Page images
PDF
EPUB

WILLIS'S

CURRENT NOTES:

A SERIES OF ARTICLES

ON

Antiquities, Biography, Keraldry, History, Language,

Literature, Topography, Curious Customs, Xr.

SELECTED FROM

ORIGINAL LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

ADDRESSED DURING THE YEAR

1852,

TO THE PUBLISHER,

G. WILLIS,

GREAT PIAZZA, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON.

MDCCCLIII.

WA 3 W73

6.2
1852-54

[blocks in formation]
[graphic]

NTERING as we now are upon the publication of

a third volume of the “Current Notes,” the Second Volume of which we have herewith the pleasure of presenting in a complete form to the Public, our first duty as it is our pleasure is to thank our Subscribers most cordially for the very liberal support we have received from them during its progress. It is so seldom

that the productions of the Customer and the Tradesman form part of the same Periodical, that it is no wonder if the Publisher of the “ Current Notes” feels a little elated by seeing his humble efforts for the entertainment of the Public in such good company. But this patronage, so far from dulling his exertions in his legitimate pursuit—that of promoting the diffusion of Books in their widest extent-will only stimulate him to fresh efforts, and while he continues to place before his Customers the best Books, he trusts that they will be as liberal as hitherto in their contributions of Current Notes.

The Price Current of Literature, indeed, now occupies a position distinct from that of any other Bookseller's Catalogue ever presented to the public, for it not only furnishes a monthly list of the principal New Publications, followed by a constant succession of Standard Works in every department of Ancient and Modern Literature, selected with care and judgment, but it likewise presents a medium for Literary Inquirers to prosecute their researches and interchange their opinions. Nor is this correspondence confined to nur own land. From the Colonies and America, over which it ranges in its wide circulation, we continue to receive gratifying testimonials to its usefulness, as well as accessions to its columns, and have reason to believe it is duly appreciated by those whose favour it is our study to deserve and interest to secure.

The aim of the publisher has been to establish a literary organ of communication amongst his numerous Subscribers and Friends, by inviting their correspondence, and throwing open his columns to their inquiries and suggestions, and thus by propounding queries, solving difficulties, and eliciting new facts, rendering some slight service to the cause of Historical and Literary Truth. So cordially have they responded to this invitation, that the task of selection has been sometimes a difficult, though always a pleasing one. If there have been any communications from Correspondents which have not met with due regard and consideration, it must be pleaded in apology that this miscellany of curious information necessarily embraces so wide a field, that in gathering in the harvest it is not surprising if a few ears of corn escape the gleaner's hand. If it be said that occasionally too much notice has been taken of “ unconsidered trifles," and that the objects regarded were too minute and insignificant to justify the patient attention bestowed upon them; the saying of Dr. Johnson may be adopted as a justification, that “the man who removes the smallest obstacle in the pathway of Literature becomes its benefactor." History is built up of fragments as the pyramid is formed of single stones; and if we have only laid bare oue doubtful point, or elucidated one novel fact,-if we have but stripped off the moss clinging to some ruined archway of the past, or decyphered one mouldering inscription,—then our work has been accomplished, and our toil repaid.

The publisher wishes it to be distinctly understood that he is not the author of any representations or opinions which may appear in the Current Notes. Every statement, therefore, is open to correction or discussion, and the writers of the several paragraphs must be considered alone responsible for their assertions. Holding himself aloof from the bias of all personal interest or party feeling, the publisher can make due allowance for difference of opinion, and like heralds in the tournament, after proclaiming the titles of the respective champions, quietly retires and awaits the issue of the fray. If in the heat of this literary joust of arms, the combatants have broken spears somewhat too hotly, let it be remembered that he is only a spectator of the chivalrous feud-which, after all, has for its sole object the rescue of Truth, in the words of the old knightly motto, " sans tache et sans reproche.”

It is a mournful task to record the death of the gifted—to follow Genius to its grave. Our Obituary of the past year chronicles the death of many who were giants in the realms of thought, and whom the world of science and learning could ill afford to lose. WELLINGTON, of whom (as was said of Cæsar) it is difficult to decide whether he fought or wrote with the greater spirit; Eliot Warburton, the Historian and Novelist ; MacGILLIVRAY, the Naturalist; SCROPE, the Deerstalker ; Johannot, the Artist ; the gay and accomplished CounT D'ORSAY; LANDSEER, the Engraver; MANTELL, the Geologist-are now numbered with the dead. Pugin, too, has passed away-he, whose whole life was but one continued aspiration after the Beautiful in Christian Art; the harp of MOORE is silent, and awakens no echoes in the tomb.

Upon one occurrence of the past year, however, the publisher has particularly to congratulate his Subscribers; namely the Free Trade movement which has broken up the monopoly of the Booksellers’ Association, increased the sale of books, and imparted new vigour and activity to the cause of literature. Cheapness in the price of books becomes an important auxiliary in the diffusion of knowledge. It is not merely a trade, but a social question, on account of the power it possesses of advancing intellectual improvement. The thirst for knowledge must be considerably influenced by the means we have at hand to supply and satisfy its craving. Long before Lord Campbell pronounced his judgment, the publisher was impressed with the truth of these views, and had steadily adhered to them as the basis of his business. The recent Postal Regulations have also tended to facilitate the purchase of books. By their means he has been enabled not only to forward the Price Current to his Subscribers at a trifling cost, but to execute and transmit orders from a thin pamphlet to a ponderous volume. Facilities of a like nature now exist for sending books to the Colonies; and instead of being obliged to forward as heretofore, even the smallest book as a package at a high charge for conveyance, any moderate-sized volume, if left open at the ends, will reach its destination in the letter-bags, at a very trifling cost.

« PreviousContinue »