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Title: A Vindication of the Press
Author: Defoe, Daniel, 1661-1731
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Vindication of the Press" ***

The Augustan Reprint Society

Daniel Defoe

_A Vindication of the Press_ (1718)

With an Introduction by Otho Clinton Williams

Publication Number 29

Los Angeles

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

University of California



  H. RICHARD ARCHER, _Clark Memorial Library_

  RICHARD C. BOYS, _University of Michigan_

  EDWARD NILES HOOKER, _University of California, Los Angeles_

  JOHN LOFTIS, _University of California, Los Angeles_


  W. EARL BRITTON, _University of Michigan_


  EMMETT L. AVERY, _State College of Washington_

  BENJAMIN BOYCE, _Duke University_

  LOUIS I. BREDVOLD, _University of Michigan_

  CLEANTH BROOKS, _Yale University_

  JAMES L. CLIFFORD, _Columbia University_

  ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, _University of Chicago_

  LOUIS A. LANDA, _Princeton University_

  SAMUEL H. MONK, _University of Minnesota_

  ERNEST MOSSNER, _University of Texas_

  JAMES SUTHERLAND, _Queen Mary College, London_

  H.T. SWEDENBERG, JR., _University of California, Los Angeles_


_A Vindication of the Press_ is one of Defoe's most characteristic
pamphlets and for this reason as well as for its rarity deserves
reprinting. Besides the New York Public Library copy, here reproduced,
I know of but one copy, which is in the Indiana University Library.
Neither the Bodleian nor the British Museum has a copy.

Like many items in the Defoe canon, this tract must be assigned to him
on the basis of internal evidence; but this evidence, though
circumstantial, is convincing. W.P. Trent included _A Vindication_ in
his bibliography of Defoe in the _CHEL_, and later bibliographers of
Defoe have followed him in accepting it. Since the copy here
reproduced was the one examined by Professor Trent, the following
passage from his ms. notes is of interest:

     The tract was advertised, for "this day," in the _St. James
     Evening Post_, April 19-22, 1718. It is not included in the
     chief lists of Defoe's writings, but it has been sold as
     his, and the only copy I have seen, one kindly loaned me by
     Dr. J.E. Spingarn, once belonged to some eighteenth century
     owner, who wrote Defoe's name upon it. I was led by the
     advertisement mentioned above to seek the pamphlet, thinking
     it might be Defoe's; but I failed to secure a sight of it
     until Professor Spingarn asked me whether in my opinion the
     ascription to Defoe was warranted, and produced his copy.

Perhaps the most striking evidence for Defoe's authorship of _A
Vindication_ is the extraordinary reference to his own natural parts
and to the popularity of _The True-Born Englishman_ some seventeen
years after that topical poem had appeared [pp. 29f.]. Defoe was
justly proud of this verse satire, one of his most successful works,
and referred to it many times in later writings; it is hard to
believe, however, that anyone but Defoe would have praised it in such
fulsome terms in 1718.

The general homeliness and facility of the style, together with
characteristic phrases which occur in his other writings, indicate
Defoe's hand. Likewise homely similitudes and comparisons, specific
parallels with his known work, and characteristic treatment of matter
familiar in his other works, all furnish evidence of his authorship of
this pamphlet.

Just what motive caused Defoe to write _A Vindication of the Press_ is
not clear. Unlike his earlier _An Essay on the Regulation of the
Press_ (1704), _A Vindication_ does not seem to have been occasioned
by a specific situation, and in it Defoe is not alone concerned with
freedom of the press, but writes on a more general and discursive
level. His opening paragraph states that "The very great Clamour
against some late Performances of Authorship, and the unprecedented
Criticisms introduc'd" make such an essay as he writes "absolutely
necessary." Yet there is no clear indication of just what works
occasion this necessity. The ironic reference to Mr. Dennis at the end
of the first paragraph, taken together with the praise of Mr. Pope's
translation of Homer and the allusion to "the malicious and violent
Criticisms of a certain Gentleman in its Disfavour" [p. 23], might
suggest that Defoe had in mind Dennis' _Remarks upon Mr. Pope's
Translation of Homer_, but even the entire body of writings attacking
Pope's _Homer_ would hardly seem sufficient to give point to this
somewhat omnibus and unfocused essay.

Equally suggestive, perhaps, are Defoe's references to the Bangorian
controversy and to Bishop Hoadley [pp. 10, 23]. This controversy raged
from 1717 to 1720 and produced a spate of pamphlets (to which Defoe
contributed), many of which were marked by heated argument and
acrimony. Defoe, with his liking for moderation, no doubt intended to
make an oblique criticism of the license of many of the Bangorian
tracts. But these tracts are certainly not advanced as the prime
occasion for _A Vindication_.

Defoe points out in the first section of his essay how important is
freedom of the press as the foundation of the "valuable liberties" of
Englishmen. I have been unable to find any reference to a specific
threat of regulation of the press at this time that might have
occasioned _A Vindication_. Nevertheless, it is possible that
sentiment for control of the press, perhaps incited by the Bangorian
controversy, was felt in 1718 and may have been a contributing motive
to the composition of this tract. Whatever the immediate motives for
writing it may have been, the variety of its contents suggests that
Defoe saw an opportunity to turn a penny, to express himself on a
number of his pet subjects, and to defend his own position as a
professional writer.

_A Vindication_ is made up of three clearly marked sections: in the
first the author vindicates the usefulness of writing; in the second
he discusses the usefulness--it would be more exact to say the
harmfulness--of criticism; in the third he expatiates upon the
qualifications of authors. One may admit at once the comparative
worthlessness of the pamphlet as a contribution to criticism or
critical theory. Defoe's comments upon specific writers are thoroughly
conventional and commonplace, as may be seen from a glance at his
remarks about Milton, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, and others on p.

Of more interest is his very high praise of Dryden, "a Man for
Learning and universal Writing in Poetry, perhaps the greatest that
England has produc'd" [p. l5], and his comment upon the critical
detraction from which he suffered. He compares Pope, interestingly
enough, with Dryden, remarking that Pope ("a Person tho' Inferior to
Mr. _Dryden_, yet speaking Impartially has few Superiors in this Age")
also is persecuted by envy; and he has generous praise for that poet's
translation of Homer. One may note that Defoe avoids the shortcomings
of the critics whom he condemns for judging according to party. He
distributes his praise indiscriminately between Whig and Tory writers.
In short, his essay hardly does more than confirm the critical
commonplaces of the time and attest to the catholicity of the author's

Of particular interest for students of Defoe is the paragraph [p. 2l]
in which Defoe defends the hack-writers who must write for
subsistence. One should not expect their writings, which are
necessarily numerous, to be as correct and finished as they might be.
After comparing their pens to prostitutes because of their venality,
he claims, in a half-ironic tone, for both authors and booksellers the
liberty of writing and printing for either or both sides without
ignominy. After all, they must write and print to live. Such practice
is certainly, he observes, no more unjust or disreputable than other
ways of gaining wealth such as one finds in Exchange-Alley.

