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TO THE SECOND EDITION.
It is necessary to explain the omission in the first edition of the Preface to the Vision of Judgment, as well as the cause of those mistakes, obviously too considerable for mere errors of the press, which are noticed in the errata. The fact is, that Mr. Murray the bookseller, who was to have been the original publisher of the Vision, sent the present publisher a copy not corrected by the author, and also wanting the Preface,—from which copy the first edition was consequently printed. It was not till after the First Number of the Liberal had appeared, that the Publisher was informed there was a Preface, and that the copy of the poem sent to him to print from, was not the proper one with the necessary corrections by the Author. The only mode left of repairing this mischief, was to print the Preface and the corrections for the poem in a Second Edition, which is now done, and would have been done sooner, but for the time lost,-first, in endeavouring (though unsuccessfully) to obtain the corrected copy, which had passed through the Author's hands,-afterwards in procuring his corrections a second time from abroad. The reader need hardly be told, that the Author can with no more justice be held responsible for the mistakes in the first edition, than if his poem had been published at once from his MS. without the proofs being submitted to his revision. And it should be mentioned as aggravating the evil in this case, that the writings of the Author of the Vision of Judgment were mostly printed from the rough and only manuscripts and that consequently he relied on seeing the proof-sheets, in order both to correct the errors of the printer, and to make such alterations as more mature consideration might suggest. This circumstance made it a particular duty in the publisher to take every possible care of the proofs corrected by the Author, and especially to see that those proofs alone were followed in the final printing.
January 1st, 1923.
We are not going to usher in our publication with any pomp of prospectus. We mean to be very pleasant and ingenious, of course; but decline proving it beforehand by a long common-plaće. The greater the flourish of trumpets now-a-days, the more suspicious what follows. Whatever it may be our luck to turn out, we at least wave our privilege of having the way prepared for us by our own mouth-pieces,-by words with long tails, and antitheses two and two. If we succeed, so much the better. If not, we shall at all events not die of the previous question, like an honest proposal in Parliament.
But we are forced to be prefatory, whether we would or no: for others, it seems, have been so anxious to furnish us with something of this sort, that they have blown the trumpet for us ; and done us the honour of announcing, that nothing less is to ensue, than a dilapidation of all the outworks of civilized society. Such at least, they say, is our intention ; and such would be the consequences, if they, the trumpeters, did not take care, by counterblasts, to puff the said outworks up again.' We should be more sensible of this honour, if it did not arise from a confusion of ideas. They say that we are to cut up religion, morals, and everything that is legitimate ;-a pretty carving. It only shews what they really think of their own opinions on those subjects. The other day a ministerial paper said, that “ robes and coronations were the strong-holds of royalty.” We do not deny it; but if such is their strength, what is their weakness? If by religion they meant anything really worthy of divine or human beings; if by morals, they meant the only true morals, justice and beneficence; if by everything legitimate, they meant but half of what their own laws and constitutions have provided against the impudent pretensions of the despotic,—then we should do our best to leave religion and morals as we found them, and shew their political good faith at least half as much respect as we do. But when we know, -and know too from our intimacy with various classes of people, --that there is not a greater set of hypocrites in the world than these pretended teachers of the honest and inexperienced part of our countrymen ;--when we know that their religion, even when it is in earnest on any point (which is very seldom) means the most ridiculous and untenable notions of the Divine Being, and in all other cases means nothing but the Bench of Bishops ;-—when we know that their morals consist for the most part in a secret and practical contempt of their own professions, and for the least and best part, of a few dull examples of something a little more honest, clapped in front to make a show and a screen, and weak enough to be made tools against all mankind;and when we know, to crown all, that their “ legitimacy," as they call it, is the most unlawful of all lawless and impudent things, tending, under pretence that the whole world are as corrupt and ignorant as themselves, to put it at the mercy of the most brute understandings among them,-men by their very education in these pretensions, rendered the least fit to sympathize with their fellow men, and as unhappy, after all, as the lowest of their slaves ;—when we know all this, and see nine-tenths of all the intelligent men in the world alive to it, and as resolved as we are to oppose it, then indeed we are willing to accept the title of enemies to religion, morals, and legitimacy, and hope to do our duty with all becoming profaneness accordingly. God defend us from the piety of thinking him a monster! God defend us from the morality of slaves and turncoats, and from the legitimacy of half a dozen lawless old gentlemen, to whom, it seems, human nature is an estate in fee.
