A Vindication of the Press eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 38 pages of information about A Vindication of the Press.

Without Education it is impossible to Write or Read any Thing distinctly; without a frequent turning of the Dictionary, no Person can be compleat in the English Language, neither can he give Words their proper Accent and Pronunciation, or be any ways Master of Elocution; and a Man without Learning, though he appears tollerable in Conversation, (which I have known some Persons do by a constant enjoyment of good Company, and a strength of Memory) is like an Empirick, that takes Things upon trust:  And whenever he comes to exercise the Pen, that the Subject is uncommon, and Study is requir’d, you’ll find him oftentimes not capable of writing one single Line of Senfe, and scarcely one Word of English.  And, on the other Hand, I have known some Persons who could talk Latin very fluently, who have us’d Phrases and Sentences perpetually in that Language, in Conversation, vulgar and deficient in the Mother-Tongue, and who have written most egregious Nonsense; from whence it is evident, that Writing is the only Test of Literature.

I have a little deviated from my Subject, in pursuing the Rules and Advantages of Education, which I take to be of that universal good Tendency, that they are acceptable in any Performance whatsoever:  I shall offer nothing farther, but conclude this Essay with the following Particulars; that besides the Qualifications already mention’d, it is as necessary for a fine Writer to be endued with Modesty as for a beautiful Lady; that good Sense is of equal Consequence to an Author, as a good Soil for the Culture of the most noble Plants; that a Person writing a great deal on various Subjects, should be as cautious in owning all his Performances, as in revealing the Secrets of his most intimate Friend; and in respect to those Gentlemen, who have made no scruple to prostitute their Names, the following Similie may be judg’d well adapted: 

As Musick soft, by constant use is forc’d Grows harsh, and cloys, becomes at length the worst, The Harmony amidst Confusion lost:  So finest Pens, employ’d in Writing still Lose Strength and Beauty as the Folio’s fill.


William Andrews Clark Memorial Library:  University of California


General Editors

  H. Richard Archer
    William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

  R.C.  Boys
    University of Michigan

  E.N.  Hooker
    University of California, Los Angeles

  John Loftis
    University of California, Los Angeles

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Project Gutenberg
A Vindication of the Press from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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