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BJS TON LIRARY
MONTHLY JOURNAL OF LITERATURE,
SCIENCE, AND THE FINE ARTS.
MAY TO AUGUST.
JAMES COCHRANE AND CO.
11, WATERLOO PLACE, PALL MALL;
J. ANDREWS, 167, NEW BOND STREET;
BELL AND BRADFUTE, EDINBURGH; SMITH AND SON, GLASGOW; AND
W. F. WAKEMAN, DUBLIN.
TO THE READER.
We have now closed a volume of the METROPOLITAN, and trust that our efforts have not been thought of unworthily. When we began our labours, the necessity for our appearance on the day announced, without time to make those preparations which are almost indispensable on the commencement of such an undertaking, gave us great anxiety. We need not say how much that anxiety has been repaid by the generous reception we have met with from the public.
We began on the basis of independence. We neither sought to cozen a circulation by resorting to the base art of private caricature, nor to a disreputable alliance with gross and ungentlemanly abuse. We have not attempted to curry an unworthy favour among the vulgar by coarse familiarity of language, or to catch the ear with empty boastings-resources of which some do not hesitate to avail themselves, in the hope of attaining that success which, had they common sagacity, they would see must ultimately fail them at the bar of public opinion. We shall go steadily forwards, in the confidence that our reward will be commensurate to our merit, and that our efforts to please will be properly appreciated.
We have endeavoured to unite in our pages the labours of many distinguished individuals well-known in the world of letters; their contributions will speak for themselves. This object we shall keep steadily in view, as one mean of guaranteeing to our readers that they will find much in our pages emanating from sources which they have already stamped with their approbation. We hope to extend our list of contributors of this class still further.
Our notices of new works have been free from all influence, and will remain so. We trust, in this respect, we have satisfied our readers. A change is operating in the system which has too long been pursued in this country, of making interested persons the covert critics of their own publications, and injuring literature by false and deceptive criticisms, by which particular classes of books have been forced into circulation, always pernicious to good taste and often to sound morals. This evil, which had grown to a great height, is remedying itself; we only hope to aid in accelerating the progress of the cure.
Our politics are before our readers. We are the unflinching advocates of a Reform in State and Church; not on a wild, theoretical, abstract plan, but a rational reform which shall give back to the people of England those rights, furtively abstracted from them and grossly abused. Furthermore, we live in times when it is no crime to wish the cause of freedom success in other countries-when we may, without any charge against our patriotism, desire that the great family of nations may be free. We confess we hold not with the hollow, short-sighted politician, that we must have no sympathy but with the physically strong; forgetting how, ere a moment elapses, the strong in right may become strong in power, and the mighty in oppression be humbled. We therefore hail the cause of liberty everywhere-in the lofty and noble-minded Poland-in France -in the boastful and noisy Belgium-among the remotest nations of the earth. We shall not suffer the idle apprehension of political consequences to influence, for a moment, the sincerity of our greeting. We shall make it a matter of importance to gather intelligence from all points where the glorious flame breaks forth, and to communicate, from resources of no ordinary kind which we possess, the progress of the great spirit of the age. We know the coldness with which the spread of freedom abroad is met by many narrow-minded men, who think it is quite enough to secure it in their own country. They forget that the example of other countries acts as a stimulant to their own, and that we profit in successful resistance to the progress of arbitrary powers by the influence thus acquired. We are, therefore, interested in the freedom of every nation, and in the downfal of every despotism.
We have been asked, why we do not give portraits. We reply that bad engravings and worse likenesses, with memoirs of living characters penned by themselves or their friends, are of no value. We know that the good sense of the public eschews clap-traps of all kinds. If we are worthy of their support, they will give it to us without such adventitious aid.
It only remains that we return thanks for the approbation with which this volume has been received. Far exceeding our most sanguine expectations has been our success. We had no right to promise ourselves, for our young undertaking, a patronage so extended; and we can only hope to repay our obligation by increased solicitude to deserve it, and by redoubled zeal in completing those arrangements which are in progressin the result of which, we trust, neither our readers nor ourselves will encounter disappointment.
REMARKS ON THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE ANCIENTS. Read at the LITERARY UNION, Wednesday, April 27th, 1831.
BY THOMAS CAMPBELL.
HISTORY, Poetry, and Oratory, had reached their highest excellence, and almost every pursuit of the human mind had received successful cultivation, before Geography became a regular science. The knowledge required for its cultivation accounts for the lateness of its growth. Without the aid of Mathematics and Astronomy, without acquaintance with the real shape of the earth, and without veracious information from voyagers and travellers, the geographer could neither graduate his map, nor fix the boundaries of nations, nor delineate the features of the world. Precious as the science is, it could not ripen like the diamond in darkness, but may be said, more than metaphorically, to have grown up by light from above; for it was by studying the heavens that men first learned the figure and measurement of the earth. Geography had to struggle too, not only with the "negative ignorance of mankind," but with their "positive love of falsehood." Bigotry warred on astronomers from Anaxagoras down to Galileo. Even in civilised Greece, all Athens was thrown into pious horror when a philosopher surmised that Apollo did not ride in the sun driving a chariot four-in-hand; and this philosopher had very nearly been treated to a cup of hemlock for his discovery. Moreover, wars and national hatred divided the ancient world, even more than the modern, and kept its nations still more ignorant about each other than they are at present. No doubt there was commerce, which ought to have created mutual knowledge in very early agesan extensive commerce both by land and sea. The cloth of Babylon was sold in Canaan in the days of Joshua; and that it was highly prized, and not to be stolen with impunity, the poor Israelite Achan found to his cost, when he was put to death for purloining the goodly "Babylonish garment." Phoenicia also traded far and near; and if we could only bring back to life one of her old ship-masters who sailed to Britain, and drank metheglin with the druids, he could tell us more about the state of our island 3000 years ago than all the antiquaries that ever wrote.
But though commerce and navigation were very ancient, they were not at first productive of much international knowledge. Navigators had a habit of stealing away people for slaves: and that was a bad way of promoting the study of Geography. So unwilling was one seafaring people to acquaint another with the countries which
May, 1831.-VOL. I. NO. I.