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Title: Tennyson and His Friends
Author: Various
Language: English
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[Illustration: _Alfred, Lord Tennyson (in his 80th year)_

_Barraud, photographer Emery Walker, Ph.sc._]






To those who have contributed to this volume their memories of my father,
criticisms of his work, or records of his friends, I owe a deep debt of
gratitude. Three of the writers, Henry Butcher, Sir Alfred Lyall, and
Graham Dakyns, have lately, to my great loss, passed away--into that
fuller "light of friendship"--

                      "a clearer day
  Than our poor twilight dawn on earth."


[The following chapters about my father are arranged, as far as possible,
according to the sequence of his life. Further reminiscences by the Duke
of Argyll, Gladstone, Jowett, Lecky, Locker-Lampson, Palgrave, Lord
Selborne, Tyndall, Aubrey de Vere, and other friends, will be found in
_Tennyson, a Memoir_.]




   I. TENNYSON'S COUNTRY                                                 8
  II. THE SOMERSBY FRIENDS                                              18

  TENNYSON                                                              33

    ARTHUR HENRY HALLAM                                                 71
    TO JAMES SPEDDING                                                   72
    TO EDWARD FITZGERALD                                                75
    TO JOHN MITCHELL KEMBLE                                             78
    TO J. W. BLAKESLEY                                                  78
    TO R. C. TRENCH                                                     79
    TO THE REV. W. H. BROOKFIELD                                        80
    TO EDMUND LUSHINGTON                                                81
    CHARLES TENNYSON-TURNER                                             86


  President of Magdalen College, Oxford, and now Professor of
  Poetry                                                                98

  EDWARD FITZGERALD                                                    142

  TENNYSON AND THACKERAY. By LADY RITCHIE                              148

    TO W. C. MACREADY                                                  157
    TO THE REV. F. D. MAURICE                                          157
    TO SIR JOHN SIMEON                                                 159
    TO EDWARD LEAR ON HIS TRAVELS IN GREECE                            160
    TO THE MASTER OF BALLIOL                                           161
    TO THE DUKE OF ARGYLL                                              162
    TO GIFFORD PALGRAVE                                                162
    TO THE MARQUIS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA                                 165
    TO W. E. GLADSTONE                                                 167
    TO MARY BOYLE                                                      168
    W. G. WARD                                                         171
    TO SIR RICHARD JEBB                                                171
    TO GENERAL HAMLEY                                                  172
    LORD STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE                                        173
    GENERAL GORDON                                                     173
    G. F. WATTS, R.A.                                                  173

  L. WOODS                                                             175

  BALLIOL (PROFESSOR JOWETT)                                           186


  Master of Trinity College, Cambridge                                 206

  WILFRID WARD                                                         222


  THE FUNERAL OF DICKENS                                               253

  COLERIDGE                                                            255


  F.R.S.                                                               280

  LOCKYER, F.R.S.                                                      285

  MEMORIES. By E. V. B.                                                292

  Rev. the BISHOP OF RIPON                                             295

  LOUISA E. WARD                                                       306

  SIR JOHN SIMEON. By AUBREY DE VERE                                   321

  TENNYSON. By ARTHUR SIDGWICK, Fellow of Corpus Christi, Oxford,
  and sometime Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge                    322

  LYALL, G.C.B.                                                        344


  JAMES SPEDDING. By W. ALDIS WRIGHT, Vice-Master of Trinity
  College, Cambridge                                                   393

  ARTHUR HENRY HALLAM. By DR. JOHN BROWN                               441





  D. TENNYSON'S ARTHURIAN POEM                                         498


                                                                 FACE PAGE


  Alfred, Lord Tennyson (in his 80th year)                  _Frontispiece_

  Emily, Lady Tennyson. From a drawing by G. F. Watts, R.A.              3


  Frederick Tennyson                                                    33

  Charles Tennyson-Turner                                               58

  A. H. H.                                                              71

  Edmund Lushington                                                     89

  The Drive at Farringford, showing on the left the "Wellingtonia"
  planted by Garibaldi                                                 163

  Tennyson and his two Sons                                            188

  Arthur Tennyson                                                      222

  Horatio Tennyson                                                     229

  The South Side of Entrance from below the Terrace, Aldworth          245

  Summer-house at Farringford, where "Enoch Arden" was written         292

  The Corner of the Study at Farringford where Tennyson wrote,
  with his Deerhound "Lufra" and the Terrier "Winks" in the
  foreground                                                           306

  Arthur Hallam reading "Walter Scott" aloud on board the "Leeds,"
  bound from Bordeaux to Dublin, Sept. 9, 1830                         441




  There on the top of the down,
  The wild heather round me and over me June's high blue,
  When I look'd at the bracken so bright and the heather so brown,
  I thought to myself I would offer this book to you,
  This, and my love together,
  To you that are seventy-seven,
  With a faith as clear as the heights of the June-blue heaven,
  And a fancy as summer-new
  As the green of the bracken amid the gloom of the heather.

[Illustration: _Emily Lady Tennyson from a drawing by G. F. Watts, R.A._

_Emery Walker, Ph.sc._]



Written for her son in 1896

You ask me to tell you something of my life before marriage at Horncastle
in Lincolnshire. It would be hard indeed not to do anything you ask of me
if within my power. To say the truth, this particular thing you want is
somewhat painful. The first thing I remember of my father[1] is his
looking at me with sad eyes after my mother's[2] death. Her I recollect,
passing the window in a velvet pelisse, and then in a white shawl on the
sofa, and then crowned with roses--beautiful in death. I recollect, too,
being carried to her funeral; but I asked what they were doing, and in all
this had no idea of death.

My life before marriage was in many ways sad: in one, however, unspeakably
happy. No one could have had a better father, or been happier with her two
sisters, Anne and Louisa. Although, if we were too merry and noisy in the
mornings, we were summoned by my Aunt Betsy (who lived with us) all three
into her room, to hold out our small hands for stripes from a certain
little riding-whip; or if, later in the day, our needlework was not well
done we had our fingers pricked with a needle, or if the lessons were not
finished, we had fools' caps put on our heads, and were banished to a
corner of the room. My aunt's nature was by no means cruel; she was, on
the whole, kind and dutiful to us, yet no doubt with effort on her part,
for she had no instinctive love of children.

Among our neighbours we had as friends the Tennysons, the Rawnsleys, the
Bellinghams, and the Massingberds. The death of my cousin, Mr. Cracroft,
was among my early tragedies. He had been on public business at Lincoln:
and on his return to Horncastle, was seized at our house with Asiatic
cholera, a solitary case, which proved fatal. Ourselves and his daughters
heard of it in a strange way. We were in a tent at a sheep-shearing, the
great rustic festival of that day. A village boy came into our tent, and
swarmed up the pole, saying to us, "I know something; your father is
dead." We hurried home, and we, three sisters, were put by my aunt (to
keep us quiet) to the hitherto-unwonted task of stoning raisins. This made
me so indignant that I threw my raisins over the edge of the bowl, and
forthwith my aunt caught me up, and--so rough was the treatment of
children then--banged my head against the door of our old wainscoted
rooms, until I called out for my father, crying aloud, "Murder"; when he
rushed in and saved me.

My next memory of my father is his giving me Latin lessons; and at this
time I somehow came across a copy of _Cymbeline_, which I read with great
delight. Then we had our first riding-lessons. I well recall my dislike of
riding, when my pony was fastened to a circus stake, which I had to go
round and round. Unfortunately, much as my father wished it, I never
became a good horsewoman. He himself was so good a rider, when all the
gentlemen of the county were volunteers, that he could ride horses which
no one else could ride--so my grandmother would tell me with
pride--adding, "Your father and his brother (both six foot three) were the
handsomest men among them all." At that time he kept guard with his
fellow-volunteers over the French prisoners, who, he said, were always
cheerful and always singing their patriotic songs.

But to return to my sisters and myself. For exercise we generally took
long walks in the country, and I remember that when staying at my father's
house in Berkshire[3] we often used to wander up to a tower among our
woods where a gaunt old lady lived, called Black Jane, who told our
fortunes. We had our favourite theatricals, too, like other children. Our
dramatic performances were frequent, and our plays were, some of them,
drawn from Miss Edgeworth's tales. I was always fond of music, and used to
sing duets with my soldier cousin, Richard Sellwood.

At eight years old I was sent, with my sisters, to some ladies for daily
lessons, and later to schools in Brighton and London, for my father
disliked having a governess in the house. So, much as he objected to young
girls being sent from home, school in our case seemed the lesser evil. My
sisters liked school; to me it was dreadful. As soon as I reached the
Brighton seminary, I remember that for weeks I appeared to be in a
horrible dream, and the voices of the mistresses and the girls around me
seemed to be all thin, like voices from the grave. I could not be happy
away from my father, who was my idol, though after a while I grew more
accustomed to the strange life. My father would never let us go the long,
cold journey at Christmas time from Brighton to Horncastle, but came up
to town for the vacation, and took us for treats to the National Gallery,
and other places of interest. Great was the joy, when the summer holidays
arrived, and after travelling by coach through the day and night, we three
sisters saw Whittlesea-mere gleaming under the sunrise. It seemed as if we
were within sight of home.

When I was eighteen, my Aunt Betsy left us to live by herself alone. We
spent rather recluse lives, but we were perfectly happy, my father reading
to us every evening from about half-past eight to ten, the hour at which
we had family prayers. Most delightful were the readings; for instance,
all of Gibbon that could be read to us, Macaulay's _Essays_, Sir Walter
Scott's novels. For my private reading he gave me Dante, Ariosto, and
Tasso, Molière, Racine, Corneille. Later I read Schiller, Goethe, Jean
Paul Richter; and for English--Pearson, Paley's _Translation of the Early
Fathers_, Coleridge's works, Wordsworth, and of course Milton and
Shakespeare. We had walks and drives and music and needlework. Now and
again we dined in the neighbourhood, and some of the neighbours dined with
us; and once a year my father asked all the legal luminaries of Horncastle
to dinner with him.

Before my sister Louy married your Uncle Charles (Tennyson-Turner) in
1836, my cousin, Catherine Franklin, daughter of Sir Willingham Franklin,
took up her abode with us, and we had several dances at our house. Two
fancy-dress dances I well remember. Louy and I disliked visiting in London
and in country-houses, and so we always refused, and sent Anne in our
stead. My first ball, I thought an opening of the great portals of the
world, and I looked forward to it almost with awe. It is rather curious
that at one of my very few balls, Mr. Musters (Jack Musters his intimates
called him), who married Byron's Mary Chaworth, should have asked for,
and obtained, an introduction to me.

In 1842 came Catherine's marriage to our true friend, Drummond Rawnsley,
the parson of the Rawnsley family; and then my sister Anne married Charles
Weld. After this my father and I lived together alone. The only change we
had from our routine life was a journey, one summer, to Tours, with Anne
and Charles Weld, and his brother Isaac Weld, the accomplished owner of
Ravenswell, near Bray, in Ireland.

At your father's home, Somersby, we used to have evenings of music and
singing. Your Aunt Mary played on the harp as her father used to do. She
was a splendid-looking girl, and would have made a beautiful picture. Then
your Aunt Emily (beloved of Arthur Hallam) had wonderful eyes--depths on
depths they seemed to have--and a fine profile. "Testa Romana" an old
Italian said of her. She had more of the colouring of the South,
inherited, perhaps, from a member of Madame de Maintenon's family who
married one of the Tennysons. Your father had also the same kind of
colouring. All, brothers and sisters, were fair to see. Your father was
kingly, masses of fine, wavy hair, very dark, with a pervading shade of
gold, and long, as it was then worn. His manner was kind, simple, and
dignified, with plenty of sportiveness flashing out from time to time.
During my ten years' separation from him the doctors believed I was going
into a consumption, and the Lincolnshire climate was pronounced to be too
cold for me; and we moved to London, to look for a home in the south of
England. We found one at last at Hale near Farnham, which was called by
your father "my paradise." The recollection of this delightful country
made me persuade your father eventually to build a house near Haslemere.
We were married on June 13, 1850, at Shiplake on the Thames.





  Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
      And on these dews that drench the furze,
      And all the silvery gossamers
  That twinkle into green and gold.

  Calm and still light on yon great plain
      That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
      And crowded farms and lessening towers,
  To mingle with the bounding main.

Lincolnshire is a big county, measuring seventy-five miles by forty-five,
but it is perhaps the least well known of all the counties of England. The
traveller by the Great Northern main line passes through but a small
portion of its south-western fringe near Grantham; and if he goes along
the eastern side from Peterborough to Grimsby or Hull, he gains no insight
into the picturesque parts of the county, for the line takes him over the
rich flat fenlands with their black vegetable mould devoid of any kind of
stone or pebble, and intersected by those innumerable dykes or drains
varying from 8 to 80 feet across, which give the southern division of
Lincolnshire an aspect in harmony with its Batavian name "the parts of

The Queen of this flat fertile plain is Boston, with her wonderful
church-tower and lantern 280 feet high, a marvel of symmetry when you are
near it, and visible for more than twenty miles in all directions. Owing
to its slender height it seems, from a distance, to stand up like a tall
thick mast or tree-trunk, and is hence known to all the countryside as
"Boston stump."

At this town, the East Lincolnshire line divides: one section goes to the
left to Lincoln; the other, following the bend of the coast at about seven
miles' distance from the sea, turns when opposite Skegness and runs, at
right angles to its former course, to Louth,--Louth whose beautiful church
spire was painted by Turner in his picture of "The Horse Fair."

The more recent Louth-to-Lincoln line completes the fourth side of a
square having Boston, Burgh, Louth, and Lincoln for its corners, which
contains the fairest portion of the Lincolnshire wolds, and within this
square is Somersby, Tennyson's birthplace and early home. It is a tiny
village surrounded by low green hills; and close at hand, here nestling in
a leafy hollow, and there standing boldly on the "ridgèd wold," are some
half a dozen churches built of the local "greensand" rock, from whose
towers the Poet in his boyhood heard:

  The Christmas bells from hill to hill
  Answer each other in the mist--

the mist which lay athwart those "long gray fields at night," and marked
the course of the beloved Somersby brook.

If we go past the little gray church with its perfect specimen of a
pre-Reformation cross hard by the porch, and past the modest house almost
opposite, which was for over thirty years the home of the Tennysons, we
shall come at once to the point where the road dips to a little wood
through which runs the rivulet so lovingly described by the Poet when he
was leaving the home of his youth:

  Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea
    Thy tribute wave deliver:
  No more by thee my steps shall be,
    For ever and for ever.

and again:

  Unloved, by many a sandy bar,
      The brook shall babble down the plain,
      At noon or when the lesser wain
  Is twisting round the polar star;

  Uncared for, gird the windy grove,
      And flood the haunts of hern and crake;
      Or into silver arrows break
  The sailing moon in creek and cove.

Northward, beyond the stream, the white road climbs the wold above
Tetford, and disappears from sight. These _wolds_ are chalk; the greensand
ridge being all to the south of the valley, except just at Somersby and
Bag-Enderby, where the sandrock crops up by the roadside, and in the
little wood by the brook.

This small deep channelled brook with sandy bottom--over which one may on
any bright day see, as described in "Enid,"

                                a shoal
  Of darting fish, that on a summer morn...
  Come slipping o'er their shadows on the sand,
  But if a man who stands upon the brink
  But lift a shining hand against the sun,
  There is not left the twinkle of a fin
  Betwixt the cressy islets white with flower--

was very dear to Tennyson. When in his "Ode to Memory" he bids Memory

  Come from the woods which belt the gray hillside,
  The seven elms, the poplars four
  That stand beside my father's door,

he adds:

  And _chiefly_ from the brook that loves
  To purl o'er matted cress and ribbèd sand,
  Or dimple in the dark of rushy coves,
  Drawing into his narrow earthen urn
          In every elbow and turn,
  The filter'd tribute of the rough woodland,
          _O! hither lead thy feet!_

If we follow this

              pastoral rivulet that swerves
    To left and right thro' meadowy curves,
  That feed the mothers of the flock,

we, too, shall hear

                            the livelong bleat
  Of the thick fleecèd sheep from wattled folds
            Upon the ridgèd wolds.

And shall see the cattle in the rich grass land, and mark on the right the
green-gray tower of Spilsby, where so many of the Franklin family lived
and died, the family of whom his future bride was sprung.

Still keeping by the brook, we shall see, past the tower of Bag-Enderby
which adjoins Somersby, "The gray hill side" rising up behind the Old Hall
of Harrington, and

  The Quarry trenched along the hill
  And haunted by the wrangling daw,

above which runs the chalky "ramper" or turnpike-road which leads along
the eastern ridge of the wold to Alford, whence you proceed across the
level Marsh to the sea at Mablethorpe.

_The Marsh_ in Lincolnshire is a word of peculiar significance. The whole
country is either _fen_, _wold_, or _marsh_. The wolds, starting from Keal
and Alford, run in two ridges on either side of the Somersby Valley, one
going north to Louth and onwards, and one west by Spilsby and Horncastle
to Lincoln. Here it joins the great spine-bone of the county on which,
straight as an arrow for many a mile northwards, runs the Roman Ermine
Street; and but for the Somersby brook these two ridges from Louth and
Lincoln would unite at Spilsby, whence the greensand formation, which
begins at Raithby, sends out two spurs, one eastwards, ending abruptly at
Halton, while the other pushes a couple of miles farther south, until at
Keal the road drops suddenly into the level fen, giving a view--east,
south, and west--of wonderful extent and colour, ending to the east with
the sea, and to the south with the tall pillar of Boston Church standing
up far above the horizon. This flat land is _the fen_; all rich cornland
and all well drained, but with few habitations, and with absolutely no
hill or even rise in the ground until, passing Croyland or Crowland Abbey,
which once dominated a veritable land of fens only traversable by boats,
you come, on the farther side of Peterborough, to the great North Road.
Such views as this from Keal, and the similar one from Lincoln Minster,
which looks out far to the south-west over a similar large tract of fen,
are not to be surpassed in all the land.

But the Poet's steps from Somersby would not as a rule go westwards. The
coast would oftener be his aim; and leaving Spilsby to the right, and the
old twice-plague-stricken village of Partney, where the Somersby rivulet
becomes a river, he would pass from "the high field on the bushless pike"
to Miles-cross-hill, whence the panorama unfolds which he has depicted in
Canto XI. of "In Memoriam":

  Calm and still light on yon great plain,
      That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
      And crowded farms and lessening towers,
  To mingle with the bounding main.

Thence descending from the wold he would go through Alford, and on across
the sparsely populated pasture-lands, till he came at last to

  Some lowly cottage whence we see
  Stretched wide and wild the waste enormous marsh,
  Where from the frequent bridge,
  Like emblems of infinity,
  The trenchèd waters run from sky to sky.

This describes the third section of Lincolnshire called _the Marsh_, a
strip between five and eight miles wide, running parallel with the coast
from Boston to Grimsby, and separating the wolds from

                    the sandbuilt ridge
  Of heaped hills that mound the sea.

This strip of land is not marsh in the ordinary sense of the word, but a
belt of the richest grass land, all level and with no visible fences, each
field being surrounded by a broad dyke or ditch with deep water, hidden in
summer by the tall feathery plumes of the "whispering reeds." Across this
belt the seawind sweeps for ever. The Poet may allude to this when, in his
early poem, "Sir Galahad," he writes:

  But blessed forms in whistling storms
  Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields;

and "the hard grey weather" sung by Kingsley breeds a race of hardy
gray-eyed men with long noses, the manifest descendants of the Danes who
peopled all that coast, and gave names to most of the villages there,
nine-tenths of which end in "by."

This rich pasture-land runs right up to the sand-dunes,--Nature's own
fortification made by the winds and waves which is just outside the Dutch
and Roman embankments, and serves better than all the works of man to keep
out the waters of the North Sea from the low-lying levels of the _Marsh_
and _Fen_.

The lines in the "Lotos-Eaters":

  They sat them down upon the yellow sand
  Between the sun and moon upon the shore,

describes what the Poet might at any time of full moon have seen from that
"sand-built ridge" with the red sun setting over the wide marsh, and the
full moon rising out of the eastern sea; and "The wide winged sunset of
the misty marsh" recalls one of the most noticeable features of that
particular locality, where, across the limitless windy plain, the sun
would set in regal splendour; and when "cold winds woke the gray-eyed
morn" his rising over the sea would be equally magnificent in colour.

Having crossed the "Marsh" by a raised road with deep wide dykes on either
side, and no vestige of hedge or tree in sight, except where a row of
black poplars or aspens form a screen from the searching wind round a
group of the plainest of farm buildings, red brick with roofing of black
glazed pan-tiles, you come to the once tiny village of Mablethorpe,
sheltering right under the sea-bank, the wind-blown sands of which are
held together by the penetrating roots of the tussocks of long, coarse,
sharp-edged grass, and the prickly bushes of sea buckthorn, gray-leaved
and orange-berried.

You top the sand-ridge, and below, to right and left, far as eye can see,
stretch the flat, brown sands. Across these the tide, which at the full of
the moon comes right up to the barrier, goes out for three-quarters of a
mile; of this the latter half is left by the shallow wavelets all ribbed,
as you see it on the ripple-marked stone of the Horsham quarries, and
shining with the bright sea-water which reflects the low rays of the sun;
while far off, so far that they seem to be mere toys, the shrimper slowly
drives his small horse and cart, to the tail of which is attached the
primitive purse net, the other end of it being towed by the patient,
long-haired donkey, ridden by a boy whose bare feet dangle in the shallow
wavelets. Farther to the south the tide ebbs quite out of sight. This is
at "Gibraltar Point," near Wainfleet Haven, where Somersby brook at length
finds the sea, a place very familiar to the Poet in his youth. The skin of
mud on the sands makes them shine like burnished copper in the level rays
of the setting sun, which here have no sandbank to intercept them, but at
other times it is a scene of dreary desolation, such as is aptly described
in "The Passing of Arthur":

                          a coast
  Of ever-shifting sand, and far away
  The phantom circle of a moaning sea.

It was near this part of the shore that, as a young man, he often walked,
rolling out his lines aloud or murmuring them to himself, a habit which
was also that of Wordsworth, and led in each case to the peasants
supposing the Poet to be "craäzed," and caused the Somersby cook to wonder
"what Mr. Awlfred was always a-praying for," and caused also the
fisherman, whom he met on the sands once at 4 A.M. as he was walking
without hat or coat, and to whom he bid good-morning, to reply, "Thou poor
fool, thou doesn't knaw whether it be night or daä."

But at Mablethorpe the sea does not go out nearly so far, and at high tide
it comes right up to the bank with splendid menacing waves, the memory of
which furnished him, five and thirty years after he had left Lincolnshire
for ever, with the famous simile in "The Last Tournament":

    as the crest of some slow-arching wave,
  Heard in dead night along that table shore,
  Drops flat, and after the great waters break
  Whitening for half a league, and thin themselves,
  Far over sands marbled with moon and cloud,
  From less and less to nothing.

This accurately describes the flat Lincolnshire coast with its
"interminable rollers" breaking on the endless sands, than which waves the
Poet always said that he had never anywhere seen grander, and the clap of
the wave as it fell on the hard sand could be heard across that flat
country for miles. Doubtless this is what prompted the lines in "Locksley

  Locksley Hall, that in the distance overlooks the sandy tracts,
  And the hollow ocean-ridges roaring into cataracts.

"We hear in this," says the "Lincolnshire Rector,"[4] writing in
_Macmillan's Magazine_ of December 1873, "the mighty sound of the breakers
as they fling themselves at full tide with long-gathered force upon the
slope sands of Skegness or Mablethorpe on the Lincolnshire coast, nowhere
is ocean grander in a storm; nowhere is the thunder of the sea louder, nor
its waves higher, nor the spread of their waters on the beach wider."

It is not only of the breakers that the Poet has given us pictures. Along
these sands it was his wont, no doubt, as it has often been that of the

  To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
  And tender curving lines of creamy spray,

and it is still Skegness and Mablethorpe which may have furnished him with
his simile in "The Dream of Fair Women":

  So shape chased shape as swift as, when to land
    Bluster the winds and tides the self-same way,
  Crisp foam-flakes scud along the level sand,
    Torn from the fringe of spray.

Walking along the shore as the tide goes out, you come constantly on
creeks and pools left by the receding waves,

  A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of sand,
    Left on the shore; that hears all night
  The plunging seas draw backward from the land
    Their moon-led waters white.[5]

or little dimpled hollows of brine, formed by the wind-swept water washing
round some shell or stone:

  As the sharp wind that ruffles all day long
  A little bitter pool about a stone
  On the bare coast.[6]

Many characteristics of Lincolnshire scenery and of Somersby in particular
are introduced in "In Memoriam."

In Canto LXXXIX. the poet speaks of the hills which shut in the Somersby
Valley on the north:

  Nor less it pleased in lustier moods
      Beyond the bounding hill to stray.

In XCV. he speaks of the knolls, elsewhere described as "The hoary knolls
of ash and haw," where the cattle lie on a summer night:

  Till now the doubtful dusk reveal'd
      The knolls once more where, couch'd at ease,
      The white kine glimmer'd, and the trees
  Laid their dark arms about the field:

and in Canto C. he calls to mind:

  The sheepwalk up the windy wold,

and many other features seen in his walks with Arthur Hallam at Somersby.

In "Mariana" we have:

      From the dark fen the oxen's low
  Came to her: without hope of change,
      In sleep she seem'd to walk forlorn,
      Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn,
  About the lonely moated grange.

But no picture is more complete and accurate and remarkable than that of a
wet day in the Marsh and on the sands of Mablethorpe:

  Here often when a child I lay reclined:
    I took delight in this fair strand and free:
  Here stood the infant Ilion of the mind,
    And here the Grecian ships all seem'd to be.
  And here again I come, and only find
    The drain-cut level of the marshy lea,
  Gray sand-banks, and pale sunsets, dreary wind,
    Dim shores, dense rains, and heavy-clouded sea.

From what we have said it will be clear to the reader that while it is the
_fen_ land only that the railway traveller sees, it is the _Marsh_ and the
_Wolds_--and particularly in Lord Tennyson's mind the Wolds--that make
the characteristic charm of the county, a charm of which so many
illustrations are to be found throughout his poems. Certainly in her wide
extended views, in the open wolds with the villages and their gray church
towers nestling in the sheltered nooks at the wold foot, and also (to
quote again from the "Lincolnshire Rector") "in her glorious parish
churches and gigantic steeples, Lincolnshire has charms and beauties of
her own. And as to fostering genius, has she not proved herself to be the
'meet nurse of a poetic child'? for here, be it remembered, here in the
heart of the land, in Mid-Lincolnshire, Alfred Tennyson was born, here he
spent all his earliest and freshest days; here he first felt the divine
afflatus, and found fit material for his muse:

    The Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the Camp of Dan
    between Zorah and Eshtaol."



  We leave the well-beloved place
      Where first we gazed upon the sky;
      The roofs, that heard our earliest cry,
  Will shelter one of stranger race.

     *       *       *       *       *

  I turn to go: my feet are set
    To leave the pleasant fields and farms;
    They mix in one another's arms
  To one pure image of regret.

It is no wonder that the Tennysons loved Somersby. They were a large
family, and here they grew up together, making their own world and growing
ever more fond of the place for its associations. "How often have I
longed to be with you at Somersby!" writes Alfred Tennyson's sister,
Mary,[7] thirteen years after leaving the old home. "How delightful that
name sounds to me! Visions of sweet past days rise up before my eyes, when
life itself was new,

  And the heart promised what the fancy drew."

Here, when childhood's happy days were over, the Tennyson girls rejoiced
in the society of their brothers' Cambridge friends, and, though the
village was so remote that they only got a post two or three times a
week,[8] here they not only drank in contentedly the beauty of the
country, but also passed delightful days with talk and books, with music
and poetry, and dance and song, when, on the lawn at Somersby, one of the

          brought the harp and flung
  A ballad to the brightening moon.

Here, as Arthur Hallam said, "Alfred's mind was moulded in silent sympathy
with the everlasting forms of Nature."

I have said that they made their own world; and they were well able to do
it, for they were a very remarkable family. The Doctor was a very tall,
dark man, very strict with his boys, to whom he was schoolmaster as well
as parent. He was a scholar, and unusually well read, and possessed a good
library. Clever, too, he was with his hands, and carved the stone
chimney-piece in the dining-room, which his man Horlins built under his
direction. He and his wife were a great contrast, for she was very small
and gentle and highly sensitive.

Edward FitzGerald speaks of her as "one of the most innocent and
tender-hearted ladies I ever saw"; and the Poet depicts her in "Isabel,"
where he speaks of her gentle voice, her keen intellect and her

  Sweet lips whereon perpetually did reign
  The summer calm of golden charity.

Mary was the letter-writer of the family, and a very clever woman, and her
letters show that she knew her Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, and
Coleridge as well as her brother's poems.

They were a united family, but Charles and Alfred were nearest to her in
age. She writes to one of her great friends: "O my beloved, what creatures
men are! my brothers are the exception to this general rule." Accordingly,
of Charles she writes: "If ever there was a sweet delightful character it
is that dear Charley," and of Alfred: "A. is one of the noblest of his
kind. You know my opinion of men in general is much like your own; they
are not like us, they are naturally _more_ selfish and _not so
affectionate_." She adds:

    Alfred is universally beloved by all his friends, and was long so
    before he came to any fame....

    We look upon him as the stay of the family; you know it is to him we
    go when anything is to be done. Something lately occurred here which
    was painful; we wrote to Alfred and he came immediately, after, I am
    told, not speaking three days scarcely to any one from distress of
    mind, and that _not_ for himself, mind, but for others. Did this look
    like selfishness?

After leaving Somersby she felt the loss of these brothers sorely.

Alfred's devotion to his mother was always perfect. In October 1850 Mary
writes from Cheltenham:

    Yesterday, Mamma, I, and Fanny went to look for houses, as Alfred has
    written to say that he should like to live by his Mother or in the
    same house with us, if we could get one large enough, and he would
    share the rent, which would be a great deal better. He wishes us to
    take a house in the neighbourhood of London, if we can give up ours,
    with him, or to take a small house for him and Emily[9] on the
    outskirts of Cheltenham till we can move; so what will be done I know
    not, but this I know that Alfred must come here and choose for
    himself, so we have written to him to come immediately, and we are
    daily expecting him.

But though life at Cheltenham when the brothers were all away was dull for
Mary, it had not been so at Somersby; for there they had home interests
sufficient to keep them always occupied, and they were not without
neighbours. Ormsby was close at hand, to the north, where lived as Rector,
Frank Massingberd, afterwards Chancellor of Lincoln, a man of cultivation
and old-world courtesy. His wife Fanny was one of the charming Miss
Barings of Harrington, which was but a couple of miles off to the east.
Her sister Rosa was that "sole rose of beauty, loveliness complete," to
whom the Poet wrote such charming little birthday verses; and sixty-five
years afterwards Rosa, then Mrs. Duncombe Shafto, still spoke with
enthusiasm of those happy days. Mrs. Baring had married for her second
husband, Admiral Eden, a man of great conversational powers, and with a
very large circle of interesting friends. He took the old Hall of
Harrington, with its fine brick front, from the Cracrofts, who moved to
Hackthorn near Lincoln, and thus the families at Harrington and Somersby
saw a great deal of one another.

There were two Eden daughters, the strikingly handsome Dulcibella and her
sister, who looked after the house and its guests. Hence their nicknames
of "Dulce" and "Utile."

A mile or two beyond Harrington was Langton, where Dr. Johnson came to
visit his friend Bennet Langton, who died only seven years before Dr.
Tennyson came to Somersby. But, though the Langtons were friends of the
Doctor's, this was not a house the young people much frequented. Mary,
having come back to the old neighbourhood, writes from Scremby: "I am
going to Langton to-morrow to spend a few days with the Langtons, don't
you pity me? I hope I shall get something more out of Mrs. Langton than
Indeed, Yes, No!"

Adjoining Langton the Tennysons had friends in the Swans of Saucethorpe,
and a little farther eastwards was Partney, where George Maddison and his
mother lived. He was a hero, of whom tales were told of many courageous
deeds, such as his going single-handed and taking a desperate criminal
who, being armed, had barricaded himself in an old building and set all
the police at defiance. It was a question whether people most admired the
courage of the man or the beauty of his charming wife, Fanny, one of the
three good-looking daughters of Sir Alan Bellingham, who all found
husbands in that neighbourhood. In the Lincolnshire poem, "The Spinster's
Sweet-Arts," the Poet has immortalized their name:

  Goä to the laäne at the back, and loök thruf Maddison's gaäte!

From Partney the hill rises to Dalby, where lived John Bourne, whose wife
was an aunt of the young Tennysons, and here they would meet the handsome
Miss Bournes of Alford; one, Margaret, was dark, the other was Alice, a
beautiful fair girl. They married brothers, Marcus and John Huish. Mrs.
John Bourne was the Doctor's sister Mary, and the young Tennysons would
have been oftener at Dalby had it been their Aunt Elizabeth Russell[10]
who lived there, of whom they always spoke in terms of the strongest

The old house at Dalby was burnt down in 1841. About this Mr. Marcus Huish
tells me that his mother wrote in a diary at the time:

    _Jan. 5, 1841._--On this day Dalby House, the seat of the Bournes,
    and round whose simple Church, standing embosomed in trees, my family,
    including my dear sister Mary Hannah, lie buried, was burnt to the

and on the 7th Mrs. Huish wrote:

    I have this morning received intelligence that the dear House at Dalby
    was on Tuesday night burnt down, and is now a wreck. I feel very
    deeply this disastrous circumstance, endeared as it was to me by ties
    of time and association. Mr. Tennyson has written to me as follows on
    this catastrophe.

The letter was a long one, two pages being left for it in the diary, but
unfortunately it was never copied in.

The villages here are very close together, and going from Partney, two
miles eastward, you come to Skendleby, where Sir Edward Brackenbury lived,
whose elder brother Sir John was Consul at Cadiz, and used to send over
some good pictures and some strong sherry, known by the diners-out as "the
Consul's sherry." The Rector of the next village of Scremby was also a
Brackenbury, and here Mary Tennyson most loved to visit. Mrs. Brackenbury,
whom she always calls "Gloriana," was adored by all who knew her. Mary
says, "She is so sweet a character, and she has always been so kind and so
anxious for our family ... I look upon her as already a saint." Two of the
Rectors of Halton had also been Brackenburys--a father and son in
succession, and they were followed by two generations of Rawnsleys--Thomas
Hardwicke and his son Drummond.

Adjoining Scremby is Candlesby, where Tennyson's genial friend, John
Alington, who had married another of the beautiful Miss Bellinghams, was
Rector; and within half a mile is Gunby, the delightful old home of the
Massingberds. In Dr. Tennyson's time Peregrine Langton, who had married
the heiress of the Massingberds and taken her name, was living there.

It was from Gunby that Algernon Massingberd disappeared, going to America
and never being heard of again, which gave rise to a romance in "Novel"
form, that came out many years later called _The Lost Sir Massingberd_.
Going on eastward still, by Boothby, where Dr. Tennyson's friends the
Walls family lived, in a house to which you drove up across the grass
pasture, the sheep grazing right up to the front door, a thing still
common in the Lincolnshire Marsh, you come to Burgh, with its magnificent
Church tower and old carved woodwork. Here was the house of Sir George
Crawford, and here from the edge of the high ground on which the Church
stands you plunge down on to the level Marsh across which, at five miles'
distance, is Skegness, at that time only a handful of fishermen's
cottages, with "Hildred's Hotel," one good house occupied by a large
tenant farmer, and a reed-thatched house right on the old Roman sea bank,
built by Miss Walls, only one room thick, so that from the same room she
could see both the sunrise and the sunset. Here all the neighbourhood at
different times would meet, and enjoy the wide prospect of sea and Marsh
and the broad sands and the splendid air. When the tide was out the only
thing to be seen, as far as eye could reach, were the two or three
fishermen, like specks on the edge of the sea, and the only sounds were
the piping of the various sea-birds, stints, curlews, and the like, as
they flew along the creeks or over the gray sand-dunes. Mablethorpe was
nearer to Somersby, but had no house of any size at which, as here, the
dwellers on the wold knew that they were always welcome.

But we have other houses to visit, so let us return by Burgh and Bratoft,
where above the chancel arch of the ugly brick Church is a remarkable
picture of the Spanish Armada, represented as a huge red dragon, with the
ships of Effingham's fleet painted in the corner of the picture.

Passing Bratoft, the next thing we come to is the Somersby brook, which
is here "the Halton River," and on the greensand ridge, overlooking the
fen as far as "Boston Stump," stands the fine Church of Halton Holgate. In
this Church, as at Harrington, Alfred as a boy must have seen the old
stone effigy of a Crusader as described in "Locksley Hall Sixty Years

                                      with his feet upon the hound,
  Cross'd! for once he sailed the sea to crush the Moslem in his pride.

The road ascends the "hollow way" cut through the greensand, and a timber
footbridge is flung across it leading from the Church to the Rectory. Dr.
Tennyson could tell the story of how his old friend T. H. Rawnsley, the
Rector, and Mr. Eden, brother of the Admiral, being in London, looked in
at the great Globe in Leicester Square and heard a man lecturing on
Geology. They listened till they heard "This Greensand formation here
disappears" (he was speaking of Sussex) "and crops up again in an obscure
little village called Halton Holgate in Lincolnshire." "Come along, Eden!"
said the Rector; "this is a very stupid fellow."

Halton was the house, and Mr. and Mrs. Rawnsley the people, whom Dr.
Tennyson most loved to visit. She had been previously known to him as the
beautiful Miss Walls of Boothby. The Rector was the most genial and
agreeable of men, and her charm of look and manner made his wife a
universal favourite.

Here are two characteristic letters from Dr. Tennyson to Mr. Rawnsley:

    _Tuesday 28th, 1826._

    DEAR RAWNSLEY--In your not having come to see me for so many months,
    when you have little or nothing to do but warm your shins over the
    fire while I, unfortunately, am frozen or rather suffocated with Greek
    and Latin, I consider myself as not only slighted but spifflicated.
    You deserve that I should take no notice of your letter whatever, but
    I will comply with your invitation partly to be introduced to the
    agreeable and clever lady, but more especially to have the pleasure
    of seeing Mrs. Rawnsley, whom, you may rest assured, I value
    considerably more than I do you. Mrs. T. is obliged by your
    invitation, but the weather is too damp and hazy, Mr. Noah,--so I
    remain your patriarchship's neglected servant,

        G. C. TENNYSON.

This letter was addressed to the Rev. T. H. Rawnsley, Halton Parsonage.
The next was addressed to Halton Palace, and runs thus:

    SOMERSBY, _Monday_.

    DEAR RAWNSLEY--We three shall have great pleasure in dining with you
    to-morrow. We hope, also, that Mr. and Mrs. Clarke and yourselves will
    favour us with their and your company to dinner during their stay. I
    like them very much, and shall be very happy to know more of
    them.--Very truly yours,

        G. C. TENNYSON.

    _P.S._--How the devil do you expect that people are to get up at seven
    o'clock in the morning to answer your notes? However, I have not kept
    your Ganymede waiting.

The friendship between the families, which was further cemented when the
Rector's son Drummond married Kate Franklin, whose cousin, Emily Sellwood,
afterwards became the Poet's wife, has been maintained for three
generations. Alfred shared his father's opinion of Halton, and often wrote
both to the Rector and his wife. In one letter to her, after pleading a
low state of health and spirits as his reason for not joining her party at
Halton, he says: "At the same time, believe me it is not without
considerable uneasiness that I absent myself from a house where I visit
with greater pleasure than at any other in the country, if indeed I may be
said to visit any other."

After leaving Somersby, he wrote on Jan. 28, 1838, from High Beech, Epping

    MY DEAR MRS. RAWNSLEY--I have long been intending to write to you, for
    I think of you a great deal, and if I had not a kind of antipathy
    against taking pen in hand I would write to you oftener; but I am
    nearly as bad in this way as Werner, who kept an express (horse and
    man) from his sister at an inn for two months before he could prevail
    upon himself to write an answer to her, and her letter to him was,
    nevertheless, on family business of the last importance. But my chief
    motive in writing to you now is the hope that I may prevail upon you
    to come and see us as soon as you can. I understood from some of my
    sisters that Mr. Rawnsley was coming in February to visit his friend
    Sir Gilbert. Now I trust that you and Sophy will come with him--of
    course he would not pass without calling, whether alone or not. I was
    very sorry not to have seen Drummond. I wish he would have dropt me a
    line a few days before, that I might have stayed at home and been
    cheered with the sight of a Lincolnshire face; for I must say of
    Lincolnshire, as Cowper said of England,

        With all thy faults I love thee still.

    You hope our change of residence is for the better. The only advantage
    in it is that one gets up to London oftener. The people are
    sufficiently hospitable, but it is not in a good old-fashioned way, so
    as to do one's feelings any good. Large set dinners with stores of
    venison and champagne are very good things of their kind, but one
    wants something more; and Mrs. Arabin seems to me the only person
    about who speaks and acts as an honest and true nature dictates: all
    else is artificial, frozen, cold, and lifeless.

    Now that I have said a good word for Lincolnshire and a bad one for
    Essex, I hope I have wrought upon your feelings, and that you will
    come and see us with Mr. Rawnsley. Pray do. You could come at the same
    time with Miss Walls when she pays her visit to the Arabins, and so
    have all the inside of the mail to yourselves; for though you were
    very heroic last summer on the high places of the diligence, I presume
    that this weather is sufficient to cool any courage down to
    zero.--Believe me, with love from all to all, always yours,

        A. TENNYSON.


To this letter Mrs. Tennyson, the Poet's mother, adds a postscript, though
she complains that Alfred has scarcely left her room to do so. The letter
is dated in her hand.

The Halton family consisted of Edward, Drummond, and Sophy. The latter,
with Rosa Baring, were two of Alfred's favourite partners at the Spilsby
and Horncastle balls. Sophy Rawnsley became Mrs. Ed. Elmhirst; she often
talked of the old Halton and Somersby days. "He was," she said, "so
interesting, because he was so unlike other young men; and his
unconventionality of manner and dress had a charm which made him more
acceptable than the dapper young gentleman of the ordinary type at ball or
supper party. He was a splendid dancer, for he loved music, and kept such
time; but you know," she would say, "we liked to talk better than to dance
together at Horncastle, or Spilsby, or Halton; he always had something
worth saying, and said it so quaintly." Rosa at eighty-three recalled the
same times with animation, and said to me, "You know we used to spoil him,
for we sat at his feet and worshipped him; and he read to us, and how well
he read! and when he wrote us those little poems we were more than proud.
Ah, those days at Somersby and Harrington and Halton, how delightful they

The Halton family were a decade younger than Charles, Alfred, and Mary
Tennyson, but Drummond married eight years before Alfred. Emily Sellwood,
just before her marriage with Alfred, wrote to Mrs. Drummond Rawnsley:

    MY DEAREST KATIE--You and Drummond are among the best and kindest
    friends I have in the world, and let me not be ungrateful, I have some
    very good and very kind--Thy loving sister


The use of the _thy_ is very frequent with the Sellwoods, and in all Mary
Tennyson's letters too.

It was at Halton, in the time of its next Rector, Drummond Rawnsley, that
the farmer Gilbey Robinson gave his son Canon H. D. Rawnsley the famous
advice which the Poet has preserved in his Lincolnshire poem "The
Churchwarden and the Curate":

  But creeäp along the hedge bottoms an thou'll be a Bishop yit.

And it was at Halton that Mr. Hoff, a large tenant farmer, lived of whom
Dr. Tennyson heard many a story from the Rector. He was quite a character,
and the Lord Chancellor Brougham was brought over by Mr. Eden from
Harrington to see and talk with him. I knew Mr. Hoff, and have heard the
Rector describe the lively afternoon they had. Farming was one of Lord
Brougham's hobbies, and he talked of farming to his heart's content, and
was delighted with the old fellow's shrewdness and independence, and his
racy sayings in the Lincolnshire dialect, the kind of sayings which
Tennyson has preserved in his "Northern Farmer." The farmer, too, was
pleased with his visitor, but he said to the Rector afterwards, "He is
straänge cliver mon is Lord Brougham, and he knaws a vast, noä doubt, but
he knaws nowt about ploughing." It was the same farmer who was introduced
by the Rector to the leading Barrister at the Spilsby sessions, where both
the Rector and Dr. Tennyson were always in request to dine with the bar,
when the Judge was at Spilsby, for the charm of their presence and the
brightness of their conversation. Mr. Hoff had seen "Councillor Flowers"
in Court in his wig and gown, but meeting him now in plain clothes, and
finding him a very small man, he said to him straight out, "Why, you're
nobbut a meän-looking little mon after all." These tenant farmers, whether
in the Marsh, wold, or fen, were very considerable people in days when
agriculture was at its best. In the Marsh, one in particular, Marshal
Heanley, was always termed the Marsh King. He it was who at the Ram-show
dinner at Halton, when Ed. Stanhope, the Minister for War, had spoken of
the future which was opening for the great agriculturists, and, after
alluding to Lord Brougham's visit to the Shire and the sending of some
farmers' sons to the Bar, had suggested the possibility of one of them
arriving at the top of the tree and sitting some day on the Woolsack. The
"Marsh King" got up and said, "I allus telled yer yer must graw wool; but
when you've grawed it, yer mustn't sit on it, yer must sell it."

There was a good deal of humour and also of characteristic independence
about both the farmers and their men in those days; the Doctor's own man,
when found fault with, had flung the harness in a heap on the drawing-room
floor, saying, "Cleän it yersen then." And at Halton Rectory an old
Waterloo cavalryman was coachman, who kept in the saddle-room the sword he
had drawn at Quatre-Bras, a delight to us boys to see and hear about. He
had a way of thinking aloud, and when, driving once at Skegness, he saw
the Halton schoolmaster, his particular aversion, Mrs. Rawnsley heard him
say, "If there ain't that conceäted aäpe of ourn." On a later occasion,
when, at a rent-day dinner, he was handing round the beer, and the
schoolmaster asked, "Is it ale or porter?" in a voice heard by all the
table he replied, "It's näyther aäle nor poörter, but very good beer, much
too good for the likes o' you, so taäke it and be thankful." Perhaps his
most famous saying was addressed to my younger brother who, when
attempting to copy his elders who always jumped the quickset hedge
opposite the saddle-room as a short cut to the house, had stuck in the
thorns and cried, "Grayson, Grayson, come and help me out!" The old man
slowly wiped his hands, and with his usual deliberation said, "Yis, I'm
a-coming." "But look sharp, confound you, it's pricking me." "Oh, if
you're going to sweër you may stay theër, and be damned to you."

From Halton the way is short to Spilsby, the market town where the
Franklins had lived, and the statue of Sir John resting his hand on an
anchor looks down every Monday on the chaffering Market folk at one end of
the Market Place, whilst the women still crowd round the old Butter-cross
at the other end. In the Church is the Willoughby chapel, full of
interesting monuments.

Many of the Franklin family lie in the Churchyard, and on the Church wall
are three tablets to the three most distinguished brothers,--James, the
soldier, who made the first ordnance survey of India; Sir Willingham, the
Judge of the Supreme Court of Madras; and Sir John, the discoverer of the
North-West Passage. Hundleby adjoins Spilsby where Mr. John Hollway lived,
of whom the Poet wrote: "People say and I feel that you are the man with
the finest taste and knowledge in literary matters here." Next to Hundleby
comes Raithby, the home of the Edward Rawnsleys, where the Poet was a
frequent visitor, and thence passing Mavis-Enderby on the left, the road
runs on the Ridge of the Wold through Hagworthingham to Horncastle, the
home of the Sellwoods. Mavis-Enderby is referred to in Jean Ingelow's
poem, "The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire, 1571":

  Play uppe, play uppe, O Boston bells!

     *       *       *       *       *

  The brides of Mavis Enderby.

After a visit to Raithby in 1874 Alfred wrote to Mrs. Edward Rawnsley:

    MY DEAR MARY--I stretch out arms of love to you all across the
    distance,--all the Rawnsleys are dear to me, and you, though not an
    indigenous one, have become a Rawnsley, and I invoke you in the same
    embrace of the affection, tho' memory has not so much to say about

At Keal, east of Mavis-Enderby, the Cracrofts, whom the Doctor knew well,
were living; and below the far-famed Keal Hill, in the flat fen, lay
Hagnaby Priory, the home of Thomas Coltman, whose nephews Tom and George
were often there. George, a genial giant of the heartiest kind, became
Rector of Stickney, half-way between Keal and Boston; he was one of the
Poet's closest friends. In a letter to the Rector of Halton he says,
"Remember me to all old friends, particularly to George Coltman"; and in
after years he seldom met a Lincolnshire man without asking, "How is
George Coltman? He was a good fellow." Agricultural depression has altered
things in Lincolnshire. Among the farmers the larger holders have
disappeared in many places, and in the pleasant homes of Halton and
Somersby, such men as the Rectors in those Georgian and early Victorian
days, Nature does not repeat.

The departure of the Tennyson family made a blank which could never be
filled. The villagers whom they left behind never forgot them, and even in
extreme old age they were still full of memories of the family, and talked
of the learning and cleverness of "the owd Doctor," the fondness of the
children for their mother and, most noticeable of all, their

    And boöks, what's boöks? thou knaws thebbe naither 'ere nor theer.

The old folk all seemed to think that "to hev owt to do wi boöks" was a
sign of a weak intellect. "The boys, _poor things!_ they would allus hev a
book i' their hands as they went along." A few years ago there was still
one old woman in Somersby who remembered going, seventy-one years back,
when she was eleven years old, for her first place to the Tennysons. What
she thought most of was "the young laädies." She was blind, but she said,
"I can see 'em all now plaän as plaän; and I would have liked to hear Mr.
Halfred's voice ageän--sich a voice it wer."




    My uncle Frederick lived near St. Heliers, and my father and I visited
    him (1887) in his house, overlooking the town and harbour of St.
    Heliers, Elizabeth Castle, and St. Aubyn's Bay. The two old brothers
    talked much of bygone days; of the "red honey gooseberry," and the
    "golden apples" in Somersby garden, and of the tilts and tourneys they
    held in the fields; of the old farmers and "swains"; of their college
    friends; and of the waste shore at Mablethorpe: and then turned to
    later days, and to the feelings of old age. My father said of
    Frederick's poems that "they were organ-tones echoing among the
    mountains." Frederick told Alfred as they parted that "not for twenty
    years had he spent such a happy day."--_Tennyson: a Memoir, by his

    To C. T.

        True poet, surely to be found
        When Truth is found again.

Of all the brothers of Alfred Tennyson the closest akin to him were
Frederick and Charles. The three were born in successive years, Frederick
in 1807, Charles in 1808, and Alfred in 1809. They slept together in a
little attic under the roof of the old white Rectory at Somersby, they
played together, read together, studied together under the guidance of
their father, and all three left home to go together to the school at
Louth, which Alfred and Charles at least held in detestation until their
latest years. Frederick was the first to break up the brotherhood, for,
in 1817, he left Louth for Eton, but to the end of his long life--he
outlived all his brothers--he seems to have looked back on the days of his
childhood through the medium of this fraternal trinity. Years afterwards
he wrote of their common submission to the influence of Byron, who "lorded
it over them, with an immitigable tyranny," and a fire at Farringford in
1876 brings to his mind the destruction of their Aunt Mary's house at
Louth, in the gardens of which he wrote: "I, and Charles, and Alfred,
enthusiastic children, used to play at being Emperors of China, each
appropriating a portion of the old echoing garden as our domain, and
making them reverberate our tones of authority."

At school the brothers seem to have kept much to themselves; they took
little interest in the school sports, in which their great size and
strength would have well qualified them to excel, and passed their time
chiefly in reading and wandering over the rolling wold and flat shores of
their native Lincolnshire. They began at an early age their apprenticeship
to poetry. Alfred, at least, had written a considerable volume of verse by
the time he was fourteen, and all three contributed to the _Poems by Two
Brothers_, which were published at Louth in 1827, when Frederick, the
author of four of the poems, had just entered St. John's, Cambridge (his
father's old College). Charles used to tell how, when the tiny volume was
published, he and Alfred hired a conveyance out of the £10 which the
publisher had given them, and drove off for the day to their favourite
Mablethorpe, where they shouted themselves hoarse on the shore as they
rolled out poem by poem in one another's ears. The notes and headings to
the poems give some idea of the breadth and variety of reading for which
the brothers had found opportunity in their quiet country life, for the
volume contains twenty quotations from Horace, eight from Virgil, six from
Byron, five from Isaiah, four from Ossian, three from Cicero, two apiece
from Moore, Xenophon, Milton, Claudian, and the Book of Jeremiah, with
others from Addison, John Clare, Juvenal, Ulloa's _Voyages_, Beattie,
Rennel's _Herodotus_, Savary's _Letters_, Tacitus' _Annals_, Pliny,
Suetonius' _Lives of the Caesars_, Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_, Racine,
the _Mysteries of Udolpho_, _La Auruncana_, the _Songs of Jayadeva_, Sir
William Jones (_History of Nadir Shah_, _Eastern Plants_, and _Works_,
vol. vi.), Cowper, Ovid, _Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful_, Dr.
Langhorne's _Collins_, Mason's _Caractacus_, Rollin, Contino's _Epitaph on
Camoens_, Hume, Scott, the Books of Joel and Judges, Berquin, Young,
Sale's Koran, Apollonius of Rhodes, Disraeli's _Curiosities of
Literature_, Sallust, Terence, Lucretius, Coxe's _Switzerland_, Rousseau,
the _Ranz des Vaches_, _Baker on Animalculae_, Spenser, Shakespeare,
Chapman and various old English ballads, while many notes give odd scraps
of scientific, geographical, and historical learning.

Alfred and Charles followed Frederick to Cambridge in 1828 and entered
Trinity, whither their elder brother had just migrated from John's. All
the three brothers attained a certain amount of rather unconventional
distinction at the University; Frederick, who had taken a high place on
his entrance into Eton and subsequently became Captain of the Oppidans,
obtained the Browne Gold Medal for a Greek Ode (in Sapphic metre) on the
Pyramids, the last cadence of which, "[Greek: ollumenôn gar achthôn
exapoleitai]," is the only fragment which tradition has preserved. Charles
obtained a Bell Scholarship in 1829, chiefly through the beauty of his
translations into English (one line, "And the ruddy grape shall droop from
the desert thorn," was always remembered by Alfred), and the youngest
brother secured, as is well known, the University Prize for English Verse
with his "Timbuctoo." None of the brothers, however, attained great
distinction in the schools, though Frederick and Charles graduated B.A. in
1832. With the end of their Cambridge careers the brotherhood finally
dissolved. It was at first proposed that all three should (in deference to
the wish of their grandfather), become clergymen. Frederick had always
shown a certain independence and intractability of character. At Eton,
though a skilful and ardent cricketer, he acquired a reputation for
eccentricity, and Sir Francis Doyle describes him as "rather a silent,
solitary boy, not always in perfect harmony with Keate,"--a gentleman with
whom most spirits, however ardent, generally found it convenient to agree.

Sir Francis recounts one typical incident: Frederick, then in the sixth
form, had returned to school four days late after the Long Vacation. Keate
sent for him and demanded an explanation. None was forthcoming. Keate
stormed in his best manner, his prominent eyebrows shooting out, and his
Punch-like features working with fury, Frederick remaining all the while
cynically calm. Finally the fiery doctor insists with many objurgations on
a written apology from the boy's father, whereupon the culprit leisurely
produces a crumpled letter from his pocket and hands it coolly to the
head-master. A fresh tirade follows, accusing Frederick of every defect of
character and principle known to ethics, and concluding, "_and showing
such a temper too_"!

How little Frederick regarded himself as fitted for Holy Orders may be
judged from a letter he wrote in 1832 to his friend John Frere: "I
expect," he says, "to be ordained in June, without much reason, for
hitherto I have made no kind of preparation, and a pretty parson I shall
make, I'm thinking." The grandfather came apparently to share this
conclusion, for the ordination never took place.

It must have been about this time that Frederick made the acquaintance of
Edward FitzGerald, who was two years his junior. The pair maintained a
close correspondence for many years, and "Fitz" became godfather to one of
his friend's sons and left a legacy to be divided among his three

Frederick's fine presence and frank, tempestuous, independent nature seem
to have made a powerful appeal to the younger man, for he had the great
height, noble proportions, and dome-like forehead of the Tennyson family,
and was so robustly built that it is said that in later years, when he
lived in Florence, a new servant girl, on seeing him for the first time
speeding up his broad Italian staircase in British knee-breeches, fell
back against the wall in astonishment, exclaiming, "Santissima Madonna,
che gambe!" Unlike his brothers, however, his hair (which he wore rather
longer than was common even at that time) was fair and his eyes blue.

    "I remember," wrote Fitz in 1843, "the days of the summer when you and
    I were together quarrelling and laughing.... Our trip to Gravesend has
    left a perfume with me. I can get up with you on that everlastingly
    stopping coach on which we tried to travel from Gravesend to Maidstone
    that Sunday morning: worn out with it we got down at an Inn and then
    got up on another coach, and an old smiling fellow passed us holding
    out his hat--and you said, "That old fellow must go about as Homer
    did," and numberless other turns of road and humour, which sometimes
    pass before me as I lie in bed."

And in the next year he writes:

    How we pulled against each other at Gravesend! You would stay--I
    wouldn't--then I would--then we did. Do you remember that girl at the
    bazaar ... then the gentleman who sang at Ivy Green?

And seven years later Gravesend and its [Greek: anêrithmoi] shrimps are
still in his memory.

Very soon, however, after leaving Cambridge, Frederick, who had inherited
a comfortable property at Grimsby, set out for Italy, and in Italy and
near the Mediterranean he remained, with the exception of an occasional
visit to England, until 1859.

He was passionately fond of travel, which, as he used to say, "makes
pleasure solemn and pain sweet," and even his marriage in 1839 to Maria
Giuliotti, daughter of the chief magistrate of Siena, could not induce him
to make a settled home. In 1841 we hear of him (through "Fitz") in Sicily,
playing a cricket match against the crew of the _Bellerophon_ on the
Parthenopaean Hills, and "_sacking_ the sailors by ninety runs." "I like
that such men as Frederick should be abroad," adds the writer, "so strong,
haughty, and passionate," and in 1842 "Fitz" pictures him "laughing and
singing, and riding into Naples with huge self-supplying beakers full of
the warm South." All the while he continued to write to FitzGerald
"accounts of Italy, finer" (says the latter) "than any I ever heard."

Once he describes himself coming suddenly upon Cicero's Formian villa,
with its mosaic pavement leading through lemon gardens down to the sea,
and a little fountain bubbling up "as fresh as when its silver sounds
mixed with the deep voice of the orator sitting there in the stillness of
the noonday, devoting the siesta hours to study." FitzGerald replies with
letters full of affection; he sighs for Frederick's "Englishman's
humours"--for their old quarrels: "I mean quarrel in the sense of a good,
strenuous difference of opinion, supported on either side by occasional
outbursts of spleen. Come and let us try," he adds, "you used to irritate
my vegetable blood." "I constantly think of you," he writes, "and as I
have often sincerely told you, with a kind of love I feel towards but two
or three friends ... you, Spedding, Thackeray, and only one or two more."
And again: "It is because there are so few F. Tennysons in the world that
I do not like to be wholly out of hearing of the one I know.... I see so
many little natures that I must draw to the large."

All this time Frederick was writing verse and Fitz constantly urges him to
publish. "You are now the only man I expect verse from," he writes in
1850, after he had given Alfred up as almost wholly fallen from grace.
"Such gloomy, grand stuff as you write." Again: "We want some bits of
strong, genuine imagination.... There are heaps of single lines, couplets,
and stanzas that would consume the ----s and ----s like stubble."

Much of their correspondence is taken up with the discussion of music.
They both agree in placing Mozart above all other composers. Beethoven
they find too analytical and erudite. Original, majestic, and profound,
they acknowledge him, but at times bizarre and morbid.

"We all raved about Byron, Shelley, and Keats," wrote Frederick long
after, in 1885, "but none of them have retained their hold on me with the
same power as that little tone poet with the long nose, knee-breeches, and
pigtail." Indeed he was at different times told by two mediums that the
spirit of Mozart in these same knee-breeches and pigtail accompanied him,
invisibly to the eye of sense, as a familiar. Music was the passion of
Frederick Tennyson's life. It was said among his friends that when he
settled in Florence (as he did soon after 1850), he lived in a vast Hall
designed by Michael Angelo, surrounded by forty fiddlers, and he used to
improvise on a small organ until he was over eighty years of age.

    "After all," he wrote in 1874, "Music is the Queen of the Arts. What
    are all the miserable concrete forms into which we endeavour to throw
    'thoughts too deep for tears' or too rapturous for mortal mirth,
    compared with the divine, abstract, oceanic utterances of that voice
    which can multiply a thousandfold and exhaust in infinite echoes the
    passions that on canvas, in marble, or even in poesy (the composite
    style in aesthetics), so often leave us cold and emotionless! I
    believe Music to be as far above the other Arts as the affections of
    the soul above the rarest ingenuity of the perfect orator! Perhaps you
    are far from agreeing with me. Indeed the common charge brought
    against her by her sisters among the Pierides--and by the
    transcendentalists and philosophical Critics--is that She has no type
    like the other Arts on which to model her creations and to regulate
    her inspirations. I say her inexhaustible spring is the soul itself,
    and its fiery inmost--the chamber illuminated from the centre of
    Being--as the finest and most subtle ethers are begotten of, and flow
    nearest to the Sun."

Frederick lived at Florence till 1857 and found there, after years of
wandering, his first settled home. The idea of settling tickled his
humour, and in 1853 he writes: "I am a regular family man now with four
children (the last of whom promises to be the most eccentric of a humorous
set) and an Umbrella." In Florence he came in contact with Caroline Norton
and her son Brinsley, of the latter of whom he writes an amusing account:

    Young Norton has married a peasant girl of Capri, who, not a year ago,
    was scampering bare-footed and bare-headed over the rocks and shingles
    of that island. He has turned Roman Catholic among other
    accomplishments--being in search, he said, of a "graceful faith."...
    Parker has just published a volume of his which he entitled "Pinocchi:
    or Seeds of the Pine," meaning that out of this small beginning he,
    Brin, would emerge, like the pine, which is to be "the mast of some
    great Admiral," from its seedling. He is quite unable to show the
    applicability of this title, and, seeing that the book has been very
    severely handled in one of the periodicals under the head of "Poetical
    Nuisances," some are of opinion that "Pedocchi" would have been a more
    fitting name for it. However, to do him no injustice, he has sparks of
    genius, plenty of fancy and improvable stuff in him, and is, moreover,
    a young gentleman of that irrepressible buoyancy which, to use the
    language of the _Edinburgh Review_, "rises by its own rottenness...."
    As I said, he is not more than three-and-twenty, but is very much in
    the habit of commencing narrative in this manner: "In my young days
    when I used to eat off gold plate!" to which I reply, "Really a fine
    old gentleman like you should have more philosophy than to indulge in
    vain regrets."

    While we were located at Villa Brichieri, up drove one fine day the
    famous Caroline, his mother, who, not to speak of her personal
    attractions, is really, I should say, a woman of genius, if only
    judged by her novel, _Stuart of Dunleath_, which is full of deep
    pathos to me. I asked Brin one day what his mother thought of me. He
    stammers very much, and he said, "She th-th-th-thinks very well of
    you, but I d-d-don't think she likes your family." "Good heavens!
    here's news," I said. Well, afterwards she told me of having met
    Alfred at Rogers', and of having heard that he had taken a dislike to
    her. "Why, Mrs. Norton," I said, "that must be nearly thirty years
    ago, and do you harbour vindictive feelings so long?" "Oh!" she said,
    "why, I'm not thirty!"

