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"THERE is, perhaps, (says Dr. Johnson,) no nation in which it is so necessary as in our own to assemble from time to time the small tracts, and fugitive pieces, which are occasionally published ; for, besides the general subjects of inquiry which are cultivated by us in common with every learned nation, our constitution in Church and State naturally gives birth to a multitude of performances, which would either not have been written, or could not have been made public, in any other place." This remark of Dr. Johnson not only holds good when applied to pamphlets and other small tracts separately published, but may justly be extended to all works where the communication of opinions or statements is concisely given, or where it does not necessarily involve the publication of the author's name; where sentiments may be delivered, and questions argued, without any fear of reputation being hazarded, and where, perhaps, the first spark of truth may be elicited, the full importance of which cannot be accurately ascertained, nor the extent of the future development, perhaps, suspected. How many essays and controversies on subjects of Art and Literature have appeared for the first time in the pages of the Gentleman's Magazine, which, afterwards, having been digested into order, and expanded into a full exhibition of the argument, have formed volumes of standard reference necessary to the inquiries of the Scholar and Antiquary. Thus one advantage which a Magazine like ours possesses, is, in many cases, to exhibit the rise and progress of opinions, to be the means by which prejudice may be dissolved, error disentangled, and truth recovered.
For enabling us to gratify the curiosity of the public in that portion of our Magazine which is set apart for the reception of original communications, we have to thank many intelligent and friendly correspondents; while we, as Editors of the work, are answerable to the public for all diligence and inquiry, and carefulness of selection.
As concerns another branch of our work, some one has classed "the Reviewers of books among the disturbers of human quiet;"