Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage

By Clyde K. Hyder | Go to book overview

12.

W. M. Rossetti, Swinburne’s Poems and Ballads

1866

William Michael Rossetti, less gifted but perhaps more sensible than some other members of the circle of which he was to become an important chronicler, was once known as a critic of art and literature. In the preface to Swinburne’s Poems and Ballads he explained that he had not been asked, but had volunteered, to undertake his friend’s defence. Originally he had planned that defence as an article for the North American Review, but J. R. Lowell’s harsh judgment of Swinburne’s tragedies in that periodical had led him to publish it as a book.

The advent of a new great poet is sure to cause a commotion of one kind or another; and it would be hard were this otherwise in times like ours, when the advent of even so poor and pretentious a poetaster as a Robert Buchanan stirs storms in teapots.1 It is therefore no wonder that Mr. Swinburne should have been enthusiastically admired and keenly discussed as soon as he hove well in sight of the poetry-reading public, for he is not only a true but even a great poet; still less wonder, under all the particular circumstances of the case, that, with his last volume, admiration and discussion should have ended in a grand crash of the critical orchestra, and that all voices save those of denunciation and repudiation should have been well-nigh drowned. As with many poets of whom our literature is or might be proud—a Shelley, a Byron, a Landor, a Whitman, a Mrs. Browning—the time had to come to Mr. Swinburne when the literary interest in his writings paled before some other feeling excited by them—when the literary gauge was thrown aside by his examiners, and some other one was applied, not to the

1 According to W. M. Rossetti’s Some Reminiscences, this reference to Buchanan was prompted by Buchanan’s ‘The Session of the Poets’ (No. 9) and led Buchanan to respond with a savage criticism of Rossetti’s edition of Shelley.

-57-

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Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Notes xlv
  • Acknowledgments l
  • Note on the Text li
  • The Queen-Mother and Rosamond 1
  • 1 - Unsigned Notice, Spectator 1
  • 2 - Unsigned Notice, Athenaeum 2
  • Some Views of the Young Swinburne 3
  • Atalanta in Calydon 9
  • 4 - Unsigned Review, Saturday Review 9
  • Chastelard 17
  • 5 - Unsigned Review, Athenaeum 17
  • Poems and Ballads 22
  • 6 - John Morley, Saturday Review 22
  • 7 - Robert Buchanan, Athenaeum 30
  • 8 - Unsigned Review, London Review 35
  • 9 - Buchanan: 'The Session of the Poets', Spectator 39
  • 10 - Henry Morley, Examiner 42
  • 11 - Swinburne Defends His Poems 49
  • 12 - W. M. Rossetti, Swinburne's Poems and Ballads 57
  • 13 - Alfred Austin: 'Mr. Swinburne' 92
  • Obiter Dicta by Contemporary Men of Letters 112
  • 14(a) - Alfred Tennyson 112
  • 14(b) - Robert Browning 114
  • 14(c) - Matthew Arnold 116
  • 14(d) - Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson 118
  • 14(e) - John Ruskin 120
  • 14(f) - William Morris 123
  • 14(g) - George Meredith 124
  • 14(h) - Edward Lytton Bulwer-Lytton 125
  • Songs Before Sunrise 127
  • 15 - Unsigned Review, Saturday Review 127
  • 16 - Unsigned Review, Edinburgh Review 133
  • 17 - Franz Hüffer, Academy 139
  • 18 - Swinburne on Robert Buchanan's Self-Revelations 146
  • 19 - A. C. Hilton: 'Octopus' 156
  • 20 - E. C. Stedman on Swinburne 158
  • Erechtheus 163
  • 21 - John Addington Symonds, Review, Academy 163
  • 22 - W. K. Clifford on Songs Before Sunrise 170
  • Poems and Ballads: Second Series 177
  • 23 - Theodore Watts, Athenaeum 177
  • 24 - Maupassant on Swinburne 185
  • 25 - F. W. H. Myers on Swinburne's Weltanschauung 188
  • 26 - George Saintsbury: 'Mr. Swinburne' 198
  • 27 - William Morton Payne: 'Algernon Charles Swinburne' 207
  • 28 - An Imaginary Correspondence 213
  • 29 - Swinburne: a Backward Glance 215
  • 30 - Oliver Elton: 'Mr. Swinburne's Poems' 218
  • 31 - Max Beerbohm: 'No. 2 the Pines' 233
  • Index 251
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