"Contemporary Literature." Westminster Review 63 (Jan. 1855), 147-148.


It is well known that the artists of the pre-Raphaelite school number several poets in their communion, who have hitherto been too modest to sue for the approbation of the public. One of them, Mr. William Bell Scott, the master of the School of Design at Newcastle, has at length put forth a volume of poems, of considerable merit.* The principal defect of these poems is such as we find with the pictures of the school, that they are not healthy and strong. His thoughts are swaddled into language, now quaint from its obsoleteness, now trivial from an affected simplicity. Who, for instance, would endure a line like this–"In especial Mary Anna."

Why, too, should an antiquated word, which strikes deadly and strangely on the ear, be used when one in actual use, quite as old, and not obsolete, will answer the purpose? Besides these faults, there are others, of a very inappropriate use of metaphor, although the metaphors are few in number. It would be very easy to cite passages which would appear very grotesque and puerile, and others which display real talent for catching the poetic features of common life, and for the description of natural scenery; but for want of space we must refer the reader to the volume itself, assuring him, that if he be glad to welcome the appearance of real and new poetic talent, he will find pleasure in Mr. Scott’s verses.

* "Poems." By William Bell Scott. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

Return to the list of reviews