Saturday, July 13, 2013


Critical Method

John Grote (1813-1866), A Few Remarks on a Pamphlet by Mr. Shilleto, Entitled "Thucydides or Grote?" (Cambridge: J. Deighton, 1851), p. 82:
The method—ascertain first, your author's politics and education; if different from your own, first wither him by airs of affected contempt, and pretend not to see him, or make your reader laugh with an account of the way in which he has, at last, come to your notice; then put on the humour of state, and in large words announce a mighty and indefinite purpose; find from the periodical critics where your author will have made mistakes, open his book upon them, taking care to choose those most easily shown to be so, and intersperse these with a sufficient flow of gossip to make your readers forget what you at first had promised to do for them. Put this into language borrowed at first from newspapers, but such as respectable newspapers have generally now discarded; it will tell the better: season with witticisms from your schoolboy days, but which most likely you have not been able in society to use, and serve up with a title mixed of assumption and absurdity, which will at once strike, impose upon, and amuse those whose eye it catches. And then your work is done.

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