The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

IV. The New South: Lanier

§ 27. Critical Writings

The same personal reaction appears in his critical writings. The zeal with which he pursued these researches during the last years of his life astonishes one who remembers the meagre initiation he had received at college into the methods of scholarship. The attainments, too, of those few years are considerable. He read with an assiduity that helped to shorten his days and with a whole-souled enthusiasm and moral earnestness that lent to his utterances much of the fluency and high seriousness of Ruskin. But even greater than Ruskin’s is his tendency to wander. He did not keep the goal in view. He did not sift and arrange and clarify with a dominant impression in mind. He sauntered along the broad highway, frequently wandering off into the leafy woods and lingering there intent on the strange foliage. Consequently his critical writings are an amazing collection of individual vagaries and intuitive insights.