Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/17

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PREFATORY NOTE.

fault with me for inserting it. The one I allude to is that written from Central City, Colorado. To me this seems to be a masterpiece of epistolary writing. Reading it, the whole aspect of the district from which it was written, its scenery and its inhabitants, are, with the lightest and easiest touches, pictured before us. The style, whether the author relates some homely or humourous incident, or paints with bold and graphic pencil the scenery around him, is perfect; it is in complete harmony with the ideas it expresses; in its eloquence there is not a trace of turgidity, and in its humour there is nothing forced. A study of it may be confidently recommended to those who have taken their opinion of Thomson's abilities solely from "The City of Dreadful Night"; for it can hardly fail to leave on the mind of any reader worthy to judge an enlarged idea both of his actual achievements, and of the powers which he held in reserve. I look indeed upon the whole correspondence as an important addition to our knowledge of one who in the course of time will come to be looked upon as a typical writer and thinker of the present century.

It gives me much pleasure to include the Essay on William Blake in the present volume. I intended at first only to extract the passages from it relating to Shelley, but I was not long in coming to the conclusion that I ought not to neglect the present opportunity of reproducing it in its integrity. It is quite unnecessary for me to praise it; and I will merely note that it was written and published before Mr. Swinburne's Essay on Blake appeared in print.

Let me add in conclusion that it would, I am sure, have been gratifying to Thomson could he have thought