Imatges de pÓgina

same source: but, when a work appears which demonstrates great labour and diligence in the compilation or invention, and contains nothing offensive to honour and morality, envy and malice, and the restless spirit termed ill-nature, should really be subdued in the breast of the Censor, so far as to permit him not to expose himself, and the Review his individual article disgraces. Besides, both the writer and publisher should reflect, that when they have almost forgotten the article which leaves a deep and a malignant sting, the party suffering from it lingers in hopeless melancholy; and in more than one instance even life is said to have been wasted in the decay produced by a malicious Review.

I should here apologize to the reader for having omitted the portrait of an incompetent and splenetic Reviewer in the first edition of this work; but, as it is never too late to amend, and I cannot violate my own sense of the injustice of giving information in a new edition withheld in the first, by noticing so common a character, I shall here proceed to shew him in his true colours, as part of the grand aggregate I have attempted to describe; merely observing, as a further excuse, in the words of the Critical Review on these Anecdotes: I am "more pleased with faithful delineations of general nature, than with the account of any anomalous productions." Unfortunately for the majority of authors, and most fortunately for the Reviewer, it too often happens that second editions of works are not called for; through this circumstance Reviews of Reviewers are rarely to be met with, and pamphlets refuting their strictures seldom answer any


purpose, owing to their confined sale. Happily for myself, an opportunity offers which must have full effect, as the reader of these pages will judge for himself on their merits, and between the assertions of certain Reviewers, and what I have to offer in opposition to them.

These self-important unknown persons will find me combating on the side of injured authors, not only on my own account, but on that of other individuals severely and unjustly condemned. I certainly despise them with Dr. Blair; that I do not fear them in my literary pursuits, and have no cause for so doing, my own words, and the approbation of the publick, sufficiently demonstrate. I shall be highly gratified if the following investigation leads one man to judge for himself hereafter, when he finds Reviews of a similar description connected with others of liberality and moderation.

We may venture to attribute the introduction of Modern Reviews to Edward Cave eventually; for, although the Gentleman's Magazine never assumed that exclusive character, it certainly suggested the hint of issuing monthly anonymous strictures on new publications*. All have since professed to commence their career with good humour, talents, liberality, candour, justice, mercy, and, in short, with the exercise of every virtue. Had they all strictly adhered to their professions, Literature would indeed have flourished under the moderate corrections of Criticism, which is necessary to raise a perfect stock for the great demand of England; but, instead of those tempered

* The previous attempts of individuals, which never exceeded a few volumes, I do not consider as cases in point.


reproofs, we are often surprised by floods or torrents of censure, which beat to the earth, and completely destroy, every thing within their scope. It is the authors of those torrents that I combat: the impartial and candid Reviewer I honour and admire, in proportion to the dangers and difficulties of his office.

The Critical Review for May 1808-versus "Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London." The writer of this article says: "The following sketch of the contents of this performance will convince the reader that he may expect much information and amusement in the perusal." This is extremely well for a preliminary assertion; and yet we shall find him contradicting it almost from page 1 to 15, where the Review terminates. The contents are then given, and the Reviewer continues: "Such is the bill of fare which Mr. M. has prepared: in which, perhaps, the generality will find many agreeable dishes and savoury ingredients. It is, however, rather a confused medley, than a well assorted or nicely selected entertainment.” Here we have a simile warm from the Crown and Anchor or London Tavern. "Mr. M. has very industriously perused the public papers, periodical works, &c. of the last century; and from these he has culled as much matter as, with his own head and tail pieces of remark, explanation, and connection, compose an ample quarto of 490 pages."—" In traversing the pages of this bulky volume, we have sometimes been instructed, and often amused; but on the whole we have experienced sensations of tediousness and languor, which the author will perhaps impute to our squeamishness of appetite or apathy of temperament; but which we are more willing to ascribe to


the prolixity of the work. When the reader has taken the trouble to go through the book, we shall leave him to determine whether the critic be insensible, or the author occasionally dull." This sneering critic (for he at length appears in the singular case, speaking grammatically) affects to be unwilling to accuse me of practising the art of book-making, and of inserting every piece of information which came in my way relative to the manners of London; but really "we would willingly have dispensed with many of his details, in which there is nothing either to edify or amuse."

The single critic, or congregated critics, which the reader pleases, next introduces the following quotation: "Then, says Mr. Malcolm, (meaning before the invasion of Cæsar) the hardy native stood erect in the full dignity and grace of nature, perfect from the hands of the Creator, and tinted with those pure colours which vary with the internal feelings. Cæsar, doubtless, found the males muscular and full of energy, the females graceful in their forms, and both wild and unrestrained in his estimation of manners; though probably they were such as we now admire in the Savage, sincerity unpolished and kindness roughly demonstrated."

I shall make no comments on this passage, which the reader of the Review is requested by the critic to take as a "specimen of that affected, stiff, and verbose style in which Mr. M. sometimes thinks proper to indulge, and on which the critic or critics would fail in their duty to the publick if they did not fix the seal of their utter reprobation."-" Perspicuity and ease are


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among those constituent principles of good writing, which we should be unwilling to sacrifice for any of the starched refinements and elaborate perplexities of modern composition."-"When Mr. M. tells us that Cæsar found the Aborigines of Britain tinted with those pure colours which vary with the internal feelings, he seems to have forgotten that Cæsar himself tells us (B. G. lib. v.) that he found these hardy natives' bedizened with a coat of paint. And we leave our modern fine ladies to inform Mr. M. whether this artificial discoloration were likely to serve as a mirror for the varying emotions of the breast."

It may be presumed that he who undertakes to criticise the language of another should himself be perfect in the arrangement of his ideas, and of words to express them, and capable of composing similies that shall bear some reference to the subject illustrated. Whether the author of the Review in question is qualified for the employment he has undertaken, will appear in the elegant extracts which follow: "agreeable dishes," "savoury ingredients," "confused medley," "nicely selected," "culled as much matter," " his own head and tail pieces," "traversing the pages," " bulky volume," "squeamishness of appetite," "to go through the book," "affected, stiff," "starched refinements," "elaborate perplexities," "bedizened," and "discoloration were likely to serve as a mirror." Surely, if he asserts my style to be affected, stiff, and starched, I may venture to pronounce his extremely vulgar, incorrect, and confused.

I had

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