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article, "we intend to try what signatures will do "for us. Our editor will, at any rate, not be "ashamed of putting forward the names of his con"tributors; and we, on our part, will not be "ashamed to put forward our names under his

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authority." After this frank avowal of a frank intention we know what to expect. On the page facing Mr. Trollope's name is an article on "Public Affairs." Now, if it is desirable that any communication should be signed by the writer it is that in which public men and public events are freely criticised. One of our statesmen is accused of attempting to lead his party to commit political suicide; another is said to have resigned his seat in a "fit of petulance," and his objection to being a Treasury dependant is sneered at. Members of Parliament are spoken of as "a" Mr. Blank, and the "notorious". Mr. Blank; and an unfortunate Cabinet minister is described as "born in narrow-mindedness, he has grown mature in it, and he will never change." The whole is characterized by the same taste. Every other article has the writer's name scrupulously appended to his communication. But here, when we anxiously turn over the pages to see who is the author, no name appears; when we are desirous of learning whether we are listening to Snug the joiner or to the Royal beast, to the Bishop of Oxford




or to Mr. Pifken the curate, our curiosity is piqued and not satisfied.

Fortunately, in this country, no decision on this point at which disputants may arrive is binding upon others. As a result, the greater portion of current literature is anonymous; and the obvious and legitimate advantages of the practice are so great that men of letters will, doubtless, continue to oppose any modification that may be proposed to them, either by following the example of French writers, and signing every article that contains an expression of opinion, or of American journalists who print on the face of their newspapers the names of proprietors and editors. The opponents of the anonymous system necessarily agree with me in requiring the names of a writer in matters of fact; but they decline to agree with my limitation. They insist also upon the critic and the writer on public affairs affixing their names to their productions, complaining that, under the present system, an article is influential in proportion to the reputation of the paper in which it appears, and not, as they would have it, in proportion to the status of the writer. In some measure I agree with the validity of their complaint, but I must altogether dissent from the remedy proposed of substituting the authority of a name for the authority of a paper. In both cases the influence would be de

rived from an illegitimate source, as the consideration should be, not "Who says it?" but "What is said?” If the arguments adduced by a writer are judicious, it is a matter of complete indifference by whom they are advanced, and I therefore think it an impertinence in any writer to suppose his name can give additional weight to a sound conclusion. If the public persist in attaching fictitious importance to anonymous writing, and give to opinion the weight of fact; if they take Jones's unsigned crudities to be more valuable than they would, had that gentleman's name appeared as the author; if they like illusion, the fault is clearly with them. It can hardly be supposed that, within these circumstances, Jones would voluntarily relinquish the advantage to be derived from writing anonymously. If, on the other hand, Jones thinks his opinion would derive additional weight from declaring his name, or is fearful of receiving more influence than he deserves if he abstains from avowing it, we have no fault to find with him. He is free to choose. There is a class of writers, however, who would not permit him the choice. They themselves" the champions of a free press"-affix their names to what they write and upon others to do the same. Their pretence is that the proceeding gives a guarantee of good faith, and prevents a man from saying anonymously what




he feels indisposed to say openly. In reality, however, their practice arises from an undue estimate of their own importance, and springs from the same source as that which induces vulgar persons to cut their initials on seats and to deface with their names monuments and places of public resort; it is usually called personal vanity. For my part, I believe it to be no disadvantage to literature that a writer-within the province that has been already indicated-should have the opportunity of saying anonymously what he would be indisposed to say openly. If A, who is a critic, knows B, the author of a volume of very indifferent poems, he would not like to sit down and say the truth of poor B's book, were he obliged to affix his name. But he could do this anonymously without, I think, being justly liable to the charge of . cowardice or want of friendship. It is allowable for him to maintain his social relations with B, and yet be honest in his calling in not thinking B's poetry good. If, however, he had to affix his name and expressed his disapprobation of the work, the poet would forthwith tax his memory to ascertain what he could have done to offend the critic, never supposing a writer to whom he is personally known could speak except in laudatory terms of his work.

To resume. Questions of policy or principle, of art and science, of literature, of morals-questions

which have to do with argument-are within the province of the anonymous. Questions of fact, dependent upon evidence and the credibility of witnesses, are without the province.

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