The Ethics of Criticism (18 may 1899)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Ethics of Criticism is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Daily Chronicle on 18 may 1899.

The Ethics of Criticism

Sir, — In the face of Dr. Nicoll's assurances, I unreservedly accept his statement that he has never, directly or indirectly, used his very powerful position upon the critical Press to further any personal or commercial end. I will say, also, that after his denial I am i sorry that even in the most guarded way the possibility of such a thing should have been suggested. It will serve, how'ever to bring home to Dr. Nicoll's mind how vicious a system must be and what unjust suspicions it may excite, when the same' gentleman who has so many openings for influencing opinion holds a paid position in an important publishing house. I can assure Dr. Nicoll that I have done hint a service by giving him an opportunity of finally setting all such speculations to rest.

I end where I began by repeating that it is obviously wrong that several opinions upon a book, some signed in one way, some signed in another, and some not signed at all, should all really represent the opinion of one man. I believe that Dr. Nicoll has wielded an influence of this kind, and my general facts have not been disputed. Mr. Bullock says there are other and worse groups of papers. It is very possible. Let him name them, as I have done, and he will do good service to literature.

As to the quality of my own work, however deplorable, it is entirely beside the question. I fully subscribe to the time-worn adage which Dr. Nicoll has quoted.

Yours faithfully,


Reform Club, Pall-mall, S.W.

See also