    Again, one day we met her in a country house where we were invited to
    meet her, and soon after she had shaken hands with me she said, with a
    dubious kind of jocosity, "I should like to see all the Tennysons hung
    up in a row before the Villa Brichieri." Upon the whole, I thought her
    a strange creature, and she has not yet lost her beauty--a grand
    Zenobian style certainly, but, like many celebrated beauties, she
    seems to have won the whole world. Among other things she said in
    allusion to some incident, "What mattered it to me whether it was an
    old or a young man--I who all my life have made conquests?" It seemed
    to me that to dazzle in the great world was her principal ambition,
    and literary glory her second.[12]

But Frederick was too much of a man of moods to care for society. He used
to describe himself as a "person of gloomy insignificance and unsocial
monomania." Society he dismissed contemptuously as "Snookdom," and would
liken it gruffly to a street row. The "high-jinks of the high-nosed" (to
use another phrase of his) angered him, as did all persons "who go about
with well-cut trousers and ill-arranged ideas." The consequence was that
his acquaintance in Florence long remained narrow. In 1854, shortly after
the birth of his second son, he wrote:

    Sponsors I have succeeded in hooking, one in this manner: A friend of
    mine called yesterday and introduced a Mr. Jones. "Sir," said I,
    "happy to see you. Like to be a godfather?" "Really," he said, not
    quite prepared for the honour, "do my best." "Thank you, then I'll
    call for you on my way to the church"; so Mr. Jones was booked.

One hears, however, of a visit of Mrs. Sartoris (Adelaide Kemble) in 1854.
"I had not seen her for twenty years," writes Frederick; "she is grown
colossal, but all her folds of fat have not extinguished the love of music
in her." But one friendship which Frederick made in Florence was destined
to be a lifelong pleasure to him. In 1853 he writes:

    The Brownings I have but recently become acquainted with. They really
    are the very best people in the world, and a real treasure to that
    Hermit, a Poet. Browning is a wonderful man with inexhaustible memory,
    animal spirits, and bonhomie. He is always ready with the most apropos
    anecdote, and the happiest bon mot, and his vast acquaintance with
    out-of-the-way knowledge and the quaint Curiosity Shops of Literature
    make him a walking encyclopaedia of marvels. Mrs. B., who never goes
    out--being troubled like other inspired ladies with a chest--is a
    little unpretending woman, yet full of power, and, what is far better,
    loving-kindness; and never so happy as when she can get into the thick
    of mysterious Clairvoyants, Rappists, Ecstatics, and Swedenborgians.
    Only think of their having lived full five years at Florence with all
    these virtues hidden in a bushel to me!

In 1854 he published his first volume of verse, _Days and Hours_. The book
was, on the whole, well received. Charles Kingsley (whose early and
discriminating recognition of the merits of George Meredith places him
high among the critics of his day) wrote: "The poems are the work of a
finished scholar, of a man who knows all schools, who has profited more or
less by all, and who often can express himself, while revelling in
luxurious fancies, with a grace and terseness which Pope himself might
have envied." There was, however, a good deal of adverse criticism, and it
was probably mainly owing to his irritation at many of the strictures
(often futile enough) which were passed upon him at this time that he kept
silence for the next thirty-six years. At any rate, he was always ready to
the end of his life for a growl or a thunder at the critics.

In 1857 Frederick Tennyson left Florence and after spending some time in
Pisa and Genoa finally settled in Jersey, where he made his home for
nearly forty years. During all this period he maintained a regular and
detailed correspondence with Mrs. Brotherton, the wife of his friend
Augustus Brotherton, the artist, with whom he had begun to exchange
letters while still at Florence. His life was now a very quiet one, for,
except for an occasional visit to England, he never left home. His
children with their families visited him from time to time. His brother
Charles came with his wife to see him in 1867, as did the Brownings on
their way to Italy, and Alfred also paid him visits, the last of which was
in 1892. On the whole, however, his days, for one who had been so
passionately fond of travel and of a life of colour, warmth, and
excitement, were singularly peaceful. But he retained to the last his
astonishing vitality. His health remained tolerably good in spite of the
nervous irritability and reactions of melancholy which were inseparable
from the extraordinary energy and vivacity of his temperament. "Poor
Savile Morton used to stare at me with wonder," he writes. "'I cannot
conceive,' he said, 'how a man with such a stomach can be subject to
hypochondria.'" In 1867, at the age of sixty, he batted for an hour to his
nephew Lionel's bowling, hoping thereby to be able "to revive the cricket
habit," and his mind continued extraordinarily active; not a movement in
world politics or thought escaped him; he read voraciously and continued
to write verse in a rather desultory fashion. His appetite for beauty,
too, remained as keen as ever and even developed. "The longer I live," he
wrote in 1885, "the more delicate become my perceptions of beautiful
nature." And that appetite found ample food in the scenery of the bowery
island, the whole ambit of which, with its curling tree-tops and distant
lawny spaces dappled with sunshine and surrounded, as it seemed, by the
whole immensity of the globe, could be seen from a point near his house.

In his isolation, however, his active mind tended to become more and more
possessed by certain ideas, with which everything he read and heard was
brought into relation. While still at Florence he had (possibly under the
influence of Mrs. Browning) become greatly interested in the teachings of
Swedenborg and the phenomena of spiritualism which seemed to him a natural
development of Swedenborg's theories. At first he was apt to speak rather
lightly of spirit revelations. In 1852 he wrote to Alfred:

    "Powers the sculptor here, who is a Swedenborgian, says he once had a
    vision of two interwoven angels upon a ground of celestial azure
    clearly revealed to him by supernatural light after he had put out his
    candle and was lying awake in bed, and believes that these are only
    the beginning of wonders; the spirits themselves announce the dawn of
    a new time and the coming of the Millennium, and he firmly believes
    that all we now do by costly material processes will in the returning
    Golden Age of the world be accomplished for us by ministering spirits.
    'Thou shalt see the angels of heaven ascending and descending on the
    Son of man.' I go with him as far as to believe that these are
    spiritual revelations, but I confess I cannot accompany him in his
    belief in their beneficent intentions. God speaks to the heart of man
    by His Spirit, not thro' table legs; the miracles of Christ were of
    inestimable worth, but these unfortunate ghosts either drivel like
    schoolgirls or bounce out at once into the most shameful falsehoods,
    and by their actual presence, pretending to be in their final state,
    they seem to have for their object, tho' they carefully avoid touching
    on those subjects, to undermine in the hearts of Christians the
    spiritual doctrines of the Resurrection of the spiritual body and of
    the judgment to come. And the more effectually to unsettle the old
    Theology, the cant of these spirits is that God is a God of Love,
    Love, Love, continually repeated _ad nauseam_. So He is, but 'My
    thoughts are not your thoughts, nor My ways your ways,' 'He scourgeth
    every son that He receiveth,' 'He loveth those whom He chasteneth,'
    'it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,' 'the
    pitiful God trieth the hearts and the reins.' But these spirits, by
    for ever harping upon the Love of God in their insipid language, seem
    to me to be anxious to persuade us that He is a 'fine old country
    gentleman with large estate,' or something of that kind, seated in a
    deeply-cushioned armchair, and patting the heads of His rebellious
    children when they come whimpering to Him, yielding to anything in the
    shape of intercession, and, rather than that St. Joseph or any other
    saint should be offended, ready to admit a brigand into Heaven. So
    that I thoroughly distrust your spirits and expect no virtue will come
    out of them. They only seem to me last links in the chain of modern
    witchcrafts which will probably end with the Devil."[13] And a little
    later he writes: "Owen the Socialist and a host of infidels by a
    peculiar logical process of their own, after seeing a table in motion,
    instantly believe in the immortality of the Soul. To me it is
    astounding and even awful, that in this nineteenth century after
    Christ--whose resurrection of the body rests on as strong a ground of
    proof as many of the best attested historical events--men should be
    beginning again with that vague and unsatisfactory phantom of a creed
    which must have been old in the time of Homer."

It was not long before he became a complete convert to Swedenborgianism
and firmly convinced of the reality of the Spiritualistic phenomena with
which the press and literature of the day began to be flooded. Indeed at
one time he believed that spirits communicated with himself by a kind of
electrical ticking, which he was constantly hearing in his room at night,
and used at their dictation to do a certain amount of automatic writing.
The results, however, were so unsatisfactory that he was forced to
conclude the spirits to be of an evil and untrustworthy nature, and he
therefore abandoned the practice of spiritualism altogether. He remained,
however, convinced of the fact that living men were able to communicate
with the spirits of the departed, who had been able, since the end (in
1757) of the second dispensation (according to Swedenborg) and the
abolition of the intermediate state of purgatory which accompanied it, to
establish direct intercourse with our world, and he believed that this
rapid increase of communication was a sign of the approach of the kingdom
of heaven, that is to say, of the total abolition of all barriers between
the material and spiritual worlds, and the actual physical regeneration of
man in the Millennium predicted by Christ and the prophets. The natural
and political tumults of which the nineteenth century was so prolific
seemed to him to point in the same direction, and to fall in with the
prophecy of Daniel which he was never tired of quoting.

Frederick abandoned these views at the end of his life, but it is not
difficult to see how they came to acquire such a hold on him. He was
essentially a mystic and clung most fervently to the belief in a future
life, where all good things should be taken up into the spiritual life and

    "My daylight," he wrote in 1853, "is sombered by a natural instinct of
    unearthliness, a looking backwards and forwards for that sunny land
    which Imagination robes in unfailing Summer where no tears dim the
    Light, and no graves lie underneath our feet, by the side of which
    Riches, honors, even Health the first of blessings, all, in short,
    that is commonly called Happiness, looks cold and imperfect--while
    the great Shadow of Death fills up the distance, and the steps to it
    lie over withered garlands and dry bones." And again: "For an
    illustration of the bliss and delight of that higher state of being
    which under the influence of that Spirit-Sun shall hereafter rise
    daily to its appointed task, whatever that may be, with full heart and
    mind--I go back to 'the days that are no more,' when I used to dive
    into the sunny morn, rejoicing in my strength, refreshed with
    dreamless sleep 'like a giant with wine,' carrying my whole soul with
    me without fears or regrets, with a joy focussed like sunlight through
    a lens, on the infinite present moment! Such memories, tho' mournful,
    are blessed if they bring with them analogies of the 'Higher State to
    Be.' For the angel is but the infant sublimated--the rapture and the
    innocence, with the Wisdom and the Power adjoined, and crowned with
    Immortality! That is to say his will being in all things conformable
    to the Divine--he receives the divine influences which are heaven! And
    surely my unshakable belief is that all created beings--even those who
    have chosen the lowest Hell--will be eventually redeemed, exalted, and
    glorified--or there would be an Infinite Power of Good unable or
    unwilling to subdue Finite Evil."

His mind, however, was too independent to accept any of the creeds of
orthodoxy. He is perpetually thundering against the "frowzy diatribes of
black men with white ties--too often the only white thing about them" (one
can hear him rap out the parenthesis), and the "little papacies" that
dominate a country town or village. Rome he regarded with an excessive
hatred, and Oxford and Cambridge, twin homes of orthodoxy, did not escape
his wrath.

Indeed, he regarded most modern Christianity as a perversion of the
original truth, and Atheism in all its guises he hated with an even
greater bitterness, as the following letter shows:

    This, as you truly say, is the age of Atheism--both practical and
    professional. But it is not only Bradlaugh and Mrs. ---- who
    distinguish it as such--multitudes of most worthy and respectable
    people (in their own estimation) are classifiable under this
    category. Indeed all worldly people whose religion consists in saving
    appearances, all self-interested folk whose lives are passed in
    struggles with their neighbour for their own advantage--all such as
    wear down heart and mind and even physical well-being in the feverish
    ambition to pile up riches, not knowing who shall gather them or
    purely for the renown of possessing them. All ritualists who think
    they get to heaven by peculiar haberdashery, and intoning the prayers,
    which makes a farce of them by depriving them of articulate meaning.
    All believers in the vicarious atonement of faith alone, which creed
    signifies that all _has been done_ instead of all has _to be done_ for
    them. All who hurry to conventicles on Sunday with gilt-edged
    prayer-books, and begin on Monday morning to slander, ill-treat, or
    cheat their neighbours. In short all that excludes the spiritual from
    _this_ life--which generally indicates unbelief in any other and
    virtually denies the _necessity_, and therefore the existence, of a
    Divine Governor. All Professors ---- and ---- in Physical science, all
    Herbert Spencers, etc. in metaphysical--who arrive by different
    courses at the same conclusion, viz. that God is _unknowable_ [_sic_]
    and that therefore they need not take the trouble to know Him. All
    this is but Atheism virtual and avowed.

And materialism he considered little better than rank Atheism.

It was not unnatural, therefore, that he should have come to regard the
phenomena of spiritualism as the strongest evidence of those beliefs which
were to him more important than life itself, and, this conviction once
established, submission to the strange genius of Swedenborg followed
almost as a matter of course, for by his "science of correspondencies,"
the new phenomena seemed to fall naturally and inevitably into their
proper place in that strange dual scheme of spirit and matter into which
Swedenborg had resolved the Universe. When he had once embarked upon
Occultism, other curious beliefs followed in the train of these main
convictions. He became greatly impressed with the work of a certain Mr.
Melville who believed that he had rediscovered an ancient and long
forgotten method of reading the stars which was in fact the original
mystery of Freemasonry. Frederick took eagerly to this idea which seemed
to fall naturally into place with the Swedenborgian science of
correspondencies, and in 1872 he actually came to England with Mr.
Melville in the hope of being able to convince the Freemasons that all
modern Masonry with its boasted mysteries was futile and meaningless
without the key of Mr. Melville's discovery in which lay the true
explanation of all the masonic signs and symbols. Unfortunately an
interview with the Duke of Leinster, the then Grand Master, gave the two
apostles little satisfaction. It was on this visit that Frederick saw
FitzGerald for the last time, and the latter described him to Mrs. Kemble
as being "quite grand and sincere in this as in all else; with the Faith
of a gigantic child--pathetic and yet humorous to consider and consort

The influence of these ideas gradually coloured Frederick's view on all
current subjects. His years in Florence had been spent in the "hubbub of
imminent war," and he writes indignantly of "the rottenness of these
pitiable petty States and the incredible fantastic tricks of their
abominable rulers." None the less, though he hated and despised most
existing monarchies, he was too much imbued with the romance and dignity
of the past to look with a very favourable eye on revolution. At first he
dismissed Mazzini as "deserving a hempen collar with Nana Sahib and the
King of Delhi," an opinion which the experience of later years compelled
him to reverse. The story of nineteenth-century Europe seemed to him
chaos, but it was the chaos which was to precede the new spiritual
dispensation, and political prejudice never hindered him from the true
appreciation of progress. Thus he writes in 1869:

    It is certain that Evil has never been more rampant than during the
    last century--witness the great French Revolution, subsequent wars,
    minor revolutions, and minor wars throughout the globe, the hundreds
    of millions wasted on warlike machinery, the countless numbers of
    young men sacrificed to the fiends of ambition and racial jealousy,
    society honeycombed with frauds, conspiracies, and class animosities,
    etc. etc. On the other hand, never has knowledge of all kinds been
    more progressive, never have the Arts and Sciences and Literature been
    so rapidly multiplied and so various. Never were charitable
    institutions more widely extended or practically beneficent. Never, in
    short, were the researches into all kinds of truths, especially those
    which concern the relations of man to God and his neighbour, more
    earnest, and if this seems to contradict the notorious fact that we
    are living at present in a world of Atheism and Materialism--which is
    the same thing--it does not really do so, for the two movements,
    though separate, are parallel and simultaneous. In short, "The Time of
    the End" is a transitional state--which will eventually issue in the
    triumph of Good over Evil once and for ever.

France he always hated as the leader of materialism, and he would repeat
with a snort of disgust the remark of M. Bert, who, during the debate in
the Chamber on the secularization of Education, observed that it was
superfluous to exclude what did not exist. The debacle of 1870 seemed a
just if tragic retribution.

    "One cannot help, however," he wrote on October 19, 1870, "feeling for
    beautiful Paris as one would for a Marie Antoinette passing on her way
    to execution. There she is in her solitude and in her beauty. Around
    her a circle of iron and fire--within her a restless seething of
    tumultuous passions embittering the present--her future a prospect of
    burning and famine. Such a downfall is unparalleled in history, and
    the agonies of her expiration--if things are carried to their bitter
    end--promise to equal those of the terrible siege of Jerusalem."

As might be expected, he tended to Conservatism in politics; Home Rule was
anathema, and Disraeli, endeared to him as the possible leader of a
United Israel, he regarded as a sincerer statesman than Gladstone. None
the less he was able to applaud Gladstone's action on the occasion of the
Bulgarian atrocities, though "even he" seemed to have yielded so much

    ... to the delicacies and squeamish sensibility, and fluttering nerves
    of a lolling generation--an age of sofas and carpets--the rousing of
    which even in the justest of causes, the vindication of the rights of
    unoffending humanity outraged by savages in comparison with whom
    niggers and Red Indians are angels, is not to be attempted without
    careful thought--and though a great cry has gone through the land I
    fear there will be little wool. There is, however, one
    consolation--neither Turkey, nor Egypt, nor any ruffian with a bundle
    of dirty clothes upon his head instead of a hat, will ever get another
    farthing of _our_ money.

None the less he hated a bigoted Toryism, and thought that "a proper
democratic spirit which aims at a reconstruction of society on the
principle of 'each for all and all for each,' the correlation of
privileges and duties, worth and honour, wealth and charity (in its best
sense), the substitution of altruism for egoism, ought to find its echo in
every loyal heart--and would in fact be the very 'end of Sin, and bringing
in of the Everlasting Righteousness' foretold."

In literature, too, his mind--in spite of an occasional failure to
recognize individual genius--was remarkably alive to the progressive
movements of the day. Indeed, for a man so steeped in classicism, his
freedom from prejudice was remarkable. Browning's poetry, however, in
spite of his affection for the author, he could never appreciate. He wrote
to Mrs. Brotherton:

    "What you say of Browning's _Ring and the Book_," he says, soon after
    the publication of that work, "I have no doubt is strictly applicable,
    however slashing.... I confess, however, that I have never had the
    courage to read the book. He is a great friend of mine.... But it
    does not follow that I should put up with obsolete horrors, and
    unrhythmical composition. What has come upon the world that it should
    take any metrical (?) arrangement of facts for holy Poesy? It has been
    my weakness to believe that the Fine Arts and Imaginative Literature
    should do something more than astonish us by _tours de force_, black
    and white contrasts, outrageous inhumanities, or anything criminally
    sensational, or merely intellectually potent. As you say a good heart
    is better than a clever head, so I say better a page of feeling than a
    volume of spasms. Spasms, I fear, is the order of the day. The late
    Lord Robertson, a legal celebrity at Edinburgh, pleading on behalf of
    some one, said, with his serious face, which was more tickling than
    the happiest efforts of Pantaloon: 'We are bound to respect his
    feelings as a man and a butcher.' Here the man and the butcher are
    bound up in one. Now, in Browning's case, I separate the man from the
    butcher. I have nothing to say to him in his blue apron and steel by
    his side, but if I meet him in plain clothes I honour him as a
    gentleman." And in 1885 he writes: "The Public, it would seem, is
    beginning to rouse itself to a perception of the unreliability of the
    Browningian school--I have seen several articles on that subject. How
    is it that it has never struck his partisans that the probability of
    one man being so infinitely superior to his contemporaries as to be
    totally unintelligible to them--is infinitely small?

    "One thing appears to me certain in Browning, that all his
    performances are pure _brain-work_--whatever that may be worth--but as
    for the 'divine heat of temperament,' where is it? I can find nothing
    but the inextricably hard and the extravagantly fantastical. On such
    diet I cannot live."

Nevertheless, it was always the future of Art, not its past, which stirred
his interest, and a letter of his written in 1885, when he was
seventy-eight, shows a youth and vitality of mind truly remarkable in one
whose life had been so cloistered.

    "There can never," he says, "be a second Shakespeare, that is to say,
    given a man of equal Genius he cannot in this complex and analytical
    age of Literature embody himself in the metrical and dramatic form if
    his purpose is to 'hold up the mirror to Nature, and to give the Time
    its form and pressure.' The form of prose fiction is a vastly greater
    one, indeed it may be termed all-comprehensive, and admits of the
    introduction of lyric or epic verse, in all varieties, as well as the
    profoundest analysis of character and motive, and is susceptible of
    the highest range of eloquence and unrhythmical poetry, and whatever
    it may lose in metrical melody (which, however, is not greatly
    regarded in dramatic dialogue) it gains immeasurably in its other
    elements. All things considered, I am of opinion that if a man were
    endowed with such faculties as Shakespeare's, they would be more
    freely and effectively exercised in prose fiction with its wider
    capabilities than when 'cribbed, cabined, and confined' in the
    trammels of verse."

It may be that the very remoteness of his life was in part the cause of
this lasting freshness and freedom of his mind. He lived so far from the
world as to be almost entirely removed from any bias of self-interest--the
most fruitful source of prejudice. Ambition played no part in his life.

    "Once," he wrote in 1888, "I used to have some ambition--that is when
    I was a boy at school--I verily believe that at that early age I
    exhausted the demoniacal passion which chains you to fixed purposes
    like a Prometheus and preys upon you like a Vulture. Though many great
    works have been accomplished under the spur of this (so-called) noble
    passion, think how much chaotic rubbish has been projected into Space
    and Time which ought to have been imprisoned to Eternity--how many
    heart-burnings, jealousies, and disappointments--how often the love of
    the Beautiful and True is entirely subordinated to that of mere
    distinction to be won at any cost. How seldom do we hear writers of
    the same school speak well of one another. Especially poisonous are
    poets, I think, wherever they apprehend a rival--Honey-suckers like
    the Bee, they know how to use their stings even while sipping the
    flowers. The unambitious man is at any rate free to use his eyes, to
    walk up to and contemplate in the pure clear air and solitude of his
    mountain-top the face and form of Nature, and like Turner a-fishing,
    see wonderful effects never to be come at by the hosts of those who
    get on (or off) by copying one another. I daresay you will disapprove
    all this and attribute it to indolent epicurism.

    "Latterly since the supernatural and the Future Life, and its
    conditions 'such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it
    entered into the heart of man to conceive,' have occupied and absorbed
    my whole soul to the exclusion of almost every subject which the
    Gorillas of this world most delight in, whether scientific, political,
    or literary--I have been led to see what men in general consider a
    proper use of their stewardship, _i.e._ ruin of body and soul by
    inordinate superhuman struggles for supremacy--Samson-like heavings to
    upset the neighbour, or supplant him--carbonic acid-breathing
    creepings along the dark floors of stifling caverns such as may enable
    them to scrape together a preponderance of a certain mineral, etc.
    etc.--as the most lamentable examples of Phrenitis--arising simply
    from the ineradicable instinct--of Immortality it is true, but
    misplaced Immortality--Immortality in this life."

The death of his wife in 1880 was a severe blow to him.

    "In answer to your kind letters of sympathy," he wrote to Mr. and Mrs.
    Brotherton, "I can say but little. Sorrow such as mine when it falls
    upon the aged is virtual paralysis, mental and bodily. I know not what
    I may do for the brief period remaining to me in this world. At
    present my daughter-in-law attends to household matters, and I still
    have the presence of children and grandchildren to remind me that I am
    not left entirely desolate. But my chief consolation is that the
    beloved of my youth and the friend of my age is already risen, and has
    cast off the burthen of her mortal cares and pains, and my only hope
    that, God willing, I may follow quickly."

A great but less tremendous shock to him was the death in 1887 of his
sister Emily, once the betrothed of Arthur Hallam. On this occasion he
sent the following lines to his friend:

  Farewell, dear sister, thou and I
  Will meet no more beneath the sky:
  But in the high world where thou art
  Mind speaks to Mind, and Heart to Heart,
  Not in faint wavering tones, but heard
  As twin sweet notes that sound accord.
  Thy dwelling in the Angel sphere
  Looks forth on a sublimer whole,
  Where all that thou dost see and hear
  Is in true concord with thy soul--
  A great harp of unnumbered strings
  Answering to one voice that sings:
  Where thousand blisses spring and fade
  Swiftly, as in diviner dream,
  And inward motions are portrayed
  In outward shows that move with them:
  After the midnight and dark river
  No more to be o'erpast for ever.
  Behold the lover of thy youth,
  That spirit strong as Love and Truth,
  Many a long year gone before,
  Awaits thee on the sunny shore:
  In that high world of endless wonder
  Nor Space, nor Time can hold asunder
  Twin souls--as Space and Time have done--
  Whom kindest instincts orb in One.

It was inevitable that the later years of one so aged and so solitary
should be more and more filled with the chronicle and anticipation of
death. But he never sank into lethargy, as the following letter, written
in his eighty-first year, shows:

    My own sorrow is indeed continually revived by memories continually
    reawakened, not only by the comparatively recent occurrence of my own
    temporarily final separation from my best friend--but also by that
    bird's-eye--so to speak--retrospect, which carries the imagination
    over lovely landscapes of the days of youth--out of the golden morning
    light of which emerge, in that unaccountable manner which is quite
    involuntary, even the most trivial circumstances--moments of no
    moment--yet somehow clothed in a more glittering light than the vast
    tracts drowned in the general splendour of the dawn, some tiny
    pinnacle that reflects the sun, some far off rillet that gushes out
    from the wayside.

Even when in his eighty-fourth year his sight began to fail him and the
loss drove him still more back into his inner life, the old eagerness of
mind remained, though finding a melancholy occupation in noting the
changes to which age was daily subjecting his mental and physical
constitution. The note of hope is, however, ineradicable:

    An old man of my great age is already dead--old age being the only
    Death--and the faculties which I once possessed receive no impulse, as
    of old, for activity--no joyous inspiration. The intellect is cold and
    frozen like the mountain streams in Winter, a moonless midnight; and
    were it not for the increasing illumination of the immortal spirit
    which already beholds the dawn of a greater Day beyond the mountains,
    I should indeed be desolate, lost! For I am 84 years of age next
    June--and in looking back through my long life--it often seems to me
    like a dream--many movements, intellectual and physical, seem to me
    like impossibilities. When I see my little grandson Charlie skipping
    and hear him shouting and singing, and the light-limbed and
    light-hearted girls darting like living lightning down the staircase
    (which if I were to attempt to imitate I should undoubtedly break my
    neck), I say to myself, is it possible that I can ever have been like
    them? Alas! for old age. What can be more mournful than a retrospect
    of the days of childhood? But a truce to solemn thoughts--the Spring
    is come again, the leaves are unfolding, the birds are singing, the
    sun is shining, and surely, next to the human countenance, this is the
    most lovely emblem, the most beautiful representative material of
    inner spiritualities and the resurrection, and ought to have been so
    regarded since the dawn of Christianity; for as sure as Winter
    blossoms into Summer, the Winter of old age will spring into the
    Eternal Life. Fear not, hope all things! What a contrast to these
    consoling aspirations is presented in the touching fragment of the old
    Greek poet Moschus which no doubt expresses the scepticism of the
    ancient world--I give a free translation:

        Aye, aye the garden mallows, mint and thyme
        When they have wither'd in the winter clime,
        After a little space do reappear,
        And live again and see another year:
        But we, the brave, the noble, and the wise,
        When once for all pale Death hath closed our eyes,
        Sink into dread oblivion dark and deep,
        The everlasting, never-waking sleep.

With the approach of death he seemed to himself to undergo a kind of
physical regeneration.

    "Apropos to spiritual matters," he writes in 1890, "I have had
    recently for several consecutive days some very strange experiences.
    One morning I awoke and seemed to have lost my natural memory. Objects
    daily presented to me for years seemed no longer familiar as of
    old--but as when a man after years of travel returning to his home and
    the chamber he formerly occupied takes some time and labour of thought
    to bring back to his recollection the whereabouts of objects once (as
    it were) instinctively known to him--I had the same difficulty in
    recovering my relations to my own surroundings. And this for days was
    supplemented by a strange sense of having been far away and conversant
    with wonderful things--movements and tumults--which only immeasurable
    distance deadened to my perception like great music borne away by the
    wind. Ever and anon there flashed up within me what I can only
    describe symbolically as Iridescences of feeling as when the prismatic
    colours of a rainbow succeed one another, or the coloured lights in
    Pyrotechnics cause objects in midnight darkness to assume their own
    hues. But all this, wonderful though it may seem, is not the only
    change that has come upon me--I am happy to say that simultaneously
    with these phenomena a revolution in my spiritual economy of far
    greater moment has, I believe, taken place. I have always prayed for
    that regeneration, or second birth ('Thou must be born again,' said
    the Lord to Nicodemus), to be shielded from selfhood--and as the
    divine answer to such prayers continually repeated, I can declare,
    without any self-delusion, that the answer has actually been a
    sensible change in the nature of my affections. Never have I felt
    towards those around me, such tender inclinations, such earnest desire
    to do them all possible good regardless of self-interest, such a
    spirit of forgiveness of any wrongs; and my earnest prayerful
    thankfulness for such inestimable benefits has been invariably
    acknowledged by that Voice from the Lord Himself by which He has
    repeatedly ratified to my spiritual ear His promise of blessing and
    the continuation thereof--and that 'Thou hast nothing to fear, for I
    am with thee night and day, body and soul!' Think of this! But for
    God's sake do not attribute these statements of mine, which are
    comprehended in a period of many years, to self-delusion or
    self-righteousness. God knows, from whom nothing is hid, that I have
    never approached Him except in the spirit of profound humility and
    self-condemnation, and the answer has always been, 'Thou hast nothing
    to fear. I am with thee.'"

As age settled upon him the violence of many of his views abated. His
faith in Spiritualism and Swedenborgianism lost their hold on him and gave
way to a more philosophic condition of mind. His activity, however,
continued unabated. In 1890, after a silence of thirty-six years, he
published his _Isles of Greece_, and the success of the volume encouraged
him to give to the world two others, _Daphne and other Poems_ in 1891, and
_Poems of the Day and Year_ (in which were included some of the verses
contained in the volume of 1854) in 1898. In 1896 he left Jersey to join
his eldest son, Captain Julius Tennyson, in whose house in Kensington he
died on February 26, 1898.

It would be difficult to imagine two persons more strongly contrasted in
life and character than Frederick and Charles. Charles (who was always
Alfred's favourite brother) had nothing of the powerful, erratic,
tempestuous mind of his elder brother. One does not think of him, as
FitzGerald did of Frederick, as a being born for the warmth and glow of
the South, yet in appearance he was (like Alfred) far more Southern than
the eldest brother. So Spanish were his swarthy complexion, brown eyes,
and curly, dark hair, that Thackeray, meeting him in middle age, called
him a "Velasquez _tout craché_." Like Alfred, too, he had a magnificent
deep bass voice; and even in dress the two brothers seem to have
maintained their affinity, for Charles used to wear a soft felt hat and
flowing black cloak much like those which the Millais portrait has
identified with his brother, and these garments, with the addition of
white cuffs, which he wore turned back over his coat sleeves, intensified
the strangely foreign effect of his appearance. But the kinship of the
two brothers extended beyond purely physical resemblance. They remained
inseparable companions till Charles was ordained, and there was hardly a
taste possessed by either which the other did not share. They read,
played, and rambled together; both were extremely fond of dancing (one of
Charles's last Sonnets was "On a County Ball") and were much sought after
as partners at the balls of their countryside. The _Poems by Two
Brothers_, which were almost entirely the work of Alfred and Charles,
while displaying the differing qualities of each, were a joint production,
the fruit of common reading and common enthusiasm. Both the brothers were
regarded by their contemporaries at Cambridge as destined to achieve
poetical greatness. Both possessed the unwearying patience of the
craftsman, the same devotion to science and the same power of close and
loving observation. Charles, however, lacked the fire and energy of
temperament which made Frederick's character remarkable and was to a great
extent shared by Alfred. With all Alfred's sensitiveness and shrinking
from society, he had little of that sympathetic and passionate interest in
the hopes and achievements of their age which drove the younger brother
ever more and more into public life.


Nothing quieter and less eventful than Charles Tennyson's life can well be
imagined. He was ordained in 1835 (three years after taking his degree)
and immediately obtained a Curacy at Tealby. In the same year he became
Vicar of Grasby, a small village in the Lincolnshire wolds between Caistor
and Brigg.

In the following year he married Louisa Sellwood, whose sister was to
become Alfred's wife, and from that time until just before his death on
April 25, 1879, his life, save for an occasional holiday and too frequent
lapses from health, knew little variation. Like all the Tennysons, Charles
was of a nervous temperament, and this condition often induced acute
suffering. So severe indeed was his struggle with this disorder and the
still more perilous condition which resulted from it that at one time,
soon after his marriage, he was compelled to leave his parish for some
months in search of strength. Throughout these trying interludes the
devotion of his wife, a woman of great humour and power of mind and
character, was of the utmost service to him. Indeed, his debt to her was
great at all times of his life. She would often act almost as a curate to
him in the straggling parish, tirelessly visiting and nursing the sick (a
duty which they both unflinchingly observed even in the epidemics of
small-pox which were then frequent), keeping all his accounts, both
personal and parochial, and even sometimes writing his sermons. The
devotion of the pair was remarkable, retaining a certain youthful ardour
to the end, and when Charles died his wife was carried to the grave within
a month.

As early as 1830, Charles had published a small volume of sonnets, which
(as is well known) earned the hearty commendation of Coleridge and Leigh
Hunt. As in the case of Frederick, however, there followed a prolonged
silence, the next volume not making its appearance till 1864; others
followed in 1868 and 1873, and all were collected and republished, with a
sage, benevolent, and affectionate Introduction by his friend James
Spedding, in 1880. The reason for this long silence was a slightly
different one from that which was responsible for Frederick's
intermission. In both cases, no doubt, the feeling that it would be
impertinent for another person of the name of Tennyson to put his work
before the public had some influence. In Charles's case, however, there
were further considerations. The violent shock which his health sustained
by that prolonged early illness and his subsequent troubles to some extent
numbed his powers. "The edge of thought was blunted by the stress of the
hard world," and the same cause probably increased his natural modesty
till it became almost morbid. He was perpetually haunted by the fear that
his poetry was not original, and the only word of satisfaction which
Spedding ever heard him use of any of his sonnets was with regard to one
which owed its origin to a period of deep affliction, of which the poet
said that he thought it was good because he _knew_ it to be true. Whatever
the cause, however, during these thirty-four years Charles Turner
published nothing and, indeed, hardly even wrote anything. Spedding, in
his Introduction, has collected a few fragments which were gathered from
the poet's notebooks, and show that his mind still occasionally noted a
stray simile or description, doubtless intended to be subsequently worked
up into a poem. A few of these are in his happiest manner. One may quote
the following picture of goldfish in a glass bowl:

  As though King Midas did the surface touch,
  Constraining the clear water to their change
  With shooting motions and quick trails of light.
  Now a rich girth and then a narrow gleam,
  And now a shaft and now a sheet of gold.

and the lines on the opening of the tomb of Charlemagne:

  They rove the marble where the ancient King,
  Like one forspent with sacred study sate,
  Robed like a King, but as a scholar pale.

His mind, too, was always working in the same direction on his rambles
about the countryside, and he would sometimes, when walking with Agnes
Weld, "the little, ambling, stile-clearing niece," who was often his
guest, hit on some phrase which took his fancy and was imparted to his
companion, who remembers his description of the slanting light-bars on a
cloudy day as "the oars of the golden Galley of the sun," and many another
phrase as happy as any of the homely and perfect touches in his published

But though these years were barren of actual output, they were of value in
many ways, and not the least as a period of incubation, for many a phrase
or idea first formed in them was subsequently perfected and published. The
intermission, too, left him freer to study and to labour among his
parishioners. At the beginning and end of his life, poetry occupied a
great deal of his time, for each of his sonnets, in spite of their
apparent facility, was the result of much toil. He would work at the same
lines morning after morning, and read the results aloud to his wife, or
niece, or other companion after dinner, the same poem going through a
great succession of forms. A letter to Miss Weld, in answer to some
suggestion of a subject connected with the then recent excavations at
Mycenae, shows his method of work and something of the manifold interests
of his secluded life:

    "I never can undertake to work to order," he writes, "though the order
    comes from the dearest of customers. If I get a good hold of that
    poor, noble, nodding head I will put him on board of a respectable
    sonnet and try to save his memory from drowning.... Mycenae is a very
    exciting subject, but I have Kelsey Moor Chapel to write on--a
    commission from Mrs. Townsend ... and a poor dead dog haunts me" (see
    Sonnet 97--Collected Edition).

During these barren years Charles Turner's devotion to his parochial work
was intense. Grasby was a somewhat barbarous village when he obtained the
living. Belief in witchcraft was still rife, and one of the popular charms
against its influence was to cut a sheep in half, put the body on a
scarlet cloth, and walk between the pieces. Such religion as there was
among the poor was of a rather harsh spirit, as may be seen from an
anecdote preserved by Miss Weld of an old cottager, who, hearing Mrs.
Turner mention the name of Hobbes, exclaimed to his wife: "Why, loovey,
that's the graate Hobbes that's in hell!" The climate, too, was as harsh
as the character of the people, for the village stands high and bleak.
Friends remember Louisa Turner going about her ministrations in clogs, and
during one particularly sharp winter she writes: "I am in a castle now of
double cotton wool petticoat and thick baize drawers and waistcoat." The
Turners soon found it necessary to leave the house at Caistor, three miles
off, where Sam Turner, Charles's uncle, the preceding vicar, had lived,
for the distance made any real intimacy with the people impossible.
Charles had inherited a small property from his uncle (the event was the
occasion of his change of name), and this made it possible for him to
build a new vicarage and to further enrich the village with new schools
and a new church. He also took the very practical step of buying the
village inn and putting it in charge of a reliable servant, a scheme
which, for a time at least, had excellent effects on the temperance of the

There were no children of the marriage, but the pair adopted the children
of the whole village, opening their house and grounds to them for
Christmas trees and summer festivities. Children and animals were always
devoted to Charles Turner, as he to them. He was, as the villagers said,
"Strangen gone upon birds and things." He never shot after that tragedy of
the swallow which he never forgot (see Sonnet 200), and birds of every
kind flocked to him daily as he fed them on his lawn. Flowers and trees,
too, he loved almost as keenly as he did children. He quarrelled seriously
with one of his curates whom he found exorcising the flowers, which were
to be used for church decoration, by means of the service contained in the
Directorium Anglicanum, maintaining stoutly that if any spirits dwelt in
flowers they must be angels and not devils. His garden was a jungle of
old-fashioned flowers, golden-rod, sweet-william, convolvulus, and rose of
Sharon; figs and apricots ripened on his walls, and the house was covered
with roses, honeysuckle, white clematis, and blue ceanothus. The grounds,
too, boasted some fine timber, which Charles never would allow to be
pruned or cut, even permitting the willow-props to outgrow and destroy the
rose trees (Sonnet 270), and once, when it was proposed to fell some large
trees within sight of his house, he threatened to throw up his living and
leave Grasby.

In this peaceful world Charles found plenty to occupy his time. He saw
little of society except when Alfred or Frederick, or one of his old
college friends, came to visit him, and the resources of the neighbourhood
were strained to the utmost to afford them entertainment. He found,
however, a congenial companion in Mr. Townsend, a neighbouring clergyman
of wide culture much interested in science. And the care of his parish
occupied the greater part of his time. Theology, too, was a favourite
study with him. He began life as an Evangelical, but in later years tended
(partly under the influence of his wife, who would often, on the vigil of
a saint, spend half the night on her knees) more and more towards the High

    "I have been reading," he wrote to Alfred in 1865, "Pusey's _Daniel
    the Prophet_, which (thank God) completely--as I think and as very
    many will think with me--disposes of the rickety and crotchety
    arguments of those who vainly thought they had found a [Greek: pou
    stô] in him whereby to upheave all prophecy and miracle. It is a noble
    book from its learning and its logic. I knew he was a holy and
    noble-minded and erudite man, but for some reason I had not credited
    him with such 'act offence' and powers of righteous satire.... I have
    never in my old desultory reading days found such a charm and interest
    as in the study of the Queen Science, as Trench calls Theology, and
    those who assume that they will find there no food for the mature
    reason will be surprised at its large provision for the intellect and
    rich satisfaction of the highest imagination. It is reading round
    about a subject and not the subject itself which damages the intellect
    so much. Maurice said the study of the Prophets had saved him from the
    Tyranny of books."

He and his wife also spent much time in the study of Italian, in which
they were assisted by their occasional visits to and from the Frederick
Tennysons. Charles's Italian Grammar is annotated with numberless quaint
rhymes made to fix its rules in his memory. On one page one finds in his
wonderfully neat fluent hand (strangely like those of Frederick and

  From use of the following is no ban,
      "The fair of the fair is Mistress Ann"
  or "Smith's a learned, learned man"
  In English or Italian,
      Though the English use is far less common
      Speaking of Doctor or fine woman.

On another:

  Say profeta, profeti
  Or else I shall bate ye.

On another a couplet which has all the subtle romance of Edward Lear:

  Rare and changeless, firm and few,
  Are the Italian nouns in U.

The life at Grasby Vicarage was of the simplest. The hall-floor rattled
with loose tiles, the furniture was reduced to the barest necessities.
Breakfast and lunch were movable feasts, for Charles had all a poet's
carelessness of time, lingering over morning prayers while his agonized
guest saw the bacon cooling to the consistency of marble before his eyes,
and prolonging his mid-day walk to such distances in the study of flower
and bird and butterfly that it sometimes took a half-hour's tolling of the
outdoor bell to recall him. The cook (who in times of scarcity was at the
service of the whole village) must have led a life of irritation, yet
servants stayed long at the Vicarage.

This sweet, even life knew little variety. The days of quiet service
filled the year, and were succeeded by evenings no less quiet in the
book-lined study, or, if the season were warm, in the hayfield near the
house, where husband and wife would sit reading and talking to each other
till the evening glow died away and left the haycocks and the steep side
of the wold, which backed the red-brick Vicarage, gray and cold and

Troubles they had beyond the recurrent anxiety for Charles's health. A
rascally agent, a man of great plausibility and charm of manner, pillaged
them for some years, and they were only able to recover a portion of his
plunderings (most of which Charles subsequently devoted to the repair of
the church) after a great deal of trouble. It is characteristic that in
after years they always spoke of this gentleman as though _he_ had been
the person who had suffered most in the transaction and deserved most
pity. Charles was indeed possessed of an almost saintly patience, and no
crisis could ever wring from him any ejaculation more forcible than a
half-humorous "I wish we were all in heaven." His wife's letters
occasionally give us glimpses of days when the wish must often have been
upon his lips, as when he was reluctantly compelled to join in a
Harvest-Festival gathering in another parish. First of all we read how
"poor Cubbie" (his wife's pet name for him) "was caught and dressed in a
surplice which hung about him like a clothes bag." "Then he must join in a
procession, with much singing and chanting, and then read the lessons in
spite of a bad cold and hoarseness, and finally at the end of the day, in
the full hubbub of a garden party, at which all the neighbourhood were
present in their finery (poor Cubbie!), a cannon, which had been charged
with blank cartridge for the occasion, went off unexpectedly and knocked
down three boys who were standing in front of it. The boys, whose clothes
were torn to rags and their faces burnt black, shrieked as though in the
death agony, women fainted and men stampeded--and Cubbie 'wished we were
all in heaven.'"

But Charles Turner's poems are, after all, the best mirror of his life.
With Frederick it is otherwise. In spite of his great lyric gift,
Frederick lacked the persistence and enthusiasm necessary for full
self-expression. The want of proportion, which gave his ardent, erratic
personality so much charm, prevented his longer poems being really
successful. In spite of much beauty of phrase and richness of feeling,
they lack architecture and have not sufficient unity to make them vital.
Had he continued to work at lyrical writing after his first volume, he
might have avoided falling into the desultory method, which marred his
later work, and left a really large body of first-class poetry.

In the best of Charles's Sonnets, in all, that is, which spring from his
daily experience, there breathes a spirit perpetually quickened by the
beauty and holiness of common life and common things, an imagination which
saw a life and a purpose not only in the ways of men and of all wild
creatures and growing things, but in the half-human voice of the buoy-bell
ringing on the shoals, the sad imprisoned heart-beat of the water-ram in
the little wood-girt field, the welcome of the sunbeam in the copse
running through the yielding shade to meet the wanderer, in the "mystic
stair" of the steam thrashing-machine:

  Accepting our full harvests like a God
  With clouds about his shoulders.

and the "mute claim" of the old rocking-horse:

  In the dim window where disused, he stands
  While o'er him breaks the flickering limewalks' shade;
  No provender, no mate, no groom has he--
  His stall and pasture is your memory.[14]

But in spite of the intimate correspondence between Charles Turner's life
and his art, an intimacy which only the seclusion of that life made
possible, one cannot help regretting that fortune did not force upon him
some calling which would have afforded a progressive stimulus to his
creative powers. These years of devotion amongst the bleak hill-sides and
flowery dingles of his remote parish did for him what a life of ease and
sunshine did for Frederick. Both had great talents, but neither the tender
felicity of Charles nor Frederick's heart of cloud and fire ever came to
full development. They represent two extremes of the Tennyson temperament,
the mean and perfection of which is found in Alfred. In the elder the
lyric fury, in the younger the craftsman's humility of the more perfect
poet were developed to excess, and both suffered for the affection and
respect in which they held him whom they knew to be their master. Yet each
has left himself a monument, some part at least of which is worthy to rank
with the more complete achievement of their younger brother.


[Illustration: A. H. H. Obiit 1833.]


  I past beside the reverend walls
      In which of old I wore the gown;
      I roved at random thro' the town,
  And saw the tumult of the halls;

  And heard once more in college fanes
      The storm their high-built organs make,
      And thunder-music, rolling, shake
  The prophet blazon'd on the panes;

  And caught once more the distant shout,
      The measured pulse of racing oars
      Among the willows; paced the shores
  And many a bridge, and all about

  The same gray flats again, and felt
      The same, but not the same; and last
      Up that long walk of limes I past
  To see the rooms in which he dwelt.

  Another name was on the door:
      I linger'd; all within was noise
      Of songs, and clapping hands, and boys
  That crash'd the glass and beat the floor;

  Where once we held debate, a band
      Of youthful friends, on mind and art,
      And labour, and the changing mart,
  And all the framework of the land;

  When one would aim an arrow fair,
      But send it slackly from the string;
      And one would pierce an outer ring,
  And one an inner, here and there;

  And last the master-bowman, he,
      Would cleave the mark. A willing ear
      We lent him. Who, but hung to hear
  The rapt oration flowing free

  From point to point, with power and grace
      And music in the bounds of law,
      To those conclusions when we saw
  The God within him light his face,

  And seem to lift the form, and glow
      In azure orbits heavenly-wise;
      And over those ethereal eyes
  The bar of Michael Angelo.



  The wind, that beats the mountain, blows
      More softly round the open wold,
  And gently comes the world to those
      That are cast in gentle mould.

  And me this knowledge bolder made,
      Or else I had not dared to flow
  In these words toward you, and invade
      Even with a verse your holy woe.

  'Tis strange that those we lean on most,
      Those in whose laps our limbs are nursed,
  Fall into shadow, soonest lost:
      Those we love first are taken first.

  God gives us love. Something to love
      He lends us; but, when love is grown
  To ripeness, that on which it throve
      Falls off, and love is left alone.

  This is the curse of time. Alas!
      In grief I am not all unlearn'd;
  Once thro' mine own doors Death did pass;
      One went, who never hath return'd.

  He will not smile--not speak to me
      Once more. Two years his chair is seen
  Empty before us. That was he
      Without whose life I had not been.

  Your loss is rarer; for this star
      Rose with you thro' a little arc
  Of heaven, nor having wander'd far
      Shot on the sudden into dark.

  I knew your brother; his mute dust
      I honour and his living worth:
  A man more pure and bold and just
      Was never born into the earth.

  I have not look'd upon you nigh,
      Since that dear soul hath fall'n asleep.
  Great Nature is more wise than I:
      I will not tell you not to weep.

  And tho' mine own eyes fill with dew,
      Drawn from the spirit thro' the brain,
  I will not even preach to you,
      "Weep, weeping dulls the inward pain."

  Let Grief be her own mistress still.
      She loveth her own anguish deep
  More than much pleasure. Let her will
      Be done--to weep or not to weep.

  I will not say, "God's ordinance
      Of Death is blown in every wind";
  For that is not a common chance
      That takes away a noble mind.

  His memory long will live alone
      In all our hearts, as mournful light
  That broods above the fallen sun,
      And dwells in heaven half the night.

  Vain solace! Memory standing near
      Cast down her eyes, and in her throat
  Her voice seem'd distant, and a tear
      Dropt on the letters as I wrote.

  I wrote I know not what. In truth,
      How _should_ I soothe you anyway,
  Who miss the brother of your youth?
      Yet something I did wish to say:

  For he too was a friend to me:
      Both are my friends, and my true breast
  Bleedeth for both; yet it may be
      That only silence suiteth best.

  Words weaker than your grief would make
      Grief more. 'Twere better I should cease
  Although myself could almost take
      The place of him that sleeps in peace.

  Sleep sweetly, tender heart, in peace:
      Sleep, holy spirit, blessed soul,
  While the stars burn, the moons increase,
      And the great ages onward roll.

  Sleep till the end, true soul and sweet.
      Nothing comes to thee new or strange.
  Sleep full of rest from head to feet;
      Lie still, dry dust, secure of change.


(Dedication of "Tiresias," written in 1882)

  Old Fitz, who from your suburb grange,
    Where once I tarried for a while,
  Glance at the wheeling Orb of change,
    And greet it with a kindly smile;
  Whom yet I see as there you sit
    Beneath your sheltering garden-tree,
  And while your doves about you flit,
    And plant on shoulder, hand and knee,
  Or on your head their rosy feet,
    As if they knew your diet spares
  Whatever moved in that full sheet
    Let down to Peter at his prayers;
  Who live on milk and meal and grass;
    And once for ten long weeks I tried
  Your table of Pythagoras,
    And seem'd at first "a thing enskied"
  (As Shakespeare has it) airy-light
    To float above the ways of men,
  Then fell from that half-spiritual height
    Chill'd, till I tasted flesh again
  One night when earth was winter-black,
    And all the heavens flash'd in frost;
  And on me, half-asleep, came back
    That wholesome heat the blood had lost,
  And set me climbing icy capes
    And glaciers, over which there roll'd
  To meet me long-arm'd vines with grapes
    Of Eshcol hugeness; for the cold
  Without, and warmth within me, wrought
    To mould the dream; but none can say
  That Lenten fare makes Lenten thought,
    Who reads your golden Eastern lay,
  Than which I know no version done
    In English more divinely well;
  A planet equal to the sun
    Which cast it, that large infidel
  Your Omar; and your Omar drew
    Full-handed plaudits from our best
  In modern letters, and from two,
    Old friends outvaluing all the rest,
  Two voices heard on earth no more;
    But we old friends are still alive,
  And I am nearing seventy-four,
    While you have touch'd at seventy-five,
  And so I send a birthday line
    Of greeting; and my son, who dipt
  In some forgotten book of mine
    With sallow scraps of manuscript,
  And dating many a year ago,
    Has hit on this, which you will take
  My Fitz, and welcome, as I know
    Less for its own than for the sake
  Of one recalling gracious times,
    When, in our younger London days,
  You found some merit in my rhymes,
    And I more pleasure in your praise.


  "One height and one far-shining fire"
    And while I fancied that my friend
  For this brief idyll would require
    A less diffuse and opulent end,
  And would defend his judgment well,
    If I should deem it over nice--
  The tolling of his funeral bell
    Broke on my Pagan Paradise,
  And mixt the dream of classic times
    And all the phantoms of the dream,
  With present grief, and made the rhymes,
    That miss'd his living welcome, seem
  Like would-be guests an hour too late,
    Who down the highway moving on
  With easy laughter find the gate
    Is bolted, and the master gone.
  Gone into darkness, that full light
    Of friendship! past, in sleep, away
  By night, into the deeper night!
    The deeper night? A clearer day
  Than our poor twilight dawn on earth--
    If night, what barren toil to be!
  What life, so maim'd by night, were worth
    Our living out? Not mine to me
  Remembering all the golden hours
    Now silent, and so many dead,
  And him the last; and laying flowers,
    This wreath, above his honour'd head,
  And praying that, when I from hence
    Shall fade with him into the unknown,
  My close of earth's experience
    May prove as peaceful as his own.


  My hope and heart is with thee--thou wilt be
  A latter Luther, and a soldier-priest
  To scare church-harpies from the master's feast;
  Our dusted velvets have much need of thee:
  Thou art no sabbath-drawler of old saws,
  Distill'd from some worm-canker'd homily;
  But spurr'd at heart with fieriest energy
  To embattail and to wall about thy cause
  With iron-worded proof, hating to hark
  The humming of the drowsy pulpit-drone
  Half God's good sabbath, while the worn-out clerk
  Brow-beats his desk below. Thou from a throne
  Mounted in heaven wilt shoot into the dark
  Arrows of lightnings. I will stand and mark.




  Clear-headed friend, whose joyful scorn,
    Edged with sharp laughter, cuts atwain
      The knots that tangle human creeds,
    The wounding cords that bind and strain
      The heart until it bleeds,
  Ray-fringed eyelids of the morn
      Roof not a glance so keen as thine:
      If aught of prophecy be mine,
    Thou wilt not live in vain.


  Low-cowering shall the Sophist sit;
    Falsehood shall bare her plaited brow:
    Fair-fronted Truth shall droop not now
  With shrilling shafts of subtle wit.
  Nor martyr-flames, nor trenchant swords
    Can do away that ancient lie;
    A gentler death shall Falsehood die,
  Shot thro' and thro' with cunning words.


  Weak Truth a-leaning on her crutch,
    Wan, wasted Truth in her utmost need,
    Thy kingly intellect shall feed,
      Until she be an athlete bold,
  And weary with a finger's touch
    Those writhed limbs of lightning speed;
  Like that strange angel which of old,
    Until the breaking of the light,
  Wrestled with wandering Israel,
    Past Yabbok brook the livelong night,
  And heaven's mazed signs stood still
  In the dim tract of Penuel.



(Dedication of "The Palace of Art")

  I send you here a sort of allegory,
  (For you will understand it) of a soul,
  A sinful soul possess'd of many gifts,
  A spacious garden full of flowering weeds,
  A glorious Devil, large in heart and brain,
  That did love Beauty only, (Beauty seen
  In all varieties of mould and mind)
  And Knowledge for its beauty; or if Good,
  Good only for its beauty, seeing not
  That Beauty, Good, and Knowledge, are three sisters
  That doat upon each other, friends to man,
  Living together under the same roof,
  And never can be sunder'd without tears.
  And he that shuts Love out, in turn shall be
  Shut out from Love, and on her threshold lie
  Howling in outer darkness. Not for this
  Was common clay ta'en from the common earth
  Moulded by God, and temper'd with the tears
  Of angels to the perfect shape of man.


  Brooks, for they call'd you so that knew you best,
  Old Brooks, who loved so well to mouth my rhymes,
  How oft we two have heard St. Mary's chimes!
  How oft the Cantab supper, host and guest,
  Would echo helpless laughter to your jest!
  How oft with him we paced that walk of limes,
  Him, the lost light of those dawn-golden times,
  Who loved you well! Now both are gone to rest.
  You man of humorous-melancholy mark,
  Dead of some inward agony--is it so?
  Our kindlier, trustier, Jaques, past away!
  I cannot laud this life, it looks so dark:
  [Greek: Skias onar]--dream of a shadow, go--
  God bless you. I shall join you in a day.



  O true and tried, so well and long,
      Demand not thou a marriage lay;
      In that it is thy marriage day
  Is music more than any song.

  Nor have I felt so much of bliss
      Since first he told me that he loved
      A daughter of our house; nor proved
  Since that dark day a day like this;

  Tho' I since then have number'd o'er
      Some thrice three years: they went and came,
      Remade the blood and changed the frame,
  And yet is love not less, but more;

  No longer caring to embalm
      In dying songs a dead regret,
      But like a statue solid-set,
  And moulded in colossal calm.

  Regret is dead, but love is more
      Than in the summers that are flown,
      For I myself with these have grown
  To something greater than before;

  Which makes appear the songs I made
      As echoes out of weaker times,
      As half but idle brawling rhymes,
  The sport of random sun and shade.

  But where is she, the bridal flower,
      That must be made a wife ere noon?
      She enters, glowing like the moon
  Of Eden on its bridal bower:

  On me she bends her blissful eyes
      And then on thee; they meet thy look
      And brighten like the star that shook
  Betwixt the palms of paradise.

  O when her life was yet in bud,
      He too foretold the perfect rose.
      For thee she grew, for thee she grows
  For ever, and as fair as good.

  And thou art worthy; full of power;
      As gentle; liberal-minded, great,
      Consistent; wearing all that weight
  Of learning lightly like a flower.

  But now set out: the noon is near,
      And I must give away the bride;
      She fears not, or with thee beside
  And me behind her, will not fear.

  For I that danced her on my knee,
      And watch'd her on her nurse's arm,
      That shielded all her life from harm
  At last must part with her to thee;

  Now waiting to be made a wife,
      Her feet, my darling, on the dead;
      Their pensive tablets round her head,
  And the most living words of life

  Breathed in her ear. The ring is on,
      The "wilt thou" answer'd, and again
      The "wilt thou" ask'd, till out of twain
  Her sweet "I will" has made you one.

  Now sign your names, which shall be read,
      Mute symbols of a joyful morn,
      By village eyes as yet unborn;
  The names are sign'd, and overhead

  Begins the clash and clang that tells
      The joy to every wandering breeze;
      The blind wall rocks, and on the trees
  The dead leaf trembles to the bells.

  O happy hour, and happier hours
      Await them. Many a merry face
      Salutes them--maidens of the place,
  That pelt us in the porch with flowers.

  O happy hour, behold the bride
      With him to whom her hand I gave.
      They leave the porch, they pass the grave
  That has to-day its sunny side.

  To-day the grave is bright for me,
      For them the light of life increased,
      Who stay to share the morning feast,
  Who rest to-night beside the sea.

  Let all my genial spirits advance
      To meet and greet a whiter sun;
      My drooping memory will not shun
  The foaming grape of eastern France.

  It circles round, and fancy plays,
      And hearts are warm'd and faces bloom,
      As drinking health to bride and groom
  We wish them store of happy days.

  Nor count me all to blame if I
      Conjecture of a stiller guest,
      Perchance, perchance, among the rest,
  And, tho' in silence, wishing joy.

  But they must go, the time draws on,
      And those white-favour'd horses wait;
      They rise, but linger; it is late;
  Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.

  A shade falls on us like the dark
      From little cloudlets on the grass,
      But sweeps away as out we pass
  To range the woods, to roam the park,

  Discussing how their courtship grew,
      And talk of others that are wed,
      And how she look'd, and what he said,
  And back we come at fall of dew.

  Again the feast, the speech, the glee,
      The shade of passing thought, the wealth
      Of words and wit, the double health,
  The crowning cup, the three-times-three,

  And last the dance;--till I retire:
      Dumb is that tower which spake so loud,
      And high in heaven the streaming cloud,
  And on the downs a rising fire:

  And rise, O moon, from yonder down,
      Till over down and over dale
      All night the shining vapour sail
  And pass the silent-lighted town,

  The white-faced halls, the glancing rills,
      And catch at every mountain head,
      And o'er the friths that branch and spread
  Their sleeping silver thro' the hills;

  And touch with shade the bridal doors,
      With tender gloom the roof, the wall;
      And breaking let the splendour fall
  To spangle all the happy shores

  By which they rest, and ocean sounds,
      And, star and system rolling past,
      A soul shall draw from out the vast
  And strike his being into bounds,

  And, moved thro' life of lower phase,
      Result in man, be born and think,
      And act and love, a closer link
  Betwixt us and the crowning race

  Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
      On knowledge; under whose command
      Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand
  Is Nature like an open book;

  No longer half-akin to brute,
      For all we thought and loved and did,
      And hoped, and suffer'd, is but seed
  Of what in them is flower and fruit;

  Whereof the man, that with me trod
      This planet, was a noble type
      Appearing ere the times were ripe,
  That friend of mine who lives in God,

  That God, which ever lives and loves,
      One God, one law, one element,
      And one far-off divine event,
  To which the whole creation moves.


_Midnight, June 30, 1879_


  Midnight--in no midsummer tune
  The breakers lash the shores:
  The cuckoo of a joyless June
  Is calling out of doors:

  And thou hast vanish'd from thine own
  To that which looks like rest,
  True brother, only to be known
  By those who love thee best.


  Midnight--and joyless June gone by,
  And from the deluged park
  The cuckoo of a worse July
  Is calling thro' the dark:

  But thou art silent underground,
  And o'er thee streams the rain,
  True poet, surely to be found
  When Truth is found again.


  And, now to these unsummer'd skies
  The summer bird is still,
  Far off a phantom cuckoo cries
  From out a phantom hill;

  And thro' this midnight breaks the sun
  Of sixty years away,
  The light of days when life begun,
  The days that seem to-day,

  When all my griefs were shared with thee,
  As all my hopes were thine--
  As all thou wert was one with me,
  May all thou art be mine!

[Illustration: EDMUND LUSHINGTON (Who married Cecilia Tennyson, and was
Professor of Greek in the University of Glasgow).]



Amongst the group of men attached to Lord Tennyson by bonds of early and
life-long friendship, and of reverent affection, there is none in whose
case the tie is surrounded with more of peculiar interest than Edmund
Lushington. Those who in later years were privileged to know the Poet's
brother-in-law, and learned to appreciate his character, could well
understand the closeness of the sympathy between them.

Edmund Law Lushington was the son of Edmund Henry Lushington, who at one
time held important office in Ceylon. The eldest of four[15] gifted
brothers, Edmund was born on the 10th of January 1811. The family house
was, at first, at Hanwell, from which, some years later, they moved to
Park House, near Maidstone. That continued to be the home to which Edmund
Lushington returned at every break in his work at Glasgow, and was his
permanent residence from his retirement in 1875 until his death on the
13th of July 1893. Young Lushington went to Charterhouse School, and
there--as afterwards for a time at Trinity--he had Thackeray as his
contemporary. To the friendship thus early begun Thackeray, in long after
years, paid a gracious tribute in _The Virginians_, where he cites the
Professor at Glasgow and one at Cambridge (W. H. Thompson) as scholars who
could more than hold their own against the great names of older days.

As his junior at Trinity, Lushington had at first no acquaintance with
Tennyson, and he has himself told us how he first came to know him by
sight, when Arthur Hallam declaimed his prize essay in the College Chapel,
and Tennyson sat on the bench just below listening intently to the words
of his friend. Already Tennyson's name was well known in the University;
many of his poems were handed about in manuscript, and the rank to which
they were entitled was a topic of discussion in College societies. It was
only after two years at Cambridge that Lushington's friendship with
Tennyson began, and as joint members of the "Apostles'" Society they were
thrown into close intercourse. In 1832 Lushington was Senior Classic in a
notable list, which contained also the names of Shilleto, the famous
coach; Alford, afterwards Dean of Canterbury and Biblical commentator; and
William Hepworth Thompson, afterwards Master of Trinity. Six years later,
in 1838, he was chosen as Professor of Greek in Glasgow from a field which
comprised competitors so notable as Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord
Sherbrooke, and Archibald Campbell Tait, afterwards Archbishop of
Canterbury. As bearing on this we may quote--as a specimen of his quaint
and kindly humour--a letter which Lushington wrote to Tennyson from
Addington Park, where he was staying on a visit to the Archbishop on
October 13, 1880:

    On Monday there came on a visit Lord Sherbrooke (R. Lowe).... It was
    good that yesterday morning one pony chaise held three men who,
    forty-two years ago, were regarded as rival candidates for the Greek
    Chair at Glasgow, whereby you will at once admit the cogency of the
    argument that if I had not become Greek Professor I should probably
    have been either Archbishop of Canterbury or Chancellor of the
    Exchequer--possibly both, as no doubt in old times the same back has
    borne both offices.

