Every so often it is of interest to pick up a book that tells us about people we have never even heard of and about others we have known only through their poetry, novels, essays, or whatever it might be. Among the people dealt with in this miscellaneous collection of essays is Algernon Swinburne who made an enormous impression on the young literary people of his day and, in particular, on Edmund Gosse. Swinburne had a large head and carrot-red hair. He was rather fragile. As those familiar with his poems remember, he was infatuated with the sea. His father, who was an admiral and a great swimmer, taught him to plunge into the sea when he was still a tiny child. He used to take him up in his arms and pitch him out among the waves and let him swim back.
Swinburne must have been remarkable as a