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the work of moral and useful instruc

tion, to which the day may have been dedicated, to be demolished, like the web of Penelope, by the mischievous occupation of the night!

One of the best dramatic poets, and brightest wits of England, in his comedy of "The Rivals," has very happily ridiculed the bad effects of novel reading: many other distinguished satirists have done the same; and the perusal of certain novels has, accordingly, been deemed ridiculous, or, it may be, worse than ridiculous; but is, nevertheless, not abandoned. The cause of this is, that

the sly laugh of the comic poet, and the

cursory sneer of the reviewer, are insufficient to effect their purpose.

Public decency demands a more grave and pointed exposure of what may be termed the propensity of the times; by which we of the present age, exclusive of the immediate harm we do, and suffer, are liable to be stigmatised by future generations as the abettors of obscenity, scurrility, and folly, as bad as any thing for which we ourselves condemn the licentious days of the second Charles.

I say, with some confidence, that

such is likely to be the sentence passed upon our tastes by posterity; because I hope that our existence, as a nation, is not at an end; and am sure that our continuance will depend upon our growing wiser and better.

The time, I trust, is to come, when the virtuous, the religious, the witty, and the learned, will wonder equally at the profligacy and the weakness of us their forefathers; and will consign our novels to dust and darkness, as we have done by the monstrous effusions of Behn, and Etheridge, and Suckling; and when "Tom Jones," and "Roderick Ran

dom," and Mr. Cumberland's "Henry,"

and "The Sorrows of Werter," and "Anna St. Ives," and the myriads which resemble these, will either not be found at all, or only in the cabinets of the curious and the reprobate.

Having reason to think that some of the well-known works to which the above titles are prefixed will answer our purpose as fully as any others; and as it is more or less the prevailing fashion to read, and quote, and praise the firstnamed in particular, viz. Mr. Fielding's

History of a Foundling," with it I shall begin.

There are few persons in these countries, I believe, of any age, sex, or condition, amongst those who can read, to whom the adventures of Tom Jones are not familiar. Something like a sense of shame would accompany the acknowledgment of never having read Tom Jones: though I do not despair of showing, that it would be more becoming in such mothers, wives, and daughters as have, to blush at the confession.

It is commonly the first book laid hold of by the youth of both sexes; and if as yet not all intelligible to them, is still very entertaining, when compared

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