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the critick by the author himself. tian benevolence, I am not casuist Every man who publishes, virtual- enough to determine. I will give ly offers a challenge to the pub- you the opinion of the greatest lick, or at least courts their decis- master of moral science, as well of ion. By claiming praise, he runs literary discussion, which the last the hazard of censure ; and they, age produced. “ As it very selin whose power it is to confer the dom happens, that the rage of exe. one, have undoubtedly a right to temporary criticism inflicts fatal or administer the other. «S'ils lasting wounds, I know not that the veulent avoir en nous des admira- laws of benevolence entitle this disteurs, il faut qu'ils nous permettent tress to much sympathy, The d'oser etre leurs juges,' says the diversion of baiting an author has. charming La Harpe, in the intro- the sanction of all ages and naduction to his Lycæum. But if tions, and is more lawful than the we have a right to judge, we must sport of teizing other animals, behave also a right to laugh ; for cause, for the most part, he comes nothing can compel us to read with voluntarily to the stake, furnished, gravity in print, what would have as he imagines, by the patron pow, convulsed us with merriment, if we ers of literature, with resistless had heard it in conversation. If weapons and impenetrable armour, indeed we laugh at what is not with the mail of the boar of Erylaughable, or applaud what is not manth, and the paws of the lion of commendable, or hiss at what is Nemea.” [Johnson's Rambler, not absurd, we run the common

No. 176.] hazard of a critick in the pit, when Authors boldly encounter the he has clapped in the wrong place, silent neglect of the publick, and and is sufficiently disgraced by at the same ume complain of the finding himself alone.

opinion of an individual, and imIt is plainly no violation of the agine themselves outraged by the laws of literary courtesy to hold censure of a reviewer. While they up dulness and absurdity to the de- see with much composure their rision of the publick ; for it has favourite productions quietly delong since been tacitly agreed, that voured by the moths, those mere if an author has a right to be dull, ciless reviewers, who have no more the critick has a right to be severe. respect for a polished than for a Common equity declares, that one clumsy period, and make as hearty side ought not to claim a monop- a meal upon a genius as upon a oly of privileges. Nothing but the dunce ; they will take instant of, immunity of satirical criticism can fence at a critick, who presumes impose the slightest restraint on to separate in their works the dry the vanity of authorship. By rid. from the nutritious, who accidenicule too, the taste of the publick tally makes a wry face at what is is insensibly corrected and refined ; nauseous, or involuntarily rejects for many, who have no time to lis what is insipid. It is a common ten to a reason, are always ready trick of incensed authors to rail to join in a laugh ; and thousands, against reviewers, as men who who understand nothing of the have inipudently set themselves principles of taste, can see an ah. up as guardians of publick taste, surdity when exposed by another. or rather as a band of literary exHow far it is lawful to distress an ecutioners. Indeed there is some author by ridicule or censure, with. show of reason in the complaint, out transgressing the laws of chris- that anonymous reviews are an un

just assumption of authority, be- If then the correlative rights of cause they in some measure in- publishing and of censuring nonclude the power of punishing, as sense remain alike unimpaired by well as of judging ; which powers, the conventions, and established by in every free state, should be kept the immemorial customs of soci. perfectly distinct. To explain this ety, it follows, that, if every writer anomaly I will attempt to give you of a book may publish anonymous some hints, which I have gathered ly, the writer of a review cannot from Bayle, who was long a dicta- be compelled to declare himself; tor in the republick of letters. and, as the object of criticism is

The commonwealth of learning not persons, but works, there is no is the only permanent example of cowardice in this concealment. pure and original democracy. In There is nothing dishonourable in this state, under the protection of firing at a senseless mark out of truth and reason, whose authority an ambush, or from behind a tree. alone is acknowledged, wars may It will perhaps be esteemed a be carried on with the utmost in- more difficult task to maintain the nocence, though not always with expediency, than to establish the impunity ; for here every man is right of critical severity, in the sovereign, and every man also un present state of American literader the jurisdiction of every other. ture. It will be said, that our The laws of civil society have in country is young, and therefore no degree abridged the indepen- her infantile productions in the dence of the state of nature, as to field of letters deserve rather to be errour and ignorance. No man cherished by the gentle and percan be excluded by the social com- fumed gales of flattery, than to be pact from his unalienable right to checked by the chills of neglect, or be a fool ; and, on the other side, beaten down by the blasts of angry every man retains the right of the criticism. It will be said, that our sword, and may exercise it without most able minds will continue to a commission. If it is asked," shun the dangers of authorship, if says Bayle, “ why the civil author- every thing, which issues from the ity should leave every one at lib. press, must be subjected to the erty to expose the mistakes and unrelenting severity of anonymous follies of authors, it may be an- remark. But is he a friend to the swered, that to criticise a book literature of his country, who tends only to show, that the au- wishes to excuse it from examinathor does not possess a certain de- tion? Does he think, that the easy gree of knowledge or of talent.- multiplication of feeble works will Now, as an author may enjoy all eventually establish a solid basis the rights and privileges of the for our future fame? No: the evercommunity, in which he lives, not. lasting oaks of our forests were not withstanding this defect of knowl, raised in a hot-house. The indul. edge and of talent; and as his rey gent remarks of candid friends, putation, as an honest man and a the simpering smiles of kitchengood subject of the commonwealth, criticks, the puffing advertisements does not receive by it the least of newspapers, and the lullaby blemish, it is evident, no usurpation strains of poetasters, will never is made on the majesty of the patronize the growth of solid learnstate, by showing to the publick ing, nor confer immortality on the the faults of a book.” [Bayle's authors of our country. We have Dict, art. Catius, Note D.] yet to learn, that to write corrects


