Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Francis Jeffrey

Francis Jeffrey was the first official editor of the Edinburgh Review, which began in 1802.  Basically concurrent with Sir Walter Scott, Jeffrey was born in 1773, and died on January 26, 1850.  Jeffrey knew Scott from the Speculative Society, which they were both members of.  But knowing Scott didn't prevent Scott from canceling his subscription to the Review after Jeffrey wrote an article critical of the British military effort in Spain.

The April 1805 Review contained a criticism of Scott's "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", beginning:

'We consider this poem as an attempt to transfer the refinements of modern poetry to the matter and the manner of the ancient metrical romance. The author, enamoured of the lofty visions of chivalry, and partial to the strains in which they were formerly embodied, seems to have employed all the resources of his genius in endeavouring to recall them to the favour and admiration of the public; and in adapting to the taste of modern readers a species of poetry which was once the delight of the courtly, but has long ceased to gladden any other eyes than those of the scholar and the antiquary. This is a romance, therefore, composed by a minstrel of the present day; or such a romance as we may suppose would have been written in modern times, if that style of composition had continued to be cultivated, and partaken consequently of the improvements which every branch of literature has received since the time of its desertion....'

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