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way; and, but three half-guinea ones As I found this to be the case, on in that number.
my return home, I resolved to trouble But, at the same time, I had the each of my best friends with a letter, mortification to find that my notable to beg their good word to any very treatise had had very little effect. worthy and charitable persons whom Like the honest MrAbraham Adams, they might meet with, either in their I had concluded that all good people visits or at their tables, for their help only wanted to have a man of so toward relieving so great and so unnuch worth pointed out to them in common a subject for charity. Will uch necessitous circumstances, and your lordship give me leave not to hat they would all run to help him omit you in the number of those mmediately ; but I found myself as friends ? and can you pardon me for nuch mistaken as that gentleman ge- this tedious narrative? I know your lerally was in his humane conclusions. love of doing good, and hope that For all the subscriptions that came will plead for my execuse. a whilst I was in town seem to have leave to be ever, with the greatest reveen got by the mere dint of perso- gard, my lord, your lordship’s most al application : there is scarce the obedient and obliged humble servant, ame of a single volunteer among
JOSEPH SPENCE. hem.
ON THE PRESENT STATE
It is not without some apprehensions the very devil himself, can harch: that, in prosecution of the plan laid brook his presence : down in our first volume, we ap
-Medio cum Phæbus in arces. proach the province of Periodical Cri- Aut Cælum nor atra tenet, paret ipse ticism, impeded as our road must be cerdos with jungles, thorns, and thickets, Accessus, dominumque timet deprendere and rendered dismal by the gibbetted
luci. reliques of unfortunate authors. The Yet have we not entered rashly ez dark and mysterious forest of Massi- anadvisedly upon our dread adventa, lia, in whose gloomy recesses human but have availed ourselves, like the sacrifices were offered to invisible and knight errants of old, of such as malignant dæmons, impressed hardly as might best secure us in an encoutmore horror upon the veterans of ter with the magicians of the maze at Cæsar :
Criticism, and in some respects bris,
the contest nearer to equality: A.barbara ritu
these wizzards periodical in their Sacra deüm, structæ diris altaribus aræ ; Omnis et humanis lustrata cruoribus arbor. ertions? We are annual.- Are they
numerous and confederated? We also Our field of research, like the sa are plural.-Can they shroud thes cred grove of Lucan, is also subject selves in obscurity by virtue of the to its fated periodical revolutions, its helmet of the sable Orcus? We bare monthly or quarterly almutens, when the invisible cap of Jack the Giantthe master of the sign, as astrologers killer. Nor shall we lack the prit: said of old, sits in full power upon the ers of the oppressed to forward er cusp or entrance of the planetary chivalrous undertaking. Wherever, house, as Lord of the Ascendant, through the wide realms of literature, and the bookseller, the printer, nay, there is one who has writhed unde
the scourge of this invisible tribunal; now appear, had but too much ef. wherever there is a gentle minstrel tect upon the poet's irritability. It who bewails his broken harp, a fair is hard to guess what would have inaiden who weeps over her mangled been the feelings of the Wasp of novel, a politic knight who bemoans Twickenham, had he lived in the his travestied lucubrations, or a weary present day, when ten or twelve peripilgrim who mourns his anathemati. odical works, devoted to criticism zed travels, we find a friend and a alone, claim as their proper subject, beadsman in the sufferer. Then with or rather their natural prey, every good courage, and St Georgeto speed, new publication which issues from we boldly press forward upon our the press. But the grave authors purposed achievement.
of the “ Works of the Learned," and The early state of periodical cri- other early publications approaching ticism is of little consequence to to the nature of reviews, could not our present purpose. At first the art long preserve the neutrality to which pretended to afford little more than at first they confined themselves. It a list of the works of the learned in was scarcely to be expected, that a the order of publication, with some critic of competent judgement should, brief and dry account of the contents in giving an account of a new work, of each, a sort of catalogue raisonnée resist the temptation to express the in short, where the books published information or pleasure he had receiwithin a certain period, were arran- ved from particular passages, still ged according to order, with such a less that he could refrain from maniview of each as might inform the festing his own superiority, by pointbook-buyer whether it fell within ing out occasional omissions or erthe line of his reading or collecting: rors of his author. And thus reThese earlier journalists contented views gradually acquired the form themselves with intimating what the and character which they now exhi. work under consideration actually bit, and which is too well known to contained, without pretending to require definition. But within the point out its errors, far less to sup- last ten years, a very important ply its omissions by their own dis- change has taken place in the mode quisitions. As for satire and rail- of conducting them, a change which, lery, the laborious compilers of these as it has inexpressibly increased their dry catalogues, many of whom actu. importance and influence upon literaally expired under the task they had ture, claims for its causes a candid undertaken, had neither leisure nor and critical attention. spirits for such flights of imagina The discerning reader will easily tion. These were abandoned to the perceive that we allude to the esta. editors of newspapers and journals, blishment of the Edinburgh Review; whence flying shafts of satirical criti- a journal which in its nature matericism were often discharged amid the ally differs from its predecessors, and thunder of political artillery. It was has given in many respects an entirenot from reviews, but from Mist's ly new turn to public taste and to Journal, the Daily Journal, the Ga- critical discussion.
