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TMX -SOUTH WALES ATHEN^UM. CONDUCTED BY A COMMITTEE OP GENTLEMEN. No. 3. MARCH, 1846. Prick l|rf. CRITICISM. There are but few men amidst the host who pretend to the title of Cri¬ tic who dare to praise, for in so doing, they lay themselves open to charges of incompetency of judgment, and want of acquaintance with the full bearings of the subject they have ventured to approve. And this is one of the reasons which induces so much of cavilling at little errors, so frequent a forgetfulness of the great and leading beauties which often dis¬ tinguish literary achievements, and which an unjust severity, or rather a fear of expressing a candid opinion, sink in public estimation to far below their proper level. The man of small mind who can discover in the poetry of a Wordsworth some want of power the characteristic of some other poet, will pass with some others of his class (and in the World these consti¬ tute die mass), as possessing erudi¬ tion of the highest order, and ac¬ quirements of the profoundest extent: and perhaps,' another reason may be adduced, from the fact that, indefi¬ nite as our notions of perfection must necessarily be, we are always willing to allow to others the power of seeing ■pots on the sun, thinking we may have overlooked them, and because, when found, they please those morbid feel¬ ings^ of our character which would depress aught of superiority to our pwn level.; It is plainly the charac¬ teristic Of a noble and free-thinking mind, to admire boldly, and boldly to express that admiration, not fear¬ ing that others may differ, but con¬ scious that to the standard set up of excellence, the work praised has made some close approximation. Critics do most constantly in their attempts to seem wiser than their neighbours, so wonderfully forget the laws upon which all true criticism must be based, namely, a thorough acquaintance with the matter of the subject criticised, and the generally received model of excellence, as to fall into some strange errors, and we cannot better illustrate our meaning than by referring to certain remarks which have been, on the one hand levelled at, and on the other present¬ ed to, the South Wales Athenaeum. In speaking of the first number, one journal remarks that " although they have had but time to glance through the pages sufficiently to learn die names of the subjects," they can see (and wonderfully acute is their power of vision) that the articles are, in fact, but so-so. They have intui¬ tively gained their knowledge;* they* are die sort of gentlemen who read the title of the book, learn its*size,x- and the name of the printer, the edi¬ tion, and all other minutiae of the last interest to them, but which are the last any one else asks about; and in talking to these self-constituted' boards of reprovers and correctors of the public taste, the only learning: they have acquired m, *" Oh 'yes,"