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by the very persons here meant, to insinuate, that there are no proper judges of writing; or to endeavour to exclude from the commonwealth of litera ture any of those noble critics, to whose labours the learned world are so greatly indebted. Such were Aristotle, Horace, and Longinus, among the ancients; Dacier and Bossu among the French; and some, perhaps, among us; who have certainly been duly authorized to execute at least a judicial authority in foro literario.
But without ascertaining all the proper qualifications of a critic, which I have touched on elsewhere, I think I may very boldly object to the censures of any oue, passed upon works which he hath not himself read. Such censurers as these, whether they speak from their own guess or suspicion, or from the report and opinion of others, may properly be said to slander the reputation of the book they
Such may likewise be suspected of deserving this character, who, without assigning any particular faults, condemn the whole in general defamatory terms; such as vile dull, da-d stuff, &c. and particularly by the use of the monosyllable low; a word which becomes the mouth of no critic who is not right honourable.
Again, though there may be some faults justly assigned in the work; yet, if those are not in the most essential parts, or if they are compensated by greater beauties, it will savour rather of the malice of a slanderer, than of the judgement of a true critic, to pass a severe sentence upon the whole, merely on account of some vicious part. This is directly con trary to the sentiments of Horace :
Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis
Offendar maculis, quas aut incuria fudit,
But where the beauties, more in number, shine, I am not angry, when a casual line
(That with some trivial faults unequal flows) A careless hand, or human frailty shows.
For, as Martial says, aliter non fit, avite, liber: no book can be otherwise composed. All beauty of character, as well as of countenance, and, indeed, of every thing human, is to be tried in this manner. Cruel, indeed, would it be, if such a work as this history, which hath employed some thousands of hours in the composing, should be liable to be condemned, because some particular chapter, or per haps chapters, may be obnoxious to very just and sensible objections. And yet nothing is more common than the most rigorous sentence upon books supported by such objections, which, if they were rightly taken (and that they are not always) do by no means go to the merit of the whole. In the theatre, especially, a single expression, which doth not coincide with the taste of the audience, or with any individual critic of that audience, is sure to be bissed; and one scene, which should be disapproved, would hazard the whole piece. To write within such severe rules as these, is as impossible as to live up to some splenetic opinions; and if we judge according to the sentiments of some critics, and of some Christians, no author will be saved in this world, and no man in the next.
UR history, just before it was obliged to turn about, and travel backwards, had mentioned the departure of Sophia and her maid from the inn; we shall now, therefore, pursue the steps of that
lovely creature, and leave her unworthy lover a little longer to bemoan his ill-luck, or rather his illconduct.
Sophia having directed her guide to travel through by roads across the country, they now passed the Severn, and had scarce got a mile from the inn, when the young lady, looking behind her, saw several horses coming after on full speed. This greatly alarmed her fears, and she called to the guide to put on as fast as possible.
He immediately obeyed her, and away they rode, a full gallop. But the faster they went, the faster were they followed; and as the horses behind were somewhat swifter than those before, so the former were at length overtaken. A happy circumstance for poor Sophia; whose fears, joined to her fatigue, had almost overpowered her spirits: but she was now instantly relieved by a female voice, that greeted her in the softest manner, and with the utmost civility. This greeting, Sophia, as soon as she could recover her breath, with like civility, and with the highest satisfaction to herself, returned.
The travellers who joined Sophia, and who had given her such terror, consisted, like her own company, of two females and a guide. The two parties proceeded three full miles together before any one offered again to open their mouths; when our heroine, having pretty well got the better of her fear (but yet being somewhat surprised that the other still continued to attend her, as she pursued no great road, and had already passed through several turnings), accosted the strange lady in a most obliging tone; and said, She was very happy to find they were both travelling the same way.' The other, who, like a ghost, only wanted to be spoke to, readily answered, That the happiness was entirely hers; that she was a perfect stranger in that country, and was overjoyed at meeting a companion of her own sex; that she had, perhaps,
been guilty of an impertinence, which required great apology, in keeping pace with her.' More civilities passed between these two ladies for Mrs. Honour had now given place to the fine habit of the stranger, and had fallen into the rear. But though Sophia had great curiosity to know why the other lady continued to travel on through the same byroads with herself, nay, though this gave her some uneasiness, yet fear, or modesty, or some other consideration, restrained her from asking the ques
The strange lady now laboured under a difficulty, which appears almost below the dignity of history to mention. Her bonnet had been blown from her head not less than five times within the last mile; nor could she come at any ribbon or handkerchief to tie under her chin. When Sophia was informed of this, she immediately supplied her with a handkerchief for this purpose; which, while she was pulling from her pocket, she, perhaps, too much neglected the management of her horse, for the beast now unluckily making a false step, fell upon his fore-legs, and threw his fair rider from his. back.
Though Sophia came head-foremost to the ground, she happily received not the least damage; and the same circumstances which had, perhaps, contributed to her fall, now preserved her from confusion; for the lane which they were then passing was narrow, and very much overgrown with trees, so that the moon could here afford very little light, and was, moreover, at present, so obscured in a cloud, that it was almost perfectly dark. By these means the young lady's modesty, which was extremely delicate, escaped as free from injury as her limbs, and she was once more reinstated in her saddle, having received no other harm than a little fright by her fall.
Day-light at length appeared in its full lustre; and now the two ladies, who were riding over a
common side by side, looking steadfastly at each other, at the same moment both their eyes became fixed, both their horses stopped, and both speaking together, with equal joy pronounced, the one the name of Sophia, the other that of Harriet.
This unexpected encounter surprised the ladies much more than I believe it will the sagacious reader, who must have imagined that the strange lady could be no other than Mrs. Fitzpatrick, the cousin of Miss Western, whom we before mentioned to have sallied from the inn a few minutes after her.
So great was the surprise and joy which these two cousins conceived at this meeting (for they had formerly been most intimate acquaintance and friends, and had long lived together with their aunt Western), that it is impossible to recount half the congratulations which passed between them, before either asked a very natural question of the other, namely, whither she was going?
This at last, however, came first from Mrs. Fitzpatrick; but, easy and natural as the question may seem, Sophia found it difficult to give it a very ready and certain answer. She begged her cousin, therefore, to suspend all curiosity till they arrived at some inn, which, I suppose,' says she, can hardly be far distant; and believe me, Harriet, I suspend as much curiosity on my side; for indeed I believe our astonishment is pretty equal.'
The conversation, which passed between these ladies on the road, was, I apprehend, little worth relating; and less certainly was that between the two waiting-women: for they likewise began to pay their compliments to each other. As for the guides, they were debarred from the pleasure of discourse, the one being placed in the van, and the other obliged to bring up the rear.
In this posture they travelled many hours, till they came into a wide and well-beaten road, which, as they turned to the right, soon brought them to