The object of our work is not political, except inasmuch as all writing now-a-days must involve something to that effect, the connexion between politics and all other subjects of interest to mankind having been discovered, never again to be done away. wish to do our work quietly, if people will let us,—to contribute our liberalities in the shape of Poetry, Essays, Tales, Translations, and other amenities, of which kings themselves may read and profit, if they are not afraid of seeing their own faces in every species of inkstand. Italian Literature, in particular, will be a favourite subject with us; and so was German and Spanish to have been, till we lost the accomplished Scholar and Friend who was to share our task; but perhaps we may be able to get a supply of the scholarship, though not of the friendship. It may be our good fortune to have more than one foreign correspondent, who will be an acquisition to the reader. In the meantime, we must do our best by ourselves; and the reader may be assured he shall have all that is in us, clear and candid at all events, if nothing else ; for
We love to pour out all ourselves as plain
As downright SHIPPEN or as old MONTAIGNE. There are other things in the world besides kings, or even sycophants. There is one thing in particular with which we must help to bring the polite world acquainted, which is NATURE. Life really does not consist, entirely, of clubs and ball-rooms, of a collar made by Wilkins, and of the west end of a town. We confess we have a regard for the Dandies, properly so called ; not the spurious race who take their title from their stays; we mean the pleasant and pithy personages who began the system, and who had ideas as well as bibs in their head. But it was on that account. We liked them, because they partook of the ETHERIDGES and SUCKLINGS of old: and why were the ETHERIDGES and SUCKLINGS better than their neighbours, but because they inherited from Old Mother Wit as well as Mother West-end, and partook of the prerogatives of Nature? We have a regard for certain modern Barons, as well as those who got the Great Charter for us; but is it for those who would keep or for those who would give up the Charter? Is it for those who identify themselves with every feeble King John, or for those who have some of “God Almighty's Nobility” in them as well as their own? Assuredly for the latter,-assuredly for those, who have something in them“ which surpasses show," and which the breath of a puffing and blowing legitimate cannot unmake.
Be present then, and put life into our work, ye Spirits, not of the GAVEstones and the Despensers, but of the John O'GAUNTS, the Wicklifres, and the CHAUCERS ;-be present, not the slaves and sycophants of King Henry the Eighth (whose names we have forgotten) but the Henry HoWARDS, the SURREYS, and the Wyatts;—be present, not ye other rapscallions and“ booing” slaves of the court of King JAMIE, but ye Buchanans and ye WALTER RALEIGHS;-be present, not ye bed-chamber lords, flogging-boys, and mere soldiers, whosoever ye are, from my Lord Thingumee in King Charles's time, down to the immortal Duke of What's-HIS-NAME now flourishing; but the HERBERTS, the HUTCHINSONs, the Lockes, the Popes, and the PeterBOROUGHS ;—be present, not ye miserable tyrants, slaves, bigots, or turncoats of any party, not ye Lauds or ye LAUDERDALES, ye Legitimate Pretenders (for so ye must now be called) ye Titus Oateses, BEDLOWS, GARDINERS, SACHEVERELLs, and SOUTHEYS; but ye Miltons and ye Marvells, ye HOADLEYS, ADDISONS, and Steeles, ye SOMERSES, Dorsets, and Priors, and all who have thrown light and life upon man, instead of darkness and death ; who have made him a thing of hope and freedom, instead of despair and slavery; a being progressive, instead of a creeping creature retrograde :-if we have no pretensions to your genius, we at least claim the merit of loving and admiring it, and of longing to further its example.
We wish the title of our work to be taken in its largest acceptation, old as well as new,—but always in the same spirit of