This appointment, which banished young Lushington from all the scenes of
his early days, did not break the friendship with Tennyson, which had
quickly ripened into closest intimacy. In 1840 Tennyson came to visit at
Park House,--still Lushington's home during the long summer vacation,--and
in 1842 he was present at that festival of the Maidstone Institute which
is described in the opening verses of "The Princess." The same summer saw
the bond drawn tighter by the marriage of Lushington to the Poet's
youngest and best-loved sister, Cecilia. It is that marriage which is
acclaimed in immortal words in the Epilogue to "In Memoriam," and the
tribute there paid to the bridegroom is one which comes home to all who
knew him, as a faithful epitome of his personality:

  And thou art worthy; full of power;
      As gentle, liberal-minded, great,
      Consistent; wearing all that weight
  Of learning lightly like a flower.

The marriage became one link more in that enduring friendship. Those who
knew Mrs. Lushington in later years--when jet-black hair and brilliant
clearness of complexion were still marvellously preserved--can easily
picture her earlier beauty, which must have had much of that "profile like
that on a coin"--which, we are told, was characteristic of Emily, the
betrothed of Arthur Hallam. Mrs. Lushington had a fine contralto voice,
with something of the music that one felt in the Poet's rich tones.[16]
She was a charming and even a brilliant companion, and, when in good
health, enjoyed society. But Glasgow College--as it was then generally
called, amidst the murky surroundings of its old site, close to the
reeking slums of the New Vennel--was an abode little fitted for one
accustomed to warmer suns and more congenial scenes. Mrs. Lushington's
health was grievously broken, and the northern chills and fogs told
heavily on her spirits. She could rarely join her husband at Glasgow, and
it became necessary for him, during the session which lasted through the
six winter months, to take a house in Edinburgh and rejoin his wife only
for week-ends. Attached as Lushington was to his home and his family, the
burden of ill-health that lay heavily on his household was a grievous one.
It caused him much anxiety. Long pain often racked the nerves and dulled
the bright spirit of his wife; his only son died after a long and painful
illness, and took the light from his life; a daughter followed that son to
the grave; and his brother Henry,[17] whose brilliant poetic gifts had
been fully proved in the volume of poems entitled _Points of War_, which
he wrote in conjunction with his brother Franklin, died at Paris in the
fulness of his powers. He learned, as he writes in one of his letters to
Tennyson, that "the roots of love and sorrow are verily twined together
abysmally deep." But never once, in all his letters, or in any of his
views of his fellow-men, did grief or sorrow drive him into bitterness or
cynicism, or make him bate a jot of his calm and reverent fortitude or of
his deep and generous charity to his fellow-men.

Throughout that long life, sustained by great thoughts, enriched by wide
and varied learning, and blessed by ties of closest affection, Lushington
preserved consistently the ideals of the early days, and remained to the
last the same strong yet gentle friend, at once generous in admiration and
judicial in criticism, that he had been when Tennyson drew his portrait in
those immortal lines. We know what were the interests and tastes of these
early days. Dean Bradley, in his reminiscences of visits to Park House in
1841 and 1842, tells us how the brothers, and especially the
Professor--"Uncle Edmund"--seemed as much at home in the language of the
Greek dramatists as if it was their native tongue; and the present writer
remembers how, fifty years later, he heard Lord Tennyson recall the
quotation from the _Ecclesiazousae_, by which one or other of the
brothers, on an occasion at Park House which must have been almost
contemporaneous with the Dean's reminiscences, marked the propensity of
the ladies of the party to assiduous attendance at Church. Dean Bradley
remarks how remote was their outlook on the world from that of the Oxford
of his time, dominated by the Tractarian movement. Tolerance, breadth of
view, balanced judgment, and deep reverence for all that was noblest in
human thought and achievement--these gave the keynote to their minds and
energies. Partisanship, sectarian controversy, ecclesiastical disputes,
seemed to belong to an alien world.

To those who knew him as Professor at Glasgow the secret of Lushington's
influence was not far to seek. He came there into surroundings singularly
unlike those of his earlier days, and with little to compensate in their
grimy aspect for the beauty of his home and the hallowed associations of
Trinity. It was not long before he had attuned himself to the scene of his
new work, and gathered about him a circle of cherished friends, and had
won the respect and regard of the great body of these Scottish students
drawn from every class. For those who were touched by his enthusiastic
love of the Greek language and its literature, his influence was something
far deeper. He made no stirring appeals, and followed no startling
methods. His perfect courtesy, combined with a firmness which needed no
emphasis of manner to assert itself, sufficed to maintain absolute order
amongst those large classes whose traditions made them not always amenable
to discipline. But for those to whom his teaching was something of an
inspiration, there was much more in his personality than this. Consummate
dignity, combined with absolute simplicity of manner, a voice rich and
melodious in tone, a diction graceful and harmonious but never studied or
artificial--these, with a massive head and features of almost ideal
beauty, made him a figure in the life of the College, deepened the
impression of his calm and reverent enthusiasm for all that was noblest in
thought and language, and gave to his influence an abiding force
throughout the lifetime of his pupils. He offered no ready intimacy, and
sought to form no following. But his words, few and well chosen, made
themselves felt as pure gold, and a sentence of praise or of sympathy sank
into the heart, and brought to life and work something that stirred
reverence and enthusiasm. His work planted its root deeply, and sought for
no outward recognition. It was only after his long career at Glasgow ended
by his retirement in 1875 that what he had achieved in reviving an ideal
of Greek scholarship was felt; and it was abiding enough to make him the
choice of the students for an honour, rarely accorded to a former
Professor--that of election as Lord Rector of the University in 1884. He
pursued the even tenor of his way with no thought of self-aggrandizement;
only slowly did that absolute modesty, linked with unassailable dignity,
make itself felt as a power, radiating into the hearts of others his own
illuminating enthusiasm for the ideals of noblest literature.

No poet could have had, bound to him by ties of closest affection, a
critic more sympathetic, more reverent, and withal, more faithful in his
appreciation. In the genius of Tennyson, he found the central joy and
pride of his life; but his judgment was the more valuable, in that it was
at all times absolutely sincere:

    "You took my criticism on 'Maud' like an angel," he writes in 1856,
    "which was very good indeed of you. I wish only you could be as glad
    whenever I thoroughly admire your poems, as I am sorry whenever I

One reference to a hint of criticism in a letter of June 1857, after the
publication of the early Idylls "Enid" and "Nimue (Vivien)" is not without
interest. Lushington writes to Tennyson:

    I am very much grieved if anything that I wrote distrest you. I said
    it all in love, and only my love could have prompted me to say it. My
    tenderness for your fame will not let me be silent when I fear
    anything that may cast a shade upon it, and few things can be more
    certain to me than that these two poems, coming out by themselves,
    would not receive their due of admiration. It would be quite different
    if they were, as I hope they will be, supported by others of varied
    matter and interest, giving more completeness and beauty of circular
    grouping and relation. Such a work I want you to produce, and believe
    you can, which would surpass all you have written yet.

The Idylls always had a peculiar interest for Lushington, and he had long
encouraged their production. "I am beyond measure delighted," he writes in
1856, "to hear of Merlin and his compeers"; and again in the same year,
and in his deepest pangs of anxiety about his boy, he does not forget the
wish, "All genial inspiration from home breezes come to 'Enid.'" "Is
anything of the Arthurian plan getting into shape?" he writes again in
1859. He was fervent in his admiration of the Dedication to Prince Albert
of the new edition of the Idylls in 1862: "Its truth and loftiness and
tenderness will be felt in a hundred years as much as now." "Anything of
our own Arthur?" he writes again in 1866, "That's the true subject."

His letters (published and unpublished) to Tennyson convey not only the
picture of a circle knit by warmest affection, but estimates of others
always generous, and sometimes warm with enthusiastic admiration. Carlyle
he met at Edinburgh in 1866, and was "struck with the beauty and sweetness
of his face; through all its grimness ... there seems to be an infinite
freshness of spirit with infinite sadness. His laugh is exactly like a
boy's." In 1856 he writes: "Have you seen Browning's new volumes? I have
been trying to construe them, and no gold had ever to be digged out
through more stubborn rocks. But he is a poet as well as good fellow."

Through all these long years, with their vicissitudes of joy and sorrow,
their long partings, and amid varied and widely separate occupations, the
friendship remained as fresh as in the early days, an association of
common delight in all that was noblest in literature, inspired by a bond
of deepest poetic sympathy. To those who knew and venerated Lushington, it
might seem that his deep and abiding reverence for the genius of one knit
to him, as Tennyson was, by more than a brother's love, had in it
something which inspired him in his work, and came in place of all thought
of personal ambition. His learning enriched his life, and gave to his work
as teacher its perfection and its illumination; but it never prompted him
to publication, and he gave nothing to the press under his own name except
his opening address as professor, his address to the students as Lord
Rector, and a short Life of his friend Professor Ferrier, whose posthumous
works he edited. In the one friendship he found the chief solace of his
life. In the last letter addressed to Tennyson on the anniversary of his
birthday, August 6, 1892--only three months before the Poet's
death--Lushington wrote:

    May the day be blest to you and all who are dear to you, and may the
    year bring more blessing as it goes forward, must be the warm wish of
    all who have felt the knowledge of you and your writings to be among
    the greatest blessings of their life. Year after year my deep love and
    admiration has grown, though I have not often of late had the
    opportunity of expressing it, as we now so seldom meet. But I think
    you know how largely indebted to you I feel for whatever is best and
    truest in myself--a debt one cannot hope to repay.

No better picture of the friendship could be given than that enshrined in
these words. Lushington survived Tennyson less than a year.


By Dr. WARREN, President of Magdalen College, Oxford, and now Professor of

  Old Fitz, who from your suburb grange,
    Where once I tarried for a while,
  Glance at the wheeling Orb of change,
    And greet it with a kindly smile;
  Whom yet I see as there you sit
    Beneath your sheltering garden-tree
  And watch your doves about you flit,
    And plant on shoulder, hand, and knee,
  Or on your head their rosy feet,
    As if they knew your diet spares
  Whatever moved in that full sheet
    Let down to Peter at his prayers.

     *       *       *       *       *

  And so I send a birthday line
    Of greeting; and my son, who dipt
  In some forgotten book of mine
    With sallow scraps of manuscript,
  And dating many a year ago,
    Has hit on this, which you will take
  My Fitz, and welcome, as I know
    Less for its own than for the sake
  Of one recalling gracious times,
    When, in our younger London days,
  You found some merit in my rhymes,
    And I more pleasure in your praise.
          To E. FITZGERALD (_Tiresias and other Poems_, p. 1).

Alfred Tennyson and Edward FitzGerald; _In Memoriam_ and _The Rubáiyát of
Omar Khayyám_; "The Eternal Yea" and "The Eternal No," "the larger hope"
and "the desperate sort of thing unfortunately at the bottom of all
thinking men's minds, made Music of"--few friendships, few conjunctions,
personal or literary, could be more interesting or more piquant.

What adds to the interest of the friendship is that it remained so long
unknown to the literary or the general world, and is even now, perhaps,
only partially appreciated. Yet it subsisted for nearly fifty years. It
was close and constant. Though, as time went on, the two friends met less
and less often, it was maintained by a steady interchange of letters and
messages. The letters were naturally more on FitzGerald's side. Like most,
though not perhaps quite all good letter-writers, FitzGerald was a great
letter-writer. He was, as he often said, an idle man, and as he also said,
he rather liked writing letters, "unlike most Englishmen (but I am
Irish)," he added. Indeed, he seemed almost to prefer communication with
his friends by letter to personal meetings, though these he enjoyed
greatly when brought to the point.

Tennyson and FitzGerald were old friends, born in the same year, the
notable year 1809. It is true that though they were at Cambridge together
they were not then known to each other, except by sight. "I remember him
there well," said FitzGerald, speaking of Tennyson, "a sort of Hyperion."
They had many friendships, acquaintances, associations in common. Carlyle,
Thackeray, Spedding, Merivale, Trench, W. H. Thompson, J. D. Allen, W. B.
Donne, Brookfield, Cowell, Mrs. Kemble, Samuel Laurence, were known to
them both. In their formative years they fell under the same influences,
and read many of the same books. It was about 1835 that they became
acquainted. They were brought together probably by their common and
uncommon friend, James Spedding. They certainly met at his father's house,
Mirehouse, near Bassenthwaite Lake, in the spring of 1835.

Tennyson had begun writing "In Memoriam" a little before this, _i.e._
early in 1834, soon after his friend Hallam's sudden death and sad
home-bringing in the winter of 1833. He kept it on the stocks, as all
know, for some seventeen years. It was published, at first anonymously, in
1850. The secret of its authorship was soon revealed, the poem found
immediate acceptance and popularity. It became and has remained one of the
most widely read poems in the language. In the meantime Tennyson, though
not so famous as "In Memoriam" made him, had become well known through the
1842 volumes.

FitzGerald, on the contrary, was at that time quite unknown, except by his
friendships, and to his friends. An Irishman, with the easygoing and
_dolce far niente_ qualities which so often temper the brilliant genius of
that race, sufficiently provided with means, he was naturally inclined for
a quiet and easy, not to say indolent life. He deliberately chose from the
first the _fallentis semita vitae_. He had some literary ambitions, and he
wrote a few early poems, one or two of rare promise and beauty. One gift
in particular was his--not, it is true, always leading him to action, yet
in its passive or dynamic form constant and abundant almost to
excess--loyalty in friendship. Once and fatally, it led him to take or
submit to a positive step. He had been the attached friend of Bernard
Barton the Quaker poet, the friend of Charles Lamb. When Barton died, from
a mistaken sense of duty, FitzGerald not only collected his poems, a task
more pious than profitable, but afterward, having meanwhile hesitated and
halted too long in offering himself to one who was his real love, married
his daughter who was not this. He left her, not indeed as is sometimes
said, on the morrow of the wedding, but after separations and repeated
attempts--in town and country--at reunion, and lived, as he had done
before, alone and somewhat drearily ever afterwards.

Speculation has busied itself about his unfortunate marriage. The
briefest but also the best pronouncement is probably his own letter
written at the time to Mrs. Tennyson:

    _March 19th, 1858_.

    DEAR MRS. TENNYSON--My married life has come to an end: I am back
    again in the old quarters, living as for the last thirty years--only
    so much older, sadder, uglier, and worse!--If people want to go
    further for the cause of this blunder, than the fact of two people of
    very determined habits and temper first trying to change them at close
    on fifty--they may lay nine-tenths of the blame on me. I don't want to
    talk more of the matter, but one must say something.

The old life to which he returned was monotonous, recluse, unconventional.
He spent most of his days in East Anglia, an unromantic region, yet not
unbeautiful or wanting a charm of its own; in summer emerging into the
sunshine, sitting on a chair in his garden as Tennyson's poem paints him,
or on another chair on the deck of his boat, coasting the shores, or
sailing up and down the creeks and estuaries with which that country
abounds; in winter crouching over the fire, and in either chair smoking
and endlessly reading.

In the earlier part of his life he moved about from one home to another,
though never very far. In 1860 he settled down at Woodbridge in Suffolk, a
pleasant, old-fashioned, provincial town, a sort of East Anglian Totnes,
where the Deben, like the more famous Dart, seems to issue from a doorway
of close-guarding hills to meet the salt tide, and begins the last stage
of its cheerful journey to the open sea.

Just before this, in January of 1859, FitzGerald printed a small edition
of a translation of a poem by a Persian astronomer, who died about 1123
A.D. The whole production of this famous piece seemed almost an accident.
FitzGerald had been introduced, some half-dozen years earlier, to the
study of Persian by his friend Mr. E. B. Cowell, a brother East Anglian,
then in business in Ipswich. Cowell, wishing to pursue his studies further
and take a Degree, went in 1851 as a married and somewhat mature student
to Oxford, and there, in the Bodleian Library, came on a rare MS. of the
"Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám." It is a beautiful little volume, written upon
parchment sprinkled with gold dust, in a fine black ink, with blue
headings, gold divisions, and delicate Oriental illuminations in blue,
gold, and green, at the beginning and the end, and is the earliest known
MS. of the poem, dating from 1450 A.D. Of this he made a copy for
FitzGerald, who kept it by him, and gradually produced a translation, if
not rather a paraphrase. "I also amuse myself," he wrote in December 1853,
"with poking out some Persian which E. Cowell would inaugurate me with. I
go on with it because it is a point in common with him and enables me to
study a little together."

In 1858 he had got his version into a shape somewhat to his mind, and sent
it to _Fraser's Magazine_. It was kept for about a year, when FitzGerald
asked for it back, and had 250 copies printed early in 1859. He gave away
a few and sent the rest to Quaritch.

What ensued is one of the curiosities of literature. FitzGerald did not
expect any success or vogue for the work. True, he had toiled at it. "Very
few People," he said, "have ever taken such Pains in Translation as I
have; though certainly not to be literal." And when he had finished he
liked "to make an end of the matter by print." But that was all. "I hardly
know," he added, "why I print any of these things which nobody buys."

Quaritch, as FitzGerald expected, found no sale for _Omar_. He reduced the
price from five shillings to one shilling, and then to one penny. Rossetti
heard of it through Whitley Stokes, and showed it to Swinburne. They were
attracted by it and bought sixpenny-worth. Quaritch raised his price to
twopence. They carried off a few more, and the rest, a little later, were
eagerly bought up at a guinea or more apiece. Yet the poem remained long
known to very few. Quaritch published a second edition, again a small one,
nine years later in 1868, and four years later still, a third small
edition in 1872, and in 1879 a fourth edition, including Salámán and
Absál. The third edition came out just about the time I was going to
Oxford as an undergraduate, and it was then that I first heard of it
through J. A. Symonds and H. G. Dakyns, who gave me in 1874 a copy which
Symonds had presented to him, and which I still possess. Even at Oxford I
found only a few, either graduates or undergraduates, who heeded it or
knew anything about it. Professor Henry Smith was the only senior I can
remember who spoke to me about it, telling me of the previous editions,
and praising its merits one day as we turned it over together in Parker's
shop. But stealthily and underground it made its way. Edition followed
edition, with increasing rapidity. Suddenly it became ubiquitously
popular, and it is now certainly one of the best-known pieces of the kind
in the language. Messrs. Macmillan put it, in 1899, after a dozen times
reprinting it, into their Golden Treasury Series. They had to reprint
three times in that year, and this edition has been in constant demand.
But there are ever so many others. The poem has been reproduced in a
hundred forms, both in England and America, illustrated, illuminated,
decorated, annotated. A reprint of the first edition is once more sold for
a penny. It has been translated into Latin verse. There is a Concordance
to it. A whole literature has sprung up around it. An "Omar Khayyam Club"
was founded in 1892. Pious pilgrimages have been made to the translator's
tomb, and Omar's roses planted over it, and verses recited in celebration
of both poet and poem.

Of all this immense vogue and success, as his letters show, FitzGerald
himself never dreamed. Even when in 1885 Tennyson published, as the
dedication of _Tiresias and other Poems_, the lines "To E. FitzGerald,"
the translator of _Omar_ was still, for most readers, "a veiled prophet."
To-day, when the poem has become one of the utterances of the century,
lovers of paradox have even ventured to hint that instead of FitzGerald
being known as the friend of Tennyson, Tennyson might be known hereafter
as the friend of FitzGerald.

FitzGerald is certainly known on his own account. The publication of his
letters by his loyal old friend, Dr. Aldis Wright, revealed the man
himself to the world. The publication of Tennyson's Life by his son aided
the process. Every one will remember the part which FitzGerald plays
there, beginning with the meeting at James Spedding's house in the Lakes
in 1835, his early enthusiastic admiration, when he fell in love both with
the man and his poems, and then his ever-constant friendship, tempered by
grumbling, and what appears sometimes almost grudging criticism. He became
the friend, it must be remembered, not only of Alfred, but of the whole
family, and especially of Frederick, the eldest brother. "All the
Tennysons are to be wished well," he says in a letter of 1845. Though he
affected to think little of society and hated snobbery as much as Tennyson
or his other friend Thackeray himself, he greatly admired the better
qualities of the English gentry, and had even a kindly weakness for their
foibles. When Frederick went to live in Italy he wrote: "I love that such
men as Frederick should be abroad: so strong, haughty, and passionate."

When FitzGerald first met Alfred, the poetic family was still living on at
Somersby after their father's death. He went there and fell in love with
their mother, and with their mode of life, and with the region, where
"there were not only such good seas, but such fine Hill and Dale among the
Wolds as people in general scarce thought on." It was characteristic of
him that he used to say that Alfred should never have left Lincolnshire.

FitzGerald kept up the friendship mainly, as he did most of his
friendships, by letter. In particular, he made a point of writing to the
Alfred Tennysons twice a year, once in the summer and again about
Christmas time. He addressed himself sometimes to the Poet himself,
sometimes to Mrs. Tennyson, and in later days to their eldest son. To
Frederick Tennyson, who went to live in Italy, as the readers of Dr. Aldis
Wright's volume will remember, he wrote a whole series of letters, many of
them very long and full. Of all these letters--to his father, his mother,
himself, and his uncle--the present Lord Tennyson has placed a collection
in my hands for the purpose of this article. The story of the friendship
which it is an attempt to sketch will best be told by pretty full
quotations from them. Many of them, and indeed most of those to his father
and mother, are now published for the first time.

FitzGerald did not always succeed, and indeed did not expect to succeed,
in drawing a reply from Tennyson himself. In a letter written in the
summer of 1860 to Mrs. Tennyson he makes a very amusing reference to this,
and also throws some light on his own habits:

    Thank old Alfred for his letter which was an unexpected pleasure. I
    like to hear of him and you once or twice in the year: but I know he
    is no dab at literature at any time, poor fellow. "Paltry Poet"--Let
    him believe it is anything but want of love for him that keeps me out
    of the Isle of Wight: nor is it indolence neither.--But to say _what
    it is_ would make me write too much about myself. Only let him believe
    what I _do_ say.

Their relations were always of this playful, intimate kind, resting on
long acquaintance. If FitzGerald was amused by "Alfred," Tennyson, on the
other hand, was well used to his old friend's humour. When we spoke about
him, he dwelt, I recollect, on this particular trait, and told me, to
illustrate it, the story which is now, I think, pretty well known, how,
when some common acquaintance had bored them with talking about his titled
friends, "Old Fitz," as at last he took up his candle to go to bed, turned
to Tennyson and said, quietly and quaintly, "I knew a Lord once, but he's

When Tennyson spoke of _Omar_ he said, what he has said in verse, that he
admired it greatly:

  Than which I know no version done
    In English more divinely well;
  A planet equal to the sun
    Which cast it.

But of course he was aware that it was by no means always faithful to the
original. It is indeed a liberal, rather than a literal translation--how
liberal, all know who have been at the pains to compare FitzGerald's poem
with any of the many literal versions to which it has given rise.

In quite the early Twickenham days, just after their marriage, he would
invite himself to dine or stay with Tennyson and his wife, nay more, would
ask to bring friends to see them, such as the Cowells and W. B. Donne. In
1854 he stayed at Farringford for a fortnight, a visit he always
remembered, and often referred to, with pleasure. Together he and Tennyson
worked at Persian. He also sketched, and botanized with the Poet. But he
could not be got to repeat the visit; and indeed, as he said himself, it
was the last of the kind he paid anywhere, except to Mrs. Kemble. When he
reached London, just after this visit, he wrote to Tennyson:

    _June 15th, 1854_.

    MY DEAR ALFRED--I called at Quaritch's to look for another Persian
    Dictionary. I see he has a copy of Eastwick's Gulistan for _ten
    shillings_: a translation (not Eastwick's, however, but one quite
    sufficient for the purpose) can be had for five shillings. Would you
    like me to buy them and send them down to you by the next friend who
    travels your way: or will you wait till some good day I can lend you
    _my_ Eastwick (which is now at Oxford)? I could mark some of the
    pieces which I think it might not offend you to read: though you will
    not care greatly for anything in it.

    Oh, such an atmosphere as I am writing in!--Yours,

        E. F. G.

    I left my little Swedenborg at Farringford. Please keep it for me, as
    it was a gift from my sister.

The note of the letters is always the same--warm affection, deep
underlying admiration and regard, superficial banter and play of humour,
and humorous, half-grumbling criticism. When they met face to face, after
being parted for twenty years, they fell at once into exactly the old
vein. FitzGerald was surprised at this, but he need not have been. Both
were the sincerest and most natural of men, and nothing but distance and
absence had occurred to sever them.

From the first he had conceived an intense and almost humble-minded
admiration for Alfred. One of his earliest utterances describes his
feelings, and strikes, with his keen critical perception, the true note.
"I will say no more of Tennyson," he wrote, "than that the more I have
seen of him, the more cause I have to think him great. His little humours
and grumpinesses were so droll that I was always laughing,--I must,
however say further, that I felt, what Charles Lamb describes, a sense of
depression at times from the over-shadowing of a so much more lofty
intellect than my own--_I could not be mistaken in the universality of his

His descriptions in _Euphranor_, published some sixteen years later, of
"the only living and like to live poet he had known," tell the same tale.
They speak of Tennyson's union of passion and strength. "As King Arthur
shall bear witness, no young Edwin he, though as a great Poet
comprehending all the softer stops of human Emotion in that Register where
the Intellectual, no less than what is called the Poetical, faculty
predominated. As all who knew him know, a Man at all points,
Euphranor--like your Digby, of grand proportion and feature...."

There was no one for whose opinion he had so much regard, grumble though
he might, and criticize as he would. He had a special preference for the
poems at whose production he had assisted, which he had seen in MS., or
heard rehearsed orally. Toward the later poems his feeling was not the
same. The following extracts are all equally characteristic:

    _November 20th, 1861_.

    MY DEAR OLD ALFRED--It gives me a strange glow of pleasure when I come
    upon your verses, as I now do in every other book I take up, with no
    name of author, as every other person knows whose they are. I love to
    light on the verses for their own sake, and to remember having heard
    nearly all I care for--and what a lot that is!--from your own lips.

    _December 14th, 1862_.

    MY DEAR OLD ALFRED--Christmas coming reminds me of my half-yearly call
    on you.

    I have, as usual, nothing to tell of myself: boating all the summer
    and reading Clarissa Harlowe since. You and I used to talk of the Book
    more than twenty years ago. I believe I am better read in it than
    almost any one in existence now--No wonder: for it is almost
    intolerably tedious and absurd--But I can't read the "Adam Bedes,"
    "Daisy Chains," etc., at all. I look at my row of Sir Walter Scott and
    think with comfort that I can always go to him of a winter evening,
    when no other book comes to hand.

    _To Frederick Tennyson._

    _November 15th, 1874._

    I wrote my yearly letter to Mrs. Alfred a fortnight ago, I think; but
    as yet have had no answer. Some Newspaper people make fun of a Poem of
    Alfred's, the "Voice and the Peak," I think: giving morsels of which
    of course one could not judge. But I think he had better have done
    singing: he has sung well--_tempus silere_, etc.

But his love for the man and his underlying belief in his opinion and
genius never varied. "I don't think of you so little, my dear old Alfred,"
he wrote one day in the middle of their friendship, "but rejoice in the
old poems and in yourself, young or old, and worship you (I may say) as I
do no other man, and am glad I can worship one man still."

His delight when he found that Alfred had really liked _Omar_ was
unusually _naïf_ and keen. He forgot his grumbling, and wrote to Mrs.

    _To Mrs. Tennyson._

    _November 4/67._

    To think of Alfred's approving my old Omar! I never should have
    thought he even knew of it. Certainly _I_ should never have sent it to
    him, always supposing that he would not approve anything but a literal
    Prose translation--unless from such hands as can do original work and
    therefore do _not_ translate other People's! Well: now I have got
    Nicolas and sent a copy to Cowell, and when he is at liberty again we
    shall beat up old Omar's Quarters once more.

    I'll tell you a very pretty Book. Alfred Tennyson's Pastoral Poems, or
    rather Rural Idylls (only I must hate the latter word) bound up in a
    volume, Gardener's, Miller's, Daughters; Oak; Dora; Audley Court, etc.

    Oh the dear old 1842 days and editions! Spedding thinks I've shut up
    my mind since. Not to "Maud, Maud, Maud, Maud." When I ask People
    what Bird says that of an evening, they say "The Thrush."

    I wish you would make one of your Boys write out the "Property" Farmer
    Idyll. Do now, pray.

        E. F. G.

When he had first "discovered" Omar, and was beginning to work upon him,
Tennyson (who was then finishing the early "Idylls of the King") had been
one of the first to whom he wrote. It is worth remembering that FitzGerald
was then in deep depression. It was the middle of the sad period of his
brief, unhappy married life. This had proved a failure in London. It was
proving a failure now in the country. He wrote:

    _July 1857_.

    MY DEAR OLD ALFRED--Please direct the enclosed to Frederick. I wrote
    him some months ago getting Parker to direct; but have had no reply.
    _You_ won't write to me, at which I can't wonder. I keep hoping for
    King Arthur--or part of him. I have got here to the seaside--a dirty,
    Dutch-looking sea, with a dusty Country in the rear; but the place is
    not amiss for one's Yellow Leaf. I keep on reading foolish Persian
    too: chiefly because of it's connecting me with the Cowells, now
    besieged in Calcutta. But also I have really got hold of an old
    Epicurean so desperately impious in his recommendations to live only
    for _To-day_ that the good Mahometans have scarce dared to multiply
    MSS. of him. He writes in little quatrains, and has scarce any of the
    iteration and conceits to which his people are given. One of the last
    things I remember of him is that--"God gave me this turn for drink,
    perhaps God was drunk when he made me"--which is not strictly pious.
    But he is very tender about his roses and wine, and making the most of
    this poor little life.

    All which is very poor stuff you will say. Please to remember me to
    the Lady. I don't know when I shall ever see you again; and yet you
    can't think how often I wish to do so, and never forget you, and never
    shall, my dear old Alfred, in spite of Epicurus. But I don't grow
    merrier.--Yours ever,

        E. F. G.

In 1872 he was busy with the _third_ edition of _Omar_, and wrote to
consult Tennyson. The first edition had contained only seventy-five
quatrains. The second was a good deal longer, containing one hundred and
ten. The third was again shortened to one hundred and one:

    WOODBRIDGE, _March 25th, 1872_.

    MY DEAR ALFRED--It would be impertinent in me to trouble you with a
    question about _my_ grand Works. But, as you let me know (through Mrs.
    T.) that you liked Omar, I want to know whether you read the _First_
    or _Second_ Edition; and, in case you saw _both, which you thought
    best_? The reason of my asking you is that Quaritch (Publisher) has
    found admirers in America who have almost bought up the whole of the
    last enormous Edition--amounting to 200 copies, I think--so he wishes
    to embark on 200 more, I suppose: and says that he, and his Readers,
    like the first Edition best: so he would reprint these.

    Of course _I_ thought the second best: and I think so still: partly (I
    fear) because the greater number of verses gave more time for the day
    to pass from morning till night.

    Well, what I ask you to do is, to tell me which of the two is best, if
    you have seen the two. If you have _not_, I won't ask you further:--if
    you have, you can answer in two words. And your words would be more
    than all the rest.

    This very little business is all I have eyes for now; except to write
    myself once more ever your's and Mrs. Tennyson's,

        E. F. G.

Another letter a little later refers to the same reprinting of _Omar_:

    MY DEAR ALFRED--I must thank you, as I ought, for your second note.
    The best return I can make is _not_ to listen to Mrs. Tennyson's P.S.,
    which bids me send another Omar:--for I have only got Omar the Second,
    I am sure now _you_ would not like him so well as the first (mainly
    because of "too much"). I think he might disgust you with both.

    So though two lines from you would have done more to decide on his
    third appearance (if Quaritch still wishes that), I will not put you
    to that trouble, but do as I can alone--cutting out some, and
    retaining some; and will send you the result if it comes into type.

    You used to talk of my crotchets: but I am quite sure you have one
    little crotchet about this Omar: which deserves well in its way, but
    not so well as you write of it. You know that though I do not think it
    worth while to compete with you in your paltry poetical capacity, I
    won't surrender in the critical, not always, at least. And, at any
    rate, I have been more behind the scenes in this little matter than
    you. But I do not the less feel your kindness in writing about it: for
    I think you would generally give £100 sooner than write a letter. And
    I am--Yours ever,

        E. F. G.

The next year, in 1873, he wrote again, touching on the same theme and

    DEAR MRS. TENNYSON--I remember Franklin Lushington perfectly--at
    Farringford in 1854; almost the last visit I paid anywhere: and as
    pleasant as any, after, or before. I have still some sketches I made
    of the place: "Maud, Maud, Maud," etc., was then read to me, and has
    rung in my ears ever after. Mr. Lushington, I remember, sketched also.
    If he be with you still, please tell him that I hope his remembrance
    of me is as pleasant as mine of him.

    I think I told you that Frederick came here in August, having (of
    course) missed you on his way. The Mistress of Trinity wrote to me
    some little while ago, telling me, among other things, that she, and
    others, were much pleased with your son Hallam, whom they thought to
    be like the "Paltry Poet" (poor fellow).

    The Paltry one's Portrait is put in a frame and hung up at my
    _château_, where I talk to it sometimes, and every one likes to see
    it. It is clumsy enough, to be sure; but it still recalls the old man
    to me better than the bearded portraits[18] which are now the fashion.

    But oughtn't your Hallam to have it over his mantelpiece at Trinity?

    The first volume of Forster's Dickens has been read to me of a night,
    making me love him, up to 30 years of age at any rate; till then,
    quite unspoilt, even by his American triumphs, and full of good
    humour, generosity, and energy. I wonder if Alfred remembers dining
    at his house with Thackeray and me, me taken there, quite unaffected,
    and seeming to wish any one to show off rather than himself. In the
    evening we had a round game at cards and mulled claret. Does A. T.

    I have had my yearly letter from Carlyle, who writes of himself as
    better than last year. He sends me a Mormon Newspaper, with a very
    sensible sermon in it from the life of Brigham Young, as also the
    account of a visit to a gentleman of Utah with eleven wives and near
    forty children, all of whom were very happy together. I am just going
    to send the paper to Archdeacon Allen to show him how they manage
    these things over the Atlantic.

    About Omar I must say that _all_ the changes made in the last copy are
    not to be attributed to my own perverseness; the same thought being
    constantly repeated with directions, whether by Omar or others, in the
    500 quatrains going under his name. I had not eyes, nor indeed any
    further appetite, to refer to the Original, or even to the French
    Translation; but altered about the "Dawn of Nothing" as A. T. pointed
    out its likeness to his better property.[19] I really didn't, and
    don't, think it matters what changes are made in that Immortal Work
    which is to last about five years longer. I believe it is the
    strong-minded American ladies who have chiefly taken it up; but they
    will soon have something wickeder to digest, I dare say.

    I am going to write out for Alfred a few lines from a _Finnish_ Poem
    which I find quoted in Lowell's "Among my Books"--which I think a good
    Book. But I must let my eyes rest now.

In September 1876 a lucky chance brought Tennyson and himself face to face
again after twenty years. The Poet was travelling with his son, and
together they visited him at Woodbridge. They found him, as Tennyson
describes, in his garden at Little Grange. He was delighted to see them,
and specially pleased with the son's relation and attitude to his father.

Together he and Tennyson walked about the garden and talked as of old.
When Tennyson complained of the multitude of poems which were sent him,
Old Fitz recommended him to imitate Charles Lamb and throw them into his
neighbour's cucumber frames. Tennyson noticed a number of small
sunflowers, with a bee half-dying--probably from the wet season--on each,
"Like warriors dying on their shields, Fitz," he said. He reverted, of
course, to his favourite Crabbe, and told the story of how Crabbe (when he
was a chaplain in the country) felt an irresistible longing to see the
sea, mounted a horse suddenly, rode thirty miles to the coast, saw it, and
rode back comforted.

FitzGerald did not compliment them on their looks, because, he said, he
had always noticed men said, "How well you are looking!" whenever you were
going to be very ill. Therefore he had ceased saying it to any one. He
told, too, a story of a vision, how he had one day clearly seen from
outside his sister and her children having tea round the table in his
dining-room. He then saw his sister quietly withdraw from the room, so as
not to disturb the children. At that moment she died in Norfolk.[20]

He wrote shortly after this visit to Tennyson:

    _October 31st, 1876_.

    MY DEAR ALFRED--I am reading delightful Boccacio through once more,
    escaping to it from the Eastern Question as the company he tells of
    from the Plague. I thought of you yesterday when I came to the
    Theodore and Honoria story, and read of Teodoro "_un mezzo meglio per
    la pineta entrato_"--"More than a Mile immersed within the wood," as
    you used to quote from Glorious John. This Decameron must be read in
    its Italian, as my Don in his Spanish: the language fits either so
    exactly. I am thinking of trying Faust in German, with Hayward's Prose
    Translation. I never could take to it in any Shape yet: and--_don't
    believe_ in it: which I suppose is a piece of Impudence.

    But neither this, nor _The Question_ are you called on to answer--much
    use if I did call. But I am--always yours,

        E. F. G.

    When I thought of you and Boccacio, I was sitting in the Sun on that
    same Iron Seat with the pigeons about us, and the Trees still in Leaf.

One of the poems after 1842 which he liked was the "Ode on the Duke of
Wellington," though characteristically he made a somewhat fastidious
criticism on the "vocalization" of the opening.

    "I mumble over your old verses in my memory as often as any one's," he
    wrote, "and was lately wishing you had found bigger vowels for the
    otherwise fine opening of the Duke's Funeral:

        'Twas at the Royal Feast for Persia won, etc.

        Bury the great Duke, etc.
                            (A. T.)

    So you see I am always the same crotchetty


The paradox is that it was FitzGerald who was always urging "Alfred" to go
on, and finding fault with him for not doing more, and not singing in
grander, sterner strains,--not becoming the Tyrtaeus of his country. In
truth, Tennyson's strength and physical force and his splendid appearance
in youth, added to his mental grandeur, seem to have deeply impressed his
youthful contemporaries. He was, they felt, heroic, and made for heroic
songs and deeds. When he did go on, in his own way, FitzGerald did not
like it, or only half liked it. For Tennyson did go forward on his own
lines. He had not a little to daunt and deter him. He, too, had his
sensitiveness and capacity for feeling and passion not less exquisite than
FitzGerald's own. FitzGerald said his friendships were more like loves. He
was not alone in this attitude. "What _passions_ our friendships were,"
wrote Thackeray, another of the set, the early friend of both FitzGerald
and Tennyson. But of no friendship could such language be used more truly
than of that which existed between Tennyson and Arthur Hallam. When,
however, the sundering blow fell, and the friendship which was a love lay
shattered, Tennyson braced himself and went on. For

  It becomes no man to nurse despair,
  But in the teeth of clench'd antagonisms
  To follow up the worthiest till he die.

His faith, even to the last, was still at times dashed with doubt, for,
with "the universality of his mind," he could not help seeing many sides
of a question. But he "followed the Gleam," as he has himself described.
FitzGerald did the opposite. He drifted, he dallied, he delayed, he
despaired. He ruined his own life in great measure by his marriage. His
early ambitions seemed to wither prematurely, and he let his career slide.
Yet he was always, as Mr. A. C. Benson has excellently brought out,
admirable in his sincerity, his friendly kindliness, his innocence, his
conscientious adherence to his literary standards. Too much has been made
of his unconventionality, his slovenliness and slackness, his love of low
or common company. He remained a gentleman and a man of business.
Thackeray, a man of the world, when he was starting for America, wanted to
leave him the legal guardian of his daughters. He was an Epicurean, not a
Pyrrhonist. He took life seriously. He showed at times an austerity of
spirit which was surprising. His _Omar_ has often, and naturally, been
compared to Lucretius and to Ecclesiastes. There is probably more of
Lucretius about the poem, but more of Ecclesiastes about the translator.

There is another Epicurean, with whose tenets he might have been thought
to show even more sympathy--the easy-going poet-critic Horace. _Vitae
summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam_ is the constant burden of
FitzGerald's strain. His friendship, early formed, with Tennyson, the
contrast of their divergent views, might be compared with the friendship
of Horace and Virgil. For Virgil, too, began as an Epicurean. But
FitzGerald was not content with Horace. "Why is it," he wrote, "that I can
never take up with Horace, so sensible, agreeable, elegant, and sometimes
even grand?" It was, perhaps, just that masculine and worldly element that
put him off. Yet he not seldom quotes Horace, and perhaps liked him better
than he knew. "_Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret_," he wrote
in a copy of Polonius which he gave to a special friend, and Nature was
what he was always seeking in poetry. Still he preferred Virgil, just as
he really preferred Tennyson.

Though he was destined to produce a poem which bids as fair for
immortality as any of its time, he did not think highly of his own powers
as a poet. But he did plume himself on being a critic. "I pretend to no
Genius," he said, "but to Taste, which according to my aphorism is the
feminine of Genius." This was another gift in common. Tennyson was himself
a consummate critic, as FitzGerald was the first to recognize.

FitzGerald had his limitations and his prejudices--his "crotchets." He did
not like many even of those whom the world has agreed to admire. He did
not like Euripides or even Homer. With Goethe's poems he could not get on.
He eschewed Victor Hugo. He liked, indeed, very little of the prose and
none of the poetry of his contemporaries, except that of the Tennysons. He
could not away with Browning. Arnold, he wrote down "a pedant." He thought
very little of Rossetti and Swinburne, though the former, especially, was
a great admirer not only of _Omar_ but of _Jami_ and some of the Spanish
translations. He tried to read Morris's _Jason_, but said, "No go." He
"could not read the _Adam Bedes_ and the _Daisy Chains_." All this must
be remembered when we read his criticism of Tennyson's later work which
belonged to the period of these writers and their productions. But within
certain limits he was a very fine critic. It cannot be said of him as of
his special favourite among Greek poets, Sophocles, that

  He saw life steadily and saw it whole.

As he was aware himself, he by no means saw it whole. But with his
detachment and his critical gift, it may, perhaps, be said:

  He saw life lazily, but saw it plain.

To the question of Browning's merits, or want of merits, he is always
returning. A very characteristic letter is a long, discursive one, written
to Tennyson himself in 1867:

    _November 3rd, 1867_.

    MY DEAR OLD ALFRED--I abuse Browning myself; and get others to abuse
    him; and write to you about it; for the sake of easing my own
    heart--not yours. Why is it (as I asked Mrs. Tennyson) that, while the
    Magazine critics are belauding him, _not one_ of the men I know, who
    are not inferior to the writers in the Athenæum, Edinburgh, etc., can
    _endure_, and (for the most part) can read him at all? I mean his last
    poem. Thus it has been with the Cowells, Trinity Thompsons, Donnes,
    and some others whom you don't know, but in whose candour and judgment
    I have equal confidence, men and women too.

    Since I wrote to your wife, Pollock, a great friend of Browning's,
    writes to me. "I agree with you about Browning and A. T. I can't
    understand it. _Ter conatus eram_ to get through the Ring and the
    Book--and failing to perform the feat in its totality, I have stooped
    to the humiliation to point out extracts for me (they having read it
    _all quite through_ three times) and still could not do it. So I
    pretend to have read it, and let Browning so suppose when I talk to
    him about it. But don't you be afraid"? (N.B. I am _not_, only angry)
    "things will come round, and A. T. will take his right place again,
    and R. B. will have all the honours due to his learning, wit and

    Then I had the curiosity to ask Carlyle in my yearly letter to him. He
    also is, or was, a friend of B.'s, and used to say that he looked on
    him as a sort of light-cavalry man to follow you. Well, Carlyle
    writes, "Browning's book I read--_insisted_ on reading: it is full of
    talent, of energy, and effort, but totally without _backbone_, or
    basis of common sense. I think among the absurdest books ever written
    by a gifted man." (Italics are his.)

    Who, then, are the people that write the nonsense in the Reviews? I
    believe the reason at the bottom is that R. B. is a clever London
    diner-out, etc., while A. T. holds aloof from the newspaper men, etc.
    "Long life to him!" But I don't understand why Venables, or some of
    the men who think as I do, and wield trenchant pens in high places,
    why they don't come out, and set all this right. I only wish I could
    do it: but I can only see the right thing, but not prove it to others.
    "I do not like you, Dr. Fell," etc.

    I found a Memorandum the other day (I can't now light on it) of a
    Lincolnshire story about "Haxey Wood" or "Haxey Hood"--which--if I had
    not told it to you, but left it as by chance in your way some thirty
    years ago, you would have turned into a shape to outlast all R. B.'s
    poems put together. There is no use in my finding and sending it now,
    because it doesn't do (with Paltry Poets) to try and drag them to the
    water. The two longest and worst tales (I think) in Crabbe's Tales of
    the Hall, were suggested to him by Sir S. Romilly, and "a lady in
    Wiltshire." I wish Murray would let me make a volume of "Selections
    from Crabbe"--which I know I could, so that _common_ readers would
    wish to read the whole original; which now scarce any one does; nor
    can one wonder they do not. But Crabbe will flourish when R. B. is
    dead and buried. Lots of lines which he cut out of his MS. would be
    the beginning of a little fortune to others. I happened on this
    couplet the other day:

        The shapeless purpose of a soul that feels,
        And half suppresses wrath and half reveals.

    Not that Crabbe is to live by single couplets or epigrams, but by
    something far better, as you know better than I. There is a long
    passage in the Tales of the Hall (Old Bachelor) which always reminds
    me of you, A. T., where the Old Bachelor recounts how he pleaded with
    his Whig father to be allowed to marry the Tory Squire's daughter;

        Coolly my father looked, and much enjoy'd
        The broken eloquence his eye destroy'd, etc.

    and then pleads to the Tory mother of the girl.

        Methinks I have the tigress in my eye, etc.

    Do look at this, A. T., when you get the Book, and don't let my praise
    set you against it.

    I have written you a very long letter, you see, with one very bad eye
    too. I thought it had mended, by help of cold water and goggles; but
    these last three days it has turned rusty again. I believe it misses
    the sea air.

        [Greek: deinôn t' aêma pneumatôn ekoimise[21]
        stenonta ponton.]

    Do you quite understand this [Greek: ekoimise]? But what lines,
    understood or not! The two last words go alongside of my little ship
    with me many a time. Well, Alfred, neither you, nor the Mistress, are
    to answer this letter, which I still hope may please you, as it is
    (all the main part) written very loyally, and is all true. Now,
    good-bye, and remember me as your old

        E. F. G.

        _Ne cherchez point, Iris, à percer les ténèbres[22]
        Dont les Dieux sagement ont voilé l'Avenir;
        Et ne consultez point tant de Devins célèbres
        Pour chercher le moment qui doit nous désunir.
        Livrez-vous au plaisir; tout le reste est frivole;
        Et songez que, trop court pour de plus longs projets,
        Tandis que nous parlons le Temps jaloux s'envole,
        Et que ce Temps, hélas! est perdu pour jamais._

    But wait--before I finish I must ask why you assure Clark of Trinity
    that it is the _rooks_ who call "Maud, Maud, etc." Indeed it is the
    _Thrush_, as I have heard a hundred times in a summer's evening, when
    scared in the evergreens of a garden. Therefore:

        Rooks in a classroom quarrel up in the tall trees caw'd;
        But 'twas the thrush in the laurel, that kept crying, Maud, Maud,

Keats he put very high indeed. "I have been again reading Lord Houghton's
_Life of Keats_" he wrote, "whose hastiest doggrel should show Browning,
Morris & Co., that they are not what the newspapers tell them they are."
"What a fuss the cockneys make about Shelley just now, surely not worth
Keats' little finger," he wrote on another occasion. And again, "Is Mr.
Rossetti a Great Poet like Browning and Morris? So the _Athenæum_ tells
me. Dear me, how thick Great Poets _do_ grow nowadays." And yet again, "I
can't read G. Eliot as I presume you can; I really conclude that the fault
lies in me, not in her; so with Goethe (except in his letters,
Table-Talk,[23] etc.), whom I try in vain to admire."

His real love was for Crabbe, the poet, not of "realism" but of reality.

  Life's sternest painter and its best--

the poet of disillusionment. This love, which has been felt in different
generations by Byron, Cardinal Newman, and Bishop Gore, he could get few
of his friends to share with him. Tennyson himself was one of the few. "I
keep reading Crabbe from time to time," he writes to Tennyson; "nobody
else does unless it be another 'paltry Poet' whom I know. The edition only
sells at a shilling a volume--second-hand. I don't wonder at young people
and women (I mean no disparagement at all) not relishing even the good
parts: and certainly there is plenty of bad for all readers."

What he loved before all was "touches of nature," the humour, the pathos,
of ordinary life. He liked home-thrusts at human foibles and frailty, and
again the outwelling of native nobility, generosity, or love. Newman's
early Sermons, "Plain and Parochial" as they were, perhaps for this very
reason he much affected. "The best that were ever written in my judgment,"
he said. He remained an admirer of Newman, and speaks enthusiastically of
the _Apologia_ and its "sincerity." But he did not like the ritualism of
the Oxford movement. His traditions were Evangelical,--one reason perhaps
why he liked Newman. John Wesley was "one of his heroes," and he had much
sympathy with, and was at one period personally drawn by, evangelical and
revivalist Mission preaching.

He would have sympathized with Keble's lines teaching that his
fellow-creatures should not

  Strive to wind themselves too high
  For sinful man beneath the sky.

This was probably one of the reasons why he did not like "In Memoriam." He
said indeed that he thought it too artistic, too machine-made. He said
that he thought Tennyson became gradually altogether too artistic and lost
in spontaneity, vigour, and freshness. Yet he himself was a most laborious
artist, both in his verse and in his prose. _Omar_ is most carefully
elaborated, with correction on correction, and so are the best parts of
_Euphranor_. His reasons were really deeper, and went more against the
matter than the form. He did not like the early "Idylls of the King." "The
Holy Grail" he liked as he had liked the "Vision of Sin." But what moved
him to tears was the old-style "Northern Farmer," the "substantial,
rough-spun Nature he knew," and "the old brute, invested by the poet with
the solemn humour of Humanity like Shakespeare's _Shallow_." Yet even here
a "crotchet" cropped up, as appears from the following note:

    WOODBRIDGE, _May 20th, 1877_.

    The enclosed scrap from Notes and Queries reminded me (as probably the
    writer has been reminded) of your Old Farmer, the only part of which
    that goes against me is the "canter and canter away" of the last line.
    I can scarce tell you (as usual with me) why I don't like Doctor Fell;
    but you know I must be right.

    By the by, my old Crabbe in the Parish Register (Burials), says

        Bless me! I die--and not a warning giv'n--
        With much to do on earth, and _all_ for Heaven:
        No preparation for my soul's affairs,
        No leave petitioned for the Barn's repairs, etc.

    not very good; and (N.B.) I don't mean it suggested anything in
    Shakespeare's Northern Farmer--for that may pair off with Shallow.

Again, when it appeared in 1865, he was greatly taken with the "Captain."
It was a return to the old personal mood and simple direct depiction of

    _October 22nd, 1865_.

    DEAR MRS. TENNYSON--Talking of ships again, I liked much _The Captain_
    in the People's Alfred. Was the last stanza (which I like also) an
    afterthought?--I think a really _sublime_ thing is the end of
    Kingsley's "Westward Ho!"--(which I never could read through)--The
    Chase of the Ships: the Hero's being struck blind at the moment of
    revenge: then his being taken to _see_ his rival and crew at the
    bottom of the sea. Kingsley is a distressing writer to me: but I must
    think this (the inspiration of it) of a piece with Homer and the
    Gods--which you won't at all.

He liked, too, "Gareth and Lynette," which again he thought more natural
and direct than some of the earlier Idylls. He liked, as might have been
expected, the "Ballads and other Poems." But what is most significant,
perhaps, among his likes and dislikes, is his love for "Audley Court,"
"one of my old favourites," he calls it. Why did FitzGerald like "Audley
Court"? It is not one of the poems which are generally best known and
most admired. Indeed, while it is in many ways beautiful and contains some
splendid things, such as the sonorous line

  The pillar'd dusk of sounding sycamores,

it is just one of those poems which the severe critic of Tennyson picks
out for fault-finding and even for ridicule. It has what such critics call
the over-elaborate, the "drawing-room" manner. Like Milton's picture of
Eve's _déjeuner_, though with more humour and appropriateness, it employs
the grand and sumptuous style to describe trifles, such as the venison

  Where quail and pigeon, lark and leveret lay,
  Like fossils of the rock, with golden yolks
  Imbedded and injellied.

But on a closer consideration it will be seen that it has just what "Old
Fitz" himself loved--the easy realism, the contentment with the things of
this world; above all, that flavour of

                After-dinner talk
  Across the walnuts and the wine

which he also found and loved in that other favourite, "The Miller's
Daughter," the harmless gossip about old friends

                            who was dead,
  Who married, who was like to be, and how
  The races went, and who would rent the hall.

This suited "Old Fitz's" temper absolutely. The humorous _pococurantism_,
for cynicism it hardly is, of the quatrains put into the mouth of the
Poet's friend, each ending "but let me live my life," breathes the very
spirit of his own indolent, kindly Epicureanism, and indeed the poem might
almost be taken as a record of a dialogue between the two friends in their
early days.

He loved, too, the "Lord of Burleigh," "The Vision of Sin," and "The Lady
of Shalott." The delicious idealism of these youthful pieces did not
displease him. They had for him a "champagne flavour." They were part of
his own youth. For a brief hour of that fast-fleeting day, the wine of
life had sparkled in his own glass, but then too soon turned flat and

For two or three things every lover of Tennyson must thank FitzGerald. He
it was who, about 1838, soon after their friendship began, got his friend,
Samuel Laurence, to paint the earliest portrait of the Poet, "the only one
of the old days and still the best of all to my thinking," as he wrote in
1871. He, too, preserved and gave to Tennyson the drawing by Thackeray of
the "Lord of Burleigh." When the Poet was rather dilatory in calling at
Spedding's house to claim this portrait, FitzGerald wrote: "Tell him I
don't think Browning would have served me so, and I mean to prefer his
poems for the future." He also rescued from the flames some of the pages
of the famous "Butcher's Book," the tall, ledger-like MS. volume, in which
many of the early poems he so much loved were written, and gave them to
the Library of Trinity College. About this he wrote:

    _December 4th, 1864_.

    DEAR ALFRED--Now I should be almost ready to be "yours ever, etc." if
    I didn't remember to ask you if you have any objection to my giving
    two or three of the leaves of your old "Butcher's Book" (do you
    remember?) to the Library at Trinity College? An admirer of your's
    there told me they would be glad of some such thing--It was in 1842,
    when you were printing the two good old volumes:--in Spedding's
    rooms--and the "Butcher's Book," after its margins serving for
    pipe-lights, went leaf by leaf into the fire: and I told you I would
    keep two or three leaves of it as a remembrance. So I took a bit of my
    old favourite "Audley Court": and a bit of another, I forget which:
    for I can't lay my hands on them just now. But when I do, I shall give
    them to Trinity College unless you are strongly opposed. I dare say,
    however, you would give them the whole MS. of one of your later
    poems: which probably they would value more.

Tennyson appreciated "Old Fitz's" fine qualities as a critic, but he
recognized their limitations, and in particular his "crotchets" and
prejudices. He was himself, as is now generally recognized, a consummate
critic, and withal a most kindly and catholic one. In my first
conversation with him he said that he used to think Goethe a good critic.
"He always discovered all the good he could in a man." To his own
contemporaries, especially towards Browning, for example, his attitude was
very different, as FitzGerald acknowledged, from FitzGerald's own. I did
not like, I remember, to ask him what he thought of Browning, but his son
encouraged me to do so. "You ask him," he said. "He'll tell you at once."
At last I did so. "A true genius, but wanting in art," he said. And on
another occasion he spoke rather more in detail to the same purpose.

A special friend of both Tennyson and FitzGerald was Thackeray. With him
FitzGerald had been intimate even earlier than with Tennyson. They were
friends at college, and had gone as young men together to Paris, Thackeray
ostensibly to study art. FitzGerald knew Paris of old. His father had a
home there when he was a child, and went there for a few months every year
for some years.

When he was nearing seventy FitzGerald wrote the following delightful
account of some of his recollections to Thackeray's daughter:

    WOODBRIDGE, _May 18th, 1875_.

    DEAR ANNIE THACKERAY--I suppose you love Paris as your Father did--as
    I used to do till it was made so other than it was, in the days of
    Louis XVIII. when I first lived in it. _Then_ it was all irregular and
    picturesque; with shops, hotels, _cafés_, theatres, etc. intermixed
    all along the Boulevards, all of different sorts and sizes.

    Think of my remembering the _then_ Royal Family going in several
    carriages to hunt in the Forest of St. Germain's--Louis XVIII. first,
    with his _Gardes du Corps_, in blue and silver: then Monsieur
    (afterwards Charles X.) with _his_ Guard in green and gold--French
    horns blowing--"tra, tra, tra" (as Madame de Sévigné says), through
    the lines of chestnut and limes--in flower. And then _Madame_ (of
    Angoulême) standing up in her carriage, blear-eyed, dressed in white
    with her waist at her neck--standing up in the carriage at a corner of
    the wood to curtsey to the English assembled there--my mother among
    them. This was in 1817. Now _you_ would have made a delightful
    description of all this; you will say _I_ have done so, but that is
    not so. And yet I saw, and see, it all.

    Whenever you write again--(I don't wish you to write now) tell me what
    you think of Irving and Salvini; of the former of whom I have very
    different reports, Macready's Memoirs seem to me very _conscientious_
    and _rather dull_; _toujours Megready_ (as one W. M. T. irreverently
    called him). He seems to me to have had no humour--which I also
    observed in his acting. He would have made a better scholar or divine,
    I think: a very honourable, good man anywhere and anyhow.

With Thackeray himself he always maintained the same cordial relations as
he did with Tennyson. But his literary attitude shifted and varied in the
same way. Here, again, he preferred the early work which he had seen in
process of creation. In later years, when they met him at Woodbridge, he
said to "Alfred" and his son, "I hardly dare take down Thackeray's early
books, because they are so great. It's like waking the Thunder." He wrote
of Thackeray in 1849: "He is just the same. All the world 'admires _Vanity
Fair_,' and the author is courted by Dukes and Duchesses and wits of both
sexes. I like _Pendennis much_, and Alfred said he thought it was quite
delicious: it seemed to him so _mature_ he said." But a little later he
took alarm at the Dukes and Duchesses, and wrote to Frederick Tennyson: "I
am come to London, but I do not go to Operas or Plays, and have scarce
time (and it must be said, scarce inclination) to hunt up many friends--I
get shyer and shyer even of those I knew. Thackeray is in such a great
world that I am afraid of him; he gets tired of me and we are content to
regard each other at a distance. You, Alfred, Spedding, and Allen, are the
only men I ever care to see again.... As you know, I admire your poems,
the only poems by a living writer I do admire, except Alfred's."

He told Hallam Tennyson that he greatly admired the charming scene in
"Philip" where the young lady unexpectedly discovered her lover (Philip)
on the box of the diligence, and quieted the screaming children inside by
saying, "Hush! _he's_ there."

In particular, he was very severe on anything he called "cockney,"
speaking, that is, the language of the town, not of the country; in other
words, dealing with nature and human nature at second-hand. To this his
letters again and again return. Of "fine writing," as he called it, even
when it occurred in his own early work, he was unsparingly critical. Thus
of _Euphranor_ he wrote to Mrs. Kemble: "The Dialogue is a pretty thing in
some respects but disfigured by some confounded _smart_ writing in parts."
He thought this fault in particular, so he says in a letter to Frederick
Tennyson, "the loose screw in American literature," and deplored its
presence in Lowell, a writer whom otherwise he liked. "I honestly admire
his work in the main," he says, "and I think he is altogether the best
critic we have, something of what Ste. Beuve is in French." He thought
that Tennyson came to suffer from these defects in his later days, and
that the artist overpowered the man.

The latest of Tennyson's poems, of course, he did not live to see. He did
not see, for instance, "Crossing the Bar." What would he have thought of
it? Another old friend of Tennyson, also a fastidious critic, the Duke of
Argyll, in an unpublished letter of February 1, 1892, writing of this and
of the lines on the "Death of the Duke of Clarence," says: "Magnificent,
is all I can say of your lines in the _Nineteenth_. The two last things of
yours that I have seen, this and the 'Bar,' are both perfect in their
several ways, and such as no other man could have written. The 'Bar' is
the type of what I define Poetry to be, great thought in true imagery and
unusual expression. All the three are needed for the type thing. Much fine
poetry is to me only eloquence, which is quite another thing." With the
last sentence FitzGerald would certainly have agreed, for it is what in
other words he was himself constantly saying. But he seemed to require
something more than great thoughts and true images and choice diction.
Poignant and revealing touches, what he called in Crabbe "shrewd hits";
feeling, as well as, if not more than, thought--this was what he asked
for. All Browning's genius seemed to him _emphase_, cleverness, curiosity,

"The Dramatic Idylls," he writes to Frederick Tennyson, "seemed to me
'Ingoldsby.' It seems to me as if the Beautiful being already appropriated
by former men of genius, those who are not inspired, can only try for a
Place among them by recourse to the Quaint, Grotesque, and Ugly in all the
Arts,--what I call the Gargoyle style." And again: "I always said he must
be a cockney, and now I find he is Camberwell-born--

  It once was the Pastoral cockney,
      It now is the cockney Profound."

The establishment of the Browning Society tried him specially. "Imagine a
man abetting all this," he writes. Tennyson had, through life, a high
opinion of FitzGerald's powers of criticism. They had often in their youth
discussed the classics of all time and all times together, and also, with
the poetic freedom of young men, their seniors, Shelley, and Byron, and
Wordsworth. It was FitzGerald who invented for the last the name by which
he went in their circle, of the "Daddy." They had fought for the ownership
of the Wordsworthian line, the "weakest blank verse in the language":

  A Mr. Wilkinson, a clergyman.

It really was FitzGerald's description, given in conversation, of the
gentleman who was going to marry his sister. When he died in 1862
FitzGerald, writing to Tennyson, reminded him of the line.

    "This letter," he writes, "ought to be on a black-edged paper in a
    black-edged cover: for I have just lost a brother-in-law--one of the
    best of Men. If you ask, 'Who?' I reply, in what you once called the
    weakest line ever enunciated:

        A Mister Wilkinson, a Clergyman.

    You can't remember this: in Old Charlotte Street, ages ago!"

In the valedictory verses Tennyson makes allusion to this critical habit:

  And when I fancied that my friend
    For this brief idyll would require
  A less diffuse and opulent end,
    And would defend his judgment well,
  If I should deem it over nice,----

He himself was more catholic and generous. It was his generosity as well
as their admiration for him which gave him the place he held among his
brother poets and especially after he himself had won recognition among
the younger men.

His relation to Browning, Patmore, and P. J. Bailey, to Matthew Arnold and
Swinburne, to Watson and Kipling as to Dickens, Thackeray, and George
Eliot, are well known. There is one writer who ought to be added to the
list, who received some of his earliest encouragement from
Tennyson--George Meredith. A letter, hitherto unpublished, written in
January 1851, may illustrate this. He had just, in some trepidation, sent
Tennyson his first volume of poems, containing the now well-known "Love in
the Valley." As Meredith told me himself, Tennyson replied with an
exceedingly kind and "pretty" letter, saying that there was one poem in
the book he could have wished he had written, and inviting Meredith to
come to see him. The following is Meredith's answer:

    SIR--When I tell you that it would have been my chief ambition in
    publishing the little volume of poems you have received, to obtain
    your praise, you may imagine what pride and pleasure your letter gave
    me; though, indeed, I do not deserve so much as your generous
    appreciation would bestow, and of this I am very conscious. I had but
    counted twenty-three years when the book was published, which may
    account for, and excuse perhaps many of the immaturities. When you say
    you would like to know me, I can scarcely trust myself to express with
    how much delight I would wait upon you--a privilege I have long
    desired. As I suppose the number of poetic visits you receive are
    fully as troublesome as the books, I will not venture to call on you
    until you are able to make an appointment. My residence and address is
    Weybridge, but I shall not return to Town from Southend before Friday
    week. If in the meantime you will fix any day following that date, I
    shall gladly avail myself of the honour of your invitation. My address
    here is care of Mrs. Peacock, Southend, Essex. I have the honour to
    be, most faithfully yours,


    Alfred Tennyson, Esq.

