Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

We could be well content to rest here; but we have a more serious charge to bring against the editor, than the omission of points, or the misapprehension of words.  He has polluted his pages with the blasphemies of a poor maniac, who, it seems, once published some detached scenes of the “Broken Heart.”  For this unfortunate creature, every feeling mind will find an apology in his calamitous situation; but—­for Mr. Weber, we know not where the warmest of his friends will seek either palliation or excuse.


[From The Quarterly Review, April, 1818]

Reviewers have sometimes been accused of not reading the works which they affected to criticise.  On the present occasion we shall anticipate the author’s complaint, and honestly confess that we have not read his work.  Not that we have been wanting in our duty—­far from it—­indeed, we have made efforts almost as superhuman as the story itself appears to be, to get through it; but with the fullest stretch of our perseverence, we are forced to confess that we have not been able to struggle beyond the first of the four books[1] of which this Poetic Romance consists.  We should extremely lament this want of energy, or whatever it may be, on our parts, were it not for one consolation—­namely, that we are no better acquainted with the meaning of that book through which we have so painfully toiled than we are with that of the three which we have not looked into.

[1] Endymion:  A Poetic Romance.  By John Keats.  London, 1818.

It is not that Mr. Keats (if that be his real name, for we almost doubt that any man in his senses would put his real name to such a rhapsody) it is not, we say, that the author has not powers of language, rays of fancy, and gleams of genius—­he has all these; but he is unhappily a disciple of the new school of what has been somewhere called Cockney poetry; which may be defined to consist of the most incongruous ideas in the most uncouth language.

Of this school Mr. Leigh Hunt, as we observed in a former number, aspires to be the hierophant.  Our readers will recollect the pleasant recipes for harmonious and sublime poetry which he gave us in his preface to Rimini, and the still more facetious instances of his harmony and sublimity in the verses themselves; and they will recollect above all the contempt of Pope, Johnson, and such like poetasters and pseudo-critics, which so forcibly contrasted itself with Mr. Leigh Hunt’s approbation of

      —­All the things itself had wrote,
  Of special merit though of little note.

The author is a copyist of Mr. Hunt, but he is more unintelligible, almost as rugged, twice as diffuse, and ten times more tiresome and absurd than his prototype, who, though he impudently presumed to seat himself in the chair of criticism, and to measure his own poetry by his own standard, yet generally had a meaning.  But Mr. Keats had advanced no dogmas which he was bound to support by examples, his nonsense therefore is quite gratuitous; he writes it for its own sake, and being bitten by Mr. Leigh Hunt’s insane criticism, more than rivals the insanity of his poetry.

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