Unsigned review of Wright’s edition, Blackwood’s Magazine
88 (September 1860), 311-37
The Wellesley Index identifies the reviewer as W. Lucas Collins (1817-87), who had been a regular contributor to Blackwood’s since 1843, providing criticism, essays, stories, and reviews. He was in addition the editor of ‘Ancient Classics for English Readers’ and the author of books and articles on classical subjects, public schools, and French literature. This article also reviews Hersart de la Villemarque’s Les Romans de la Table Ronde, to which Collins is indebted for a discussion of the Celtic origins of much of Arthurian romance. Though contemporary with No. 20 below and, like it, published in a conservative journal, Collins’s review offers a distinct contrast in appreciation of Malory’s work and best audience.
‘Rossetti’s mediaeval tinting’ in the first paragraph is a reference to the Arthurian frescoes painted by the Pre-Raphaelites at the Oxford University Union in 1857, and Miss Yonge in the next sentence was the author of The Heir of Redclyffe (1853), whose hero reads the Morte Darthur and comments on its virtues.
Collins’s plot summaries of parts of Malory and his comments on Celtic backgrounds and related topics are omitted here.
‘Arturum expectare’ is no longer a taunting proverb. Arthur is come again! Bardic prophecy and popular tradition, after all, spoke truly. Once more the name of the hero-king rings through the length and breadth of England. Years ago, the Laureate caught his first glimpse of him, in poetic trance, when he sang of Excalibur and the Lady of Shalott, before he brought the full vision before us— ‘The Dragon of the great Pendragonship’ —in his ‘Idylls.’ Sir Lytton Bulwer was the first to herald this new avatar with a grand and stately march-music, which has yet to find its due appreciation.