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It is vain to temporize, by using words too weak for what they
The advocates for extravagant and democratical claims of right, have never wanted their abettors in those dangerous publications; and Christianity, though not expressly rejected, is not to be discovered in that human invention, falsely called Rational Cbriftianity; that system which diminishes the mercy of God, destroys the dignity of the Redeemer, and bends itfelf to every fanciful hypothesis that may chance to suit the private reason of any vain or capricious individual. Is there a Writer who would give to the multitude Rights, as well as Powers, beyond all definition or controul? he is sure of countenance or commendation. Is there one who fills his
with doubts, og with denials of all mysteries, and all that places Revelation above the in. vention or discovery of man? he too has found strong advocates. His blemishes are veiled, his best arguments are brought forward, his worst fuppressed, or aided by others of more apparent efficacy: nor has the Reader any chance of being secured from danger, but by the foundness of his own principles, or by the caution which many have adopted, from necesiity, that of viewing the whole Picture in reverse. He is invited to a specious feast, where the more the cates are poisoned, the more they are made alluring to the eye, and seductive to the appetite.
On the other hand, with respect to works favourable to our Govern, ment, or our Religion, the opposite methods are employed. The Reviewer is a Counsel constantly retained against the Crown and Church. The writer on their fide is always thought to be mistaken ; his abilities, if they cannot be denied, are considered as overpoiled by his errors ;, and if he gain celebrity or-profit, it must be in spite of the Reviewers, not by their aflåstance,
To obviate these Arts, to check the course of Misrepresentation, and give the chance of favourable hearing to the side we deem the right, is the object of the BRITISH CRITIC; the Authors of which, though they never will descend to any thing unfair, can only undertake to write exaculy as they feel; that is, as men convinced of certain truths, and zealous to deferd them, in proportion to their high importance. They are, and they declare themselves to be, firm, friends to real Liberty, as eftablished by the BRITISH CONSTITUTION, and to real Christianity, particularly as delivered in the Evangelical Doctrines of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND. Such being their Principles, they can, not with įndifference see the security of Society endangered, og the
foundations of the Christian Faith assailed, whether by-pretended friendo or open enemies; and, therefore, for their sentiments upon these subą jects, they look for commendation only from such persons as agree with them, in what should be maintained as everlasting truths. These are, however, undoubtedly by far the greater part of the inhabitants of this country, among whom, within the class of those who read and think, nothing has been more sincerely wished, than such an effort to resist the forces, and repel the inroads of corruption.
Alarmed by some apparent progress of what they could not but re gard as false and dangerous opinions, a Society of Gentlemen publish, ed, some time ago, a Propojal for a Reformation of Principles. This fociety, consisting of persons of liberal vicws, and of various situations and professions, united only by the exigence of the times, which seemed to call for more than common efforts in defence of British PRINCIPles, and British Happiness, was desirous only to REFORM where previous Arts had introduced Corruption; where found opinions yet remained, to give them due support, and to PRESERVE them. . Among their plans for effecting this good purpose, was that of bringing forward À REVIEW, conducted in the manner herein proposed,
Under the auspices of that fociety The British Critic is now about to appear: the time appointed for its commencement being the First: of JUNE. How far it may deserve the venerable name of Critic, the Public will hereafter decide; but British it will certainly be found, in all its sentiments, and in the ground of its decisions; according to thofe principles that long have formed the glory of the British, Nation. In taking such a line, if the Authors of this Review should not be able whólly to escape the charge of partiality, they are at least determined to incur no accusation of intemperance. By the scale of their own opinions, must all men judge of others; we know not of any
conŲderation that should deter us from speaking for ourselves; and if we plainly avow our Principles, we rather should obtain the praise of honefty, than meet with censure or suspicion. A man partial to no opinions is a blank; he neither can have read nor thought. Having opinions, to affect a neutrality by which they should be totally concealed, would be to make a facrifice without advantage; it would be to difplease all parties. We would be candid, not insipid.
Having thus largely given our Reasons for the present undertaking, and expressed our feelings on the most important points connected with it, we have only now to add, that in every other quality that ought to be required in a Review, our endeavour will be to rival, if we cannot excel, the most respectable of our competitors : favourable to merit of all kinds, and particularly to the efforts of Genius.
