Saturday, January 12, 2013

Criticism and the Graces

I very readily concur in your Opinion, Critophilus, that a Work of Criticism is the most difficult to be executed with a proper Taste of any literary Composition whatever. There is something so repugnant to the Pride of Mankind in general, something so detractive from the supposed Sagacity of every Reader to pretend to inform by the dry Method of Precept, that except an Author has all the Delicacy and artful Address imaginable, to seem to accompany the Judgments of those he writes for, rather than to lead them into Discoveries, in such a Performance, he will meet with that kind of contemptuous Treatment, which those good-natured People receive, who are ready to give their unasked Advice in the common Concerns of Life upon every Occasion. It is highly necessary therefore, in such kind of Writings, to sacrifice liberally to the Graces, without whose Inspiration Learning will there degenerate into Pedantry, and the Precepts even of Wisdom pass unrelished.

John Gilbert Cooper, Letters Concerning Taste (1757), Letter XIX

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