This paragraph gains point when one remembers that Defoe had served
both Whig and Tory governments. In 1718, as letters written to Lord
Stanhope in that very year testify, he was engaged in the perhaps
dubious business of masquerading as a Tory, while actually in the
service of the Whig ministry, to take the "sting" out of the more
violent Tory periodicals; and he was much concerned with the danger of
his ambiguous position. In December of 1717 he had been identified as
a writer for _Mist's Weekly Journal_, the leading Tory paper, and was
subjected to growing attacks in the Whig press. One can hardly doubt
that this paragraph is a thinly veiled defense of his own practice as
a professional journalist.

It is no surprise to find the author of _A Vindication_, in discussing
the qualifications of writers, advocating the importance of genius and
"Natural Parts" above mere learning. He instances the author of _The
True-Born Englishman_ and Shakespeare, the former "Characteriz'd as a
Person of Little Learning, but of prodigious Natural Parts" and the
latter having "but a small share of Literature." The further example
of the literary achievements of the "Fair Sex," who had, of course, no
university education, reminds one of Defoe's championship elsewhere of
women. The business of a writer is "to please and inform," and the
general implication is that genius is more necessary to this end than

Also characteristic of Defoe is his emphasis upon the advantage to an
author of conversation, "the Aliment of Genius, the Life of all airy
Performances" [p.32]. Likewise, his digression upon education [pp.
34f.], his charge that people of quality in England all too often
neglect their children's education, his remarks upon the advantages of
travel and the need of training in the vernacular, all will be
familiar to readers of Defoe.

_A Vindication of the Press_ is chiefly important for the
corroboration of our knowledge of Daniel Defoe. It presents nothing
that is new, but it gives further evidence of his pride in authorship,
of his rationalization of his actions as a professional journalist,
and of his belief in the importance of a free press. Many of his
characteristic ideas are repeated with his usual consistency in point
of view. Although the critical comments in the essay are thoroughly
conventional, they offer evidence of contemporary literary judgments
and reveal Defoe as a well-informed man of moderation and commonsense,
though certainly not as a profound critic. In the catholicity of his
tastes and interests Defoe is far ahead of his Puritan fellows, and
his essay may be taken as one indication of the growing interest of
the middle-classes for whom he wrote in the greater world of
literature. As Professor Trent remarks in his ms. notes, "Defoe rarely
wrote a tract without introducing something worthy of attention and
comment, and the present pamphlet is no exception to the rule."

I should like to thank Dr. Henry C. Hutchins for his generosity in
making available to me Professor Trent's ms. notes on _A Vindication_
and Dr. John Robert Moore for his kindness, criticisms, and

Otho Clinton Williams
San Jose State College

Vindication of the Press:

OR, AN ESSAY ON THE _Usefulness of Writing_, ON CRITICISM, AND THE

Qualification of AUTHORS.

Wherein is shewn,

That 'tis for the Advantage of all Governments to encourage Writing;
otherwise a Nation would never be secure from the Attempts of its most
secret Enemies; Barbarous and prejudic'd Criticisms on Writings are
detected, and Criticism is justly stated. With an Examination into
what Genius's and Learning are necessary for an AUTHOR in all manner
of Performances.


Printed for _T. Warner_, at the _Black-Boy_ in Pater-Noster-Row.

[Price Sixpence.]


A Vindication of the PRESS:

OR, AN ESSAY ON THE _Usefulness of Writing_, &c.

The very great Clamour against some late Performances or Authorship,
and the unpresidented Criticisms introduc'd, render a Treatise on the
Usefulness of Writing in general so absolutely necessary, that the
Author of this Essay has not the least Apprehensions of Displeasure
from the most inveterate, but on the contrary, doubts not an
Approbation, even of the Great Mr. _Dennis_.

For the Usefulness of Writing in the Church, I shall trace back to the
Annals of our Saviour and his Apostles. Had not Writing been at that
Time in use, what Obscurity might we reasonably have expected the
whole World would have labour'd under at this Day? when,
notwithstanding the Infidels possess such vast Regions, and Religion
in its Purity shines but in a small Quarter of the Globe. 'Tis easy-to
imagine, that without the New-Testament every Person of excellency in
Literature, and compleat in Hypocrisy, either out of Interest, or
other worldly Views, would have taken the Liberty to deny the most
Sacred Traditions, and to have impos'd upon the Populace as many
Religions as they pleas'd, and that the ignorant Multitude would
easily acquiesce, as they do in _Turkey_, and other distant Parts of
the World, which deny the Divinity of our Saviour.

What fatal Errors, Schisms, and concomitant Evils would have been
introduc'd, must be apparent to all Persons of the least Penetration.
The Quakers might at this Time possibly have been our National Church,
and our present Happiness, with regard to those Considerations, can no
way be more lively and amply demonstrated than in taking a step at
once from Mr. _Penn's_ Conventicle to the Cathedral Church of St.

The Regularity and heavenly Decorum of the latter, give an Awe and
Transport to the Audience at the same time they ornament Religion; and
the Confusion of the former fully shews, that as it only serves to
amuse a Crowd of ignorant Wretches, unless meerly with temporal Views
(Sectarists generally calculating Religion for their Interests) so it
gives a License to all manner of Indecencies, and the Congregations
usually resort thither with the same Regard as a Rake of the Town
would do to Mother _Wybourn's_, or any publick Place of Diversion.

Whether it be not natural to have expected a Confusion in the Church,
equal to that of the worst Sectaries in the World, had not the Use of
Waiting been early attain'd and practis'd, I appeal to the Breast of
every unprejudic'd Reader; and if so, how infinitely happy are we by
the Use of our Sacred Writings, which clear up the Cloud of Ignorance
and Error, and give a Sanction to our Religion, besides the
Satisfaction we of the Church of _England_ have in this felicitous
Contemplation, that our Religion, since the Reformation, strictly
observ'd, is the nearest that of our Saviour and his Apostles of any
Profession of Faith upon Earth.

'Tis owing to Writing, that we enjoy the purest Religion in the World,
and exclusive of it, there would have been no possibility of
transmitting down entirely those valuable Maxims of _Solomon_, and the
Sufferings of the Righteous _Job_, in the old Testament; which are so
extensive to all Parts and Stations of Life, that as they are
infinitely preferable to all other Writings of the Kind, so they
afford the greatest Comfort and Repose in the Vicisitudes incident to
Humane Nature.

How far Theology is improv'd from those inestimable Writings, I need
not to enlarge, since it is highly conspicuous that they are the
Foundation of all Divine Literature; and how ignorant and imperfect we
should have been without them, is no great difficulty to explain; and
who can sufficiently admire the Psalter of _David_, which fills the
Soul with Rapture, and gives an Anticipation of sublimest Joys.

Besides the Advantages of Sacred Writings in the Cause of Religion;
'tis chiefly owing to Writing, that we have our most valuable
Liberties preserv'd; and 'tis observable, that the Liberty of the
Press is no where restrain'd but in Roman Catholick Countries, or
Kingdoms, or States Exercising an Absolute Power.

