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On Literary Criticism.
quently the introduction to a very impor- thor, much less are those who have only tant publication is as long as the whole a smattering of learning. He who prereview of it ought to be, and often has pares for the press, besides a competent many irrelevantremarks in it. The table knowledge of the subject on which he of contents ought always to be copied, writes, should understand the rules of but is often omitted, and the book some- composition, have a taste for good lantimes reviewed in such a desultory way, guage, and be accustomed to compose. that even a very judicious reader is quite Now as nothing is more likely to deter at a loss to form any correct idea of it. unqualified persons from writing than a Besides this, such a tedious way of re- fear of being exposed by the critics, viewing takes up so much room, that very therefore periodical criticism is highly few standard publications can pass under useful ; indeed, this is become quite nereview in a month ; and some are near cessary since the liberty of the press has two years after publication before they been so extensive in Great Britain, beare reviewed.-Lastly, In a lively and cause these literary journals are now alentertaining manner. On grave sub- most the only public means of curbing jects, no doubt the review of them should the abuse of it.-2. It admonishes accrebe grave, but others ought not to be dull
. ailed authors to continue to write well. It When interspersed with short appropri- is to be lamented that some authors of ate anecdotes, or striking quotations, they note, who have formerly used good lanare rendered more pleasing ; and strokes guage, have afterwards become rather of humour are sometimes very agreeable careless ; if, therefore, such inattention when they are not personal and malicious. were not to be reproved by reviewers,
As to the standard of literary criticism, we should soon degenerate. Some indeed it is certain that no one author in any affect to despise verbal criticism ; but as language, antient or modern, can be said words represent ideas of the most importo be an infallible criterion. But Dr. tant things, every judicious person must Knox expresses himself very well on this know that a proper choice and arrangesnbject in the following words: “What, ment of them is of great consequence. then, it will be asked, is criticism to be All authors should also consider that a lest forever vague and indeterminate, and correct, flowing, and elegant style, is is there no standard ?” I answer, that much more likely to be useful in comthe feelings of the majority of men of municating knowledge, than that which taste, coinciding for a number of years in is defective. It is true, indeed, that regiving approbation to the best of authors, viewers are sometimes splenetic and fagconstitute a standard sufficiently certain tidious in their remarks on the diction of and uniform. And indeed it is totally a writer, yet all but conceited authors may impossible to fix upon any writer, how- make a good use of their strictures. Libever celebrated, as a general standard ; eral criticisms are therefore useful 10 not only because that writer has bis humble writers, which occasioned a livfaults, but because be cannot equally ing author thus to write in his preface : excel in every species of composition. “Every good-tempered critic is my But those literary works which have friend ; and as I wish to be improved, I pleased the greater part of literary per- rather invite than deprecate criticism." sons for a number of years, will most 3. It saves readers time, trouble, und likely please others after them; and as expence. Very few readers can fully to differences of opinion, they are only judge for themselves, and, if capable, the irregularities which attend every thing modern standard books are so dear, that sublunary, and do not invalidate the just. readers wish to consult a literary journal ness of the general decision.
before they make a purchase. TitleLet us now point out some of the chief pages have become of late years so che uses of literary criticism to the republic ceiving that nothing decisive is to be of letters, and to scholars in particular : concluded from them ; it is, therefore, 1. Il delers some bad uriters from pub- truly desirable to be able to consult a relishing. Every learned person is not view. But perhaps some will say that necessarily qualified to become an au- reviewers are connected with certain
[228 publishing booksellers, and therefore blemishes ; whereas one who is liberalpraise such books as they publish, wheth- minded not only dwells on obvious ex. er good or bad. However this may be, cellencies, but takes a pleasure in discor. it is certain that their productions may ering such as are concealed. The formbe made use of in some measure to guide er often censures, not because there is in the choice of books.---Lastly, Criti- any real fault, but through pride to shem cisms spread the fame of authors and dif- his assumed superiority ; but the latter, fuse knowledge. If it were not for peri- when the work upon the whole is excelodical literary journals the works of au- lent, thinks it unjust and illiberal to dwell thors could not be very extensively upon small faults. However, it is very known, and literature would be confined proper that imperfections and errors in to but few, comparatively speaking. But publications should be mentioned, othernow, besides their review of elaborate wise there would be but few correct autreatises in various arts and sciences every thors, and little improvement in the arts month, even their incidental remarks and and sciences.
