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AT a time when dispassionate or unrecompensed criticism of the works of our authors is rare enough, there exists for us, as students, a need in criticism that yet more urgently demands to be supplied. I refer to that variety of criticism which has occasionally found a place in our college papers, and which we are sometimes permitted to enjoy in our best American monthlies. It partakes less of the nature of the ordinary iceberg criticism than of the friendly, genial nature of scholarly admiration. It is a result attainable by those who can felicitously express exactly what constitutes the peculiar charm of their book or author, and is not so valuable to the reader for any intrinsic merit of authority, as for its suggestions of what to read, and its pleasant hint of what one will find in his reading.
Not to advocate making such opinions our only guide in this, we certainly do, however, give great weight to them in our reading from day to day. When the one volume we especially desire is not in the library, - less hypothetical than its presence there, - and we stand in doubt before those drawers of titles, how often and naturally we base our choice on the remembrance of some chance conversation on books and authors! While such opinions, expressed in the carelessness of conversation or aired on the enthusiastic heights of an excited argument, are found to influence us so perceptibly, why should we deprive one another of the influence of those more carefully considered opinions as they would appear in the columns of a college paper?
Could I recall the various titles under which such critical articles have appeared in our papers in the past, I am confident a reperusal of them would not only suggest a pleasing verbal dress for more such criticisms, but would stimulate the expression of them from the students of extensive or careful reading.
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