The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

III. Critical and Miscellaneous Prose

§ 16. J. Addington Symonds

But it was in Ruskin’s own university that the aesthetic school took root, though its flowers and its fruit were not precisely what he would have desired. The disciples never gave that weight to ethics which the master desired, and, as time went on, they paid it less, rather than more, attention. Of this group, John Addington Symonds may be described as an outlying member, and his principal work, Renaissance in Italy, illustrates the weakness of the school to which he belonged. It is lacking in unity and is one-sided, not only in the sense that it dwells upon art and passes lightly over other factors in the history of the period, but, in the treatment of art itself, emphasis is laid upon the emotional element at the expense of the intellectual. Symonds’s other works, likewise, fall short of greatness. His poems are accomplished rather than inspired. His literary monographs and criticisms do not rise much above the average of their kind; and, sometimes, as in Shakespeare’s Predecessors in the English Drama, they are not sufficiently thorough on the side of scholarship. Symonds’s prose style is nearly always too highwrought and too diffuse.