Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 560 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
Many of them, considered in any other character than that of authors are, we have no doubt, entitled to be considered as very worthy people in their own way.  Mr. Hunt is said to be a very amiable man in his own sphere, and we believe him to be so willingly.  Mr. Keats we have often heard spoken of in terms of great kindness, and we have no doubt his manners and feelings are calculated to make his friends love him.  But what has all this to do with our opinion of their poetry?  What, in the name of wonder, does it concern us, whether these men sit among themselves, with mild or with sulky faces, eating their mutton steaks, and drinking their porter at Highgate, Hampstead, or Lisson Green?  What is there that should prevent us, or any other person, that happens not to have been educated in the University of Little Britain, from expressing a simple, undisguised, and impartial opinion, concerning the merits or demerits of men that we never saw, nor thought of for one moment, otherwise than as in their capacity of authors?  What should hinder us from saying, since we think so, that Mr. Leigh Hunt is a clever wrong-headed man, whose vanities have got inwoven so deeply into him, that he has no chance of ever writing one line of classical English, or thinking one genuine English thought, either about poetry or politics?  What is the spell that must seal our lips, from uttering an opinion equally plain and perspicuous concerning Mr. John Keats, viz., that nature possibly meant him to be a much better poet than Mr. Leigh Hunt ever could have been, but that, if he persists in imitating the faults of that writer, he must be contented to share his fate, and be like him forgotten?  Last of all, what should forbid us to announce our opinion, that Mr. Shelley, as a man of genius, is not merely superior, either to Mr. Hunt, or to Mr. Keats, but altogether out of their sphere, and totally incapable of ever being brought into the most distant comparison with either of them.  It is very possible, that Mr. Shelley himself might not be inclined to place himself so high above these men as we do, but that is his affair, not ours.  We are afraid that he shares, (at least with one of them) in an abominable system of belief, concerning Man and the World, the sympathy arising out of which common belief, may probably sway more than it ought to do on both sides.  But the truth of the matter is this, and it is impossible to conceal it were we willing to do so, that Mr. Shelley is destined to leave a great name behind him, and that we, as lovers of true genius, are most anxious that this name should ultimately be pure as well as great.

As for the principles and purposes of Mr. Shelley’s poetry, since we must again recur to that dark part of the subject; we think they are on the whole, more undisguisedly pernicious in this volume, than even in his Revolt of Islam.  There is an Ode to Liberty at the end of the volume, which contains passages of the most splendid beauty, but which, in point of meaning, is just as wicked as any thing that ever reached the world under the name of Mr. Hunt himself.  It is not difficult to fill up the blank which has been left by the prudent bookseller, in one of the stanzas beginning: 

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