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ADDRESS TO THE READER.
THIS is the last Number of the 'Penny Magazine,' and this is the last paper which its Editor shall compose for a work which he has conducted for more than fourteen years. Gibbon has recorded his feelings on writing "the last lines of the last page" of his immortal Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire :-"A sober melancholy was spread over my mind by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion." It is so, perhaps, with every man who does for the last time what he has been long accustomed to do.
The present Series of the 'Penny Magazine' is closed after an experiment of only six months. The Editor has no reason to complain of the want of public encouragement, for the sale of this Series has exceeded that of its predecessor in 1845. But the sale, such as it is, is scarcely remunerating; and there are indications that it may decline rather than increase. This is a hint which cannot be mistaken. It shall not be said of his humble efforts to continue, upon an equality with the best of his contemporaries, a publication which once had a decided pre-eminence, that
He leaves this portion of the field of popular literature to be cultivated by those whose new energy may be worth more than his old experience. The 'Penny Magazine' shall begin and end with him. It shall not pass into other hands.
There are revolutions in popular literature, as in everything else, The 'Penny Magazine' and 'Chambers's Journal' entered the field together. It is our privilege to quit the field first, and to quit it voluntarily. We have come to the conviction that the weekly demand for such miscellanies is in a great measure passing away. The monthly sale may be a more permanent matter. But the Penny Magazine' having for the most part ceased to sell as a weekly sheet, we find that the peculiar usefulness of such a publication has come to an end. In the first number of the 'Penny Magazine,' dated
March 31, 1832, it was said "There are a very great number of persons who can spare half an hour for the reading of a newspaper, who are sometimes disinclined to open a book. For these we shall endeavour to prepare a useful and entertaining Weekly Magazine, that may be taken up and laid down without requiring any considerable effort; and that may tend to fix the mind upon calmer, and, it may be, purer subjects of thought than the violence of party discussion, or the stimulating details of crime and suffering. We have, however, no expectation of superseding the newspaper, and no desire to supersede it." The success of this attempt was one of the most remarkable characteristics of the time. The Penny Magazine' very soon reached a sale of two hundred thousand, in numbers and parts. The penny sheets of ribaldry and impiety were driven from the field. Gradually, however, has the newspaper, with its greater passing attractions, assumed a far higher character than in the days when a Weekly Magazine was thought necessary for the diffusion of sound knowledge. The reduction of the Stamp duty, the rapid distribution through the agency of railroads, has sent the newspaper into every corner of the kingdom; and the conductors of the London and Provincial Press have, with very few exceptions, applied themselves to their duties with the conviction that they are now addressing a people who deserve the praise which Milton bestowed upon their forefathers "a nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, inquiring, and piercing spirit,-acute to invent, subtile and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human capacity can soar to." The British Newspaper Press has of late years done a great deal, a very great deal, to vindicate its claim to the praise of "the best public instructor." That the 'Penny Magazine,' and other publications conducted in a like spirit, have done something to elevate the popular mind, and to make it appreciate a rational, honest, and temperate newspaper, in preference to a declamatory, insidious, and violent newspaper, will, we believe, be conceded by most persons.
Two years ago the Editor wrote thus in the first Weekly Volume :-"The number of weekly periodical works (not newspapers) issued in London on Saturday, May 4, 1844, was about sixty. Of these the weekly sale of 'Chambers's Journal,' the Penny Magazine,' the Saturday Magazine,' the Mirror,' the Mechanics' Magazine,' the Athenæum,' the Literary Gazette,' the 'Lancet,' the Church of England Magazine,' 'Punch,' and of several others of the more important, amounts to little less than 300,000 copies, or about fifteen millions annually. The greater number of these are devoted to the supply of persons who have only a very small sum to expend weekly upon their home reading. They are not adapted to the principle of asso
ciation in book-clubs.
