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learning. We are not set for its defence as was Bacon, who in his Advancement of Learning refutes in detail, the various objections against it. We are fallen on different times and different circumstances.
We fear that in most cases indolence will here be found to be at the bottom of such an excuse. Vitringa, whose spirituality was never questioned by those who knew him, thus spoke : “ Tandem nemo cum ratione existimet diffusius hoc studii literarii genus inimicum esse pietati, mentemque distrahere ab arctiore commercio cum Deo in Christo per exercitationem vero fidei et meditationis. Sane qui hoc sibi persuadeant, segnitiei suae obtendant.” In the same Preface to his Observations, a most erudite and valuable work, he laments that while the field of theology is so extensive, theological students confine themselves within such narrow bounds, stick at first principles, and do not go on unto perfection in knowledge: per integram vitam in ipsis haereant principiis.
We are fully persuaded that learning may enlarge our views of truth without weakening our faith, that we may be learned ourselves without having a learned religion.
It is a sad proof of our depravity, that the complacency in the exercise of our powers is unfavorable to that feeling of humility and that sense of our deep wants which draws us to the Redeemer.
But yet such a union of deep piety and profound learning is not only practicable, but has actually been witnessed in the instances before alluded to. The spirit of the age as alien to such pursuits may be offered as an excuse by some. It is indeed a most restless, stirring age, as busy after the ti xauvó tepov as ever were the Greeks of Demosthenes's or Paul's time, an age of innovation and demolition. But for this very reason should
* Buddaeus, one of the most learned men of his age, remarks: “It is of no use to conceal our diseases. When I look around, I am overwhelmed with grief, nay, am astonished, when I consider how few students come up to the expectations and wishes of the church. One reason is, that they spend so short a time at school, as scarcely to lay the foundation or learn the elements of theology, (quod commorantur brevi admodum tempore in academiis ; quod quidem addiscendis necessariis, aut fundamentis rite ponendis visi sufficit.) So far from aspiring to high attainments, they scarcely catch a glimpse of the wide field, and ever after stick at first principles." Praef. ad Isagogen * ad Theologiam Universam.
the student make a stand, and resist such a spirit. Who is to do it if he does not, whose very business and profession is to regulate others, to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth in an intellectual, as well as in a moral and religious respect ? He would be treacherous to bis cause were he to be carried with the multitude to do evil. Rather should he be a rallying point, rather should his voice be heard
“In worst extremes and on the perilous edge of battle.” But we would have all this knowledge sanctified. If there was the only alternative of doing the one, and leaving the other undone, we would say with Leighton, “one devout thought is worth all human learning." Though we set great store by learning, yet we set far higher by devout piety; we would have all the light possible from whatever source, concentrated upon the sacred page, till it glows and burns, till a more excellent glory gilds it. Then shall we find our studies profitable and availing when all our ends are single — for truth — for Christ.
By David Fosdick, jr. Boston.
With no great effort at amplification this theme might be made to occupy a considerable series of historical volumes. Our readers may judge, therefore, how uncomfortable is the sense of compression which we experience in undertaking to consider it within the limits of a few
pages. In the first place, what are we to understand by the expression literary imposture? Would it be an erroneous use of language to denominate all bad writers impostors? Are we bound to employ milder terms than fraud, imposition, in speaking of productions which under false pretences rob men of their time and their money ; which, not only serve no useful purpose, but effect vast injury, convey grossly distorted conceptions of the
• Milton's Paradise Lost, Book I.
subjects which they treat, and falsify both facts and principles ? He who presents himself before mankind in print impliedly promises that it shall be worth a reader's while to give him audience. If performance does not equal promise, there is clearly a breach of faith, and readers are desrauded. The plea of praiseworthy intent will perhaps be urged in bar. In very many cases, however, this pretension cannot be set up with any shadow of reason, the accused having written only to make a book for the sake of acquiring money, celebrity, or other like advantage to himself, without thinking of benefit to accrue to bis readers ; and in most cases when the plea can be honestly urged against a harsh sentence for failure in performance, its validity is questionable, since the intention to benefit mankind cannot at all exculpate a bad author, if it be bis own fault that he is ignorant of his incapacity. How few bad writers would pass the ordeal of these observations unscathed; and what a large proportion of the books with which the world has been deluged must, in consequence, be denominated literary impostures! How many writers of professedly erudite “ folios, quartos, 8vos., twelves," have been almost utterly devoid of acquaintance with the subjects which they treated, perhaps extending their works in exact, but alas ! inverse, proportion to their knowledge! How many histories are there which well deserve to be ranked with the production of one Peter Comestor, which is termed by D’Israeli“ a history of all things and a bad history of every thing !" How many poets have a poured along the town a flood of rhyme,” which attracted notice, if at all, only on account of the extent or source of the inundation ! How many writers of every class say a great deal and mean nothing ! How many think they mean something, perhaps really do, but express themselves so obscurely as to affect only the eye or ear, without insinuating a particle of sense into the understanding ! There are men in our day who appear to be of the same mind as Lycophron, a Greek poet, who protested that he would hang himself if he found a person that could understand his “Cassandra.” Were such men by chance to write somewhat which could be comprehended, and, upon discovering the slip which they had made, to hang themselves incontinently, the world, I opine, could hardly be considered a loser. Quinctilian says that the obscurity of a writer is generally in proportion to his incapacity. The ancients seem to have outdone the moderns (and certainly this is saying much,) in regard to obscurity of style.
