Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/293

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A NOTE ON FORSTER'S LIFE OF SWIFT.


May 1866.


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It is much to be regretted that Mr. Forster did not live to complete this work, which he meant to occupy three volumes; it is much to be desired that the materials he gathered during many years of preparation should be entrusted to some competent literary man, so that we may have a full and accurate biography not quite unworthy of the subject. As to this first volume, which is all that Mr. Forster accomplished, it merits the highest praise for its elaborate carefulness. We miss, indeed, the energy of the Lives of the Statesmen of the Commonwealth, and intense energy is demanded for the Life of Swift; we miss, also, some of the finer qualities that make the Life of Oliver Goldsmith such charming reading: the central figure and the central interest are here and there obscured by the multitude of subsidiary details; the contours are not always firm, nor the colours always clear; and we lament that the artist was not in a position to attempt this great picture in his prime, ere his hand grew somewhat tremulous, and his sight somewhat dim, and his natural strength was abated. But it is evident that what honest and earnest