12 January 1861, xxxiv, 42
The only notices of The Queen-Mother and Rosamond during 1861 are apparently this and No. 2. For a note on later reviews, see Introduction, section I.
We cannot say so much of the two dramas entitled, The Queen Mother and Rosamond. We have with some difficulty read through them. Mr. Swinburne has chosen two painful subjects, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and the Murder of Rosamond Clifford by Queen Eleanor. He has some literary talent, but it is decidedly not of a poetical kind. His ‘thoughts are combinations of disjointed things’—and the language in which these thoughts are expressed is painfully distorted, vague, elliptical, and bristling with harsh words. Honey and rosewater verses are, we imagine, what Mr. Swinburne holds to be quite wrong in poetry; but he has mistaken reverse of wrong for right. In feeling and in thought, the daring, the disagreeable, and the violent, are in these dramas, substituted for boldness, beauty, and strength. We do not believe any criticism will help to improve Mr. Swinburne. He writes, as we believe, upon a strongly rooted bad principle. He will not, by such dramas, convince the world that it has always been wrong about poetical beauty, and that he has come to set us right. Mr. Swinburne is a man of education, —at least, we infer this from some indications in his dramas. They are fashioned on no conventional model.