15 January 1871, ii, 87-9
Franz Hüffer, also known as Francis Hueffer, a musical critic who had studied in Germany for a doctorate in philology, married the daughter of Ford Madox Brown, the painter, and became the father of Ford Madox Hueffer, better known as the novelist Ford Madox Ford. According to the D. N. B., his review of Songs before Sunrise attracted much attention.
If the Songs before Sunrise had been published anonymously, it would not have required a great amount of penetration in the reader to discover their author. There is indeed but one man in England who could and perhaps would have written them. They will probably meet with the same admiration from the one side and certainly with the same indiscriminate abhorrence from the other as their predecessors, the Poems and Ballads. These Songs before Sunrise are, in fact, nothing else than the continuation of those eruptions of hot and unfettered passion with which they share the same fundamental idea, applied in this case to the great political and religious questions of our age, and modified only so far as this more serious and elevated subject required. This idea is, in one word, that of Liberty, not so much the liberty which develops and constructs as that which lays low all conceivable limits which may surround the human spirit. All of us know how this Titanic volition led in the Poems and Ballads to exaggerations which ought to have been judged from an æsthetical rather than from a moral point of view, and the same might in many cases be said of this new production, although we gladly acknowledge that the Songs show a remarkable advance in the way of self-criticism and, in a certain sense, of moderation.
This abstract idea of freedom blossoms under the hand of the poet into a variety of forms, often of extreme beauty. About the morality or immorality of this idea in itself we shall have nothing to say. It seems to us that a poet has to be judged according to moral principles