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ly and to think sensibly ought to legends of popish superstition. be made inseparable habits; if then, The liberty to think, and the diso when a poet is a dunce, we say position to write, demanded every that he is a genius ; when an ora- stimulus and every encourager tor talks fustian, we say that he is ment. Now the licentiousness of eloquent ; when a writer is sole- the press has become a greater cistical, we say that he is a little evil, than its inactivity, and instaninaccurate ; or when a book is ces of superfetation are more free composed in a Babylonish dialect, quent than of sterility. Then the

. we excuse it because it is Amer- laws of fine writing were imperican, we are only feeding children fectly established, and rarely unwith sweetmeats, or wrapping them derstood ; now they are or ought up warm against the cold, and thus to be familiar to school boys and laying the foundation of perpetual abecedarians. Then the method vanity, imbecility, and idiotism. of conducting literary journals was

The earliest reviews, which ap- to be ascertained by experiment, peared in Europe, were undoubt and an author was to be flattered edly the most gentle in their ani- into a quiet acknowledgment of madversions. It is true also, that their privileges ; now every canthey were recommended by some didate for fame has it in his power of the most celebrated names, to consult innumerable precedwhich the annals of literature can ents, statutes, and declarations of furnish. Bayle, Le Clerc, Basnage, criticism, by which the verdict of and S'Gravesande* did not disdain the publick and the sentence of to be editors of literary journals. the reviewer may be previously But the first has always been cer- and probably conjectured. Then sured for the encomiastick strain authorship had not become a of his remarks, and the others trade ; plagiarism was not practis, commonly restricted themselves, ed with unblushing effrontery ; except where their peculiar preju. nor were the scraps of every au. dices were concerned, to bare thor's scrutoire swept out upon analyses of the works, which they the publick; now every starvling announced. Since that time the pedant writes for bread, and all state of the republick of letters that is necessary to constitute an has essentially altered. Then the author is, the industry to borrow literature of Europe was just de or to steal materials, till he is able waking from its long repose in to swell out a volume. In such a the cloisters of monks, and the state of things, it is not enough

that a review contains an analysis Bayle began the Norgciles de la Re- of a work, for some works defy publique de lettres, in 1684, but it was dis- analysis ; neither is it enough core

; 'continued in 1687, on account of his ill rectly to state the subjects of a health. Basnage de Beauval wrote a se book, for that might be done by quel of them under the title of L'Histoire transcribing the table of contents ; des ouvrages des Scavans, which coinmenced in 1687, and was concluded in 24 vols. but the faithful reviewer is daily 12mo. in 1709. Le Clerc conducted the called upon to detect literary thefts, Bibliothèque Universelle from 1686 to 1993, to expose absurdities, to correct 95 vols. 12mo. the Bibliothèque Choisie from blunders, to check the contagion 1703 to 1718, 28 vols. 12mo, and the of false taste, to rescue the pub. .Bibliothèque Ancienne Moderne from 1714 to 1727, 29 vols. 12mo. S'Grave

lick from the impositions of dullsande, the celebrated philosopher, edited ness, and to assert the majesty of E. Journal Literaire from 1713 to 1722. learning and of truth.


in stating these lofty pretensions mour of the following passage in of the critick, we had almost for- Baillet, with which I will close the gotten the claims of the author. present number. If I am asked, what redress can ...“ L'inconvenient de voir le fi author obtain, who has been monde sans livres ne sera jamais norantly criticised, or unmerci- à craindre, puisqu'il est à présumfully castigated ; I answer; the re er qu'il y aura toujours plus d'ecridress of an author, who deserves · vains que de gens sages. Ceux any, will always be found in the qui remarquerent que S. Augusultimate decision of the publick. țin exhortoit fortement toute le 5. The satire of Pope,” says John- monde à la continence, se crurent *“

son, which brought Theobald obligez de lui remontrer, qu'il prit and Moore into contempt, drop- garde aux desordres qui en pouped impotent from Bentley, like voient naître, & qui se chacun vouthe javelin of Priam.” Besides, loit garder sa virginité, le genre the name of an author will always

