Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
any imputation on the public taste—­for the extraordinary care and cost with which the paternal solicitude of the poet-publisher had adorned his own volume.  Mr. Moxon seems to be—­like most sonneteers—­a man of amiable disposition, and to have an ear—­as he certainly has a memory—­for poetry; and—­if he had not been an old hand—­we should not have presumed to say that he is incapable of anything better than this tumid commonplace.  But, however that may be, we do earnestly exhort him to abandon the self-deluding practice of being his own publisher.  Whatever may have been said in disparagement of the literary taste of the booksellers, it will at least be admitted that their experience of public opinion and a due attention to their own pecuniary interest, enable them to operate as a salutary check upon the blind and presumptive vanity of small authors.  The necessity of obtaining the "imprimatur" of a publisher is a very wholesome restraint, from which Mr. Moxon—­unluckily for himself and for us—­found himself relieved.  If he could have looked at his own work with the impartiality, and perhaps the good taste, that he would have exercised on that of a stranger, he would have saved himself a good deal of expense and vexation—­and we should have been spared the painful necessity of contrasting the ambitious pretensions of his volume with its very moderate literary merit.


[From The Quarterly Review, December, 1848]

1. Vanity Fair; a Novel without a Hero. By WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY.  London, 1848.

2. Jane Eyre; an Autobiography. Edited by CURRER BELL.  In 3 vols.  London. 1847.

A remarkable novel is a great event for English society.  It is a kind of common friend, about whom people can speak the truth without fear of being compromised, and confess their emotions without being ashamed.  We are a particularly shy and reserved people, and set about nothing so awkwardly as the simple art of getting really acquainted with each other.  We meet over and over again in what is conventionally called “easy society,” with the tacit understanding to go so far and no farther; to be as polite as we ought to be, and as intellectual as we can; but mutually and honourably to forbear lifting those veils which each spreads over his inner sentiments and sympathies.  For this purpose a host of devices have been contrived by which all the forms of friendship may be gone through, without committing ourselves to one spark of the spirit.  We fly with eagerness to some common ground in which each can take the liveliest interest, without taking the slightest in the world in his companion.  Our various fashionable manias, for charity one season, for science the next, are only so many clever contrivances for keeping our neighbour at arm’s length.  We can attend committees, and canvass for subscribers, and archaeologise, and

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