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TO THE FOURTH VOLUME.
THE nature of our design has been so fully explained in the prefaces to former volumes, that it would be wasting time, and exhausting the patience of our readers, to urge any thing further on that head; and as the work itself has shown how far our performances have corresponded with the promises we have made, it is unnecessary to detain our readers, for any length of time, at the entrance of the volume about to be laid before them. It is not to boast of the industrious exertien, or unsparing expense bestowed upon the Mirror in return for the generous patronage it has experienced, nor yet to court further encouragement by professions which ill-nature might construe into servility, that we prefix the few following words to the ensuing volume; but partly to comply with a custom which ought to be respected because it is old, and partly to announce, and if possible to obtain the sentiments of our subscribers respecting a proposal which has been
pressed upon us by several friends.
Yet, since to be entirely silent upon the successful progress of the work, and the great patronage afforded it, might by some be ascribed to want of respect; and fastidiously to suppress all mention VoI. IV. a
of the efforts by which we have endeavoured to deserve public support, might be thought to savour more of pride than prudence, we beg leave to become debtors to our readers for a few moments, while we briefly particularize the amount of our obligations to the public, and give a glance at what has been done on our part to deserve it. Since we addressed our readers in January last, a number of persons (considerably more than three hundred) of the first respectability in the union have added their names to our subscription list; and this important accession is rendered still more flattering and satisfactory by the declaration which, with very few exceptions, they all have voluntarily made, that they would do their utmost to give circulation to the Mirror, because they considered it intitled to the approbation and support of the public. To persons who thus not only contribute to support, but confer honour on the work, it is owing to do all we can to justify their good opinion, and to show
that we are not entirely undeserving of it.
In one respect the Mirror of Taste has been uncommonly fortunate. It came into the world just in time to be the record of a twofold era in the drama and the arts of this country. It rose into estimation just at that singular crisis when a great theatrical character, unexpectedly visiting this country, held a new light to the stage, and, pointing out the true dramatic representation, opened to our people a new train of thought; gave to the public mind a new spring, and imparted an impulse before unfelt, with a just and elegant direction to the general taste; roused the feelings and perceptions from listlessness and sloth, and infused into the
best bosoms of the nation a generous spirit which gave new life to
the arts, quickened them into action and effect, called forth the infant genius of a Leslie to the public view, and bade breathing portraits start from the canvas of a SULLY.-To be the chief archive of such things is an honour;—even to be coeval with them affords some grounds for pride. Of these advantages the Mirror has to boast; with this fortunate circumstance in addition—that the same great actor, the praises of whom lend to this work its best attraction, has afforded a practical illustration of the truth of those good old dramatic principles which the editor
has always laboured to inculcate.
In a pecuniary point of view, our subscribers have been forward to declare, that they have more than reason to be satisfied. The plates of the Mirror are, with the exception perhaps of two, so interesting in point of subject, and so admirable in execution, that, if offered for sale separately, they would bring considerably more
than half the price of the whole work.
And now for the proposition above obscurely alluded to.—For a considerable time past, a number of our friends have been suggesting that, without being an expense to us, it would be a great advantage to our readers, to commute the play which accompanies each number for a proportionable increase of general matter in our volume; and besides these, so many have written to the same effect, that we begin to think it advisable to communicate with our subscribers generally upon the subject. Of these applications by letter, we select for publication the following, because it is the latest we
have received, and indeed the most clear and explicit.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MIRROR OF TASTE.
“ I have been a subscriber to your entertaining miscellany from 6 its commencement to the present time, and sincerely congratu“ late you on your success in an arduous undertaking, quite novel “ on this side of the Atlantic, the failure of which was anticipated, “ even by many literary characters, from an apprehension, that “ there did not exist among us a degree of dramatic taste adequate « to the support of a publication devoted wholly to the interest of " the sock and buskin.
“ Although I highly approve of your Mirror, I regard it as sus“ ceptible of improvement; and venture to suggest a small altera. « tion, which I believe will gratify the majority of your readers. It “ is, to discontinue the publication of the plays which accompany “ your work, and to increase its volume by an equal quantity of « miscellaneous matter.
U A large portion of the patrons of your undertaking are in possession of collections of dramatic performances, some of them “ very extensive, and of course embracing the very plays of which “ you give them duplicates;--others, from the infinite variety of “ tastes, are occasionally dissatisfied with the choice you make6 and the residue, who have not dramatic collections, and who may " coincide in opinion with you on the merits of the plays you pub“ lish, form very probably a small portion of your patrons.
“ A moment's reflection will suffice to evince that, to the two « first descriptions, the proposed change would be absolutely,