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IN ONE VOLUME, COMPLETE,
BY DR. WAR BURTON,
ILLUSTRATIONS ON STEEL
BY EMINENT ARTISTS.
FROM DESIGNS BY WEIGALL, HEATH, & OTHERS,
I AM inclined to think that both the writers of books, and the readers of them, are generally not a little unreasonable in their expectations. The first seem to fancy that the world must approve whatever they produce, and the latter to imagine that authors are obliged to please them at any rate. Methinks, as on the one hand, no single man is born with a right of controling the opinions of all the rest; so on the other, the world has no title to demand, that the whole care and time of any particular person should be sacrificed to its entertainment. Therefore I cannot but believe that writers and readers are under equal chligations, for as much fame, or pleasure, as each affords the other. Every one acknowledges, it would be a wild notion to expect perfection in any work of man; and yet one would think the contrary was taken for granted, by the judgment commonly passed upon Poems. A critic supposes he has done his part, if he proves a writer to have failed in an expression, or erred in any particular point: and can it then be wondered at, if the poets in general seem resolved not to own themselves in any error? For as long as one side will make no allowances, the other will be brought to no acknowledgments. I am afraid this extreme zeal on both sides is ill-placed ; poetry and criticism being by no means the universal concern of the world, but only the affair of idle men who write in their closets, and of idle men who read there. Yet sure upon the whole, a bad author deserves better usage than a bad critic: for a writer’s endeavour, for the most part, is
to please his readers, and he fails merely through the misfortune