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

§ 21. Alexander Smith

While Brown was born a citizen of the Scottish capital, Alexander Smith only became a citizen by adoption. Though seldom read, he is still known by name as one of the “spasmodic” poets; but, until lately, it was half forgotten that he was also a skilful writer of prose, author of an extremely pleasant story, of the most readable of guide-books, if A Summer in Skye may be degraded by that description, and, above all, of Dreamthorp, one of the finest volumes of essays since Lamb’s. The friends who, shortly after his death, predicted that he would take rank below only a few of the greatest of British essayists, were not bad critics. Smith had the temperament of the essayist and the clearest possible understanding of the principles of the form of art which the essayist attempts. Nowhere in our literature is there a better exposition of the essay as conceived and written by Montaigne than in the second essay of Dreamthorp, On the Writing of Essays; and there are not many better examples of “atmosphere” than the title essay.