chapter  53
15 Pages

Kingsley on Shelley and Byron

[1853] 1859

Charles Kingsley, novelist, churchman and social reformer. His essay 'Thoughts on Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron' appeared in Fraser's Magazine, November 1853, and was reprinted in his Miscellanies, 1859. The private sipping of eau de Cologne, say the London physicians, has increased mightily of late: and so has the reading of Shelley. To Byron's mind, the decay and rottenness of the old was, perhaps, the most palpable; to Shelley's, the possible glory of the new. Shelley has little or none; less, perhaps, than any known writer who has ever meddled with moral questions. Chronic disease is taken for a new type of health; and Byron is admired and imitated for that which Byron is trying to tear out of his own heart, and trample under foot as his curse and bane, something which is not Byron's self, but Byron's house-fiend, and tyrant, and shame.