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BY TIMOTHY FLINT,
of the Western States,' &c.
FROM MAY 1827, TO APRIL 1828, INCLUSIVE.
PUBLISHED BY E, H. FLINT, NO. 160, MAIN STREET,
W. M. AND O. FARNSWORTH, JUN. PRINTERS,
TO THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE
WESTERN MONTHLY REVIEW.
in making the collections of matter in these numbers, we find them insensiblý to have swollen under our bands, to the size of a large volume. They are too painfully identified with our own wear and tear of brain, not to inspire the belier, that they will be bound and preserved. We can easily enjoy in anticipation, the eagerness, with which the future historian will repair to them, as a synopsis, of most of what bas been said, and written, in the Western Country, touching its own natural, moral, and civil history. It would be useless for any one, to imagine the difficulties we have bad to encounter, unless be were placed precisely in our sitpation. It seems to be a common opinion, that it is the easiest of all things to edit a Public Journal, and that a Hercules of this sort, may be made out of any kind of timber. Let those who so deem, make the experiment. You wish the reputation of being learned and grave. Some twenty of your readers award you that honor; and the rest fall asleep over your writings. On the other hand, you wish to be facetious and free and familiar, and you insensibly slide into coarseness and vulgarity. On the one side, you wish to preserve the dignity of literary and philosophic discussion inviolate; and the million, who are used only to the foul feeding of politics, as soon as they come to a fair estimate of your writing, dever cut your pages, nor subscribe for you, but onde. To steer between Scylla and Charybdis, to clear the due medium between these extremes, is an enterprise, that has more perils, . than war or women have,' and requires a tact and delicacy of judginent, and a calmness of temper, and a steadiness of self-possession, which fall to the lot of but a very few.
Every one knows the utter impossibility of pleasing an. Some pronounce your serious articles Jeremiads, and your gay ones buffoonry. The very subject, which moved the deepest fountains of feeling within yourself, perhaps, discoarses grating jargon in the minds of a majority of your readers. Each one bas his notions, and most frequently immoveable ones, touching education, politics, philosophy and religion, and all points of opinion and taste. Proteus himself could not have assumed shapes enough to satisfy all.
When this Journal was commenced, our course was mentally marked out, as well as our resolution, that nothing should swerve us from it, but the demonstration of experience, that it would not be well received by the discriminating and intelligent among the public. Self-respect has withheld us from blazoning botices and testimonials, as flattering, as we could desire, from people, in whose taste and judgment we had confidence, before they praised us; and whose discriminating praise was unbought, unsolicited ; and bestowed, when it was known, that our views of propriety would prevent us from availing ourselves of the common editorial balance of paying back in praise again. We hare, more than once, felt a disposition to use our privilege of enlogy, and have been withheld by having received such a notice, as would cause, what we intended to have said, to have the aspect of unworthy attempts to repay in kind. In the same spirit, we have, except in a single instance, forborne to notice strictures. Kind' and well intentioned criticism, every man, who possesses a particle of the real spirit of a scholar and a gentlemen, will always receive with courtesy and an answering spirit. Our critics, for the most part, have no higher object in view in their microscopic efforts at fault finding, than to create a reverend and proper estimate of their own learning, taste and acute
Whenever we notice strictures upon us, we intend it as clear évidenco of our respect for those, who have passed them. We leave others to the course of their own judgment. For us, we have secn nothing to incline us to swerve from a measured silence.
The public has judged, and correctly, that most of the articles in this work, have been from one hand. A few contributors are now pledged for the coming year, who would do no discredit to the first journals in this, or in any country. We feel sure of our mark, so far as our judgment can reach, that mere ordinary and common place writmg, shall find no admittance into our pages. To exclude whole masses of such writing has been one of our most painful duties, during the past year. Those, who have taken the trouble to read our pages, will discover, that our plan has been original. We have seen no model for such an arrangement and distribution, as we have made of our matter, Some have found fault with us for pot naming the Journal, · Miscellany,' and others, · Magazine.' What a trifling ground of objection is a mere name! Our plan was obvious, and would be the same, call the work by what name we might.
