‘As far a dandy as a sensible man can be’

  • The World


Persons who evolved a social idea of the author from his writings would picture to themselves a man of austere bearing, who spoke little, and then spoke shortly and scornfully, who had a sneer for the frivolities and amenities of existence, and who was the embodiment of gruffness in private life. Imagine their surprise on discovering that the crabbed and mystical poet is identical with the possessor of the compact little figure, the urbane and genial bearing, the well-made clothes; and that this gentleman, who is as far a dandy as a sensible man can be,1 is the author of poems, some of which have given universal and unrivalled pleasure, but others of which will be as unintelligible to future generations of commentators as the most desperately corrupt passages in the choruses of his own Aeschylus. He is well-nigh a septuagenarian; but time has dealt very gently with him, and neither thought nor trouble have quenched the happy buoyancy of his temperament. He is one of the best and sprightliest of our latter-day raconteurs. He might be, from his talk, a diplomatist, who has seen all the countries of the world and the glories of them; a traveller who was not, as is generally the case, a bore; a country gentleman who was not always wanting to kill something; or a gentleman of independent fortune and no pursuits in particular.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • The World

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