Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/65
I find, indeed, that critics of authority speak or Southey's poems with respect, and weigh in their judicial balances the relative merits of Joan of Arc, and Thalaba, and Madoc, and Roderick, and the rest, though they do not seem to agree as to which is the best. I venture no opinion. I once had a friend—and a very intelligent friend—who had Madoc at his fingers' ends. Scott read it four times with ' increasing admiration.' Fox read it aloud at night, and with the surprising result of keeping his hearers awake for an hour beyond the usual time. Perhaps their sleep was afterwards the sounder. Dean Stanley was an ardent admirer—and who am I, to say that I cannot bring my mind even to remember the family relationships of Madoc and Goervyl and Cadwallon, or to take the smallest interest in the conversations of Tezozomoc and Yuhidthiton, or to understand why Erillyab cursed the hour in which she gave birth to Amalahta? The most remarkable eulogy upon Southey that I know is by Cardinal Newman. To show how literary language can be improved he contrasts one of Milton's craggy choruses in
have asked himself, or fully considered, the question, What really goes to the making of a masterpiece?