Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage

By Clyde K. Hyder | Go to book overview

26.

George Saintsbury: ‘Mr. Swinburne’

1895

George Saintsbury (1845-1933), prolific literary critic and historian, was a journalist and editor before his appointment to the chair of English at Edinburgh University in 1895, the year in which he published Corrected Impressions: Essays on Victorian Writers, from which this essay comes. ‘Mr. Swinburne’ is used by permission of the publisher, William Heinemann.

I do not suppose that anybody now alive (I speak of lovers of poetry) who was not alive in 1832 and old enough then to enjoy the first perfect work of Tennyson, has had such a sensation as that which was experienced in the autumn of 1866 by readers of Mr. Swinburne’s Poems and Ballads. And I am sure that no one in England has had any such sensation since. The later revelation had indeed been preceded by more signs and tokens than the earlier. Tennyson’s first work had passed unknown or had been laughed at; at least two remarkable volumes (not to mention The Queen Mother and Rosamond) had already revealed to fit readers what there was in Mr. Swinburne. The chorus in Atalanta, ‘Before the beginning of years’, had attracted the highest admiration from impartial and unenthusiastic judges, while it had simply swept younger admirers off their legs with rapture; and the lyrics of Chastelard had completed the effect in the way of exciting, if not of satisfying, expectation.

Now we were told, first, that a volume of extraordinarily original verse was coming out; now, that it was so shocking that its publisher repented its appearance; now, that it had been reissued, and was coming out after all. The autumn must have been advanced before it did come out, for I remember that I could not obtain a copy before I went up to Oxford in October, and had to avail myself of an expedition to town to ‘eat dinners’ in order to get one. Three copies of the precious volume, with ‘Moxon’ on cover and ‘John Camden Hotten’ on title page, accompanied me back that night, together with divers

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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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