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The vignette prefixed to this vokime, from a design by Sully, represents Milton in
[From the Edinburgh Review, for January, 1814.]
NONE of our regular readers, we are persuaded, will be sur-
rity, and injudicious praise, to reflect, that no very mischievous effects have as yet resulted to the literature of the country from this imputed misbehaviour on our part. Powerful genius, we are persuaded, will not be repressed even by unjust castigation; nor will the most excessive praise that can be lavished by sincere admiration ever abate the efforts that are fitted to attain to excellence. Our alleged severity upon a youthful production has not prevented the noble author from becoming the first poet of his time; and the panegyrics upon more than one female writer, with which we have been upbraided, have not relaxed their meritorious exertions to add to the instruction and amusement of their age. In the prosecution of our thankless duties, it is, indeed, delightful now and then to meet with authors who neither dread the lash nor the spur; whose genius is of that vigorous and healthful constitution as to allow the fair and ordinary course of criticism to be administered, without fear that their ricketty bantlings may be crushed correction. No demands on the tenderness of the schoolmaster; -no puling appeal to sex or age;—no depreciation of the rod! Praise may be awarded-severe truth may be told--and the reviewer be as guiltless of the blame which the author may afterwards incur as he is uniformly held to be excluded from any share of the fame he may ultimately achieve.
Such a writer is Miss Edgeworth. In her case, we are not obliged to insinuate, to venture, to hint, but called upon openly to pronounce our opinion. The overweening politeness which might be thought due to her sex is forgotten in the contemplation of her manly understanding, and of a long series of writings, all directed to some great and paramount improvement of society ;to destroy malignant prejudices, and bring down arrogant pretensions to reconcile humble merit to its lot of obscure felicity, and expose the misery that is engendered on the glittering summits of human fortune, by the pursuits of frivolous ambition or laborious amusement-to correct, in short, the vulgar estimate of life and happiness, by exposing those errors of opinion which are most apt to be generated by a narrow observation, and pointing out the importance of those minor virtues and vices that contribute most largely to our daily sufferings or enjoyments. Her earlier essays were addressed to the middling classes of society. In her later productions, she has aspired to be the instructress of the fashionable world; a pursuit in which we ventured to predict that her direct success, at least, would not be extremely encouraging. We do not know whether she begins to think so too; but it seems to us that she has endeavoured to unite both these objects in the work before us a short analysis of which we shall present, without farther discussion, to our readers.
The work is intended, as its title indicates, as a picture of the miseries resulting from a dependence on patronage, in every form