In the Kingdom of _France_ Writings relating to the Church and State
are prohibited upon the severest Penalties, and the Consequences of
those Laws are very Obvious to all Persons of Discernment here; they
serve to secure the Subject in the utmost Obscurity, and as it were
Effect an entire Ignorance, whereby an exorbitant Power is chearfully
submitted to, and a perfect Obedience paid to Tyranny; and the
Ignorance and Superstition of these People so powerfully prevail, that
the greatest Oppressor is commonly the most entirely Belov'd, which I
take to be sufficiently ently Illustrated in the late _Lewis_ the
Fourteenth, whose Arbitrary Government was so far from Diminishing the
Affections of his Subjects, that it highten'd their Esteem for their
Grand Monarch.

But of late the populace of _France_ are not so perfectly enclouded
with Superstition, and if a young Author can pretend to Divine, I
think it is easy to foresee that the papal Power will in a very short
space be considerably lessen'd if not in a great measure disregarded
in that Kingdom, by the intestine Jarrs and Discords of their Parties
for Religion, and the Desultory Judgments of the most considerable

The best Support of an Arbitrary Power is undoubtedly Ignorance, and
this cannot be better cultivated than by an Absolute Denial of
Printing; the Oppressions of the Popularity cannot be thoroughly
Stated, or Liberty in general Propagated without the use of the Press
in some measure, and therefore the Subjects must inevitably submit to
such Ordinances as an Ambitious or Ignorant Monarch and his Tyrannical
Council shall think fit to impose upon them, how Arbitrary soever: And
the Hands of the Patriots and Men of Eminence who should Illuminate
the Age, and open the Eyes of the deluded People are thereby tied up,
and the Infelicity of the Populace so compleat that they are incapable
of either seeing their approaching Misery, or having a redress of
present Grievances.

In _Constantinople_ I think they have no such thing as Printing
allow'd on any Account whatsoever; all their Publick Acts relating to
the Church and State are recorded in Writing by expert Amanuensis's,
so very strict are the Divan and great Council of the Sultan in
prohibiting the Publication of all manner of Writings: They are very
sensible had Persons a common Liberty of stating their own Cases, they
might Influence the Publick so far, that the Yoke of Tyranny must sink
if not be rendred insupportable; and this is regarded in all Kingdoms
and Countries upon Earth Govern'd by a Despotick Power.

To what I have already offer'd in favour of the Press, there may be
Exceptions taken by some Persons in the World; and as it is my
Intentions to solve all Objections that may be rais'd to what I
advance, as I proceed, I think I cannot too early make known, that I
am apprehensive the following Observations may be made; _viz._ that a
general License of the Press is of such a fatal Tendency, that it
causes Uneasinesses in the State, Confusions in the Church, and is
destructive sometimes even to Liberty, by putting the ruling Powers
upon making Laws of Severity, on a Detection of ill Designs against
the State, otherwise never intended.

In answer to which, I shall give the following Particulars: In respect
to Uneasinesses in the State, it may not be amiss to premise, that it
is esteem'd by Men of Penetration, no small Wisdom in the present
Administration, to bestow Preferments on the brightest and most
enterprising Authors of the Age; but whether it be so much out of a
Regard to the Service they are capable of to the State in their
Employs, as to their Writing for the Government, and to answer
treasonable Pamphlets, poison'd Pens, _&c._ I do not take upon me to
determine. I must confess, where a Faction prevails, it gives a
sensible Monarch some Pain to see Disafection propagated by the Press,
without any manner of Restraint; but then, on the other Hand, such a
Ruler is thereby let into the Secrets of the Faction, he may with
facility penetrate into their deepest Intrigues, and be enabled to
avert an impending Storm. Upon approach of a Rebellion, he will be
thoroughly sensible from what Quarter his greatest Danger is to be
expected, whereby it will be entirely his own Fault, if he be without
a sufficient Guard against it, which he could not be appriz'd of (with
any certainty) without a general Liberty of Writing: And tho' Slander
must occasion a great deal of Uneasiness to a crown'd Head, the Power
of bestowing Favours on Friends only is no small Satisfaction to the
Prince, and a sufficient Punishment to his Enemies. And it is my
Opinion, that the Grand Sultan, and other Eastern Potentates, would be
in a great deal less danger of Deposing, (a Practice very frequent of
late) if in some measure a Liberty of Writing was allow'd; for the
Eyes of the People would be open, as well for as against their Prince,
and their fearing a worse Evil should succeed, might make them easy
under a present Oppression.

As for Confusion in the Church, I look upon this to be the greatest
Objection that can be raised; but then it must be allow'd, that
without Writing the Reformation (the Glory of our Religion) could
never have been effected; and in respect to religious Controversies,
tho' I own they are seldom attended with good Consequences, yet I must
beg leave to observe, that as the Age we now live in, is more bright
and shining in substantial Literature than any preceding Century, so
the generality of Mankind are capable of judging with such an
Exactness as to avoid a Bad; not but, I confess, I think many of the
Persons concern'd in the Controversy lately on foot, with relation to
the Bishop of _Bangor's_ Sermon, preach'd before His Majesty, deserve
to be stigmatiz'd, as well for their indecent Heat, as for the
Latitude taken with regard to the Holy Scriptures. And for the last
Objection, I never knew that Writing was any ways destructive to
Liberty, unless it was in a Pamphlet, [entitled King-Killing no
Murder] which 'tis said occasion'd the Death of _Oliver Cromwel_.

These are the Uses of Writings in the Church and the State, with
Answers to such Objections as may be made against them, not to mention
particularly in respect to the former, the Writings of the Fathers,
and even of some Heathen Philosophers, such as _Seneca_, &c. And
besides the valuable Performances of our most eminent Divines in all
Ages, as Dr. _Taylor_, Bishop _Usher, Tillotson, Beveridge_ &c. and
_The whole Duty of Man_, &c. in our private Devotions. I now proceed
to the Uses in Arts and Sciences.

How much Posterity will be oblig'd to the Great Sir _Isaac Newton_ and
Doctor _Flamstead_ for their Mathematical Writings, is more easy to
imagine than the Improvements which may be made from thence; there's a
great deal of Reason to believe, that if a future Age produces a
Successor to Sir _Isaac_, (at present I take it, there's none in the
World) that not only the Longitude at Sea will be discover'd, but the
perpetual Motion, so many Ages sought after, found out.

How much are the Gentlemen of the Law oblig'd to my Lord _Littleton's_
Institutes and _Coke's_ Commentaries thereupon? Writing in this
Profession is esteem'd so Essential, that there's seldom a Judge quits
the Stage of Life, without a voluminous Performance, as a Legacy to
the World, and there's rarely a Term without some Production of the
Press: The Numbers of these Writings are very much augmented by the
various Reports of Cases from Time to Time made; and these seem to be
entirely necessary by way of Precedent, as a discreet and cautious
Justice will not take upon him to determine a Cause of difficulty
without the Authority of a Precedent.

And in the Practice of Physick, are not the present Professors
infinitely obliged to the Discoveries and Recipes of _Aristotle_,
_Galen_, &c? How much the World is oblig'd to the Declamations of
_Tully_, _Cicero_, for Oratory; to the famous Writings of _Milton_ for
the Foundation of Divine Poetry; Poetry in general is improv'd from
the Writings of _Chaucer_, _Spencer_, and others; Dramatick
Entertainments perfected by _Shakespear_; our Language and Poetry
refin'd by _Dryden_; the Passions rais'd by _Otway_; the Inclination
mov'd by _Cowley_; and the World diverted by _Hudibras_, (not to
mention the Perfections of Mr. _Addison_, and several others of this
Age) I leave to the Determination of every impartial Reader.

