« PreviousContinue »
were the greatest trash that was ever penned ; and, on the other hand, with meritorious works which had been loaded with the coarsest abuse, that they have all but ceased to repose any confidence in the opinion of new books expressed by the public press. Much has been said of late respecting the bribery and corruption which prevailed at the last general election ; and legislative measures are to be taken with the view of preventing a recurrence of the evils. Bribery and corruption are scarcely less prevalent in the world of literary criticism, than in the world of politics; only that the bribery in the case of literature, instead of being practised through means of money, is chiefly effected through means of what, in the political world, is called
In the case of literary criticism, Parliament can pass no act to put an end to the corruption which exists. It is a thing which cannot be reached—an evil which cannot be remedied by the Legislature. It is only by a fearless exposure of the great literary
nuisance, that any one can hope to abate it. The evil is lamented by many authors, but they want the moral courage to grapple with it. This is to be regretted. Were two or three influential writers to expose to the light of day, each in his own way, the secret springs of our metropolitan criticism, they would soon put an end to the existing corruption; and thus at once do an essential service to modern literature, and to the cause of morals. But should the more honest class of authors, though mourning over the corrupt and degraded state of our literary criticism, continue to shrink from what they are aware must be the unpleasant consequences of entering the lists with dishonest reviewersthere only remains the satisfaction of hoping that the evil will eventually reach such a height as to insure its own cure.
Mr. Lovegood brings out a new work—Conversation between
him and Joseph on reviewing books in the periodicals of the day.
ABOUT this time Mr. Lovegood, of whom we have for a season lost sight, brought out a new work; and Joseph, who, notwithstanding the numerous defects in his character, possessed, in no ordinary degree, the redeeming quality of gratitude, was gratified with the circumstance, because he thought it would afford him an opportunity of serving him.
Joseph called one morning on Mr. Lovegood, and, after an interchange of the usual courtesies, intimated that he would be happy to publish in the weekly journal with which he was connected, any notice of Mr. Lovegood's new book which might be sent him.
“A notice to be sent you!" remarked Mr. Lovegood, with manifest surprise.
"Yes; any notice which you yourself would like to appear."
“You don't mean that I should write it myself!"
“Where would be the harm," answered Joseph, "if you did ? It's often done."
“What! authors review their own works ?” “Even so."
" I had hardly believed such a thing was possible," observed Mr. Lovegood. “I would rather a thousand times over, that no line should ever appear in the shape of a notice of any work of mine, and that a copy should never be sold, than pen
syllable in its favour."
“But could you not get some friend, who has more time on his hands than I can spare, to
write an elaborate and commendatory notice of
“ To ask a friend to praise it,” replied Mr. Lovegood, “would be the next most unworthy thing to praising it myself. I have never, on any occasion, bespoken a word of commendation for any of my productions, though my intimacy with various reviewers would have insured a ready compliance with my wishes."
“I think,” rejoined Joseph, that much too scrupulous, considering the frequency with which such things are done."
“The conduct of others,” observed Mr. Lovegood,“ must not be the rule of mine. If they do discreditable actions, that would be no justification for my doing them. The question with every
honest and honourable man will be, whether an action be in itself right or wrong. To ask another to praise one's own work, is practically the same, if the book be praised by the party to whom the request was preferred, as if the commendatory notice had proceeded