The complement to "Old Fitz" was Carlyle. He was the friend of both
FitzGerald and Tennyson. Gruff, grumbling, self-centred, satirical, at
times even rude and rough, as he was, both of them seemed to have got not
so much on his blind, as on his kind side from the first, and always to
have remained there. Carlyle's descriptions of Tennyson as a young man in
the early "forties" and of the pleasure he had in his company are well
known. "He seemed to take a fancy to me," Tennyson said himself one day
while we talked about him at Farringford. They foregathered a good deal
at this period, sat and smoked silently, walked and talked together, both
by day and night. FitzGerald told Hallam Tennyson, years after, during the
visit to Woodbridge, that Carlyle was much concerned at this period about
his father's poverty, and said to him, "Alfred must have a pension." The
story of the way in which he spurred on "Dicky" Milnes to secure the
pension is now classical. What his special effect, if he had any, on
Tennyson was, it might be difficult to estimate or analyse.

The younger generation to-day does not remember the period of Carlyle's
immense influence. It lasted just into the youth of my contemporaries and
myself, or perhaps a little longer, and then began to wane and die away.
He certainly was a "radio-active" force in the days and with the men of
Tennyson's youth,--Maurice, and Sterling, and "Dicky" Milnes, as he was a
little later with Ruskin and Kingsley. FitzGerald, with his detachment and
his fearless sincerity, estimated him as fairly as any one. "Do you see
Carlyle's _Latter-Day Pamphlets_?" he wrote. "They make the world laugh,
and his friends rather sorry for him. But that is because people will
still look for practical measures from him. One must be content with him
as a great satirist who can make us feel when we are wrong, though he
cannot set us right. There is a bottom of truth in Carlyle's wildest

He wrote to Frederick Tennyson in 1850: "When I spoke of the 'Latter-Day
Prophet' I conclude you have read or heard of Carlyle's Pamphlets. People
are tired of them and of him; he only foams, snaps, and howls and no
progress people say. This is about true, and yet there is vital good in
all he has written." Again, in 1854, he says, "Carlyle I did not go to
see, for I have really nothing to tell him, and I am tired of hearing him
growl, tho' I admire him as much as ever." "I wonder if he ever thinks how
much sound and fury he has vented," he writes on another occasion.

But the posthumous publication of Carlyle's Letters, as he wrote about a
fortnight before his own death, "raised him in FitzGerald's esteem"; and
his last effort was to go to Chelsea to see his statue, and the old house
hard by which he had not seen for five-and-twenty years, to find it, alas,
"deserted, neglected, and 'To let!'"

Carlyle was indeed much what "Old Fitz" describes. He was a powerful
solvent of his age. He destroyed many shams, "Hebrew rags," "old clothes,"
as he called them. Both by his own example and his fiery energy he
inculcated the "Gospel of Work." He was not a modern realist, but a man
who dealt in realities, who perceived that virtue and beauty and faith are
as real as vice and ugliness and unfaith, nay, perhaps more real; but that
certainly neither are shams, neither God nor the Devil, though of shams,
of false gods and false devils, there are many. His appreciation of poetry
was, as is well known, but scant and intermittent. He used to banter
Tennyson and call him "a Life-Guardsman spoiled by making poetry," but he
became converted even to his poems, though, as he said, this was
surprising to himself. He "felt the pulse of a real man's heart" in the
1842 volumes. "Ulysses" was a special favourite. He quoted again and again
the lines:

  It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
  It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
  And see the great Achilles whom we knew.

"These lines do not make me weep," he said, "but there is in me what would
fill whole Lachrymatories as I read." He, fortunately, also "took a fancy"
to Mrs. Tennyson when he met her as a bride at Tent Lodge, Coniston,
partly because, in answer to one of his wild grumbles, she said, "That is
not sane, Mr. Carlyle." An unpublished letter from Carlyle of the date
October 1850, describes an admirer of Tennyson's poems, an ill-starred but
brave man, a skilful physician, a friend of Dr. John Carlyle at
Leamington, who, after losing the greater part of his face by _caries_ of
the bone, had at last been cured, though awfully disfigured. "He fled to
Keswick," writes Carlyle, "and there he now resides, not idle still, nor
forsaken of friends, or hope, or domestic joy--a monument of human
courtesy, and really a worthy and rather interesting man. Such is your
admirer and mine. Heaven be good to him and us."

FitzGerald, in a letter to Frederick Tennyson, quotes with approval a
criticism of Lowell's that Carlyle "was a poet in all but rhythm"; and it
would not be difficult to find "parallel passages" between Tennyson and
Carlyle, between _Sartor Resartus_ and "In Memoriam." The _Life of
Sterling_, too, should be read by any student anxious to "reconstitute the
atmosphere" in which that poem grew up, and which, to a certain extent, it
still breathes. But "parallel passages" are misleading. Suffice it to say
that both went through the storm and stress of a doubting age, both took
their stand on the solid rock of God and of real, healthy human
nature,--both emerged in the "Eternal Yea."

Froude, in his history of Carlyle's Life in London, has a most interesting
autobiographic passage about Carlyle's position and influence in 1843, the
time of the publication of _Past and Present_, which brings this out with
special force. He says:

    In this condition the best and bravest of my own contemporaries
    determined to have done with insincerity, to find ground under their
    feet, to let the uncertain remain uncertain, but to learn how much and
    what we could honestly regard as true and believe that and live by it.
    Tennyson became the voice of this feeling in poetry, Carlyle in what
    was called prose, though prose it was not, but something by itself
    with a form and melody of its own.

    Tennyson's Poems, the group of Poems which closed with "In Memoriam,"
    became to many of us what the "Christian Year" was to orthodox
    Churchmen. We read them, and they became part of our minds, the
    expression in exquisite language of the feelings which were working in
    ourselves. Carlyle stood beside him as a prophet and teacher; and to
    the young, the generous, to every one who took life seriously, who
    wished to make an honourable use of it and could not be content with
    sitting down and making money, his words were like the morning

    Others may come at last to the sad conclusion that nothing can be
    known about the world, that the external powers, whatever they may be,
    are indifferent to human action or human welfare. To such an opinion
    some men, and those not the worst, may be driven after weary
    observation of life. But the young will never believe it; or if they
    do they have been young only in name.

If the first paragraphs aptly "place" Tennyson and Carlyle, the last,
though not intentionally, exactly suits their friend, the translator of
the _Rubáiyát_. FitzGerald remained, as his friend the Master of Trinity
College (W. H. Thompson) said, in "Doubting Castle." Tennyson was the most
hopeful, as well as the most balanced and sane, and therefore the most
helpful of the three.

Toward the end of his life, Carlyle, in the Inaugural Address given by him
as Rector of Edinburgh University, in which he summed up so many of the
convictions of a lifetime, put forward the following description of the
completely healthy human spirit. "A man all lucid and in equilibrium. His
intellect a clear mirror, geometrically plane, brilliantly sensitive to
all objects and impressions made on it, and imaging all things in their
correct proportions, not twisted up into convex or concave and distorting
everything so that he cannot see the truth of the matter without endless
groping and manipulation--healthy, clear and free, and discerning all
round about him." He put this picture before young men as the ideal to be
aimed at by the intellectual student, and in particular by the man of
letters. "But," he said, "we can never never attain that at all." Perhaps
not altogether. Perhaps even he who invented the phrase for the poet's
duty of "holding the mirror up to Nature," did not wholly attain to it.
But, according to his measure, it is no bad description of Alfred
Tennyson, with the "universality of his mind," the simplicity of his good
sense, the childlike sincerity of his spirit. This quality it was that
both Carlyle and FitzGerald found and liked in him.

It has been said that Tennyson and FitzGerald read the same books. One of
the best instances of this is to be found in a long letter of FitzGerald's
about posthumous fame and literary immortality. It was written to Cowell
in 1847, and is given by Dr. Aldis Wright in his first collection. After
speaking of Homer and the _Iliad_, FitzGerald writes:

    Yet as I often think it is not the poetical imagination, but bare
    Science that every day more and more unrolls a greater Epic than the
    Iliad; the history of the world, the great infinitudes of Space and
    Time! I never take up a book of Geology or Astronomy but this strikes
    me. And when we think that Man must go on in the same plodding way,
    one fancies that the Poet of to-day may as well fold his hands, or
    turn them to dig and delve, considering how soon the march of
    discovery will distance all his imaginations and dissolve the language
    in which they are uttered. Martial, as you say, lives now after two
    thousand years: a space that seems long to us whose lives are so
    brief; but a moment, the twinkling of an eye, if compared (not to
    Eternity alone), but to the ages which it is now known the world must
    have existed, and (unless for some external violence) must continue to

    Lyell in his book about America, says that the Falls of Niagara, if
    (as seems certain) they have worked their way back southwards for
    seven miles, must have taken over 35,000 years to do so at the rate of
    something over a foot a year! Sometimes they fall back on a stratum
    that crumbles away from behind them more easily: but then again they
    have to roll over rock that yields to them scarce more perceptibly
    than the anvil to the serpent. And these very soft strata, which the
    Cataract now erodes, contain evidences of a race of animals, and of
    the action of seas washing over them, long before Niagara came to have
    a distinct current; and the rocks were compounded ages and ages before
    those strata! So that, as Lyell says, the geologist, looking at
    Niagara forgets even the roar of its waters in the contemplation of
    the awful processes of time that it suggests. It is not only that the
    vision of Time must wither the Poet's hope of immortality, but it is
    in itself more wonderful than all the conceptions of Dante and Milton.

This train of thought was evidently often present to FitzGerald's mind. It
oppressed him. It makes itself felt in the _Rubáiyát_. It was one of the
many great ideas he imported into, or educed from, the old Persian

    And fear not lest existence closing your
    Account, and mine, should know the like no more;
  The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has poured
    Millions of Bubbles like us and will pour

    When you and I behind the Veil are past:
    Oh but the long long while the world shall last,
  Which of our coming and departure heeds
    As the Sev'n Seas should heed a pebble-cast.

It was even more constantly present to the mind of Tennyson. Astronomy and
Geology had been among his favourite studies from his early youth, and
remained so all his life. When I was walking with him toward the Needles
and looking at the magnificent chalk cliff below the downs, and spoke
about his felicitous epithet for it--"the milky steep," he said, "The most
wonderful thing about that cliff is to think it was all once alive." The
allusions to it in his poems are innumerable:

  There rolls the deep where grew the tree,
      O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
      There where the long street roars, hath been
  The stillness of the central sea.

He was always "hearing the roll of the ages." He, too, had read his Lyell,
and the contemplation of geological time suggested to him exactly the same
reflections which FitzGerald draws out. Indeed, it seems not unlikely that
he himself may have imparted them to FitzGerald. For he has embodied just
these thoughts in that noble late poem "Parnassus," with a resemblance
which is startling. But while the parallel between "Parnassus" and
FitzGerald's letter is extraordinarily close up to a certain point, the
contrast, when it is reached, is even more striking, and is the
fundamental contrast between the two men and their creeds:

  What be those two shapes high over the sacred fountain,
  Taller than all the Muses, and huger than all the mountain?
  On those two known peaks they stand, ever spreading and heightening;
  Poet, that evergreen laurel is blasted by more than lightning!
  Look, in their deep double shadow the crown'd ones all disappearing!
  Sing like a bird and be happy, nor hope for a deathless hearing!
  Sounding for ever and ever? pass on! the sight confuses--
  These are Astronomy and Geology, terrible Muses!

So far Tennyson agrees with _Omar_:

  Ah make the most of what we yet may spend
  Before we too into the dust descend;
      Dust into dust and under dust to lie,
  Sans wine, sans song, sans singer and sans end!

But then comes the divergence, conveyed with the exquisitely sympathetic
change of rhythm:

  If the lips were touch'd with fire from off a pure Pierian altar,
  Tho' their music here be mortal, need the singer greatly care?
  Other songs for other worlds! the fire within him would not falter;
  Let the golden Iliad vanish, Homer here is Homer there.

The beautiful lines which form the Envoy to "Tiresias," already alluded
to, never reached their address. I remember well, when we spoke of
FitzGerald, the sadness with which Tennyson said to me, "He never saw
them. He died before they were sent him." After his death Tennyson added
the Epilogue on the same note. It is touching to see that in his closing
lines to his old friend he had hinted with tender delicacy at the same
creed to which he always clung:

  Gone into darkness, that full light
    Of friendship! past, in sleep, away
  By night, into the deeper night!
    The deeper night? A clearer day
  Than our poor twilight dawn on earth--
    If night, what barren toil to be!
  What life, so maim'd by night, were worth
    Our living out? Not mine to me
  Remembering all the golden hours
    Now silent, and so many dead
  And him the last; and laying flowers,
    This wreath, above his honour'd head,
  And praying that, when I from hence
    Shall fade with him into the unknown,
  My close of earth's experience
    May prove as peaceful as his own.

Like many rough and overbearing men Carlyle liked those who stood up to
him and gave him back, in his own phrase, "shake for shake." FitzGerald
was one of these. He made his better acquaintance by contradicting and
correcting him about the battlefield and the buried warriors of Naseby
Fight. Carlyle took it all in excellent part, and they became close
friends. Carlyle went to visit him and invited the many letters which
FitzGerald wrote. In his later years he sent one of these letters to C. E.
Norton as a "slight emblem and memorial of the peaceable, affectionate,
ultra-modest man and his innocent _far niente_ life"; "and," he adds, "the
connection (were there nothing more) of Omar, the Mahometan Blackguard,
and Oliver Cromwell, the English Puritan."

But "Old Fitz" could criticize and sum up Carlyle equally effectively. He
most happily pointed out his inconsistency in praising the "Hebrew rags"
of the old Evangelical beliefs when seen in Cromwell and his generals, and
not being willing to let them still serve for humble folk in his own day.
His tone here is singularly like that of Tennyson's well-known lines,

  Leave thou thy sister when she prays.

"We may be well content," FitzGerald writes, "even to suffer some
absurdities in the Form if the Spirit does well on the whole." He would
probably have agreed with much of Tennyson's "Akbar's Dream," which he did
not live to read. For the tenets of "Omar," "The Mahometan Blackguard,"
must not be taken as representing the whole of FitzGerald's philosophy,
any more than his eccentricities and negligent habits must be taken as a
complete expression of his life.

Too exclusive attention has been paid to both. Dr. Aldis Wright, one of
the few surviving friends who knew him really well, speaks justly of "the
exaggerated stories of his slovenliness and his idleness," and "of the way
in which he has been made responsible for all the oddities of his family."
"Every tale," he says, "that may be true of some of his kin, is fathered
upon him."

And FitzGerald's own Preface to his translation of _Omar_ shows what his
real moral and religious attitude toward the _Rubáiyát_ was. He felt
bound, so far as the spirit, if not the letter, went, to present it
faithfully, if not literally; but he speaks very gravely of it. "The
quatrains here selected," he writes in the Preface, "are strung into
something of an Eclogue, with perhaps a less than equal proportion of the
'Drink and make merry' which (genuine or not), recurs over frequently in
the original. Either way, the result is sad enough, saddest perhaps when
most ostentatiously merry, more apt to move sorrow than Anger toward the
old Tentmaker, who, after vainly endeavouring to unshackle his steps from
Destiny and to catch some authentic Glimpse of TO-MORROW, fell back upon
TO-DAY (which has outlived so many To-morrows!) as the only ground he got
to stand upon, however momentarily slipping from under his Feet."

The truth is, Old Fitz's foibles, and indeed his faults, were only too
patent to others and to himself. But if _noscitur a sociis_ holds good,
Carlyle and Tennyson and Thackeray, Spedding, Thompson, the Cowells, and
Mrs. Kemble, the friends of his whole lifetime, Lowell and C. E. Norton,
those of his later years, may be permitted to outweigh his at times too
tolerant cultivation and indulgence of his burly Vikings. Tennyson's
relation to him was summed up in his letter to Sir Frederick Pollock which
Dr. Aldis Wright quotes, but which may fitly here be quoted again: "I had
no truer friend; he was one of the kindliest of men, and I have never
known one of so fine and delicate a wit."

These words, with Tennyson's poetic picture already quoted, with Carlyle's
epithets, "innocent, _far niente_, ultra-modest," with his own writings
taken as a whole and not _Omar_ alone, especially his Letters, may be left
to speak for him in life and in death,--these and the epitaph which he
asked to have placed upon his gravestone:

  "It is He that hath made us and not we ourselves."


[Many more were in a Notebook, which I have now lost.--E. F. G.]


(Given to Hallam Lord Tennyson[24])


(Resting on our oars one calm day on Windermere, whither we had gone for a
week from dear Spedding's Mirehouse at the end of May 1835,--resting on
our oars, and looking into the lake quite unruffled and clear, he quoted
from the lines he had lately read us from the MS. of "Morte d'Arthur"
about the lonely lady of the Lake and Excalibur.)

  Nine days she wrought it, sitting all alone
  Upon the hidden bases of the Hills.

"Not bad that, Fitz, is it?"

(One summer day looking from Richmond Star and Garter.)

"I love those woods that go triumphing down to the river."

"Somehow water is the element which I love best of all the four." (He was
passionately fond of the sea and of babbling brooks.--ED.)

"Some one says that nothing strikes one more on returning from the
Continent than the look of our English country towns. Houses not so big,
nor such rows of them as abroad; but each house, little or big, distinct
from one another, each man's castle, built according to his own means and
fancy, and so indicating the Englishman's individual humour.

"I have been two days abroad--no further than Boulogne this time, but I am
struck as always on returning from France with the look of good sense in
the London people."

(Standing before a Madonna, by Murillo, at the Dulwich Gallery--her eyes
fixed on you.)

"Yes--but they seem to look at something beyond--beyond the Actual into
Abstraction. I have seen that in a human face." (I, E. F. G., have seen it
in _his_. Some American spoke of the same in Wordsworth. I suppose it may
be so with all _Poets_.)


"When I was sitting by the banks of Doon--I don't know why--I wasn't in
the least spoony--not thinking of Burns (but of the lapsing of the
Ages)--when all of a sudden I gave way to a passion of tears."

"I one day hurled a great iron bar over a haystack. Two bumpkins who stood
by said there was no one in the two parishes who could do it. I was then
about twenty-five." (He could carry his mother's pony round the
dinner-table.--E. F. G.)

"The Sea at Mablethorpe is the grandest I know, except perhaps at Land's
End." (That is as he afterwards explained to me in a letter.)

"Thackeray is the better artist, Dickens the [more affluent] Genius. He,
like Hogarth, has the moral sublime sometimes: but not the ideal sublime.
Perhaps I seem talking nonsense; I mean Hogarth could not conceive an
Apollo or a Jupiter." (Or Sigismunda.--E. F. G.)--"I think Hogarth greater
than Dickens."

(Looking at an engraving of the Sistine Madonna in which only She and the
Child, I think, were represented.)

"Perhaps finer than the whole composition in so far as one's eyes are more
concentrated on the subject. The Child seems to me the furthest result of
human art. His attitude is that of a man--his countenance a
Jupiter's--perhaps rather too much so."

(He afterwards said (1852) that his own little boy, Hallam, explained the
expression of Raffaelle's. He said he thought he had known Raffaelle
before he went to Italy--but not Michael Angelo--not only Statues and
Frescoes, but some picture (I think) of a Madonna "dragging a ton of a
Child over her Shoulder.")

Seaford: December 27th-28th, 1852

"Babies delight in being moved to and from anything: that is amusement to
them. What a Life of Wonder--every object new. This morning he (his own
little boy) worshipp'd the Bed-post when a gleam of sunshine lighted on

"I am afraid of him. It is a Man. Babes have an expression of grandeur
that children lose. I used to think that the old Painters overdid the
Expression and Dignity of their infant Christs: but I see they did not."

"I was struck at the Duke's (Wellington's) Funeral with the look of sober
Manhood and Humanity in the British Soldiers."

(Of Laurence's chalk drawing of ----'s head--"rather diplomatic than
inhuman"--he said in fun.--E. F. G.)

Brighton, 1852-1853

"The finest Sea I have seen is at Valentia (Ireland), without any wind and
seemingly without a Wave, but with the momentum of the Atlantic behind it,
it dashes up into foam--blue diamond it looked like--all along the
rocks--like ghosts playing at Hide and Seek."

(At some other time on the same subject.)

"When I was in Cornwall it had blown a storm of wind and rain for
days--all of a sudden fell into perfect calm; I was a little inland of the
cliffs, when, after a space of perfect silence, a long roll of
Thunder--from some wave rushing into a cavern, I suppose--came up from the
Distance and died away. I never _felt_ Silence like that."

"_This_" (looking from Brighton Pier) "is not a grand sea: only an angry
curt sea. It seems to _shriek_ as it recoils with its pebbles along the

"The Earth has light of her own--so has Venus--perhaps all the other
Planets--electrical light, or what we call Aurora. The light edge of the
dark hemisphere of the moon--the 'old Moon in the new Moon's arms.'"

"Nay, they say she has no atmosphere at all."

(I do not remember when this was said, nor whether I have exactly set it
down; therefore must not make A. T. answerable for what he did not say, or
for what after-discovery may have caused him to unsay. He had a powerful
brain for Physics as for the Ideal. I remember his noticing that the
forward-bending horns of some built-up mammal in the British Museum would
never force its way through jungle, etc., and I observed on an after-visit
that they had been altered accordingly.)

"Sometimes I think Shakespeare's Sonnets finer than his Plays--which is of
course absurd. For it is the knowledge of the Plays that makes the Sonnets
so fine."

"Do you think the Artist ever feels satisfied with his Song? Not with the
Whole, I think; but perhaps the expression of parts."

(Standing one day with him looking at two busts--one of Dante, the other
of Goethe, in a London shop, I asked, "What is wanting to make Goethe's
as fine as the other's?")

"The Divine." ("Edel sei der Mensch" was a poem in which he thought he
found "The Divine."--ED.)

(Taking up and reading some number of _Pendennis_ at my lodging.) "It's
delicious--it's so mature."

(Of Richardson's _Clarissa_, etc.) "I love those great, still Books."

"What is it in Dryden? I always feel that he is greater than his works."
(Though he thought much of "Theodore and Honoria," and quoted

  More than a mile _immerst_ within the wood.)

"Two of the finest similes in poetry are Milton's--that of the Fleet
hanging in the air (_Paradise Lost_), and the gunpowder-like 'So started
up in his foul shape the Fiend.' (Which latter A. T. used to enact with
grim humour, from the crouching of the Toad to the Explosion.) Say what
you please, I feel certain that Milton after Death shot up into some grim
Archangel." _N.B._--He used in earlier days to do the sun coming out from
a cloud, and returning into one again, with a gradual opening and shutting
of eyes and lips, etc. And, with a great fluffing up of his hair into full
wig, and elevation of cravat and collar, George the Fourth in as comical
and wonderful a way.

"I could not read through _Palmerin of England_, nor _Amadis of Gaul_, or
any of those old romances--not even 'Morte d'Arthur,' though with so many
fine things in it--But all strung together without Art."

Old Hallam had been speaking of Shakespeare as the greatest of men, etc.
A. T. "Well, he was the Man one would have wished to introduce to another
Planet as a sample of our kind."

_Àpropos_ of physical stature, A. T. had been noticing how small Guizot
looked beside old Hallam (when he went with Guizot, Hallam, and Macaulay
over the Houses of Parliament.--ED.).

"I was skating one day at full swing and came clash against a man of my
own stature who was going at the same. We both fell asunder--got up--and
_laughed_. Had we been short men we might have resented."

(I blamed some one for swearing at the servant girl in a lodging.) "I
don't know if women don't like it from men: they think it shows Vigour."
(Not that he ever did so himself.)

"There is a want of central dignity about him--he excuses himself, etc."

"Most great men write terse hands."

"I like those old Variorum Classics--all the Notes make the Text look

(Of some dogmatic summary.) "That is the quick decision of a mind that
sees half the truth."



... You ask me what I can remember of your Father and of mine in early
days. I seem to _know_ more than I actually remember....

In looking over old letters and papers, I have found very few mentions of
the many actual meetings between them, though again and again the Poet's
name is quoted and recorded, nor can I recall the time when I did not hear
it spoken of with trust and admiring regard. To this day we possess "The
Day Dream," copied out from beginning to end in my Father's writing.

He was about twenty years of age when one day, in May 1832, he wrote down
in his diary:

    Kemble and Hallam sat here for an hour. Read an article in _Blackwood_
    about A. Tennyson, abusing Hallam for his essay in _The Englishman_.

Then again ...

    Kemble read me some very beautiful verses of Tennyson's.

And again:

    Found that B. and I did not at all agree about Tennyson. B. is a
    clever fellow nevertheless, and makes money by magazine writing, in
    which I should much desire to follow his example.

After my Father's marriage, when he was living in Coram Street, Tennyson
and FitzGerald both came to see him there. In an old letter of my mother's
she describes Mr. Tennyson coming and my sitting at the table beside her
in a tall chair and with a new pinafore for the occasion. FitzGerald, I
think, also spoke of one of these meetings, and of my Father exclaiming
suddenly, "My dear Alfred, you do talk d---- well."

As we grew up, the Tennyson books were a part of our household life. I can
especially remember one volume, which came out when I was a little girl
and which my Father lent to a friend, and I also remember his laughing
vexation and annoyance when she returned the book all scored and defaced
with absurd notes and marks of exclamation everywhere.

I once published an article in an American magazine from which I venture
to quote a passage which tells of one of the early meetings:

    I can remember vaguely, on one occasion through a cloud of smoke,
    looking across a darkening room at the noble, grave head of the Poet
    Laureate. He was sitting with my Father in the twilight after some
    family meal in the old house in Kensington; it was Tennyson himself
    who afterwards reminded me how upon this occasion, while my Father was
    speaking, my little sister looked up suddenly from the book over which
    she had been absorbed, saying, in her sweet childish voice, "Papa, why
    do you not write books like _Nicholas Nickleby_?" Then again, I seem
    to hear across that same familiar table, voices, without shape or
    name, talking and telling each other that Mr. Tennyson was married,
    that he and his wife had been met walking on the terrace at Clevedon
    Court, and then the clouds descend again, except, indeed, that I can
    still see my Father riding off on his brown cob to Mr. and Mrs.
    Tennyson's house at Twickenham to attend the christening of Hallam
    their eldest son.

       *       *       *       *       *

Being _themselves_, when men, such as these two men, appreciate each
other's work, they know, with their great instinct for truth and
directness, what to admire--smaller people are apt to admire the men
rather than the work. When Tennyson and my Father met, it was as when
knights meet in the field.

How my Father appreciated the _Idylls_ will be seen from the following
letter, which came as an answer to his own:[25]


    MY DEAR THACKERAY--Should I not have answered you ere this 6th of
    November! surely; what excuse--none that I know of; except indeed that
    perhaps your very generosity--boundlessness of approval--made me in a
    measure shamefaced. I could scarcely accept it, being, I fancy, a
    modest man and always more or less doubtful of my own efforts in any
    line; but I may tell you that your little note gave me more pleasure
    than all the journals and monthlies and quarterlies which have come
    across me, not so much from being the Great Novelist, I hope, as from
    your being my good old friend--or perhaps of your being both of these
    in one. Well--let it be. I have been ransacking all sorts of old
    albums and scrap-books, but cannot find anything worthy sending you.
    Unfortunately, before your letter arrived, I had agreed to give
    Macmillan the only available poem I had by me. I don't think he would
    have got it (for I dislike publishing in magazines), except that he
    had come to visit me in my island, and was sitting and blowing his
    weed _vis-à-vis_....

    Whenever you feel your brains as "the remainder biscuit," or indeed
    whenever you will, come over to me and take a blow on these downs
    where the air, as Keats said, "is worth sixpence a pint," and bring
    your girls too.--Yours always,

        A. TENNYSON.

       *       *       *       *       *

I can remember all my Father's pleasure when Alfred Tennyson gave him
"Tithonus" for one of the early numbers of the _Cornhill Magazine_.

He was once at Farringford, but this was before the time of the

From America, where people store their kindly records and from whence so
many echoes of the past are apt to reach us again,--some in worthy, and
some, I fear, in less worthy voices,--I have received from time to time,
the gift of an hour from the past, vivid and unalloyed. One day in the
_Century_ magazine, I came upon a page which retold for me the whole story
of a happy hour and of my Father's affectionate regard for that chivalrous
American, Bayard Taylor, who came to see him, and for whom he had wished
to do his best, by sending him to Farringford. All this came back to me
when Alfred Tennyson's letter was reproduced in the _Century_, his
charming answer to my Father, and my Father's own note in the margin....
Bayard Taylor himself has put the date to it all--June 1857.

My Father writes to Bayard Taylor:

    MY DEAR B. T.--I was so busy yesterday that I could not keep my
    agreeable appointment with Thompson, and am glad I didn't fetch you to
    Greenwich. Here's a note which concerns you and I am ever yours,

        W. M. T.

       *       *       *       *       *

The letter from Lord Tennyson runs as follows:


    MY DEAR THACKERAY--Your American friend and poet-traveller has never
    arrived; he has, I suppose, changed his mind. I am sure I should have
    been very glad to see him, for my castle was never yet barricaded and
    entrenched against good fellows. I write now, this time to say that
    after the 30th I shall not be here.

    My best remembrances to your daughters, whom I have twice seen, once
    as little girls, and again a year or so back.--Yours ever,

        A. TENNYSON.

       *       *       *       *       *

Afterwards Bayard Taylor found his way to Farringford, and he has written
a happy account of the visit.[26]

       *       *       *       *       *

I hardly know whether or not to give the record of a meeting which I
myself remember. Once after a long visit to Freshwater I returned home to
Palace Green, and hearing that Alfred Tennyson had come up soon after to
stay for a few days at Little Holland House close by, I told my Father,
and together we planned a visit, to which I eagerly looked forward, with
much pride and youthful excitement. It was not far to walk, the high road
leads straight to Holland House, in the grounds of which Little Holland
House then stood among the trees. Mr. and Mrs. Prinsep were living there
and Mr. Watts. When we reached the House and were let in, we saw Mr. Watts
in his studio; he seemed to hesitate to admit us; then came the ladies.
Mr. Tennyson was upstairs, we were told, not well. He had hurt his shin.
"He did not wish for visitors, nevertheless certainly we were to go up,"
they said, and we mounted into a side wing by some narrow staircase and
came to a door, by which cans of water were standing in a row. As we
entered, a man-servant came out of the little room.

Tennyson was sitting in a chair with his leg up, evidently ill and out of

"I am sorry to find you laid up," said my Father.

"They insisted upon my seeing the doctor for my leg," said Alfred, "and he
prescribed cold water dressing."

"Yes," said my Father, "there's nothing like it, I have tried it myself."

And then no more! No high conversation--no quotations--no recollections.
After a minute or two of silence we came away. My tall Father tramped down
the little wooden staircase followed by a bitterly disappointed audience.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I was writing that same magazine article from which I have already
given an extract, I asked Edward FitzGerald if he could help me, and if I
might quote anything from his letters and from _Euphranor_:

    "MY DEAR ANNE RITCHIE"--Mr. FitzGerald wrote--"Your letter found me at
    Aldburgh on our coast where I come to hear my old sea talk to me, as
    more than sixty years ago, and to get a blow out on his back. Pray
    quote anything you please, provided with Alfred's permission and no
    compliments to the author.

    "I do not think my _fanfaron_ about him would be of any such service
    as you suppose; strangers usually take all that as the flourish of a
    friendly adviser, and would rather have some facts, such as that
    perhaps of his words about the Raphael and the little Hallam's worship
    of the bed-post.[27] I suppose it was in 1852 at Seaford near
    Brighton. I can swear absolutely and can now hear and see him as he
    said it; so don't let him pretend to gainsay or modify that, whether
    he may choose to have it quoted or not.

    "Ah, I have often thought that I might have done some good service if
    I had kept to him and followed him and noted the fine true things
    which fell from his lips on every subject, practical or aesthetic, as
    they call it.

    "Bayard Taylor, in some essays lately published, quotes your Father
    saying that Tennyson was the wisest man he knew--which, by the way,
    would tell more in America than all I could write or say.

    "Your finding it hard to make an article about A. T. will excuse my
    inability to help you, as you asked. I did not know (as in the case of
    your Father also) where to begin or how to go on without a
    beginning.--Ever yours,

        E. F. G."

In 1863, just after our Father's death, my sister and I came to
Freshwater. It seemed to us that perhaps there more than anywhere else we
might find some gleam of the light of our home, with the friend who had
known him and belonged to his life and whom he trusted.

We arrived late in the afternoon. It was bitter weather, the snow lying
upon the ground. Mrs. Cameron had lent us a cottage, and the fires were
already burning, and as we rested aimlessly in the twilight, we seemed
aware of a tall figure standing in the window, wrapped in a heavy cloak,
with a broad-brimmed hat. This was Tennyson, who had walked down to see us
in silent sympathy.




  Farewell, Macready, since to-night we part;
      Full-handed thunders often have confessed
      Thy power, well-used to move the public breast.
  We thank thee with our voice, and from the heart.
  Farewell, Macready, since this night we part,
      Go, take thine honours home; rank with the best,
      Garrick and statelier Kemble, and the rest
  Who made a nation purer through their art.
  Thine is it that our drama did not die,
      Nor flicker down to brainless pantomime,
      And those gilt gauds men-children swarm to see.
  Farewell, Macready; moral, grave, sublime;
  Our Shakespeare's bland and universal eye
      Dwells pleased, through twice a hundred years, on thee.


  Come, when no graver cares employ,
  Godfather, come and see your boy:
    Your presence will be sun in winter,
  Making the little one leap for joy.

  For, being of that honest few,
  Who give the Fiend himself his due,
    Should eighty-thousand college-councils
  Thunder "Anathema," friend, at you;

  Should all our churchmen foam in spite
  At you, so careful of the right,
    Yet one lay-hearth would give you welcome
  (Take it and come) to the Isle of Wight;

  Where, far from noise and smoke of town,
  I watch the twilight falling brown
    All round a careless-order'd garden
  Close to the ridge of a noble down.

  You'll have no scandal while you dine,
  But honest talk and wholesome wine,
    And only hear the magpie gossip
  Garrulous under a roof of pine:

  For groves of pine on either hand,
  To break the blast of winter, stand;
    And further on, the hoary Channel
  Tumbles a billow on chalk and sand;

  Where, if below the milky steep
  Some ship of battle slowly creep,
    And on thro' zones of light and shadow
  Glimmer away to the lonely deep,

  We might discuss the Northern sin
  Which made a selfish war begin;
    Dispute the claims, arrange the chances;
  Emperor, Ottoman, which shall win:

  Or whether war's avenging rod
  Shall lash all Europe into blood;
    Till you should turn to dearer matters,
  Dear to the man that is dear to God;

  How best to help the slender store,
  How mend the dwellings, of the poor;
    How gain in life, as life advances,
  Valour and charity more and more.

  Come, Maurice, come: the lawn as yet
  Is hoar with rime, or spongy-wet;
    But when the wreath of March has blossom'd,
  Crocus, anemone, violet,

  Or later, pay one visit here,
  For those are few we hold as dear;
    Nor pay but one, but come for many,
  Many and many a happy year.

  _January, 1854._



  Nightingales warbled without,
    Within was weeping for thee:
  Shadows of three dead men
    Walk'd in the walks with me,
    Shadows of three dead men[28] and thou wast one of the three.

  Nightingales sang in his woods:
    The Master was far away:
  Nightingales warbled and sang
    Of a passion that lasts but a day;
    Still in the house in his coffin the Prince of courtesy lay.

  Two dead men have I known
    In courtesy like to thee:
  Two dead men have I loved
    With a love that ever will be:
    Three dead men have I loved and thou art last of the three.


  Illyrian woodlands, echoing falls
    Of water, sheets of summer glass,
    The long divine Peneïan pass,
  The vast Akrokeraunian walls,

  Tomohrit, Athos, all things fair,
    With such a pencil, such a pen,
    You shadow forth to distant men,
  I read and felt that I was there:

  And trust me while I turn'd the page,
    And track'd you still on classic ground,
    I grew in gladness till I found
  My spirits in the golden age.

  For me the torrent ever pour'd
    And glisten'd--here and there alone
    The broad-limb'd Gods at random thrown
  By fountain-urns;--and Naiads oar'd

  A glimmering shoulder under gloom
    Of cavern pillars; on the swell
    The silver lily heaved and fell;
  And many a slope was rich in bloom

  From him that on the mountain lea
    By dancing rivulets fed his flocks
    To him who sat upon the rocks,
  And fluted to the morning sea.




  Dear Master in our classic town,
  You, loved by all the younger gown
        There at Balliol,
  Lay your Plato for one minute down,


  And read a Grecian tale re-told,[29]
  Which, cast in later Grecian mould,
        Quintus Calaber
  Somewhat lazily handled of old;


  And on this white midwinter day--
  For have the far-off hymns of May,
        All her melodies,
  All her harmonies echo'd away?--


  To-day, before you turn again
  To thoughts that lift the soul of men,
        Hear my cataract's
  Downward thunder in hollow and glen,


  Till, led by dream and vague desire,
  The woman, gliding toward the pyre,
        Find her warrior
  Stark and dark in his funeral fire.


  O Patriot Statesman, be thou wise to know
  The limits of resistance, and the bounds
  Determining concession; still be bold
  Not only to slight praise but suffer scorn;
  And be thy heart a fortress to maintain
  The day against the moment, and the year
  Against the day; thy voice, a music heard
  Thro' all the yells and counter-yells of feud
  And faction, and thy will, a power to make
  This ever-changing world of circumstance,
  In changing, chime with never-changing Law.

"WELLINGTONIA" PLANTED BY GARIBALDI. From a drawing by W. Biscombe



  Ulysses, much-experienced man,
    Whose eyes have known this globe of ours,
    Her tribes of men, and trees, and flowers,
  From Corrientes to Japan,


  To you that bask below the Line,
    I soaking here in winter wet--
    The century's three strong eights[31] have met
  To drag me down to seventy-nine


  In summer if I reach my day--
    To you, yet young, who breathe the balm
    Of summer-winters by the palm
  And orange grove of Paraguay,


  I tolerant of the colder time,
    Who love the winter woods, to trace
    On paler heavens the branching grace
  Of leafless elm, or naked lime,


  And see my cedar green, and there
    My giant ilex keeping leaf
    When frost is keen and days are brief--
  Or marvel how in English air


  My yucca, which no winter quells,
    Altho' the months have scarce begun,
    Has push'd toward our faintest sun
  A spike of half-accomplish'd bells--


  Or watch the waving pine which here
    The warrior of Caprera set,[32]
    A name that earth will not forget
  Till earth has roll'd her latest year--


  I, once half-crazed for larger light
    On broader zones beyond the foam,
    But chaining fancy now at home
  Among the quarried downs of Wight,


  Not less would yield full thanks to you
    For your rich gift, your tale of lands
    I know not,[33] your Arabian sands;
  Your cane, your palm, tree-fern, bamboo,


  The wealth of tropic bower and brake;
    Your Oriental Eden-isles,[34]
    Where man, nor only Nature smiles;
  Your wonder of the boiling lake;[35]


  Phra-Chai, the Shadow of the Best,[36]
    Phra-bat[37] the step; your Pontic coast;
    Crag-cloister;[38] Anatolian Ghost;[39]
  Hong-Kong,[40] Karnac,[41] and all the rest.


  Thro' which I follow'd line by line
    Your leading hand, and came, my friend,
    To prize your various book, and send
  A gift of slenderer value, mine.



  At times our Britain cannot rest,
    At times her steps are swift and rash;
    She moving, at her girdle clash
  The golden keys of East and West.


  Not swift or rash, when late she lent
    The sceptres of her West, her East,
    To one, that ruling has increased
  Her greatness and her self-content.


  Your rule has made the people love
    Their ruler. Your viceregal days
    Have added fulness to the phrase
  Of "Gauntlet in the velvet glove."


  But since your name will grow with Time,
    Not all, as honouring your fair fame
    Of Statesman, have I made the name
  A golden portal to my rhyme:


  But more, that you and yours may know
    From me and mine, how dear a debt
    We owed you, and are owing yet
  To you and yours, and still would owe.


  For he[42]--your India was his Fate,
    And drew him over sea to you--
    He fain had ranged her thro' and thro',
  To serve her myriads and the State,--


  A soul that, watch'd from earliest youth,
    And on thro' many a brightening year,
    Had never swerved for craft or fear,
  By one side-path, from simple truth;


  Who might have chased and claspt Renown
    And caught her chaplet here--and there
    In haunts of jungle-poison'd air
  The flame of life went wavering down;


  But ere he left your fatal shore,
    And lay on that funereal boat,
    Dying, "Unspeakable" he wrote
  "Their kindness," and he wrote no more;


  And sacred is the latest word;
    And now the Was, the Might-have-been,
    And those lone rites I have not seen,
  And one drear sound I have not heard,


  Are dreams that scarce will let me be,
    Not there to bid my boy farewell,
    When That within the coffin fell,
  Fell--and flash'd into the Red Sea,


  Beneath a hard Arabian moon
    And alien stars. To question, why
    The sons before the fathers die,
  Not mine! and I may meet him soon;


  But while my life's late eve endures,
    Nor settles into hueless gray,
    My memories of his briefer day
  Will mix with love for you and yours.


  We move, the wheel must always move,
    Nor always on the plain,
  And if we move to such a goal
    As Wisdom hopes to gain,
  Then you that drive, and know your Craft,
    Will firmly hold the rein,
  Nor lend an ear to random cries,
    Or you may drive in vain,
  For some cry "Quick" and some cry "Slow,"
    But, while the hills remain,
  Up hill "Too-slow" will need the whip,
    Down hill "Too-quick," the chain.


(Dedicating "The Progress of Spring.")


  "Spring-flowers"! While you still delay to take
          Your leave of Town,
  Our elmtree's ruddy-hearted blossom-flake
          Is fluttering down.


  Be truer to your promise. There! I heard
          Our cuckoo call.
  Be needle to the magnet of your word,
          Nor wait, till all


  Our vernal bloom from every vale and plain
          And garden pass,
  And all the gold from each laburnum chain
          Drop to the grass.


  Is memory with your Marian gone to rest,
          Dead with the dead?
  For ere she left us, when we met, you prest
          My hand, and said


  "I come with your spring-flowers." You came not, friend;
          My birds would sing,
  You heard not. Take then this spring-flower I send,
          This song of spring,


  Found yesterday--forgotten mine own rhyme
          By mine old self,
  As I shall be forgotten by old Time,
          Laid on the shelf--


  A rhyme that flower'd betwixt the whitening sloe
          And kingcup blaze,
  And more than half a hundred years ago,
          In rick-fire days,


  When Dives loathed the times, and paced his land
          In fear of worse,
  And sanguine Lazarus felt a vacant hand
          Fill with _his_ purse.


  For lowly minds were madden'd to the height
          By tonguester tricks,
  And once--I well remember that red night
          When thirty ricks,


  All flaming, made an English homestead Hell--
          These hands of mine
  Have helpt to pass a bucket from the well
          Along the line,


  When this bare dome had not begun to gleam
          Thro' youthful curls,
  And you were then a lover's fairy dream,
          His girl of girls;


  And you, that now are lonely, and with Grief
          Sit face to face,
  Might find a flickering glimmer of relief
          In change of place.


  What use to brood? this life of mingled pains
          And joys to me,
  Despite of every Faith and Creed, remains
          The Mystery.


  Let golden youth bewail the friend, the wife,
          For ever gone.
  He dreams of that long walk thro' desert life
          Without the one.


  The silver year should cease to mourn and sigh--
          Not long to wait--
  So close are we, dear Mary, you and I
          To that dim gate.


  Take, read! and be the faults your Poet makes
          Or many or few,
  He rests content, if his young music wakes
          A wish in you


  To change our dark Queen-city, all her realm
          Of sound and smoke,
  For his clear heaven, and these few lanes of elm
          And whispering oak.



  Farewell, whose living like I shall not find,
    Whose Faith and Work were bells of full accord,
  My friend, the most unworldly of mankind,
    Most generous of all Ultramontanes, Ward,
  How subtle at tierce and quart of mind with mind,
    How loyal in the following of thy Lord!


  Fair things are slow to fade away,
  Bear witness you, that yesterday[43]
      From out the Ghost of Pindar in you
  Roll'd an Olympian; and they say[44]

  That here the torpid mummy wheat
  Of Egypt bore a grain as sweet
      As that which gilds the glebe of England,
  Sunn'd with a summer of milder heat.

  So may this legend[45] for awhile,
  If greeted by your classic smile,
      Tho' dead in its Trinacrian Enna,
  Blossom again on a colder isle.


(Prologue of "The Charge of the Heavy Brigade.")

  Our birches yellowing and from each
    The light leaf falling fast,
  While squirrels from our fiery beech
    Were bearing off the mast,
  You came, and look'd and loved the view
    Long-known and loved by me,
  Green Sussex fading into blue
    With one gray glimpse of sea;
  And, gazing from this height alone,
    We spoke of what had been
  Most marvellous in the wars your own
    Crimean eyes had seen;
  And now--like old-world inns that take
    Some warrior for a sign
  That therewithin a guest may make
    True cheer with honest wine--
  Because you heard the lines I read
    Nor utter'd word of blame,
  I dare without your leave to head
    These rhymings with your name,
  Who know you but as one of those
    I fain would meet again,
  Yet know you, as your England knows
    That you and all your men
  Were soldiers to her heart's desire,
    When, in the vanish'd year,
  You saw the league-long rampart-fire
    Flare from Tel-el-Kebir
  Thro' darkness, and the foe was driven,
    And Wolseley overthrew
  Arâbi, and the stars in heaven
    Paled, and the glory grew.



  Thou third great Canning, stand among our best
    And noblest, now thy long day's work hath ceased,
  Here silent in our Minster of the West
    Who wert the voice of England in the East.



  Warrior of God, man's friend, and tyrant's foe,
    Now somewhere dead far in the waste Soudan,
  Thou livest in all hearts, for all men know
    This earth has never borne a nobler man.


  As when a painter, poring on a face,
  Divinely, thro' all hindrance, finds the man
  Behind it, and so paints him that his face,
  The shape and colour of a mind and life,
  Lives for his children, ever at its best.



Alum Bay, near Farringford, is now greatly changed. A big hotel stands up
dwarfing its cliffs, from which the famous layers of various-coloured sand
are being continually scooped into bottles, and on many a cottage
mantelpiece in the island there is a glass bottle showing a picture of a
lighthouse, or something else curiously wrought in Alum Bay sand. The
jagged white Needles still tip the westward point of its crescent, still
seeming to salute with greeting or farewell the majestic procession of
great ocean-going ships, and to smile on the frolic wings of yachts, that
all the summer long flirt and dance over the blue waters of the Solent,
like a flight of white butterflies. Formerly the rough track to the Bay
led over a lonely bit of common called the Warren, where furze grew, and
short brown-tasselled rushes marked the course of a hardly visible stream.
The Warren Farm lies on the landward edge of the Warren, and there on a
sunny 6th of August 1855, a third birthday was being solemnized with tea
and a tent. It was a blue tent on the top of a haystack, and under it
between her baby boy and girl, sat a blue-eyed mother, with the bloom of
youth and the freshness of the sea on her beauty. The mother and the two
children, lovely, too, with more than the usual loveliness of childhood,
were keeping their tiny festival with a gay simplicity, and I do not
doubt that on that as on other birthdays, Edith, the birthday queen, was
wearing on her golden curls a garland of rosebuds and mignonette. The
wheels of a carriage were heard driving up to the farm gate, and in a
minute a tall dark man, like a Spanish señor in his long cloak and
sombrero, appeared under the haystack. The young woman noted the tall
figure, the hat and cloak, the long, dark, clear-cut face, with the
beardless and finely modelled mouth and chin, the splendid eyes under the
high forehead, and the deep furrows running from nose to chin. She
perceived at once it was Alfred Tennyson, whose poems she knew and loved
so well. Meantime the Poet, sensitive as all artists must be to human
loveliness, looked surely with delight on the pretty picture, the haystack
and the blue tent, the young mother and her babes: a picture which was to
form as it were a gracious frontispiece to a whole volume of friendship.
He bade her "throw the little maid into his arms," caught the child and
asked her how old she was. "Three to-day," answered little Edith proudly.
"Then you and I," said he, "have the same birthday."

The friendship thus preluded was to last until death closed it. The record
of it lies here in old diaries and in sheaves of letters, faithfully
treasured; a chronicle of some forty years with all the little troubles,
the joys and sorrows of the two households, intimately shared. It was a
four-cornered friendship, one of husband and wife with husband and wife,
but the correspondence passed almost entirely between the wives. Men had
already for the most part abandoned the practice of letter-writing outside
their business and families, but at the little rosewood drawing-room
escritoires at which we of the many documents are tempted to smile,
Victorian women fed the flame of friendship with--here the metaphor
becomes a little mixed--a constant flow of ink. Not that the two women
who kept up this correspondence were idle. All that Emily Tennyson on her
invalid sofa did for her Poet, is it not written in the book of his
Biography? Her friend, Marian Bradley, was yet busier than she, having the
cares and duties of a mother of a large family, besides those incident to
the wife of a man who was successively Head Master of a great school, Head
of an Oxford College, and Dean of Westminster.

Granville Bradley was twelve years younger than Alfred Tennyson; an
interval in age which permits at once of veneration and of intimacy. It
was at the Lushingtons' house that my father, as an undergraduate of
one-and-twenty, first met the young Poet, and became his admirer; but it
was not until twelve years later that the admirer became also the friend.

My mother tells in her diary how in that summer of the birthday meeting,
the two men roamed the country together, poetizing, botanizing,
geologizing. The enthusiasm of science had begun to seize on all thinking
humanity, and if botany was considered the only suitable science for
ladies, geology had something like a boom among the privileged males. I
can see my father now, a slight, active little figure, armed with a hammer
and girt with a capacious knapsack, setting forth joyous as a
chamois-hunter, for a day's sport among the fossils of the Isle of Wight
cliffs. But above all it was the communion of spirit, the play of ideas
which interested the two and drew them together. "They talked from 12 noon
to 10 P.M., almost incessantly, this day," writes my mother, "Tennyson
walking back with him (some three miles) to the Warren farm, still

One pictures the tall, long-cloaked Bard and the vivacious little scholar
pacing side by side, inconscient of time and distance, down the shingly
drive of Farringford, through the warm and dusky night of the deep-hedged
lanes, overhung with the heavy darkness of August trees, until they came
out on the clear pale spaces of the open seaward land, and the whisper and
scent of the sea. And one would guess this to be a picture of two very
young men, absorbed in the first joy of one of the romantic friendships of
youth, did one not know that the Poet was a man of middle age and the
scholar in the maturing thirties. But the artists know their way to the
Fountain of youth and meet there. Tennyson, the great creative artist,
retained all his life the simplicity of a child. My father was no creator,
but he, too, was in his way an artist; he was the artist as scholar and
teacher. Language and Style were to him things almost as splendid and
sacred as they were wont to be to a Renaissance scholar, and sins against
them roused the only bad passions of an otherwise sweet nature. History to
him was not history, it was real life; the rhythm and harmony of poetry
were what music is to the ardent music-lover. From childhood to old age he
was for ever crooning some favourite fragment of verse. With what delight,
then, he found himself crossing the threshold of a great poet's mind; the
mind of one who did not, so to speak, keep his friends waiting in the
vestibule, but opened to them freely the palace chambers, rich with the
treasures of his knowledge, thought, and imagination.

Those passages in my mother's diary in which she speaks of the happiness
it gave my father and herself to make acquaintance with the Poet, and to
find him just what they would have wished him to be, have already appeared
in the Biography. Also her description of those evenings in the
Farringford drawing-room, so often recurring and through so many years,
when he would "talk of what was in his heart," or read aloud some poem,
often yet unpublished, while they listened, looking out on the lovely
landscape and the glimpse of sea which, "framed in the dark-arched
bow-window," seemed, like some beautiful picture, almost to form part of
the room.

My father now bought a small estate between Yarmouth and Freshwater, and
built a house--Heathfield--upon it, in which to spend his holidays. The
Freshwater side of the Isle of Wight was not at that time a fashionable
neighbourhood. The lovely, lonely bays on the blue Solent, innocent of
lodging-house or bathing-machine, succeeded each other from Yarmouth to
the Needles. They were approached over open land, or by little stony
chines, deep in gorse and bracken, down which tiny streams trickled, to
spread themselves out shiningly on the sands and melt into the sea. I
remember my young mother killing a red adder in our chine with a
well-aimed stone, as we came up from our morning dip in the waves. There
was room for wild creatures and open country and for poetry then on the
little island. The islanders, smugglers from generation to generation, had
in them more of the wild creature than of poetry. Droll stories used to be
told of their inability to appreciate the honour done to Freshwater by the
Poet's residence there. But perhaps the days when his "greatness" was
measured by the man-servant test[47] were more comfortable days for the
Bard than those when his movements were marked and followed through

There was a constant coming and going between Heathfield and Farringford,
the children of each house being equally at home in the other. I see now
the long Farringford drawing-room, full of the green shade of a cedar tree
which grew near the great window, and the slight figure of Lady Tennyson
rising from the red sofa--it was a red room--and gliding towards my mother
with a smile upon her lips. She always wore a soft gray cashmere gown, and
it was always made in the same simple fashion; much as dresses were worn
in the days of Cruikshank, only that the gathered skirt was longer and
less full than the skirts of Cruikshank's ladies. Her silky auburn-brown
hair, partly hidden by lace lappets, was untouched with gray, and her
complexion kept its rose-leaf delicacy, just as her strong and cultivated
intellect kept its alertness, to the last days of her life. No sooner were
the greetings over than ten to one the door would open, and the Poet would
come slowly, softly, silently, into the room, dressed in an old-fashioned
black tail-coat, and fixing my mother with his distant short-sighted gaze.
One day, she being seated with her back to the cedar-green window, he
approached her with such extreme deference, and so solemn a courtesy, as
made her all amazed; until in a minute, with a flash of amusement, both
discovered that he had mistaken her for--the Queen. Still more surely one
or both of the long-haired, gray-tunicked boys would appear, less
silently; and away the children scampered to their endless play about the
rambling house and grounds. But even the children's play was informed with
the vital interest of the two houses: the story of King Arthur and his
knights. The first "Idylls of the King" had appeared, and others were
appearing. It was a red-letter evening indeed when Poet and new poem were
ready for a reading, either in the little upstairs study, or in the
drawing-room, where dessert was always laid after dinner, and he sat at
the head of the round table in a high carved chair. Country life was in
those days very simple and dinners early, so that even young children
appeared with the dessert, and my mother's description of those evenings
recalls very clearly some of the earliest of the pictures in memory's
picture-book, as well as some later ones. I remember now a story of
Tennyson's which tickled my childish sense of humour exceedingly, the
point of it lying in a bit of bad French, the badness of which I could
appreciate. My father had a vein of dry humour, which being akin to that
of the Poet, doubtless assisted to knit the bonds of friendship, since to
find the same thing humorous is almost essential to real intimacy. There
was between the two the natural give-and-take of friendship, and to the
warm appreciation given as well as received, Emily Tennyson's letters bear
constant witness. "Mr. Bradley's intellectual activity, so warmed by the
heart, is very good for my Ally," she writes; and again: "I know you would
be pleased if you could hear Ally recur to his talks with Mr. Bradley, and
one particular talk about the Resurrection and [illegible]. It is
difficult to express admiration, so I won't say any more, except God bless
you both."

My father was now in the full stress of his great work at Marlborough, and
spent his summer holidays for the most part in Switzerland, but Christmas
and Easter still often found us at Freshwater. In 1866 Tennyson's eldest
son, Hallam, was sent to school at Marlborough. "I am not sending my son
to Marlborough--I am sending him to Bradley," he said in reply to the
Queen's question. On another occasion he said: "I am sending him to
Marlborough because Bradley is a friend of mine, and Stanley tells me that
Marlborough is the best school in England." There followed three visits to
Marlborough during the four years longer that my father remained there.
The second one, when Lady Tennyson came with her husband, was brought
about by the severe illness of the cherished son, and lasted seven weeks.
At first the anxiety about the boy was too great to admit of pleasure
either to them or to my parents, to whom--especially to my mother--Hallam
was almost as a son of their own. But later, and during the Poet's other
visits, there were walks and drives in Savernake forest, beautiful at all
seasons of the year, and over the windy spaces of the gray silent
downland, where "the chronicles of wasted Time" are written in worn and
mysterious hieroglyphs of stone, and fosse, and hillock. During the first
visit "The Victim" was written by him in the room called the green
dressing-room, looking out on the clipped yews and tall lime-circle of
Lady Hertford's old garden. In summer-time he had great pleasure in the
peaceful beauty of Marlborough and its landscape, and also in the wealth
of flowers with which my mother surrounded herself in her house and
garden; for she was a great gardener before it became fashionable to be
so. In the drawing-room at the Lodge, masters and their wives--then all
young--and Sixth Form boys gathered around the Poet. At that time he had
for years been living a life apart from the crowd, and it must have been
an effort to him to project himself into this young and wholly strange
school society. But he did it gallantly and seemed happy among the young
people. There were science evenings and poetry evenings. That is, there
were evenings when masters interested in science exhibited the wonders of
the microscope, and evenings when Tennyson read aloud his own poetry or
Hood's comic verses. I remember well being allowed to stay up to hear him
read "Guinevere" to the Upper Sixth Form. He had a great deep voice like
the booming of waves in a sea-cave, and although the situation in the poem
was not one to appeal to a child, yet his reading of the farewell of
Arthur to Guinevere affected me so much that I crawled into a corner and
wept two pocket-handkerchiefs full of tears.

During this visit Tennyson, who suffered sometimes from nervous
depression, said more than once that he envied my father's life of active
and incessant goodness. In the man who at the height of his fame could
experience and express such a feeling, there was still something of the
heart of a good child--its simplicity, its humility, its "wanting to be

In June 1867, Aldworth--called at first Greenhill--appears in the letters.
Emily Tennyson writes to my mother: "We have agreed to buy thirty-five[48]
acres of beautifully situated land. It is a ledge on a hill nearly 1000
feet high, all copse and foxgloves almost, and a steep descent of wood and
field below; the ledge looking over an immense plain, and backed by a hill
slightly higher than itself." I quote what follows because it shows how
simple had been the Freshwater life. "The order is gone for a small
sociable landau. This seems so luxurious that I am afraid I am perversely
more ready to cry than to laugh over it."

Aldworth was meant to be a small house, but somehow it grew to be a large
one. The Tennysons' own design for it was followed in the main by Mr.
(afterwards Sir James) Knowles. The winds and rains of the great height
have weathered stone and slate until the house and the balustrade of its
wide terrace seem to have stood there two centuries, rather than not yet
half of one. The planting of the Italian cypresses along the edge of the
terrace was the Poet's own particular fancy. It is strange that they
should have grown so grandly on this exposed English hill-side. The
darkness of their foliage, the severity of their lines, put an accent on
the visionary beauty of the immense view which lies spread below and
beyond them. There is the Sussex Weald, so far down that its hills and
dales appear one plain, the range of the South Downs, rising yonder to
Chanctonbury Ring, dropping nearer to a chalky gap which lets in the
distant glitter of the sea. Hindhead, the Surrey ranges, Windsor
Forest--the list grows too long of all that may be seen from Aldworth
terrace, and from the heathy height above, whence seven counties are said
to be visible. For my part, when looking from such heights, over the great
everlasting marriage festivals of Earth and Sky, it is with difficulty,
almost with reluctance, that I bring myself to connect them with the map.

All things grow with a peculiar luxuriance on Black Down, and the
immediate surroundings of the house were beautiful from the first, though
the garden with its flowers and trees has added a beauty to those natural
ones. The Sussex country was lonely forty years ago, and the Poet could
pace his heathery ridge, brooding upon his verse, untroubled by any risk
of human intrusion.

My parents and their family came to know and love this new home as well as
the old one at Freshwater, and although it represents a later stage of
Tennyson's life, the interest of the house is almost as great. The fine
Laurence portrait is there, besides the admirable Watts portrait of the
Poet's wife, and that of his sons as boys. And many other pictures and
things of interest and value have accumulated within its walls.

In his old age a change, easily understood, came over the old Bard. He
lost his shyness of "the crowd," and seemed thoroughly to enjoy his
glimpses of London society. He never visited us at Oxford, but when my
father succeeded Dean Stanley at Westminster, my parents once more enjoyed
some delightful visits from him. He was there in company with his eldest
son and his daughter-in-law, on the occasion of his taking his seat in the
House of Peers. Then and at other times there were memorable meetings of
great men--Gladstone and others--with the Poet, in the fitting frame of
the ancient Deanery.

My mother writes of Tennyson in 1888, after thirty-three years of
friendship, "he grows more and more unselfish and thoughtful for others."
She noted how the self-absorption and melancholy of his earlier years
passed away in the calm sunshine of his old age.

The passing years had brought changes to others. The brilliant little
scholar with the tongue which had once held in check the boldest offender
against the laws of God or the Latin Grammar--although it never smote to
defend or advance himself--had ripened into the constant peacemaker; one
of the gentlest and humblest of that little band, who really walk in the
footsteps of their Master Christ, and make those footsteps clearer for
ever to all whose privilege it has been to live in their intimacy.

At length the day came when, full of years and honours, the famous singer,
the Great Voice of Victorian England, lay silenced in the solemn shade of
Westminster Abbey, with the clamour of London about him instead of the
roar of his sea. It was his old friend, he who had walked and talked with
him those long hours of the summer day and night thirty-seven years
before, who pronounced the last blessing above his grave. And now that
friend also sleeps, as it were, in the next room.



Absolute truthfulness, absolutely himself, never played tricks.

Never got himself puffed in the newspapers.

A friend of liberty and truth.

Extraordinary vitality.

Great common sense and a strong will.

The instinct of common sense at the bottom of all he did.

Not a man of the world (in the ordinary sense) but a man who had the
greatest insight into the world, and often in a word or a sentence would
flash a light.

Intensely needed sympathy.

A great and deep strength.

He mastered circumstances, but he was also partly mastered by them, _e.g._
the old calamity of the disinheritance of his father and his treatment by
rogues in the days of his youth.

Very fair towards other poets, including those who were not popular, such
as Crabbe.

He had the high-bred manners not only of a gentleman but of a great man.

He would have wished that, like Shakespeare, his life might be unknown to


In the commonest conversation he showed himself a man of genius. He had
abundance of fire, never talked poorly, never for effect. As Socrates
described Plato, "Like no one whom I ever knew before."

The three subjects of which he most often spoke were "God," "Free-Will,"
and "Immortality," yet always seeming to find an (apparent) contradiction
between the "imperfect world," and "the perfect attributes of God."

Great charm of his ordinary conversation, sitting by a very ordinary
person and telling stories with the most high-bred courtesy, endless
stories, not too high or too low for ordinary conversation.

The persons and incidents of his childhood very vivid to him, and the
Lincolnshire dialect and the ways of life.

Loved telling a good story, which he did admirably, and also hearing one.

He told very accurately, almost in the same words, his old stories,
though, having a powerful memory, he was impatient of a friend who told
him a twice-repeated tale.

His jests were very amusing.

At good things he would sit laughing away--laughter often interrupted by
fits of sadness.

His absolute sincerity, or habit of saying all things to all kinds of

He ought always to have lived among gentlemen only.

