chapter  49
5 Pages

Henry Taylor on Byron’s deficiencies as a poet

1834
WithHenry Taylor

Henry Taylor, civil servant and dramatist. Extract from the Preface to his play Philip Van Artevelde, 1834. Lord Byron, in giving the most admirable example of the species of poetry, undoubtedly gave the strongest impulse to the appetite for it. Byron's conception of a hero is an evidence, not only of scanty materials of knowledge from which to construct the ideal of a human being, but also of a want of perception of what is great or noble in our nature. His heroes are creatures abandoned to their passions, and essentially, therefore, weak of mind. The popular poets were characterised by great sensibility and fervour, by a profusion of imagery, by force and beauty of language, and by a versification peculiarly easy and adroit, and abounding in that sort of melody, which, by its very obvious cadences, makes itself most pleasing to an unpractised ear.