The learned ought to hints are very beneficial to intelligent consider themselves much indebted to readers. We have now more English Mr. Harris, Bishop Hurd, and Lord reviews than ever we had ; the number Kames, for their improvements in the of readers have greatly increased ; and arts and criticism ; and in the lectures consequently mental knowledge is much of Dr. Blair there are also many just more diffused. I shall conclude with strictures. Men of erudition and can. the following quotation from an able wri- dour are a sort of masters of the ceremoter, which contains some additional re- ny in the court of letters, by whom the marks on the subject :-"A carping or literati are introduced into the best comfastidious critic in reviewing a publica- papy, and thereby greatly improved and tion is chiefly delighted in pointing out entertained." G. G. SCRAGGS.
THE LADIES' LIBRARY.
From the European Magazine. THE greatest part of the pleasure de- whom she lately danced at Willis's
rived from reading, springs from the rooms ;-the young feHow who is neg. train of recollections and ideas to which lecting a customer to catch, over the the passage before us gives rise, rather shop-table, a glimpse of the passing pathan from what is actually contained in rade, burns with mortification as he the passage itself. This train runs rapidly feels himself grasping a yard-measure, throughout what the miod has pre- and sees the air which a sword gives to viously collected or conceived, and thus the hand in which it is brandished :presents to the mental vision a long his master bites his lips as he turns to perspective of views, rich in imagery, his ledger to look at the total of a halfand connected with the fore-ground by pay captain's account. the countless links of association. This The feelings excited by a book differ will account for different opinions as widely and on the same principle, being entertained relative to the plea- and therefore it is, that the contents of santness of a particular work, when there the bookshelves in the parlour may genis no difference of judgment relative to erally be depended upon as a pretty the import of an author's remarks. The certain index to the dispositions of its sound of a drum is the same to all ears ; inmates, I remember going up with but what dissimilar feelings does it excite much anxiety to the handsomely gilt in the breasts of those who hear it! Yon and painted case, suspended with ribwidow has her anguish, for the loss of bons, in which a young lady held her him who was dearest to her, revived in favourite volumes. I trembled lest I all its first bitterness, by the noise: that should be shocked by my first glance handsome girl, peeping from the window, resting on the Sorrows of Werter or the is thinking of the smart ensign with New lleloise; and I cannot tell bow
The Ladies' Library.
delighted I felt, when I was greeted by that it may not stray; that she is not for a set of Doctor Aikin's Spencer, in blue an instant to be trusted with an image morocco, and saw the Spectator stand- which may suggest a thought, which ing hard by. Looking a little further, may, under certain circumstances of I must confess I detected Mrs. Robin- indulgence, reach to impropriety. The son's Poems, and one of Charlotte timid maintainers of this doctrine are the Smith's Novels, but I excused them for grossest insulters and destroyers of that the sake of Metastasio, who stood be. which they profess to respect and pretween them, and which the young lady, serve. They would treat one who is took care to open, that I might see it soon mainly to support the dignity and was not a translation. Soon afterwards welfare of a family, as if she were a she angrily called to her brother, a lad greedy child that must not be trusted to of fifteen, and severely scolded him for a cupboard where it might steal jelly and patting some of his books amongst her's, make itself sick ;-they would shut her although she had often forbidden him to out from all the rich and graceful enjoydo so. As she pushed indignantly into ments of the world, as they form the his hands what she had hastily taken themes of genius, and the solace of nadown, I just caught a glimpse of the ture, lest she should pursue every native back of one of the volumes, which in- instinct which they excite, till sbe conclined me to believe that it was Tom verts wlrat has been given her by ProviJones who was thus roughly dismissed. dence as blessings to herself and others, It was impossible to say what female into sources of misery and