They are taken home, read, laid aside, perhaps destroyed, and sometimes, we trust, preserved and bound. With few exceptions, they are innocuous. The love of excitement is, perhaps, too much cultivated; but, on the whole, we have no hesitation in affirming that they have superseded much that was injurious in the cheaper literature.” We have again collected all the weekly periodical sheets issued in London on a given Saturday in the present month. They may be classed thus:
It is from this competition that the 'Penny Magazine' now withdraws itself. Its Editor most earnestly wishes success to those who are keeping on their course with honesty and ability-to those who do not administer to a fraudulent cheapness, by pilfering from every copyright work that comes in their way to those who have regard to the heavy responsibility which every writer ought to feel who addresses large bodies of his fellow-men-to those who do not hold out false hopes and extravagant expectations to the great mass of the working classes, or seek to array the rich against the poor and the poor against the rich-to those who advocate every real and practical improvement of our social condition, and sneer not at ameliorations of indigence and discomfort that may be effected without political convulsionto those, in short, who are honest teachers of the people. He rejoices that there are many in the field, and some who have come at the eleventh hour, who deserve the wages of zealous and faithful labourers. But there are others who are carrying out the principle of cheap weekly sheets to the disgrace of the system, and who appear to have got some considerable hold upon the less informed of the working people, and especially upon the young. There are manufactories in London whence hundreds of reams of vile paper and printing issue weekly; where large bodies of children are employed to arrange types, at the wages of shirt-makers, from copy furnished by the most ignorant, at the wages of scavengers. In truth, such writers, if they deserve the name of writers, are scavengers. All the garbage that belongs to the history of crime and misery is raked together, to diffuse a moral' miasma through the land, in the shape of the most vulgar and brutal fiction. Penny Magazines,' and 'Edinburgh Journals,' and 'Weekly Instructors,' and
'People's Journals,' have little chance of circulation amongst the least informed class, who most require sound knowledge, while the cheap booksellers' shops are filled with such things as 'Newgate, a Romance,' 'The Black Mantle, or the Murder at the Old Jewry,' The Spectre of the Hall,' "The Love-Child,' The Feast of Blood,' The Convict,' and twenty others, all of the same exciting character to the young and ignorant. But the detrimental exercise of the printing-press is only to be met by its wholesome employment. We have no fear for the righteous cause of cheap
The publication of the WEEKLY VOLUME was commenced in 1844, in the belief that "there is a demand for Books of standard value and universal interest, cheap enough to find their way into every cottage, so trustworthy in their facts, sound in their principles, and attractive in their subjects and their treatment, as to be welcome to the most instructed readers." In this belief the Editor of the Penny Magazine' has been able to produce ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE WEEKLY VOLUMES. He is now about to continue the SAME CLASS OF BOOK MONTHLY. To those who have so long sup ported the 'Penny Magazine,' he ventures to recommend the purchase of 'KNIGHT'S MONTHLY VOLUME,' as carrying onward the principle of a cheap diffusion of wholesome literature, in accordance with what he believes to be a symptom of the spread of knowledge-a desire to form permanent libraries of information and entertainment, in preference to the purchase of Miscellanies, that, whatever be their merit, must to some extent be of ephemeral value.
June 19, 1846.
INDEX TO SECOND VOLUME.
Address to the Reader, 231.
Agricultural College in Germany, Account
Army. Education for the, I. 45, II. 86.
and Factory Legislation, 163.
Bacon-his Writings and his Philosophy,
Battle of Naseby, The-a Song, 223,
'Bor,' a provincial word, meaning of, 103.
Burke, Edmund, Caricature of, by Gillray,
Cairo, a great wedding in, 145.
Caricaturist's Portrait Gallery, IV. Edmund
Cavaliers' March to London-Song, 221.
Civil War, the Great, Conversation between
Constantinople, conquest of, by the Cru-
Earthquakes, the Terror of, 126.
Edward IV. and Louis XI. on the Bridge
in Cairo, 145.
Enigma VII., 32.
a great wedding
Labour, Demand for, in the British Colo-
League, the, its progress and its leaders, 25.
Library Talk: Bacon, his writings and
Louis XI., interview of, with Edward IV. on
Marshall, Mr. Henry, and his efforts to ame-
Marvell, Andrew, and John Milton, 205.
Mice, depredations of, in the Rhine districts,
Milton and Cowley, conversation between,
Muslim intolerance, 199.
Oregon Question, the, 139.