In the August 1818 volume of La Belle Assemblee, the Listener, who never revealed his true identity, nevertheless admits:
“I have ever regarded the anonymous letter-writer in the same light as I do an assassin who stabs in the dark.”
Nevertheless, he addresses himself almost always to anonymous writers.
These supplicants, he explains, are very different. They cringe from identifying themselves because of the trouble they find themselves in. They:
“..are a far more different temperament from those miserable beings to whom I allude. They write to me for advice, they lash, in a good-humoured way…”
What of those critics who adopted obvious pseudonyms in Regency-era literary reviews? The Leopard and the Scorpion, for instance, who’ve been subjects of this blog in the past?
They were assassins, too, but they stabbed in broad daylight.
No, it is the anonymous writer who deliberately seeks out publicity with the sole intent to wound that the Listener despises. This malcontent “vents his spleen” and “pours forth her venom” in order to make mischief and sow discord.
“Anonymous” in this regard criticizes an artist’s character (rather than his work) , wrecks marriages, breaks up romantic engagements and sets children against their parents.
The signature of this troll, whether it be Incognito or Ivan the Terrible, is a “dirty mantle.”
“Beware my sting, I inflict it unseen; for Cowardice and Malignancy are my parents; and Envy my instructress and nurse!”
For some reason these trolls seem more intelligent and clever than the trolls of today. As if they engaged for a true match of wits rather than just stirring the pot for the sake of stirring the pot. Interesting post!
Another wonderful entry, Angelyn! How disappointing to think that there were trolls even in the Regency era. But I suppose that – sadly – when it comes to some unpleasant aspects of human nature, the more things change the more they stay the same 😦