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Criticism

The London (England) Daily Chronicle, November 4, 1602, said: "It was the discrepancy between price and apparent value that first fixed our attention on this paper covered pamphlet of six and thirty pages. Then, the announcement on the cover stirred curiosity, 'A book that in all parts of the world is giving to each man more courage to become his brother's helper than have any or all books of the past time.' Then for a moment, peeing that this unique work first appeared in 1885 and is now in its third edition, we are ashamed of ourselves. Where had been our eyes these seventeen years? But ten minutes' reading of this drama in four acts and twenty-eight pages showed us that we were face to face with a specimen of what we may call freak literature. England has its literary freaks, who write of the Lost Ten Tribes and the flatness of the earth, and so on; but in this department, America is supreme. It has produced Ignatius Donnelly, it has produced the Christian Science Bible, one of the silliest books ever written. These, however, have at least the excuse of a definite object. We cannot tell what Mr. Welcker is driving at, for when his blank verse scans it conveys no meaning, and when it doesn't it is excruciating. He is mercifully conscious of other people's human limitations, and devotes a supplement to explaining himself to the 'British reviewers.' But, even here, there is no 'glowing light.' You will understand this if you will kindly read the following passage from a prefatory note."—

[The critic here sets out the first seventeen lines of the Second Prefatory Note of the book, and then continues.]

"But one is almost inclined to regret the freedom of the press and long for some matriculation examination which should exclude from literature all who cannot think, consecutively for, say—five seconds. The examiners would certainly plow a whole batch of freak book-makers, and among them Mr. Welcker."

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Adair Welcker

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