The poetry, except two articles, has been altogether original, and of domestic fabric. That the public begins rightly to estimate the powers of the chief contributor in this department, we have the niost grateful and consoling testimonials. Every one remarks, and most truly, that editors ought to have good, steel wire, instead of nerves. But we do not see the cruel necessity, that an editor should not have a heart. The Camp Meeting,' we are told, bas found its way into the most extensively circulated journal in the United States, a religious paper, edited with a great deal of talent, which we used formerly to read, and with which we should be pleased to exchange. We allude to the · Methodist Magazine of New York. Whatever be the general dearth of poetical feeling, and however capricious the standard of poetical excellence, it can not but be, that some kindred eye will rest upon the poetry in this volume, and that a congenial string will be harped in some beart. In the structure of poetry, the public seems to demand nothing more than pretty words, put into ingenious rhythm, with a due regard to euphony. In conformity to that taste, we have inserted some poetry, which we considered made up rather with reference to words, than pictures and thoughts. But we have fattered ourselves, that the greater amount has had something of the ancient simplicity and force, to recommend it to those, who had a taste for that, and has had an aim, to call the mind • from sound to things, from fancy to the heart. We have an humble hope, that, if the author of these verses survives the chances of the distant and deadly climate, in which his lot is cast, and is not, in the hackneying cares of life, deprived of the visitings of the muse, the time will come, when no man, that has any living and permanent name, as a writer and a poet, will be forward to proclaim, that he did not discover the powers of the writer; or after investigation, viewed them with disapprobation.
Most of the tales, moral essays, and articles of natural history, bave been copied into the papers; and in many instances have been seen wandering over the country, without a local liabitation and a name.' As regards the Reviews, our narrow limits restricted us to brief notices and abstracts. We have considered the latter the most useful, as it is certainly the most difficult and laborious part of our function. Let those, who doubt us, put themselves into the editorial chair, and abstract the contents of five hundred pages, and condense them into ten. We have in this way gone over forty volumes, most of which were to all, but some twenty readers, as completely sealed books, as though they had never been. Yet they are books that every western man, who lays any reasonable claims to be estimated a reading man, ought to consider it a Jiscredit not to know. Our readers have been brought acquainted with the names and general scope of these works, and know where to repair, if they wish for further information. These books could not have been purchased, exccnt at the expense of an hundred dollars. The reader can not but see, that in condensing the contents of these volumes, we have encountered not only wearing labor, but a very considerable degree of expense.
We hope, we shall be sustained, in supposing, that our researches, touching the natural, moral, civil and geographical history of the Mississippi valley, have been of public utility. If any person should dispute this point, the worst
infiction, which we wish him, for his heterodoxy and hard judgment of us, is, that he may be qualified the better to try us in the case, by being obliged to read the twentieth part of what has passed under our eye upon the subject. We could not wish our worst enemy, to purchase our personal observation, at the expense of time, money, and disease, which it has cost us. We console ourselves with the confident persuasion, that it will one day be allowed us, that we bave done something towards illustrating the country, over which we have so estensively travelled. The time is at band, when the political and moral claims of this great region, will be as well understood, and as promptly admitted, as its physical extent and resources are at present.
The religious views, that we have incidentally taken, we are perfectly aware, will be too stern for some, and too liberal for others. This is a point upon which we felt, there was no ground for compromise, seeing that we had a tribunal of conscience, to which to be responsible, as well as our readers. We exult in the best of all liberty, which our country possesses, Religious Liberty. We deprecate, above and beyond all other tyranny, that wbich attempts to establish its despotism over conscience. We have our own views of religion. They can never be changed, except upon conviction. But we have selt no call to commit them before the public. Temperate and well written discussions of this object have been acceptable to us from the most opposite quarters of opinion. Upon no sentiment of religion bave we expressed an opinion of praise, as coincident with our own, except that, which inculcated peace on earth and good will to men; and urged the strain with moderation, dignity, and in a tone of christian feeling. We are prepared to allow the reader to put his own construction opon this course. We have chosen it deliberately, and we mean to pursue at independently. We are not apprehensive of the charge of arrogance, when we say, that the Western public needs a Journal of this kind that the one portion of the citizens of this great-valley, may not be ignorant what is written of its natural and civil and literary history in another. Our task is to buy, condense, and serve up this i formation, in a manner the most brief, unexpensive and attractive, that may be to our readers. From the past they must argue to the future; ex: cept, that, as we shall be more disengaged, we hope to produce another volume, more worthy of their patronage. We are sufficiently instructed, that many, wbo expected to find in this work the character only of a newspaper, will be disappointed; and that to many others, the kind of writing in this Journal has been, of all others, the most uninteresting. Those, who now continue their patronage, will act understandingly, and will know, what kind of fare they may expect.
In regard to the administration of praise and blame in this volume, we can only say, that there is a difference in books, which exists independent of us, and which we can not help. Every respectable man knows, that he has a bigber purpose in life, than to administer to the vanity of another, or espect another to devote his powers to soothing bis. Since we can not endow minds with the same powers, it is folly to speak of all mental efforts in the same terms of maudlin praise, as disgraceful to the receiver, as the giver. Let us learn not to distribute, nor expect flattering words; but to be just and fear not.