'Tis by Writing that Arts and Sciences are Cultivated, Navigation and
Commerce (by which alone Wealth is attain'd) to the most distant parts
of the World Improv'd, Geography Compleated, the Languages, Customs
and Manners of Foreign Nations known; and there is scarce any one
Mechanick calling of Note or Signification, but Treatises have been
written upon, to transmit the valuable Observations of Ingenious
Artificers to the latest Posterity.

There might be innumerable Instances given of the Advantages of
Writings in all Cases, but I shall satisfy my self with the
particulars already advanc'd, and proceed to such Objections, as I am
apprehensive may be made relating to the Writings last mentioned.
First, it may be Objected that the numerous Writings tend more to
confound the Reader, than to inform him; to this I answer, that it is
impossible there can be many Writings produced, but there must be some
valuable Informations communicated, easy to be Collected by a
judicious Reader; tho' there may be a great deal superfluous, and
notwithstanding it is a considerable Charge to purchase a useful
Library, (the greatest Grievance) yet we had better be at that
Expence, than to have no Books publish'd, and consequently no
Discoveries; the same Reason may be given where Books in the Law,
Physick, &c. are imperfect in some Part, and tend to the misleading
Persons; for of two Evils the old Maxim is, always chuse the least.
The only Objection that I do not take upon me to Defend, is, that
against Lewd and obscene Poetry in general; (for sometimes the very
great Wit may make it excuseable) which in my Opinion will admit of
but a slender Apology in its Defence.

The use of Writing is Illustrated in the following Lines, which
conclude my first Head of this Essay.

  _By ancient Writing Knowledge is convey'd,
  Of famous Arts the best Foundation laid;
  By these the Cause of Liberty remains,
  Are Nations free'd from Arbitrary Chains,
  From Errors still our Church is purified,
  The State maintained, with justice on its Side._

I now advance to my second Particular, _Criticism_.

The fatal Criticism or Damnation which the Writings of some Authors
meet with thro' their Obscurity, want of Friends and Interest in the
World, &c. is very discouraging to the Productions of Literature:
It is the greatest difficulty immaginable, for an obscure Person to
Establish a Reputation in any sort of Writing; he's a long time in the
same Condition with _Sisyphus_, rolling a heavy Stone against an
aspiring Mount which perpetually descends again; it must be to his
benign Stars, some lucky Subject suiting the Humour of the Times, more
than the Beauty of his Performance, which he will be oblig'd for his
Rise: And in this Age Persons in general, are so Estrang'd from bare
Merit, that an Author destitute of Patronage will be equally
Unsuccessful to a Person without Interest at Court, (and you'll as
rarely find the Friendship of an _Orestes_, as the Chastity of
_Penelope_) When a Man of Fortune has no other Task, than to give out
a stupid Performance to be of his own Composing, and he's immediately
respected as a Celebrated Writer: And if a Man has the good Fortune to
hit the capricious Humour of the Age; after he has attained a
Reputation with the utmost Difficulty, he's sure to meet with the
severest Treatment, from a herd of Malicious and Implacable Scriblers.

This was the Case of the late Mr. _Dryden_, a Man for Learning and
universal Writing in Poetry, perhaps the Greatest that _England_ has
produc'd; he was Persecuted by Envy, with the utmost Inveteracy for
many Years in Succession: And is the Misfortune at this Juncture of
Mr. _Pope_, a Person tho' Inferior to Mr. _Dryden_, yet speaking
Impartially has few Superiors in this Age: From these Considerations
it is Evident, (tho' it seems a Paradox) that it is a Reputation to be
Scandaliz'd, as a Person in all Cases of this Nature is allow'd some
Merit, when Envy attacks him, and the World might not be sensible of
it in General, without a publick Encounter in Criticism; and many
Authors would be Buried in Oblivion were they not kept alive by
Clamours against their Performances.

The Criticks in this Age are arriv'd to that consummate Pitch of
ill-nature, that they'll by no means permit any Person the favour to
Blunder but their mighty selves, and are in all respects, except the
Office of a Critick, in some measure ill Writers; I have known an
unnatural Brother of the Quill causless condemn Language in the
Writings of other Persons, when his own has really been the meanest;
to Accuse others of Inconsistency with the utmost Vehemence, when his
own Works have not been without their Æra's, and to find fault with
every Line in a Poem, when he has been wholly at a loss to Correct, or
at least not capable of Writing one single Page of it.

There are another sort of Criticks, which are equally ill-natur'd to
these I have mention'd, tho' in all other respects vastly inferior to
them: They are such as no sooner hear of a Performance compos'd by a
Juvenile Author, or one not hitherto known in the way of Writing he
has undertaken; but immediately without reading a Line give it a Stamp
of Damnation; (not considering that the first Performance of an Author
in any way of Writing done carefully, is oftentimes the best) and if
they had thoroughly perus'd it, they were no ways capable of Judging
of either the Sense, Language, or Beauty of any one Paragraph; and
what is still worse, these ignorant Slanderers of Writings frequently
take what other Persons report for Authority, who know as little, or
perhaps are more Ignorant than themselves, so little Regard have they
to the Reputation of an Author.

And sometimes you'll find a pert _Bookseller_ give himself the Airs of
Judging a Performance so far, as to Condemn the Correctness of what he
knows nothing of these there's a pretender to Authorship in the City,
who Rules the young Fry of Biblioples about the _Royal-Exchange_.

But the _Booksellers_ in general, (tho' they commonly Judge of the
Goodness of Writings, by the greatness of the Sale,) are Very sensible
that their greatest Security in respect to the Performance of any
Work, is the Qualification of the Person that Composes it, the
Confidence they can Repose in him; his Capacity, Industry and
Veracity; And the Author's Reputation is so far concern'd in a
Performance, which he owns that the _Bookseller_ will sooner rely upon
that, than his own Judgment.

To descend still to a lower Order of Criticks, you'll find very few
Coffee-Houses in this opulent City without an illiterate Mechanick,
Commenting upon the most material Occurrences, and Judging the Actions
of the greatest Councils in _Europe_, and rarely a Victualing House,
but you meet with a _Tinker, a Cobler, or a Porter_, Criticizing upon
the Speeches of Majesty, or the Writings of the most celebrated Men of
the Age.

This is entirely owing to Party, and there is such a Contagion
diffuses it self thro' the greatest Part of the World at this Time,
that it is impossible for a Man to acquire a universal Character in
Writing, as it is inconsistent for him to engage in Writings for both
Parties at one and the same Time, (whatever he may do alternately)
without which such a Character is not attainable; and these contending
Parties carry Things to that Extremity, that they'll by no means allow
the least Merit in the most perfect Author, who adheres to the
opposite Side; his Performances will be generally unheeded, if not
blasted, and frequently damn'd, as if, like _Coelus_, he were capable
of producing nothing but Monsters; he shall be in all Respects
depress'd and debas'd, at the same time an illiterate Scribler, an
auspicious Ideot of their own (with whose Nonsense they are never
sated) shall be extoll'd to the Skies: Herein, if a Man has all the
Qualifications necessary in Poetry, as an Elegance of Style, an
Excellency of Wit, and a Nobleness of Thought; were Master of the most
surprizing Turns, fine Similies, and of universal Learning, yet he
shall be despis'd by the Criticks, and rang'd amongst the damn'd
Writers of the Times.

