Home  »  Volume XII: English THE ROMANTIC REVIVAL The Nineteenth Century, I  »  § 12. Thomas Lovell Beddoes

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

V. Lesser Poets, 1790–1837

§ 12. Thomas Lovell Beddoes

At his very best, however, Darley never reached the astonishing intensity and poignancy of poetic appeal which is found in a few things of Thomas Lovell Beddoes, the youngest, as Darley was the eldest, of the group, and which, if concentrated only in these few, diffuses itself into a strange poetic atmosphere all over his fantastic work. Beddoes was unquestionably mad when, just before his death, he made repeated and, at last, successful attempts at suicide; this madness, beyond much question, had developed itself in, at least, the latter half of his not very short life; and it may be doubted whether he was ever entirely sane. But, as has been remarked over and over again, madness will neither make nor break a poet; and it is a chance whether it stimulates or checks, colours or discolours, his work. Both the bad and the good results are clear enough in the poems—dramatic, after a fashion, and lyrical, after the best fashion—which we have from Beddoes.