And, besides, those who support the government will rejoice in the opportunity of paying the tax. I shouldn't wonder if the stamp doubled our sale."

"Very sanguine, Mr. Buckley."


Sanguine, Sir? Who wouldn't be sanguine, when rare wits like you condescend to write for the Town. There is Doctor Swift, too, I hear, has been writing penny paper after penny paper. A fine hand, gentlemen! Are we to go back to our old ignorant days because of a red stamp? We must go on improving. Look at my printing-office, and see if we are not improved. Why, Sir Roger L'Estrange, when he set up the Intelligencer fifty years ago, gave notice that he would publish his one book a week, 'to be published every Thursday, and finished upon the Tuesday night, leaving Wednesday entire for the printing it off.' And now I, gentlemen-Heaven forbid I should boast,—can print your Spectator off every day, and not even want the copy more than three days before the publication. Think of that, gentlemen, a halfsheet every day. A hundred years hence nobody will believe it."

"You are a wonderful man, Mr. Buckley, and we are all very grateful to you," said the laughing-eyed Essayist. "But, talking of a hundred years hence, who can say that our moral and mechanical improvements are to stop here? I can imagine a time when every handicraft in the country shall read; when the footman behind the carriage shall read; when the Irish chairman shall read; and when your Intelligencer shall hear of a great battle on the Wednesday morning, and have a full account of it published on the Thursday."

"That, Sir, with all submission, is actually impossible; and surely you are joking when you talk of the vulgar learning to read, and taking delight in reading. Reading will never go lower than our shopkeepers, I think."

"I wonder,” said Addison, "what the people would read a hundred years hence, if they had the ability? They must have books especially suited to their capacities."

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"They would read your Vision of Mirza,' and know something about your 'Sir Roger de Coverley.""

"Come, come, Diccon, don't be sarcastic. I thought I was pitching my key low enough to suit our fops, and our courtiers, and our coffee-house loungers ;-but to be relished by the rabble! A pinch of snuff, if you please."

"If I could see the day," said Steele, "when we had a nation of readers, and books could circulate rapidly through the whole country, I would leave the Town to mend its follies as it best might, and set up for a teacher of the People. We would make your press do ten times its present work then, Mr. Buckley."

"Ah, Sir, great men like you always have their dreams. I once knew a very clever man who fancied the mail would some time or other go to York in three days. Poor man, he was very nearly mad."

Addison whispered to his friend that the printer would number him amongst the Bedlam candidates if he propounded any more of his speculations; and then, drawing himself up with greater dignity, rejoiced the honest printer's heart by a memorable declaration :-"Come what may, we shall go on in spite of the Stamp. There, Mr. Buckley, is the copy for No. 445, Thursday, July 31, which announces our resolve. We will not be cashiered by Act of Parliament.",




WRITING for the people is either a very high thing or a very low thing, according to the conception formed of it. A low thing it is when the author, assuming a patronizing philanthropy, writes, as he says, down to the comprehension of his audience: a still lower thing it is when, adopting a base servility, he flatters the prejudices and fosters the blind passions of his audience. In the first case he treats grown men as if they were children; in the second, he treats human beings as if they were wild beasts, to be tamed and flattered rather than enlightened and elevated. We have a strong conviction that nothing can be too good for the people; that there is a larger body of readers for works of the highest class of literature and philosophy among the people than among the other classes. But this is a new development of social progress; it is a development which has taken place in the present generation.

Before proceeding farther, let us agree as to the meaning of words. Nothing like a strict definition for preventing confusion and misapprehension. What is meant by the word People? We answer that, in a literary sense, the people cannot simply mean the populus. Writing a book for the people is writing a popular book; and a popular book is contradistinguished from a professional book, inasmuch as it requires from the reader no special education; it only requires intelligence and ordinary culture. This special education, which the works not professedly popular assume in the reader, is of two kinds, classical and mathematical. We use these as types: mathematics being the basis of almost all scientific investigation, and the classics being the basis of almost all literary culture, the two may very well stand as representatives of the scientific and literary education.

Works written for professional people--and we include among them all who profess to follow a particular study-are not intelligible to the people, i. e. to all non-professional readers. The language used, the acquirements assumed, the very method of exposition, are barriers to the people. And here we may see that by the people cannot be meant merely the artisans and the shopkeepers; for the gentleman and the collegian are equally excluded from the circle of the initiated. No amount of literary culture will enable a man to comprehend a work of science written for scientific men. No amount of mathematical attainments will enable a man to comprehend a scientific work on physiology, unless he have previously studied anatomy. A work on physiology, therefore, which should be written for the people, would be addressed to the collegian as to the artisan-to the man of "liberal education" as to the man who is self-educated. The artisan and the gentleman are here on an equality.

