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LETTERS AND ESSAYS,
On various Subjects.
BY THOMAS PAINE.
PRINTED BY W. T. SHERWIN, 183, FLEET STREET.
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST NUMBER OF
THE PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE,
TO THE PUBLIC.
The design of this work has been so fully expressed in the printed proposals, that it is unnecessary to trouble the reader now with a formal preface; and instead of that vain parade with which publications of this kind are introduced to the public, we shall content ourselves with soliciting their candour, till our more qualified labours shall entitle us to their praise.
The generous and considerate will recollect, that imperfection is natural to infancy; and that nothing claims their patronage with a better grace than those undertakings which, beside their infant state, have many formidable disadvantages to oppress them.
presume it is unnecessary to inform our friends that We encounter all the inconveniencies which a magazine can possibly start with. Unassisted by imported materials, we are destined to create, what our predecessors, in this walk, had only to compile. And the present perplexities of affairs have rendered it somewhat difficult for us to procure the necessary aids.
Thus encompassed with difficulties, this first number of THE PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE entreats a favourable reception; of which we shall only say, like the snow-drop, it comes forth in a barren season, and contents itself with foretelling, that CHOICER FLOWERs are preparing to appear.
Philadelphia, January 24, 1775.
TO THE PUBLISHER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA
In a country whose reigning character is the love of science, it is somewhat strange that the channels of communication should be so narrow and limited. The weekly papers are at present the only vehicle of public information. Convenience and necessity prove that the opportunities of acquiring and communicating knowledge, ought always to enlarge with the circle of population. America has now outgrown the state of infancy: her strength and commerce make large advances to manhood; and science, in all its branches, has not only blossomed, but even ripened on the soil. The cottages as it were, of yesterday, have grown to villages, and the villages to cities; and while proud antiquity, like a skeleton in rags, parades the streets of other vations, their genius, as if sickened and disgusted with the phantom, comes bither for recovery
The present enlarged and improved state of things gives every encouragement which the editor of a new magazine can reasonably hope for. The failure of former ones cannot be drawn as a parallel now. Change of times adds propriety to new measures. In the early days of colonization, when a whisper was almost sufficient to have negociated all our internal concerns, the publishing even of a newspaper would have been premature. Those times are past, and population has established both their use and their credit. But their plan being almost wholly devoted to news and commerce, affords but a scanty residence to the muses. Their path lies wide of the field of science, and has left a rich and unexplored region for new adventures.
It has always been the opinion of the learned and the curious, that a magazine, when properly conducted, is a nursery of genius; and by constantly accumulating new matter, becomes a kind of market for wit and utility. The, opportunity which it affords to men of abilities to communicate their studies, kindles up a spirit of invention and emulation. An unexercised genius soon contracts a kind of mossiness, which not only checks its growth, but abates its natural vigour. Like an unteganted house, it falls into decay, and frequently ruins the possessor.
The British Magazines, at the commencement, were the repositories of ingenuity; they are now the retailers of tale