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serves; and I am more afraid to assign the reason of this criminal lenity shewn towards him ; yet it is certain that the thief looks innocent in the comparison; nay, the murderer himself can seldom stand in competition with his guilt: for slan. der is a more cruel weapon than a sword, as the wounds which the former gives are always incurable. One method, indeed, there is of killing, and that the basest and most execrable of all, which bears an exact analogy to the vice here declaimed against, and that is poison. A means of revenge so base, and yet so horrible, that it was once wisely distinguished by our laws from all other murders, in the peculiar severity of the punishment.

Besides the dreadful mischiefs done by slander, and the baseness of the means by which they are effected, there are other circumstances that highly aggravate its atrocious quality : for it often proceeds from no provocation, and seldom promises itself any reward, unless some black and infernal mind may propose a reward in the thoughts of having procured the ruin and misery of another.

Shakespeare hath nobly touched this vice, when he says,

“Who steals my purse steals traslı, 'tis something, nothing, “ 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and hath been slave to thousands; “ But he that filches from me my good name, « Robs me of that WHICH NOT ENRICHES HIM, “ BUT MAKES ME POOR INDEED.”

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With all this my good reader will doubtless agree; but much of it will probably seem too severe, when applied to the slanderer of books. But let it here be considered, that both proceed from the same wicked disposition of mind, and are alike void of the excuse of temptation. Nor shall we conclude the injury done this way to be very

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slight, when we consider a book as the Author's offspring, and indeed as the child of his brain.

The reader who hath suffered his muse to continue hitherto in a virgin stațe, can have but a very inadequate idea of this kind of paternal fondness. To such we may parody the tender exclamation of Macduff, “Alas ! Thou hast written no book.” But the Author whose muse hath brought forth, will feel the pathetic strain, perhaps will accompany me with tears (especially if his darling be already no more) while I mention the uneasiness with which the big muse bears about her burden, the painful labour with which she produces it, and lastly, the care, the fondness, with which the tender father nourishes his favourite, till it be brought to maturity, and produced into the world.

Nor is there any paternal fondness which seems less to savour of absolute instinct, and which may so well be reconciled to worldly wisdom, as this. These children may most truly be called the riches of their father; and many of them have with trụe filial piety fed their parent in his old age : so that not only the affection, but the interest of the Author may be highly injured by these slanderers, whose poisonous breath brings his book to an untimely end.

Lastly, the slanderer of a book is, in truth, the slanderer of the Author: for as no one can call another bastard, without calling the mother a whore; so neither can any one give the names of sad stuff, horrid nonsense, &c. to a book, without calling the Author a blockhead; which, though in a moral sense it is a preferable appellation to that of villain, is perhaps rather more injurious to his worldly interest.

Now, however ludicrous all this may appear to some, others, I doubt not, will feel and acknowledge the truth of it; nay, may, perhaps, think I have not treated the subject with decent solem.

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nity; but surely a man may speak truth with a smiling countenance. In reality, to depreciate a book inaliciously, or even wantonly, is at least a very ill-natured office; and a morose snarling critic may, I believe, be suspected to be a bad man.

I will therefore endeavour, in the remaining part of this chapter, to explain the marks of this character, and to shew what criticism I here intend to obviate: for I can never be understood, unless by the very persons here meant, to insinuate, that there are no proper judges of writing, or to endeavour to exclude from the commonwealth of literature any of those noble critics, to whose labours the learned world are so greatly indebted. Such were Aristotle, Horace, and Longinus, among the ancients, Dacier and Bossu among the French, and some perhaps among us; who have certainly been duly authorised to execute at least a judicial authority in foro literario.

But without ascertaining all the proper qualifi, cations of a critic, which I have touched on elsewhere, I think I may very boldly object to the censures of any one past upon works which he hath not himself read. Such censurers as these, whether they speak from their own guess or suspicion, or from the report and opinion of others, may properly be said to slander the reputation of the book they condemn.

Such may likewise be suspected of deserving this character, who, without assigning any par. ticular faults, condemn the whole in general de famatory terms; such as vile, dull, da-d stuff, &c. and particularly by the use of the monosylla ble Low; a word which becomes the mouth of no critic who is not Right HONOURABLE.

Again, though there may be some faults justly assigned in the work; yet if those are not in the most essential parts, or, if they are compensated by greater beauties, it will savour father of the malice cf a slanderer, than of the judgement of a true critic, to pass a severe sentence upon the whole, merely on account of some vicious part. This is directly contrary to the sentiments of Horace:

Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis
Olindor naculis, quas aut incuna fudit,
Äut humana parum

curit natura

But where the beauties, more in number, shine,
I am not angry, when a casual line.
(That with some trivial faults unequal flows)
A careless hand, or human frailty shows.

MR. FRANCIS,

For as Martial says, Aliter non fit, avite, liber, No book can be otherwise composed. All beauty of character, as well as of countenance, and indeed of every thing human, is to be tried in this manner. Cruel indeed would it be, if such a work as this history, which hath employed some thousands of hours in the composing, should be liable to be condemned, because some particular chapter, or perhaps chapters, may be obnoxious to very just and sensible objections. And yet nothing is more common than the most rigorous sentence upon books supported by such objections, which, if they were rightly taken (and that they are not always) do by no means go to the merit of the whole. In the theatre especially, a single ex

, pression which doth not coincide with the taste of the audience, or with any individual critic of that audience, is sure to be hissed; and one scene which should be disapproved, would hazard the whole piece. To write within such severe rules as these, is as impossible as to live up to some splenetic opinions; and if we judge according to the sentiments of some critics, and of some christians, no Author will be saved in this world, and no man in the next.

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CHAP. II. The Adventures which Sophia met with after her

leaving Upton. OUR history, just before it was obliged to turn about, and travel backwards, had mentioned the departure of Sophia and her maid from the inn; we shall now therefore pursue the steps of that lovely creature, and leave her unworthy lover a little longer to bemoan his ill-luck, or rather his ill-conduct.

Sophia having directed her guide to travel through bye-roads across the country, they now passed the Severn, and had scarce got a mile from the inn, when the young lady, looking behind her, saw several borses coming aiter on full speed. This greatly alarmed her fears, and she called to the guide to put on as fast as possible.

He immediately obeyed her, and away they rode a full gallop. But the faster they went, the faster were they followed; and as the horses behind were somewhat switter than those before, so the former were at length overtaken. A happy circumstance

A for poor Sophia; whose fears, joined to her fatigue, had almost overpowered her spirits; but she was now instantly relieved by a female voice, that greeted her in the softest mauner, and with the utmost civility. This greeting Sophia, as soon as she could recover her breath, with like civility, and with the highest satisfaction to herself, returned.

The travellers who joined Sophia, and who had given her such terror, consisted, like her own company, of two females and a guide. The two parties proceeded three full miles together before any one offered again to open their mouths; when our heroine, having pretty well got the better of her fear (but yet being somewhat surprised that the other still continued to attend her, as she pursued no great road, and had already passed through

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