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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
E. Robert Bulwer, Lord Lytton (Owen Meredith) (1831–1891)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
EDWARD ROBERT, first earl of Lytton, a son of Bulwer the novelist, and known to literature as “Owen Meredith,” was born November 8th, 1831, at London. He was educated at Harrow, and privately at Bonn, Germany. He went early into diplomatic service, becoming private secretary to his uncle, Sir H. L. Bulwer, then British minister at Washington. Various diplomatic positions followed: in 1874 he was made Minister at Lisbon; in 1878–80 Governor-General of India; and from 1887 to his death in Paris, November 24th, 1891, Ambassador to France.  1
  Considering the political complexion of his life and his importance as a figure in the social world, Lytton wrote voluminously and published many books. He aimed, first and always, at being a poet; and did not receive the critical recognition he desired, being regarded as a fluent, graceful verse-writer with more culture and knack than original gift. Throughout his career he was either underestimated or overpraised by his adherents or opponents in statecraft. He began to write when a youth in the twenties. ‘Clytemnestra’ (1855); ‘The Wanderer’ (1859); ‘Lucile’ (1860); ‘Serbski Pesme, or National Songs of Servia’ (1861); ‘The Ring of Amasis,’ a novel (1863); ‘Chronicles and Characters’ and ‘Poems’ (1867); ‘Orval’ (1869); ‘Julian Fane’ (1871); ‘Fables in Song’ (1874); ‘Poems’ (1877); ‘The Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton’ (1883), an incomplete memoir of his father; ‘Glenaveril; or, The Metamorphoses’ (1885); a volume of stories translated from the German (1886); ‘After Paradise’ (1887); and the posthumous ‘King Poppy’ (1892),—make up the rather formidable list.  2
  Owen Meredith’s literary reputation rests in the main upon the lyrics in the volume entitled ‘The Wanderer,’ and the clever verse narrative ‘Lucile’; which were given to the public in successive years, and were all written when he was under thirty. A few of the poems in the former volume have enough of grace, music, and sentiment to give them a vogue more than temporary. ‘Aux Italiens,’ perhaps the poem which keeps Lytton’s name steadily before the public, although it is liked best in the storm-and-stress period of uncritical youth, has elements which commend it to maturer judgment. It seizes on an incident of fashionable social life and imbues it with the pathos of the past,—with a sense of the irrevocableness of old deeds and the glamour of early love. Certain stanzas in it have the true touch; and as a whole, sophisticated production as it is, it possesses power and beauty. ‘Lucile,’ which shows the influence of Byron, and has had a popularity out of proportion to its importance, is nevertheless a very successful thing in its kind, a brilliant tour de force in social verse, of the light, bright, half cynical, half sentimental sort. Its dashing metre and its vivacity of presentation must be conceded, in the same breath that one denies it the name of poetry. It is no easy matter to tell a modern story in rhyme so that it is readable, enjoyable. Meredith has done this in ‘Lucile’; done it as well as any English poet of his day. That the nature of the exploit is not such as to make the work among the highest things of poetry, is no detraction. The success of an effort in literature is to be measured by the correspondence of aim and accomplishment.  3
 
 
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