His two collections of essays, published nearly 20 years apart, comprise both more general pieces, such as his seminal "The function of criticism at the present time", and sketches of individual authors, including Byron (of whom he gives a useful corrective evaluation) and Shelley (who he puts the boot into for his womanising).
Three of Arnold's benchmarks for great literature were that is should have meaty content pertaining to what he called "high seriousness", that it should function as a criticism of life and that it should convey its weighty matter in the "grand style" by attaining near perfection in form and diction.
Even those who criticise him for being unable to apply in his own work the disinterestedness that he called for in other critics appreciate the comparative method that he applied to poetic studies. Many people would also agree, at least in broad terms, with his ranking of the titans of literature, with Homer, Sophocles, Dante, Milton and Goethe to the fore. (Virgil appears not quite to have made the grade.)
Again, many would not quibble with his relegation of the likes of Shelley and Byron, even if his judgments on Shakespeare - too little high seriousness - and Keats - too many sentimental letters to his fiancee - are particularly contestable. Like almost all critics, Arnold was at his best when writing about writers he particularly admired, who in his case were often foreigners little known in Britain (for example, Joseph Joubert and Heinrich Heine).
Thus, from his "Pagan and medieval religious sentiment":