Of his early friends (after Arthur Hallam) FitzGerald, Spedding, Sir John
Simeon, Lushington--A. T. was enthusiastic about them.

Spedding very gifted and single-minded. He spent his life in defending the
character of Bacon.



You ask me to write a little paper for you on my reminiscences of
Farringford, the Pyrenees, and, later, Aldworth; and, although I am still
beset by something of the old horror of biography which so obsessed me
when I had the chance that I religiously abstained from taking notes at
the time, I cannot refuse the opportunity you offer me of having my say
also about your father and mother, and certain others whose friendship was
and is so precious to me in its affection, and their image ineffaceable.
To your cairn of memories I wish to add my pebble. I might seem lacking in
affection otherwise, and that would be to do myself an injustice, and
yourselves, your father and mother, an injury, that of seeming insensible
to their true worth. _Semper ego auditor tantum? Nunquamne reponam?_

This then is, if somewhat meagre, a faithful record of what I recollect.
To avoid repetition and for reverence' sake, I shall speak of Lord and
Lady Tennyson as Him and Her, and of yourselves, my two pupils, by your
names. If I have occasion to mention myself (your old tutor), I will use
the symbol [Greek: D], the first letter of [Greek: Dakunidion], which,
being interpreted, is "Little Dakyns," by which name your father spoke of
me, at least on one occasion.

[Illustration: TENNYSON AND HIS TWO SONS. By Julia Margaret Cameron.]

_My first Introduction to her and the two Boys, and presently to him, at
Farringford, March (?) 1861_

I shall never forget the beauty of the scene--I wish I could actualize
it--and it was accompanied by what appealed not only to the eye, but to
the heart, a mysterious sense of at-homeness. Your mother, as I think I
have often told you, was seated half-reclining on the sofa which stood
with its back to the window, with that wonderful view of capes and sea
beyond. And you two stood leaning against her, one on either side. She
was, and always remained, supremely beautiful, not only in feature and the
bodily frame, but still more from the look in her eyes, the motion of her
lips, and the deep clear music of her voice. Such a combination of grace
and dignity with simplicity and frankness and friendliness of accost as
never was. Such gentle trustfulness and sincerity of welcome as must have
won a less susceptible heart than that of the diffidently intrusive
[Greek: paidagôgos D]. I thought she must be a queen who had stept down
from mediæval days into these more prosaic times which she ennobled. And
the two Boys. If I cannot speak about them to you, you will guess the
reason. But for the benefit of a younger generation, I appeal to the
portraits of her by Watts (now at Aldworth), and of Hallam and
Lionel--surely among the best he ever painted--which are given in your
father's _Memoir_ (vol. i. facing p. 330 and p. 370).

And then he came in, a truly awful[49] moment, but in an instant of time
he too had not only banished the nervousness of [Greek: D], but won his
heart. His welcome resembled hers in its sincerity. And even if I had been
ten times more nervous than I was, and awe-stricken I was, no doubt,
something set me at my ease at once. Of his look and manner I find it not
only hard, but absurd to attempt to speak. He must have been at that date
somewhat over fifty. I was twenty-three, not quite thirty years
younger.[50] His figure, so well known in the photographs of the time, was
imposing, and it was awe-inspiring to be in the presence of the great Poet
we had hero-worshipped in our youth (though he, I think, was not the only
divinity in our Pantheon, there was Clough also--Browning at that date had
not appeared). But even so formidable as he was on these grounds, the
humanity of the man, and what I came to regard as the most abiding,
perhaps the deepest-seated, characteristic, his eternal youthfulness,
acted as a spell, and timidity melted into affection. I can still feel his
hand-grip, soft at once and large and strong, as he stood there peering
down on the relatively small mortal before him--so sane, and warm, and

As to his so-called gruffness of manner, I will speak about that later on,
but I want at once to make clear a certain quality of mind which I believe
helped things, so that he was not troubled by the presence of a stranger,
either then or when [Greek: D] was no longer a stranger, ever afterwards.
I suppose if there had been any occasion for comparing notes he might have
discovered much to object to in my attitude to the universe, especially
during my turbulent youth, but we had much in common, he in his great
grand way illimitably, and I in my tentative fashion diminutively. The
quality I refer to as a bond was a heartfelt detestation on [Greek: D]'s
part of what I venture to call the pseudo-biographic mania. The notion of
collecting tiny pinhead facts, or words actually spoken but separated
from their context: the idea of collecting these and calling the result
biography I loathed. So when I found, as I did at once, that the great
man, the poet, and the equally great woman his wife, held similar views, I
applauded myself and became more and more rigidly unbiographic. Of course,
I see now that [Greek: D] was possibly over-scrupulous. Instead of
depending on mere recollection, how much more sensible, and not a whit the
less reverential, it would have been to have taken down at many a
conversation some catchword of what he said, and his remarks were apt to
be as incisive as they were laconic. And the Poet's fore-ordained
biographer would have blessed the inspiration. Would Tennyson himself have
been equally pleased? I am not so sure. But what he really deprecated was
after all only the vulgar tales of the spurious biographer. "In life the
owls--at death the ghouls."

With this apology I come to some among the dicta current in my time. I
think it was the first night I happened to use the word "knowledge,"
pronouncing it as I had been brought up to do with the ō long, whereupon
he complimented me.[51] "You say 'knōwledge,'" and explained that
"knŏwledge" to rhyme with "college" was the only permissible exception.
I felt pleased with my domestic training. Then he went on to denounce a
solecism, the use of "like" with a verb, "like he did," instead of "as he
did," and humorously he begged me to correct any one guilty of such
barbarism, a pledge I undertook, and acted up to, correcting speakers
right and left till it came to the superior clergy, bishops, and so forth,
in the pulpit; then I desisted....

But to proceed. Apropos of Voltaire saying that to listen to English
people talking was to overhear the hissing of serpents, he commented, "and
to listen to German was to overhear _k's_ like the scrunching of
egg-shells." He had two or three pithy sayings, which came straight home
to me and became part of my mental furniture, so much so that I have at
times given myself the credit of innovating them. One of these was that
the defect of most people--not critics only, but others, _la foule_ in
general--is "to impute themselves." I felt this to be at the root of the
matter, a profound if humorous extension of the wise man's saw, [Greek:
pantôn metron anthrôpos]. He said it often and most seriously. The other I
might call the "_elogium vatis_" _par excellence_. It took the form of a
caution against "mixing up things that differ," and to this also among his
_sententiae_ I assented _quod latius patet_. I think I once used it
incidentally to him, and he at once pulled me up. "That's mine." He
certainly did so when I asked him his own riddle: "My first's a kind of
butter, my second's a kind of liquor, and my whole's a kind of charger."
Answer: "Ramrod." And he exclaimed, "That's my riddle."[52] Then there is
the old story how the Englishman, wishing to direct the _garçon_ not to
let the fire go out, gently growled, "Ne permettez pas sortir le fou,"
whereupon the _garçon_ locks up the other Englishman. I think it was
brought up by Frank Lushington as now told against the Poet, and Tennyson
gave us the correct version; originally he had invented it himself of
Edmund Lushington when they were in Paris, chaffing his friend's French.
But it was a case of biter bit. In the vulgar version I find the Poet with
his long hair is made to play the part of the _fou_. Thus far these
trifles. I come to _memorabilia_ more precious to me and of larger import.
I will head the section

_Tennyson and the Classics, English and Other_,

and it is what you asked for. And let me make two preliminary remarks. In
reference to the defect of self-imputation above mentioned, I wish to
point out to any, consciously or unconsciously, critically minded person,
that the striking thing to me was the wide sympathy, the catholicity of
the Poet's mind, his width of view. Thus he--I will not use the word
"displayed," as if it were an external habit of any sort--but simply and
naturally he had ingrained in him the greatest generosity in his feeling
for, in his criticism of, contemporary authors. And this applies to his
appreciation of the great classical authors of the past. I do not say, of
course, that he had not his favourites, as we all have, especially,
perhaps, the smaller we are. For instance--and here other of his
contemporaries, Clough, Jowett, etc., would have borne him out--his
appreciation of [Greek: D]'s favourite poet Shelley was not so spontaneous
nor, I venture to think, so profound as, let us say, his appreciation of
Wordsworth (whom he also "criticized"[53]) or Victor Hugo, or, to take an
opposite instance, his ready appreciation of Walt Whitman, or of Browning,
or possibly of Clough. But all this is admirably discussed in your
_Memoir_.[54] I only wish to add my testimony, and I take as my text a
saying of his about Goethe, which I seem to recollect if I recollect
rightly: "In his smaller poems, _e.g._ those in _Wilhelm Meister_, Goethe
shows himself to be one of the great artists of the world. He is also a
great critic, yet he always said the best he could of an author. Good
critics are rarer than good authors" (cp. his own "And the critic's rarer

And I must further premise that the samples given of quotations from the
Classics are from the particular ones he chanced upon--the artist in him,
perhaps, instinctively selecting--for the particular youth, and what he
needed, or because they fitted on to things on which his mind was working
at that date. Here, at all events, they are, or some of them. I omit
continual references to Shakespeare, to Dante, to Virgil, to Homer. He was
perpetually quoting Homer and Virgil, and to my mind there was nothing for
grandeur of sound like his pronunciation of Latin and Greek as he recited
whole passages or single lines in illustration of some point, of metre,
perhaps, or thought, or feeling; for instance, the line from Homer:

  [Greek: bê d' akeôn para thina polyphloisboio thalassês],

commenting on the possibility of pronouncing [Greek: oi] not in our
English fashion like _oy_ in _boy_, but like the German _ö_--_o_ of
"wood"--_phlösböo_--imitating the lisping whisper of the tideless
Mediterranean on a soft summer day. Then how he rolled out his Virgil,
giving first the thunder, then the wash of the sea in these lines:

  Fluctus ut in medio coepit quum albescere ponto
  Longius, ex altoque sinum trahit; utque volutus
  Ad terras immane sonat per saxa, neque ipso
  Monte minor procumbit; at ima exaestuat unda
  Verticibus, nigramque alte subiectat arenam.

He used to say, "The Horatian alcaic is, perhaps, the stateliest metre
except the Virgilian hexameter at its best."

I take my samples in chance order. I suppose I knew my Catullus fairly
well before, but I am sure that, in a deeper sense, I learnt to know "the
tenderest of Roman poets" for the first time that day when he read to me
in that voice of his, with half-sad _Heiterkeit_, and with that refinement
of pronunciation which seemed--I am sure was--the right thing absolutely,
those well-known poems about his lady-love's pet sparrow (translated
roughly here in case a reader should chance not to know Latin):

        Passer, deliciae meae puellae,
        Quicum ludere, quem in sinu tenere,
        Cui primum digitum dare appetenti
        Et acris solet incitare morsus,
        Cum desiderio meo nitenti
        Carum nescio quid libet iocari.
        Credo ut, cum gravis acquiescet ardor,
        Tecum ludere sicut ipsa possem
        Et tristis animi levare curas!

    Sparrow, pet of my lady-love, with you she will play; she will hold
    you in her bosom and give you her finger-tips to peck at, and tease to
    quicken your sharp bite, when my shining heart's desire is in the
    humour for some darling jest. Doubtless, when the fever of passion
    dies away she seeks to find some little solace[56] for her pain. Oh,
    if I could only play with you as she does, and so relieve the gloomy
    sorrow of my soul!

And then the tear-moving sequel in the minor:

        Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,
        Et quantum est hominum venustiorum.
        Passer mortuus est meae puellae,
        Passer, deliciae meae puellae,
        Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat;
        Nam mellitus erat suamque norat
        Ipsam tam bene quam puella matrem,
        Nec sese a gremio illius movebat,
        Sed circumsiliens modo huc modo illuc
        Ad solam dominam usque pipillabat.
        Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
        Illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
        At vobis male sit, malae tenebrae
        Orci, quae omnia bella devoratis:
        Tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
        Vae factum male! Vae miselle passer!
        Tua nunc opera meae puellae
        Flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

    Mourn, all ye Goddesses of Love, and all ye Cupids mourn: mourn, all
    ye sons of men that know what love is. My lady's sparrow is dead,
    dead; her sparrow, my lady's pet, whom she loved more than her own
    eyes, for he was honey-sweet, and knew his own mistress as well as any
    girl her mother; nor would he stir from his lady's bosom, but hopping
    about, now here, now there, he piped his little treble to her and her
    alone. But now he goes along the darksome road, to that place whence
    they say no one returns. Ah, my curse upon you! Cursed shades of
    Orcus, that devour all things beautiful! So beautiful a sparrow have
    ye taken from me! Alas for the ill deed done! Alas, poor little[57]
    sparrow! Now, because of you my lady's dear eyes are swollen, they are
    red with weeping.

The tenderness of his voice when he came to the eleventh and twelfth
lines, and the measured outburst of passionate imprecation, come back
almost audibly. I wish I could reproduce the pathos. But in the poem he
next read to me, the tenderness of Catullus and his perfection of form
reach, I think, a climax. So I think he felt, he who so revived his manner
in "Frater Ave atque Vale," and his reading gave me that impression. I
refer to the passionate poem:

        Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
        Rumoresque senium severiorum
        Omnes unius aestimemus assis.
        Soles occidere et redire possunt:
        Nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
        Nox est perpetua una dormienda.[58]
        Da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
        Dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
        Deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
        Dein, quum millia multa fecerimus,
        Conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
        Aut nequis malus invidere possit,
        Cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

    Let us live, my Lesbia, live and love; and, as for the slanderous
    tongues of greybeards, value them all at a farthing's worth. Suns may
    set and suns may rise again, but for us, when our short day has ended,
    one long night comes, a night of sleep that knows no ending. Give me a
    thousand kisses, then a hundred, and then another thousand and a
    second hundred, and then once more a thousand and again a hundred, on
    and on. And then, when we have made up many thousands, we will
    overturn the reckoning that we may not know the number, nor any
    villain cast an evil eye on us, though he discover all that huge
    amount of kisses.

Can't you overhear his voice? _Conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus_, deep-toned
and fast, like a pent-up stream in spate, bursting its barriers, till the
tale is told.

Two other poems of Catullus I must mention. The first of these he had much
on his mind, for he was just then in the mood for experiments on metre,
and the famous poem "Boädicea" was, I think, the first of these,[59]
echoing the galliambics of Catullus in the "Attis":

  Super alta vectus Attis celeri rate maria.

How far his own metre corresponds to Catullus' is a question for experts
like Bridges, Mayor, R. C. Trevelyan, etc., to determine, but I heard him
more than once read first the Attis poem and then his "Boädicea," and I
thought at the time there was an extraordinary resemblance in rhythm. He
wished that the "Boädicea" were musically annotated, so that it might be
read with proper quantity and pace.

The last of the Catullus poems I want to refer to he never read to me as a
whole. It is the lovely Epithalamium in honour of Junia and Manlius,
calling on Hymenaeus to attend and bless the marriage:

  Collis o Heliconii
    Cultor, Uraniae genus,
    Qui rapis teneram ad virum
  Virginem, o Hymenaee Hymen,
    O Hymen Hymenaee!

  Dweller on the mount of Helicon,
  Seed of the Heavenly One,
  Thou that bearest off the tender maiden to her bridegroom,
      O Hymenaean Hymen,
      O Hymen Hymenaean!

I do not know if he ever read it as a whole to any one. It would have been
splendid to hear, but towards the end of the long poem, where the poet,
like Spenser, prays, "Send us the timely fruit of this same marriage
night," comes a verse he was very fond of quoting, and in particular the
third line:

        Torquatus volo parvulus
          Matris a gremio suae
          Porrigens teneras manus
        Dulce rideat ad patrem
          Semhiante labello.

    I want a baby-boy Torquatus to stretch out his little hands from his
    mother's lap, and sweetly to smile upon his father with half-opened

These, I think, were the most remarkable of the Catullus poems he showed
me, though of course there were others. I come now to the kindred Greek
genius, who had a special fascination for him, the poetess Sappho. He
loved her Sapphics, and greatly disliked the Sapphics of Horace, "with
their little tightly curled pigtails." I believe I owe it to him that I am
a worshipper of that most marvellous muse of Sappho....

    [EDITORIAL NOTE.--Unhappily Mr. Dakyns never completed his paper. For,
    while still engaged on it, he died suddenly, June 21, 1911. A friend,
    Miss F. M. Stawell, has added the following notes from recollections
    of what Mr. Dakyns said or wrote to her on the subject.]

Mr. Dakyns's manuscript breaks off abruptly, but he left some headings for
what he intended to write: Sappho, Goethe, Béranger, Walt Whitman, Victor
Hugo, Life at Farringford, The French Tour and Clough, Clough and the
Pyrenees. I think he would have quoted first from Sappho the lines

  [Greek: hoion to glykymalon ereuthetai akrô ep' ysdô]

  Like the sweet apple that reddens upon the topmost bough,

for he loved the passage, and the book was left open at this page.

No doubt he would have gone on to quote others that were favourites both
with the Poet and with himself. Such as the heart-sick cry of love:

  [Greek: dedyke men ha selanna
  kai Plêiades, mesai de
  nyktes, para d' erchet' hôra,
  egô de mona katheudô.]

  The moon has set, the Pleiades have gone;
  Midnight! The hour has past, and I
        Sleep here alone.

Or again:

  [Greek: glukeia mater, outoi dunamai krekên ton histon,
  pothô dameisa paidos bradinan di' Aphroditan.]

  Dear mother mine, I cannot weave my web--
  My heart is sick with longing for my dear,
        Through Aphrodite fair.

And he would probably have included that longer poem of passion which has
been the wonder of the world, that invocation to

  Starry-throned, immortal Aphrodite.

  [Greek: poikilothron, athanat Aphrodita.]

Mr. Dakyns did not tell me himself what he had learnt of Simonides from
Tennyson, but Tennyson quoted the following poems to his eldest son,
Hallam. The sad, comforting, beautiful chant of Danaë to her baby, afloat
on the waters, was quoted in one of Mr. Dakyns's last letters to me, when
his mind was full of his unfinished article. He wrote: "Isn't that lovely
and tear-drawing? true and tender and sempiternal?" And then he copied out
the whole song, in case I should chance not to have the text at hand, with
J. A. Symonds's translation beside it:

  [Greek: hote larnaki en daidalea
  anemos te min pneôn kinêtheisa te limna
  deimati êripen, out' adiantoisi pareiais,
  amphi te Persei balle philên cheira,
  eipe t'; ô tekos, oion echô ponon.
  su d' aôteis, galathênô t' êtori knôsseis en aterpei
  dourati chalkeogomphô,
  nukti alampei kuaneô te dnophô staleis;
  halman d' huperthe tean koman batheian
  pariontos kumatos ouk alegeis,
  oud' anemou phthongon,
  porphurea keimenos en chlanidi, kalon prosôpon.

  ei de toi deinon to ge deinon ên,
  kai ken emôn rhêmatôn lepton hupeiches ouas.
  kelomai d', heude brephos, heudetô de pontos,
  heudetô d' ametron kakon;
  metaibolia de tis phaneiê, Zeu pater, ek seo;
  hoti de tharsaleon epos
  euchomai nosphin dikas, syngnôthi moi.]

  When in the carven chest
  The winds that blew and waves in wild unrest
  Smote her with fear, she not with cheeks unwet
  Her arms of love round Perseus set,
    And said: "O child, what grief is mine!
  But thou dost slumber, and thy baby breast
  Is sunk in rest.
  Here in the cheerless, brass-bound bark,
  Tossed amid starless night and pitchy dark,
  Nor dost thou heed the scudding brine
  Of waves that wash above thy curls so deep,
  Nor the shrill winds that sweep--
  Lapped in thy purple robe's embrace
        Fair little face!

  But if this dread were dreadful, too, to thee,
  Then would'st thou lend thy listening ear to me;
  Therefore I cry, Sleep, babe, and sea be still,
  And slumber our unmeasured ill!
  Oh, may some change of fate, sire Zeus, from Thee
  Descend our woes to end!
  But if this prayer, too overbold, offends
  Thy justice,--yet be merciful to me.

It was natural also that the heroic poems of Simonides should have
appealed to both men, and of special interest to know the delight that
Tennyson took in one of these, and perhaps because of the similarity shown
by his own splendid lines in the "Duke of Wellington" Ode:

  He, that ever following her commands,
  On with toil of heart and knees and hands,
  Thro' the long gorge to the far light has won
  His path upward, and prevail'd,
  Shall find the toppling crags of Duty scaled
  Are close upon the shining table-lands
  To which our God Himself is moon and sun.

  [Greek: esti tis logos
  tan aretan naiein dysambatois epi petrais;
  hagnan de min thean chôron hagnon amphepein.
  oude pantôn blepharois thnatôn esoptos,
  ô mê dakethymos hidrôs
  endothen molê, hikê t' es akron

              There is a tale
  That Valour dwells above the craggy peaks
              Hard, hard to scale,
  A goddess pure in a pure land, and none
              May see her face,
  Save those who by keen Toil and sweat have won
              That highest place,
  That goal of manhood.

And with these heroic lines go the others on the men who fell at

  [Greek: tôn en Thermopylais thanontôn
  eukleês men ha tycha, kalos d' ho potmos,
  bômos d' ho taphos, pro goôn de mnastis, ho d' oiktos epainos:
  entaphion de toiouton out' eurôs
  outh' ho pandamatôr amaurôsei chronos.
  andrôn agathôn hode sakos oiketan eudoxian
  Hellados heileto: martyrei de Leônidas,
  ho Spartas basileus, aretas megan leloipôs
  kosmon aenaon te kleos.]

  Of those who fell at far Thermopylae,
  Fair is the fate and high the destiny:
  Their tomb an altar, memory for tears
  And praise for lamentation through the years.
  On such a monument comes no decay,
  And Time that conquers all takes not away
  Their greatness: for this holy Sepulchre
  Of valiant men has called to dwell with her
  The glory of all Greece. Bear witness, Sparta's king,
  Leonidas! thy ever-flowing spring
  Of fame and the high beauty of thy deed!

There is a kindred note echoing through the popular catch in praise of the
tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, one of the first bits of Greek
that Tennyson made his sons learn:

  [Greek: en myrtou kladi to xiphos phorêsô,
  hôsper Harmodios kai Aristogeitôn,
  hote ton tyrannon ktanetên
  isonomous t' Athênas epoiêsatên.]

  In myrtle I wreathe my sword
  As they wreathed it, the brave,
  Brave Harmodius, Aristogeiton,
  When they slew the oppressor, the lord,
  And to Athens her freedom gave.

Mr. Dakyns must have rejoiced in a spirit that could feed boys on such
gallant stuff as this.

From Goethe he would have selected the noble proem to Faust:

  Ihr naht Euch wieder, schwankende Gestalten,

for there was a note among his papers to that effect.

And there is one note about Béranger (written in a letter):

    It was he too who introduced me to Béranger, _e.g._ "Le Roi d'Yvetot,"
    and the refrain:

        Toute l'aristocratie à la lanterne![60]

    And how _he_ read it! Like the _Conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus_ of
    Catullus quoted above--with fire and fury, _tauriformis
    Aufidus_-like--a refrain which, like the "Marseillaise," stirred my
    republican spirit [Greek: nosphin dikas], inordinately, I mean, and in
    a monstrous cruel sort of way: but what _he_ liked was the form and
    force of the language, the pure art and horror of it, I imagine.

Mr. Dakyns, in the short time I knew him, often spoke to me about
Tennyson, and always with stress on "the width of his humanity," and how
he could appreciate works at which a smaller man might have been shocked;
how, for example, he sympathized with the inmost spirit of Hugo's cry to
the awful vastness of God:

  Je sais que vous avez bien autre chose à faire
      Que de nous plaindre tous;

saw nothing irreverent in it, as lesser critics have done; found in it
rather a fortifying quality against "the grief that saps the mind." "I
wish you could have heard him read it," he wrote afterwards, "in his
organ-voice." Once he said to me how much he had wanted Tennyson to write
the Ode on the Stars which was always floating before his mind: "He could
have done it, for he had the sense of vastness. And it would have been a
far finer work than the 'Idylls of the King.'"

Tennyson also, he told me, was the first man to tell him about Walt
Whitman, and the first passage he showed him was one of the most daring
Whitman ever wrote. On his side Whitman had a deep feeling for Tennyson
and used to write of him affectionately as "the Boss," a touch that
pleased Mr. Dakyns greatly, for he admired and loved Walt. He gave me a
vivid impression of Tennyson's large-heartedness in all kinds of ways: for
instance, his own opinions were always intensely democratic, and the
Tennysons sympathized rather with the old Whig and Unionist policy, but he
said it never made any difference or any jar between them. "I remember his
coming into my little study at the top of the house and finding me
absorbed in Shelley, and asking me what I was reading, and I was struck at
the time by the quiet satisfied way in which he took my answer, no cavil
or criticism, though I knew he did not feel about Shelley as I did.... I
don't know how to give in writing the true impression of his dear genial
nature. It often came out in what might seem like roughnesses when they
were written down. He was very fond of Clough: and Clough at that time was
very taciturn--he was ill really, near his death--and I remember once at a
discussion on metre Clough would not say one word, and at last Tennyson
turned to him with affectionate impatience, quoting Shakespeare in his
deep, kindly voice, 'Well, goodman Dull, what do _you_ say?' How can I put
that down? I can't give the sweet humorous tone that made the charm of it.
And then people called him 'gruff.' His 'gruffness' only gripped one

Another time he told me with keen enjoyment of Tennyson's discovering a
likeness to him in some drawing on the cover of the old _Cornhill_--I
think it was the figure of a lad ploughing--pointing to it like a child
and saying, "Little Dakyns." He would speak with delight of Tennyson's
humour, far deeper and wilder, he said, than most people would have
guessed, Rabelaisian even in the noble sense of the word, and always fresh
and pure.

"I remember an instance of my own audacity," he said, "at which I almost
shudder now. We were riding into a French town, it was the evening of a
fête, and the whole population seemed to be capering about with the most
preposterous antics. It struck a jarring note, and the Poet said to me, 'I
can't understand them, it's enough to make one weep.' Somehow I couldn't
help answering--but can you imagine the audacity? I assure you I trembled
myself as I did so--'Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean.' And he
took it, he took it! He did indeed!"

The memories of Clough also were very dear to Mr. Dakyns, and he said he
could never help regretting that he had not heard him read his last long
work, "In Mari Magno," to the Poet. "Tennyson said to me afterwards,
'Clough's Muse has lost none of her power,' and I couldn't help feeling a
little hurt that I had not been asked to hear the reading: perhaps it was
vanity on my part."

Clough always came down to see them bathe. He was very fond of bathing
himself, but could not take part in it then on account of his health. "I
never feel the water go down my back now," Mr. Dakyns said, "without
thinking of Clough."

But the sweetest of all the memories was, I think, the memory of the
valley at Cauteretz, sacred to Tennyson because of Arthur Hallam. I heard
Mr. Dakyns speak of that the first time he was at our house. My mother
chanced to ask him what he did after taking his degree, and he said, "I
was with the Tennysons as tutor to their boys, and we went to the
Pyrenees." The name and something in his tone made me start. "Oh," I said,
"were you with them at Cauteretz?" He turned to me with his smile, "Yes, I
was, and if I had not already a family motto of which I am very proud, I
should take for my legend 'Dakyns isn't a fool'" (the last phrase in a
gruffly tender voice). And then he told us: "There was a fairly large
party of us, the Tennysons, Clough, and myself, some walking and some
driving. Tennyson walked, and I being the young man of the company, was
the great man's walking-stick. When we came to the valley--I knew it was a
sacred place--I dropped behind to let him go through it alone. Clough told
me afterwards I had done well. He had noticed it, and the Poet said--and
it was quite enough--'Dakyns isn't a fool!'"

It was that evening that Tennyson wrote "All along the Valley."


By the Rev. H. MONTAGU BUTLER, D.D., Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

You have asked me to put on paper some recollections of the many happy
visits which it was my good fortune to pay to Farringford and Aldworth
between 1860 and 1890. I wish that I could respond to this kind request
more worthily; but the truth is, that, though I have always counted those
visits among the happiest events of my life, and though my memory of the
general impression left upon me on each occasion is perfectly clear, it is
not clear, but on the contrary most confused and hazy, as to any
particular incidents.

Speaking first generally in the way of preface, I may say that it would be
difficult to exaggerate the hero-worship with which I regarded the great
Poet, ever since I was a boy. Before I went up to Trinity in 1851, he had
been the delight of my friends and myself at Harrow. And further, through
members of the Rawnsley family, I had heard much of his early days when
the Tennysons lived at Somersby.

During my life at Trinity, from 1851 to 1855, and then, with long
intervals of absence, till the end of 1859, Coleridge and Wordsworth and
Tennyson, but especially Tennyson, were the three poets of the nineteenth
century who mainly commanded the reverence and stirred the enthusiasm of
the College friends with whom I lived. Robert Browning became a power
among them almost immediately after, but by that time I had gone back to
Harrow. Matthew Arnold and Clough and Kingsley also attracted us greatly
in their several ways, and of course Shelley and Keats, but Tennyson was
beyond a doubt our chief luminary. "In Memoriam" in particular, followed
by "Maud" and the first four "Idylls of the King," was constantly on our
lips, and, I may truly say, in our hearts, in those happy hours.

It was with these feelings, then, and these prepossessions that I was
prepared to make the acquaintance of the great Poet, should such an honour
ever be granted me. It came first, to the best of my recollection, when my
late brother-in-law, Francis Galton, and I were taking one of our
delightful walking trips or tramps in the Easter holidays. Galton used to
plan everything--district, hours, stopping-places, length of each day's
march. One Easter--I forget which, but it must have been about 1859--was
devoted to the New Forest. From there we crossed over to the Isle of
Wight; and after visiting Shanklin and Bonchurch, we walked round to
Freshwater. To leave Freshwater without paying our homage to the Poet at
Farringford was impossible. Whether we had any definite introduction to
him, I cannot now remember, but we had reason to think that we should be
kindly received. My brother Arthur had lately been paying more than one
visit to that part of the Island, and had keenly enjoyed several long
walks with him. His report of these was not lost upon me.

Galton had known intimately some of Tennyson's friends, such as Sumner
Maine, W. G. Clark, Franklin Lushington, and specially "Harry" Hallam,
younger brother of Arthur. He was, I think, as full of hero-worship for
the Poet as I was myself. The fame which he has since won in connexion
with Science may make it difficult, even for his later friends, to
understand the passion--I can use no weaker word--which he then cherished
for some branches of imaginative literature, in particular for Chaucer,
Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, and for at least three of Kingsley's novels,
_Alton Locke_, _Yeast_, and _Westward Ho!_ These we used in the course of
our Easter rambles to read out in the open air after an _al-fresco_ lunch.

Tennyson's works were all very familiar to Galton. He had known them at
Cambridge as each came out, and had discussed them eagerly with admiring
friends, some of them first-rate critics. He delighted not only in the
subtlety and elevation and freedom of the thoughts, but also in the beauty
and perfection and melody of the expression.

We went, as I have said, to call on the Poet. We went together with rather
beating hearts. He received us cordially as Trinity men, but unfortunately
I can remember no detail of any kind. I am not sure whether we were even
introduced to Mrs. Tennyson. All I remember is that we left the house
happy and exhilarated.

But my real acquaintance with the Tennyson family dates from the end of
1861 and the early days of 1862. My first marriage had been on December
19, 1861, and a few days afterwards we came to Freshwater, and stayed at
the hotel close to the sea, where Dr. and Mrs. Vaughan had sometimes
stayed during his Harrow Mastership. It was then that we first met the
Granville Bradleys, destined to be our dear friends for life, and it was
in their company that we soon found ourselves most kindly welcomed guests
at Farringford.

The two first incidents that I remember were the Poet showing us the proof
of his "Dedication of the Idylls," and, at our request, reading out to us
"Enoch Arden." The "Dedication" must have been composed almost immediately
after the death of the Prince Consort on December 14. He seemed himself
pleased with it. I thought at the time, and I have felt ever since, that
these lines rank high, not only among his other tributes of the same kind,
but in the literature of epitaphs generally. We felt it a proud privilege
to be allowed to stand at his side as he looked over the proof just
arrived by the post, and it led us of course to talk sympathetically of
the late Prince and the poor widowed Queen.

Very soon after, the Bradleys and we dined at Farringford. The dinner hour
was, I think, as early as six, and then, after he had retreated to his
_sanctum_ for a smoke, he would come down to the drawing-room, and read
aloud to his guests. On this occasion he read to us "Enoch Arden," then
only in manuscript. I had before heard much of his peculiar manner of
reading, with its deep and often monotonous tones, varied with a sudden
lift of the voice as if into the air, at the end of a sentence or a
clause. It was, as always, a reading open to criticism on the score of
lack of variety, but my dear bride and I were in no mood to criticize. The
spell was upon us. Every note of his magnificent voice spoke of majesty or
tenderness or awe. It was, in plain words, a prodigious treat to have
heard him. We walked back through the winter darkness to our hotel,
conscious of having enjoyed a unique privilege.

During this vacation I had, as often in after years, not a few walks with
him on the downs, leaving the Beacon on the left and going on to the
Needles. It was a walk of about two hours. It is here that my memory so
sadly fails me as to his talk. In tone it was friendly, manly, and
perfectly simple, without a touch of condescension. He seemed quite
unconscious that he was a great man, one of the first Englishmen of his
time, talking to one young and utterly obscure. Almost any subject
interested him, grave or gay. He would often talk of metres, Greek and
Latin; of attempts to translate Homer; of the weak points in the English
hexameter; or again of more serious topics, on which he had thought much
and felt strongly, such as the life after death, the so-called "Eternity
of Future Punishment," the unreality of the world as known to the senses,
the grander Human Race, the "crowning race," still to be born.

Occasionally, not very often in these days, he would speak of his own
poems. Once, I remember, a few days after an examination of the sixth form
at Harrow, I told him that we had set for Greek Iambics the fine passage
in "Elaine," where Lancelot says to Lavaine:

                  ... in me there dwells
  No greatness, save it be some far-off touch
  Of greatness to know well I am not great.
  _There_ is the man,

pointing to King Arthur. "Yes," he said in substance, "when I wrote that,
I was thinking of Wordsworth and myself."

I noticed that he never spoke of Wordsworth without marked reverence.
Obviously, with his exquisite ear for choice words and rhythm, he must
have been more sensitive than most men to the prosaic, bathetic side of
Wordsworth; but I never heard him say a word implying that he felt this,
whereas I _have_ heard him qualify his admiration for Robert Browning's
genius and his affection for his person by some allusion to the roughness
of his style. This, he thought, must lead to his being less read than he
deserved in years to come, and he evidently regretted it.

It was in the period, roughly speaking, between 1862 and 1880 that I saw
most of him, for it was then our habit to make frequent visits to
Freshwater or Alum Bay, generally at Christmas, and we were always
received with the same cordial kindness. It was then that the long walks
and the readings of his poetry after dinner continued as a kind of
institution, and never palled. Among the poems that he read out to us were
"Aylmer's Field," the "Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington," parts
of "Maud," "Guinevere," "The Holy Grail," "The Charge of the Light
Brigade," "The Revenge," "The Defence of Lucknow," "In the Valley of
Cauteretz." With regard to this beautiful poem I cannot help recalling an
amusing and most unexpected laugh. He had read the third and fourth lines
in his most sonorous tones:

  All along the valley, where thy waters flow,
  I walked with one I loved two and thirty years ago;

and then suddenly, changing his voice, he said gruffly, "A brute of a
----has discovered that it was thirty-one years and not thirty-two.
Two-and-thirty is better than one-and-thirty years ago, isn't it? But
perhaps I ought to alter it."

It was at this time that we used often to meet Mr. Jowett and also the
Poet's great friend and admirer, the gifted Mrs. Cameron and her dignified
and gray-bearded husband, who looked like a grand Oriental Chief.

One trifling incident occurs to me as I write, the Poet's remarkable skill
at battledore. One duel with him in particular comes back to my mind, in
which I found it hard to hold my own. He was a very hard hitter. He did
not care merely to "keep up" long scores. He liked each bout to be a trial
of strength, and to aim the shuttlecock where it would be difficult for
his opponent to deal with it. In spite of his being short-sighted he
played a first-rate game. With the exception of my brother Arthur, I never
came upon so formidable an antagonist.

But I must leave these earlier years, of which I cannot find any written
record, and pass on to the end of 1886, when, nearly four years after the
death of my dear wife and a year and a half after my leaving Harrow, I
was, to my great surprise, appointed Master of Trinity.

On December 3 I was installed, and on December 13 I was invited to
Farringford, with the prospect of returning on the 16th to Davos Platz,
where I had left my invalid daughter. Of this short visit I find I have
made a few notes. The Poet was as cordial as ever. After dinner he took me
to his _sanctum_, and read me his new Jubilee Ode in Catullian metre, and
then "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After." Next morning there came a letter
from Dr. W. H. Thompson's executor containing an early poem of Tennyson's
of 1826, and a Sonnet, once famous, complaining of defects in the College
system of his day:

  Therefore your Halls, your ancient Colleges,
  Your portals statued with old kings and queens,
  Your gardens, myriad-volumed libraries,
  Wax-lighted chapels, and rich carven screens,
  Your doctors, and your proctors, and your deans,
  Shall not avail you, when the Day-beam sports
  New-risen o'er awaken'd Albion. No!
  Nor yet your solemn organ-pipes that blow
  Melodious thunders thro' your vacant courts
  At noon and eve, because your manner sorts
  Not with this age wherefrom ye stand apart,
  Because the lips of little children preach
  Against you, you that do profess to teach
  And teach us nothing, feeding not the heart.

About eleven o'clock the Poet took me out alone. We went first to
Freshwater Gate, where he said the "maddened scream of the sea" in "Maud"
had been first suggested to him. He talked of our late friend, Philip
Stanhope Worsley, the translator of the _Odyssey_ and half of the _Iliad_,
who was living there a good many years ago, and whom I had met at his
table. He admired him much. He talked also, but I forget to what effect,
of "The Holy Grail" and the old Arthur myth, but before this we talked of
the Cambridge Sonnet just mentioned. "There was no _love_," he said, "in
the system." I understood him to mean that the dons, as a rule, were out
of sympathy with the young men. He spoke also of the bullying he had
undergone at his first school; how, when he was a new boy of only seven
and a half, he was sitting on the school steps crying and homesick. Up
came a big fellow, between seventeen and eighteen, and asked him roughly
who he was and what he was crying for, and then gave him a kick in the
wind! This experience had evidently rankled in his mind for more than
seventy years. Again, in April 1890, he told me the same story.

But to return to our morning walk of December 14, 1886. Something led me
to speak of my favourite lines:

  The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
  And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
  Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Spedding, it seems, and others had wanted him to alter the "one _good_
custom." "I was thinking" he said, "of knighthood." He went on to speak of
his "Experiments in Quantity," and in particular of the Alcaic Ode to
Milton, beginning:

  O mighty-mouth'd inventor of harmonies.

"I thought _that_," he said, "a bit of a _tour de force_," and surely he
was right there. He tilted a little at C. S. Calverley for demurring to

  God-gifted organ-voice of England.

"I didn't mean it to be like your

  'September, October, November';

I was imitating, not Horace, but the original Greek Alcaic, though
Horace's is perhaps the finest metre." The two Latin metres which I have
more than once heard him admire were the Hexameter and the Alcaic.

I find that in my Journal I wrote as regards this walk: "I wish I could
remember more. He was wholly _facilis_, and I never felt less afraid of
him or more reverent." Perhaps I should add that during the walk he told
me an extraordinary number of ghost stories--a man appearing to several
people, and then vanishing before their eyes.

After dinner that evening we went to his _sanctum_ to hear him read the
last Act of the "Promise of May." "Well, isn't that tragic?" he naïvely
asked at one point, I think where Eva falls down dead.

Next morning, I had to leave quite early for London. He just appeared at
the top of the stairs, and offered to come down to say good-bye, but I
would not let him. "I can remember little more of this delightful visit,"
so I wrote at the time. "He was full, as usual, of the public lies, and
the necessity of England being strong at sea."

I did not see him again till after my second marriage, which took place on
August 9, 1888. We paid a flying visit to Lambert's Hotel, Freshwater, in
April 1889. Of this I have made only the scantiest record. Something led
us to speak of the famous line in the chorus of the _Agamemnon_:

  [Greek: ommatôn en achêniais.]

"So modern," he remarked. He also spoke of the pathos of Euripides, and of
the grandeur of the "Passing of Oedipus" in the _Oedipus Coloneus_, and

  [Greek: cheir' antechonta kratos.]

He referred again to lack of sympathy in his time between dons and
undergraduates. This seemed to be a memory often present to his mind.

Our next visit was in March 1890, when, with my wife's sister, we stayed
at Lambert's Hotel. On Friday, March 28, we went to tea at Farringford,
and found him in his little sun-trap of a summer-house, the evening sun
playing full upon us, and bringing into perfect beauty the green lawn,
the spreading trees, and the clumps of daffodils. He began by speaking of
himself as depressed, but soon smiled away all such symptoms, and made us
laugh with a story of the Duke of Wellington, when some prosy personage
addressed him with a flattering compliment. He always seemed to enjoy
anecdotes of the Great Duke. He was wearing a red cap which, in the
sunlight, became him well; but he said playfully that Lady Tennyson
disliked it as too suggestive of a "bonnet rouge." Something, I forget
what, led to a reference to the well-known verse:

  Birds in the high Hall-garden
    When twilight was falling,
  Maud, Maud, Maud, Maud,
    They were crying and calling.

He once asked a rather gushing lady what sort of birds she supposed these
to be. "Nightingales," was the rather sentimental answer. "Who ever heard
a nightingale say 'Maud'?" was the somewhat stern reply. "They were rooks
of course."

My wife mentioned that she and her sister had been reading the "Idylls" of
late. "Do you mean _my_ Īdylls," he said; "I am glad you don't call
them Ĭdylls." We soon got talking of his recently published "Crossing
the Bar." When asked what was the precise grammatical reference in the
third line of the verse:

  But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
  _When that which drew from out the boundless deep_
    Turns again home,

he answered rather emphatically, "I meant _both_ human life[61] _and_ the
water." He went on, "They say I write so slowly. Well, that poem came to
me in five minutes. Anyhow, under ten minutes." Afterwards, when I had
some quiet talk with Lady Tennyson, she confirmed what he had implied as
to the rapidity with which he usually composed.

At this point I shall do well to insert extracts from my dear wife's
journal, describing a few incidents in what proved our last visit to
Farringford. It was at the end of January 1892, when the Poet, born on
August 6,[62] 1809, was well on in his eighty-third year. She writes as



    On January 26 Montagu and I left our two small boys at Eton Villa,
    Shanklin, to spend the night at Lambert's Hotel, Freshwater. After
    leaving our traps at the hotel we walked up to Farringford in time for
    two o'clock lunch. I sat next the Poet at table, and had some talk
    with him. He spoke of the metres of Horace, and said that he always
    thought his Sapphics uninteresting and monotonous. "What a relief it
    is," he said, "when he _does_ allow himself some irregularity, for

        Laurea donandus Apollinari."

    On the other hand, he admired his Alcaics immensely. The discovery for
    which he always hoped the most was of some further writings of Sappho
    herself. He considered the metre beautiful under her treatment.

    Then we spoke of Schliemann, of whom I had just been reading in
    Schuchardt's book, and he said he had no faith in him. "How could a
    great city have been built on a little ridge like that (meaning
    Hissarlik)? Where would have been the room for Priam's fifty sons and
    fifty daughters?"

    He also thought the supposed identifications of topography absurd, and
    preferred to believe that Homer's descriptions were entirely
    imaginary. When I said that I thought that a disappointing view, he
    called me "a wretched localizer." "They try to localize me too," he
    said. "There is one man wants to make out that I describe nothing I
    have not seen." Also, with some irritation, of other accounts of
    himself: "Full of lies, and ---- made me tell a big one at the end."

    Next day we walked up at about 12.20 to accompany him in his morning
    walk. Montagu and he were in front, Hallam Tennyson and I behind.
    Montagu tells me how he was indignant with Z. for charging him with
    general plagiarism, in particular about Lactantius and other classics,
    "of whom," he said, "I haven't read a word." Also, of taking from
    Sophocles, "whom I never read since I was a young man"; and of owing
    his "moanings of the sea" to Horace's _gementis litora Bospori_. Some
    one charged him with having stolen the "In Memoriam" metre from some
    very old poet of whom he had never heard. He said, in answer to
    Montagu's question, that the metres of both "Maurice" and "The Daisy"
    were original. He had never written in the metre of Gray's _Elegy_,
    except epitaphs in Westminster Abbey. He admired the metre much, and
    thought the poem immortal[63].

    Hartley Coleridge, he said, spoke of Pindar as the "Newmarket Poet."
    He thought the loss of his Dithyrambs most serious, judging from the
    remaining fragment. He had from early boyhood been familiar with the
    fact that Wolsey and Cromwell in _Henry VIII._ were by Fletcher, but
    he felt absolutely certain that the description of the Field of the
    Cloth of Gold was by Shakespeare's own hand. He quoted it, as well as
    several lines from Wolsey. When I said how glad I was he had written
    about the Duke of Clarence, he said, "Yes, but I wouldn't write an
    Installation Ode for the Chancellor."

    So far Montagu reported. After this we others came up, and the old
    Poet and I walked home together.

    We spoke a little of our projected tour to Greece. He had never been
    there, but would have greatly liked to go--in a private yacht--"but
    they tell me an old man is safest at home, and I dare say it is true;
    and I couldn't stand the vermin!" I told him I was hoping to study
    classical architecture a little before going out, and he said that he
    thought, after all, Gothic architecture was finer than classic. "It is
    like blank verse," he said; "it will suit the humblest cottage and the
    grandest cathedral. It has more mystery than the classic." He thought
    many of our cathedrals spoiled by their vile glass. He had been
    disappointed, in his late visit to Cambridge, to notice that the
    windows in King's seemed to be losing their brilliancy and to look

    After we had been walking a few minutes in silence, he said to me, "Do
    you see what the beauty is in the line,

        That all the Thrones are clouded by your loss?"--

    quoting from his still unpublished poem on the young Prince. I said I
    thought it very beautiful; but he asked if I saw why he had used the
    word _clouded_ instead of _darkened_ or another. "It makes you think
    of a great mountain," he explained. Then he spoke of the great
    richness of the English language due to its double origin, the Norman
    and Saxon words. How hard it would be for a foreigner to feel the
    difference in the line

        An _infant_ crying for the light,

    had the word _baby_ been substituted, which would at once have made it
    ridiculous. He told me that his lines "came to" him; he did not make
    them up, but that, when they had come, he wrote them down, and looked
    into them to see what they were like. This was very interesting,
    especially as he had told Montagu, at Easter, 1890, that he had
    composed "Crossing the Bar" in less than ten minutes.

    Then he said again, what I have heard him say before, that though a
    poet is _born_, he will not be much of a poet if he is not _made_ too.
    Then he asked me if I was fond of Pindar. I am very glad that he
    admires him greatly. He could not believe Paley's theory that Pindar
    is earlier than Homer. I vented my dislike of Paley's horribly prosaic
    translations in his notes on Aeschylus, and he said _he_ had always
    used Blomfield, he found his Glossary such a help.

    We were now indoors, and in a few minutes went in to luncheon. I was
    again seated next him, and we had some more talk. He got upon the
    subject of College life, and told me anecdotes of himself and his
    friends, one very amusing one about Tom Taylor. During some vacation
    Tom Taylor's rooms were lent by the College authorities to a farmer, a
    member of an Agricultural Society which they were entertaining. Taylor
    knew this perfectly well; but in the middle of the night suddenly
    entered the room, in a long traveller's cloak and with a lantern in
    his hand, "Pray, what are you doing in my room, sir, and in my bed?"
    feigning great surprise and indignation. The poor old farmer tried to
    explain that he was honoured by being the guest of the College, but
    Taylor refused to be pacified; when suddenly, in the midst of their
    altercation, enter Charles Spring Rice, brother of Stephen,
    personating the Senior Dean, who forthwith laid forcible hands on Tom
    Taylor. Thereupon ensued a regular scuffle, in which they both tumbled
    on to the bed, and Tom Taylor got so much the worst of it that the
    kindly agriculturist began to intercede, "Oh, please, Mr. Dean, don't
    be too hard on the young man!"

    Tennyson himself had been proctorized once or twice. Once, during the
    first few days of his College life, he came out to receive a parcel by
    a midnight mail. "Pray, sir, what are you doing at this time of
    night?" said the Proctor. "And pray, sir, what business of yours is it
    to ask me?" replied the Freshman, who in his innocence knew nothing
    about the Proctor. He was told to call upon him next day, but then
    explained his ignorance, and was let off.

    On one occasion a throng of University men outside the Senate House
    had been yelling against Whewell. Tennyson was standing by the door of
    Macmillan's shop, and raised a counter-cry _for_ Whewell. He was,
    however, seen standing, and was sent for to Whewell. "I was surprised,
    sir, to see _you_ among that shouting mob the other day." "I was
    shouting _for_ you," was the reply. Whewell was greatly pleased, and
    grunted his approbation.

    Another funny story. A wine-party was going on in Arthur Hallam's
    rooms in the New Court, when enter angrily the Senior Dean, "Tommy
    Thorp." "What is the meaning, Mr. Hallam, of all this noise?" "I am
    very sorry, sir," said Hallam, "we had no idea we were making a
    noise." "Well, gentlemen, if you'll all come down into the Court,
    you'll _hear_ what a noise you're making." "Perhaps," admits Tennyson,
    "I may have put in the _all_."

So ends my wife's short journal, and it only remains for me to sum up very
briefly the impressions left upon me, after a lapse of fifty, forty,
thirty, twenty years, by these visits to Farringford which once made so
large a part of my interest and my happiness.

Little as I am able to put these impressions into words, I can say with
truth that no personality with which I have ever come in close touch,
either seemed to me at the time, or has seemed in later recollection, to
cover so large, so rich, and so diverse a field for veneration, wonder,
and regard.

Tennyson was, and is, to me the most remarkable man that I have ever met.
Often when I was with him, whether in long walks or in his study, and when
I came to think of him silently afterwards, I used to recall his own lines
on Wellington:

  Our greatest yet with least pretence...,
  Rich in saving common-sense,
  _And, as the greatest only are,
  In his simplicity sublime_.

Simple, natural, shrewd, humorous; feeling strongly on a vast variety of
subjects, and saying freely just what he felt; passing rapidly and easily
from the gravest matters of speculation or conduct to some trifling or
amusing incident of the moment, or some recollection of the years of his
youth; he seemed to me unconscious of being a great man, though he must
have known himself to be one of the foremost thinkers, and quite the
foremost poet of his day. He was wholly free from affectation. He was
never an actor of a part. There was about him always an atmosphere of

  Truth-teller was our Alfred named,

was a line that again and again recurred to the memory as one heard him
speak out his mind either on men, or on politics, or on the deepest
mysteries of philosophy or religion. He was pre-eminently one of the
Children of Light. Of light, whether from science, or from literary
criticism, or from the progress of the human conscience, he hailed
thankfully and expectantly every fresh disclosure. There was a deep
reverence in him for the Unseen, the Undiscovered, the as yet Unrevealed.
This on the intellectual side; and on the moral side there was a manly, a
devout, and a tender veneration for purity and innocence and trustfulness,
and, to borrow his own stately words, written early in his life:

  Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control.

I regret that I cannot convey more worthily what I have felt in the
presence of this great and truly noble man. To go to either of his
beautiful homes, to see him as the husband of his wife and the father of
his sons, was to me and mine for many years a true pilgrimage, both of the
mind and of the heart. That I was once able to feel this, and that I am
able to feel it gratefully even now, I count among the richer blessings of
a long and happy life.



Among Tennyson's friends in his later years was my father--William George
Ward--who was his neighbour at Freshwater from 1870 to 1882. I have been
asked to contribute to the picture of "Tennyson and his Friends" some
account of their intercourse, and at the same time to set down some of the
extremely interesting comments on his own poems which I myself was
privileged yet later to hear from the Poet. I need not say that such an
act of piety in regard of two men for whom I have so deep a reverence is a
work of love, and I only regret that my recollections of what so well
deserves recording should be so imperfect and fragmentary.

Tennyson's friendship with my father began at a date considerably
subsequent to their first acquaintance. My father came rather unexpectedly
into the family property in the Isle of Wight in 1849 when his uncle died
without a son; but he did not desire to leave the house Pugin had built
for him in Hertfordshire, where he had settled immediately after he joined
the Catholic Church in 1845. He and the late Cardinal Vaughan were, in the
'fifties, doing a work for ecclesiastical education at St. Edmund's
College, Ware--a work which came to my father naturally as the sequel to
his share in the Oxford Movement. Therefore, when Tennyson in 1853 came to
live in the Isle of Wight my father was an absentee. He tried in 1858
for two years to live at his grandfather's old home near Cowes, Northwood
Park, but his health broke down, and he returned to Hertfordshire. In the
'sixties, however, he used to pay long visits to Freshwater, in the
scenery of which he delighted; and, on one of these occasions, Tennyson
was introduced to him by their common friend, Dean Bradley. The meeting
was not, I think, a great success on either side. Later on, however, in
1870, when my father, despairing of the Cowes climate, built a house at
Freshwater, he was Tennyson's near neighbour, and they soon became great

[Illustration: ARTHUR TENNYSON.]

Tennyson's friendship with my father grew up from close neighbourhood, and
from the fact that they had so much more in common with each other than
with most of their other Isle of Wight neighbours. It was cemented by my
father's devotion to Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Tennyson, who, in her
conversation, he always said, reminded him of the John Henry Newman of
Oxford days. Also they had many friends in common--such as Dean Stanley,
Lord Selborne, and Jowett--who often visited Freshwater. They were both
members of the Metaphysical Society, and loved to discuss in private
problems of religious faith which formed the subject of the Society's
debates. They were also both great Shakespearians. But most of all they
were drawn together by a simplicity and directness of mind, in which, I
think, they had few rivals--if I may say of my own father what every one
else said. Nevertheless, their intimacy was almost as remarkable for
diversity of interests as for similarity. It might seem at first sight to
be a point of similarity between them that each revelled in his way in the
scenery of the beautiful island which was their home. Yet the love of
external nature was very different in the two men. It had that marked
contrast which Ruskin has described in his _Modern Painters_. Ruskin
contrasts three typical ways of being affected by what is beautiful. There
is first "the man who perceives rightly because he does not feel, and to
whom the primrose is very accurately the primrose because he does not love
it. Then, secondly, the man who perceives wrongly because he feels, and to
whom the primrose is anything else than a primrose--a star, or a sun, or a
fairy's shield, or a forsaken maiden. And then lastly, there is the man
who perceives rightly in spite of his feelings, and to whom the primrose
is for ever nothing else than itself--a little flower apprehended in the
very plain and leafy fact of it, whatever and how many soever the
associations and passions may be that crowd around it."

My father's imagination was of the second order, Tennyson's of the third.
My father often perceived wrongly, or not at all, because he felt so
strongly. Consequently, while the bold outlines of mountain scenery and
the large vistas of sea and down in the Isle of Wight moved him greatly,
he did not look at them with the accurate eye of an artist; and the minute
beauty of flowers and trees was non-existent for him. Tennyson, on the
contrary, had the most delicate and true perception of the minute as well
as the great. Each man chose for his home a site which suited his taste.
Weston was on a high hill with a wide view. Farringford was lower down and
buried in trees. The two men used sometimes to walk together on the great
Down which stretches from the Needles rocks to Freshwater Bay, on which
the boundary between Tennyson's property and my father's is marked by the
dyke beyond the Tennyson memorial cross. At other times they walked in the
Freshwater lanes. And there was a suggestion in these different
surroundings of their sympathy and of their difference. The immense
expanse of scenery visible from the Beacon Down was equally inspiring to
both, but the lanes and fields which were full of inspiration to Tennyson
had nothing in them which appealed to W. G. Ward. If he heard a bird
singing, the only suggestion it conveyed to him was of a tiresome being
who kept him awake at night. Trees were only the unpleasant screens which
stood in the way of the view of the Solent from his house, and which he
cut down as fast as they grew up. To Tennyson, on the contrary--as we see
constantly in his poetry--there was a whole world of interest in Nature
created by his knowledge of botany and natural history, as well as by his
exceptionally accurate and observant eye.

Let me quote the words of a great critic--the late Mr. Hutton--on this
characteristic of the Poet:

    No poet has so many and such accurate references to the vegetable
    world, and yet at the same time references so thoroughly poetic. He
    calls dark hair

        More black than ash-buds in the front of March;

    auburn hair,

        In gloss and hue the chestnut, when the shell
        Divides three-fold to show the fruit within.

    He is never tired of reflecting in his poetry the physiology of
    flowers and trees and buds. The "living smoke" of the yew is twice
    commemorated in his poems. He tells us how the sunflower, "shining

        Rays round with flames her disk of seed;

    observes on the blasts "that blow the poplars white"; and, to make a
    long story short--for the list of instances might be multiplied to
    hundreds--in his latest published "Idylls of the King," he thus dates
    an early hour in the night:

                            Nigh upon that hour
        When the lone hern forgets his melancholy,
        _Lets down his other leg_, and, stretching, dreams
        Of goodly supper in the distant pool.

When Tennyson and W. G. Ward walked together there was then a most
curious contrast in their attitude towards the Nature that surrounded
them,--Tennyson noting every bird, every flower, every tree, as he passed
it, Ward buried in the conversation, and alive only to the great, broad
effects in the surrounding country.

W. G. Ward was himself not only no poet, but almost barbarously
indifferent to poetry, with some few exceptions. He was exceedingly frank
with Tennyson, and plainly intimated to him that there was very little in
his poetry that he understood or cared for. But this fact never impaired
their friendship. Indeed, I think Tennyson enjoyed his almost eccentric
candour in this and in other matters, and he used, in later years, to tell
me stories which illustrated it. Once when the question of persecution had
been debated at the Metaphysical Society he remarked to my father, "You
know you would try to get me put into prison if the Pope told you to."
"Your father would not say 'No,'" Tennyson said to me. "He only replied,
'The Pope would never tell me to do anything so foolish.'"

I think his intercourse with my father did a good deal to diminish a
certain prejudice against Roman Catholicism; and his intimacy with my
father's chaplain--Father Haythornthwaite, a man as opposed to the popular
conception of a Jesuit as could well be imagined--told in the same
direction. "When Haythornthwaite dies," Tennyson once said, "I shall write
as his epitaph: 'Here lies Peter Haythornthwaite, Human by nature, Roman
by fate!'"

W. G. Ward's own extreme frankness led Tennyson to remark to a friend:
"The popular idea of Roman Catholics as Jesuitical and untruthful is
contrary to my own experience. The most truthful man I ever met was an
Ultramontane. He was grotesquely truthful."

Tennyson would sometimes retort in kind to my father's frank criticisms,
and once, after vainly trying to decipher one of his letters, observed
that the handwriting was "like walking-sticks gone mad," a curiously true
description of my father's very peculiar characters.[64]

As with scenery, so with poetry; my father only took in broad effects and
simple pathos, and would single out for special admiration such a poem as
the "Children's Hospital," over which he shed many tears.

Tennyson soon accustomed himself to my father's indifference to his poetry
in general. But he hoped that, at all events, his metaphysical poems would
interest his neighbour, and sent him the MS. of "De Profundis" when he
wrote it; but the reply was only an entreaty that he would put explanatory
notes to it when it should be published. One exception, however, must be
made in favour of "Becket," which Tennyson read aloud to Ward, who,
greatly to his own surprise, admired it enthusiastically. "How do you like
it?" Tennyson asked, and the reply was, "Very much, though I did not
expect to like it at all. It is quite splendid. The development of
character in Chancellor and Archbishop is wonderfully drawn. Where did you
learn it all?"

I used to think there was a good deal that was alike between the
intercourse of Tennyson with my father and his intercourse with my
father's old friend, Dr. Jowett of Balliol. In both cases there was the
same complete frankness--an unanswerable reply to those who gave it out
that Tennyson best enjoyed the society of flatterers. Jowett, however,
understood Tennyson's poetry far better than my father did. It was
sometimes strange to see that impassive figure, so little given to
emotion, so ready to snub in others any display of feeling, under the
spell of the Poet's lines. I recollect once at Farringford listening with
Jowett after dinner to Tennyson's reading of his "Ode on the Death of the
Duke of Wellington." It was a poem which his peculiar chant made most
moving, and he read the concluding lines with special pathos:

  Speak no more of his renown,
  Lay your earthly fancies down,
  And in the vast cathedral leave him;
  God accept him, Christ receive him.

Tennyson then turned to address some observation to Jowett, but no reply
came, and we soon saw that the Master was unable to speak. The tears were
streaming down his cheeks. I ventured to allude to this some time later in
talking to Jowett, and he said, "What would you have? The two Englishmen
for whom I have the deepest feeling of reverence are Tennyson and the
great Duke of Wellington. And one of them was reading what he had himself
written in admiration of the other!"

When my father died Tennyson visited his grave in company with Father
Haythornthwaite, who spoke to me of the visit directly afterwards. A cross
of fresh flowers had been placed on the grave until the monument should be
erected. Tennyson quoted Shirley's couplet:

  Only the actions of the just
  Smell sweet, and blossom in the dust.

And then, standing over the grave, he recited the whole of the beautiful
poem from which these lines are taken. Tennyson's eldest son wrote to me
at the same time:

    His wonderful simplicity in faith and nature, together with his subtle
    and far-reaching grasp of intellect, make up a man never to be
    forgotten. My father and mother and myself will miss him more than I
    can say; I loved him somehow like an intimate college friend.

A few years later Tennyson published the memorial lines in the volume
called _Demeter and other Poems_, which show how closely his observant
mind had taken in the character of his friend:

  Farewell, whose living like I shall not find,
    Whose Faith and Work were bells of full accord,
  My friend, the most unworldly of mankind,
    Most generous of all Ultramontanes, Ward,
  How subtle at tierce and quart of mind with mind,
    How loyal in the following of thy Lord!

[Illustration: HORATIO TENNYSON.]

Freshwater was in those days seething with intellectual life. The Poet
was, of course, its centre, and that remarkable woman, Mrs. Cameron, was
stage-manager of what was for us young people a great drama. For Tennyson
was still writing the "Idylls of the King," which had so greatly moved the
whole country, and we felt that we were in the making of history. There
were many in Freshwater who were keenly alive to their privilege. Even
among the permanent residents in the neighbourhood there were not a few
who were worthy of remark, and Farringford was very hospitable and often
added to their number some of the most interesting people in England. Mrs.
Cameron herself was one of the well-known Miss Pattles, a sister of the
late Lady Somers and Lady Dalrymple. She was a great wit and a most
original and unconventional woman, with an enthusiasm for genius and for
art. Her large artistic photographs are a permanent record of the
remarkable people who congregated from time to time round the Poet's home
in the island. They include Carlyle, Ruskin, Tyndall, Darwin, Lord
Dufferin, Palgrave, D. G. Rossetti, Holman Hunt, Lecky, Aubrey de Vere,
Sir Henry Taylor, Herschell, Longfellow, Auberon, Herbert, Pollock,
Allingham, and many another. Among other residents I would name the Rev.
Christopher Bowen, a man of very unusual ability, though he never had
enough ambition to become famous. His sons--Lord Justice Bowen and Mr.
Edward Bowen of Harrow--are better known. Then there were the Poet's two
remarkable brothers, Horatio and Arthur Tennyson, and two fine old
admirals, Sir Graham Hamond and Admiral Crozier. Then again from 1874
onwards we had at the Briary G. F. Watts, and Mrs. Cameron's sister, Mrs.
Prinsep and her husband, with Mr. Val Prinsep as an occasional guest. A
little earlier Sir John Simeon was still living at Swainston, and was one
of Tennyson's most intimate friends. Again, Mrs. Grosvenor Hood and Mrs.
Brotherton were both people for whom literature and art counted for much.

