Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), "The Higher Criticism," Selected Essays
(London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1948), pp. 102-107 (at 102-103):
The Very Learned when they desire to fix the date or the
authenticity or both of a piece of literature, adopt among
other postulates, these:
(1) That tradition doesn't count.
(2) That common sense, one's general knowledge of the
time, and all that multiplex integration which the sane mind
effects from a million tiny data to a general judgement, is too
tiny to be worthy of their august consideration.
(3) That the title 'Very Learned' (which gives them their
authority) is tarnished by any form of general knowledge,
and can only be acquired by confining oneself to a narrow
field in which any fool could become an absolute master in
about two years.
These are their negative postulates in dealing with a document.
As to their positive methods, of one hundred insufficient
tricks I choose in particular these:
(1) The establishment of the date of the document against
tradition and general air, by allusion discovered within it.
(2) The conception that all unusual events recorded in it
are mythical, and therefore necessarily anterior to the document.
(3) The supposition that religious emotion, or indeed
emotion of any kind, vitiates record.
(4) The use of a single piece of co-relative documentary
evidence to destroy that general judgement.
(5) The fixed dogma that most writers of the past have
spent most of their time in forging.