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LONDON:

J. B. NICHOLS AND SONS, PRINTERS,

25, PARLIAMENT STREET.

151874

PREFACE.

It would seem as if great political events and unpleasant visitations occurred like the weather, in regular cycles, and came upon us at stated periods. Here we find ourselves at the close of 1853 taking grateful leave of our readers amid events and circumstances that remind us of the early days of our perennial youth. We have had a severe frost before Christmas, food at war-prices, labourers wrestling with their employers, pestilence hovering over us, and all the world indignant at the aggressions and mendacity of Russia. In by-gone years people used to dread Muscovite ambition and the small-pox. We now speak of, if we do not dread, the designs of the Emperor and the spread of cholera.

Of all the literary annalists who began early in the last century to make record of passing events, we alone are left to continue the history whose pages are oftener grave than gay. It must, we think, , be conceded to us that we have accomplished our task with an alacrity that was indefatigable, and a sincerity (we say it with all modesty) that could not be excelled. Amid all the fluctuations and changes of the century, amid its fears greater than its hopes, and amid its hopes presaging disappointment as they rose, we have maintained our position as dignifiedly, we trust, at all events as philosophically, as Archimedes who went on calculating problems while a rude soldiery were sacking the town.

On these grounds, not as an Emeritus, but as a soldier whose thews and sinews are vigorous enough to bear him through the heat of the day and the struggles of many a battle to come, we ask not alone for a continuation of old support but for its extension. We shall ourselves grow much more perfect as patronage descends upon us. Hortensius irrigated his plane trees with wine, and they flourished so that the Roman public not only admired their beauty but greedily purchased leaves, which were no sooner plucked than others burst forth in their place. Our Magazine is irrigated like

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