Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage

By Clyde K. Hyder | Go to book overview

14(d).

Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson

For many years Swinburne admired Carlyle, but Carlyle’s opinion of Swinburne was more unfavourable than Arnold’s. William Allingham reported his saying, ‘There is not the least intellectual value in anything he writes’ (A Diary, p. 258). Since more than one person has hinted that Carlyle made harsher remarks than this, the phrasing attributed to him in an interview (first described by the editor of this volume in ‘Emerson on Swinburne: A Sensational Interview’, Modern Language Notes, March 1933, xlviii, 180-2), outrageous as it is, may be less inaccurate than one would prefer to believe. We cannot be sure that the interviewer quoted Emerson accurately, but, since he did not disavow the interview, Swinburne assumed that Emerson was responsible for what he was reported to have said.

From an interview appearing in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper 3 January 1874, 275: He [Emerson] condemned Swinburne severely as a perfect leper and a mere sodomite, which criticism recalls Carlyle’s scathing description of that poet—as a man standing up to his neck in a cesspool, and adding to its contents. Morris, the author of The Earthly Paradise, is just the opposite of Swinburne, and will help to neutralize his bad influence on the public.

[Swinburne’s letter to the New York Daily Tribune is given in Lang, ii, 274-5. One sentence will indicate the tone: ‘A foul mouth is so ill matched with a white beard that I would gladly believe the newspaper scribes alone responsible for the bestial utterances which they declare to have dropped from a teacher whom such disciples as these exhibit to our disgust and compassion as performing on their obscene platform the last tricks of tongue now possible to a gap-toothed and hoaryheaded ape, carried at first into notice on the shoulder of Carlyle, and who now in his dotage spits and chatters from a dirtier perch of his

-118-

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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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