The Question first ask'd is, whether an Author is a Whig or a Tory; if
he be a Whig, or that Party which is in Power, his Praise is
resounded, he's presently cried up for an excellent Writer; if not,
he's mark'd as a Scoundrel, a perpetual Gloom hangs over his Head; if
he was Master of the sublime Thoughts of _Addison_, the easy flowing
Numbers of _Pope_, the fine Humour of _Garth_, the beautiful Language
of _Rowe_, the Perfection of _Prior_, the Dialogue of _Congreve_, and
the Pastoral of _Phillips_, he must nevertheless submit to a mean
Character, if not expect the Reputation of an Illitterate.

Writings for the Stage are of late so very much perverted by the
Violence of Party, that the finest Performance, without Scandal,
cannot be supported; _Shakespear_ and _Ben Johnson_, were they, now
living, would be wholly at a Loss in the Composure of a Play suitable
to the Taste of the Town; without a promiscuous heap of Scurrility to
expose a Party, or, what is more detestable, perhaps a particular
Person, no Play will succeed, and the most execrable Language, in a
Comedy, produc'd at this Time, shall be more applauded than the most
beautiful Turns in a _Love for Love_: Such are the Hardships a
Dramatick-Poet has to struggle with, that either Obscenity, Party, or
Scandal must be his Theme, and after he has performed his utmost in
either of these Ways, without a powerful Interest, he'll have more
Difficulty in the bringing his Play upon the Theatre than in the
Writing, and sometimes never be able to accomplish it.

These are the Inconveniencies which Writers for the Stage labour
under, besides 'tis observable, that an obsequious prolifick Muse
generally meets with a worse Reception than a petulant inanimate
Author; and when a Poet has finished his Labours, so that he has
brought his Play upon the Stage, the best Performance has oftentimes
the worst Success, for which I need only instance Mr. _Congreve's Way
of the World_, a Comedy esteem'd by most Persons capable of judging,
no way inferior to any of his other Performances.

A Choice of Actors, next to Interest and Popularity, is the greatest
Advantage to a new Play: If a Stage-Poet has the Misfortune not to
have a sufficient Influence over the Managers of the Theatres to make
a Nomination, his Performance must very much suffer; and if he cannot
entirely Command his Theatre, and Season for bringing it on, it will
be perfectly slaughter'd; and a certain Theatre has lately acquir'd
the Name of a _Slaughter-House_, but whether more for the Stupidity of
its Poets than its Actors, I do not pretend to determine; but certain
it is, that Acting is the Life of all Dramatick-Performances. And tho'
an indifferent Play may appear tolerable, with good Acting, it is
impossible a bad one can afford any Entertainment, when perform'd by
an incompleat Set of Comedians.

In respect to Writings in general, there is an unaccountable Caprice
in abundance of Persons, to Condemn or Commend a Performance meerly by
a Name. The Names of some Writers will effectually recommend, without
making an Examination into the Merit of the Work; and the Names of
other Persons, equally qualified for Writing, and perhaps of greater
Learning than the Former, shall be sufficient to Damn it; and all this
is owing either to some lucky Accident of writing apposite to the
Humour of the Town, (wherein an agreeable Season and a proper Subject
are chiefly to be regarded) or to Prejudice, but most commonly the

It is a Misfortune to Authors both in Prose and Verse, who are reduc'd
to a Necessity of constant writing for a Subsistence, that the
numerous Performances, publish'd by them, cannot possibly be so
correct as they might be, could more Time be afforded in the
Composure. By this Means there is sometimes just room for Criticism
upon the best of their Productions, and these Gentlemen,
notwithstanding it be never so contrary to their Inclinations, are
entirely oblig'd to prostrate their Pens to the Town, as Ladies of
Pleasure do their Bodies; tho' herein, in respect to Party, it is to
be observ'd, that a Bookseller and an Author may very well be allow'd
occasionally to be of either Party, or at least, that they should be
permitted the Liberty of Writing and Printing of either Side for
Bread, free from Ignominy; and as getting Money is the chief Business
of the World, so these Measures cannot by any means be esteem'd Unjust
or Disreputable, with regard to the several Ways of accumulating
Wealth, introduc'd in _Exchange-Alley_, and at the other End of the

It is a common Practice with some Persons in the World, either to
prefix the Name of a _Mecanas_ in the Front of their Performances, or
to obtain recommendatory Lines from some Person of excellency in
Writing, as a Protection against Criticism; and there is nothing more
frequent than to see a mean Performance (especially if it be done by a
Man of Figure) with this Guard.

'Tis true, the worst Performances have the greatest occasion of these
Ramparts, but then the Person who takes upon him to Recommend, must
have such an absolute Authority and Influence over the generality of
Mankind, as to silence all Objections, or else it will have a contrary
Turn, by promoting a Criticism as well upon the Author as upon
himself; for which Reason it is very hazardous for a Person in a
middle Station (tho' he have never so great a Reputation in Writing)
to engage in the Recommendation of the Writings of others.

The severe Treatment which the brightest Men of the Age have met with
from the Criticks, is sufficient to deter all young Gentlemen from
entring the Lists of Writing; and was not the World in general more
good-natur'd and favourable to youthful Performances than the
Criticks, there would be no such thing as a Succession of Writings;
whereas, by that Means, and his present Majesty's Encouragement,
Literature is in a flourishing Condition, and Poetry seems to improve
more at this Time than it has done in any preceding Reign, except that
of King _Charles_ II. when there was a _Rochester_, a _Sidley_, a
_Buckingham_, &c. And (setting aside Party) what the World may hope
from a generous Encouragement of polite Writing, I take to be very
conspicuous from Mr. _Pope's_ Translation of _Homer_, notwithstanding
the malicious and violent Criticisms of a certain Gentleman in its

In the religious Controversy of late depending, Criticisms have been
carried to that height, that some Persons have pretended to fix false
Grammer on one of the most celebrated Writers perhaps at this Time in
_Europe_, but how justly, I leave to the Determination of those who
have perused the Bishop's incomparable Answer; but admitting his
Lordship had permitted an irregularity of Grammer to pass unobser'd
[typo for "unobserv'd"?], he is not the first of his Sacred Character
that has done it, and small Errors of this kind are easily looked
over, where the Nominative Case is at a distance from the Verb, or a
Performance is done in haste, the Case of the Bishop against so many
powerful Adversaries. Besides, it is apparent and well known, that a
certain Person [_Mr._ Lessey, _now with the_ Chevalier.] in the World,
who has a very great Reputation in Writing, never regards the strict
Rules of Grammer in any of his Performances.