Finding the form already adopted for Reviews to be convenient and proper, we have not attempted innovation, where we could not promise an improvement. Our Monthly Publication will, therefore, confift, as they do, of two principal divisions: a Review at large of some productions, and a Catalogue of others, more concisely noticed.
But as it appears that the quantity has been too far increased, and three volumes in a year are thought to lay too heavy a charge on public curiofity, we purpose, by avoiding Supplements, to confine THE BRITISH Critic within Two Yearly Volumes.
Foreign Literature, however, which chiefly occupies the Supplements of other Reviews, will not be neglected by us. On the contrary, from the aflistance to which we look, we are enabled to promise a peculiarly accurate and intelligent execution of that article. But as few Readers feel as much interested concerning foreign publications, as with those of their own country; and they who do, can easily obtain access to foreign jour. nals; we shall keep this part within a moderate extent, and assign to it only one division of our Monthly Catalogue : which will consequently be distinguished into two parts-British Catalogue and Foreign Catalogue.
As we commence our Undertaking in the Middle of the Year, we shall neither go out of the current year for subjects of Criticisın, nor bind ourselves to notice every work that has already appeared in 1793 ; but, from the date of our first publication, we mean to make our notice general; and, if possible, to keep pace with the publications that are issued, better than has been usual with reviews. Long arrears of Criticism are prejudicial, in many instances, to authors; and always are unpleasing to the public. Of any merits that may be peculiar to us, we shall leave our
Readers both to judge and speak. Learning and Sagacity must be shown by actual proof, not promised and held forth in previous boastings. If we have them, they will plead effectually in our behalf: if they should be wanting, the more we had commended ourselves, the greater would be the public disappointment. The attempt itself argues some persuasion of ability to execute the talk: Success will justify our hopes, but not relax our efforts
UR undertaking having commenced with the
fifth month of a year, we found ourselves obliged to decide upon the alternative of making two small volumes, of four numbers each, or of enlarging our first volume to eight numbers. Various considerations induced us to prefer the former method; among which, not the least was that of taking an carly opportunity to record our gratitude for a patronage almost without example, within so short a period; and to give some further elucidations of our Plan, and of the manner in which our publication will be uniformly conducted.
On the subject of our reception by the Public we are happily secured, as Authors, from too much perfonal vanity, by our knowledge of the almost universal feeling that prevailed, of the necessity there was for such an undertaking. If we have stood forward as volunteers in the cause of truth, we were at least reminded of our duty by a very general voice among our countrymen, and the liberal support they have so readily bestowed, is but the natural reward of executing what they had so fincerely wished. We are well aware that it still depends upon the unremitting continuance of very strong exertions to maintain the ground which we have gained so suddenly ; and that a favourite enterprise, ill or carelessly conducted, would quickly cease to find a patronage, even from those who think it most important. Men cannot support even their best friends, in direct de
fiance BRIT, CRIT. VOL. I. 1793.
fiance of sound judgment; and though favour may begin the prosperity of such a work, merit only can confirm it. We have, however, the fatisfaction to know, by the most direct assurances, from quarters the most highly respectable, that it is not folely the popularity of our undertaking, to which we are indebted for our present circulation; and since we also know infallibly that our exertions will not be slackened, the commendations which have already repaid us, in the best manner, for our first anxiety and trouble, become to us the most unequivocal pledges of our future estimation.
Our object has been, and will be uniformly, to give a fair and satisfactory account of every publication which may appear to claim a full consideration; and the problem we endeavour, in every instance, to solve, is to communicate the cleareft notion of every such work that can by any means be had without an actual perufal of it. This, in various cases, must be effected by various means : sometimes by abridgment, sometimes by analysis, sometimes by specimens, sometimes by remarks and character, adapted to the general topic, or the particular conduct of the work : and to enable us the better to do this, we endeavour, not confining ourselves to any limited number of assistants, to obtain from the most eminent persons in every branch of science, that species of criticism which they may be peculiarly qualified to give. A mode of communication, which, if we should be able to continue and extend it, as happily as it has been begun, must infallibly render the British CRITIC a repository of the most accurate knowledge this distinguished country can produce.
With respect to the nature of our design, we know but of one objection, even of apparent weight, that has been urged against it: which is, that we began by professing partiality. That this was an improper constručtion of the words of our Prospectus has been, we trust, fufficiently evinced by the actual exe