It is now sixteen years since Mr Pater's first and, until now, only volume of criticism appeared the 'Studies in the History of the Renaissance', as it was called. Entirely individual, the spontaneous outcome of a rare temperament, it had many affinities with the poetic and pictorial art of Rossetti, Mr Swinburne, and Mr Burne Jones, just then exciting special curiosity, and seems to have been taken as the critical manifesto of the so-called 'aesthetic' school. And, indeed, it may be very well compared, as artistic prose, with the poetry of Rossetti - as fine, as careful, as new a thing as that, and with something of the same exotic odour about it - a savour, in the case, of French soil, a Watteau grace and lightness. Here was criticism as a fine art, in prose which one lingered over as over poetry - modulated prose which made the splendours of Mr Ruskin seem exaggerated, and by the side of which the neatness of Matthew Arnold looked finikin, the orchestration of Carlyle sounded strident. The subject-matter of the book was as novel to most English readers as its form. By its way of proposing it, it made criticism something it had never precisely been before.