Just about the most honest book review I’ve ever seen:
Confessions of an English Opium Eater. Being an extract from the Life of a Scholar. From the last London Edition. Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1841. 16mo. pp. 190. — This work is very neatly got up, and is withal an interesting book. We suppose we ought to know something about it, but we only know that we have often heard it spoken of, and alluded to, as a remarkable book, and we have found it quite readable. We have certain vague impressions abuot its author, but, Reviewers as we are, and therefore expected to know all things, we must confess ignorance, and acknowledge, who Mr. De Quincy was or is, we know not, at this present.
~”Literary Notices and Criticisms,” Boston Quarterly Review, October 1841, p. 523
The BQR was Orestes Brownson’s literary review and all-around philosophical mouthpiece; Brownson, you’ll recall, was the social reformer and philosopher of Democracy who embraced the state as the organic representation of the people, favored John C. Calhoun’s vision of a “concurrent minority,” and rejected the abolitionist critique of slavery as so much “agitation” on the part of the bourgeoisie. Oh, and a convert to Catholicism who became one of the most important American nineteenth-century intellectuals in that tradition.
He was also, apparently, a hell of a review writer.
Ecstaticist, “Opium Bokeh,” Flickr, CC License