of guilt. curiosity might have been about during This abominable system of management the period of this intrusion; but I re- they carry so far in France, that a girl is member I derived at the time pleasure never suffered to stir any where but with from my very suspicions, when I'marked a female guardian at her side: in fact, the beautiful kindling in the eyes and they consider the power to do wrong as on the cheeks of her who stood by my tantamount to the practice of crime. side, attempting, in the prettiest way English young women, however, thank imaginable, to draw my attention from God, are induced to appreciate their own the circumstance to a graceful myrtle, value, and therefore may be in a great which she told me she had been fortu- measure entrusted to their own care. Date enough to preserve alive through The most hateful personage I know, is a the winter, and which was now thank- miserable fellow who seems to have no ing her for her care, by extending its sense but for the existence of improprieleaves towards the face of its benefac- ties; who would make his sister walk tress in the earliest of the spring. hood-winked, lest she should be rendered If I were to disclose all the
profligate by the coarseness of the streets. quences of this affair, I flatter myself
Such a creature as this is the most desthat the young ladies would derive from picable of created beingshe is a comthem strong inducements to be select in pound of cowardice and baseness; the their libraries : but I beg to observe,
first keeps him in perpetual alarm, the that my appeal is to their sound and
latter gives him the best ground for delicate tastes, and not to the watchfula perpetual suspicion. The most virtuous ness of mothers and aunts. A girl's
of poets furnishes a noble lesson on this mind naturally acquires a bias to the pointelegant and the pure, if the habits and Or so unprincipled in virtue's book,
“ I do not think my sister so to seek, conversation of the elders about her are And the sweet peace that goodness hosoms ever, discreet and refined; but the liveliness As that the single want of light and noise and susceptibility of youth receive all Could stir the coustant mood of ber calm sorts of evil impressions from severe
thoughts, regulations and ungraceful prohibitions
. And put them into misbecoming plight."
Comus. What is a command not to do, but instruction as to something which ought
ANCIENT TIMES. not to be done? Nor do I think, with It has been no unusual thing to make many, that a girl's mind must be crippled a comparison between the ladies of the
[232 present day, and those who lived a cen- mistress, and servants, all feasted in the tury past. If we go but a little further side room, not omitting to relate their back, to the days of Anne Bullen, the dreams of the night. contrast seems to present the greatest The men after breakfast went to the possible burlesque. In that time very cellar to drink; the lady to her poultry few ladies went to court; the great offi- and dairy; and the young ladies to their cers of state left their spouses at their usual occupations of making their clothes magnificent mansions in the country, to and stockings, weaving and knitting not entertain their sporting neighbours. being then known. At twelve they Good madam was then delighted to have dined in a room neatly strewed with a snug party dance in the parlour with rushes, and supped at six, which was the squire's wife, the parson of the parish their greatest entertaio ment; they then and his wife, and perhaps the butter and amused theinselves with tales, or sports, a couple of chairs to make up the set. till eight, and were all in bed before She always rose at five o'clock, to see nine o'clock. With this mode of life breakfast served in the great hall, which compare that of a modern lady of was then a principal meal. Master, fashion !
PREDILECTIONS OF THE SCOTCH.
From the New Montbly Magazine. Mr. Editor,
Johnson-by the bye, the rudest great L.
OOKING over some of your late man, aye, and the greatest rude man,
numbers, the following passage from that ever was : whose manner and prea well written paper on the preservation judices, to be sure, they usually censure, of health, caught my attention : “ Puf- but on that account seem to think them. fendorf would not have died from the ef- selves the more at liberty to imitate. fect of a corn, had it been customary for They will talk to each other in commispeople to carry their shoes as well as eration of the poverty of the Scotch ; their hats under their arms."