It is a Satisfaction to Authors of tender Date, to see their Superiors
thus roughly handled by the Criticks; a young Writer in Divinity will
not think his Case desperate, when the shining _Bangor_ has met with
such malevolent Treatment; neither must a youthful Poet be uneasy at a
severe Criticism, when the Great Mr. _Addison, Rowe_ and _Pope_ have
been treated with the utmost Scurrility.

These Men of Eminence sitting easy with a load of Calumny, is a
sufficient Consolation to Inferiors under the most despicable Usage,
and there is this satisfactory Reflection, that perhaps the most
perfect Work that ever was compos'd, if not so entirely correct, but
there may be some room for Criticism by a Man of consummate Learning;
for there is nothing more common than to find a Man, (if not wholly
blind) over opiniated in respect to his own Performances, and too
exact in a Scrutiny into the Writings of others.

The ill Nature attending Criticism I take to be greater now than in
any Age past; a Man's Defects in Writing shall not only be expos'd,
but all the personal Infamy heap'd upon him that is possible; his
Descent and Education shall be scandaliz'd, (as if a fine Performance
was the worse for the Author's Parentage) his good Name villified, a
History of the Transactions of his whole Life, and oftentimes a great
deal more, shall be written, as if the were a Candidate setting up in
a Burough for Member of Parliament, not an airy[?] or loose Action
shall be omitted, and neither the Sacred Gown, nor the greatest
Dignity shall be exempted; but there is this Consideration which sways
the sensible part of Mankind, _viz._ a Man of Excellency in Writing
his being generally a Person of more Vivacity than the common Herd,
and consequently the more extraordinary Actions in him are allowable;
yet, nevertheless, I think it consistent with Prudence for an Author,
when he has the good fortune to compose a Piece, which he's assur'd
will occasion Envy and Criticism, to write his own Life at the same
Time with it, tho' it be a little extravagant and the method is
unusual, to prevent an ill-natur'd doing thereof by the Hand of
another Person.

According to the old Maxim, _Get a Reputation, and lye a Bed,_ not to
mention how many lye a Bed before they can attain it, according to the
humorous Turn of the late ingenious Mr. _Farqubar_; but there's at
this Time a greater necessity for a Man to be wakeful, when he has
acquir'd a Reputation, than at any Time before; he'll find abundantly
more difficulty attend the Securing than the Attaining of the greatest
Reputation; he'll meet with Envy from every Quarter; Malice will
pursue him in all his undertakings, and if he makes any manner of
Defence, he cannot commence it too soon, tho' it is not always
prudential to shew an open Resentment, even to the utmost ill

If a Man be so considerable as to be thought worthy of Criticism, a
luducrous Reprimand is always preferable to a serious Answer;
returning Scurrility with Comic-Satyr will gaul an ill-natur'd
Adversary beyond any Treatment whatsoever; his Spleen will encrease
equal to any Poison, his Rage keep within no Bounds, and at length his
Passion will not only destroy his own Performance, but himself
likewise: And this I take to be natural in our modern Criticks.

The Business of these Gentlemen is to set the ignorant Part of Mankind
right, In correcting the Errors of pretending Authors, and exposing of
Impositions, whereby who has Learning and Merit, and who has not, may
be so apparent, that the World may not misplace their Favour; but
unless they do it with more Impartiality, Temper and Candour than of
late, they may, with equal prospect of Success, endeavour to turn the
current of the Thames, as to pervert the Humour of this good-natur'd

I presume to present them with these two Verses:

  _The learned Criticks learn not to be Civil,
  In Spite and Malice personate the Devil._

Having now dispatch'd the two first Subjects of my Essay _(viz.)_ The
Usefulness of Writing, and Criticism, I come to my last Head, the
Qualification of Authors.

I am not of the Opinion of a great many Persons in the World, that a
Poet is entirely born such, and that Poetry is a particular Gift of
Heaven, not but I confess there is a great deal in natural Genius,
which I shall mention hereafter:

It is consistent with my Reason, that any Man having a share of
Learning, and acquainted with the Methods of Writing, may by an
assiduous Application, not only write good Poetry, but make a
tollerable Figure in any sort of Writings whatsoever; and herein I
could give numerous Instances of Authors who have written all manner
of Ways with success. Neither can I acquiesce in the common Notion,
that the Person who begins most early in Poetry always arrives to the
greatest Perfection; for, in my Opinion, it is a Matter of no great
difficulty, for a Person of any Age, before his Vivacity is too much
abated, and Fire exhausted, to commence a Poet; the great Mr. _Dryden_
not beginning to Write 'till he was above the Age of 30; and I doubt
not but a great many Persons have lost themselves for want of putting
their Genius's to the Trial, and making particular Writings their
particular Studies.

Their is no Practice more frequent than for an Author to misapply his
Genius; and there is nothing more common than for a Man, after
numerous Trials in almost all sorts of Authorship, to make that his
favourite Writing which he is least capable of performing; and too
frequently Authors use their Genius's as Parents do their Children,
place them to such Businesses as make the most considerable Figure in
the World, without consulting their Qualifications.

There are many other Faults equal to these, as where Authors, through
overmuch Timerity, or too great Opinion of their own Performances,
permit their Writings to pass with egregious Errors; and I take it to
be equally pernicious for a Man to be too diffident of his own
Performances, as it is to be presuming: There are likewise some
Gentlemen, who (by a lazy Disposition, or through over much Haste, an
impatience in dispatch to gain an early Reputation) commit Blunders
almost to their immediate Ruin; but many of these Errors are commonly
excus'd in an Author by a condescending Printer, who is oblig'd to
take the Errata upon himself.

In Prose a slight Examination of a Performance may suffice, but in
Poetry it cannot be too often repeated; and in this way of Writing,
haste is attended with a fatal Consequence. To compose your Lines in
perfect Harmony, of easy flowing Numbers, fine Flights and Similies,
and at the same Time retain a strong Sense, which make Poetry
substantially Beautiful, is a Work of Time, and requires the most
sedate Perusals: And though some Persons think, giving Poetry the
Character of easy Lines to be a Disgrace, it is rightly considered the
greatest Reputation and Honour they can do it; the utmost Difficulty
attending this easy Writing, and there are very few Persons that can
ever attain it.

But to leave these general Observations, I proceed to my Point in
Hand, the Qualification of Authors; Though I shall first take Notice,
that the Business of every Author is to please and inform his Readers;
but how difficult it is to please, through the prevalence of Parties,
Envy and Prejudice needs no Illustration, and some Persons in the
World are so very perverse and obstinate, that they will not be
inform'd by a Person they entertain no good Opinion of. For writing
Prose a Man ought to have a tollerable Foundation of Learning, at
least to be Master of the Latin Tongue, to be a good Historian, and to
have a perfect Knowledge of the World; and besides these
Qualifications, in Poetry as I have before observ'd, a Writer should
be Master of the most refin'd and beautiful Language, surprizing
Turns, fine adapted Similes, a sublimity of Thought, and to be a
Person of universal Learning: Though I have often observ'd, both in
Prose and Verse, that some Persons of strong Genius, well acquainted
with the World, and but of little Learning, have made a better Figure
in some kinds of Writings, than Persons of the most consummate
Literature, not bless'd with natural Genius, and a Knowledge of

The preference of Genius to Learning, is sufficiently Demonstrated in
the Writings of the Author of the _True born English Man_; (a Poem
that has Sold beyond the best Performance of any Ancient or Modern
Poet of the greatest Excellency, and perhaps beyond any Poetry ever
Printed in the _English_ Language) This Author is Characteriz'd as a
Person of little Learning, but of prodigious Natural Parts; and the
immortal _Shakespear_ had but a small share of Literature: It is
likewise worthy Observation, that some of our most entertaining
Comedies, Novels and Romances have been Written by the fair Sex, who
cannot be suppos'd to have Learning in any Degree equal to Gentlemen
of a University Education. And in _North Britain_ where Literature
shines amongst the Persons of middle Station, an Ounce of Natural
Parts, (speaking in a common way of Comparison) is Esteem'd of greater
Value, than a Pound of Learning.

