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At a period when British ships of war have penetrated for the first time the Cimmerian Bosphorus, and the names of Crimean rivers and Tartar villages are become sad household words in so many an English home—when our fleets and armies are it is hoped gradually drawing their net around the Tauric peninsula, and the statesmen of the West are meditating the new destiny which it may be in their power to fix upon the Crimea, a veteran who could refer from his own recollection to the time when the Czarina issued the fiat which united the peninsula to her empire, would excite a momentary interest in any assembly. The memory of Sylvanus Urban goes back much further than this. Without consulting any other history than the notes which he has jotted down from month to month of the events which were passing around him, he can recall the period when the Muscovite was a stranger in the Chersonese. He can tell his readers of the rumours which reached St. James's of General Munich's first assault upon the Ottoman in that quarter; when the senators of Lilliput, by which name he was constrained in his youthful days to travestie the Parliament of Great Britain, heard with indifference of Kaffa and of Kertsch as of Tartar cities taken or evacuated by the armies of the elder Catherine. Even in the reign of George the Second some little interest was felt in England as to the events of a foreign war on those remote and unknown shores, and the purchasers of the Gentleman's Magazine for the year 1739 were enabled to follow the movements of the Turkish and Bussian armies by an "Exact Map of the Crim," in which the great-grandfathers of our present readers might learn the position of the river of " Almassu," and the harbour of " Baloglow," and little anticipate the sensations which those unregarded names in a somewhat altered form would one day excite in every English breast.
In those days the Gentleman's Magazine had not so many able and vigorous assistants in its task of amusing and instructing the public as it now has. Many a country mansion and more retired parsonage drew from its pages all that they knew of passing events, as well as of the science and the literature of the day.
Politics as well as history had a part in the labours of our earlier years, and in the days of William Pitt the younger, Sylvanus Urban used to make his yearly boast of the staunch loyalty of his principles, and of his unwearicd efforts in the support of our constitution in church and state:
Mersatus adhuc civilibus undis,
We are content in our older days to leave it to others to follow with graphic illustrations the marches of armies, and to relate with copious fidelity the debates of senates. The institutions of our country need not our defence, and we have no arms for the service of party. We have long devoted our strength and directed the labours of our contributors to the field of historical and antiquarian literature. In the course of our long service we may boast of having preserved some fragments of history which would otherwise have been lost, and of having rescued some monuments which the hand of Time would else have obliterated.
It is needless to describe the nature of our present work. We desire, without launching into a wider field, to continue to employ ourselves usefully in that which we have chosen. We shall continue our brief chronicle of passing events: by our obituary we aim at preserving the accurate details not only of public but of private and family history; and our pages will always be gratefully open to letters of correspondents who have any valuable observations to communicate, or any curious information to be preserved. In our own portion of the work our readers may be assured that our endeavours will not be relaxed to make our periodical the adequate representative of the antiquarian science and historical literature of the country.
SYLVANUS URBAN. June 30, 1855.