Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 560 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

We have no discussions of any consequence in these volumes:  even the ultra-aristocratical opinions and feelings of the author—­who is, we presume, a Whig—­are rather hinted than avowed.  From a thousand passing sneers, we may doubt whether he has any religion at all; but still he may be only thinking of the outward and visible absurdities of popery—­therefore we have hardly a pretext for treating these matters seriously.  In short, this is meant to be, as he says in his preface, nothing but a “book of light reading”; and though no one can read it without having many grave enough feelings roused and agitated within him, there are really no passages to provoke or justify any detailed criticism either as to morals or politics ...

We risk nothing in predicting that Mr. Beckford’s Travels will henceforth be classed among the most elegant productions of modern literature:  they will be forthwith translated into every language of the Continent—­and will keep his name alive, centuries after all the brass and marble he ever piled together have ceased to vibrate with the echoes of Modenhas.

ON COLERIDGE

[From The Quarterly Review, August, 1834]

The Poetical Works of S.T.  Coleridge. 3 vols. 12mo.  London, 1834.

Let us be indulged, in the mean time, in this opportunity of making a few remarks on the genius of the extraordinary man whose poems, now for the first time completely collected, are named at the head of this article.  The larger part of this publication is, of course, of old date, and the author still lives; yet, besides the considerable amount of new matter in this edition, which might of itself, in the present dearth of anything eminently original in verse, justify our notice, we think the great, and yet somewhat hazy, celebrity of Coleridge, and the ill-understood character of his poetry, will be, in the opinion of a majority of our readers, more than an excuse for a few elucidatory remarks upon the subject.  Idolized by many, and used without scruple by more, the poet of “Christabel” and the “Ancient Mariner” is but little truly known in that common literary world, which, without the prerogative of conferring fame hereafter, can most surely give or prevent popularity for the present.  In that circle he commonly passes for a man of genius, who has written some very beautiful verses, but whose original powers, whatever they were, have been long since lost or confounded in the pursuit of metaphysic dreams.  We ourselves venture to think very differently of Mr. Coleridge, both as a poet and a philosopher, although we are well enough aware that nothing which we can say will, as matters now stand, much advance his chance of becoming a fashionable author.  Indeed, as we rather believe, we should earn small thanks from him for our happiest exertions in such a cause; for certainly, of all the men of letters whom it has been our fortune to know, we never met

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