A Person of Learning without Genius and Knowledge of the World, is
like an _Architect's_ Assistant, whose only Business is to Draw the
Draught or Model of a Pile of Building; he's at a loss in the
Materials necessary for compleating the Structure, tho' he can Judge
of its Beauty when Perfected; and may be compared to a Man that has
the theory in any Art or Science, but wants the Practice.

And a meer Scholar is the most unacceptable Companion upon Earth: He
is Rude in his Manners, Unpolish'd in his Literature, and generally
Ill-Natur'd to the last Degree; he's Company for a very few Persons,
and Pleasing to None; his Pride exalts him in Self-Opinion beyond all
Mankind: And some of the sucking Tribe of _Levi_, think the Gown and
Cassock alone, Merit a Respect due to the greatest Personages, and
that the broad Hat with the Rose should be Ador'd, tho' it covers a
thick and brainless Skull.

But these are a few only; there are great Numbers of the Clergy who
deserve the utmost Respect, and are justly paid more than they desire;
and no Person can have a greater Regard for that sacred Body than my
self, as I was not only intended for a Clergyman, but have several
Relations now in being of that venerable Order; Tho' I am oblig'd to
take Notice, that the Authors of the Gown in general, treat the World
with greater Insolence and Incharity, than any Lay-Persons whatsoever.

There's nothing more frequent, than to find the Writings of many of
our Modern Divines, not only Stiff and Harsh, but full of Rancour, and
to find an easy Propensity and Complaisance in the Writings of the
Laity; a Gentleman without the Gown commonly Writes with a genteel
Respect to the World, abundance of good Temper and a condescension
Endearing; when a brawny Priest, shall shew a great deal of
Ill-nature, give indecent Reflections, and affrontive Language, and
oftentimes be Dogmatical in all his Performances.

Whether this be owing more to Pride, than a want of an Easy, Free, and
polite Conversation, I do not take upon me to Determine; but I believe
it must be generally Imputed to the Former, as it cannot be suppos'd,
that either of the Universities, are at any time without a polite
Converse; tho' I take leave to observe, that there is a great deal of
difference between a finish'd _Oxonian_, and a sprightly Senator.

This is Demonstrated in the Speeches from Time to Time, made in the
Senate and the Synod; the Stile and Composure of the one, is no way to
be compar'd to the other, tho' the Sense be equally strong; there's an
Elegancy and Beauty of Expression in the Former, not to be met with in
the Latter, Oratory no where to be exceeded, and an Affluence of Words
not to be met with in any other Speeches whatsoever; and I believe it
must be generally allow'd that there is a very great difference in the
common Conversation, (particularly in point of Manners) of the Members
of those August Assemblies.

A good Conversation is the greatest Advantage an Author can possibly
Enjoy, by a variety of Converse, a Man is furnish'd with a perpetual
Variety of Hints, and may acquire a greater Knowledge on some Subjects
in the space of a few Minutes, than he can attain by Study, in a
Succession of Weeks, (tho' I must allow Study to be the only
Foundation for Writing) 'twas owing to a good Conversation, that those
Entertaining Papers the _Tatlers_ were publish'd by Sir _Richard
Steel_, the _Examiner_ carried on by Mr. _Oldsworth_; and 'tis
impossible a perfect good Comedy can be written by any Person, without
a constant Resort to the best Conversation, whereby alone a Man will
be Master of the best Thoughts.

In short, Conversation is the Aliment of the Genius, the Life of all
airy Performances, as Learning is the Soul; the various Humours of
Mankind, upon all Occasions, afford the most agreeable Subjects for
all sorts of Writings, and I look upon any Performance, tho' done by a
Person celebrated for Writing, without the use of Conversation, in
some measure incompleat.

If an Author be enclin'd to write for Reformation of Manners, let him
repair to St. _Pauls_ or _Westminster-Abbey_, and observe the indecent
Behaviour of multitudes of Persons, who make those Sacred Places
Assignations of Vice; if you are enclin'd to lash the Follies and
Vanities of the fair Sex, retire to the Tea Table and the Theatre; if
your Business be to compose a Sermon, or you are engag'd in
Theological Studies, resort to _Child's_ Coffee-House in St. _Paul's_
Church-Yard; if you are desirous to depaint the Cheat and the
Trickster, I recommend ye to the _Royal-Exchange_ and the Court End of
the Town; and if you would write a Poem in imitation of _Rochester_,
you need only go to the Hundreds of _Drury_, and you'll be
sufficiently furnish'd with laudable Themes.

But Converse at home falls infinitely short of Conversation abroad,
and the Advantages attending Travelling are so very great, that they
are not to be express'd; this finishes Education in the most effectual
manner, and enables a Man to speak and write on all Occasions with a
Grace and Perfection, no other way to be attain'd. The Travels of a
young Gentleman have not only the effect of transplation of
Vegetables, in respect to the encrease of Stature, but also the
Consequence of the most beautiful Pruning. How much the Gentlemen of
_Scotland_ owe their Capacities to Travelling, is very obvious, there
being no Person of Quality in that Kingdom but expends the greatest
part of his Fortune in other Countries, to reap the Benefit of it in
personal Accomplishments; and a greater Commendation than this to the
_Scots_ is, the bestowing the best of Literature upon all manner of
Youth educated amongst them.

Whilst the Men of Quality here very often neglect giving their
Children the common and necessary Learning, and too frequently entrust
their Education with lazy, ignorant, and incogitant Tutors, not to
mention the Supineness of Schoolmasters in general throughout
_England_; the _North-Britains_ labour in this Particular
indefatigably, as they are very sensible that Learning is the greatest
Honour of their Country, and the ancient _Britains_ come so near the
_Scots_, that amongst the common Persons, in some Parts of _Wales_,
you may meet with a Ploughman that speaks tollerable Latin, and a
Mason, like the famous _Ben Johnson_, with his _Horace_ and a Trowel.

The want of a generous Education is an irretrieveable Misfortune, and
the Negligence of an Inspector of the Literature of Youth ought to be
unpardonable; how many Persons of Distinction have curs'd their aged
Parents for not bestowing on them a liberal Education? And how many of
the Commonalty have regretted the mispending of the precious Time of
Youth? A Man arriv'd to Maturity has the Mortification of observing an
Inferior in Circumstances superior in Literature, and wants the
Satisfaction of giving a tollerable Reason for any Thing he says or
does, or in any respect to judge of the Excellency of others; and, in
my Opinion, a generous Education, with a bare Subsistence only, is to
be preferr'd to the largest Patrimony, and a want of Learning.

