chapter  46
9 Pages

Carlyle on Byron and Byronism

1824–43

Thomas Carlyle, an eminent Victorian born in the same year as Keats, wrote no formal critique of Byron's work, but incidental comments in his letters, essays and other writings enable to chart his changing views. Extract from 'Burns', quoted from Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, ed. Traill, I, 267–9: 'The excellence of Burns is, indeed, among the rarest, whether in poetry or prose; but, at the same time, it is plain and easily recognised: his Sincerity, his indisputable air of Truth. The soul-sickness of the protagonist, Professor Teufelsdröckh, which Carlyle diagnoses and for which he prescribes a remedy, is closely akin to Byronism, though Byronism itself is seen by Carlyle as only one manifestation of a general spiritual crisis of that age.