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all events, they will immediately discover that in many things you are in a high degree incorrect and erroneous, some of which it is my intention to point out to you; and, Sir, if your work should prove to you such a source of profit as to reach a second edition, I hope you will have the candour to rectify your errors. This, however, will be a difficult task, as it will have a tendency to reduce your seven shilling volume nearly to the size of a six-penny pamphlet.
I take it for granted, Sir, that you are no Stranger in Reading, though you have assumed that title. Do not, however, imagine that I object to your writing under a fictitious character. For the purpose of using legitimate satire, or for pointing out abuses, as well as on some other occasions, such a method may not only be allowable, but necessary. But, Sir, neither fictitious characters nor anonymous signatures will justify any man in transgressing in the smallest degree the sacred boundaries of truth. You have not only, however, made many incorrect assertions, but you have said things of the most pernicious tendency. With some ingredients that will be palatable to many tastes, you have mingled a most dangerous poison. In a style which is not always unpleasing, and which is occasionally enlivened with some strokes of wit, you have attempted to prejudice the minds of your readers against that blessed religion which alone can afford
them peace in life, consolation in death, and happiness in eternity. Such indeed is your hostility towards the Christian religion and its credible professors, that it has led you into the most glaring inconsistency as a writer. When, as the editor, you are representing yourself as a different person from the author, in the former character you profess a concern that the Stranger has treated a certain class of religious professors with too great severity. But your virulent enmity towards the person's you allude to, 'will not suffer you for a moment to maintain your consistency; for you instantly fall into the same strain of bitter irony which always characterizes the manners of the Stranger when speaking of the persons who are the constant objects of his hostility. - 'On comparing, therefore, the editor's preface with the author's letters, we instantly discover the same pen, dipped in the same gall, guided by the same hand, and directed by the same mind a mind' full of prejudice and rancour against the doctrines of revelation, and the persons of those who profess a sincere regard to it, When therefore the editor complains of the illiberality of the author, it will constrain his readers to exclaim-"Thou art the man who condemnest thyself out of thine own mouth.”
It is not my intention, Sir, to make any remarks or many of the accurate descriptions and assertions with which the pages of your book are very abundantly graced. I shall leave your readers to make their own remarks on what you have said of the four-inch pavement of the rivers of blood flowing in the kennels of one of our streets-your filling your shoes at every step from the beauxtraps in the pavement-your accidentally carrying away half a pint of blood in your modern coatsleeve-your frequent danger of receiving a pailfull of water on your back from passing an umbrella your considering it as an uncommon thing to see a shoe-black without this last-mentioned conveniency, or a tailor's apprentice without bootsthe story of your friend's asking to throw a line to catch fish in a puddle in the street-with a long et cetera too tedious to enumerate. Your readers, : Sir, will instantly perceive that your observations on these subjects, as well as on many others, are, to imitate your favourite figure, made with the most exact accuracy, and with that regard to truth which characterizes the Letters from the Stranger in Reading. But it will not suit me to fight with your weapons. : If therefore I should'at any time happen to seize them for a moment, I shall quickly lay them down again to resume my own-plain argument and plain truth.
In my strictures on some of the different subjects of your work which call for animadversion, I shall not confine myself to the order in which they stand; nor is it necessary that I should offer you any reasons for adopting a different method. The substance of your fifth chapter, which is your
coup de main on the different professors of religion in the town, shall however be left to be dispatched in the last place.
You have exhibited three eccentric public characters in your work, with anecdotes of each, accompanied with their portraits. As you have made these the heroes of your story, and as they are so well known in the town in which you have made your observations, as their panegyrist, you should have been careful to have confined your remarks to fact; but your anecdote of honest John's crying All hot in the chapel is devoid of all truth. If you had ever heard of such a pretty story, you might easily have ascertained whether or not it had been a fact. But then, Sir, though John might have been considered as a subject of your lamentation, you could not have exhibited him likewise as a butt of your ridicule, in consequence of his having been perverted to Methodism; to which may be added, that you would have lost the pleasure of exciting a laugh at the expense of truth. Your account of the old man, whom you have denominated Boots, is incorrect in several particulars, himself being witness. But as you say you shall not vouch for the truth of the anecdotes you are about to present to the Public, of which you give this as a specimen, I shall spend no more time on this subject than merely to remark that these pretty stories are criterions by which the readers of the Stranger's Letters will
form their judgment of his attachment to truth on other occasions.
Let us enter upon a subject of greater importance than the anecdotes of your public characters. -The Reading Dispensary is an object on which you have employed your
critical exercising your ridicule on this excellent Institution, on the physicians, the apothecaries, (who to their honour have supported it by an attendance gratis,) as well as on the science of medicine in toto, you state at length the following facts: that 2000 persons in Reading are proper objects of this charity-that 409 were relieved in the last year—and that 45 remained on the list when the accounts were settled. And what is the inference you draw from your facts? Why, that one in five had been sick, when no epidemical disorder prevailed, and when all the other classes were unusually free from disease !! What a logical consequence! What profound reasoning! Is your sophistry, Sir, the effect of design, or of ignorance ? In either case indeed it will fail of producing any bad consequences to the Institution, as it will be readily discovered by all your
readers who are not destitute of common sense. In pointing out your error, to prevent trouble, I shall argue with you on your own principles, though you have rated the population of the town considerably too low. You say that there are in Reading 2000 proper objects for the dispensary,