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It has become almost an established rule in the literary world, that the productions of a new author should be regarded as worthless until their worth is proven. Now although this, in contrast with civil law, may seem the very essence of injustice, yet experience has fully proved the necessity of such severity. So many would-be authors were springing up on every side, that the world was becoming literally flooded with works, concerning which it is not too much to say, that the greater part had not the least pretensions to merit. The disease was of the most malignant nature, and in addition to this, it was com. mencing to spread with alarming rapidity, and consequently called for a prompt and efficient remedy. Such it found in the rule just laid down. The rule, however, is of human framing, and therefore it cannot be faultless—it has disadvantages as well as advantages; but the good resulting from a strict enforcement of its dictates, far more than counterbalances the evil, for the good which it brings about is immeasurable, whereas I can think of but two abuses arising from it. In the first place it grants too much to fame; for in the anxiety to keep out interlopers, many works are allowed to pass current, whose only recommendation is, that they are the productions of some one of the elect. This, however, is higher ground than we can touch upon, and
fortunately it has no direct bearing on the subject. The second abuse is, that many of the finest works are crowded away from public sight, simply because the name of the author is unknown to fame; this, I think, has a peculiar reference to the subject in hand.
“Owen Meredith” was not only a young writer, and one entirely unknown in the literary world, but the burden of a former failure proved itself most powerful to crush down “ Lucile,” his final success. Thus, for a long time, “ Lucile” was to the world at large unknown, and of course it was not admired. In this unnoticed manner this beautiful work was gradually dying away, and in a few years its tery existence would have been forgotten, had not the means which were taken for its speedy destruction, proved the most powerful agent for its success. Several of the most severe criticisms appeared in the Magazines, intended to complete its ruin; but by this very attack, attention was directed to the work, and men commenced to read it, in order to pass judgment for themselves. The mere introduction of the work to notice, was sufficient to insure its success.
It is impossible, in this essay, to enter upon any particular examination, but rather we will give the subjects of criticism a brief survey, and close with a few remarks on the general character of the book.
The general tenor of the objections have been of such a nature, that, although they present a most annihilating appearance, yet they evidently have a very slender foundation.
“ It does not merit the name of Poem; it is a mere story in versethe metre is chosen with bad taste-the entire work is too long."
These, then, are the principal charges, and unless some great flaw can be found in their justice, sweeping ones too. There is, however, a great flaw in their justice, and one in their very foundation, which entirely ruins their crushing effect. The poem is one of modern times, and considered as such, the so-called faults form the most prominent beauties. It is true, that if it were designed for a grand old Epic, the nature of the story and the choice of the metre would both be strangely out of taste; but this is by no means the true state of the case. The poetry of real life is a subject which is rarely even touched upon, but poets almost invariably choose some grander theme, which, although well fitted for a splendid composition, can never call forth any sympathetic response
from the heart of the reader. A very few of the more modern poets have turned away from the old beaten track, but have always met the opposition which originality is sure to call forth. Such is the true nature of the work under consideration, and as such alone, it can be fairly criticised. Giving the subject this impartial judgment,