Famous Reviews eBook

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

And never, certainly, since Pope wrote his Dunciad, did the beautiful require more taking care of, or evince less capacity for taking care of itself, and never, we must add, was less capacity for taking care of it evinced by its accredited guardians of the press than at this present time, if the reception given to Mr. Smith’s poem is to be taken as a fair expression of “the public taste.”

Now, let it be fairly understood, Mr. Alexander Smith is not the object of our reproaches:  but Mr. Smith’s models and flatterers.  Against him we have nothing whatever to say; for him, very much indeed....

What if he has often copied....  He does not more than all schools have done, copy their own masters....  We by no means agree in the modern outcry for “originality.” ...

As for manner, he does sometimes, in imitating his models, out-Herod Herod.  But why not?  If Herod be a worthy king, let him be by all means out-Heroded, if any man can do it.  One cannot have too much of a good thing.  If it be right to bedizen verses with metaphors and similes which have no reference, either in tone or in subject, to the matter in hand, let there be as many of them as possible.  If a saddle is a proper place for jewels, then let the seat be paved with diamonds and emeralds, and Runjeet Singh’s harness maker be considered as a lofty artist, for whose barbaric splendour Mr. Peat and his Melton customers are to forswear pigskin and severe simplicity—­not to say utility, and comfort.  If poetic diction be different in species from plain English, then let us have it as poetical as possible, as unlike English:  as ungrammatical, abrupt, insolved, transposed, as the clumsiness, carelessness, or caprice of man can make it.  If it be correct to express human thought by writing whole pages of vague and bald abstract metaphyric, and then trying to explain them by concrete concetti; which bear an entirely accidental and mystical likeness to the notion which they are to illustrate, then let the metaphysic be as abstract as possible, the concetti as fanciful and far-fetched as possible.  If Marino and Cowley be greater poets than Ariosto and Milton, let young poets imitate the former with might and main, and avoid spoiling their style by any perusal of the too-intelligible common sense of the latter.  If Byron’s moral (which used to be thought execrable) be really his great excellence, his style (which used to be thought almost perfect) unworthy of this age of progress, then let us have his moral without his style, his matter without his form; or—­that we may be sure of never falling for a moment into his besetting sin of terseness, grace, and completeness—­without any form at all.  If poetry, in order to be worthy of the nineteenth century, ought to be as unlike as possible to Homer or Sophocles, Virgil or Horace, Shakespeare or Spenser, Dante or Tasso, let those too idolised names be rased henceforth from the calendar; let the Ars Poetica, be consigned to flames

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