Page:Satires and profanities -microform- (1884).djvu/108

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THE SWINBURNE CONTROVERSY.

(1866.)

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Not having read Mr. Swinburne's "Poems and Ballads," I have nothing to say on the special case in which they are involved. A few of the adverse critiques I have chanced to see, and these almost avail to convince one that Mr. Swinburne is a true poet. The Saturday Review, shocked out of the complacency of its stark peevishness, cried, "Pretty verses these to read aloud to young ladies in the drawing-room!" As if there were any great book in existence proper to read aloud to young ladies in drawing-rooms! and as if young ladies in drawing-rooms were the fit and proper judges of any great book! I should like to watch the smuggest and most conceited of Saturday Reviewers attempting to read aloud to young ladies in a drawing-room certain chapters in the Bible, certain scenes of Shakespere, certain of the very best passages in Chaucer, Spenser, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Fielding, Sterne, Smollett, Burns, Byron, Shelley. When Mr. Swinburne answers that he writes for full-grown men and women, the acute Fun affirms that men have read his book and have condemned it. As if our present brood of periodical critics were men! At home in private life, some of them probably are; but in their critical capacity, that is to say incapacity, how many of them have any virility? The Athenæum squashes the detestable book by proclaiming that it contains such and such things in the style of Alfred de Musset, George Sand, Victor Hugo, Ovid, etc.; that is to say,