The large group of people who came to Freshwater in the summer for the
sole reason that Tennyson's writings and himself were among the greatest
things in their lives, sometimes formed an almost unique society. Several
figures are especially prominent in my memory. One great friend of the
Tennysons' was Sir Richard Jebb--intensely shy and intensely refined--with
whom, I may add, by the way, my first meeting at Haslemere was
unpromising. I got into the Tennysons' large old-fashioned brougham to
drive to Aldworth on a dark night, and laid rough hands on what I took to
be a heap of rugs in the corner. I received in return a mild remonstrance
from the fellow-guest, of whose coat-collar I found myself possessed!
Jowett and Sir Alfred Lyall I often met at the Tennysons' and elsewhere.
Each was in his way memorable, and congenial to the Poet's taste, which
was fastidious owing to his very simplicity, to his love of reality and
dislike of affectation. The singular charm--both in person and in
conversation--of Samuel Henry Butcher, another great friend, stands out
vividly from the past. In addition to his brilliant gifts and acquirements
he was endowed in a remarkable degree with that justice of mind which
Tennyson so greatly prized. One used to feel for how much this counted in
the Poet's mind when he talked of the "wisdom" of his old friend, James
Spedding. Henry Irving I once saw at Aldworth, though never at
Farringford, and it was curious to meet at close quarters one with whom I
had had for years the stranger's intimacy which one has with a favourite
actor. But Irving was never an intimate friend of Tennyson's, nor among
the typical figures of his circle. To my mind the friend of Tennyson's
whose saintliness most completely had his sympathy was Aubrey de Vere, of
whom Sarah Coleridge said that he had more entirely a poet's nature even
than her own father, or any other of the great poets she had known. Aubrey
de Vere's simplicity and deep piety were as remarkable as his keen
perception and close knowledge on the subject which most interested
Tennyson himself. I wish I had seen more of the intercourse of two men
whose friendship was almost lifelong, and showed Tennyson at his very best
in conversation.

Speaking generally, it was a society in which good breeding, literary
taste, general information, and personal distinction counted for much more
than worldly or official _status_. I think that we young people looked
upon a government official of average endowment as rather an outsider.
Genius was all in all for us--officialdom and conventionality in general
were unpopular in Freshwater.

Indeed, how could conventionality obtain a footing in a society in which
Mrs. Cameron and Tennyson were the central figures? I recall Mrs. Cameron
pressing my father's hand to her heart, and addressing him as "Squire
Ward." I recall her, during her celebrated private theatricals at Dimbola,
when a distinguished audience tittered at some stage misadventure which
occurred during a tragic scene, mounting a chair and insisting loudly and
with angry gesticulation, "You must not laugh; you must cry." I recall her
bringing Tennyson to my father's house while she was photographing
representatives for the characters in the "Idylls of the King," and
calling out directly she saw Cardinal Vaughan (to whom she was a perfect
stranger), "Alfred, I have found Sir Lancelot." Tennyson's reply was, "I
want a face well worn with evil passion."

My own intercourse with the Poet was chiefly after my father's death in
1882. Tennyson was then an old man who had passed his threescore years and
ten. His deeply serious mind brooded constantly on the prospect for the
future, and the meaning of human life, which was, for him, nearly over.

There is much of autobiography in some of the poems of those years which
he discussed with me. I have elsewhere[65] described his impressive
analysis of the "De Profundis." I will here set down the substance of his
comments on two other poems dealing with his deep problems of human life,
the "Ancient Sage" and "Vastness." "The Ancient Sage" is in form dramatic,
and the personality of the two interlocutors is a very important element
in it viewed as a work of art. An aged seer of high, ascetic life, a
thousand years before the birth of Christ, holds intercourse with a
younger man:

      that loved and honour'd him, and yet
  Was no disciple, richly garb'd, but worn
  From wasteful living...

The younger man has set down his reflections on the philosophy of life in
a set of verses which the Ancient Sage reads, making his comments as the
reading proceeds. There seems to be a deep connection between the personal
characteristics of the two men--their habits and modes of living--and
their respective views. The younger man is wearied with satiety, impatient
for immediate pleasure:

  Yet wine and laughter, friends! and set
    The lamps alight, and call
  For golden music, and forget
    The darkness of the pall.

He is dismayed by the first appearance of difficulty and pain in the
world, as he had been satisfied for a time with the immediate pleasures
within his reach. He is unable to steady the nerve of his brain (so to
speak), and trace the riddle of pain and trouble in the universe to its
ultimate solution. In thought, as in conduct, he is filled and swayed by
the immediate inclination and the first impression, without self-restraint
and without the habits of concentrated reflection which go hand in hand
with self-restraint. Failing, in consequence, to have any steady view of
his own soul or of the spiritual life within, he is impressed, probably by
experience, with this one truth, that uncontrolled self-indulgence leads
to regret and pain; and he is consequently pessimistic in his ultimate
view of things. The absence of spiritual light makes him see only the
immediate pain and failure in the universe. He has no patience to look
beyond or to reflect if there be not an underlying and greater purpose
which temporary failure in small things may further, as the death of one
cell in the human organism is but the preparation for its replacement by
another, and a part of the body's natural development. It is a dissipated
character and a dissipated mind. The intangible beauty of moral virtue
finds nothing in the character capable of assimilating it; the spiritual
truth of Gods existence and the spiritual purpose of the universe elude
the mind.

In marked contrast stands forth the "Ancient Sage." He has no taste for
the dissipations of the town:

  I am wearied of our city, son, and go
  To spend my one last year among the hills.

His gospel is a gospel of _self-restraint_ and long-suffering, of action
for high ends.

  Let be thy wail and help thy fellow-men,
  And make thy gold thy vassal, not thy king,
  And fling free alms into the beggar's bowl,
  And send the day into the darken'd heart;
  Nor list for guerdon in the voice of men,
  A dying echo from a falling wall:

     *       *       *       *       *

  Nor roll thy viands on a luscious tongue,
  Nor drown thyself with flies in honied wine.

     *       *       *       *       *

  And more--think well! Do-well will follow thought.

And the patience and self-control which enable him to work for great
purposes and spiritual aims, characterize also his thought. "Things are
not what they seem," he holds. The first view is ever incomplete, though
he who has not patience of thought will not get beyond the first view.
That concentration and that purity of manners which keep the spiritual
soul and self undimmed, and preserve the moral voice within articulate,
are indispensable if we are to understand anything beyond the most
superficial phenomena about us. The keynote is struck in the very first
words which the Seer speaks:

  This wealth of waters might but seem to draw
  From yon dark cave, but, son, the source is higher,
  Yon summit half-a-league in air--and higher,
  The cloud that hides it--higher still, the heavens
  Whereby the cloud was moulded, and whereout
  The cloud descended. Force is from the heights.

"_Force is from the heights_" is the thought which underlies the Sage's
interpretation of all that perplexes the younger man. We cannot fully
understand what is beyond and above us, but if we are wise we shall
steadily look upwards, and enough light will eventually be gained for our
guidance. "Lucerna pedibus meis verbum tuum." As God's law is enough to
guide our footsteps, though we cannot hope to understand His full counsel,
so the light by which the spiritual world is disclosed is sufficient for
those who look for it, though its disclosure is only gradual and partial.
If we are said not to know what we cannot submit in its entirety to
scientific tests, we can never know anything worth knowing. If, again, we
are to disbelieve in the spiritual world because it is filled with
mystery, what are we to say of the mysteries which face us in this
earth--inexplicable yet undeniable? The conception of God is not more
mysterious than the thought that a grain of sand may be divided a million
times, and yet be no nearer its ultimate division than it is now. Time and
space are full of mystery. A man under chloroform has been known to pass
many hours of sensation in a few minutes. Time is made an objective
measure of things, and yet its phenomena are so subjective that Kant
conceived it to have no real existence. When the younger man complains
that "the Nameless Power or Powers that rule were never heard nor seen,"
the Sage thus replies:

  If thou would'st hear the Nameless, and wilt dive
  Into the Temple-cave of thine own self,
  There, brooding by the central altar, thou
  May'st haply learn the Nameless hath a voice,
  By which thou wilt abide, if thou be wise,
  As if thou knewest, tho' thou canst not know;
  For Knowledge is the swallow on the lake
  That sees and stirs the surface-shadow there
  But never yet hath dipt into the abysm,
  The Abysm of all Abysms, beneath, within
  The blue of sky and sea, the green of earth,
  And in the million-millionth of a grain,
  Which cleft and cleft again for evermore,
  And ever vanishing, never vanishes,
  To me, my son, more mystic than myself,
  Or even than the Nameless is to me.

And so, too, when the youth calls for further proof of the "Nameless," the
Sage reminds him that there are universally acknowledged truths incapable
of formal proof. The thought which the poet here dwells upon is similar to
Cardinal Newman's teaching in the _Grammar of Assent_, though Tennyson's
use of words does not here, as elsewhere, harmonize with Catholic
doctrine. There are truths, the knowledge of which is so intimately
connected with our own personality, that the material for complete formal
proof eludes verbal statement. We reject, for example, with a clear and
unerring instinct, the notion that when we converse with our friends, the
words and thoughts which come to us proceed possibly from some principle
within us and not from an external cause, and yet it is not a matter on
which we can offer logical proof. The same sensations could conceivably be
produced from within, as they are in a dream. Logical proof, then, has (so
the Ancient Sage maintains) to be dispensed with in much that is of
highest moment:

  Thou canst not prove that thou art body alone,
  Nor canst thou prove that thou art spirit alone,
  Nor canst thou prove that thou art both in one:
  Thou canst not prove thou art immortal, no
  Nor yet that thou art mortal--nay, my son,
  Thou canst not prove that I, who speak with thee,
  Am not thyself in converse with thyself,
  For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
  Nor yet disproven.

And close upon this follows the beautiful passage in which the hopeful and
wistful upward gaze of faith is described. While melancholy and perplexity
constantly attend on the exercises of the speculative intellect, we are to
"cling to faith":

  She reels not in the storm of warring words,
  She brightens at the clash of "Yes" and "No,"
  She sees the Best that glimmers thro' the Worst,
  She feels the Sun is hid but for a night.
  She spies the summer thro' the winter bud,
  She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls,
  She hears the lark within the songless egg,
  She finds the fountain where they wailed "Mirage"!

These lines present to the reader the hopefulness of the spiritual mind,
hopefulness not akin to the merely sanguine temperament, but based on a
deep conviction of the reality of the spiritual world, and on unfailing
certainty that there is in it a key to the perplexities of this universe
of which we men understand so little. We know from experience that
material Nature is working out her ends, however little we understand the
process, and however unpromising portions of her work might appear without
this knowledge. That an acorn should have within it forces which compel
earth, air, and water to come to its assistance and become the oak tree,
would seem incredible were it not so habitually known as a fact; and the
certainty which such experiences give in the material order, the eye of
faith gives in the spiritual order. However perplexing the universe now
seems to us we have this deep trust that there _is_ an explanation, and
that when we are in a position to judge the _whole_, instead of looking on
from this corner of time and space, the truth of the spiritual
interpretation of its phenomena will be clear--"ut iustificeris in
sermonibus tuis et vincas cum iudicaris." This view runs not only through
the passages I have just quoted, but through all the poem. The poet pleads
for steadfast trust and hope in the face of difficulty, as we would trust
a known and intimate friend in the face of ominous suspicions.

It is, of course, just that keen realization of the plausibleness of the
sceptical view of life, to which some of our modern critics object as a
sign of weakness, which gives this poem its strength. Such assistance as
Tennyson gives us in seeing and realizing the spiritual view is needed
only or mainly by those to whom agnosticism in its various forms is a
plausible, and, at first sight, a reasonable attitude. The old-fashioned
"irrefragable arguments" are of little use by themselves to persons in
such a condition. However evident spiritual truths may be to an absolutely
purified reason, they are not evident to intellects which are impregnated
with a view of things opposed to the religious view. Moreover, we do not
consult a doctor with much confidence if he does not believe in the
reality of our illness; and one who finds the sceptical view persuasive
will have little trust in those who tell him that it has no plausibility
at all. With Tennyson, as with Cardinal Newman, half the secret of his
influence in this respect is that the sceptically minded reader finds
those very disturbing thoughts which had troubled his own mind anticipated
and stated. And yet a truer and deeper view is likewise depicted, which
sees beyond these thoughts, which detects through the clouds the light in
the heavens beyond.

In the "Ancient Sage" there is a striking instance of this characteristic.
The young philosopher, filled with the failure of fair promise and the
collapse of apparent purpose in Nature and in man, pours forth his
sceptical lament. Here is a selection from it, typical of the rest:

  The years that made the stripling wise
    Undo their work again,
  And leave him, blind of heart and eyes,
    The last and least of men;

     *       *       *       *       *

  His winter chills him to the root,
    He withers marrow and mind;
  The kernel of the shrivell'd fruit
    Is jutting thro' the rind;
  The tiger spasms tear his chest,
    The palsy wags his head;
  The wife, the sons, who love him best
    Would fain that he were dead;

     *       *       *       *       *

  The statesman's brain that sway'd the past
    Is feebler than his knees;
  The passive sailor wrecks at last
    In ever-silent seas;
  The warrior hath forgot his arms,
    The Learned all his lore;
  The changing market frets or charms
    The merchant's hope no more;
  The prophet's beacon burn'd in vain,
    And now is lost in cloud;
  The plowman passes, bent with pain,
    To mix with what he plow'd;

  The poet whom his Age would quote
    As heir of endless fame--
  He knows not ev'n the book he wrote,
    Not even his own name.
  For man has overlived his day,
    And, darkening in the light,
  Scarce feels the senses break away
    To mix with ancient Night.

The Sage--far from denying the force of what he says--contends for a
deeper and wider view. The "_darkness is in man_." It is the result of the
incompleteness of his knowledge. That is to say, what is black to his
imperfect view, and taken by itself, may be a necessary part of a great
scheme. Not that the things are not really sad, but that the whole is not
sad. As there may be pain in tears of joy, and yet it is lost in exquisite
pleasure, so the dark elements of life, when our ultimate destiny is
attained and we can view age and suffering as part of the whole, may be so
entirely eclipsed, that we may say with truth that the "world is wholly

  My son, the world is dark with griefs and graves,
  So dark that men cry out against the Heavens.
  Who knows but that the darkness is in man?
  The doors of Night may be the gates of Light;
  For wert thou born or blind or deaf, and then
  Suddenly heal'd, how would'st thou glory in all
  The splendours and the voices of the world!
  And we, the poor earth's dying race, and yet
  No phantoms, watching from a phantom shore
  Await the last and largest sense to make
  The phantom walls of this illusion fade,
  And show us that the world is wholly fair.

"The doors of night may be the gates of light," says the Sage; and in
unison with this note are his replies to some of the details of the
younger man's wail, while his very argument presupposes that _all_ cannot
now be answered until we have the "last and largest sense." Thus, when the
dreary, hopeless vision of bodily decay, which seems to point to total
dissolution of a noble nature, is referred to, he says:

  The shell must break before the bird can fly.

The breaking of the shell might seem, at first sight, total destruction,
but the forthcoming of the bird transforms the conception of decay into a
conception of new birth. And so, too, in answer to the complaint that "the
shaft of scorn that once had stung, but wakes the dotard smile," he
suggests that a more complete view may show it to be "the placid gleam of
sunset after storm." The transition may be not from intense life to
apathy, but from blinding passion to a calmer, a serener vision.

Another of the later poems--"Vastness"--brings into especial relief a
parallel I have often noted between Lord Tennyson and Cardinal Newman in
their keen sense of the mysteries of the universe, which religion helps us
to bear with but does not solve. So far as this planet goes, and our own
human race, Cardinal Newman has expressed this sense in the _Apologia_,
and the parallel between his view and Tennyson's is sufficiently
instructive to make it worth while to quote the passage in full:

    To consider the world in its length and breadth, its various history,
    the many races of man, their starts, their fortunes, their mutual
    alienation, their conflicts; and then their ways, habits, governments,
    forms of worship; their enterprises, their aimless courses, their
    random achievements and acquirements, the impotent conclusion of
    long-standing facts, the tokens so faint and broken of a
    superintending design, the blind evolution of what turn out to be
    great powers and truths, the progress of things as if from unreasoning
    elements, not towards final causes, the greatness and littleness of
    man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain hung over
    his futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the
    success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and
    intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the
    dreary hopeless irreligion, that condition of the whole race so
    fearfully yet exactly described by the Apostle, "having no hope and
    without God in the world," all this is a vision to dizzy and appal;
    and inflicts upon the mind the sense of a profound mystery which is
    absolutely beyond human solution.

Lord Tennyson takes in a wider range of considerations than the Cardinal.
He paints graphically, not only the mystery of the lot of mankind, but the
further sense of bewilderment which arises when we contemplate the
aimlessness of this vast universe of which our earth is such an
inappreciable fragment. Logically the poem asks only the question: "Great
or small, grand or ignoble, what does anything matter if we are but
creatures of the day with no eternal destiny?" But its grandeur consists
in the manner in which it sweeps from end to end of human experience and
knowledge, from thoughts overwhelming in their vastness, from ideas
carrying the mind over the length and breadth of space and over visions of
all eternity, to pictures of this planet, with its microscopic details,
the hopes, anxieties, plans, pleasures, griefs which make up the immediate
life of man. The imagination vacillates between a keen sense of the
importance of all, even the smallest, and the worthlessness of all, even
the greatest. At one moment comes the thought that one life out of the
myriads of lives passed on this tiny planet, if it be lived and given up
for righteousness, is of infinite and eternal value, and the next moment
comes the sense that the whole universe is worthless and meaningless, if,
indeed, the only percipient beings who are affected by it are but
creatures who feel for a day and then pass to nothingness. Each picture of
the various aspects of human life rouses an instinctive sympathy, and a
feeling in the background, "it can't be worthless and meaningless," and
yet the poet relentlessly forces us to confess that it is only some far
wider view of human nature and destiny than this world alone can justify,
which can make the scenes he depicts of any value. What Mill called "the
disastrous feeling of 'not worth while'" threatens the reader at every
turn; though the pictures of life in its innumerable aspects of happiness,
misery, sensuality, purity, selfishness, self-devotion, ambition,
aspiration, craft, cruelty, are so intensely real and rivet the
imagination so strongly, that he refuses to yield to the feeling. I
subjoin some of the couplets where good and bad, great and small,

  Many a hearth upon our dark globe sighs after many a vanish'd face,
  Many a planet by many a sun may roll with the dust of a vanish'd race.

  Raving politics, never at rest--as this poor earth's pale history runs,--
  What is it all but a trouble of ants in the gleam of a million million of

         *       *       *       *       *

  Faith at her zenith, or all but lost in the gloom of doubts that darken
        the schools;
  Craft with a bunch of all-heal in her hand, follow'd up by her vassal
        legion of fools.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Wealth with his wines and his wedded harlots; honest Poverty, bare to the
  Opulent Avarice, lean as Poverty: Flattery gilding the rift in a throne.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Love for the maiden, crown'd with marriage, no regrets for aught that has
  Household happiness, gracious children, debtless competence, golden mean;

  National hatreds of whole generations, and pigmy spites of the village
  Vows that will last to the last death-ruckle, and vows that are snapt in
        a moment of fire;

  He that has lived for the lust of the minute, and died in the doing it,
        flesh without mind;
  He that has nail'd all flesh to the Cross, till Self died out in the love
        of his kind;

  Spring and Summer and Autumn and Winter, and all these old revolutions of
  All new-old revolutions of Empire--change of the tide--what is all of it

  What the philosophies, all the sciences, poesy, varying voices of prayer?
  All that is noblest, all that is basest, all that is filthy with all that
        is fair?

  What is it all, if we all of us end but in being our own corpse-coffins
        at last,
  Swallowed in Vastness, lost in Silence, drown'd in the deeps of a
        meaningless Past?

  What but a murmur of gnats in the gloom, or a moment's anger of bees in
        their hive?

The thought which seems to oppress the seer is the insignificance of
everything when compared to a standard--ever conceivable and ever
actual--above it. The ruts of a ploughed field may seem to the diminutive
insect as vast and overcoming as the Alps seem to us. Then contrast the
thought of Mont Blanc with that of the whole globe; proceed from the globe
to the solar system, and from that to the myriads of systems lost in
space. All that is great to us is relatively great, and becomes small at
once when the mind rises higher. So, too, in the moral order, all those
aspects of human life which sway our deepest emotions are but "a murmur of
gnats in the gloom," if regard be had to our comparative insignificance.
The ground yields at every step, and the mind looks for some _terra
firma_, some absolute basis of trust, and this is only to be found in the
conception of man as possessing an eternal destiny. The infinite value of
all that concerns an immortal being stands proof against the thoughts that
bewildered our vision. "He that has nailed all flesh to the cross till
self died out in the love of his kind" may be but a speck in the universe,
but faith measures him by a standard other than that of spacial vastness.
The idea of the _eternal worth of morality_ steps in to calm the
imagination, and this idea in its measure justifies the conception of the
value and importance of all the phases of human existence which make up
the drama of life. Human Love is the side of man's nature which the poet
looks to as conveying the sense of his immortal destiny. The undying union
of spirit with spirit is a union which the grave cannot end. The
bewildering nightmare of the nothingness and vanity of all things is
abruptly cut short, as the sense of what is deepest in the human heart
promptly gives the lie to what it cannot solve in detail:

  Peace, let it be! for I loved him and love him for ever.
  The dead are not dead but alive.

ALDWORTH. Drawn by W. Biscombe Gardner.]



    Farringford he never forsook, though he added another home to it; and
    assuredly no poet has ever before called two such residences his own.
    Both of them were sweetened by the presence there, so graciously
    prolonged, of her to whom the lovers of song owe so deep a debt of
    gratitude. The second home was as well chosen as the first. It lifted
    England's great poet to a height from which he could gaze on a large
    portion of that English land which he loved so well, see it basking in
    its most affluent summer beauty, and only bounded by "the inviolate
    sea." Year after year he trod its two stately terraces with men the
    most noted of their time; statesmen, warriors, men of letters,
    science, and art, some of royal race, some famous in far lands, but
    none more welcome to him than the friends of his youth. Nearly all of
    those were taken from him by degrees; but many of them stand
    successively recorded in his verse. The days which I passed there
    yearly with him and his were the happiest days of each year. They will
    retain a happy place in my memory during whatever short period my life
    may last; and the sea-murmurs of Freshwater will blend with the
    sighing of the woods around Aldworth, for me, as for many more worthy,
    a music, if mournful, yet full of consolation.

    _MS. Note, Aubrey de Vere._

When I was "little more than a boy" I made, accidentally, my first
acquaintance with Tennyson as a poet, long before I knew him as a man. I
came by chance upon a copy of "In Memoriam," then just published
anonymously. I was quite entirely ignorant and indifferent in those days
about all poetry, and did not in the least know or guess who had written
it, but, opening it haphazard at the Geological Stanzas, was so impressed
and riveted by them,--for I was a student of Geology at the time,--that I
could not put the book down until I had read it all through and from end
to end. I was caught up and enthralled by its spirit, and my eyes seemed
suddenly opened on a whole new world. It made an epoch in my life and an
ineffaceable impression. I soon came to know my Tennyson almost by heart,
and was taunted by my friends for my worship of the "divine Alfred," as I
reverently called him. In this frame of mind it was that I made the bold
venture of asking his leave to dedicate to him my little book on King
Arthur and his Knights, his kind acceptance of which homage I have already
mentioned in my former article.[66]

My first personal acquaintance with him was in the autumn of 1866, when I
was staying at Freshwater. I felt that I must call upon him and offer him
my respects and thanks before I left, but put it off through shyness until
the day before my holiday was to end. Then I took my courage in both hands
and went to Farringford. "Mr. Tennyson was out walking, but Mrs. Tennyson
was at home and would be happy to see me." It was a disappointment, but
Mrs. Tennyson received me most kindly and graciously, and begged me to
return later in the evening if I could, and see her husband who would like
to meet me. When I did return I was shown upstairs to the top of the house
and into an attic which was the Poet's own study, and presently, with my
heart in my mouth, I heard his great steps as he climbed up the little
wooden stairs. His bodily presence seemed as kingly as I felt it ought to
be, though a little grim and awful at first; but he made me very welcome,
and then groped about for and lighted a pipe, and sat down and began to
speak of King Arthur as being a subject of common interest and sympathy.

This soon thawed the chill of my spirits and I began to feel more at home,
until I felt I could make the request I was longing to do--would he read
to me one of his Poems, as I desired earnestly to hear from his own lips
what I already knew and loved? Then came a great surprise and delight, for
it was not reading as usually understood, but intoning on a note, almost
chanting, which I heard, and which brought the instant conviction that
this was the proper vehicle for poetry as distinguished from prose. I was
so enchanted that I begged for more and more; and then I suppose may have
begun a personal sympathy which grew and lasted always afterwards till his
death. For when I made to go he took me all about the house, showing me
the pictures and drawings with which his walls were lined, peering into
them so closely with a lighted candle that I thought he would set them or
himself on fire. This was, perhaps, another common ground,--I having been
all my life interested in art and in a small way a collector of drawings
and pictures.

Before I left he told me to come and claim acquaintance if ever we met
before I came to Farringford again, for if not his short sight would
prevent his knowing me. On this friendly request I acted in the spring of
the following year, 1867, when my wife and I were going to pay a visit at
Haslemere. At Haslemere station, to my surprise, I saw him standing on the
platform, and went up and spoke to him, reminding him of his desire that I
should do so. I then introduced my wife to him, and he explained how he
came to be there--namely, because he was in search of a site where he
might build a cottage to take refuge in from the tourists who made his
life a burden to him in the Isle of Wight. He added, "You are an
architect, why should you not make the plans of it for me?" I said, "With
the greatest possible pleasure, upon one condition that I may act
professionally without making any professional charge; for I cannot be
paid twice over, and you, Mr. Tennyson, have over-paid me already long
ago--in the pleasure and delight your works have given me--for any little
work I could do for you." He protested, but in the end accepted my terms.

The cottage, as he first proposed it, was to be a small square,
four-roomed house, with a door in the middle, like one in which he was
then staying near Haslemere. I went there to see him and to describe plans
and the question of a site. After inspecting several with him, he took me
secretly to one which a friend had found out as being possibly procurable,
and on which Aldworth was finally built. It was a natural terrace, formed
just below the summit of Black Down, and was known as Green Hill. There
was a potato-patch where the house now stands,--a little flat clearance in
the midst of sloping coppices that covered all the southern side of the
hill; and it was a spot of ideal seclusion, just wide enough and no more
for a moderately sized house, quite perfect for his objects,--almost too
perfect in the way of inaccessibility, for it took years of negotiation
and trouble to obtain a practicable road to it. The view from it was
simply perfect, extending over the whole of woody Sussex to the South
Downs and the sea. "It wants nothing," he said as he gazed at it, "but a
great river looping along through the midst of it." "Gloriously crimson
flowers set along the edge of the terrace would burn like lamps against
the purple distance"--as presently was realized.

The plans for a four-roomed cottage gave way somewhat as I talked the
matter over with Mr. and Mrs. Tennyson, the latter giving me certain rough
ideas which she could not quite express by drawing, but which I understood
enough to put into shape; and presently I went to Farringford with designs
for a less unimportant dwelling. It grew and grew as it was talked over
and considered, the details being all discussed with Mrs. Tennyson, while
he contented himself by pretending to protest against any addition and

At last, one day, when I brought sketches for an arcaded porch to
complete the design, he put his foot down and said he would have nothing
to do with it--that he would have no more additions--that it would ruin
him and could not be entertained for a moment. He walked to and fro,
coming back from time to time to the table where the drawing lay and
looking at it. He admitted that he liked it more and more the more he
looked at it, but presently cried out with simulated fury, "Get thee
behind me, Satan," and ran out of the room. Then I knew that the porch was
won. When it was built he got to be very fond of it, and used to call
attention to the way in which the landscape was framed by the arches of
it. He even had a picture of it made by a friend to show this effect.

He laid the foundation-stone of it on Shakespeare's birthday, April 23,
1868, few being there besides his great friend, Sir John Simeon, myself,
and my wife, whom he dragged up the steep hillside in the blazing
sunshine. He interfered very little about the progress of the work, except
as to various little accidental things which moved his fancy. For
instance, a stone shield in the gable of one of the dormer windows had
remained blank when all the rest were carved--simply because of a
hesitation how best to fill it up. But when the time came at which it must
be finished, if done at all, he stood spying up at it through his eyeglass
for a long while, and then decided to leave it blank,--so that the last
touch to the work might be decided hereafter by Fate, accident having kept
it open so long.

He was reminded by it of the blank shield in his own Idylls, of which
Merlin asks, "Who shall blazon it?--when and how?" and adds, "Perchance
when all our wars are done the brand Excalibur will be cast away." In a
similar way he would not let the figure of a stone Falcon be removed which
had been set up as a model for approval at one corner of the parapet, but
was never intended to stay there. He looked at it long and curiously, and
laughed and said it seemed to grow queerer, that it was a pity to take it
down; and there it remained ever after in its original solitariness, to
his great content and amusement, which had a touch of seriousness in it.

He made a great point of his favourite motto, _Gwyr yn erbyn y byd_
("Truth against the world"), being prominently emblazoned in tile mosaic
at the threshold of the front door and in the pavement of the Hall. The
text, "Gloria Deo in Excelsis," in the carved band which surrounds the
house was the selection of Mrs. Tennyson. The formation of the terrace
lawn in front of the house, with its boundary balustrade, interested him
extremely; and when the vases were filled with splendid blossoms, standing
out against the blue landscape, the vision he had foreseen from the
potato-patch was realized to his full satisfaction. The invariable and
tormenting delays in finishing the house, however, annoyed him greatly;
for he longed to get into it away from the tourists, and used to say he
should never live to enjoy it long enough. When he did move in, he said he
wanted to have each room for his own, and at first adopted for sleeping
in, the central top attic on the south front, which opened on to the lead
flat of the large bay window on the first floor. He called it his
balcony-room, and loved to stand out on the flat and watch the changes in
the great prospect spread out before him. He ultimately gave this up for a
guest's room, and took to the finer room below, which was always flooded
with light, and was filled with bright moonshine when he died in it. On
one occasion, when I was sleeping in the balcony-room, I was suddenly
waked up by a thundering at the door and his great voice calling out, "Get
up and look out of the window." I jumped out of bed accordingly, and saw
the whole wide aspect turned into a flat white billowy ocean, with no
trace of land at all, but with waves beginning to move and roll in it. The
sun was just rising, and I stood to watch the gradual creation of a world
as it were. From moment to moment the vast ocean broke up and rose away
into clouds, uncovering the landscape bit by bit--the hills first and the
valleys last, until the whole great prospect came together again into its
normal picture. It was delightful to see his enjoyment of everything in
the new house, from the hot-water bathroom downwards, for at first the hot
bath seemed to attract him out of measure. He would take it four or five
times a day, and told me he thought it the height of luxury "to sit in a
hot bath and read about little birds."

The following notes of a visit paid to him at Aldworth show the usual
manner of his daily life there.

He usually dined rather early, at 7 or 7.30 o'clock, and Mrs. Tennyson
would generally carve (or in later times Hallam), according to the
old-fashioned custom. He talked freely, with an abundance of anecdote and
story, and full of humour, and "chaff" (no touch of pedantry or priggism
could live in his presence); and always when at home made a move for
dessert to another room--the morning room at Aldworth--where he would
begin his bottle (pint) of port, and with the exception of a glass or so,
would finish it, talking all the time with entire geniality and abandon,
and full of reminiscences of men and things. Sometimes he would recur to
his grievances at the hands of his publishers, and pour out his complaints
about them, until finally landed, to his entire satisfaction, with

After dessert he would retire to his study and his after-dinner pipe,
which he took quite by himself; and would then come into the drawing-room,
whither the others had repaired some time, and join in general talk again
and perhaps read, at some one's request, some of his own poems, till the
ladies left for bed.[67] Then he would invite some favoured guest or
guests to his study, and begin the confidential discussions and
soliloquies which it was a priceless privilege--the most valued and
treasured of privileges--to share and to listen to. At such times all his
inmost thoughts and feelings, recollections and speculations of his life
came out with the open simplicity of a child and the keen insight and far
sight of a prophet; and one had glimpses into the mystery of things beyond
one's own power of seeing, and as if seen through a telescope.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have before stated how he more than once summed up his personal religion
in the words: "There's a Something That watches over us, and our
Individuality endures." On one occasion he added, "I do not say endures
for ever, but I say endures after this life at any rate.[68]" When in
answer to the question, What was his deepest desire of all? he said, "A
clearer vision of God," it exactly expressed the continued strivings of
his spirit for more light upon every possible question, which so
constantly appear in his poems, which led him to join in founding the
Metaphysical Society, and induced him to write the introductory sonnet in
the _Nineteenth Century_. Out of all such talks, at many times and places
repeated, I came to know his actual personal position, in those years at
any rate of the growth of old age, concerning the most vital problems of
this world and this life. Many scores of such times have fallen to my
happy lot, and my life has been all the richer for them.


I remember, when he went with me to Westminster Abbey to hear Dean Stanley
preach Dickens's funeral sermon, we sat within the rails of the Sacrarium
so as to be near the pulpit, and when we came away he told me the story of
the Oriental traveller who mistook the organ for the Church's God. He was
very fond of the story, and often repeated it. As he told it, the
traveller was made to say: "We went into one of their temples to see their
worship. The temple is only opened sometimes, and they keep their God shut
up in a great gold box at one end of it. When we passed inside the doors
we heard him grumbling and growling as if out of humour at being disturbed
in his solitude; and as the worshippers came in they knelt down and seemed
to supplicate him and try to propitiate him. He became quieter for a
while, only now and then grumbling for a few moments, but then he got
louder again and the whole body of the people stood up and cried to him
together, and after a while persuaded him to be still. Presently he began
once more and then, after praying all together several times, they deputed
one of their number to stand up alone and address him earnestly on their
behalf, deprecating his anger. He spoke so long without an interruption
that it seemed the God had either fallen asleep or been finally persuaded
into a better temper; but suddenly at last he broke out into a greater
passion than ever, and with such tremendous noise and roarings that all
the worshippers rose from their seats in fright and ran out of the

There was an immense congregation that day in the Abbey--and when the
service was over--we stood up waiting a long time to pass out through the
rails. But instead of dispersing by the outer door the people all turned
eastward and flocked towards the altar, pressing closer and closer up to
the Sacrarium. The chances of getting out became less and less, and I
turned to Tennyson and said, "I don't know what all this means, but we
seem so hemmed in that it is useless to move as yet." Then a man, standing
close by me whispered, "I don't think they will go, sir, so long as your
friend stands there." Of course I saw at once what was happening--it had
got to be known that Tennyson was present, and the solid throng was bent
on seeing him. Such a popularity had never occurred to me or to him, and
justified his nervous unwillingness to be seen in crowded places. I was
obliged to tell him what was going on, upon which he urgently insisted on
being let out some quiet way and putting an end to the dilemma.



But for the suggestion of the present Lord Tennyson, I should shrink from
the presumption of posing as a friend of his illustrious father, who for
three Easters made of me a companion, sometimes for two, more often three
hours daily, for three weeks at a time together. I should be safe in
saying that the most gifted men I have ever known, Tennyson, Browning, and
Cory, were in the realms of thought, philosophy, and imagination foremost
in an age which in two instances acknowledged their supremacy whilst they
lived, and in the third has ungrudgingly admitted him as one taking high
rank amongst the English poets of the second order. I link his name with
that of the two great men, for I have abundant materials for forming my
opinion of him in the shape of three volumes of correspondence, begun in
my boyhood and continued for years during my friend's lifetime.

Mr. Fitzherbert was a welcome friend of Dr. Johnson's. "Ursa Major" warmed
to him, though perfectly conscious that Fitz was anything but a star of
the first magnitude. He says: "There was no sparkle, no brilliancy in
Fitzherbert, but I never knew a man who was so generally acceptable. He
made everybody quite easy, overpowered nobody by the superiority of his
talents, made no man think worse of himself by being his rival, seemed
always to listen, did not oblige you to hear much from him, and did not
oppose what you said." "Such characters," says Mr. Raleigh, "are the oil
of society, yet a society made wholly of such characters would have no

Tennyson's fidelity and patience with me were very much of a mystery;
possibly I may have fitted his hand as a pet walking-stick; anyhow, I was
"Man Friday to his Crusoe" as the play-actors say, and "constitutionals"
with the Poet Laureate and his dogs, a wolf-hound or a deer-hound,
Karénina or Lufra, were matters of daily occurrence in my Freshwater days.
After 5 o'clock tea I left the Poet to "his sacred half-hour," and his
pipe of tobacco. By the way, he smoked straight-stemmed Dublin clay-pipes,
and hated new pipes, which he would soak in coffee.

I believe that in the early days of our acquaintance the Poet, seeing me
with what appeared to be a notebook under my arm, suspected me of
Boswellizing, but I was duly warned and reassured him of my innocence. I
simply recorded very briefly in my diary a few of his "dicta" which I
wished to have for the benefit of my children, one of whom was a frequent
and delighted listener to the Laureate's reading of his own poems. Mary
Coleridge, at that time a shy, timid girl, was more than once asked to
dictate the particular poems she wanted him to recite. I can hear him
saying, "Give me my seven-and-sixpenny" (meaning the single volume
edition), and then we listened to the "high Orphic chant," rather than the
conventional reading of many of our favourite poems. I often asked for the
"Ode on the Duke of Wellington," and on one occasion, in the presence of
Sir Charles Stanford--then organist of Trinity College, Cambridge--the
Poet, lowering his voice at the words, "God accept him, Christ receive
him," added: "It's a mighty anthem, that's what it is." Stanford's music
to "The Voyage of Mældune" was written at Freshwater, and four of us
visitors sang a lovely quartet in that work for the first time in the
Poet's presence. It was rather nervous work, for the composer and
ourselves were anxious to satisfy the Poet in a work intended as a novelty
for the Leeds Festival. The verdict was rather enigmatical: "I like the
ripple of your music." It met with a good reception at Leeds, and Madame
Albani expressed a confident hope in my hearing that the work would become
popular. I wish the prophecy had been adequately fulfilled, but English
audiences, though, like the Athenians of old, clamouring for a new thing,
are very cautious in giving more than one or two trials to musical
novelties. It is lamentable to see works which have cost long years,
perhaps a lifetime, of skilled experience, shelved in musical libraries or
relegated to foreign audiences for adjudication of their real value.

It was my daily habit during the Easter holidays for three years to call
at Farringford at 10.30, and present myself in the Poet's sanctum, where I
found him at his desk in the very act of hatching a poem or amending an
old one. He would greet me with "Here comes my daily bread." Then I read
the newspaper or a book until we started for our morning walk. The
dialogue would begin abruptly, starting from some impressions left by our
musical rehearsals on the previous day. "Why is Stanford unable to set to
music the word 'cosmopolite'?" (See Appendix B.) The reasons seemed to me
quite intelligible, but not so to a poet as fastidious as Wordsworth when
discussing the Installation Ode with Professor Walmisley. I expect Purcell
had more than one bad half-hour with Dryden, for the laws and regulations
of musical accent may often conflict with the cadences and scansion
adopted by the poet. Sir Charles Stanford and Sir Hubert Parry (_lucida
sidera_) are rare instances of musical composers with an instinctive
appreciation of the fitness and adaptability of poetry offered for musical

Tennyson was loyal to the core on the subject of his old university, and
amongst his constant visitors were some of my old contemporaries,
Bradshaw, Lightfoot, and Montagu Butler. These, the _fleurs fines_ of my
day, were constant topics, and I eagerly listened to his recollections of
the Cambridge men of his own generation. "Thompson" (afterwards Master of
Trinity), he said, "was the last man I saw at Cambridge. I saw him
standing at the door of the Bull Inn--his handsome face under a street
lamp. We have been friends ever since." He enjoyed the master's
witticisms, and especially "even the youngest among us is not infallible."

The Professorship of Greek carried with it a Canonry of Ely, and
Thompson's times of residence were rather dreaded by the new holders of
the office. His health, never of the best, was tried by the atmosphere,
and finding the loneliness of his bachelor life insupportable, he begged
an old College contemporary to pay him a visit. The friend came and was
duly installed, but the sleeping accommodation was found wanting, and in
answer to his petition for another bedroom with a good fire in it his host
observed, "So sorry, my dear fellow, but I put five of my sermons into
that bedroom, and if they have failed to dry it, nothing else will."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "My tailor at Cambridge was a man of the name of Law. When he made
his way into our rooms, and worried us about paying our bills, we used to
say, 'This is Law's Serious Call.' I capped this story with a similar
Oxford tradition. The name of the Oxford tailor was Joy, and the
undergraduates, soaked with port wine, used to say, 'Heaviness may endure
for a night, but Joy cometh in the morning.'"

_T._ "You cannot wonder at my horror of all the libels and slanders;
people began to slander me in early days. For example, after my marriage
we spent the honeymoon on Coniston Lake in a cottage lent to me by James
Marshall. Shortly after this, a paragraph appeared in an American
newspaper to the following effect: 'We hope, now that Mr. Tennyson is
married and has returned to his native lakes, that he will give up opium.'
The penny-a-liners evidently confounded your uncle, S. T. Coleridge, with
myself--anyhow, if he wasn't quite certain, he gave your relative the
benefit of the doubt."

"Again, I was once persuaded by an adventuress (who wrought upon me by her
tale of hopeless poverty) to hear her read in my own drawing-room. She was
in my house for exactly half an hour, and profited by her experience in
telling her audiences that she had seen me thrashing my wife, and carried
away drunk by two men-servants to my bedroom."

       *       *       *       *       *

One day we visited the grave of Lord Tennyson's shepherd; he died at the
age of ninety-one. On his death-bed Hallam asked him if he would remember
in his will his two sons in Australia who had entirely ignored and
neglected him. "No," he said firmly; and he left his 17s. 6d. a year to
the poorest man in the parish of Freshwater. On his tombstone are engraved
the Laureate's own words from "In Memoriam":

  God's finger touched him and he slept.

I showed Lord Tennyson some manuscript verses by my friend Bernard Drake,
who died at Madeira in 1853. He read them twice through, slowly and aloud.
I had told him of Drake's history, and then showed him the verses; their
sadness impressed him greatly:



  Thou roaring, roaming Sea!
    When first I came into this happy isle,
  I loved to listen evermore to thee,
    And meditate the while.


  But now that I have grown
    Homesick, and weary of my loneliness,
  It makes me sad to hear thy plaintive moan
    And fills me with distress.


  It speaks of many a friend,
    Whom I shall meet no more on Life's dark road,
  It warns that _here_ I must await the end
    And cast no look abroad.


  Thou ever roaring Sea!
    I love thee, for that o'er thy waters come
  The stately ships, breasting them gloriously,
    That bring me news of home.


  I cannot pray for grace--
    My soul is heavy, and my sickness sore--
  Wilt Thou, O God, for ever hide Thy face?
    O! turn to me once more.

  MADEIRA, _November 30, 1853_.

Drake's career at Eton and Cambridge really interested him, for my old
friend was an ardent worshipper of the Poet in days before Tennyson's fame
had become a national asset. I showed with some pride "Of old sat Freedom
on the heights," translated into Latin Alcaics, a version very popular
with Etonians and King's men. Scholarship has made gigantic strides since
it appeared; "those who know" can read and see if we overvalued it.


  Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
    The thunders breaking at her feet:
  Above her shook the starry lights:
    She heard the torrents meet.

  There in her place she did rejoice,
    Self-gather'd in her prophet-mind,
  And fragments of her mighty voice
    Came rolling on the wind.

  Then stept she down thro' town and field
    To mingle with the human race,
  And part by part to men reveal'd
    The fulness of her face--

  Grave mother of majestic works,
    From her isle-altar gazing down,
  Who, God-like, grasps the triple forks,
    And, King-like, wears the crown:

  Her open eyes desire the truth.
    The wisdom of a thousand years
  Is in them. May perpetual youth
    Keep dry their light from tears;

  That her fair form may stand and shine,
    Make bright our days and light our dreams,
  Turning to scorn with lips divine
    The falsehood of extremes!

  _Idem--Latine redditum_

  Olim insedebat montibus arduis
  Disiecta cernens sub pede fulmina
    Divina Libertas; superque
    Astra faces agitare vidit;

  Et confluentes audiit undique
  Amnes, opertis in penetralibus
    Exultat, et ritu Sibyllae
    Mente sua latet involuta,

  Sed vocis altae fragmina praepetes
  Venti ferebant.--Inde novalia
    Per culta discendens, per urbes
    Diva homines aditura venit,

  Ut vultus aegros ante oculos virûm
  Sensim pateret--mox parit integram
    Virtutem et altari marino
    Suppositum speculatur orbem--

  Quae seu deorum more acies gerit
  Dextra trifurcas, seu caput induit
    Regina regali corona.
    Expetit, insequiturque verum.

  Quae mille victrix experientiam
  Collegit annos: o Dea, sic tibi
    Aeterna si duret iuventus
    Neu lacrymis oculi madescant;

  Sic enitebis, sic dabis aureos
  Dies alumnis, aurea somnia;
    Sic ore divino refelles
    Quae properat malesuadus error.

       *       *       *       *       *

When distinguished visitors came to the Island, who were on terms of
friendship with the Poet, I gave him warning that I should not appear on
the scene and spoil their pleasure; but to this condition he would not
assent, and I can recall frequent occasions when I must have been a fly in
the ointment, and the Jowetts, Bradleys, and distinguished Americans would
have wished me at Jericho. Once I felt entirely at my ease, for I
determined to start the subject of Dr. Johnson, worshipped by me from my
boyhood. I knew my Birkbeck Hill pretty well by heart, having quite
recently read the six volumes of his edition of Boswell, notes and all, to
a blind friend who rejoiced in hearing them. Further than that, I had made
a pilgrimage to Lichfield, and by the kindness of a Mr. Lomax, who owned
the relics, had examined and handled a varied assortment of goods and
chattels, once undoubtedly the property of the great Samuel. The pedigree
was thus accounted for by my courteous showman. After Dr. Johnson's death,
Barber, his black servant, migrated from London to Lichfield, "bringing
his sheaves with him"; amongst the _spolia opima_ were a huge teapot and a
manuscript copy of Devotions. Fortified with the recollections of this
pilgrimage, and some out-of-the-way facts told to me by the residentiary
Canon, my dear old friend Bishop Abraham, I started on a two hours' walk
with the Poet and Professor Jowett. It was easy to lead up to the theme of
conversation--there was no difficulty whatever. I thought of Johnson's own
plan of extinguishing subjects which he intended at all costs to avoid.
When Mrs. Neale asked his opinion of the conversational powers of Charles
James Fox, "he talked to me one day at the Club," said he, "concerning
Catiline's conspiracy, so I withdrew my attention and thought about Tom
Thumb." Every moment of that afternoon walk, Dr. Johnson was our theme,
and we capped one another with long quotations from Boswell. Jowett
chirped, the Poet gave wonderful emphasis and point to the oracles, often
pausing suddenly in his walk, and cross-examining me on my remembered
version of the actual words. I noted the upshot of our talk. Lord Tennyson
agreed with the Master of Balliol "that Boswell was a man of real genius,
and resembled Goldsmith in many points of character."

Miss L----, Doctor Johnson's godchild, used to tell a disagreeable story
about him. Tennyson said about this:

_T._ "One should not lay stress on these oddities and angularities of
great men. They should never be hawked about."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "'Break, break' was made one early summer morning, in a Lincolnshire
lane. 'Crossing the Bar' cost me five minutes one day last November."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "At ten years of age I wrote an epic poem of great length--it was in
the 'Marmion' style. I used to rush about the fields, with a stick for a
sword, and fancied myself a conqueror advancing upon an enemy's country."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "My prize poem 'Timbuctoo' was an altered version of a work I had
written at home and called 'The Battle of Armageddon.' I fell out with my
father, for I had no wish to compete for the prize and he insisted on my
writing. To my amazement, the prize was awarded to me. I couldn't face the
public recitation in the Senate House, feeling very much as Cowper felt;
Merivale declaimed my poem for me in the Senate House."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "Arthur Hallam said to me in 1832: 'To-day I have seen the last
English King going in State to the last English Parliament.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

I believe that one of Tennyson's first idylls was addressed to Miss K.
Bradshaw, sister of my beloved friend Henry Bradshaw (fellow and librarian
of King's College, Cambridge), whose relationship to the Judge who
condemned Charles I. was rather a tender point with H. B., both at Eton
and King's.

  Because she bore the iron name
  Of him who doomed his king to die,
  I deemed her one of stately frame
  And looks to awe her stander by.
  But find a maiden, tender, shy,
  With fair blue eyes and winning sweet,
  And longed to kiss her hand, and lie
  A thousand summers at her feet.

       *       *       *       *       *

I pressed the Poet more than once to put on record his own interpretation
of passages in "In Memoriam" and others which needed the authority of his
own explanation. "Surely you took 'four square to all the winds that blow'
from Dante's

  Ben tetragono ai colpi della Ventura?"

"No, it was not in my mind." Again, I quoted his expression, "hollow
shapes enclosing hearts of flame," thinking it had arisen from Beckford's
_Vathek_. The answer was "No, merely spectral visions."

_T._ "Some of my poems depend on single sayings, single lines which have
served me for a theme. My poem of 'The Brigand' is founded on a story told
in the Autobiography of that great and gallant gentleman, Walter Scott."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "Edward FitzGerald and I used to weary of the hopelessly prosaic
lines in some books of 'The Excursion,' and we had a contest, the prize
for which was to be for the weakest line by mutual consent that we could
either of us invent. FitzGerald declared the line was his--it really was
mine--'A Mr. Wilkinson, a clergyman.'" I wish I could have told him of Jem
Stephen's commentary on "Heaven lies about us in our infancy," "That is no
reason why we should lie about Heaven in our old age." Among other
passages he quotes with admiration Wordsworth's lines on the "Simplon

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "I am sorry that I am turned into a school-book at Harrow; the boys
will say of me, 'That horrible Tennyson.' The cheapness of English
classics makes the plan acceptable to schoolmasters and parents."

He quoted with approval Byron's line--

  Then farewell, Horace, whom I hated so.

"He was quite right. I, too, was so overdosed with Horace as a boy, that I
don't do him justice now I am old. I suppose Horace was the most popular
poet that ever lived?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Rough dissonant words in great poets were a trial to him; he declared that
those horrid words, _Eingeweide_ and _Beschützer_, are the ruin of
Goethe's otherwise perfect lyrics.

_T._ "At Weimar the Grand Duchess sent an apology for not receiving me in
person. After visiting Goethe's study, bedroom and sitting-room, I was
shocked by the meanness of the streets, and the horrid smells in the town
itself. I felt as tetchy and vexed as Macbeth with his 'out, out, brief
candle,' a passage so utterly misunderstood by Macready, who dropped his
voice and gave the words a pathos that I _am quite sure_ was never

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "_The Tempest_ has been dreadfully damaged by scenes intercalated by
some common stage-adapter. At one time of my life I thought the Sonnets
greater than the Plays. Some of the noblest things are in _Troilus and

  Perseverance, dear my Lord, keeps honour bright, etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "Have you observed a solecism in Milton's _Penseroso_?

  But let my due feet never fail
  To walk the studious cloisters pale,
  And _love_ the high embowed roof
  With antique pillars massy proof, etc."

_T._ "I do not remember getting from your cousin Hartley Coleridge the
Sonnet you speak of, still less can I account for its being in the Library
in the South Kensington Museum."

This Sonnet is headed


  _After meeting him for the first time_

  Long have I known thee as thou art in song,
  And long enjoyed the perfume that exhales
  From thy pure soul, and odour sweet entails,
  And permanence on thoughts that float along
  The stream of life to join the passive throng
  Of shades and echoes that are memory's being,
  Hearing we hear not, and we see not seeing
  If Passion, Fancy, Faith, move not among
  The never frequent moments of reflection.
  Long have I view'd thee in the chrystal sphere
  Of verse, that like the Beryl makes appear
  Visions of hope, begot of recollection.
  Knowing thee now, a real earth-treading man
  Not less I love thee, and no more I can.
                                    HARTLEY COLERIDGE.

_T._ "I liked Hartley Coleridge, 'Massa' Hartley' as the rustics called
him. He was a lovable little fellow. Once he said to me, 'Had I been
Colonel Burns (the Poet's eldest son) I would have kicked Wordsworth for
delivering that preachment.' On one occasion Hartley, who was very
eccentric, was asked to dine with the family of a stiff Presbyterian
clergyman residing in the Lake district. The guests, Trappist fashion, sat
a long time in the drawing-room waiting for the announcement of dinner.
Not a word was uttered, and Hartley was bored to extinction. At last he
suddenly jumped up from the sofa, kissed the clergyman's wife, and rushed
out of the house. He was wonderfully eloquent, and, I fancy, resembled his
father in that respect."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "I doubt that fine poem 'Kubla Khan' having been written in sleep; I
have often imagined new poems in my sleep, but I couldn't remember them in
the morning. Your uncle's words: 'Tennyson has no sense of rhythm and
scansion,' have been constantly quoted against me. The truth is that in my
youth I used no hyphens in writing composite words, and a reader might
fancy that from this omission I had no knowledge of the length and measure
of words and expressions."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "Burns was a great genius, but dreadfully coarse sometimes. When he
attempts to write in pure English, he breaks down utterly." He quoted many
things of Burns's: "O my Luv's like a red, red rose," and "Gae fetch to me
a pint o' wine," etc., with the greatest admiration, and "Mary Morison"
and "Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon," etc. "They have utterly ruined
the lilt of the last," he said, "when they added words for the musical

       *       *       *       *       *

He was fond of talking about great pictures and fine sculpture. Birket
Foster joined us one day, and Tennyson asked him to define the word
"picturesque," and to say why tumble-down cottages in the Isle of Wight
were such favourite subjects with painters. B. F. answered that it was the
breaking of the straight line. We talked of Frederick Walker, and B. F.
told us many stories of his wit and conscientiousness. "I mean to paint a
picture," said he, "the key-note of which is to be onion-seed."

       *       *       *       *       *

Primrose Day.--_T._ "All the floral displays for which we Isle of Wighters
suffer are based on a mistaken version of the Queen's meaning, when she
sent a wreath of primroses for Lord Beaconsfield's grave, inscribed with
'His favourite flower.' She meant Prince Albert's, not Lord
Beaconsfield's partiality for the flower in question."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "I could imitate the hoot of an owl, and once practised successfully
enough to attract one which flew in through my window. The bird soon made
friends with me, would sit on my shoulder and kiss my face. My pet monkey
became jealous, and one day pushed the owl off a board that I had had
raised some feet from the ground. The owl was not hurt, but he died
afterwards a Narcissus death from vanity. He fell into a tub of water
contemplating his own beauty, and was drowned."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Poet admired Carlyle's _French Revolution_, but he seemed surprised at
my having read Carlyle's _Frederick the Great_; the length of it had been
too much for him. I was vexed by the author's omission of an account of
Sebastian Bach's famous interview with the king at Potsdam, and pressed on
my old friend Sir George Grove to inquire the reasons of so strange an
omission. He ascertained that Carlyle not only knew the fact, but the
actual day and date of the occurrence. The omission, therefore, was really
of malice aforethought. Quantz, the flute-player, has his appropriate
niche in the monumental work, but the great Sebastian is out of it
altogether; the tootler takes the cake and be hanged to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Great sailors and soldiers were very favourite subjects. The Poet had
personally known well one naval officer who had served with Nelson.

_T._ "Among many odd letters I have received,[69] an American curate wrote
to me that he made a sudden resolution one Sunday that he would read 'The
Charge of the Light Brigade' instead of his ordinary sermon. An old
Dorsetshire soldier who had fought at Balaclava, happened to be in the
congregation, though the preacher was unaware of the fact. The verses had
the happy result of the soldier giving up a bad, reckless life, and
completely reforming. My poem was never meant to convey any spiritual
lesson, but the very curious fact of the chance soldier and the parson's
sudden resolution has often set me thinking."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "Twice, I am glad to say, I have been taken into battle; once by Sir
Fenwick Williams of Kars; another officer wrote after a fight: 'I escaped
with my life and my Tennyson.' I admire General Hamley, a good writer and
accomplished soldier."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "When the Prince Regent explored the field of Waterloo with the Duke
himself as guide, the Duke's horse plunged and threw his rider. The Prince
remarked, 'I can now say what nobody else in the world can, that I saw the
Duke of Wellington overthrown on the Field of Waterloo.' His Grace was not
over pleased with the observation."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "Keats would have become one of the very greatest of all poets, had
he lived. At the time of his death there was apparently no sign of
exhaustion or having written himself out; his keen poetical instinct was
in full process of development at the time. Each new effort was a steady
advance on that which had gone before. With all Shelley's splendid imagery
and colour, I find a sort of _tenuity_ in his poetry."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "'Locksley Hall' is thought by many to be an autobiographical sketch;
it's nothing of the sort--not a word of my history in it. Read
FitzGerald's _Euphranor_ and let me know what you think of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

One day we talked of Winchester and the rather meagre list of great men
educated there. I rejoiced in the college boasting of an _alumnus_ in Lord
Seaton, the famous leader of the 52nd Regiment at Waterloo. "I remember,"
_T._ said, "addressing a coachman by whose side I was sitting as we drove
in a coach through that place, and I asked him, 'What sort of a place is
Winchester?' Answer: 'Debauched, sir, debauched, like all other Cathedral

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "I am inclined to agree with Swinburne's view of Mary Queen of Scots;
she was brought up in a Court that studied the works of Brantôme."

       *       *       *       *       *

We often talked of Farrar's book and Maurice's opinions on Eternal
Punishment. The Poet was fond of quoting Dante's line:

  Fecemi somma Sapienza ed il sommo Amore,

insisting on Dante's intense belief in a God of Love. He more than once
repeated the famous lines of Moschus,[70] adding, "I think those the
finest lines in all Greek antiquity."

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "My friend, Sir Henry Taylor, on being called a Christian Jupiter,
remarked, 'I wish I was much more of a jovial Christian.'"

_T._ "I once asked Rogers, 'Did you ever write a sonnet?' He answered,
'No, I never dance in fetters.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

_T._ "I am told that the best prose version of the _Odyssey_ is by
Professor Palmer of Cambridge University, America. Since Matthew Arnold's
lectures on Homer, a new translation has appeared annually in that
country. It would take me ten years to translate the _Iliad_ into Bible
English." He liked Worsley's translation of the _Odyssey_.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The purest English is talked in South Lincolnshire. The dialect begins at
Spilsby in Mid-Lincolnshire, and that is the dialect of my Lincolnshire

He was fond of telling Lincolnshire stories. _T._ "An old farmer, at the
time when railways were beginning, receiving a visit from the parson,
moved uneasily in his bed, crying out, 'What with faäth, and what with
real bad harvests, and what with them graät, horrid steäm-kettles, and
what with the soön goin' raound the earth, and the earth goin' raound the
soön, as soom saäy she do, I am cleän maäzed an' the sooner I gits out of
this 'ere world, the better;' and he turned his face to the wall and

       *       *       *       *       *

I close my chapter of fragments and echoes still abiding with me; men
privileged as I was can hear the voice and hate a gramophone. My aim has
been to show the everyday life, the plain unvarnished words which were the
daily change with the first man of his age and a rank-and-file
acquaintance just able, and no more, to appreciate such kindness.

  _Haec olim meminisse iuvabit._



My acquaintance, or rather my friendship, with Alfred Tennyson (for he had
an all-compelling power of making real friends of, and being a true friend
to, those far junior to himself) dated only from 1879, when he was in
years seventy, but in mental vigour the contemporary of the youngest man
he happened to be with. Previously, however, in 1875, I had had experience
of his thoughtful kindness. He had chosen me, an unknown and untried
composer, to write the incidental music to his tragedy of "Queen Mary" for
its production at the Lyceum Theatre, then under the management of Mrs.
Bateman. Many difficulties were put in the way of the performance of the
music, into the causes of which I had neither the wish nor the means to
penetrate. Finally, however, the management gave as an explanation that
the music could not be performed, as the number of orchestral players
required for its proper presentment would necessitate the sacrifice of two
rows of stalls. To my young and disappointed soul came the news of a
generous action which would have been a source of pride to many a composer
of assured position and fame. The Poet had offered, unknown to me, to bear
the expense of the sacrificed seats for many nights, in order to allow my
small share of the work to be heard. The offer was refused, but the
generous action remains--one amongst the thousands of such quiet and
stealthy kindnesses which came as second nature to him, and were probably
as speedily forgotten by himself as they were lastingly remembered by
their recipients.[71]

He little knew that, when I was in my early 'teens and had the most
absurdly exaggerated notions of my song-writing powers, I had had the
presumption to ask my cousin, Mr. Stephen Spring Rice, if he would induce
his old friend to send me a MS. poem to set. Happily, I only got a kindly
but necessary rap over the knuckles for my impertinence; the request was
consigned to the waste-paper basket and mercifully never reached
Farringford. I tremble now to recall the incident, although I verily
believe that if Mr. Spring Rice had been cruel enough to send my letter
on, the smile which it must have provoked would in no wise have been a
contemptuous one. I can imagine his saying then, what I have often heard
him say in later days, "Maxima debetur pueris reverentia." I had seen so
much of Aubrey de Vere all through my boyhood that I almost felt as if I
knew Tennyson too, so vivid were his accounts of him, and his descriptions
of his ways and surroundings.

Joachim also, who all through the British part of his international career
was in close touch with the Tennyson circle, used often to speak of him
with the deep reverence and whole-hearted enthusiasm which he reserved for
a very few. On the staircase at Farringford hangs Mrs. Cameron's early
(and still unsurpassed) photograph of the great violinist. My host pointed
at it one day as he passed upstairs: "That's Joachim. He's a fine fellow.
Why did he cover up that fine jowl with a beard?"--quite forgetful of the
possible retort that he had committed the same wickedness himself. On the
comparatively rare occasions when he came up to London, and was surrounded
by all the stars in the literary and political firmament, Joachim and his
Stradivarius were as brilliant a centre of attraction as any of his
guests. Joachim's setting of Merlin's song in "The Coming of Arthur" was
an especial favourite of his, as both in atmosphere and in declamation it
exactly fulfilled the intention of his verse. Joachim once told me that he
always had great hankerings after setting "The Revenge," but that he
repressed them because he felt that it could only be tackled in the true
English spirit by a Britisher.

The clue to Tennyson's great critical power in declamation was obvious to
any one who heard him recite his own work. His manner of reading poetry
has often been described. It was a chant rather than a declamation. A
voice of deep and penetrating power, varied only by alteration of note and
by intensity of quality. The notes were few, and he rarely read on more
than two, except at the cadence of a passage, when the voice would
slightly fall. He often accompanied his reading by gentle rippling
gestures with his fingers. As a rule he adhered more to the quantity of a
line than the ordinary reciter, for he had the rare gift of making the
accent felt, without perceptibly altering the prosody. Without being a
musician, he had a great appreciation of the fitness of music to its
subjects, and was an unfailing judge of musical declamation. As he
expressed it himself, he disliked music which went up when it ought to go
down, and went down when it ought to go up. I never knew him wrong in his
suggestions on this point. The most vivid instance I can recall was about
a line in "The Revenge":

  Was he devil or man? He was devil for aught they knew.

