incessant labor have been devoted. Much research and assiduous application were required in collecting and digesting those parts where perfect accuracy is indispensable.
The Historical Register and review of the two preceding years has been carefully prepared, and is placed at the beginning, as an appropriate introduction to the contemplated series of annals. In it, we have not deemed it necessary, neither would our space have permitted, to state events with the minuteness that will be observed in each Register of the current quarter; but it sufficiently presents the leading events of the past, for all the purposes of explanation of the future.
The Quarterly Chronicle or record of the events for the present number we have compiled more in detail, and have made arrangements, whereby in future numbers we shall be enabled to give full, interesting and accurate particulars from every quarter of the globe. Public documents are given at length as a portion of the national history, and as unavoidably forming a component part of an American Register.
We have scrupulously endeavored to avoid the imputation of party bias, it being our aim to maintain a rigid impartiality in reference to the great political questions which agitate the nation, so that our pages may hereafter be referred to with implicit confidence. Our design is to furnish to all parties a faithful record—a reliable authority. We are aware, that even the truth may be at
times unpalatable, and thus subject us to the charge of bias; but we hope to be judged by the general scope and character of the work. Our main business is with facts, and however offensive or distasteful they may sometimes be during the heat of party strife, they must, as long as there is virtue in the people, form now and hereafter the chief value of our work.
In the statistical department we have given much that will interest and prove useful for reference. It is not to be expected that in the first number we should be as successful in this branch of the work, as we shall be when our correspondence is enlarged by the circulation of a number, and we shall thereby have more ready access to the most authentic sources of information, neither is it our purpose to embody in a single number statistical statements relating to every branch of human knowledge. We pledge ourselves, however, to accomplish this within the year, and to give to all a storehouse of facts, that will be satisfactory to every class of readers.
The original articles and miscellaneous selections must be judged of by their merits.
Though we aim at that which is useful and instructive, rather than at what is brilliant, still we shall endeavor, so to prepare and select the matter of the Magazine, that we may promote the cultivation of a refined taste and please the highest order of intellect. We have already said that we stand aloof from the strife of political party; we shall also avoid interference in sectarian controversy of any kind. Our object is to present an accurate delineation of the times in which we live-to withhold nothing that onght to be known and preserved, and that will contribute to the exhibition of a living and faithful picture. In doing this, we shall ever delight to place in the foreground whatever will promote the cause of true religion, sound morals, and pure patriotism-whatever will aid the honest inquirer after truth, in every department of science and art.
It will be seen that our miscellany does not entirely reject all the materials which are classed as imaginative and amusing. Poetry and miscellaneous prose, which combine instruction with entertainment, will, within proper limits, be admitted; but we shall never allow them to interfere with the main design of the work. We shall sedulously avoid inflicting love tales, crude essays and common-place truisms upon our readers.
The biographical notices of the present number are not as full as we desire to have them—but we have in preparation for our next issue an obituary list after the manner of some foreign magazines, which will contain sketches of all the prominent men in our own country and the world, recently deceased; and will be regularly continued in all future numbers.
We make no parade of the names of our contributors. We have assurances of voluntary aid from some of the most eminent men of the country, and shall be grateful for their favors; but to avoid the unpleasant consequences of failures and disappointments, we have succeeded in enlisting, for a proper equivalent, the services of able associates, by whose labors, and by our own untiring industry and care, we hope to carry out successfully the plan of our work.
AND REGISTER FOR 1846 AND 1847.
A part of the plan of this journal, and as we think, not the least valuable part, is to present our readers with a summary of all great events, political or physical, as they occur in every quarter of our many-peopled globe—noticing those most fully that most nearly concern ourselves, but not overlooking any that materially affect large portions of our species, however remote from us. Such a review must, in general, be a record of national calamity, of wars and insurrections, of death or disease, of destructive fires or earthquakes; for such are the chief materials of history. The great mass of individual enjoyment is at once too familiar to attract notice, and too minute to be recorded. It is found in the quiet and comfort and security of the domestic hearth; in the pure and lively endearments of family affection; in the interchange of kind offices in that home which is the favorite domain of human benevolence. These perennial sources of man's earthly joys, which make up the happiness of most men and of all women, are not regarded except by those who are immediate parties to them, no more than are the moments of sunshine and fair weather, whilst the great afflictions of human life, like the tempests of the physical world, are alone noticed and remembered. But in addition to these sources of human suffering, we shall, wherever we can, mark the progress of civil society.
We purpose in the present number to take a brief retrospect of the principal events of the world in the last two years, after which we shall notice them in each quarterly number as they occur; and, taking them in the order of their interest to us, we will commence with the
UNITED STATES. The beginning of the year 1846 found us involved in a dispute with Great Britain about the Oregon territory, of a very threatening aspect, as both nations claimed the country extending more than 500 miles north of the Columbia rirer to the Russian boundary of 54° 40', and the organs of each government so expressed their opinions of their respective claims as to give to the friends of peace in both hemispheres lively apprehensions. Better counsels, however, prevailed. Thanks to the American Senate, in which portions of both the great political parties made a conservative majority, the government of the United States, which had previously rejected all the offers