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Not this, alas! the false Enthusiast's lot*,
* I should fail in the execution of the duty I have prescribed myself, if I forbore to notice the dangerous tendency of very many of those productions which pass current among the youth of both sexes under the name of Novels. --- Far from imputing to their Authors any systematic attempt, like that mentioned by the Abbé Barreul, to undermine the morals of mankind, I would only put it to their judgment, if it be not unnecessary as well as unwise to administer the poison, merely to try the effect of the antidote? Morality comes in the cold abstract," when the passions have been inflamed by examples of successful Vice, even though the Offender be finally sentenced to condign punishment. To One Lady I particularly address myself, as her talents have raised her to an elevated situation, both in the fashionable and literary worlds. Blest with every intellectual endowment, her earliest years were devoted to the Muses; her taste, however, was indiscriminate, and she unfortunately selected for a model the most voluptuous Poet of the Senses; an imitation of whose style and sentiments was some time ago published with her name! The many bitter observations which that publication excited, have, no doubt, convinced her, that this was not the most
And, as her wilder Fancy, unconfin'd)
To frame for loose desire a looser song.
For her, no sweet remembrance lives to cheer
The close of life's anticipated year;
prudent course for a young female to pursue; and she has often, I dare say, exclaimed with Bonefonius :
Ite in exitium malásque flammas,
In an age
But the open licentiousness of Little has been abandoned for the soft seduction of Rousseau. It is the emasculating tone of her Novels, the continued appeals in them to the worst feelings of Man, which have extorted this notice from me. like the present, when the writings of the French Savantes are ushered into the world under the auspices of Fashion, it behoves us to examine with a scrutinizing eye every production which is sanctioned by its regards. — Let me, therefore, admonish this lady, that an indulgence in the faults here censured, however agreeable to the Modish Tribe, will neither add to her
Whilst not an eye but scorns her futile lore,
Tinctur'd with all the spleen that Age imparts, 665
reputation hereafter, nor suggest any consolatory reflection at a period when Poetry and Prose must have an end.
* To Mrs. Barbauld's merits as a writer of elementary books for children I am ready to bear testimony; but I cannot see what good purpose is likely to be answered by the publication of
Eighteen Hundred and Eleven.”—I do not, however, apprehend much danger from its predictions. The doctrine of trans-Atlantic happiness is now pretty generally exploded; and, Democracy has again failed before the test of experience.
Dims the bright glories in her orb that shine,
Thanks to the Age, too wise to be deceiv’d,
By the grey ruin, and the mouldering stone.”
Yet, why,- forsaking plain and easy prose,
Some few years since, -when party rage ran high, And France the word, and Freedom all the cry,
...... bis face loudly gives his tongue the lie.