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MINTED BY S. HOLLINGSwORTH, CRANE-COURT, FLEET-STREET,
That Literature performs an important part in regulating
public opinions and manners, may be readily conceived, and has in many instances been fully demonstrated. How far its influence, in our own time, is favourable to the cause of genuine virtue, is a very interesting question, as it affects the immediate and final happiness of mankind; the solution, we earnestly hope, will every year become more easy and satisfactory. It is much to be regretted, however, that Religion and Literature should in any degree appear distinct; that their intercourse should ever be formal and distant; especially as their mutual alienation, wherever it exists, would seem to be, of necessity, a growing evil. The considerate father, on the one hand, will be gradually estranged from unhallowed and perverted learning, and retiring from the walks of literature will prescribe that conduct to his family from prudence, which he adopts himself from disgust. The scholar, on the contrary, who regards him as ignorant, enthusiastic^ or hypocritical, will feel an increasing disrelish for his principles, and indifference to his remonstrances. The breach, therefore, must continually widen, and ultimately produce effects which both would
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have reason to deplore. Whether, in the present state of human nature, a perfect reconciliation can be effected, it may not be easy to determine. The friend of religion, in point of principle, can ma1<e no concessions, for he holds his sentiments as the dictates of supreme authority: the devotee of literature is unwilling to pay the deference required, for his pursuits have cherished an opposite disposition. Between such parties who is to be the moderator ? This is evident; it must be one whose alliance to both is intimate and cordial, and, as a preliminary measure, all prejudices must be mutually abandoned. The object, at least, is highly important, and every attempt, however inadequate, to promote it, deserves the approbation of enlightened philanthropy.
The public was already satiated with Critical Journals; yet, without any invidious allusion, there seemed an important vacancy, which a work conducted oh such a principle might reasonably hope to supply- .
These were the considerations that induced the Projectors of the Eclectic Review to solicit general attention. They have reason toexnlt in the yery flattering support which has sanctioned and encouraged their exertions, and they rejoice to discover that the public mind was so well prepared to appreciate the importance of thp undertaking. They gratefully acknowledge the assistance they have received from independent men of the first abilities, to whose liberal communications the work is indebted for the esteem it has acquired; and they cherish the hope of deserving still more the confidence and approbation of the public.
If their motives had been mercenary, or their objects contracted, the Conductors might have attempted to secure an extensive circulation among religious people exclusively, by fostering a prejudice which they hoped to counteract. They might have restricted their notices to publications merely moral and theological, and have discountenanced all spirit of inquiry, into the attainments of science, and the progress of research. As their design, especially in this respect, appears to have been often misunderstood, the Conductors have thought it requisite fully to explain the objects of their labours.—They aimed decidedly at the advantage of youth in general; and intended, without warping their principles, or tainting their minds, to interest them in literary pursuits, to assist them in the detection of error, to guide their decisions, and to form their taste. They wished to enlarge the acquirements of the serious, and to extend their acquaintance with the world of science and of letters, in order to increase their importance in society, their sources of harmless pleasure, and their means of public usefulness. They desired to inculcate just and scriptural princi pies of judgement among men of talents and erudition, to rescue sincere piety from misrepresentation, and to reprobate, not only infidelity in all its degrees and modifications, but also that dependence, on the mere theory and profession of Christianity, which is scarcely less injurious to personal happiness and social amelioration. To induce the religious world to cultivate literature, and the literary world to venerate religion, was the entire object and hope of their mast sanguine ambition.
That their efforts have not been wholly abortive, they perceive with pleasure and gratitude; and this success will rather invigorate than relax their future exertions. Disclaiming any