1862 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Hood

Thomas Arnold, in A Manual of English Literature (1862; 1885) 440.



Thomas Hood was a man of rare powers. Pathos, sensibility, indignation against wrong, enthusiasm for human improvement — all these were his; but the refracting medium of his intelligence was so peculiarly constituted that he could seldom express his feelings except through witty and humorous forms. However gravely the sentence begins, you know that you will probably have to hold your sides before it is ended. The following well-known stanza is really a type of his genius:

Mild light, and by degrees, should be the plan
To cure the dark and erring mind;
But who would rush at a benighted man,
And give him two black eyes for being blind?

His first work was Whims and Oddities, followed by the Comic Annual, commenced in 1830, and Up the Rhine (1838). The wonderful Song of the Shirt (1843) was nearly his last effort. He died of a chronic disease of the lungs in 1845. His works have been published in a collective form within the last few years.