It was inculcated by a teacher of rhetoric in Quinctilian's time as an ornament ; and he compelled his pupils to correct such passages of their writings as were too intelligible. The words of Byron :
“ 'Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's name in print ;
A book's a book, although there's nothing in't," are very true, and we might be content that the many who have been moved to their literary effusions solely or chiefly by the prospect of this gratification, should enjoy it without censure, were it not that it is procured at an immensely disproportionate expense on the part of the public, — an expense which no principle of benevolence requires that it should encounter.
As will be presumed, however, it is not our intention to take the term literary imposture in this large sense.
The attempt to collect and recount even the names alone of those who, through the ambition of appearing in the character of author, have perpetrated grievous impositions upon the good sense and patience of mankind, would be vain.
Taking a more narrow, and therefore more suitable, view of our subject, we may conveniently, perhaps with exact precision, divide literary impostors into the following classes. I. Such as appropriate to themselves the productions or the thoughts of others with the intent that they shall pass as their own. II. Such as attempt to give a false aspect to their own figments by incorrect ascription of their authorship. III. Such as publish intentional untruth.
The first class consists of writers commonly denominated, from the Latin, plagiarists.
It is not the case, however, that all borrowing is plagiarism, in any odious sense. A writer may derive hints from the
productions of other men, without laying himself open to the slightest censure. Thus Milton, it is said, drew the suggestion of his Paradise Lost from an Italian drama or mystery ; and Dante that of his Inferno from the “ Vision” of Alberico. If the statement be true, it does not at all detract from the merit of either writer ; for the merit of neither depends at all upon that which they are supposed to have borrowed. Nor can any man, with propriety, venture to term it a disingenuous course to adopt an idea, even without acknowledgement, when the accompaniments and the costume, the things of main importance, and which, indeed, gave the idea all its value, were VOL. XI. No. 29.
original. Every one can see that such an adoption is very different from the silent, literal transfer of lines, sentences, or paragraphs out of another's production into one's own, or the silent appropriation of another's thoughts with a fraudulent attempt at concealment by alterations in the form of expression, by the destruction of the writing which is pillaged, or by any other like means. No writer can be said to act honorably, who borrows, in full consciousness that he is doing so, any important thought or expression without acknowledgement. Still, there have been men of considerable reputation, who could unblushingly advocate this species of robbery, and even inculcate the art of effecting it without incurring the hazard of detection. A French prosessor, named Richesource, published two books exhibiting the principles of authorship which he assiduously taught his pupils in his private lectures. The first of these books was entitled : “ The Mask of Orators, or the manner of disguising with ease all kinds of composition.” His definition of plagiarism, as stated by D’Israeli, is as follows : “ It is the art, or an ingenious and easy mode, which some adroitly employ to change or disguise all sorts of speeches of their own composition or of that of other authors, for their pleasure or their utility, in such a manner that it becomes impossible even for the author himself to recognize his own work, his own genius, and his own style, so skilfully shall the whole be disguised.” The art he makes to consist in arranging the parts of a sentence in a different order, exchanging one word or phrase for another which is equivalent, etc. Thus for probity a plagiarist would substitute religion or virtue ; for capacity, ability or erudition, etc. His second work was denominated "The Art of Writing and Speaking; or a method of composing all sorts of letters, and holding a polite conversation.” At the close of the preface to this book he informs his readers, that authors who may be in want of essays, sermons, pleadings, letters or verses may be accommodated on application to him. It seems he was resolved not to belie bis name. A Riche-source (rich source) he must have been indeed to indolent or incapable persons who desired to enjoy the reputation of authorship.
It has been too general a practice among clergymen in all christian countries, least of all probably in ours, to appropriate to their own use, in preaching, the printed or MS. sermons of their more gifted or at least more prolific brethren. In England and France, perhaps in other countries, it is common for ser