Famous Reviews eBook

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

His not altogether unfriendly criticisms inspired one of Tennyson’s lightest effusions—­

  You did late review my lays,
    Crusty Christopher;
  You did mingle blame and praise
    Rusty Christopher. 
  When I learnt from whence it came,
  I forgave you all the blame,
    Musty Christopher;
  I could not forgive the praise
    Fusty Christopher.

The Noctes Ambrosianae is certainly a unique production.  Though ostensibly a dialogue mainly between himself, Tickler (i.e., Lockhart), and Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd—­with other occasional dramatis personae; the main bulk of them (including everything here quoted) was written by Wilson himself—­in this form, to produce an original effect.  The conversations are, for the most part, thoroughly dramatic, and cover every conceivable subject from politics and literature to the beauty of scenery, dress, cookery, and the various sports beloved of Christopher.  There is much boisterous interruption for eating, drinking, and personal chaff.

Of the longer quotations selected we would particularly draw attention to the humorous and epigrammatic parody of Wordsworth, on whom Wilson elsewhere bestows generous enthusiasm; and the broad-minded outlook which can appreciate the contrasted virility of Byron and Dr. Johnson.  But it would be impossible to give an approximately fair impression of the Noctes, without many examples of those paragraph criticisms scattered broadcast on every page, which we have presented as “Crumbs” from the feast.  The magnificent recantation to Leigh Hunt—­on whom Blackwood had bestowed even more than its share of abuse—­has passed into a proverb.


As in the case of the Quarterly these untraced effusions may be assigned, with fair confidence, to the principal originators of the magazine:  Wilson himself, Lockhart, and William Maginn (1793-1842), a thriftless Irishman who helped to start Fraser’s Magazine in 1830, and stood for Captain Shandon in Pendennis; author of Bob Burke’s Duel with Ensign Brady, “perhaps the raciest Irish story ever written.”

They almost certainly combined in the heated attack on “The Cockney School,” of which Leigh Hunt’s generous, but not always judicious, advertisement was an obvious temptation to satire, embittered by political bias.  Coleridge, also, provided easy material for scorn from vigorous manhood; and Shelley, as Wilson remarks elsewhere, was “the greatest sinner of the oracular school—­because the only true poet.”

[1] A Discussion of the Edition by Bowles.

[From Noctes Ambrosianae, March, 1825]

Tickler. Pope was one of the most amiable men that ever lived.  Fine and delicate as were the temper and temperament of his genius, he had a heart capable of the warmest human affection.  He was indeed a loving creature.

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