When I played him my setting, the word "devil" was set to a higher note in
the question than it was in the answer, and the penultimate word "they"
was unaccented. He at once corrected me, saying that the second word
"devil" must be higher and stronger than the first, and the "they" must be
marked. He was perfectly right, and I altered it accordingly. It was
apparently a small point, but it was this insisting on perfection of
detail which made him the most valuable teacher of accurate declamation
that it was possible for a composer to learn from. Of all his poems which
I heard him read, those he made most impressive were "The Revenge" and the
"Ode on the Duke of Wellington." It may be interesting to record a point
in the latter which, he said, was often misread. The line

  Let the bell be toll'd,

he read with strong emphasis upon the first as well as the third and fifth

  - u - u -


  u u - u -

He said it wanted three strokes of the bell, not two. "Maud" he also read
with a most extraordinary warmth and charm, particularly the climax of
"Come into the garden," and still more the stanza about the shell (Part
II.), which he gave in a peculiarly thin and ghostly tone of voice, a
quality he also used with great mastery in the Choric Song of the "Lotus
Eaters." Nor was he less impressive when reciting Greek or German. Greek
he vastly preferred as pronounced in the English fashion. He said it lost
all its sonority and grandeur if modernized; and, indeed, to hear his
illustration was in itself sufficient to convince. German he pronounced
with a strong English accent, and yet I feel sure that Goethe himself
would have acknowledged his reading of "Kennst du das Land" to be a
masterpiece. He was a great admirer of Goethe, and especially of this
poem. He only disliked one line--

  O mein Beschützer, ziehn,

of which he said, "How could Goethe break one's teeth with those z's,
while the rest is so musical?" Curiously enough, it is now known that
Goethe erased "Beschützer" and substituted "Geliebter." He once read to me
from his works for nearly half an hour.

He was extremely particular about clear diction in singing, the lack of
which in the majority of singers of his day was far more marked than it is
nowadays. He intuitively grasped the true basis of that most difficult of
tasks, the composing of a good song which is at once practical and
grateful to sing. He knew that the poem should be the key to the work, and
should be so clearly enunciated that every word can reach the listener;
and that the composer must never over-balance the voice with the
illustrative detail of the accompaniment. When I was setting "The Voyage
of the Mældune" I happened to be at Freshwater; and after finishing the
solo quartet, "The Under-sea Isle," four amateurs sang it through for him.
His only (and I fear very just) comment on the performance was, "I did not
hear a word you said from beginning to end." But he thought afterwards
that we might feel somewhat crushed, and as I was going away some little
time later, and was passing his door, he put his head out and said with a
humorous smile, "I'm afraid I was rather rude just now, but I liked the
way your music rippled away when they fall into the water." This was a
most curious instance of his faculty for recognizing a subtle piece of
musical characterization as rapidly as, and often more rapidly than, a
listener who was fully equipped with musical technique.

His ear was capable of such fine distinctions of vowel quality, that it
has always been a mystery to me why this gift, so highly developed in him,
did not bring a mastery of music in its train. By one of the odd
dispensations of nature, Robert Browning, who had none of this fineness
of ear, knew enough of music to be able even to read it from a score with
his eyes. Such words as "true" and "too," which in most people's mouths
have an identical vowel sound, were differentiated by him, the "oo" full
and round, the "ue" inclining imperceptibly to "u." His "a" also had far
more varied colours than is usual even with singers. One modification in
especial, the quality of which can best be described as approaching that
of "_Eh_, mon," in broad Scotch, gave a breadth and a dignity to such
words as "Nation," "Lamentation," "Pāgeant" (he never used the horrible
pronunciation "Padgent"), which added vastly to the musical values of his
verse. It is this perfection of vowel balance which makes his poetry so
difficult to set to music satisfactorily. So musical is it in itself that
very little is left for actual music to supply. It is often the very
incompleteness of some poetry which makes it suggestive to a composer, the
qualities lacking in the one calling out for the assistance of the other
to supply them, a condition of combination which Wagner deliberately
carried to a fine art in his double capacity of poet and composer. With
Tennyson there is no gap to fill, and all that music can do is to
illustrate the surrounding atmosphere, and to leave the poetry to tell its
own story with its declamation and inflections accurately preserved.

The best reproduction of the peculiar quality of Tennyson's reading which
I have heard was Irving's rendering of the lines about the bird in the
last act of "Becket":

                          We came upon
  A wild-fowl sitting on her nest, so still,
  I reach'd my hand and touch'd; she did not stir;
  The snow had frozen round her, and she sat
  Stone-dead upon a heap of ice-cold eggs.

The mastery of sound-painting in this line, the chilly "o's" and "e's"
which the Poet knew so well how to place, Irving declaimed with a quiet
reverence which made the sentence so pathetic that it will always live in
the memory of those who heard it. It is interesting to record that all the
actors I have met who witnessed the play invariably hit on those lines as
the high-water mark of Irving's powers.

The rehearsals of "Becket," many of which I was privileged to witness,
soon made it clear that Irving's Becket was going to be, as it eventually
proved to be, the finest both in conception and in accomplishment of all
his creations. The part fitted him like a glove. So completely did he live
in it, that a friend of his (who related his experience to me), who went
round to see him after a performance, was dismissed by him on leaving with
a fervent benediction delivered with up-raised hand, so sincerely and
impressively delivered that he positively seemed to be an actual Prince of
the Church.

With Irving's arrangement of the play I never wholly agreed. He made of it
as a whole a workable piece, but in doing so he sacrificed one scene
which, beyond all question, is one of the most vivid and most
characteristic in the play, the scene of the beggars' feast. He lost sight
of the fact that its omission spoilt the balance of the middle section.
There was no foil to the brilliancy of the Council at Northampton.
Tennyson (like Shakespeare) knew better the value of contrast, and put in
at this point that touch of divine humour which only heightens pathos. The
drama needed it. He balanced the traitorous splendour of the nobles with
the homely loyalty of the halt, maimed, and blind. Irving also omitted the
poem which gave the true lyrical touch to the first Bower scene; a little
dialogue which, if it had been sung as was intended after the curtain rose
on an empty stage, would have given the same atmosphere to the act, which
the Rainbow song at its close drives home. These were, however, almost the
only blots upon an otherwise admirably reverent adaptation. Irving told
me that he always came down to listen behind the curtain to the last
_entr'acte_ (the Martyrdom), in order to get into the right mood for the
final scene. Coming from an actor, who knew nothing of musical technique
beyond an extraordinarily acute sense of what was fitting or not fitting
for stage purposes, this was a great gratification and a still greater
encouragement to one of the many composers whom he so loyally befriended.
The production of "Becket" was a memorable red-letter day for the modern
English stage; the more so as the tragedy came and conquered a public
which was little prepared for the finest specimen of its type which had
been seen since the days of Shakespeare. It was fitting that the reign of
the greatest Queen since Elizabeth should have such a play inscribed in
its annals, an appropriate and worthy counterpart to those of her great
predecessor's days.



Henry Sidgwick wrote in 1860 concerning Tennyson that he "regarded him as
pre-eminently the Poet of Science"; and to explain his meaning he
contrasts the attitude of Wordsworth to Nature with that of Tennyson:

    The Nature for which Wordsworth stirred our feelings was Nature as
    known by simple observation and interpreted by religious and
    sympathetic intuition.

--an attitude which left Science unregarded. But, for Tennyson,

    the physical world is always the world as known to us through physical
    science; the scientific view of it dominates his thought about it, and
    his general acceptance of this view is real and sincere, even when he
    utters the intensest feeling of its inadequacy to satisfy our deepest

It is probable that what was then written is now a commonplace of letters,
and requires no emphasizing, but as a professed Student of Science, whose
life has extended over the greater part of the time which has elapsed
since "In Memoriam" was published, I welcome the opportunity of adding my
testimony in continued support of the estimate made by Professor Sidgwick
half a century ago.

It is generally admitted, and has been recently emphasized, that wherever
reference is made to facts of nature in the poems or the fringe of
Science touched on,--as it so often is,--the reference is satisfying and
the touch precise. Observers of Nature have often called attention to the
beautiful accuracy with which natural phenomena are described, with every
mark of first-hand personal experience, as distinct from merely remembered
conventional modes of expression; and the same sort of feeling is aroused
in the mind of a Student of Science as he comes across one after another
of the subjects which have kindled discussion during the Victorian
epoch,--he is inevitably struck with the clear comprehension of the
fundamental aspects of the themes treated which the poems display, he sees
that the Poet is never led into misrepresentation or sacrifice of
precision in the quest for beauty of form. The two are wedded together
"like noble music unto perfect words."

To quote examples might only be tedious, and would assuredly be
misleading. It is not that the bare facts of Science are recorded,--such
record could not constitute poetry--certainly not high poetry,--it is not
merely his acquaintance with contemporary scientific discovery, natural to
a man who numbered leading men of Science among his friends;--it is not
any of this that arouses our feeling of admiring fellowship, but it is
that with all his lordship of language and power of expression so
immensely superior to our own, he yet moves in the atmosphere of Science
not as an alien, but as an understanding and sympathetic friend.

Look back upon the epoch in which he lived--what a materialistic welter it
seems! The mind of man was going through a period of storm; antiquated
beliefs were being jettisoned and everything spiritual seemed to be going
by the board; the point of view of man was rapidly changing and the whole
of existence appeared capable of reducing itself to refined and intricate

Poets generally must have felt it as a terrible time. What refuge existed
for a poet save to isolate himself from the turmoil, shut himself into his
cabin, and think of other times and other surroundings, away from the
uproar and the gale. Those who did not thus shelter themselves were liable
to bewail the time because the days were evil; as Arnold did, and Clough.
But thus did not Tennyson. Out through the tempest he strode, open-eyed
and bare-headed, with figure erect, glorying in the conflict of the
elements, and summoning the men of his generation to reverence and

Doubt, yes doubt he justified--doubt, so it were straightforward and
honest. Forms and accessories--these he was willing to let go--though
always with respect and care for the weaker brothers and sisters to whom
they stood for things of value; but Faith beyond those forms he clung to,
faith fearless and triumphant, uprising out of temporary moods of
despondency into ever securer conviction of righteous guidance throughout
creation and far-seeing divine Purpose at the heart of things.

Other men retained their faith too, but many only attained security by
resolutely closing their eyes and bolting the doors of their water-tight
compartments. But the glory of Tennyson's faith was that it never led him
to be unfaithful to the kinds of truth that were being revealed to his
age. That, too, was an age of revelation, and he knew it; the science of
his epoch was true knowledge, as far as it went; it was over-emphatic and
explosive, and to weaker or less inspired minds was full of danger, but it
was genuine cargo, nevertheless, which must be taken on board; there was a
real overload of superstition which had to be discarded; and it was his
mission, and that of a few other noble souls, to help us to accomplish
with calmness and something like wisdom the task of that revolutionary

In the conflict between Science and Faith our business was to accept the
one without rejecting the other: and that he achieved. Never did his
acceptance of the animal ancestry of man, for instance, upset his belief
in the essential divinity of the human soul, its immortality, its
supremacy, its eternal destiny. Never did his recognition of the
materialistic aspect of nature cloud his perception of its spiritual
aspect as supplementing and completing and dominating the mechanism. His
was a voice from other centuries, as it were, sounding through the
nineteenth; and by his strong majestic attitude he saved the faith of
thousands who else would have been overwhelmed; and his writings convey to
our own age a magnificent expression of that which we too have still not
fully accepted, but which we are on the way to believe.

If asked to quote in support of this statement I will not quote more than
the titles of some of the chief poems to which I appeal. Not always the
greatest poems perhaps do I here refer to, but those which most clearly
uphold the contention of the Poet's special service to humanity during the
period of revolution in thought through which mankind has been passing.

Let me instance, therefore, first and most obviously, "In Memoriam"; and
thereafter poems such as "De Profundis," "The Two Voices," "The Ancient
Sage," "Ulysses," "Vastness," "By an Evolutionist," "Demeter and
Persephone," "Akbar's Dream," "God and the Universe," "Flower in the
Crannied Wall," "The Higher Pantheism," "The Voice and the Peak," "Wages,"
and "Morte d'Arthur."

If I do not add to this list the great poem "To Virgil," who in his day
likewise assimilated knowledge of diverse kinds and in the light of
spiritual vision glorified all he touched, it is only because the
atmosphere of the Ancient poet is so like that of the Modern one that it
is not by any single poem that their sympathy and kinship has to be
displayed, but rather by the similarity of their whole attitude to the

By the term "Poet of Science" I understand one who assimilates the known
truths of Science and Philosophy, through the pores, so to speak, without
effort and with intuitive accuracy, one who bears them lightly and raises
them above the region of bare fact into the realm of poetry. Such a poet
is one who transfuses fact with beauty, he is ready to accept the
discoveries of his age, no matter how prosaic and lamentable they seem,
and is able to perceive and display the essential beauty and divinity
which runs through them all and threads them all together. That is the
service which a great poet can perform for Science in his day and
generation. The qualities beyond this--exhibited for the most part perhaps
in other poems--which enable him to live for all time, are qualities above
any that I have the right or the power to estimate.

To be overwhelmed and mastered by the material and the mechanical, even to
the extent of being blind to the existence of every other aspect, is
common and human enough. But to recognize to the full the reign of law in
Nature, the sequence of cause and effect, the strength of the chain-armour
of necessity which men of science weave, and yet to discern in it the
living garment of God--that is poetic and divine.



When Tennyson passed from life, not only did England lose one of her
noblest sons, but the world a poet who, beyond all others who have ever
lived, combined the gift of expression with an unceasing interest in the
causes of things and in the working out of Nature's laws.

When from this point of view we compare him with his forerunners, Dante is
the only one it is needful to name; but although Dante's knowledge was
well abreast of his time, he lacked the fullness of Tennyson, for the
reason that in his day science was restricted within narrow limits. In
Dante's time, indeed--he was born some 300 years before Galileo and Tycho
Brahe--science apart from cosmogony had chiefly to do with the various
constellations and measurements of the passing of time and the daily and
yearly motions of the sun, for the observation of which long before his
epoch our ancient monuments were erected; the physical and biological
sciences were still unborn. Dante's great work is full of references to
the science of his day; his science and song went hand in hand as
Tennyson's did in later, fuller times. This in strong contrast with such
writers as Goethe who, although both poet and student of science, rarely
commingled the two strands of thought.

It is right and fitting that the highest poetry should be associated with
the highest knowledge. Tennyson's great achievement has been to show us
that in the study of science we have one of the bases of the fullest
poetry, a poetry which appeals at the same time to the deepest emotions
and the highest and broadest intellects of mankind. Tennyson, in short,
has shown that science and poetry, so far from being antagonistic, must
for ever advance side by side.

So far as my memory serves me I was introduced to the late Lord Tennyson
by Woolner about the year 1864. I was then living in Fairfax Road, West
Hampstead, and I had erected my 6-inch Cooke Equatorial in the garden. I
soon found that he was an enthusiastic astronomer, and that few points in
the descriptive part of the subject had escaped him. He was therefore
often in the observatory. Some of his remarks still linger fresh in my
memory. One night when the moon's terminator swept across the broken
ground round Tycho he said, "What a splendid Hell that would make." Again,
after showing him the clusters in Hercules and Perseus he remarked
musingly, "I cannot think much of the county families after that." In 1866
my wife was translating Guillemin's _Le Ciel_ and I was editing and
considerably expanding it; he read many of the proof sheets and indeed
suggested the title of the English edition, _The Heavens_.

In the 'seventies, less so in the 'eighties, he rarely came to London
without discussing some points with me, and in these discussions he showed
himself to be full of knowledge of the discoveries then being made.

Once I met him accidentally in Paris; he was most anxious to see Leverrier
and the Observatory. Leverrier had the reputation of being _difficile_; I
never found him so, but I certainly never saw him so happy as when we
three were together, and he told me afterwards how delighted he had been
that Tennyson should have wished to pay him a visit. I visited Tennyson at
Aldworth in 1890 when he was in his 82nd year. I was then writing the
_Meteoritic Hypothesis_, and he had asked for proof sheets. When I arrived
there I was touched to find that he had had them bound together for
convenience in reading, and from the conversation we had I formed the
impression that he had read every line. It was a subject after his own
heart, as will be shown farther on. One of the nights during my stay was
very fine, and he said to me, "Now, Lockyer, let us look at the double
stars again," and we did. There was a 2-inch telescope at Aldworth. His
interest in Astronomy was persistent until his death.

The last time I met him (July 1892), he would talk of nothing but the
possible ages of the sun and earth, and was eager to know to which
estimates scientific opinion was then veering.

So far I have referred, and in very condensed fashion, to Tennyson's
knowledge of and interest in Astronomy as they came out in our
conversations. I have done this because I was naturally most struck with
it, but only a short acquaintance was necessary to show me that this
interest in my own special subject was only a part of a general interest
in and knowledge of scientific questions.

This was borne home to me very forcibly in about the year 1866 or 1867.
The evenings of Mondays were then given up to friends who came in, _sans
cérémonie_, to talk and smoke. Clays from Broseley, including
"churchwardens" and some of larger size (Frank Buckland's held an ounce of
tobacco), were provided, and the confirmed smokers (Tennyson, an
occasional visitor, being one of them) kept their pipes, on which the
name was written, in a rack for future symposia. One night it chanced that
many travellers--Bates, Baines, and Winwoode Reade among them--were
present, and the question of a certain kind of dust-storms came on the
_tapis_. Tennyson, who had not started the subject, listened for some time
and then remarked how difficult it was for a student to gain certain
knowledge on such subjects, and he then astonished the company by giving
the names of eight authors, four of whom had declared they had seen such
dust-storms as had been described, the other four insisting that they
could not be produced under any known meteorological conditions and that
with the best opportunities they had never seen them.

In many of our talks I came across similar evidences of minute knowledge
in various fields; nothing in the natural world was trivial to him or to
be neglected. This great grasp was associated with a minute accuracy, and
it was this double habit of mind which made Tennyson such a splendid
observer, and _therefore_ such a poet, for the whole field of nature from
which to cull the most appropriate epithets was always present in his

Hence those exquisite presentations of facts, in which true poetry differs
from prose, and which in Tennyson's poetry appeal at once both to the
brain and heart.

But even this is not all that must be said on this point. Much of
Tennyson's finest is so fine that it wants a knowledge on a level with his
own to appreciate its truth and beauty; many of the most exquisite and
profound touches I am convinced are missed by thousands of his readers on
this account. The deep thought and knowledge are very frequently condensed
into a simple adjective instead of being expanded into something of a
longer breath to make them apparent enough to compel admiration. This it
strikes me he consistently avoided.

  All the charm of all the Muses often flowering in a lonely word.

Although many of the poems seem to me to be clothed with references to
natural phenomena as with a garment, it can on the whole, I think, be
gathered from them, as I gathered from our conversations, that the subject
deepest in his thoughts was the origin of things in its widest sense, a
_Systema Mundi_, which should explain the becoming of the visible universe
and _define its different parts_ at different periods in its history. In
this respect we have:

  Three poets in three ages born.

Dante, Milton, and Tennyson, with their minds saturated with the same
theme, and I can fancy nothing in the history of human thought more
interesting or encouraging than the studies of this theme as presented to
us in their works published we may say, speaking very roughly, three
centuries apart.

This of course is another story, but a brief reference to it is essential
for my present purpose.

All the old religions of the world were based upon Astronomy, that and
Medicine being the only sciences in existence. Sun, Moon, and Stars were
all worshipped as Gods, and thus it was that even down to Dante's time
Astronomy and religion were inseparably intertwined in the prevalent
Cosmogonies. The Cosmogony we find in Dante, the peg on which he hangs his
_Divina Commedia_, with the seven heavens surrounding the earth and seven
hells inside it, had come down certainly from Arab and possibly prior
sources; the Empyrean, the _primum mobile_, the seven Purgatories, and the
Earthly Paradise (the antipodes of Jerusalem) were later additions, the
latter being added so soon as it was generally recognized that the earth
was round, though the time of the navigator was not yet.

Dante constructed none of this machinery, he used it merely; it
represented the knowledge, that is, the belief, of his time.

Between Dante and Milton there was a gap; but what a gap! It was filled by
Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Galileo, Columbus, Magellan, and Vasco da Gama,
to mention no more, and the astronomers and geographers between them
smashed the earth-centred heavens, the interior hells, and the earthly
paradise into fragments.

It was while this smashing was working its way into men's minds that
Milton wrote his poem, and he, like Dante, centred it on a cosmogony. Well
might Huxley call it "the Miltonic Hypothesis"! but how different from the
former one, from which it was practically a retreat, carefully concealed
in an important particular, but still a retreat from the old position.

Milton in his poem uses, so far as heaven is concerned, the cosmogony of
Dante, but he carefully puts words into Raphael's mouth to indicate that
after all the earth-centred scheme of the seven heavens must give way. But
the most remarkable part of "Paradise Lost" is the treatment of hell.

Milton's greatness as a poet, as a _maker_, to my mind is justly based
upon the new and vast conceptions which he there gave to the world and to
which the world still clings.

To provide a new hell which had been "dismissed with costs" from the
earth's centre, he boldly halves heaven and creates chaos and an external
hell out of the space he filches from it. "Hellgate" is now the orifice in
the _primum mobile_ towards the empyrean.

In Tennyson we find the complete separation of Science from Dogmatic
Theology, thus foreshadowed by Milton, finally achieved. In him we find,
as in Dante and Milton, one fully abreast with the science and thought of
the time, and after another gap, this one filled up by Newton, Kant,
Herschel, Laplace, and Darwin, we are brought face to face with the modern
Cosmogony based upon science and Evolution. The ideas of heaven and hell
in the mediaeval sense no longer form a necessary part of it, in Tennyson
they have absolutely disappeared. In those parts of his poems in which he
introduces cosmogonic ideas we have to deal with the facts presented by
the heavens and the earth which can throw light upon the ancient history
of our planet and its inhabitants.

The modern _Systema Mundi_ which Tennyson dwells on over and over again is
dominated by

  Astronomy and Geology, terrible Muses.

To come back from this parenthesis I must finally point out that although
some of the most pregnant and beautiful passages in Tennyson's poems have
reference to the modern views of the origin of things, almost all natural
phenomena are referred to, in one place or another, in language in which
both the truest poetry and most accurate science are blended.

The breadth of the outlook upon Nature shown by the references in the
Poet's works is only equalled by the minute accuracy of observation
displayed. Astronomy, geology, meteorology, biology, and, indeed, all
branches of science except chemistry, are thus made to bring their
tribute, so that finally we have a perfect poetic garland, which displays
for us the truths of Nature and Human Nature intertwined.


By E. V. B.

How kind to ask for some of my few small memories of your
father--treasured memories which no length of years can ever rub out. And
how much I like to recall them, though, alas! there is so little; it was
so seldom that we met in those unforgotten times. Once, I remember, I sent
him a rose from my garden, a black beauty, rather rare in those old
days--"L'Empereur de Maroque," now quite cut out by "Prince Camille de
Rohan." I keep the little word of thanks that came afterwards in return:

    MY DEAR E. V. B.--Many thanks for your more amiable than beautiful
    Black Rose. I don't mean to be personal, but am, yours always,


Another of his notes is the one wherein he gave me leave to illustrate
"The May Queen." His words in the note were: "I would rather you than any
one else should do it." His poems were a joy to me, even in
childhood--from the days when, dull lesson hours, etc., being done, I
could steal away and no one know, and, sitting on the carpet by the home
book-shelves, read over and over on the sly from a bound volume (one of
_Blackwood's Magazines_), where were long extracts from Tennyson's poems,
especially the earlier ones, and amongst them one called "Adeline." There
was certainly a magic in the poetry, scarce found elsewhere--magic even
for a child of ten.

WRITTEN. Carved and painted by Alfred Lord Tennyson.]

Do you remember how you used to tell me that your father had a great
love for the red rose? He sent me, for my _Ros Rosarum_, lines on a
Rosebud by himself:


  The night with sudden odour reel'd,
  The southern stars a music peal'd,
  Warm beams across the meadow stole,
  For Love flew over grove and field,
  Said, "Open, Rosebud, open, yield
        Thy fragrant soul."

I know he loved the poet's colour--lilac. A long-past scene in the garden
at Farringford still remains in the mind's eye fresh and vivid--painted in
with memory's fast colours among the pictures of remembrance.

The sunshine of a morning at Farringford in early summer when we came up
the long middle walk, bordered on either side with lilac-flowered
aubretia, led up to the open summer-house where Tennyson, with two or
three friends, sat in the sun, enjoying the warmth and the lovely lines of
lilac. We turned towards the house after a time, going under the budding
trees of the grove. There he pointed out some young bushes of Alexandrian
laurel--the same, he told us, whose small narrow leaves were used to make
the crown for victors in the Olympian games....

Then--can I ever forget?--that delightful evening at Aldworth, when, after
dinner, he invited me to his room upstairs. There he smoked his pipe in
his high-backed, cane arm-chair, while I sat near. On a little table by
the fire were arranged several more of these well-smoked Dublin pipes.
Such a large, comfortable "smoke-room"!--with books about everywhere, on
tables and chairs. Then he read to me aloud from "Locksley Hall." I think
he read all the poem from the beginning to the end; and as Tennyson read
on--one seemed almost to feel the pungent, salt sea-breeze blowing from
over desolate seas--almost saw visions of the dreary sands lengthening
far away. I remember I ventured to ask why the stanza which follows after
that line, "And all the wonder that should be," was afterwards omitted:

  In the hall there hangs a picture--Amy's arms about my neck,
  Happy children in a sunbeam, sitting on the ribs of wreck.
  In my life there was a picture--she that clasp'd my neck is flown,
  I was left within the shadow, sitting on the wreck alone.

I began saying the lines, but he knew them quite well and repeated them. I
can't think how it is, the answer he returned about this is now, alas!
forgot.... Such troublous years have come and gone since that happy
Long-Ago. (The omitted stanza would have gone, too, had it not been
written down for me by a long-lost friend, Sir Robert Morier.)

So the reading aloud went on, with talk between (and clouds of smoke!),
until, I think, past eleven o'clock, when you opened the door, and
that--for me--rare dream of poetry and charm abruptly broke.

I saw Tennyson, for the last time, as I followed down the wooded path at
Aldworth, on his way to the garden door opening on the heath, his fine,
big, Russian hound pacing closely after.

No--once more I saw him, his likeness with all the distinctness sometimes
known in the slow-moving white clouds of some glorious autumn day. It was
after the end had come, and not long before the grave in Westminster Abbey
had received him. I was travelling home on the Great-Western from
Somerset. Gazing up idly at the assembled multitude of sun-steeped silver
clouds above, suddenly, clear and distinct, my eyes beheld the image of
his noble profile as if lying back asleep; the eyes were closed, the head
at rest upon the pillow--a sculptured cloud in a snowy cloudland, outlined
upon an azure sky.... Not until after several minutes did the vision pass,
slowly fading into the infinite blue.


By the Right Rev. the BISHOP OF RIPON

Among the happy memories of my life, and they are many, the memory of the
kindly welcome accorded to me at Aldworth and at Farringford must always
possess a special charm. This will readily be understood by those of my
own age; for Tennyson was a name to conjure with in the days of my youth.
Slowly but surely his influence crept into our lives: we read in
text-books at school that the

  Poet in a golden age was born, with golden stars above,
  Dowered with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn, the love of love.

The thought and the words appealed to me from the first. Then, how I know
not, we became familiar with part, at least, of "In Memoriam." Its phrases
caught our fancy, and some of our early attempts at versification were
cast in the same metre. Then came the "Idylls of the King," and I remember
how, when the rest of the party went out one holiday afternoon, I stayed
indoors and read the "Idylls" at one sitting. Thus in our youth Tennyson
became poet and hero to us. Any one who had seen him or known him became
for us invested with a kind of sacred and awful interest; my uncle who
lived at Cheltenham grew greater in our eyes when we learned that he had
corresponded with him.

Thus our hero-worship grew. We knew indeed that there were those who did
not welcome the coming Poet with ardour; we lived, in fact, through the
age of his disparagement to the time of his unchallenged supremacy. It
will be interesting, I think, to many to read the following letter written
by Rev. Frederick W. Robertson when he was experiencing the freer and
fresher intellectual atmosphere of Oxford after the stifling
oppressiveness of Cheltenham:

    I had nearly forgotten to tell you that Tennyson is deeply admired
    here by all the brilliant men. Stanley, our first genius, rates him
    highly; Hannah, who has guided nearly all the first and double-first
    class men for the last three years to honours, told me he considers
    his poetical and psychological powers more varied than any poet he
    knows. And the "Dread," a choice selection of the most brilliant among
    the rising men, have pronounced him to be the first poet of the day.
    So you see I have some to keep me company in my judgment. And at all
    events he is above ridicule.

    Pray inform Miss D---- of all this. One of our first professors raves
    about him.

When I went up to Cambridge in 1860, Tennyson was the oracle poet among
the younger men; but the feeling of doubt still remained among the older
men. I recall a friendly dispute between the Senior and a Junior Fellow of
my own College. The elder man charged Tennyson with being "misty"; the
younger man defended: the elder man cited a passage from "In Memoriam,"
and challenged the younger to say what it meant. The elder man was so far
successful that he drove the younger man to declare that though he could
not explain it then, he hoped to enter into its meaning later on. It was a
typical conflict; the older generation could not understand; the younger
was under the spell of the Poet, and though unable to interpret
everything, believed in Tennyson's message to his own age.

There were charges levelled against Tennyson more serious and more absurd
than that of obscurity. The words Scepticism, Pantheism, and even Atheism
were heard. One newspaper in a review of "In Memoriam" exclaimed: "Here
the poet barely escapes Atheism and plunges into the abyss of Pantheism."
Another foolish writer, commenting on the lines:

              But what am I?
  An infant crying in the night,
  An infant crying for the light,
  And with no language but a cry,

remarked, with superb _naïveté_, "May we remind Mr. Tennyson that the
darkness is past and that the true light now shineth?" I remember, as late
as 1867 or 1868, an evening party at Blackheath when the question was
started--"Who is the greatest living poet?" To my amazement and amusement
a self-satisfied, but very good man, instantly and oracularly replied,
"Bonar--without doubt--Bonar." He meant that excellent and devout-minded
man, the Rev. Horatius Bonar, the hymn-writer. These were, no doubt,
extreme cases, but stupidity is always extreme. I recall these incidents
because they are parts of the story which tells of the difficulties
through which Tennyson fought the way to his throne. They serve to recall
the prejudices which provoked the resentment and stimulated the attachment
of those who, like myself, were brought early under the spell of his
enchantment. His story repeated familiar features; he had at first a
select circle of studious admirers; by degrees the general public became
aware of the existence in their midst of a true poet. Then timid partisans
awoke and demanded credentials of orthodoxy. Persons of this type did not
like to be told that--

  There lives more faith in honest doubt,
  Believe me, than in half the creeds.

But meanwhile he had drawn the younger generation to his side: they
believed in him, and they were right. In spite of misunderstanding and
misinterpretation, Tennyson followed the gleam: he would not stoop to
make his judgment blind or prevaricate for popularity's sake. He beat his
music out, and those who knew him, as I was privileged to do, during the
later years of his life, could realize how truly he had made a larger
faith his own.

It fell out naturally when I met him that conversation turned on religion
or theological subjects. His mind, courageous, inquiring, honest, sought
truth beyond the forms of truth. On the occasion of my first visit to
Aldworth, in the smoking-room we talked of the problem of pain, of
determinism, of apparent contradictions of faith. That night, indeed, we
seemed to talk--

  Of faith, free will, foreknowledge absolute.

But the impression left upon my mind was that we were engaged in no mere
scholastic discussion; it was no mere intellectually satisfactory creed
which was sought: it was something deeper and more abiding than anything
which may be modified in form from age to age; the soul needs an
anchorage, and to find it there must be no ignoring of facts and no
juggling with them once they are found. In illustration of this I may
relate how once, when walking with him among the heather-clad heights
round Aldworth, he spoke of the apparent dualism in Nature: the forces of
darkness and light seemed to meet in conflict. "If I were not a
Christian," he said, "I should be perhaps a Parsee."[73] He felt,
however, that if once we accepted the view that this life was a time of
education, then the dark things might be found to have a meaning and a
value. In the retrospect hereafter the pain and suffering would seem
trivial. I think that this idea must have taken hold of his thought as we
were conversing; for he suddenly stopped in his walk, and, standing amid
the purple landscape, he declaimed the lines, then unpublished:

  The Lord spake out of the skies
  To a man good and a wise:
  "The world and all within it
  Will be nothing in a minute."
  Then a beggar began to cry:
  "Give me food or else I die."
  Is it worth his while to eat,
  Or mine to give him meat,
  If the world and all within it
  Were nothing the next minute?

He once quoted to me Hinton's view that we were not in a position to judge
the full meaning of life; that we were in fact looking at the wrong side
of things. We saw the work from the underside, and we could not judge of
the pattern which was perhaps clear enough on the upper side.

Next day I was able to remind him that he had approved this view of life.
He was not well, and I think that the darker aspects loomed larger in his
mind; at any rate, he was speaking more gloomily than usual. When I
remarked that God did not take away men till their work was done, he said,
"He does; look at the promising young fellows cut off." Then I brought up
Hinton's theory and illustration, and asked whether we could judge when a
man had finished his appointed work. Immediately he acquiesced; the view
evidently satisfied him.

He took a deep interest in those borderland questions which sometimes seem
so near an answer and yet never are answered. At the hour of death what
are the sights which rush upon the vision? Of these he would sometimes
speak; he told me how William Allingham, when dying, said to his wife, "I
see things beyond your imagination to conceive." Some vision seemed to
come to such at death. One lady in the Isle of Wight exclaimed, as though
she saw "Cherubim and Seraphim." But these incidents did not disturb the
steady thought and trust which found its strength far deeper down than in
any surface phenomena. He never shirked the hard and dismaying facts of
life. Once he made me take to my room Winwoode Reade's _Martyrdom of Man_.
There never was such a passionate philippic against Nature as this book
contained. The universe was one vast scene of murder; the deep aspirations
and noble visions of men were the follies of flies buzzing for a brief
moment in the presence of inexorable destruction. Life was bottled
sunshine; death the silent-footed butler who withdrew the cork. The book,
with its fierce invective, had a strange rhapsodical charm. It put with
irate and verbose extravagance the fact that sometimes

  Nature, red in tooth and claw,
  With ravin shrieked against his creed;

but it failed to see any but one side of the question. The writer saw
clearly enough what Tennyson saw, but Tennyson saw much more. He could not
make his judgment blind against faith any more than he would make it blind
against facts. He saw more clearly because he saw more largely. He
distrusted narrow views from whatever side they were advanced. The same
spirit which led him to see the danger of the dogmatic temper in so-called
orthodox circles led him to distrust it when it came from other quarters.
There was a wholesome balance about his mind. Nothing is farther from the
truth than to suppose that men of great genius lack mental balance. Among
the lesser lights there may be a brilliant but unbalanced energy, but
among the greater men it is not so; there is a large and wholesome sanity
among these. There is sufficient breadth of grasp to avoid extremes in
Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare; it was the same with Tennyson. We may be
right, for instance, in classing Tennyson among those

  Whose faith has centre everywhere
  Nor cares to fix itself to form;

but we should be wholly wrong if we supposed that he did not realize the
value of form. He knew that faith did not lie in the form, but he knew
also the protective value of form to faith; the shell was not the kernel,
but the kernel ripened all the better in the shelter of the shell. He
realized how sacred was the flesh and blood to which truth divine might be
linked, and he uttered the wise caution:

  Hold thou the good: defend it well
      For fear divine philosophy
      Should push beyond her mark and be
  Procuress to the lords of Hell.

In his view, as it seemed to me, there were two attitudes of mind towards
dogmatic forms--the one impatient of form because form was never adequate
to express the whole truth, the other impatient of form[74] because
impatient of the truth itself. These two attitudes of mind were poles
asunder; they must never be confused together.

I may be allowed to illustrate this discriminating spirit by one or two
reminiscences. I once asked him whether they were right who interpreted
the three ladies who accompanied King Arthur on his last voyage as Faith,
Hope, and Charity. He replied with a touch of (shall I call it?)
intellectual impatience: "They do and they do not. They are those graces,
but they are much more than those. I hate to be tied down to say, 'This
means that,' because the thought in the image is much more than the
definition suggested or any specific interpretation advanced." The truth
was wider than the form, yet the form was a shelter for the truth. It
meant this, but not this only; truth must be able to transcend any form in
which it may be presented.

Hence he could see piety under varying forms: for example, he described
those who were "pious variers from the Church." This phrase, it may here
be related, had a remarkable influence on one man's life, as the following
letter, written by a clergyman who had formerly been a Nonconformist, will
show. The writer died some few years ago; two of his sons are now good and
promising clergymen of the Church of England:

    _January 16, 1901_.

    MY LORD BISHOP--In reference to your volume on the Poets, may I
    intrude upon your attention one moment to say that it was Tennyson's
    phrase in reference to dissenters:

        Pious variers from the Church,

    in his "Sea Dreams" that first kindled me to earnest thought (some
    twenty years since) as to my own position in relationship to the
    Church of the land. The force that moved me lay in the word "pious."
    Were dissenters more pious than Church people? I regret to say I
    thought them much less so; and as this conviction deepened I was
    compelled to make the change for which I am every day more
    thankful.--I am, my Lord Bishop, your Lordship's devoted servant,


I have already spoken of his recognition of the apparent dualism in
Nature. His outlook on the universe could not ignore the dark and
dismaying facts of existence, and his faith, which rose above the shriek
of Nature, was not based upon arguments derived from any survey of
external, physical Nature. When he confined his outlook to this, he could
see power and mechanism, but he could not from these derive faith. His
vision must go beyond the mere physical universe; he must see life and see
it whole; he must include that which is highest in Nature, even man, and
only then could he find the resting-place of faith. He thus summed up the
matter once when we had been walking up and down the "Ball-room" at
Farringford: "It is hard," he said, "it is hard to believe in God; but it
is harder not to believe. I believe in God, not from what I see in Nature,
but from what I find in man." I took him to mean that the witness of
Nature was only complete when it included all that was in Nature, and that
the effort to draw conclusions from Nature when man, the highest-known
factor in Nature, was excluded, could only lead to mistake. I do not think
he meant, however, that external Nature gave no hints of a superintending
wisdom or even love, for his own writings show, I think, that such hints
had been whispered to him by flower and star; I think he meant that faith
did not find her platform finally secure beneath her feet till she had
taken count of man. In short, he seemed to me to be near to the position
of Thomas Erskine of Linlathen, who said that truth as soon as learned was
felt to be held on a much deeper and more unshakable ground than any
authority which appealed to mere intellect, namely, on its own discerned
truthfulness. The response to all that is highest in Nature is found in
the heart of man, and man cannot deny this highest, because it is latent
in himself already. But I must continue Tennyson's own words: "It is hard
to believe in God, but it is harder not to believe in Him. I don't
believe in His goodness from what I see in Nature. In Nature I see the
mechanician; I believe in His goodness from what I find in my own breast."
I said, "Then you believe that Man is the highest witness of God?"
"Certainly," he replied. I said, "Is not that what Christ said and was? He
was in man the highest witness of God to Man," and I quoted the recorded
words, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." He assented, but said
that there were, of course, difficulties in the idea of a Trinity--the
Three. "But mind," he said, "Son of God is quite right--that He was."[75]
He said that, of course, we must have doctrine, and then he added, "After
all, the greatest thing is Faith." Having said this, he paused, and then
recited with earnest emphasis the lines which sang of faith in the reality
of the Unseen and Spiritual, of a faith, therefore, which can wait the
great disclosure:

  Doubt no longer, that the Highest is the wisest and the best,
  Let not all that saddens Nature blight thy hope, or break thy rest,
  Quail not at the fiery mountain, at the shipwreck, or the rolling
  Thunder, or the rending earthquake, or the famine, or the pest.

  Neither mourn if human creeds be lower than the heart's desire;
  Thro' the gates that bar the distance comes a gleam of what is higher.
  Wait till death has flung them open, when the man will make the Maker
  Dark no more with human hatred in the glare of deathless fire.

He was alive to the movements of modern thought. He saw in evolution, if
not a fully proved law, yet a magnificent working hypothesis; he could not
regard it as a theory hostile to ultimate faith; but far beyond the
natural wish to reconcile faith and thought, which he shared with all
right-thinking men, was the conviction of the changeless personal
relationship between God and man. He might find difficulties about faith
and about certain dogmas of faith, such as the Trinity. No doubt, however,
the Poet's conception brought the divine into all human life; it showed
God in touch with us at all epochs of our existence--in our origin, in our
history, in our final self-realization, for He is

  Our Father and our Brother and our God.[76]

Religion largely lies in the consciousness of our true relation to Him who
made us; and the yearning for the realization of this consciousness found
constant expression in Tennyson's works and conversation.[77] Perhaps its
clearest expression is to be found in his instructions to his son:
"Remember, I want 'Crossing the Bar' to be always at the end of all my

  I hope to see my Pilot face to face
  When I have crossed the Bar.



From the misty dawn of early childhood rises the first image of one who
was to fill so large a place in my life and that of those dear to me. As
I, not yet four years old, lay in my father's arms and he said to me the
"Morte d'Arthur," there blended with the picture of the wild winter mere
and the mighty King carried, dying, to its shore, a vision of the man who,
my father told me, lived somewhere amongst us and who could write words
which seemed to me more beautiful than anything I had ever heard.

It was several years before I again came upon the "Morte d'Arthur," when I
was a girl of ten or eleven, and I remember how eagerly I seized upon it,
and how the fairy glamour of my infancy came back to me as I read it.

It was in the autumn of 1852 that Lord and Lady (then Mr. and Mrs.)
Tennyson came to Farringford. They had been looking for a house, and they
found themselves one summer evening on the terrace walk, with the rosy
sunset lighting up the long line of coast to St. Catherine's Point, and
the gold-blue sea with its faint surf line mingling with the rosiness: and
they said, "We will go no further, this must be our home." An ideal
home it was, ideal in its loveliness, its repose, in its wild but
beautiful gardens, and more than all ideal in its calm serenity, the
hospitable simplicity, the high thought and utter nobleness of aim and
life which that pair brought with them, and which through the long years
of change, of sickness, and of sorrow, of which every home must be the
scene, made the atmosphere of Farringford impossible to be forgotten by
those who had the happiness of breathing it.

FOREGROUND. From a drawing by W. Biscombe Gardner.]

Hallam was at that time a baby, and very soon after their arrival at
Farringford beautiful Lionel came to gladden the hearts of his parents. It
was on the day of Lionel's christening that my father paid his first visit
to Farringford, and found the family party just returning from church. My
father had already been introduced to Tennyson at Lady Ashburton's house
in London, on which occasion he had walked away with Carlyle and had
expressed to him his pleasure at meeting so great a man as Tennyson.
"Great man," said Carlyle, "yes, he is nearly a great man, but not quite;
he stands on a dunghill with yelping dogs about him, and if he were quite
a great man, he would call down fire from Heaven, and burn them
up"--"but," he went on, speaking of his poetry, "he has the grip on it."

My father had entertained the greatest admiration for Tennyson's poetry
since the day when, both being undergraduates at Christchurch, his friend
Charles Wynne brought him the first published volume, saying to him,
"There is something new for you who love poetry." And his delight may be
imagined in now having the Poet for a neighbour. The intimacy between
Farringford and Swainston grew apace. My mother and Lady Tennyson, though
poor health and numerous occupations interfered with their frequent
meetings, conceived a very real affection for each other, which was only
cut short by my mother's early death, which left Lady Tennyson with a deep
feeling and pity for her children.

During the early years of Farringford, it was one of my father's great and
frequent pleasures to ride or drive over in the summer afternoons; he, in
turn with her husband, would draw Lady Tennyson in her garden chair, and
with the two boys skipping on before them, they would go long expeditions
through the lanes, and even up the downs; then back through the soft
evening air to dinner, and the long evening of talk and reading which
knitted that "fair companionship" and made of it "such a friendship as had
mastered time," and which we may well believe has re-formed itself still
more perfectly now that both those beloved souls have "crossed the bar."
The Tennysons sometimes came over to Swainston for a few days, and I
remember his being there on the wonderful July night in 1858 when the tail
of the great comet passed over Arcturus. His admiration and excitement
knew no bounds; he could not sit at the dinner-table, but rushed out
perpetually to look at the glorious sight, repeating: "It is a besom of
destruction sweeping the sky."

Little Lionel was that same night taken from his bed to the window, and,
opening his sleepy eyes on the unaccustomed splendour, he said, "Am I in

The writing and publication of "Maud" in 1855 was largely due to my

Looking through some papers one day at Farringford with his friend, he
came upon the exquisite lyric "O that 'twere possible," and said, "Why do
you keep these beautiful lines unpublished?" Tennyson told him that the
poem had appeared years before in the _Tribute_, an ephemeral publication,
but that it was really intended to belong to a dramatic poem which he had
never been able to carry out. My father gave him no peace till he had
persuaded him to set about the poem, and not very long after, he put
"Maud" into his hand.

It was about this time, but I do not remember what year, that Tennyson
gave my father the manuscript of "In Memoriam."[79] He had often asked him
to give him a manuscript poem, and he had put him off, but one day at
Swainston he asked my father to reach him a particular book from a shelf
in the library, and as he did so, down fell the MS. which Tennyson had put
there as a surprise. Never was gift more valued and appreciated by its
recipient. I have always felt grateful to him for the continual pleasure
which it gave my father during the whole of his life.

Tennyson's visits were eagerly looked forward to by us children. He would
talk to us a good deal, and was fond of puzzling and mystifying us in a
way that was very fascinating. He would take the younger ones on his knee,
and give them sips of his port after dinner, and I remember my father
saying to one of my sisters: "Never forget that the greatest of poets has
kissed you and made you drink from his glass."

As I got older I was sometimes allowed to drive over to Farringford with
my father, and, need I say, I looked forward to these as the red-letter
days of my life. Not only were the talk and intellectual atmosphere
intoxicating to me, but I became passionately attached to Lady Tennyson.
Praise of her would be unseemly; but I may quote what my father was fond
of saying of her, that she was "a piece of the finest china, the mould of
which had been broken as soon as she was made." It was not, however, till
after my mother's death in 1860 that my real grown-up intimacy with them
began, and that Farringford became the almost second home which for some
years it was to me. During my father's absences in London or elsewhere, I
was free to go and stay there as often and for as long as I liked, and was
almost on the footing of a daughter of the house. I used to go for long
walks, sometimes alone with Tennyson, sometimes in the company of other
guests, of whom Mr. Jowett was one of the most frequent. I wish I had
written down the talks with which he made the hours pass like minutes
during our walks. Forgetful of the youth and ignorance of his companion,
he would rise to the highest themes, thread his way through the deepest
speculations, till I caught the infection of his mind, and the questions
of matter and spirit, of space and the infinite, of time and of eternity,
and such kindred subjects, became to me the burning questions, the supreme
interests of life! But however absorbed he might be in earnest talk, his
eye and ear were always alive to the natural objects around him: I have
known him stop short in a sentence to listen to a blackbird's song, to
watch the sunlight glint on a butterfly's wing, or to examine a field
flower at his feet. The lines on "The Flower" were the result of an
investigation of the "love-in-idleness" growing on a wall in the
Farringford garden. He made them nearly on the spot, and said them to me
next day. Trees and plants had a special attraction for him, and he longed
to see the vegetation of the Tropics. Years ago he scolded my husband more
than half in earnest for not having told him in time that he was going to
winter in Madeira, that he might have gone with him.

But to return to my girlish days at Farringford! The afternoon walks were
followed by the long talks in the firelight by the side of Lady Tennyson's
sofa, talks less eager, less thrilling than those I have recalled; but so
helpful, so tender, full of the wisdom of one who had learnt to look upon
life and all it embraces from one standpoint only, and that the very
highest! Then dinner with the two boys (their long fair hair hanging over
their shoulders and their picturesque dresses as they are seen in Mr.
Watts's picture in the drawing-room at Aldworth) waiting as little pages
on the guests at table, followed by the delightful dessert, for which,
according to the old College fashion, we adjourned to the drawing-room.
The meal was seasoned with merry genial talk, unexpected guests arriving,
and always finding the same warm welcome, for none came who were not tried
and trusted friends. After dessert Tennyson went up to his study[80] (the
little room at the top of the house, from the leads outside which such sky
pageants have been seen, shooting stars, eclipses, and Northern Lights)
with any men friends who were in the house. They smoked there for an hour
or two, and then came down to tea, unless, as sometimes happened, we all
joined them upstairs; and then there was more talk or reading aloud of
published or, still better, unpublished poems. He would sometimes read
from other poets; Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, and some lyrics of Campbell
being what he often chose; and he taught me to know and appreciate Crabbe,
whom he placed very high in the rank of English poets.

One day Tennyson came behind me as I sat at breakfast, and dropped on my
plate the MS. of the "Higher Pantheism" which he had composed, or at any
rate perfected, during the night. Another day he took me into the garden
to see a smoking yew, and said the lines on it which he had just made and
afterwards interpolated in "In Memoriam." My father was with him when they
came upon a bed of forget-me-not in the garden and he exclaimed "the
heavens upbreaking through the earth," the lines which he afterwards
applied to the bluebells in the description of the spring ride of
Guinevere and Lancelot to Arthur's court. Once he pleased and touched me
inexpressibly: he was talking of the different way in which friends speak
before your face and behind your back, and he said, "Now I should not mind
being behind the curtain while L. S. was talking of me, and there are very
few of whom I could say that."

Years went on, and changes came; my father's re-election to Parliament in
1865 made our seasons in London longer and more regular than they had
been, and though there was still constant and delightful intercourse with
Farringford during the autumn and winter, there was necessarily less
during the Session. Some glorious days there were, however, when at Easter
or at Whitsuntide my father went down to Swainston, and I sometimes
accompanied him. We always went over to Farringford either to spend a
night or two, or to drive back through the spring night with its scented
breath and its mad revelry of cuckoos and nightingales vying with each
other as to which could outshout the other, and my father, fresh from
communion with his friend, would open himself out as he rarely did at any
other time or place.

It was about this time that Tennyson and his wife, worried beyond bearing
by the rudeness and vulgarity of the tourists, who considered that they
could best show admiration for the Poet by entirely refusing to respect
his privacy, determined to find another house for themselves during the
summer months, and turned their thoughts to Blackdown and its
neighbourhood. One summer they rented a farm on Blackdown called, I think,
Greyshott, and on a fine morning, April 23, 1868, we stood, a party of
some fifteen friends, to see the foundation-stone laid of Aldworth, the
new home which, to more recent, though not to the older friends, has
become almost as much associated with its owner as Farringford, and
received the sorrowful consecration of having been the scene of his
passing away.

About this time Tennyson took to coming oftener to London. On one occasion
he took me with him to the British Museum, and we did not get beyond the
Elgin Marbles, such was their fascination for him. Another day he came to
our house at luncheon time; most of the family happened to be out, and he
proposed that we should go to the Zoological Gardens. London was at its
fullest, and I feared, though I did not say it, that he would not escape
recognition, which was of all things what he most hated. However, all went
well for some time until we went into the Aquarium, and he became greatly
absorbed in the sea monsters, when I heard a whisper in the crowd, "That's
Tennyson," and knew that in another minute he would be surrounded; so I
suddenly discovered that the heat of the Aquarium was unbearable and
carried him off unwillingly to a quieter part of the gardens--he never
found out my ruse.

My mind lingers willingly on the last years of the sixties. As I look back
the two-and-twenty years seem, as did another "two and thirty years," a
"mist that rolls away." Of the circle of dear friends who were so much to
one another some still remain to gladden us with their presence, but how
many have gone where "beyond these voices there is peace"--Mr. George
Venables, Mr. John Ball, Mr. Browning, Sir F. Pollock, Mr. Brookfield, Mr.
Henry Cowper, Mr. Laurence Oliphant. The circle was complete as the Table
of Arthur before the fatal quest had made its gaps; here death was the
quest, and each one who sought, alas, has found it!

The first to pass away was my father, and as his best friend walked in the
garden at Swainston on the day, May 31, 1870, on which he came to see him
laid to rest, he made those verses,[81] than which few lovelier tributes
were ever paid from friend to friend, and which will keep the name of the
"Prince of Courtesy" green even in the long years to come.

The autumn and winter '71-'72 my eldest brother and I spent together at
Freshwater. We rented Mrs. Cameron's little house which opens by a door of
communication into the large hall of Dimbola, the house in which she
lived. The evening we arrived, she suddenly appeared in our drawing-room
saying, "When strangers take this house I keep the door between us locked,
with friends never"; and locked it never was. We lived almost as part of
the family, and it was a real enjoyment to be in such close intimacy with
one of the most original, and at the same time most tender-hearted and
generous women I have ever known. She was on very intimate terms at
Farringford, and would speak her mind to the Poet in a very amusing way.
On one occasion a party of Americans came to Freshwater, and Mrs. Cameron
sent them up to Farringford with a note of introduction. Tennyson was
tired or busy, and they were not admitted. They returned to Mrs. Cameron
full of their disappointment, and she put on her bonnet (I can see her now
as she walked through the lanes, her red or blue Chuddah shawl always
trailing behind her, and apparently not much the worse for the dust that
fringed it), and insisted upon their going back with her to Farringford.
Having made her way to Tennyson, she said to him solemnly, "Alfred, these
good people have come 3000 miles to see a lion and they have found a
bear." He laughed, relented, and received the strangers most courteously.

Mrs. Cameron's beautiful white-haired old husband in his royal purple
dressing-gown was a most interesting personality. In addition to the large
experience of men and things which his many years of official life in
India had given him, and which made his society delightful, he was a very
fine classical scholar of the old school, and in his old age, when
blindness and infirmity debarred him in great measure from his books, it
was his solace to repeat by heart odes of Horace, pages of Virgil, and
long passages from the Greek poets.

Easter 1872 brought a bright and merry gathering to Freshwater. One of
Mrs. Cameron's charming relations (they had lived with her for years as
adopted daughters) was about to marry, and go out with her husband to
India, and the "Primrose wedding" brought a large influx of young people,
friends and relations of Mrs. Cameron and the bride, in addition to the
visitors who always made Easter a pleasant time. The weather was perfect,
the "April airs that fan the Isle of Wight" especially soft and balmy.
Parties of twenty or thirty met every evening in Mrs. Cameron's hall or in
the Farringford drawing-room. Nearly every one there knew or got to know
Lord and Lady Tennyson. He was in particularly genial health and spirits;
he joined the young people in their midnight walks to the sea, in their
flower-seeking expeditions, in one of which some one was fortunate enough
to find a grape hyacinth in one of the Farringford fields. He read aloud
nearly as much as he was asked to, and danced as vigorously as the
youngest present at two dances that were given. It was during the first of
these dances that a young neighbour became engaged to the lady whom he
shortly afterwards married. Very soon after the decisive moment had
passed, and when the event was naturally supposed to be a profound secret,
Tennyson put the girl's mother, with whom he happened to be sitting,
completely out of countenance by saying, without a suspicion of malice,
and without for the moment recognizing the young couple who passed him, "I
wot they be two lovyers dear." When he was shortly afterwards told of the
engagement, he twinkled very much over his rather premature but very
apposite announcement.

My marriage took place in the autumn of 1872, and my husband, who already
knew the Tennysons, was at once received into their intimacy, and their
friendship was henceforth one of the greatest privileges of our joint
life. Tennyson and Hallam were present at our wedding, and the former held
our eldest boy in his arms when he was but a day or two old.

The Easter of 1873 saw us again at Freshwater with another pleasant
meeting of friends. On that occasion Tennyson said to me, "Why do you not
ask me to dinner?" It need not be said that we at once gave the
invitation, though not a little nervous at the thought of the
lodging-house fare and arrangements to which we were bidding him; but our
dear old landlady did her very best. We asked a small party (Lady Florence
Herbert and Leslie Stephen were our guests) to meet him and Hallam; he was
himself in the best of spirits, and our little dinner-party proved a great

A few years later the Tennysons took a house in London three or four years
running (one spring they had my stepmother's house in Eaton Place).
Tennyson appeared to have in great measure lost his dislike to mixing in
general society, and they collected about them a very interesting and
varied circle of friends. I cannot help recalling an incident which
occurred one evening at their house, which, though painful at the moment,
is pleasant to look back upon on account of the affectionate and generous
apology it elicited. A large party was at their house one evening, and
Tennyson was persuaded to read aloud, and chose the "Revenge." Something
or other, I suppose the "Inquisition Dogs" and the "Devildoms of Spain,"
excited him as he read, and by the time he had finished he had worked
himself into a state, which I have occasionally, but seldom, seen at
other times, of fury against the Catholic Church, as exemplified by the
Inquisition, persecution of heretics, etc.; in fact, all the artillery of
prejudice at which Catholics can afford to laugh. It happened, however,
that my husband, one of my sisters, and myself were the only Catholics
there, and were sitting together in the same part of the room. As he
talked he turned towards us and addressed us personally in a violent
tirade which loyalty to our convictions made it impossible for us not to
answer, though our attempts at explanation and contradiction were drowned
in his fierce and eloquent denunciations. Every one in the room looked
very uncomfortable. I myself hardly knew whether to laugh or cry, and was
never more relieved than, when his flow of words had exhausted itself, he
began to read another poem. Before the end of the evening, however, he
felt that his outbreak had not been kind or courteous, and before we left
he took us all three into his study, and made so sweet and gracious an
_amende_ that we loved him, if possible, more than ever.

Any one who has read carefully the "Idylls of the King," "Sir Galahad,"
"St. Agnes," among many of his poems, still more any one who has spoken
with him intimately, cannot fail to realize the strong attraction which
many Catholic doctrines and practices had for Tennyson, and the reverence
with which he regarded the Catholic Church as standing alone among jarring
sects and creeds, majestic, venerable, and invulnerable. His mind was also
an essentially and intensely religious one, and I know that one of my
father's attractions for him lay in the religious tone of _his_ mind. On
these points, however, I will say no more. In jotting down these few
remembrances of a friendship which is amongst my most precious
possessions, I settled with myself to refrain entirely from any
presentation of what I believed to be Tennyson's views on theology,
metaphysics, or politics, no less than from any discussion of his poetic
greatness. I want nothing but to sketch the _man_ as he always seemed to
me, one of the noblest, truest, and most lovable of God's creatures, and
one who, even without the genius that has crowned his brow with
never-fading laurel, must, by weight of character and beauty of soul
alone, stand a giant amid his fellow-men!

We spent the Christmas holidays of 1890-91 at Freshwater with our five
children; not one of them will forget the delightful intercourse with
Farringford during those weeks, and the Christmas Tree arranged by Mrs.
Hallam Tennyson for her little Lionel in the large room known as the
ball-room.[82] Kind words and presents were showered on every one, and I
think the beloved grandparents enjoyed it as much as their
fourteen-months-old grandson, as they sat in the midst of their servants
and cottagers (some of whom were amongst the oldest of their friends), and
the guests, little and great, whom they had asked to share their Christmas
festival. Our two eldest children have a more precious remembrance of that
time and the following Easter, which we also spent at Freshwater, for
Tennyson read aloud to them for the first and only time. To our girl he
read "Old Roä" and the "Bugle Song," and to our boy the "Ode on the Death
of the Duke of Wellington." He read this in April 1891; it was the last
time I heard him read, and I look upon it as a special act of kindness; he
said he did not like to read to children--they did not understand, were
bored--and he only yielded to my strong entreaties. If, however, he saw,
as I think he did, the flushed cheeks and big tearful eyes of our
fourteen-year-old schoolboy, he must have felt that he had a listener who
_did_ understand and appreciate!

Through the early part of the winter of 1890 Tennyson was remarkably
well, walking in the morning with my husband and other friends, and taking
long walks in the afternoon up and down the ball-room, when he liked to
have one or two companions who would amuse him, and whom he would amuse
with witty stories and _bons mots_. He had always a great pleasure in racy
anecdotes, and the humorous side of life, and during the last years this
increased, so that his friends treasured up every good story they heard to
repeat to him at their next meeting.

Towards the end of the Christmas holidays Tennyson caught cold, and fears
of a return of gout and bronchitis confined him to his room. My husband
had already returned to London, and I was remaining only a few days longer
and thinking sadly enough that I should not be able to see Tennyson again
before I left, when on one of the last evenings I was spending at
Farringford, he sent for me to his room and then, to my delighted
surprise, proposed to read to me. I demurred, fearing it might be bad for
him, but he insisted, and for half an hour read me one unpublished poem
after another,[83] his voice nearly as strong as I had ever known it, and
it seemed to me even more pathetic and beautiful.

That Easter of 1891, among many pleasant recollections of Farringford and
of the group of friends who paid their daily visit there, has one which I
like to set against the stories of Tennyson's unapproachableness and
gruffness to those who went to see him, which are so often circulated, and
which, in nine cases out of ten, meant that those who presented themselves
to him had chosen an unfortunate time, or were in some respect deficient
in tact or politeness. An American friend, professor of literature at
Harvard, was staying with us. His admiration and veneration for the great
master of verse were unbounded, and he would, I feel sure, have crossed
the Atlantic merely to see and speak with him. The morning after his
arrival, my husband took him to Farringford, where they found Tennyson
somewhat annoyed by a communication from an unknown American admirer,
enclosing a photograph of the Poet, upon which he requested him to sign
his name; the coolness of the request being heightened by the fact that
the sender had posted his letter unstamped. My husband said to his friend,
"Now, M., here's your opportunity; put down sixpence and pay the national
debt, and Tennyson will sign you the receipt on this photograph." He
immediately took the joke, laughed, bade the professor take back his
sixpence, and signed the photograph for him.

On one of the last days we were at Freshwater that Easter, Tennyson met
our youngest child of five in the road, and addressed her, to her great
amusement: "Madam! you've a damask rose on either cheek, and another on
your forehead; rosy lips, golden hair, and a straw bonnet."

I never again saw the household at Farringford after April 1891. Once more
we were at Aldworth in October of that year, when Tennyson signed for us a
photograph from Mr. Watts's last picture. He was tired before we left and
had gone to rest in his room, but I begged Hallam to let me go in to wish
him good-bye. Had I known that it _was_ good-bye, and that for the last
time I looked on his face and kissed his dear hands, what could I have
said? Never could I express the sorrowing love, the immense gratitude,
which overflow my heart as I think of my father's friend and mine!

       *       *       *       *       *

The following letter was written by Tennyson to Catherine Lady Simeon
after the death of his friend:

    ALDWORTH, _June 27th, 1870_.

    MY DEAR LADY SIMEON--Of course nothing could be more grateful to me
    than some memorial of my much-loved and ever-honoured friend, the
    only man on earth, I verily believe, to whom I could, and have more
    than once opened my whole heart; and he also has given me in many a
    conversation at Farringford in my little attic his utter confidence. I
    knew none like him for tenderness and generosity, not to mention his
    other noble qualities, and he was the very Prince of Courtesy; but I
    need not tell you this; anything, little book, or whatever you will
    choose, send me or bring when you come; and do pray come on the 4th
    July, and we will be all alone; and Louie can come, when she will, and
    you can spare her.--Believe me, always affectionately yours,




  The world external knew thee but in part:
  It saw and honoured what was least in thee;
  The loyal trust, the inborn courtesy;
  The ways so winning, yet so pure from art;
  The cordial reverence, keen to all desert,
  All save thine own; the accost so frank and free;
  The public zeal that toiled, but not for fee,
  And shunned alike base praise, and hireling's mart.
  These things men saw; but deeper far than these
  The under-current of thy soul worked on
  Unvexed by surface-ripple, beam, or breeze,
  And unbeheld its way to ocean won:
  Life of thy life was still that Christian Faith
  The sophist scorns. It failed thee not in death.


By ARTHUR SIDGWICK, Fellow of Corpus Christi, Oxford, and sometime Fellow
of Trinity College, Cambridge.

(Read in the Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, October 30, 1909.[84])

We are met here to-day to do honour to the memory and the life's work of
one of the greatest of Trinity's sons, who has also won for himself--few
lovers of poetry here or anywhere can feel a doubt--a high and secure
place in the glorious roll of English Poets, that roll which records the
poetic achievements of over 500 years.

