Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 678 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
a low and selfish passion.  Some souls are purified by love, others are purified for love.  Othello needed not Desdemona to listen to his tale of disastrous chances; they were only external perils, rapid by elevated station; but the mind that has gone through more than his vicissitudes, been in deeper dangers, and deadlier struggles, even when it rests at last in a far higher repose and dignity, yearns for some one who will “seriously incline” to listen to the “strange eventful history,” one who will sympathise and soothe, who will receive the confession, and give the absolution of heaven its best earthly ratification, that of a pure and loving heart.  The poem is addressed to Pauline; with her it begins, and ends; and her presence is felt throughout, as that of a second conscience, wounded by evil, but never stern, and incorporate in a form of beauty, which blends and softens the strong contrasts of different portions of the poem, so that all might be murmured by the breath of affection.

The author cannot expect such a poem as this to be popular, to make a “hit,” to produce a “sensation.”  The public are but slow in recognising the claims of Tennyson whom in some respects he resembles; and the common eye scarcely yet discerns among the laurel-crowned, the form of Shelley, who seems (how justly, we stop not now to discuss), to have been the god of his early idolatory.  Whatever inspiration may have been upon him from that deity, the mysticism of the original oracles has been happily avoided.  And whatever resemblance he may bear to Tennyson (a fellow worshipper probably at the same shrine) he owes nothing of the perhaps inferior melody of his verse to an employment of archaisms which it is difficult to defend from the charge of affectation.  But he has not given himself the chance for popularity which Tennyson did, and which it is evident that he easily might have done.  His poem stands alone, with none of those light but taking accompaniments, songs that sing themselves, sketches that everybody knows, light little lyrics, floating about like humming birds, around the trunk and foliage of the poem itself; and which would attract so many eyes, and delight so many ears, that will be slow to perceive the higher beauty of that composition, and to whom a sycamore is no sycamore, unless it be “musical with bees.”



De Quincey has been said to have “taken his place in our literature as the author of about 150 magazine articles,” and, though chiefly remembered by his Confessions of an Opium Eater and by his wonderful experiments in “impassioned prose,” there can be no question that his critical work occupied much of his attention, and was nearly always original.  In many respects his point of view was perverse, and towards his contemporaries occasionally spiteful; while his tendency to dwell upon disputed points was apt to obscure the general impression.

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