The rather amusing brouhaha over (not to mention agreement with) Josh Olson's outburst got me to thinking: has hitting up established authors for free critiques ever worked very well? The answer would appear to be a resounding "no." In fact, the nineteenth century boasts one of the most famous examples of this strategy's deadly pitfalls. A youthful Charlotte Bronte sent some poems to Robert Southey for an evaluation, only to receive a disconcerting reply. In her response, she claimed that Southey had successfully put paid to any desire to "see my name in print." Well...not quite. (John Keats' experience with William Wordsworth appears to have been even less enjoyable, not least because it happened in person.)
One might contemplate Charles Dickens' polite, but firm, reply to an aspiring author: "And even if I were to read yours [the manuscript], and to think it good, my opinion would not serve you in the least, as a publisher would prefer his own, and act upon it."