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of it. In the World it will certainly meet with all these. Set it therefore to View amongst feveral of your Acquaintance first, who may furvey the Argument on all Sides, and one may happen to suggest a Correction which is entirely neglected by others; and be fure to yield yourself to the Dictates of true Griticism, and just Cenfure, where foever you meet with them; nor let a Fondness for what you have written, blind your Eyes against the Discovery of your own Miftakes.
WHEN an Author defires a Friend to revife his Work, it is too frequent a Practice to difallow almost every Correction which a judicious Friend fhall make; he apologizes for this Word, and the other Expreffion; he vindicates this Sentence, and gives his Reasons for another Paragraph, and fcarce ever fubmits to Correction; and this utterly discourages the Freedom that a true Friend would take, in pointing out our Miftakes. Such Writers who are fo full of themselves, may go on to admire their own uncorrect Performances, and expose their Works and their Follies to the World without Pity *.
* To cut off fuch Chicanery, it may perhaps be the moft expedient for a Perfon confulted, on fuch an Occafion, to note down on a diftinct Paper, with proper References, the advifed Alterations, referring it to the Author, to make fuch Ufe of them as he, on due Deliberation, fhall think fit.
HORACE, in his Art of Poetry, talks admirably well on this Subject;
Quintilio fi quid recitares, corrige, fodes,
Si defendere delictum, quàm vertere, malles;
Quin fine rivali teque & tua folus amares.
Let good Quintilius all your Lines revise,
More eager to defend, than mend, your Fault,
If you have not the Advantage of Friends to furvey your Writings, then read them over yourself, and all the Way confider what will be the Sentence and Judgment of all the various Characters of Mankind upon them: Think what one of your own Party would fay, or what would be the Senfe of
an Adversary: Imagine what a curious or a malicious Man, what a captious or an envious Critick, what a vulgar or a learned Reader would object, either to the Matter, the Manner, or the Style: And be sure and think with yourself, what you yourself could fay against your own Writing, if you were of a different Opinion, or a Stranger to the Writer: And by these Means you will obtain fome Hints, whereby to correct and improve your own Work, and to guard it better against the Cenfures of the Publick, as well as to render it more useful to that Part of Mankind for whom you chiefly defign it.
Of Writing and Reading Controverfies.
Of Writing Controverfies,
HEN a Perfon of good Senfe writes on any controverted Subject, he will generally bring the strongest Arguments
that are ufually to be found for the Support of his Opinion; and when that is done he will reprefent the most powerful Objections against it in a fair and candid Manner, giving them their full Force; and at laft will put in fuch an Answer to thofe Objections as he thinks will diffipate and diffolve the Force of them: And herein the Reader will generally find a full View of the Controversy, together with the main Strength of Argument on both Sides.
WHEN a good Writer has fet forth his own Opinion at large, and vindicated it with its faireft and ftrongest Proofs, he fhall be attacked by fome Pen on the other Side of the Queftion; and if his Opponent be a wife and fenfible Writer, he will fhew the beft Reasons why the former Opinions cannot be true; i. e. he will draw out the Objections against them in their fulleft Array, in order to destroy what he fuppofes a miftaken Opinion; and here we may reafon. ably fuppofe that an Opponent will draw up his Objections against the fuppofed Error in a brighter Light and with stronger Evidence than the first Writer did, who propounded his Opinion which was contrary to thofe Objections.
IF in the third Place the first Writer anfwers his Opponent with Care and Diligence, and maintains his own Point against the Objections which were raifed in the best
Manner; the Reader may then generally prefume, that in thefe three Pieces he has a compleat View of the Controverfy; together with the moft folid and powerful Arguments on both Sides of the Debate.
BUT when a fourth and fifth and fixth Volume appears in Rejoinders and Replies, we cannot reafonably expect any great Degrees of Light to be derived from them; or that much further Evidences for Truth fhould be found in them: And it is fufficiently evident from daily Experience, that many Mischiefs attend this Prolongation of Controverfies among Men of Learning, which for the moft Part do Injury to the Truth, either by turning the Attention of the Reader quite away from the original Point to other Matters, or by covering the Truth with a Multitude of occafional Incidents and Perplexities, which ferve to bewilder rather than guide a faithful Enquirer.
SOMETIMES, in thefe latter Volumes, the Writers on both Sides will hang upon little Words and occafional Expreffions of their Opponent in order to expose them, which have no neceffary Connexion with the grand Point in View, and which have nothing to do with the debated Truth.
SOMETIMES they will spend many a Page in vindicating their own Character, or, their own little Sentences or accidental Ex-.