The people are generally spoken of as the uneducated. We propose to simplify the question by calling them the public not specially educated. Education is only laying the basis. It is a preparation. A liberal education, which includes a knowledge of languages, dead and living, and of mathematics, forms the best groundwork for the appreciation of works of literature and science, because these works assume those attainments in the reader. But it is obvious that the knowledge is but a preparation, and that thousands content themselves therewith. These are the people, whatever may be their social position. They, no less than the artisan, need to be specially educated in a science, or in literature, before they can understand works not professedly popular. The only advantage the educated man has is, that if he and the uneducated man begin the study of a science at the same time, he has already accomplished the necessary preparation; he knows the alphabet and can spell, though he has not yet learned to read.

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The circle of professional readers is necessarily small. Within that small circle, moreover, there are other circles. Thus among mathematicians, the majority cannot master Newton's Principia;' and Playfair used to declare that there were not six men in England capable of understanding Laplace's Celestial Mechanics. It must always be so. There will be few who attain the summits, and those few must have works written only for them. But the people form an ever-widening circle.


In the early ages of the world knowledge was confined to the priests. imparted it only to their own castes, because the people were unfitted to receive it. Even in democratic Athens the philosophers had two modes of instruction; one destined for the initiated, the other destined for the people. And the people there were similar to our middle classes. The working classes were slaves. SOCRATES was the first to bring knowledge into the market-place. He was the first to strip philosophy of its professional language, and to bring it home to the understandings of all men. LUTHER, by his translation of the Bible into the vernacular, gave the people a literature. The circle gradually widened. First, the priests were the sole cultivators of knowledge. Next, in Greece and Rome, the nobility and gentry cultivated it as an elegant distinction. Then, colleges and schools having multiplied, every well-born man was forced to make some slight pretension to cultivation. Now, cheap literature has so widened the circle, that all mankind can share in the "feast of reason."

The people, then, in a literary sense, may be regarded as comprising the whole mass of the intelligent public-all who are not specially educated. We say, therefore, let your reader be artisan or nobleman, when you do not address the professional few, you are writing for the people. Write clearly, and avoid the language of the schools, then all men will understand you; but do not write down to any imaginary standard of dulness unless you are addressing children. Write out the conviction that is labouring within you; utter the thoughts that lie deepest in the language that is fittest; only do not assume that the reader is familiar with the language and distinctions of the schools; remember he is not one of the profession.

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Such is the diffusion of knowledge, and such the activity of intelligences, that, even among the artisans, the gravest and greatest works of the gravest and greatest minds find eager students. We will not instance Shakspere; we will content ourselves with Locke. Every Mechanics' Institute in the kingdom will prove how many readers there are for the Essay on Human Understanding.' If Plato had been translated in a readable style, he would have been popular. It is not sympathy, it is not intelligence which is deficient; it is simply education. The people are as those who have never learned a foreign language. The remedy is simple: translate what is in the foreign language into the vernacular; then all men will understand it: the screen which was before their eyes is removed, and they see.

If the people, the populus, be compared to those entirely ignorant of a foreign language; the educated, who are not the specially educated in science or literature, may be likened to that numerous class of persons who have been taught the language, but know so little of it that they can neither read nor write it with efficiency. To them also translation is necessary; for them also works should be popular. Their knowledge, such as it is, is no more than preparatory; they cannot master the works written for the professional.

We are coming to something like firm ground. Except in the higher branches of science and philosophy, the difficulty lies rather in the language than in the matter. The abstruseness does not arise from the ideas, but from the form in which they are

expressed. We e are addressed in a foreign language, and do not comprehend what is said. Translation is the only remedy.

What translation is to literature, popular treatises should be to science. It is obvious that in both cases something must be lost in the process. The charm of style, the easy grace of negligence, the happy phrase, and the idiomatic turn of language can rarely be preserved in translation. The nicety of precision, and the brief suggestiveness of mathematical formulæ and technical terms, must be lost in the popular treatise. Granted; but in both cases a rough cast is thought worthy of purchase by those whose fortunes would never give them the original. Popular literature and popular science are not meant to replace or to do away with higher works, no more than the translation of a French work is meant to do away with the study of French. The superiority of the original no one disputes. The question is, Are those who have not learned French, and who have no time to learn it, to be, therefore, deprived of the benefit of the ideas which Frenchmen may put forth? In the same way we would ask, Are those who have never studied anatomy, and who have no time to study it, to be debarred from understanding the general laws of organized beings; are those who have no proficiency in mathematics never to learn the laws of astronomy?

Let there be anatomical works written for the profession; let there be astronomical works written for the scientific. We would not abate one jot of terminology, nor banish a single formula that was not mere ostentation. No person competent to forin an opinion can dispute the utility of technical terms and algebraical formulæ.

