A selection might be made from all that is said about any new book by all the newspapers and reviews, which would contain more of human folly and stupidity than could be combined in any other way. It would present the most various illustrations of come il ne faut pas écrire. The publishers of Mr. Dana’s ‘Household Book’ have recently entertained the public, by issuing in an advertisement specimens of all sorts of notices to which that book has been subject, and a finer exhibition of wool-gathering could hardly be given. Friends and enemies, wits and dolts, from all points of the compass, express their minds one after the other, to the utter confusion of every sincere inquirer. All virtues and vices are alternately attributed and denied to the volume, till the mystified reader might well forget the original question. Our present design is not to repeat our commendations of the completeness, order, and beauty of the ‘Household Book of Poetry,’ but to suggest to publishers to occasionally reciprocate the courtesies of critics, by collecting in their advertisements the most glaring memorials of critical ignorance, or willful perversion with personal animus. A good book would not suffer by this method, and a few such exposures in the pillory might improve the critics. We hope the example may be followed, and that the advertising columns of the newspapers will more frequently be rendered comic, by displaying the judgments of the different species of literary Dogberries.
The Knickerbocker magazine, August 1862
The Household Book of Poetry: Collected and Edited by Charles A. Dana. Fourth edition. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1859
A portion of the literary critics in our country form a craft which doubtless better deserves to figure in a new ‘Dunciad’ than any other living set of men.