It becomes our zetteers, &c., that those vollies of duty to state in what particulars the abuse against Pope were hurled ancient system was innovated upon, forth, which, contemptible as they and where the charm lies which has
enabled a journal of such recent es- fully adequate even to his own ideas tablishment, not only to take the of its value ; for the risk arising from lead, and give the tone to most of its the caprice of the public must be predecessors, but in a variety of in- covered by such an insurance as stances utterly to supersede their makes no small deduction from the authority, and reduce whole cart. price of an author's labour. But this loads of criticism to a melancholy in- deduction becomes much greater, and activity in the publisher's warehouse. almost intolerable, if, which is far For this purpose, it is necessary to more commonly the case, the book. take a view of the state of the popu- seller is obliged to provide some lar reviews previous to 1802. guarantee against the consequence,
The imperfections of these jour- not only of the public fickleness, but nals may be traced to one great cause. of his own ignorance. Few of these Each of the leading English reviews, gentlemen are, and, fortunately for though originally established by men the state of their warehouses, few of letters, had gradually fallen under even affect to be, judges of literary the dominion of the publishing book. merit. They buy copy-rights as a seller. We have no wish to join in blind man might purchase a lot of the common cry against this class of horses, at such an average price, that tradesmen, which is chiefly swelled the success of one book may comby the deep-mouthed discontents of pensate the loss upon twenty. In neglected authors. On the contrary, this point of view, the accompts bewe feel great sympathy for their situ- tween the worshipful Company,
of ation, and are humbly of opinion, that Stationers, and the no less worshipnot only the authors, but even the age, ful Society of Authors, come, upon a are very ready to transfer the depres- general balance of the ledger, nearly sion of neglected genius, and other to an equality, although, no doubt, consequences of their own egotism the personal accompts with some inor stupidity, to the broad shoulders dividuals may stand greatly in favour of the gentlemen in the Row. A of the bibliopolists. We are, there bookseller, to live by his trade, must fore, fully sensible how much this buy so as to sell with profit. If the trade is a lottery, and it is without demand for any work, be it ever so in the least wish of censuring those en genious, is insufficient to pay for print gaged in it, that we point out the and paper, is it reasonable to expect divers inconveniences attending those that the tradesman can pay for the reviews which are under mercantile copy-right? The shameful fact, that management. the Paradise Lost was bought for ten A periodical publication has been pounds, throws infamy indeed upon often said to resemble a mail-coach, the taste of the age, but not on the It must set out at a particular day and conduct of the purchaser, who did hour, it must travel the road whether not sell an edition in eight years, and full or empty, and whether it convey: was probably a loser by the bar. bullion to the bank of England, or a gain. In short, a bookseller, even sample of cheese to a grocer supposing him a judge of literature, Thames street. In such a case, has it not in his power with common prudent owner of the vehicle purvert prudence to make the author of a such horses as are fittest for this re: new work an offer which may be gular, fatiguing, and, in some points
of view, derogating duty. He buys imprint of a new book, readers were 10“ fine framped steeds,” that are fit. enabled to calculate, with absolute ed for a chariot or curricle, nor yet certainty, the nature of the treatment rutes that, by their clumsy make and it would receive in the corresponding ulk of boné, are qualified only to reviews. From this it naturally fol. ag in a drayman's cart; but he la- lowed, that the more heavy, or, to ours to secure, of
speak technically, the more dull of Spare-fed prancers many a raw-boned sale a work happened to be, the more pair ;"
this tender assistance was necessary ich as have, perhaps, seen their best on the part of the reviewers, and ays, and acquired discretion to sub- the more eagerly it was called for by sit to their necessary task, while the proprietors of both works. Á hey retain vigour and animation suf- man of genius, and many have been cient to tug through it speedily and engaged in such labour, might someardily. The barc-worn common of times wince a little under the burden terature has always afforded but too which was thus imposed upon him, umerous a supply of authors who since to produce a panegyric without old a similar description ; and who, merit is as difficult as to make bricks y misfortune or improvidence, or without straw. But the strongest serely from having been unable to minds are bent to circumstances, orce themselves forward to public even Johnson submitted to Cave the otice, are compelled to subject ta- bookseller, a sheaf of his powerful and ents worthy of better employment, varied effusions, with the humiliating whatever task a bookseller shall acknowledgement, emptoris sit eligere; e pleased to dictate. In London and it may be readily supposed, that articularly, where the pursuit of let- few, who have resembled him in poverrs is a distinct profession, whose ty and in talents, have been more nice udents cannot easily provide for and fastidious than Johnson. It thus emselves in the more ordinary walks happened in the general case, that the E life, there are, and must be, many reviewer, like a fee'd barrister, sacri. en of learning, of mental vigour, ficed his own feelings and judgement en of genius, whose circumstances to the interest of the bookseller his not entitle them to despise the re. employer ; and it followed, almost of ular and fixed emolument which course, that, without bending the ay be procured by stated employ- whole force of his mind to so ungraent in an established review. A. cious and unsatisfactory labour, he ongst these, then, the bookseller was satisfied if he discharged it in a ght easily select such as could at workman-like manner, and, without ce labour at the most reasonable aiming at excellence, was contented Ee, and to the best effect ; while if he could not be justly charged witlı
may be supposed also to have ignorance of his subject,or negligence ssessed the authority necessary to in the mode of treating it. "In this rect their industry into those chan. manner, a dull and stupifying medioIs which had obliquely the effect of crity began to be the most distinguish. vancing his own trade. It was, ing feature of the English reviews, cordingly, a thing so well known, as even of such as were written by men
be observed even by the dullest, of acknowledged learning and admitat from the publisher's name in the ted talents. Articles doubtless occa.