22 MAY 1926, Page 16


in the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sm,—Your reviewer of Mr. Nicolson's Swinburne states that the poet " thought he possessed the acutest ear of all our English poets ; but his verdict needs huge qualifications." The modern reaction against Swinburne would, it seems, deprive him even of the one poetic gift admitted by all his contemporaries, friendly or hostile. " A reed through which all things grow into music " was the verdict of Tennyson— surely no mean judge of such matters.

Your reviewer also does the poet's modesty an injustice. According to the official biography, Swinburne, when asked at Jowett's dinner table which of the great English poets had the best ear, replied "with earnestness • and gravity ; Shakespeare, without doubt ; then Milton ; then Shelley : then, I do not know what other people would do, but I should put myself.' " [Gosse, Life, p. 299].—I am, Sir, &e.,