I cannot but think it the most reasonable thing in the world to distinguish good writers, by discouraging the bad. Nor is it an ill-natured thing, in relation even to the very persons upon whom the reflections are made. It is true, it may deprive them, a little the sooner, of a short profit and a transitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them (before it be too late) to decline that for which they are so very unfit, and to have recourse to something in which they may be more successful.
The persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors, poets: and the censures he hath passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.
It is the common cry of the poetasters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured thing to expose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magistrates may, with full as good reason, be reproached with ill-nature for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impostor. The same will hold in the republic of letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to scribbling pass on the world.
Attacks may be levelled either against failures in genius, or against the pretensions of writing without one.
A satire upon dulness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, wicked scribbler.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:12