صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

time in those who have still to acquire education; to fix their principles; to earn a reputable subsistence; or qualify themselves for their relative duties.

But it is fatally true, that losing the invaluable hours of youth is only one of the evils which arise from reading these works: they never yet made husbands or wives, parents or children, better citizens; but have rendered many thousands bad, who, without them, had been useful and happy.

My next consideration is directed to an order of novels, distinguished from the foregoing by a character compara

tively harmless, though far from being innocent; and which may be said to hold the same rank amongst novels, that pickpockets do amongst thieves. Their depredations, however, are not, on that account, to be slighted, nor thought much less injurious. They execute their destructive functions by a different and less offensive method; but the mischief they occasion is, notwithstanding, great and irreparable.

The human mind, to speak figura tively of it, cannot remain in a state of sterility; and the poisonous weeds of vice and folly will spring up, where the

seeds of profitable and elegant acquirements are not encouraged to grow.

Thus, as was before observed, the young of both sexes, by means of those frivolous volumes which load the shelves of our circulating libraries, are at least beguiled of their fairest opportunities of improvement in the studies that enlarge and adorn the understandings of a civilised people.

They rapidly learn to prefer the page of fiction to the narrative of the

historian; and to turn their eyes from the sober beauties of truth and genuine philosophy, to the meretricious allure

ments of falsehood and absurdity. They likewise imbibe, from these sources, the most perverse and erroneous notions of the art of writing: the simple dignity of a classical composition is lost on these enthusiasts; who mistake for grandeur of style, the bombastic jargon of their favourite authors; and, grown incapable of relishing the graces of a Robertson, a Hume, a Mackenzie, or a Roscoe, are enamoured of every kind of writing which least resembles theirs.

Amidst such a profusion of these home-made novels as the British press hourly teems with, it would be difficult,

G

if not impossible, to make choice of any one in particular, as more ridiculous than its fellows. They are all equally vapid, and, as far as I can judge, equally popular; and are constructed upon principles so nearly alike, that I have sometimes thought there must be a general receipt for making novels, in circulation amongst the trade; the tenor of which might be conceived to run much in the following manner; borrowing the idea from a famous recipe, I believe, in the Memoirs of Scriblerus.

First take a great deal of paper,

pens,' and ink, and an English pocket

« السابقةمتابعة »