humain periroit en peu de tems. command more intrinsick respect, S. Augustin se moqua d'eux, parce than that of a critick. The for- qu'il savoit bien qu'il ne seroit jamer naturally takes rank of the mais pris au mot, & qu'il y auroit latter in the ceremonial of litera- toujours assez de personnes de l'un ture. It requires less ability to & de l'autre sexe, qui ne quitteroi. detect faults, than to avoid them; ent pas leur part des plaisirs du but even if it were not so, the au- mariage. Que l'on dise tout ce thor should remember, that he qu'on voudra pour la continence, forever retains the right of primo- cela n'empêchera point les enfangeniture, and the advantage of temens ; l'on peut assurer aussi preoccupying the attention of the que quelque chose que l'on dise, publick ; and while authors may ou que l'on fasse contre les auteurs, exist without criticks, the latter rien ne sera capable d'empecher cannot maintain themselves a mo. qu'ils n'enfantent livre sur livre. ment, if writers should withhold La superfetation est incomparablethe customary prey.

ment plus fréquente parmi eux qne As to the herd of vain and dis- parmi les femmes ; car combien appointed authors I have long per- de fois commencent-ils un nouplexed myself to find a remedy for veau dessein, avant que d'avoir their chagrin. I can recommend achevé le précédent. Ainsi l'on no better mode of avenging them. ne se doit pas allarmer de leurs selves on the criticks and on the menaces; il est vrai que quand ils publick, than by obstinately refus- voyent qu'on maltraite leurs ecrits, ing to publish any more. It is ils forment le même dessein qu'. true that there are many incon. Apollon forma lors que son fils veniences, which would follow Phaëton fut tué d'un coup de fou. so decisive a measure ; for the dre ; je veux dire qu'ils songent à world would thus be deprived of ne plus répandre la lumiere dans much harmless diversion, and per- l'univers ; mais cela ne dure pas, haps some of the brethren of the ils reviennent de ces premiers type would be thrown out of em- mouvemens ; & on les embarrasployment ; but whenever I begin seroit un peu si on les défioit dans to be alarmed by these solemn con- les formes d'exccuter leur menace. sequences, and tremble at the Ils aimeroient mieux qu'on se gougrowing tyranny of criticism, I vernât à leur égard, comme l'on fit ind myself reliered by the hu- envers Apollon, qui se vit très

humblement suplié de ne laisser mandement & de la menace, com pas le monde dans les tenebres, me on la pratiqua envers Apollon,

Neve velit tenebras inducere rebus, . Supplice voce rogant.

Precibusque minas regaliter addit.” Ils seroient même ravis qu'on les (Baillet Jugemens des sçavans.

[ en priât avec l'autorité du com

Tom. 4.]


NO. I. Stealing and giving sweets. SHAKESP. The meanness and servility of Both these are so eminently joinDryden's hyperbolical adulation, ed in the person of your Royal in his dedications, has been severe- Highness, that it were not easy for ly and justly censured by Dr.John- any but a poet to determine which son ; but the encomiastic language of them outshines the other. But which he always used in these I confess, Madam, I am already compositions was rather the vice biassed in my choice. I can easiof the times, than of the man. ly resign to others the praise of The dedication of almost every your illustrious family, and that author of that age was equally glory which you derive from a loaded with flattery, and some- long-continued race of princes, times far surpassed any of Dry- famous for their actions both in den's in extravagance of praise. peace and war ; I can give up to Of all Dryden's dedications, the the historians of your country the one, from which we made the fol- the names of so many generals , lowing extracts, addressed to her and heroes which croud their anroyal highness the duchess Mary nals ; and to our own, the hopes of Este, daughter of the duke of of those which you are to produce Modena, while it gives abundant for the British chronicle. I can . proofs of the variety and luxuri- yield, without envy, to the notion ance of his fancy, exhibits the of poets, the family of Este, to most perfect specimen of what is which Ariosto and Tasso have called the celestial style. The owed their patronage, and to which duchess was, at the time of her the world has owed thcir poets ; marriage, little more than fourteen, but I could not, without extreme and, according to Macpherson, of reluctance, resign the throne of

, exquisite beauty.

your beauty to another hand. But "To her Royal Highness the Duchess.

with whatsoever vanity this new (MADAM,

honour of being your poet has AMBITION is so far from being filled my mind, I confess myself a vice in poets, that it is almost

too weak for the inspiration ; the impossible for them to succeed priest was always unequal to the without it. Imagination must be oracle ; the god within him was raised by a desire of fame, to a too mighty for his breast. He desire of pleasing; and they,whom laboured with the sacred revelain all ages poets have endeavour- tion, and there was more of the ed most to please, have been the mystery left behind, than divinity beautiful and the great. Beauty

itself could enable him to express. is their deity to which they sacri. I can but discover a part of your fice, and greatness is their guardi- excellencies to the world ; and an angel which protects them. that too according to the measure

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