gently hint that necessity has no law; It is not my intention to enter into and that they can never feel the want of an elaborate account of the diseases to conveniencies and comforts of which which the human foot is liable, which of they never were possessed, any more than them would be prevented, or what new the Otaheitans or any other Savages! ones might be generated by the disuse of All this might be submitted to in silence, shoes ; nor will I be so foolish as to at. were it true, but it is not so. teinpt to convince a single individual The people of Scotland, I mean of course who has been accustomed to walk with that class to which these remarks apply, shoes, that it would be better for him on are as sober and industrious, better edumany accounts to accustom himself to cated, more religious, and better dressed, walk without them. But I shall mention than, I shall venture to say, any other a circumstance, of which many of your peasantry in Europe. They are distinreaders must be ignorant, that a great guished for their loyalty; their steadiness, proportiou of a whole people, in the application, and perseverance; their northern part of this island, prefer walk- more than ordinary intelligence and inforing on their bare feet to walking with mation ; for all the virtues which adorn shoes ; and what may surprise, the wo- the social life ; and for a never-failing men are distinguished for their liking to attachment to the land which this peculiarity. Now, Sir, I am quite birth. Their superior intelligence and prepared for the sneers which a certain information are of course consequent on class of English readers, in common their extensive reading, and on that greatwith most English tourists, usually lavish est of blessings a religious education, on such occasions; closely following in which is secured, I may say, to every inthe steps of their great prototype Dr. dividual of this favoured people. On the
[234 importance and utility of such acquire the well known spot, beyond which they ments, even for the lowest classes of the cannot proceed unseen. This is generpeople, it were needless to enlarge; they ally some downy bank, conveniently sitdignify the possessor by elevating and uated by a clear running brook, just beexpanding the mind; they fit him foņ fore they make the last turn of the road, rising in the world ; for acquitting him. which screens the church from their view; self in whatever situation he may be des- for it is held quite contra bones mores to tined to fill; they are a foundation on come in such dishabille even within sight wbich any superstructure may be reared, of the church. Here they sit down; their and they render him in one sense inde- feet are washed; their unfolded stockings pendent, by supplying an inexhaustible and little worn shoes receive their brawny fuod of amusernent. In Scotland every sinews; the silk gowns of the women, village has its library and its debating which had been carefully turned up to society. The lower classes, instead of preserve them from the effects of the frequenting the ale-house, or rather the dusty road, are now let loose ; all things gin shup, meet on the Saturday evenings are made neat and tosh, to use a word of in their village library, the magazines their own; the family advances in sober and reviews for the period are laid be- procession, and thus makes what is called fore them; she interests of literature and a respectable appearance at the kirk. of science are canvassed; powers and Let us hear no more, then, of the porfaculyies which would have lain dormant erty of the Scotch.' As to the practice are called into actiop; their ideas are of walking bare-footed, I shall not say enlarged, their minds. improved--they muclr; it may be desensible. Perhaps a are in short“ raised in the scale of think- reflecting native might tell you, in imitaing beings.” Not a man among them tiou of Addison, that when a pair of new but has read the controversies, examined shoes were brought home to him, it made the arguments pro and con, and taken a him shudder, and that he could not help side on the doubưful questions of the thinking that he saw corns, and blisters, guilt of Queen Mary and of the authen and other diseases of the feet, lying in ticity of the Poems of Ossiap.
ambush in the corners. But I have wandered wonderfully I complain of the ignorance wbich from my object. All I meant to do in exists among the great mass of the people this letter, was to inform your readers of England, regarding Scotland, and that if the Scotch walk bare-footed, they every thing Scotch. This is well illusdo not so from necessity, but from choice, trated by a native author in his amusing If we see a man walking with his hat uovel Humphrey Clinker. under bis arm, we surely would say that
Duta-MARU NO. it is from choice he walks bareheaded. Now what is true of a hat, will I apprehend be true of any other piece of dress; There is no part of Europe, in which and we need not hesitate to pronounce education bas been a subject of more that man unreasoanble, who, seeing a general attention, or produced more imwoman walk barefooted, would say she portant effects than in Scotland. Durdoes so from necessity, that is from pov, ing little more than a century, a system erty, while she carries her shoes and of public instruction, established in that stockings in her hand. Such is the fact, country, has not only had the most beneThe people of Scotland seem to feel ficial influence upon industry and prishoes as an incumbrance, yet they con- vate morals, but has been the principal form to the existing custom of the civ- cause of one of the most remarkable ilized world. On a Sunday you may see changes of national character that has crowds of well dressed people hastening ever yet taken place during so short a from all directions to their parish church, period. At a time when the public atfooting italong firmly and nervously, their tention in this country is so laudably difeet unincumbered with the habiliments rected towards providing nieans of in, of modern refinement, yet their shoes and struction for the poor, a few remarks on stockings in their hands, till they reach the effects of a system of general educa
Eng. Mag. Vol. IV.
EDUCATION OF THE SCOTCII.