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of the consequences likely to arise from

such studies, and by a particular exa

mination of two or three of the most

established works of this sort; which I

shall strive to select with reference to


their specific characters and plexions, and analyse as the grand and classic originals, whereon many thousands of an inferior degree have been modelled.

Novels can be looked on only as

means of occasional relaxation to the

very high and the very low : to the peeress, and her housemaid ; the senator and

On these, tbeir effect, if they produce any, can be but transient. And, falling under the eye of the enlightened man of letters, or of the discreet and decorous mother of a family, they are perused with apathy, or thrown aside with contempt. If the libraries expressly supported by the circulation of novels could number only such amongst their subscribers, their proprietors would suffer a greater loss than

his groom.

the nation.

But the profits of these persons flow from a more prolific source; and while they can reckon with confidence on having the youth of both sexes, and of


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the middle ranks of the state, in their books, there is an equal certainty of gain to them, and 'of moral injury to their readers.

The sons and daughters of the gentleman and the tradesman, who are; as it were, the very life-blood of the realm, become the principal victims of this idle literature, which is so universally diffused, so easy of access, and of so insidious a nature, as nearly to preclude the possibility of safety.

There is scarcely a street of the metropolis, or a village in the country, in which a circulating library may not be

found: nor is there. a corner of the em

pire, where the English language is un

derstood, that has not suffered from the

effects of this institution..

When the female attains the age of

seventeen or eighteen, and who is not born to the possession of an ample for

tune, but destined to move in a mode

rate sphère; when her looking-glass and her partner at the assembly have told her that she is a beauty; and when the fairy-tales' have lost their zest, the

novel is at hand. The fair student sees

her own picture in the charming and sorrowful heroine; and very naturally tries, as far as it is in her power, to imi

tate what she admires.

For a time, the result of this attempt is only ridiculous, and manifested by gentle symptoms : such as a prodigious expenditure of tears and muslin, writing billets on green and yellow paper, fits of spleen, the composition of sonnets, and an invincible antipathy to useful books. Shortly after, the disease puts on a more formidable appearance: the young lady (whom we may suppose the daughter of a plain country parson, a substantial farmer, an eminent shop-keeper, or an officer on half-pay) ventures to wear

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