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he language of Byron's metrical tales has undeniably far more point and force, far more terseness and pliancy combined, than the diffuse and awkward style of Scott's, full of lazy padding and clumsy makeshifts. But set almost any figure drawn by Scott beside almost any figure of Byron's drawing, and the very dullest eye will hardly fail to see the difference between a barber's dummy and a living man fresh from the hand of Velasquez or of God. . . . [Scott’s] Bertram, however roughly sketched, is a figure alive to the very finger-tips. . . . On all these points Scott is as far ahead of him as Shakespeare is ahead of Scott. . . . Scott is doubtless, as his French critics used to deplore, defi- cient in depth and intensity of passion; yet his passion too has more life and reality than Byron's. . . . But Sir Walter demands nothing of his reader beyond a fair average allowance of kindliness and manhood: the man must be a very Carlyle who does not love and honour him. His popularity may fluctuate now and then with elder readers — so much the worse for them: it is sure always to right itself again in a little time: but when it wanes among English boys and girls a doomsday will be dawning of which as yet there are most assuredly no signs or presages perceptible. Love of Scott, if a child has not the ill fortune to miss by some mischance the benefit of his generous influence, is certain to outlast all changes of interest and inclination, from the age when he divides a heart of six or seven with the owner's first pony to the age when affectionate gratitude has rooted in the adult heart a hundred names and associations of his engrafting, only less deep and dear than those implanted there by Shakespeare's very self. Almost any fault may well seem pardonable in such a benefactor as this: his genius has the privilege of beauty such as Cleopatra's: for vilest things become themselves in him; so that the sternest republicans may bless him when he is most a royalist — yes, even a Georgian royalist — and men of the most scrupulous honour in questions of literary as well as other society may forgivingly overlook even his public association with libellers of private life and character, with conductors of such tainted publications as the Beacon and the Blackguard's Magazine. []


Swinburne, Algernon Charles. “Wordsworth and Byron.” Miscellanies. London: Chatto & Windus, 1886. 63-156. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library, Web. 5 April 2020.

Last modified 7 April 2020