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An Appeal To The Publick
by [?]

From the Gentleman’s Magazine, March, 1739.

Men’ moveat cimex Pantilius? aut crucier, quod
Vellicet absentem Demetrius–

Laudat, amat, cantat nostros mea Roma libellos,
Meque sinus omnes, me manus omnis habet.
Ecce rubet quidam, pallet, stupet, oscitat, odit.
Hoc volo, nunc nobis carmina nostra placent.

It is plain from the conduct of writers of the first class, that they have esteemed it no derogation from their characters to defend themselves against the censures of ignorance, or the calumnies of envy.

It is not reasonable to suppose, that they always judged their adversaries worthy of a formal confutation; but they concluded it not prudent to neglect the feeblest attacks; they knew that such men have often done hurt, who had not abilities to do good; that the weakest hand, if not timely disarmed, may stab a hero in his sleep; that a worm, however small, may destroy a fleet in the acorn; and that citadels, which have defied armies, have been blown up by rats.

In imitation of these great examples, we think it not absolutely needless to vindicate ourselves from the virulent aspersions of the Craftsman and Common Sense; because their accusations, though entirely groundless, and without the least proof, are urged with an air of confidence, which the unwary may mistake for consciousness of truth.

In order to set the proceedings of these calumniators in a proper light, it is necessary to inform such of our readers, as are unacquainted with the artifices of trade, that we originally incurred the displeasure of the greatest part of the booksellers by keeping this magazine wholly in our own hands, without admitting any of that fraternity into a share of the property. For nothing is more criminal, in the opinion of many of them, than for an author to enjoy more advantage from his own works than they are disposed to allow him. This is a principle so well established among them, that we can produce some who threatened printers with their highest displeasure, for their having dared to print books for those that wrote them.

Hinc irae, hinc odia.

This was the first ground of their animosity, which, for some time, proceeded no farther than private murmurs and petty discouragements. At length, determining to be no longer debarred from a share in so beneficial a project, a knot of them combined to seize our whole plan; and, without the least attempt to vary or improve it, began, with the utmost vigour to print and circulate the London Magazine, with such success, that in a few years, while we were printing the fifth edition of some of our earliest numbers, they had seventy thousand of their books returned, unsold, upon their hands.

It was then time to exert their utmost efforts to stop our progress, and nothing was to be left unattempted that interest could suggest. It will be easily imagined, that their influence, among those of their own trade, was greater than ours, and that their collections were, therefore, more industriously propagated by their brethren; but this, being the natural consequence of such a relation, and, therefore, excusable, is only mentioned to show the disadvantages against which we are obliged to struggle, and, to convince the reader, that we who depend so entirely upon his approbation, shall omit nothing to deserve it.

They then had recourse to advertisements, in which they, sometimes, made faint attempts to be witty, and, sometimes, were content with being merely scurrilous; but, finding that their attacks, while we had an opportunity of returning hostilities, generally procured them such treatment as very little contributed to their reputation, they came, at last, to a resolution of excluding us from the newspapers in which they have any influence: by this means they can, at present, insult us with impunity, and without the least danger of confutation.

Their last, and, indeed, their most artful expedient, has been to hire and incite the weekly journalists against us. The first weak attempt was made by the Universal Spectator; but this we took not the least notice of, as we did not imagine it would ever come to the knowledge of the publick.