Shelley’s "Defence of Poetry.”
The Defence of Poetry is a work which may be commended to all young writers of prose as a model, the more that its peculiar beauties are not those now in vogue among us. It may be hroadly said that Shelley’s prose was as ardent and as effusive as was possible in a generation that had not sat at the feet of De Quincey. In other words, it is the most highly-colored and delicately adorned specimen of the prose of a generation whose ipain object in writing-was neither ornament nor color. In reading Shelley’s periods we feel that we are still listening to a writer of the school of the eighteenth century ; the difference is specific, and follows from the nature of the man, not generic and due to the temper of the age. Burke is the writer of whom Shelley’s prose reminds us most; from Burke he learned the stately balance of phrases, the articulated sentences, which progress, each duly supported, by its predecessor. To us, who have been dazzled by De Quincey, electrified by Mr. Carlyle, smothered in rose-leaves by Mr. Ruskin, and debauched by the tasteless audacities of a thousand minor writers, the style which seemed too brilliant to Shelley’s contemporaries, now may appear cold and subdued in its simplicity and grace. But we have but to submit ourselves to the charm to feel it, and above the dominant note of Burke’s manner to catch the accents of a. finer and more aerial nature. — Saturday Review.
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