Without Education it is impossible to Write or Read any Thing
distinctly; without a frequent turning of the Dictionary, no Person
can be compleat in the _English_ Language, neither can he give Words
their proper Accent and Pronunciation, or be any ways Master of
Elocution; and a Man without Learning, though he appears tollerable in
Conversation, (which I have known some Persons do by a constant
enjoyment of good Company, and a strength of Memory) is like an
_Empirick_, that takes Things upon trust: And whenever he comes to
exercise the Pen, that the Subject is uncommon, and Study is requir'd,
you'll find him oftentimes not capable of writing one single Line of
Senfe, and scarcely one Word of _English_. And, on the other Hand, I
have known some Persons who could talk Latin very fluently, who have
us'd Phrases and Sentences perpetually in that Language, in
Conversation, vulgar and deficient in the Mother-Tongue, and who have
written most egregious Nonsense; from whence it is evident, that
Writing is the only Test of Literature.

I have a little deviated from my Subject, in pursuing the Rules and
Advantages of Education, which I take to be of that universal good
Tendency, that they are acceptable in any Performance whatsoever: I
shall offer nothing farther, but conclude this Essay with the
following Particulars; that besides the Qualifications already
mention'd, it is as necessary for a fine Writer to be endued with
Modesty as for a beautiful Lady; that good Sense is of equal
Consequence to an Author, as a good Soil for the Culture of the most
noble Plants; that a Person writing a great deal on various Subjects,
should be as cautious in owning all his Performances, as in revealing
the Secrets of his most intimate Friend; and in respect to those
Gentlemen, who have made no scruple to prostitute their Names, the
following Similie may be judg'd well adapted:

  _As Musick soft, by constant use is forc'd
  Grows harsh, and cloys, becomes at length the worst,
  The Harmony amidst Confusion lost:
  So finest Pens, employ'd in Writing still
  Lose Strength and Beauty as the Folio's fill._


William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: University of California


_General Editors_

  H. Richard Archer
    William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

  R.C. Boys
    University of Michigan

  E.N. Hooker
    University of California, Los Angeles

  John Loftis
    University of California, Los Angeles

The society exists to make available inexpensive reprints (usually
facsimile reproductions) of rare seventeenth and eighteenth century

The editorial policy of the Society continues unchanged. As in the
past, the editors welcome suggestions concerning publications.

All correspondence concerning subscriptions in the United States and
Canada should be addressed to the William Andrews Clark Memorial
Library, 2205 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles 18, California.
Correspondence concerning editorial matters may be addressed to any of
the general editors. Membership fee continues $2.50 per year. British
and European subscribers should address B.H. Blackwell, Broad Street,
Oxford, England.

Publications for the fifth year [1950-1951]

_(At least six items, most of them from the following list, will be

FRANCES REYNOLDS (?): _An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Taste,
and of the Origin of Our Ideas of Beauty, &c._ (1785). Introduction by
James L. Clifford.

THOMAS BAKER: _The Fine Lady's Airs_ (1709). Introduction by John
Harrington Smith.

DANIEL DEFOE: _Vindication of the Press_ (1718). Introduction by Otho
Clinton Williams.

JOHN EVELYN: _An Apologie for the Royal Party_ (1659); _A Panegyric to
Charles the Second_ (1661). Introduction by Geoffrey Keynes.

CHARLES MACKLIN: _Man of the World_ (1781). Introduction by Dougald

_Prefaces to Fiction_. Selected and with an Introduction by Benjamin


SIR WILLIAM PETTY: _The Advice of W.P. to Mr. Samuel Hartlib for the
Advancement of some particular Parts of Learning_ (1648).

THOMAS GRAY: _An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard_ (1751).
(Facsimile of first edition and of portions of Gray's manuscripts of
the poem).

To The Augustan Reprint Society
_William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2205 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles 18, California_

_Subscriber's Name and Address_

_As_ MEMBERSHIP FEE _I enclose for the years marked:_
The current year.......................... $2.50 [ ]
The current & the 4th year................  5.00 [ ]
The current, 3rd & 4th year...............  7.50 [ ]
The current, 2nd, 3rd & 4th year.......... 10.00 [ ]
The current, 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th year..... 11.50 [ ]
_(Publications no. 3 & 4 are out of print)_

Make check or money order payable to THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF

NOTE: _All income of the Society is devoted to defraying cost of
printing and mailing._


First Year (1946-1947)

 1. Richard Blackmore's _Essay upon Wit_ (1716), and Addison's
    _Freeholder_ No. 45 (1716).

 2. Samuel Cobb's _Of Poetry_ and _Discourse on Criticism_ (1707).

 3. _Letter to A.H. Esq.; concerning the Stage_ (1698), and Richard
    Willis' _Occasional Paper No. IX_ (1698). (OUT OF PRINT)

 4. _Essay on Wit_ (1748), together with Characters by Flecknoe, and
    Joseph Warton's _Adventurer_ Nos. 127 and 133. (OUT OF PRINT)

 5. Samuel Wesley's _Epistle to a Friend Concerning Poetry_ (1700) and
    _Essay on Heroic Poetry_ (1693).

 6. _Representation of the Impiety and Immorality of the Stage_ (1704)
    and _Some Thoughts Concerning the Stage_ (1704).

Second Year (1947-1948)

 7. John Gay's _The Present State of Wit_ (1711); and a section on Wit
    from _The English Theophrastus_ (1702).

 8. Rapin's _De Carmine Pastorali_, translated by Creech (1684).

 9. T. Hanmer's (?) _Some Remarks on the Tragedy of Hamlet_ (1736).

10. Corbyn Morris' _Essay towards Fixing the True Standards of Wit,
    etc._ (1744).

11. Thomas Purney's _Discourse on the Pastoral_ (1717).

12. Essays on the Stage, selected, with an Introduction by Joseph Wood

Third Year (1948-1949)

13. Sir John Falstaff (pseud.), _The Theatre_ (1720).

14. Edward Moore's _The Gamester_ (1753).

15. John Oldmixon's _Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter to Barley_
    (1712); and Arthur Mainwaring's _The British Academy_ (1712).

16. Nevil Payne's _Fatal Jealousy_ (1673).

17. Nicholas Rowe's _Some Account of the Life of Mr. William
    Shakespear_ (1709).

18. Aaron Hilt's Preface to _The Creation_; and Thomas Brereton's
    Preface to _Esther_.

Fourth Year (1949-1950)

19. Susanna Centlivre's _The Busie Body_ (1709).

20. Lewis Theobald's _Preface to The Works of Shakespeare_ (1734).

21. _Critical Remarks on Sir Charles Gradison, Clarissa, and Pamela_

22. Samuel Johnson's _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ (1749) and Two
    _Rambler_ papers (1750).

23. John Dryden's _His Majesties Declaration Defended_ (1681).

24. Pierre Nicole's _An Essay on True and Apparent Beauty in Which
    from Settled Principles is Rendered the Grounds for Choosing and
Rejecting Epigrams_, translated by J.V. Cunningham.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Vindication of the Press" ***

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