But these are works for the specially educated. For the people-i. e. for all men not so educated-let there be works written with a steady conception of the important point: that although the acquirements of the reader are not to be assumed, the intelligence is; if he must not be supposed to understand a foreign language, he may be supposed to understand its meaning if translated.

The objections to most works of popular science is, that they are popular trash. They are trivial and false;-written by men who ought to be learners instead of teachers, who write "down" to the people, simply because they could not write up to scientific men. They make a virtue of their own defect; superficial, they declaim against pedantry and obscurity; ignorant of mathematics, they proclaim formulæ to be useless paraphernalia. Unable to write sense, they endeavour to be childish-and succeed. That profound science and complete mastery of a subject can be combined with the simplest, clearest exposition, has been signally proved by Professor Airy's treatise on 'Gravitation,' and by Dr. Arnott's priceless Elements of Physics.' This latter book has been one of the most popular (in every sense) ever written. It has been translated into every language of Europe. It has been studied by men and women of all grades of intelligence. It has been often imitated; but not one of the imitations has ever made the least stand: they all wanted either that mastery of the subject, which alone can make a book live, or that power of exposition, clear without childishness, which alone can make a book attractive.

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That there is no royal road to science is very true; no mastery is attained in any department without courageous effort. But there is a royal road to the understanding of the general laws of nature; and to make that road all popular treatises should attempt. Science is abstruse; nothing can make it intelligible at a glance.

But with regard to literature and philosophy, writing for the people is a much simpler matter. The author's motto should be, not to assume acquirements, but only intelligence, in the reader. To assume that the reader should understand your Greek

and Latin quotations, or all your allusions to things classical and historical, is unwarrantable. Quote as much as you please-but always translate; illustrate as much as you can, but be plain, and avoid allusions which presume a classical education. Any other mode of writing down to the reader is insulting. The intelligence of the people is not so trivial as many of the pretended teachers assume. Nothing can be too good for the people; no literature can be too high for them. Clearness, which is perhaps the highest excellence of prose, is the only demand made by the people. It is the demand which all men should make. There are many who fancy that fine writing is difficult; but the fact is that no difficulty is greater than that of clearness, and only the great writers are clear. Pompous periods, involved sentences, shadowy epithets, ambiguous words, and obscure allusions are easy enough. Moreover, they throw a veil over vanity. By screening their meaning from the light of day, they prevent all men seeing how trivial that meaning is. Whereas the writer who labours to bring his meaning forth into the light must be conscious that it deserves inspection. In literature lustre is seldom without weight; and as Chesterfield says, weight without lustre is lead." Hence you will find, as a general rule, that the greatest writers are the clearest writers; and that the clearest writers are the clearest thinkers.

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Politics, morals, and metaphysics are subjects which, inasmuch as they require continued effort of thought, may be called abstruse. Can abstruse subjects be fitted for the people? If by this question be meant, Can abstruse subjects be otherwise than abstruse? we answer, Certainly not. Those who are incapable of any continued effort of thought will be incapable of following any abstruse speculations. But to write for such persons would be idle. No one thinks of addressing them. If, however, by the above question be meant, Can abstruse subjects be so treated as only to require an ordinary effort of thought to be continued, in order that the subject should be intelligible? we answer, Yes. Hobbes, Locke, Adam Smith, and Paley are examples. They are profound thinkers, and clear writers; they are intelligible to all intelligent minds. And to show how vast is their superiority in these matters, we need only cite the name of the German philosopher, Kant, who, treating of the subject which Locke made so easy of comprehension (at a time when the philosophy of mind was in its infancy), failed not only in making himself intelligible to the people, but even to professed metaphysicians. The abstruseness here lay not in the subject, but in its treatment. This mode has become very generally adopted both in Germany and France. No man now thinks of writing on philosophy in a clear intelligible manner. The old scholastic forms, with a cumbrous paraphernalia of verbiage, darken the meaning. Instead of the effort of thought, which the subject itself demands, the reader is called upon for a twofold effort: first, to interpret the language, and afterwards to examine the ideas. The abstruse is made repulsive.

For those who do not pride themselves upon their unattractiveness, who will consent to labour for the enlightenment of mankind at large, and not simply for the gratification of a few, we would say, Endeavour to be intelligible. To be so, there is no need of keeping back abstruse ideas; the only requisite is, that the expression be not also abstruse. The deepest thinkers of modern times, Descartes, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Reid (to mention only the philosophers), have been universally intelligible. As to the folly of writing down to the people, you will not heed it. The people resent the insult. If you are above them, draw them up to you; if you are on their level, cease the assumption of superiority.

We shall speak hereafter of the other part of our subject-the servility of the popular writer.;

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