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human heart, which is, by courtesy, supposed his lawful field of battle, have extended his power to the human head also; and decency, reason, and grammatical accuracy, fall unlamented before him. The author of the novel feels no compunction, nor his reader any disgust; the former acquires money, and the latter finds amusement: and so far there is not any great mischief done. Nor, indeed, if matters rested there, should I think it necessary to enlarge further upon this topic: for had novels: produced nothing in civilised life except

a dinner to the writer, and a harmless

expedient for killing time to the reader, though I might have joined with the one in laughing at the other, I should have done no more. But, conscious as I am that books of the kind have a vast influence on the morals and manners of society, and an influence the most pernicious, I consider it my duty as a good citizen openly to assert the fact, and to use my best endeavours to prove it.

This part of my design cannot, perhaps, be more effectually executed than by giving a general description of those persons by whom novels are usually read; followed by a conjecture of some

of the consequences likely to arise from such studies, and by a particular examination of two or three of the most established works of this sort; which I shall strive to select with reference to

their specific characters and and complexions, and analyse as the grand and classic originals, whereon many thousands of an inferior degree have been modelled.

Novels can be looked on only as means of occasional relaxation to the very high and the very low: to the peeress, and her housemaid; the senator and his groom. On these, their effect, if

they produce any, can be but transient. And, falling under the eye of the enlightened man of letters, or of the discreet and decorous mother of a family, they are perused with apathy, or thrown aside with contempt. If the libraries expressly supported by the circulation of novels could number only such amongst their subscribers, their proprietors would suffer a greater loss than the nation.

But the profits of these persons flow from a more prolific source; and while they can reckon with confidence on having the YOUTH of both sexes, and of

the middle ranks of the state, in their books, there is an equal certainty of gain to them, and of moral injury to their readers.

The sons and daughters of the gentleman and the tradesman, who are, as it were, the very life-blood of the realm, become the principal victims of this idle literature; which is so universally dif fused, so easy of access, and of so insidious a nature, as nearly to preclude the possibility of safety.

There is scarcely a street of the metropolis, or a village in the country, in which a circulating library may not be

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