Admit the scar

Ben Jonson on teaching and learning to write:

I would bring my precepts into practice, for rules are ever of less force and value than experiments. […] As we should take care that our style in writing be neither dry nor empty, we should look again it be not winding, or wanton with far-fetched descriptions; either is a vice.  But that is worse which proceeds out of want, than that which riots out of plenty. The remedy of fruitfulness is easy, but no labour will help the contrary; I will like and praise some things in a young writer which yet, if he continue in, I cannot but justly hate him for the same. There is a time to be given all things for maturity, and that even your country husband-man can teach, who to a young plant will not put the pruning-knife, because it seems to fear the iron, as not able to admit the scar. No more would I tell a green writer all his faults, lest I should make him grieve and faint, and at last despair; for nothing doth more hurt than to make him so afraid of all things as he can endeavour nothing.

Jonson, Discoveries, 1640

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