chapter  54
3 Pages

Bagehot on the mere fashion for Byron

[1864] 1879

Walter Bagehot, economist, political theorist, and critic. Extract from 'William Wordsworth, Lord Tennyson, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; or Pure, Ornate, and Grotesque Art in English Poetry', National Review, November 1864. The science that expounds which poetry is good and which is bad is dependent for its popular reputation on the popular estimate of poetry itself. Lord Byron counted the critic and poet equal. The poems of Lord Byron were received with an avidity that resembles our present avidity for sensation novels, and were read by a class which at present reads little but such novels. The cause of his momentary fashion is the cause also of his lasting oblivion. The prettiness of a few songs preserves the memory of his name, but as a poet to read he is forgotten. Byron counted the critic and poet equal.