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Reply of J. P. Kennedy to the Review of His Discourse on the Life and Character of Calvert

Reply of J. P. Kennedy to the Review of His Discourse on the Life and Character of Calvert

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Excerpt from Reply of J. P. Kennedy to the Review of His Discourse on the Life and Character of Calvert: Published in the United States Catholic Magazine, April, 1846

I have a dislike to all literary controversy; and something more than dislike when my antagonist is a professional critic. I know that towards such a personage an author does wisely to show no contumacy, - for , whatever may be the merits of the dispute, the critic is sure to have the last word, which is equally sure to be more bitter than the first. In his vocation, the sense of having done injustice is generally a motive to repeat the injury. It is not, therefore, to convert the reviewer of my "Discourse on the Life and Character of George Calvert" to a more favorable opinion of that production that I desire the use of your journal; but to correct some of his misrepresentations, to set myself right before your readers in regard to matters where he has set me particularly wrong, and to open to their view some points of history concerning which he seems to have studiously endeavored to keep them in the dark.

When I delivered the Discourse I was not aware that I was touching upon a subject which might not be handled as freely as any other question of history. Still less was I aware that I was about to bring the Maryland Historical Society under censure for their toleration of my production; and, least of all, that I was laying that society under an obligation to make an amende to any one for the wrong they were about to do in publishing it.

In these particulars I find I have been mistaken. The elaborate review, with which I have been honored in the April number of your Magazine, is written in a tone of rebuke which I can only understand as an admonition against the rashness of having an opinion of my own upon the subject I had chosen: whilst both the review itself and your editorial notice of it convey a very intelligible hint of the misdoings of the Historical Society in publishing the Discourse, their responsibility for its "sentiments," and their duty to make "some amende" to somebody for the offence of this "extraordinary performance."

I have no design to vindicate the society for their part in this transgression. They will think of it, perhaps, when they come to print another address. Neither am I inclined to defend myself against the asperity of the reviewer upon the literary merit of my performance. Measured by the standard of his severe taste, I am willing to confess my inferiority.

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