THE PAST YEAR.
No year ever expired with a more honoured memory than the year 1830. In the secular calendar it must be always marked with a red letter. It has been great in deeds, and it is immeasurable in promise. We, who hifve noted the actions of its every day, and have not permitted the iriost trivial event to pass unnoticed, ought to know it well ; and we give it the praise of deserving the civic crown above all those we have been acquainted with, per- sonally at least.
It is difficult to be a SPECTATOR in these times. It is difficult to be a SPECTATOR in these times.
The SPECTATOR of the day should have the eyes of Argus, and
must envy the hands of the well-armed Briareus ; and were we to amuse our fancy with an auto-portrait of an accomplished SPEC- TATOR, duly prepared for the discharge of his duties for the com- mencing year, we would have him drawn a bundle of intelligence, germinating hands and eyes in all directions—the hands springing out like the sons of earth, each armed with a pen.
Revolution is a term which popularly implies violence : there are revolutions, however, and those often of the most effective kind, which are accompanied by all the emblems of peace. When the principle of ruling wholly and solely for the benefit of the nation becomes the guide and test of a government, a stage of improve- ment has been reached which opens the brightest possible pros- pect of public happiness. We have been for some time verging to this point in England. British Governments have of late each been more liberal than the other, but always grudgingly, and as if in spite of themselves ; but a change has come over their spirit.
They who are liberal or are nothing—they who have their life and being in the maintenance of certain wise and enlightened prin- ciples—have been called to the possession of power. Is not this a revolution ? It is our pride that, at least, it is a bloodless one.
It is the pride of the French people, and justly, that they, in this year, have not hesitated to purchase their revolution at the price of blood.
In Prance, the depositaries of power resisted the progress of opinion, and acted in defiance of its march: they braved the na- tional will, and had the temerity to appeal to the wager by battle. The challenge was accepted, and the victory nobly won. The history of 1830 is the history of the progress of national liberty and public opinion. In various parts of Europe, in the course of this eventful year, the people had been arriving at a just sense of their rights—a lively feeling of their wrongs : the signs of the times were threaten- ing, when the great "bad example" put the match to the train.
In England alone (and it is a grand distinction), public opinion had that great and overwhelming majority which forbade resist- ance; it had, moreover, those legitimate channels for the expres- sion of the national will which are the true political safety-valve. In France, the contest was short and sharp, but decisive. -In Bel- gium, protracted and painful, it has been, however, successful. Poland, shackled and mutilated by the crime of Europe, seems to have risen, and at one effort shaken off her yoke ; but the tyrant ie strong and active—warfare is his sport—and if Poland ultimately win her freedom, doubtless the blessing will have been dearly bought. The voice of the nation has, however, been heard: it is one of the last echoes that falls upon the dying ear of the glorious 1830, who, like a conoinerer falling on the field of battle, seems just to linger in life that he may hear the Shout of victory. In these times, such is the spirit of the age, even tyrants con- spire against each other : it is curious that the last event of the reign of CHARLES the Tenth should have been the destruction of Algiers, another of the great events of the year.
The year 18'30 will be noted as the year of the awakening of the people.
Looking at home—at the share of the British people in these honourable transactions, we may remark that our triumph has not been unmixed with evil, and its consequent suffering. A portion of the people, untaught and misled, have sullied our honours. - We are of the people, feel with them, and hope for them ; long and arduous efforts in the public cause entitle us to recom- mend to them to proceed by the means best calculated to insure their happiness ; let them not listen to the declamation of inflam- matory preachers, who mean nothing but their own ends ; the way of happiness is a quiet one : it lies by the great high-road of pub- lic instruction ; it is to be reached by patient thought, argument, and representation, and not by violence and treachery, the natu- ral fruits of which are public loss, and individual wrong and wretchedness. Unfortunately, the phrase of but a poor patriot has been somewhat applicable—a part of the population has manifested an " ignorant impatience ;" but the excuse of the impa- tience is in its ignorance, and the great blame of that ignorance should be visited upon the negligent instructors or the wilful mis- leaders of the many. For our parts (and it is with no idle vanity) we maintain that the duties of a public instructor, for such is a newspaper, are high, and that his responsibility is painfully great—his power at the present day is universally admitted to be immense.- It is with long labour, and at enormous expense, that the foundation of his influ- ence, when it is legitimately placed, is fitinded : varied talents, and the devotion of much skill, unassailable integrity, and high and generous views, are absolutely essential to the formation of a true public advocate and teacher in a journal. It is at least with such sentiments that we have undertaken our engagement ; they have been our support and guide under severe trials and excessive exertions ; and the splendid success which has attended us is more honourable to the public, who have re- jected meretricious temptation, than to us who have had chiefly the merit of perseverance in good intentions. This perseverance has, however, its merits : we do not hesitate to point out, that the SPECTATOR is no ordinary compilation, thrown together with- out taste, order, and almost without effort. We began with the conscientious determination of working up each department as it were even an affair of state, and as if we were already in receipt - of those high rewards with which zealous public service is always sooner or later endowed ; and we have continued to act up to the - resolve, till the world has recognized the value of our efforts, and treats us with the honourable distinction of old and favoured servants.
Faithfully and painfully have we waited upon events for now nearly three years : the last year was more especially a year of great exertion and agitating interest ; we discharged our duty to it, and are now girded to accompany the race of events which are impatiently -waiting at the goal to start with the year from which they are to take their name. If 1831 completes what 1830 began, it will not be the unworthy successor of the period which has just taken its silent 'departure. We are its attendants—its time-waiters ; and the public, whose organs we are elected, now al- most by universall suffrage, may rely upon our energetic efforts to keep pace with the spirit of the acre. In our capacity as SPEC,- ' TA.TOR, we see every thing ; in that of REPORTERS, we communi- cate all we can learn, in the way best fitted to the ears that hear; as CRITICS, we discern and decide in all cases where doubt may occur; as TEACHERS, we offer the tribute of our study, our edu- cation, and our knowledge ; and it would be difficult to find the question which, in the course of the year, we do not at least aim at throwing light upon.