Date 1871-03-01
Publication Academy
Topic WMR review of FG Stephens' volume of collected satire
AP display
RA display
Subject literature
Keywords satire
  ↳ evaluation
  ↳ comparison
  ↳ detail
Standards definition
  ↳ range
  ↳ history

Annotation details

71 March 1 Academy


review of Frederic George Stephens' volume of collected of satire.


Rossetti, William M. "Catalogue of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum." Academy 2 (March 1, 1871): 149. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.


Rossetti describes and admires the methodology and execution of this collection, but beyond mere questioning of the qualitative reflection cast on the artists by the baseness of the individual works, there is no conclusive judgment on the corpus and its coarseness, nor meaningful speculation on the root cause of this incivility.

Rossetti thinks highly of the wide and varied contextual additions provided by editor and fellow Pre-Raphaelite Brother Frederic George Stephens, but stops short of analyzing the collection within the context in which it was executed: satire, perhaps Bahktinian carnivalesque expression; Rossetti never compares the contextual causes with the overall effect which he finds "gross," nor offers a justification for or refutation of the base results he identifies.

Rossetti professes a long and admiring relationship with editor Stephens extending back to the Rossetti Cheyne Walk days, and in fact Rossetti gratefully accepted the dedication of one of Stephens's books (Reminiscences 2:137).

He laments that the England-related (not all of it done by English satirists; some he cites are Dutch or German) satire falls short of similar satires of French and Italian origin, finding the English collection to be more base and in many instances, "downright indecent."

Despites inconsistencies in some dates and details, baseness in the collected material's overall effect, and the comparatively low aim and content of the collection, Rossetti lauds Stephens and recommends the volume as "most useful for study, excellent for reference, and often capital reading, if merely for amusement's sake."




analysis, valuation, review; "roistering loudness", "plebian insult", "rude blurting out", "moral allegory", "acute and industrious author"

Standards of Judgment:

the value of satire, high-functioning satire versus crudity; continental satires by comparison, the value of detail and context


Sir Thomas Overbury, John Lilburne, Cromwell, Robert Devereux, Vanderpill, R. Stoop, Arundel



Writing technique/tone:

matter-of-fact, muted praise and criticism alike, analytical


'there is throughout one seldom varying tone of low detraction-dogged, determined, plebian insult-conscious, transparent misrepresentation;" ". . . [these] satires can rarely be called brilliant, or at all approaching to brilliancy . . ." ". . . but anything like airiness or aroma of wit, or fineness of touch natural to a keen rapier in a delicate hand, is markedly wanting."

Works Cited

Rossetti, William Michael. Selected Letters of William Michael Rossetti. Ed. Roger Peattie.University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1990. Print.