In accepting (with whatever misgivings) the request of the College
authorities to speak some preliminary words in appreciation of the Poet, I
do not propose to deal in any detail with the history of his life and
work, on which the biography has thrown such interesting and welcome
light. The most that can here be attempted is to select a few aspects and
illustrations of Tennyson's life-long devotion to his art, such as may
serve to bring out something of those gifts and qualities which, wherever
English poetry is read, are felt to give to his work its special charm and

Though I must pass the early years almost in silence, I cannot refrain
from quoting the delightful tale, first made known (I believe) by Miss
Thackeray,[85] how at the age of five the Poet was seen with outspread
arms in a high wind, sailing gaily along and shouting his first line of

  I hear a voice that's speaking in the wind

--he did indeed all his life hear that voice and all other Nature-voices;
and also the other tale of ten years later, how on the news of Byron's
death (in 1824) the boy went out, desolate, and carved the sad tidings on
the sandstone, and (to use his own words) "thought everything over and
finished for every one, and that nothing else mattered."

Such despairing grief has seemed to some readers extravagant, to be
excused on the plea of youth--he was only fifteen: but it must not be
forgotten that Byron's death was the final blow of a triple fatality such
as finds no parallel in the history of literature. Three men of striking
genius and rich poetic gifts--Byron, Shelley, and Keats--were all
prematurely lost to the world within four years (1821-4). The fervid
sorrow of the impulsive and gifted boy of fifteen, so far from being
extravagant, must have been shared by countless readers of all ages who
cared for poetry, not in England only.

It is true that as the years went on the youthful sympathy of Tennyson
with what has been called the Revolutionary poetry was materially
modified--perhaps especially in the case of Shelley. Yet there is a
striking letter of the date 1834--when Shelley had been dead twelve years,
and Tennyson was twenty-five--which should not be forgotten. Henry Taylor
had attacked the Byron-Shelley school of poetry; and Tennyson, while not
disputing much of his general judgment, adds this penetrating comment: "It
may be that he (Taylor) does not sufficiently take into consideration the
peculiar strength evolved by such writers as Byron and Shelley, who,
however mistaken they may be, did yet give the world _another heart and
new pulses_, and so we are kept going."

Matthew Arnold was a fine critic and a poet of high distinction, but I
have always felt, if we compare his somewhat severe attitude towards the
earlier school with that of Tennyson, that it was the latter who showed
the truer insight, the wider sympathy, and the juster appreciation.

Of his Cambridge life, 1828-30, two main points stand out: the grievous
want he felt of any real stimulus or inspiration in the instruction
provided by the authorities; and, secondly, the remarkable group of
distinguished men of his own age with whom his college life was passed. As
to the first, the scathing lines written at the time, and published with
his express consent in the biography, are more eloquent than any
description could be. After naming all the glories of the Colleges--their
portals, gardens, libraries, chapels, "doctors, proctors and deans"--"all
these," he cries, "shall not avail you when the Daybeam sports, new-risen
over Albion ..." and the poem ends with the reason:

                Because your manner sorts
  Not with this age wherefrom ye stand apart,
  Because the lips of little children preach
  Against you,--_you that do profess to teach
  And teach us nothing, feeding not the heart_.

On the other hand, this lack (of official wisdom) was more than supplied
by the friends with whom he lived--James Spedding, Monckton Milnes
(afterwards Lord Houghton), Trench, Alford, Brookfield, Blakesley,
Thompson (afterwards Master), Merivale, Stephen Spring-Rice, J. Kemble,
Heath, C. Buller, Monteith, Tennant, and above all Arthur Hallam.
Thirty-five years later Lord Houghton justly said of this group of friends
that "for the wealth of their promise they were a body of men such as this
University has seldom contained." To this should be added the special
influence of the "Apostles," to which Society most of these friends
belonged, who had organized from the first regular weekly meetings for
essays and discussions, where no topic was barred, and speech was
absolutely free. The immense stimulus of such discussion to thought, to
study, to readiness and power of argument, to widening the range of
intellectual interests and literary judgment and appreciation, must be
obvious to all. And we must not forget that the years covered by young
Tennyson's residence at Cambridge were precisely the period of the keenest
intellectual stir and the stormiest political warfare that preceded the
great Reform Bill.

To return to the poetry. Passing over the purely juvenile _Poems by two
Brothers_ printed in his eighteenth year, we have, in 1830, the first book
of poems which have partially survived the mature and fastidious taste
which suppressed so much of the early work. Even here, half the pieces
have been withdrawn, and much of the rest re-written: what remains is
rather slight--the Isabels and Claribels and Adelines and Lilians and
Eleanores, poems which in some critics' views border on the trivial.
Really they should be regarded as experiments in lyric measures: and the
careful student will note the signs of the poet's fine ear and keen eye
for nature: but the depths were not sounded.

Two years later came the second volume (1832). Again much has been
withdrawn, much re-written: but when in this collection we find
"Œnone," "The Palace of Art," "A Dream of Fair Women," and "The
Lotos-eaters," we see that we have the real poet at last.

"The Palace of Art" is an attempt to trace the Nemesis of selfish culture,
secluding itself from social human life and duty. After three years of
these exclusive delights, the man's outraged nature--or conscience if you
will--reasserts itself in a kind of incipient madness: the soul of him
sees visions. Then a weird passage:

  But in dark corners of her palace stood
    Uncertain shapes; and unawares
  On white-eyed phantasms weeping tears of blood,
      And horrible nightmares,

  And hollow shades enclosing hearts of flame,
    And, with dim fretted foreheads all,
  On corpses three-months-old at noon she came,
      That stood against the wall.

The horrors, like Gorgons and Furies of ancient poets, are perhaps a
trifle too material; but in the description of the Nemesis there are
touches of real power, which at least are impressive and arresting.

"Œnone" is perhaps the most absolutely beautiful of these early poems,
and for the triumph of melodious sound, and finished picturesqueness of
description, the opening lines are unsurpassed. We should also note that
it took more than one edition to bring it to its present perfection of
form. It is very well known, but no one will object to hear it again:

  There lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
  Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
  The swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen,
  Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
  And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand
  The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
  Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
  The long brook falling thro' the clov'n ravine
  In cataract after cataract to the sea.
  Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
  Stands up and takes the morning: but in front
  The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
  Troas and Ilion's column'd citadel,
  The crown of Troas.

Before I pass on from "Œnone," I may perhaps add a word or two on
Tennyson's classical poetry generally, and his debt to the great ancient

He was, perhaps, not exactly a scholar in what I may call the narrow
professional sense; but in the broadest and deepest and truest sense he
was a _great_ scholar. Direct imitations of classical form, even when they
show such power and poetry as Swinburne's "Atalanta" and "Erechtheus,"
have always something artificial about them. But in all Tennyson's classic
pieces--"Œnone," "Ulysses," "Demeter," "Tithonus," the legendary
subjects--and in the two historic subjects, "Lucretius" and "Boädicea,"
the classical tradition is there with full detail, but by the poet's art
it is transmuted. "Œnone" is epic in form, the rest are brief
monodramas; the material is all ancient, and in many subtle ways the
spirit; the handling is modern and original. In translations--too
few--Tennyson can only be called consummate: his version of one passage of
the _Iliad_ (viii. 552) makes all other translations seem second-rate. Let
me quote a few lines:

  And these all night upon the bridge of war
  Sat glorying; many a fire before them blazed:
  As when in heaven the stars about the moon
  Look beautiful, when all the winds are laid,
  And every height comes out, and jutting peak
  And valley, and _the immeasurable heavens
  Break open to their highest_,[86] and all the stars
  Shine, and the Shepherd gladdens in his heart:
  So many a fire between the ships and stream
  Of Xanthus blazed before the towers of Troy,
  A thousand on the plain; and close by each
  Sat fifty in the blaze of burning fire;
  And eating hoary grain and pulse the steeds,
  Fixt by their cars, waited the golden dawn.

The passage, let me add, is a crucial test of the power of a translator,
for this reason: it is a plain, simple description of the Trojan
camp-fires in the darkness, with a simile or comparison of the sight to a
clearance of the sky at night and the sudden shining of the multitude of
stars. With the infallible instinct of Greek Poetry there is a rapid lift
in the style, a sudden glorious phrase [Greek: huperragê aspetos aithêr],
to suggest adequately the magnificent sight of the sudden clearance. It is
this effect that is difficult to give in the translation; and it is
exactly this splendid climax that Tennyson's incomparable rendering, "And
the immeasurable heavens break open to their highest," so perfectly

Again, in the metrical imitations--which are deliberately somewhat in the
vein of sport and artifice--Tennyson alone, it seems to me, has exactly
done what he intended, and shown what English effects can be produced by a
master's hand, even in these unfamiliar measures.

Of the serious classic pieces one of the most beautiful and moving is
"Tithonus." The tale is familiar: the beautiful youth Tithonus was beloved
by the goddess of the Dawn, and her love bestowed immortality on him; _but
they both forgot to ask for immortal youth_. So he grew old: and the
pathos of the boon, granted by love at love's request, thus turning out a
curse, is the motive of the tale. He speaks:

    Yet hold me not for ever in thine East:
  How can my nature longer mix with thine?
  Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
  Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet
  Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam
  Floats up from those dim fields about the homes
  Of happy men that have the power to die,
  And grassy barrows of the happier dead.
  Release me, and restore me to the ground;
  Thou seëst all things, thou wilt see my grave:
  Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
  I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
  And thee returning on thy silver wheels.

A great scholar has said that it is one of the most incomparable powers of
poetry _to make sad things beautiful_, and so to go some way towards
healing the sorrow in the reader's heart. He was speaking of Greek
Tragedy; but there is, I think, a deep truth in the saying, and it is not
confined to that particular form of poetry. And I know no better instance
of the truth than the singularly beautiful poem quoted above.

But the classic influences are, of course, not limited to the avowed
borrowings from ancient legend. There are constantly lines in Tennyson
where the student of ancient poetry recognizes a phrase--a turn--an
echo--beautiful in themselves, and giving a special pleasure to the
instructed reader; such a line as "When the first matin-song hath wakened
loud," which occurs in the "Address to Memory"--the striking early poem
containing the description of his Somersby home--and is itself an
exquisitely turned translation from Sophocles' _Electra_. So again we have
an echo from Homer through Virgil, in the half-playful line, "This way and
that dividing the swift mind"; or, again, the vivid simile from Theocritus
in the bold description:

  And arms on which the standing muscles sloped,
  As slopes a wild brook o'er a little stone,
  Running too vehemently to break upon it.[87]

--where the reader with an ear will note the bold metrical variation
adding so much to the effect. So again the Poet himself has told us how
the famous phrase for the kingfisher, "The sea-blue bird of March," arose
one day when he was haunted by the lovely stanza of Alcman (Greek lyric
poet) about the "halcyon" whom he calls "the sea-blue bird of spring." The
fact is that Tennyson had an inborn instinct for the subtle power of
language, and for musical sound--in a word, for that insight, finish,
feeling for beauty in phrase and thought and _thing_, and that perfection
of form, which, taken all together, we call poetry, and he is, like Virgil
and Milton, a true son of the Greeks: and if his open imitations are few,
the influence of the springs from which he drank is none the less powerful
and pervading.

In 1842 came a carefully revised selection of the earlier books--he was
always revising and improving--along with a large number of new poems.

I will pass over the English Idylls, which, in spite of beautiful touches,
have never as a whole appealed to me. But, setting these aside, there are
a few pieces which I cannot pass by without a word. They are "Love and
Duty," the political poems, and songs. "Morte d'Arthur" I leave over till
we reach the Idylls.

"Love and Duty" is a passionate tragedy, the parting of two lovers at the
call of duty. Perhaps the high-wrought pathos is a sign of youth; but
youth may be a strength as well as a weakness; and the lines are surely of
extraordinary beauty and force. I will quote the last passage, for a
reason which will appear:

              Should my Shadow cross thy thoughts
  Too sadly for their peace, remand it thou
  For calmer hours to Memory's darkest hold,
  If not to be forgotten--not at once--
  Not all forgotten. Should it cross thy dreams,
  O might it come like one that looks content,
  With quiet eyes unfaithful to the truth,
  And point thee forward to a distant light,
  Or seem to lift a burthen from thy heart
  And leave thee freër, till thou wake refresh'd
  Then when the first low matin-chirp hath grown
  Full quire, and morning driv'n her plow of pearl
  Far furrowing into light the mounded rack,
  Beyond the fair green field and eastern sea.

Certain critics have found fault with the splendid description of Dawn, as
being untrue to nature; a lover in such a crisis, they think, would not be
concerned with such images. I regard this suggestion as wholly at fault.
The tragedy, the parting, has come to pass: the vision of dawn is a _hope_
for _her_, now that the new life, apart from each other, has to begin for
both of them. If the broken love was all, if they could not look beyond,
the parting would have been different--like Lancelot and
Guinevere--"Stammering and staring; a madness of farewells." But here the
note is higher. The passion barred from its issue rushes into new
channels, and the exalted mood finds its only adequate vent in the
rapturous vision of a future dawn, the symbol of his hopes for her, those
hopes into which his sacrificed love is translated.

In the political poems we have a new departure. It is easy to idealize
freedom, revolution, or war: and the ancients found it easy to compose
lyrics on kings, athletes, warriors, or other powerful persons. From the
days of Tyrtaeus and Pindar, to Byron, Shelley, and Swinburne, one or
other of these themes has been the seed of song. But the praise of ordered
liberty, of settled government, of political moderation, is far harder to
idealize in poetry. It has been the peculiar aim of Tennyson to be the
constitutional, and in this sense the national, poet: and it is his
peculiar merit and good fortune to have succeeded in giving eloquent and
forcible expression to the ideas suggested by these aims.

I will not quote the poems about "the Falsehood of extremes," or "the land
of just and old renown where freedom slowly broadens down from precedent
to precedent," because these poems, terse and forcible summaries as they
are, have suffered, like other epigrammatic maxims in verse, from
vulgarizing quotation. It is not the Poet's fault in the least; in fact it
is due to his very merits--to the memorable brevity, truth, and point of
the phrasing. I will quote another--perhaps the most remarkable--of these
political poems, "Love thou thy land." It is close packed with thought,
and must have been especially hard to write, since the Poet's problem was
to express in terse and picturesque and imaginative language what at
bottom is philosophic and even prosaic detail. Nevertheless, where the
material lends itself at all to imaginative handling we get effects that
are impressive and even superb. Take a few lines--I cannot quote at

  Oh yet, if Nature's evil star
    Drive men in manhood, as in youth,
    To follow flying steps of Truth
  Across the brazen bridge of war--

  If New and Old, disastrous feud,
    Must ever shock, like armed foes,
    And this be true, till Time shall close,
  That Principles are rain'd in blood;

  Not yet the wise of heart would cease
    To hold his hope thro' shame and guilt,
    But with his hand against the hilt,
  Would pace the troubled land, like Peace;

  Not less, tho' dogs of Faction bay,
    Would serve his kind in deed and word,
    Certain, if knowledge bring the sword,
  That knowledge takes the sword away.

The last couplet seems to me--where all is powerful and imaginative--to be
a master-stroke of terse and pointed expression. It would be hardly an
exaggeration to say that it sums up human history in regard to one
point--namely, the disturbing and even desolating effect of the new
Political Idea, until its triumph comes, bringing a higher and more stable
adjustment, and a peace more righteous and secure.

Far more widely known than these didactic poems, rich as they are in
poetry and thought, are the patriotic odes--the three greatest being the
poems on the Duke of Wellington, the "Revenge," and Lucknow.

The ode on the Duke is a noble commemoration-poem, grave and stately and
solemn--a worthy expression of "the mourning of a mighty nation" with a
musical and dignified sorrow--a terse and vivid reference to the Duke's
exploits--a fine imaginative passage where he pictures the dead Nelson
asking who the newcomer is, and the stately answer--a striking tribute to
the simple and noble character of the dead hero--and then this:

  A people's voice! we are a people yet.
  Tho' all men else their nobler dreams forget,
  Confused by brainless mobs and lawless Powers;
  Thank Him who isled us here, and roughly set
  His Briton in blown seas and storming showers...
  O Statesmen, guard us, guard the eye, the soul,
  Of Europe, keep our noble England whole,
  And save the one true seed of freedom sown
  Betwixt a people and their ancient throne...
  For, saving that, ye help to save mankind
  Till public wrong be crumbled into dust,
  And drill the raw world for the march of mind,
  Till crowds at length be sane and crowns be just.

Again, for the judgment of the poem, the _date_ is important. It was
written only four years after the European earthquake of 1848, and only
one year after the Coup d'État. The allusions are not mere commonplaces:
they deal with live issues. It is not too much to say that in the great
ode Tennyson had a subject after his own heart, and that he has done it
magnificent justice.

Of the "Revenge" I will quote one passage, because it contains what always
strikes me as _the_ most wonderful effect of _sound_ in poetry to be found
anywhere. The whole poem, I may observe, is full of novel and effective
handling of metre: but this is the most remarkable. It occurs in the
description of the rising storm in which the gallant little ship went

  And they mann'd the Revenge with a swarthier alien crew,
  And away she sail'd with her loss, and long'd for her own;
  When a wind from the lands they had ruin'd awoke from sleep,
  And the water began to heave, and the weather to moan,
  And or ever that evening ended a great gale blew,
  And a wave like the wave that is raised by an earthquake grew,
  Till it smote on their hulls and their sails and their masts and their
  And the whole sea plunged and fell on the shot-shatter'd navy of Spain,
  And the little Revenge herself went down by the island crags
  To be lost evermore in the main.

Lastly, in the 1842 volume, there was a little song without a title, which
will certainly live as long as the English language.

In 1833, nine years before the volume appeared, had died abroad suddenly
the rarely-gifted youth who was bound to Tennyson by the double tie of
being his best-loved friend and the betrothed of his sister. The body had
been brought home for burial by the sea at a little place called Clevedon.

This is the song:

  Break, break, break,
    On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
  And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.

  O well for the fisherman's boy,
    That he shouts with his sister at play!
  O well for the sailor lad,
    That he sings in his boat on the bay!

  And the stately ships go on
    To their haven under the hill;
  But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!

  Break, break, break,
    At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
  But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.

There is something in the magical expression of deep love and sorrow in
these lines--with the swift and vivid touches of scenery, sympathetic and
suggestive--which we can only compare to the few greatest outbursts of
passionate regret in poetry.

Five years later came "The Princess" (1847). The idea--a bold design--was
to treat, by poetic and half-playful narrative, the comparative
intellectual and moral natures of men and women, and the right method of
education. The Poet's views may perhaps to-day seem somewhat
old-fashioned, the truths that he suggests or enunciates, in very finished
and beautiful language, are controversial, and suffer from the inevitable
failing of such writing, viz., that the issues of the strife have changed:
experience has shown the forecasts, the fears, and the prophetic satire to
be misplaced: and what seemed important truths have turned out to be
prejudices or irrelevant platitudes.[88]

The one thing that is consummate in "The Princess" is the handful of
little songs that come as interludes between the acts. They are so well
known that they need no quotation: their titles will suffice: "As through
the land at eve we went," "Sweet and low," "The splendour falls," "Tears,
idle tears," "Thy voice is heard thro' rolling drums," "Home they brought
her warrior dead," "Ask me no more."

The extraordinary effect of these songs is not due only to their
marvellous poetic force and finish and variety, but perhaps even more to
the illuminating and pointed contrast between the true and deep and
permanent realities of human experience--life, death, love, joy, and
sorrow--each of which is touched in turn in these exquisite little
pictures, and on the other hand the fantastic unreality (in the Poet's
view) of the Princess's ideals and experiment.

If I must quote one passage, let it be abridged from the shepherd's song
which the Princess reads:

  Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain height:

     *       *       *       *       *

  For Love is of the valley, come thou down
  And find him; by the happy threshold, he,
  Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize,
  Or red with _spirted purple of the vats_,[89]
  Or _foxlike[90] in the vine_; nor cares to walk
  With Death and Morning on the silver horns...
  But follow; let the torrent dance thee down
  To find him in the valley; let the wild
  Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave
  The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill
  Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke,
  That like a broken purpose waste in air:
  So waste not thou; but come; for all the vales
  Await thee; azure pillars of the hearth
  Arise to thee; the children call, and I
  Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound,
  Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;
  Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro' the lawn,
  The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
  And murmuring of innumerable bees.

This is the real idyll, with its central note of _love_, and wonderful
beauty of sound, and vivid vision of every detail of Nature's sights and
life. It suggests a world where all is fresh and sweet, and beautiful and
interesting, and simple and wholesome and harmonious.

The year 1850 was marked by three great events in the personal history of
Tennyson: his marriage, the publication of his greatest work, "In
Memoriam," and his acceptance of the laureate crown of poetry in
succession to Wordsworth, who died in the spring.

When I say that "In Memoriam" is Tennyson's greatest work, I am of course
aware that it is only a personal opinion on a disputable point. But I
incline to think that most lovers of poetry would agree that "In
Memoriam" is _the one_ of all the Poet's works the loss of which would be
the greatest and most irreparable to poetry.

In the grave and solemn stanzas with which the poem opens, he calls the
songs that follow _wild and wandering cries, confusions of a wasted
youth_. But in truth they are the expression of the deepest and most
heartfelt sorrow: the most musical and imaginative outpouring of every
mood, and every trouble, of a noble love and regret: the cries of a soul
stricken with doubt born of anguish, and darkened with shadows of
disbelief and despair: the deeper brooding over the eternal problems of
life, thought, knowledge, religion: the gradual groping toward a faith
rather divined than proved, and slowly passing through storm into peace.

The poem took seventeen years to write, and when it appeared the Poet was
at the summit of his great powers. His instinct chose a metre at once
strong, simple, fresh, flexible, and grave, and noble--equally adapted to
every mood, every form of thought or feeling--the passionate, the
meditative, the solemn, the imaginative--for description, argument,
aspiration, even for prayer. The tone varies: there are lighter and deeper
touches: but it is hardly too much to say, there is not an insignificant
stanza, nor a jarring note, from beginning to end.

In a poem where all is so familiar--which has meant and means so much to
all who care for poetry--it is difficult to quote. I will take a few
stanzas, so chosen, if possible, as to show somewhat of the variety, the
range, the subtlety, the charm, and the power of this great work.

He goes to the house in London where the dead friend lived: the gloom
without typifies and harmonizes with the darkness of his sorrowful

  Dark house, by which once more I stand
      Here in the long unlovely street:
      Doors, where my heart was wont to beat
  So quickly, waiting for a hand,--

  A hand that can be clasped no more--
      Behold me--for I cannot sleep--
      And like a guilty thing I creep
  At earliest morning to the door.

  He is not here; but far away
      The noise of life begins again,
      And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
  On the bald street breaks the blank day.

One of the most important motives concerns the doubts raised by the new
truths which science was beginning to teach, almost seeming to make in a
sense a new heaven and a new earth. The old simple beliefs seemed to the
Poet threatened--these misgivings are evil dreams: _Nature_ seems to say:

        ... A thousand types are gone:
  I care for nothing, all shall go.

  Thou makest thine appeal to me;
      I bring to life, I bring to death;
      The spirit does but mean the breath:
  I know no more...

Then the Poet breaks out:

                        And he, shall he,
  Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
      Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
      Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
  Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer--

  Who trusted God was love indeed,
      And love Creation's final law--
      Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
  With ravine, shriek'd against his creed--

  Who loved, who suffer'd countless ills,
      Who battled for the True, the Just,
      Be blown about the desert dust,
  Or seal'd within the iron hills?...

  O life as futile, then, as frail!
      O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
      What hope of answer, or redress?
  Behind the veil, behind the veil.

He will not accept the suggestions which seem to empty human life of its
deepest meanings. There must be some other solution.

One more quotation of a different kind--the common sad thought, never so
beautifully expressed, of the places we have loved when bereft of our
daily loving care--then passing into other hands and forgetting us, and
becoming at last to others what they have been to us.

It is in these common universal _human_ themes that Tennyson with his
exquisite musical touch, and sympathy, and unerring choice of significant
detail, reaches the heart of every reader.

  Unwatch'd, the garden bough shall sway,
      The tender blossom flutter down,
      Unloved, that beech will gather brown,
  This maple burn itself away:

  Unloved, the sunflower, shining fair,
      Ray round with flames her disk of seed,
      And many a rose-carnation feed
  With summer spice the humming air:

  Unloved, by many a sandy bar,
      The brook shall babble down the plain,
      At noon or when the lesser wain
  Is twisting round the polar star.

(Omitting a stanza.)

  Till from the garden and the wild
      A fresh association blow,
      And year by year the landscape grow
  Familiar to the stranger's child.

  As year by year the labourer tills
      His wonted glebe, or lops the glades,
      And year by year our memory fades
  From all the circle of the hills.

I can quote no more.

The poem seems gradually to rise from the depths of sorrow and doubt to a
new hope and faith--in short, to a new life. The marks of what it has
passed through are seen in the deeper thought, the larger nature, and
insight, and scope. The _soul_ has grown and strengthened, we may almost

In short, the poem is the inner history of a soul: our deepest feelings,
our hopes, our fears, our longings, our weaknesses, our difficulties, all
find penetrating, sympathetic, enlightening expression--terse, melodious,
inspiring, deeply suggestive--in a word, we feel the magic of poetry.

I have no time left to deal with the large work, which occupied many
years, "The Idylls of the King." It is a series--in blank verse, always
melodious and often exquisite, giving the main incidents of the old
Arthurian legend, which as a boy he had read with delight in old Malory's
prose epic.

I must content myself with two brief references.

The first idyll, "Gareth and Lynette," is not in itself one of the most
interesting[91]--dealing chiefly as it does with the picture of the eager
boy, anxious to be one of Arthur's knights, who serves a year in menial
place as a test of his obedience: but there is one passage which ought
never to be omitted in speaking of Tennyson, viz. the answer of the seer
when the boys ask him if the castle is enchanted.

The seer answers ironically, yet with a deep meaning, that it _is_

  For there is nothing in it as it seems
  Saving the King; tho' some there be that hold
  The King a shadow, and the city real.

Then he tells them about the _vows_: which if they fear to take, he warns

  Pass not beneath this gateway, but abide
  Without, among the cattle of the field,
  For an ye hear a music, like enow
  They are building still, seeing the city is built
  To music, _therefore never built at all,
  And therefore built for ever_.

Beneath the strangely beautiful surface meaning of these lines there lies
the deep allegoric meaning that often what seems visionary is in truth a
spiritual and eternal reality. It brings to mind the wonderful lines of
Browning (in "Abt Vogler"):

  The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
    The passion that left the earth to lose itself in the sky,
  Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
    Enough that he heard it once, we shall hear it by and by.

The other point concerns the end of the poem. The last section is the
Passing of Arthur; the old fragment "Morte d'Arthur" enlarged. One notable
addition occurs at the very end.

In the earlier version of the fragment, after Arthur had passed away on
the dark lake, with him the last hope also disappears.

We are only told:

            Long stood Sir Bedivere,
  Revolving many memories, till the hull
  Look'd one black dot against the verge of dawn,
  And on the mere the wailing died away.

In the fragment the end was tragic: the noble attempt failed; the hero and
inspirer passed away, his aim defeated, his comrades slain or scattered,
his life and efforts vain.

But in the final shape comes a new and very significant end:

    Then from the dawn it seem'd there came, but faint,
  As from beyond the limit of the world,
  Like the last echo born of a great cry,
  Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice,
  Around a king returning from his wars.

    Thereat once more he[92] moved about, and clomb
  Ev'n to the highest he could climb--and saw,
  Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King
  Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
  From less to less, and vanish _into light_.
  And the new sun rose, bringing the new year.

We feel, as we are meant to feel, that though the death of a noble soul,
after unequal war with ill, is deeply sad--fitly pictured with sorrowful
sounds and darkness of night--yet the great spirit cannot wholly die: the
night breaks into a new day; and the day will be brighter for those who
are left, because of the efforts and memories of the leader who is no

Tennyson is without doubt, from first to last, one of the great poetic
artists. He is not often an inspired singer like Shelley, but he has other
gifts which Shelley lacked--a self-restraint, an artistic finish, a fine
and mature taste, a deep reverence for the past, a pervading sympathy with
the broad currents of the best thought and feeling of the time. Sometimes
this is (as we have seen) a weakness, but it is also the source of his
greatest strength. He has not, like Wordsworth, given us a new insight,
what I may almost call a new religion: but he has a wider range than
Wordsworth, and a surer poetic touch. Wordsworth may be the greater
teacher; for many of us he has opened a new world: he has touched the
deepest springs of our nature. But Tennyson has left us gifts hardly less
rare and precious. He has refined, enriched, beautified, in some sense
almost remade our poetic language; he has shown that the classic
eighteenth-century finish is not incompatible with the nineteenth-century
deeper and wider thought: and, in a word, he has inwoven the golden thread
of poetry with the main texture of the life, knowledge, feeling,
experience, and ideals of the years whereof we are all alike inheritors.


By the Right Hon. SIR ALFRED LYALL, G.C.B.

The biography of a great poet has seldom been so written as to enhance his
reputation with the world at large. It is almost always the highest artist
whose individuality, so to speak, is least discernible in his work, and
who, like some divinity, is at his best when his mind and moods, his lofty
purpose and his attitude toward the problems of life, are revealed only
through the medium which he has chosen for revealing them to mankind. To
lay bare the human side of a poet, to retail his domestic history, and to
dwell upon his private relations with friends or family, will always
interest the public enormously; but for himself it is often a perilous
ordeal. The man of restless erratic genius, cut off in his prime like
Byron or Shelley, leaves behind him a confession of faults and follies,
while one who has lived long takes the risk of intellectual decline; or
else, like Coleridge, Landor, and even Scott, he may in other ways suffer
loss of dignity by the posthumous record of failings or mistakes. It is a
rare coincidence that in this nineteenth century two poets of the first
rank--Wordsworth and Tennyson--should each have passed the natural limit
of fourscore years, steadily extending their reputation without material
loss of their power, and completely fulfilling the ideal of a life devoted
to their beautiful art, free alike from adventures and eccentricities,
tranquil, blameless, and nobly dignified.

Such is the life which has been described to us in the _Memoir_ of Alfred,
Lord Tennyson, by his son. In preparing it he had the singular advantage
of very close and uninterrupted association for many years with his
father, and of thorough acquaintance with his wishes and feelings in
regard to the inevitable biography. In a brief preface, he touches, not
without emotion, upon the aims and limitations of the task which it had
become his duty to undertake.

    "For my part," he says, "I feel strongly that no biographer could so
    truly give him as he gives himself in his own works; but this may be
    because, having lived my life with him, I see him in every word which
    he has written; and it is difficult for me so far to detach myself
    from the home circle as to pourtray him for others. He himself
    disliked the notion of a long, formal biography.... However, he wished
    that, if I deemed it better, the incidents of his life should be given
    as shortly as might be without comment; but that my notes should be
    final and full enough to preclude the chance of further and
    unauthentic biographies."

Lord Tennyson has given us a remarkable chronicle of his father's life
from youth to age, illustrated by correspondence that is always
interesting and occasionally of supreme value, by anecdotes and
reminiscences, by characteristic thoughts and pithy observations--the
outcome of the Poet's reflection, consummate literary judgment, and
constant intercourse with the best contemporary intellects. He has,
moreover, so arranged the narrative as to show the rapid expansion of
Tennyson's strong, inborn poetic instinct, with the impressions and
influences which moulded its development, maturing and perfecting his
marvellous powers of artistic execution.

Alfred Tennyson was born in the pastoral village of Somersby, amid the
Lincolnshire wolds; and he spent many holidays on the coast at
Mablethorpe, where he acquired that passion for the sea which has
possessed so many poets. The atmosphere of a public school favours active
emulation and discipline for the outer world; but to a boy of sensitive
and imaginative temperament it is apt to be uncongenial, so we need not be
sorry that Tennyson was spared the experience. At first, like most men of
his temperament who go straight from private tuition to a University, he
felt solitary and depressed--"the country is so disgustingly level, the
revelry of the place so monotonous, the studies of the University so
uninteresting, so matter-of-fact." But there was about him a distinction
in mind and body that soon marked him out among his fellows ("a kind of
Hyperion," writes FitzGerald), uniting strength with refinement, showing
much insight into character, with the faculty of brief and pointed
sallies: "We were looking one day at the portrait of an elderly politician
in bland family aspect. A. T. (with his eyeglass): It looks rather like a
retired panther. So true."[94]

He was an early member of the Society yclept the Apostles, which included
many eager and brilliant spirits, whose debates were upon political
reform, the bettering of the people's condition, upon morals, religion,
and those wider and more liberal views of social needs that were foremost
at a period when the new forces were just mustering for attack upon the
old entrenchment of Church and State. Edward FitzGerald's notes and
Tennyson's own later recollections are drawn upon in this book for lively
illustrations of the sayings and doings of this notable group of friends,
and for glimpses of their manner of life at Cambridge. Here he lived in
the choice society of that day, and formed, among other friendships, an
affectionate attachment to Arthur Hallam, who afterwards became engaged to
his sister, and in whose memory the famous poem was written. Hallam seems
to have been one of those men whose extraordinary promise and early death
invest their brief and brilliant career with a kind of romance, explaining
and almost justifying the pagan notions of Fate and divine envy.

In June 1829 Tennyson scored his first triumph by the prize poem on
Timbuctoo, which, as he said many years afterwards, won the medal to his
utter astonishment, for it was an old poem on Armageddon, adapted to
Central Africa "by a little alteration of the beginning and the end."
Arthur Hallam wrote of it on September 2, 1829: "The splendid imaginative
power which pervades it will be seen through all hindrances. I consider
Tennyson as promising fair to be the greatest poet of our generation,
perhaps of our century"--a remarkably far-reaching prophecy to have been
built upon so slender a foundation. Out of his "horror of publicity," as
he said, he committed it to Merivale for declamation in the Senate House.
In 1830 appeared Tennyson's first volume of poems, upon which Arthur
Hallam again wrote, in a review, that "the features of original genius are
strongly and clearly marked"; while on the other hand, Coleridge passed
upon it the well-known criticism that "he has begun to write verses
without very well knowing what metre is"; and Christopher North handled it
with a touch of good-natured ridicule. Then followed, in 1832, a fresh
issue, including that magnificent allegory, the "Palace of Art"; with
other poems whose very blemishes signified exuberant strength. James
Montgomery's observation of him at this stage is in the main true as a
standing test of latent potency in beginners. "He has very wealthy and
luxurious thought and great beauty of expression, and is _a poet_. But
there is plenty of room for improvement, and I would have it so. Your
trim, correct _young_ writers rarely turn out well; a young poet should
have a great deal which he can afford to throw away as he gets older."
The judgment was sound, for after a silent interval of ten years, during
which the Poet was sedulously husbanding and cultivating his powers, the
full-orbed splendour of his genius shone out in the two volumes of 1842.

"This decade," writes his biographer, "wrought a marvellous abatement of
my father's real fault," which was undoubtedly "the tendency, arising from
the fulness of mind which had not yet learned to master its resources
freely, to overcrowd his composition with imagery, to which may be added
over-indulgence in the luxuries of the senses." By this and by other
extracts from contemporary criticism given in the _Memoir_ its readers may
survey and measure the Poet's rapid development of mind and methods, the
expansion of his range of thoughts, his increasing command over the
musical instrument, and the admirable vigour and beauty which his
composition was now disclosing. He had the singular advantage, rarely
enjoyed so early in a poetic career, of being surrounded by enthusiastic
friends who were also very competent art-critics, and whose unanimous
verdict must have given him heart and confidence; so that the few spurts
of cold water from professional reviewers troubled him very little. The
darts thrown by such enemies might hardly reach or wound him--[Greek: prin
gar peribêsan aristoi]--the two Hallams, James Spedding, Edward
FitzGerald, the two Lushingtons, Blakesley, and Julius Hare rallied round
him enthusiastically. Hartley Coleridge met Tennyson in 1835, and, "after
the fourth bottom of gin," deliberately thanked Heaven for having brought
them acquainted. Wordsworth, who had at first been slow to appreciate,
having afterwards listened to two poems recited by Aubrey de Vere, did
"acknowledge that they were very noble in thought, with a diction
singularly stately." Even Carlyle, who had implored the Poet to stick to
prose, was vanquished, and wrote (1842) a letter so vividly characteristic
as to justify a long quotation:

    DEAR TENNYSON--Wherever this find you, may it find you well, may it
    come as a friendly greeting to you. I have just been reading your
    Poems; I have read certain of them over again, and mean to read them
    over and over till they become my poems; this fact, with the
    inferences that lie in it, is of such emphasis in me, I cannot keep it
    to myself, but must needs acquaint you too with it. If you knew what
    my relation has been to the thing call'd English "Poetry" for many
    years back, you would think such a fact almost surprising! Truly it is
    long since in any English Book, Poetry or Prose, I have felt the pulse
    of a real man's heart as I do in this same.

           *       *       *       *       *

    I know you cannot read German: the more interesting is it to trace in
    your "Summer Oak" a beautiful kindred to something that is best in
    Goethe; I mean his "Müllerin" (Miller's daughter) chiefly, with whom
    the very Mill-dam gets in love; though she proves a flirt after all,
    and the thing ends in satirical lines! Very strangely, too, in the
    "Vision of Sin" I am reminded of my friend Jean Paul. This is not
    babble, this is speech; true deposition of a volunteer witness. And so
    I say let us all rejoice somewhat. And so let us all smite
    rhythmically, all in concert, "the sounding furrows," and sail forward
    with new cheer "beyond the sunset" whither we are bound.

The _Memoir_ contains some valuable reminiscences of this period,
contributed after Tennyson's death by his personal friends, which
incidentally throw backward a light upon the literary society of that day.
Mr. Aubrey de Vere describes a meeting between Tennyson and Wordsworth;
and relates also, subsequently and separately, a conversation with
Tennyson, who was enthusiastic over the songs of Burns: "You forget, for
their sake, those stupid things, his serious pieces." The same day Mr. de
Vere met Wordsworth, who "praised Burns even more vehemently than
Tennyson had done ..." but ended, "of course I refer to his serious
efforts, those foolish little amatory songs of his one has to forget."

But in addition to contemporary criticism, written or spoken, and to the
reminiscences, the biography gives us also several unpublished poems and
fragmentary verses belonging to this period, with the original readings of
other pieces that were altered before publication. It is in these
materials, beyond others, that we can observe the forming and maturing of
his style, the fastidious taste which dictated his rejection of work that
either did not satisfy the highest standard as a whole, or else marred a
poem's symmetrical proportion by superfluity, over-weight, or the undue
predominance of some note in the general harmony. One may regret that some
fine stanzas or exquisite lines should have been thus expunged, as, for
example, those beginning:

  Thou may'st remember what I said.

Yet we believe the impartial critic will confirm in every instance the
decision. "Anacaona," written at Cambridge, was never published, because
"the natural history and the rhymes did not satisfy" Tennyson; it is full
of tropical warmth and ardour, with a fine rhythmic beat, but it is
certainly below high-water mark. And the same must be said of the "Song of
the Three Sisters," published and afterwards suppressed, though the blank
verse of its prelude has undoubted quality. He acted, as we can see,
inexorably upon his own rule that "the artist is known by his
self-limitation"; feeling certain, as he once said, that "if I meant to
make any mark in the world it must be by shortness, for the men before me
had been so diffuse." Only the concise and perfect work, he thought, would
last; and "hundreds of lines were blown up the chimney with his pipe
smoke, or were written down and thrown into the fire as not being perfect
enough." Yet all his austere resolution must have been needed for
condemning some of the fine verses that were struck out of the "Palace of
Art," merely to give the poem even balance, and trim it like a boat. Very
few poems could have spared or borne the excisions from the "Dream of Fair
Women"; though here and there the didactic or scientific note is slightly
prominent, as in the following stanza:

  All nature widens upward. Evermore
    The simpler essence lower lies,
  More complex is more perfect, owning more
    Discourse, more widely wise.

At any rate the preservation of these unpublished verses adds much to the
value of the biography; and we may rank Tennyson among the very few poets
whose reputation has rather gained than suffered by the posthumous
appearance of pieces that the writer had deliberately withdrawn or

Of Tennyson's own literary opinions one or two specimens, belonging to
this time, may be given.

"Byron and Shelley, however mistaken they were, did yet give the world
another heart and new pulses; and so we are kept going"--a just tribute to
their fiery lyrical energy, which did much to clear insular prejudice from
the souls of a masculine generation. "Lycidas" he held to be the test of
any reader's poetic instinct; and "Keats, with his high spiritual vision,
would have been, if he had lived, the greatest of us all, though his blank
verse lacked originality of movement." It is true that Keats, whose full
metrical skill was never developed, may have imitated the Miltonic
construction; yet after Milton he was the finest composer up to Tennyson's
day. And the first hundred lines of "Hyperion" have no slight affinity, in
colouring and cadence, to the Tennysonian blank verse. For indeed it was
Keats who, as Tennyson's forerunner, passed on to him the gift of intense
romantic susceptibility to the influences of Nature, the "dim mystic
sympathies with tree and hill reaching back into childhood." But
Tennyson's art inclined more toward the picturesque, toward using words,
as a painter uses his brush, for producing the impression of a scene's
true outline and colour; his work shows the realistic feeling of a later
day, which delights in precision of details. In one of his letters he
mentions that there was a time when he was in the habit of chronicling, in
four or five words or more, whatever might strike him as a picture, just
as an artist would take rough sketches. The subjoined fragment, written on
revisiting Mablethorpe on the Lincolnshire coast, contains the
quintessence of his descriptive style; the last three lines are sheer
landscape painting.


  Here often when a child I lay reclined,
    I took delight in this fair land and free;
  Here stood the infant Ilion of the mind,
    And here the Grecian ships all seemed to be.
  And here again I come, and only find
    _The drain-cut level of the marshy lea,
  Gray sand-banks, and pale sunsets, dreary winds,
    Dim shores, dense rains, and heavy-clouded sea_.

More frequently, however, he employed his wonderful image-making power to
illustrate symbolically some mental state or emotion, availing himself of
the mysterious relation between man and his environment, whereby the outer
inanimate world is felt to be the resemblance and reflection of human
moods. So in the "Palace of Art" the desolate soul is likened to

  A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of sand,
    Left on the shore; that hears all night
  The plunging seas draw backward from the land
    Their moon-led waters white.

And there are passages in the extracts given from his letters written to
Miss Emily Sellwood, during the long engagement that preceded their
marriage, which indicate the bent of his mind toward philosophic quietism,
with frequent signs of that half-veiled fellow-feeling with natural
things, that sense of life in all sound and motion, whereby poetry is
drawn upward, by degrees and almost unconsciously, into the region of the
"Higher Pantheism." Nor has any English poet availed himself more
skilfully of a language that is peculiarly rich in metaphors, consisting
of words which still so far retain their original meaning as to suggest a
picture while they convey a thought.

It is partly due to these qualities of mind and style that no chapter in
this book, which mingles grave with gay very attractively, contains matter
of higher biographical interest than that which is headed "In Memoriam."
For it is in this noble poem, on the whole Tennyson's masterpiece, that he
is stirred by his own passionate grief to dwell on the contrast between
irremediable human suffering and the calm aspect of Nature, between the
short and sorrowful days of man and the long procession of ages. From the
doubts and perplexities, the tendency to lose heart, engendered by a sense
of forces that are unceasing and relentless, he finds his ultimate escape
in the spirit of trust in the Powers invisible, and in the persuasion that
God and Nature cannot be at strife. In a letter contributed to this
_Memoir_ Professor Henry Sidgwick has described the impression produced on
him and others of his time by this poem, showing how it struck in, so to
speak, upon their religious debates at a moment of conflicting tendencies
and great uncertainty of direction, giving intensity of expression to the
dominant feeling, and wider range to the prevailing thought:

    The most important influence of "In Memoriam" on my thought, apart
    from its poetic charm as an expression of personal emotion, opened in
    a region, if I may so say, deeper down than the difference between
    Theism and Christianity: it lay in the unparalleled combination of
    intensity of feeling with comprehensiveness of view and balance of
    judgment, shown in presenting the deepest needs and perplexities of
    humanity. And this influence, I find, has increased rather than
    diminished as years have gone on, and as the great issues between
    Agnostic Science and Faith have become continually more prominent. In
    the sixties I should say that these deeper issues were somewhat
    obscured by the discussions on Christian dogma and Inspiration of
    Scripture, etc. ... During these years we were absorbed in struggling
    for freedom of thought in the trammels of a historical religion; and
    perhaps what we sympathized with most in "In Memoriam" at this time,
    apart from the personal feeling, was the defence of "honest doubt,"
    the reconciliation of knowledge and faith in the introductory poem,
    and the hopeful trumpet-ring of the lines on the New Year.... Well,
    the years pass, the struggle with what Carlyle used to call "Hebrew
    old clothes" is over, Freedom is won, and what does Freedom bring us
    to? It brings us face to face with atheistic science; the faith in God
    and Immortality, which we had been struggling to clear from
    superstition, suddenly seems to be in the air; and in seeking for a
    firm basis for this faith we find ourselves in the midst of the "fight
    with death" which "In Memoriam" so powerfully presents.

To many readers the whole letter will seem to render fitly their feeling
of the pathetic intensity with which the everlasting problems of love and
death, of human doubts and destinies, are set forth in "In Memoriam." It
will also remind them of the limitations, the inevitable inconclusiveness,
of a poem which deals emotionally with questions that foil the deepest
philosophers. The profound impression that was immediately produced by
these exquisitely musical meditations may be ascribed, we think, to their
sympathetic association with the peculiar spiritual needs and intellectual
dilemmas of the time. It may be affirmed, as a general proposition, that
up to about 1840, and for some years later, the majority among Englishmen
of thought and culture were content to take morality as the chief test of
religious truth, were disposed to hold that the essential principles of
religion were best stated in the language of ethics. With this rational
theology the pretensions of Science, which undertook to preserve and even
to strengthen the moral basis, were not incompatible. But about this time
came a spiritual awakening; and just then Tennyson came forward to insist,
with poetic force and fervour, that the triumphant advance of Science was
placing in jeopardy not merely the formal outworks but the central dogma
of Christianity, which is the belief in a future life, in the soul's
conscious immortality.[95] Is man subject to the general law of unending
mutability? and is he after all but the highest and latest type, to be
made and broken like a thousand others, mere clay under the moulding hands
that are darkly visible in the processes of Nature? The Poet transfigured
these obstinate questionings into the vision of an ever-breaking shore

  That tumbled in a godless sea.

He turned our ears to hear the sound of streams that, swift or slow,

  Draw down Æonian hills, and sow
  The dust of continents to be--

and he was haunted by the misgiving that man also might be a mere atom in
an ever-changing universe. Yet after long striving with doubts and fears,
after having "fought with death," he resolves that we cannot be "wholly
brain, magnetic mockeries," not only cunning casts in clays:

  Let Science prove we are, and then
  What matters Science unto men,
    At least to me? I would not stay.

We think that such passages as these gave emphasis to the gathering alarm,
and that many a startled inquirer, daunted by dim uncertainties, recoiled
from the abyss that seemed to open at his feet, and made his peace, on
such terms as consoled him, with Theology. Not that Tennyson himself
retreated, or took refuge behind dogmatic entrenchments. On the contrary,
he stood his ground and trod under foot the terrors of Acheron; relying on
"the God who ever lives and loves." But since not every one can be
satisfied with subjective faith or lofty intuitions, we believe that the
note of distress and warning sounded by "In Memoriam" startled more minds
than were soothed by its comforting conclusions. If this be so, this
utterance of the poet, standing prophet-like at the parting of the ways,
moved men diversely. It strengthened the impulse to go onward trustfully;
but it may also be counted among the indirect influences which combined to
promote that notable reaction toward the sacramental and mysterious side
of religion, toward positive faith as the safeguard of morals, which has
been the outcome of the great Anglican revival set on foot by the Oxford
Movement seventy years ago.

In June 1850, the month which saw "In Memoriam" published, Tennyson
married Miss Sellwood. "The wedding was of the quietest, even the cake and
the dresses arriving too late." From this union came unbroken happiness
during forty-two years; for his wife brought into the partnership a rich
and rare treasure of aid, sympathy, and intellectual appreciation. Her son
pays his tribute to her memory in an admirable passage, of which the
greater part is here extracted:

    And let me say here--although, as a son, I cannot allow myself full
    utterance about her whom I loved as perfect mother and "very woman of
    very woman," "such a wife" and true helpmate she proved herself. It
    was she who became my father's adviser in literary matters. "I am
    proud of her intellect," he wrote. With her he always discussed what
    he was working at; she transcribed his poems: to her, and to no one
    else, he referred for a final criticism before publishing. She, with
    her "tender spiritual nature" and instinctive nobility of thought, was
    always by his side, a ready, cheerful, courageous, wise, and
    sympathetic counsellor.... By her quiet sense of humour, by her
    selfless devotion, by "her faith as clear as the heights of the
    June-blue heaven," she helped him also to the utmost in the hours of
    his depression and of his sorrow; and to her he wrote two of the most
    beautiful of his shorter lyrics--"Dear, near and true," and the
    dedicatory lines which prefaced his last volume, "The Death of

In November 1850, after Wordsworth's death, the Laureateship was offered
to Tennyson. We have good authority for stating, though not from this
_Memoir_, that Lord John Russell submitted to the Queen the four names of
Professor Wilson, Henry Taylor, Sheridan Knowles, and, last on the list,
Tennyson. The Prince Consort's admiration of "In Memoriam" determined Her
Majesty's choice, which might seem easy enough to those who measure the
four candidates by the standard of to-day. His accession to office brought
down upon Tennyson, among other honoraria, "such shoals of poems that I am
almost crazed with them; the two hundred million poets of Great Britain
deluge me daily. Truly the Laureateship is no sinecure." For the
inevitable levee he accepted, not without disquietude over the nether
garment, the loan of a Court suit from his ancient brother in song,
Rogers, who had declined the laurels on the plea of age. Soon afterward he
departed with his wife for Italy. Under the title of "The Daisy" he has
commemorated this journey in stanzas of consummate metrical form, with
their beautiful anapæstic ripple in each fourth line, to be studied by all
who would understand the quantitative value (not merely accentual) and
rhythmic effects of English syllables. On returning, they met the
Brownings at Paris. Then, in 1852, he bought Farringford in the Isle of
Wight, the Poet's favourite habitation ever afterward, within sight of
the sea and within sound of its rough weather, with its lawns, spreading
trees, and meadows under the lee of the chalk downs, that have been
frequently sketched into his verse, and will long be identified with his
presence. There he worked at "Maud," morning and evening, sitting in his
hard, high-backed wooden chair in his little room at the top of the house,
smoking the "sacred pipes" during certain half-hours of strict seclusion,
when his best thoughts came to him.

From the final edition in 1851 of "In Memoriam" to "Maud" in 1853, which
Lowell rather affectedly called the antiphonal voice of the earlier poem,
the change of theme, tone, and manner was certainly great; and the public
seems to have been taken by surprise. The transition was from lamentation
to love-making; from stanzas swaying slow, like a dirge, within their
uniform compass, to an abundant variety of metrical movement, quickened by
frequent use of the anapæstic measure. The general reader was puzzled and
inclined to ridicule what he failed at once to understand; the ordinary
reviewer was either loftily contemptuous or indulged in puns and parodies;
the higher criticism was divided; but Henry Taylor, Ruskin, Jowett, and
the Brownings spoke without hesitation of the work's great merits. Mr.
Gladstone, whose judgment had been at first adverse, recanted, twenty
years later, in a letter that was published in his _Gleanings_, and that
now reappears in this _Memoir_:

    "Whether it is to be desired," he wrote, "that a poem should require
    from common men a good deal of effort in order to comprehend it;
    whether all that is put in the mouth of the Soliloquist in 'Maud' is
    within the lines of poetical verisimilitude; whether this poem has the
    full moral equilibrium which is so marked a characteristic of the
    sister-works, are questions open, perhaps, to discussion. But I have
    neither done justice in the text to its rich and copious beauties of
    detail, nor to its great lyrical and metrical power. And, what is
    worse, I have failed to comprehend rightly the relation between
    particular passages in the poem and its general scope."

Jowett wrote:

    No poem since Shakespeare seems to show equal power of the same kind,
    or equal knowledge of human nature. No modern poem contains more lines
    that ring in the ears of men. I do not know any verse of Shakespeare
    in which the ecstasy of love soars to such a height.

On the other hand, an anonymous letter, which Tennyson enjoyed repeating,
ran thus:

    SIR--I used to worship you, but now I hate you. I loathe and detest
    you. You beast! So you've taken to imitating Longfellow.

        Yours in aversion,

"I shall never forget," his son writes,

    Tennyson's last reading of "Maud," on August 24, 1892. He was sitting
    in his high-backed chair, fronting a southern window which looks over
    the groves and yellow cornfields of Sussex toward the long line of
    South Downs that stretches from Arundel to Hastings (his high-domed
    Rembrandt-like head outlined against the sunset-clouds seen through
    the western window). His voice, low and calm in everyday life, capable
    of delicate and manifold inflection, but with "organ tones" of great
    power and range, thoroughly brought out the drama of the poem.

"The peculiarity of this poem," Tennyson said, "is that different phases
of passion in one person take the place of different characters"; and the
effect of his own recitation was to set this conception in clear relief by
showing the connexion and significance of the linked monodies, combined
with a vivid musical rendering of a pathetic love-story. The emotional
intensity rises by degrees to the rapture of meeting with Maud in the
garden, falls suddenly to the depth of blank despair, and revives in an
atmosphere of energetic, warlike activity--the precursor of world-wide

The poem, in fact, strikes all the highest lyrical chords, and we are
disposed to think that all of them are by no means touched with equal
skill. Possibly, the sustained and perfect execution of such a varied
composition would be too arduous a task for any artist. It is difficult
for the reader to adjust his mind to the changes of mood and motive which
succeed each other rapidly, and often abruptly, within the compass of so
short a piece; ranging from the almost melodramatic horror of the opening
stanzas to the passionate and joyous melodies of the middle part; sinking
into a wild wailing, and closing with the trumpet sounds of war. Yet every
one will now acknowledge that some passages in "Maud" are immortal, and
that the English language contains none more beautiful than the very best
of them.

The letters in the _Memoir_ are selected from upwards of forty thousand,
and at this period we have many of singular interest. One from Mrs. Vyner,
a stranger, touched the Poet deeply. Ruskin writes with reserve, as well
he might, about the edition of the poems illustrated by Rossetti, Millais,
and others:

    I believe, in fact, that good pictures never can be; they are always
    another poem, subordinate, but wholly different from the poet's
    conception, and serve chiefly to show the reader how variously the
    same verses may affect various minds. But these woodcuts will be of
    much use in making people think and puzzle a little; art was getting
    quite a matter of form in book illustrations, and it does not so much
    matter whether any given vignette is right or not, as whether it
    contains thought or not, still more whether it contains any kind of
    plain facts. If people have no sympathy with St. Agnes, or if people,
    as soon as they get a distinct idea of a living girl who probably got
    scolded for dropping her candle-wax about the convent-stairs, and
    caught cold by looking too long out of the window in her bedgown,
    feel no true sympathy with her, they can have no sympathy in them.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning sends a warm-hearted letter; and Jowett, who
enjoyed giving advice, evidently sat him down readily to reply when Mrs.
Tennyson asked whether he could suggest any subjects for poetry:

    I often fancy that the critical form of modern literature is like the
    rhetorical one which overlaid ancient literature, and will be regarded
    as that is, at its true worth in after times. One drop of natural
    feeling in poetry, or the true statement of a single new fact, is
    already felt to be of more value than all the critics put together.

Four "Idylls" came out in 1859, to be rapidly and largely taken up by the
English public, with many congratulations from personal friends. Thackeray
sends, after reading them, a letter full of his characteristic humour and

    "The landlord"--at Folkestone--"gave two bottles of his claret, and I
    think I drank the most, and here I have been lying back in the chair
    and thinking of those delightful 'Idylls'; my thoughts being turned to
    you; and what could I do but be grateful to that surprising genius
    which has made me so happy?"

The Duke of Argyll wrote that Macaulay had been _delighted with it_,
whereupon the Poet responds to his Grace somewhat caustically:

    MY DEAR DUKE--Doubtless Macaulay's good opinion is worth having, and I
    am grateful to you for letting me know it, but this time I intend to
    be thick-skinned; nay, I scarcely believe that I should ever feel very
    deeply the pen-punctures of those parasitic animalcules of the press,
    if they kept themselves to what I write, and did not glance spitefully
    and personally at myself. I hate spite.

Ruskin, on the other hand, is but half pleased; could not quite make up
his mind about that "increased quietness of style"; feels "the art and
finish in these poems a little more than I like"; wishes that the book's
nobleness and tenderness had been independent of a romantic condition of
externals; and suggests that "so great power ought not to be spent on
visions of things past, but on the living present."

These latter sentences touch upon, or at least indicate, a line of
criticism upon the general conception of the "Idylls," as seen in their
treatment of the Arthurian legend, with which, although it may appear
inadequate, some of us are not indisposed to agree. Romanticism has been
defined, half seriously, as the art of presenting to a people the literary
works which can give the greatest imaginative pleasure in the actual state
of their habits and beliefs. The "Idylls" adapted the mythical tales of
the Round Table to the very highest standard of æsthetic taste,
intellectual refinement, and moral delicacy prevailing in cultivated
English society. And by that society they were very cordially appreciated.
Undoubtedly the figure of Arthur--representing a stainless mirror of
chivalry, a warrior king endowed with the qualities of patriotic
self-devotion, clemency, generosity, and noble trustfulness, yet betrayed
by his wife and his familiar friend, and dying in a lost fight against
treacherous rebels--did present a lofty ideal that might well affect a
gravely emotional people. Moreover, the poem is a splendidly illuminated
Morality, unfolding scenes and figures that illustrate heroic virtues and
human frailties, gallantry, chivalric enterprise, domestic perfidy, chaste
virginal loves, and subtle amorous enchantments. It abounds also in
descriptive passages which attest the close attention of the Poet's eye
and ear to natural sights and sounds, and his supreme art of fashioning
his verse to their colours and echoes. In short, to quote from the

    he has made the old legends his own, restored the idealism, and
    infused into them a spirit of modern thought and of ethical
    significance; setting his characters in a rich and varied landscape;
    as indeed otherwise these archaic stories would not have appealed to
    the world at large.

This indeed he has done well. And yet it is not possible to put away
altogether the modern prejudice against unreality, the sense of having
here a vision not merely of things that are past, but of things that could
never have been, of a world that is neither ancient nor modern, but a
fairy land peopled with knights and dames whose habits and conversation
are adjusted to the decorous taste of our nineteenth century. The time has
long passed when men could look back on distant ages much as they looked
forward to futurity, through a haze of unbounded credulity. Not every one
has been able to overcome the effect of incongruity produced by a poem
which invests the legendary personages of mediæval romance with morals and
manners of a fastidious delicacy, and promotes them to be the embodiment
of our own ethical ideals. If, indeed, we regard the "Idylls" as beautiful
allegories, we may be content, as their author was, with the suggestion
that King Arthur represents Conscience, and that the poem is "a picture of
the different ways in which men looked on conscience, some reverencing it
as a heaven-born king, others ascribing to it an earthly origin." We may
then be satisfied with learning, from the Poet himself, that "Camelot, for
instance, a city of shadowy palaces, is everywhere symbolic of the gradual
growth of human beliefs and institutions, and of the spiritual development
of man." In the light of these interpretations the poem is a beautifully
woven tissue of poetic mysticism, clothing the old legend of chivalry with
esoteric meaning. We can accept and admire it freely, remarking only that
the deeper thoughts of the present generation do not run in an allegorical
vein, and that such a vesture, though of the finest texture and
embroidery, waxes old speedily. "The 'Holy Grail,'" said Tennyson, "is
one of the most imaginative of my poems. I have expressed there my strong
feeling as to the reality of the Unseen"; and truly it is a marvellous
excursion into the field of mystical romance. But Tennyson also said that
"there is no single fact or incident in the 'Idylls,' however seemingly
mystical, which cannot be explained as without any mystery or allegory
whatever"; and herein lies our difficulty. For, unless they can be read as
wholly allegorical, there is an air of unreality about those enchanting
pictures, as of scenes and persons that could never have existed anywhere.
That Tennyson is a master of the art of veiling the lessons of real life
under a fairy story, we know from the subtle symbolism with which he
tells, in the "Lady of Shalott," the tale of sudden absorbing love,
hopeless and unregarded, sinking into despair--a true parable, understood
of all men and women in all times. But those who have no great skill at
deciphering the Hyponoia, the underlying significance, of the "Idylls" may
be pardoned for confessing to an occasional feeling of something abstract,
shadowy, and spectacular in the company of these knights and dames.[96]

FitzGerald, after reading the "Holy Grail," writes (1870) to Tennyson:

    The whole myth of Arthur's Round Table Dynasty in Britain presents
    itself before me with a sort of cloudy Stonehenge grandeur. I am not
    sure if the old knights' adventures do not tell upon me better touched
    in some lyrical way (like your "Lady of Shalott") than when elaborated
    into epic form. I never could care for Spenser, Tasso, or even
    Ariosto, whose epic has a ballad ring about it.... Anyhow, Alfred,
    while I feel how pure, noble, and holy your work is--and whole
    phrases, lines, and sentences of it will abide with me, and, I am
    sure, with men after me--I read on till the "Lincolnshire Farmer" drew
    tears from my eyes. I was got back to the substantial rough-spun
    Nature I knew; and the old brute, invested by you with the solemn
    humour of Humanity, like Shakespeare's Shallow, became a more pathetic
    phenomenon than the knights who revisit the world in your other verse.
    There! I cannot help it, and have made a clean breast.

If the extreme realism of some modern writers has been rightly condemned
as truth divorced from beauty, we may say that it has been by his skill in
maintaining their indissoluble union that Tennyson's best work shows its
peculiar strength and has earned its enduring vitality. He excels in the
verisimilitude of his portraiture, in the authentic delineation of
character, preserving the type and developing the main lines of thought
and action by imaginative insight, with high artistic fidelity in details.
I venture to anticipate that his short monodramatic pieces in blank
verse--his studies from the antique, like "Ulysses" and "Tithonus," and
his poems of English life, breathing the true idyllic spirit, like the
"Gardener's Daughter" and "Aylmer's Field"--will sustain their popularity
longer than the Arthurian Idylls. Nor can some of us honestly agree with
the unqualified praise bestowed by high authority (as the _Memoir_
testifies) on "Guinevere," where the scene between the king and the queen
at Almesbury, with all its elevation of tone and purity of sentiment, is
not very far from a splendid anachronism. But the epilogue "To the Queen,"
which closes the Arthurian epic, brings us back to modern thought and
circumstance by its ringing protest against faint-heartedness in English

The "Northern Farmer," written in 1861, was at that time a novelty in form
and subject. It gave a strong lead, at any rate, to that school of rough
humorous versification, largely relying on quaint turns of ideas and
phrases, on racy provincial dialect and local colouring generally, which
has since had an immense success in the hands of minor artists. We may
take it to have begun, for the last century, with the _Biglow Papers_.
This form of metrical composition has latterly spread, as a species of
modern ballad, to the Indian frontier and the Australian bush, but has
little or no place in any language except the English. Such character
sketches, taken direct from studies of rude life, have been always common
in popular comic song, yet I believe that no first-class poet, after Burns
and before Tennyson, had turned his hand to this kind of work; nor has
anything been since produced upon the artistic level of the first
"Northern Farmer." "Roden Noel," writes Tennyson, "calls the two 'Northern
Farmers' photographs; but I call them imaginative"--as of course they are,
being far above mere exact copies of some individual person.

There are some very readable _impressions de voyage_ gathered out of
journals of tours made about this time (1860) in France and England, and
the letters maintain their high level of interest. Upon the death of
Macaulay, Tennyson writes to the Duke of Argyll:

    I hardly knew him: met him once, I remember, when Hallam and Guizot
    were in his company. Hallam was showing Guizot the Houses of
    Parliament, then building, and Macaulay went on like a cataract for an
    hour or so to those two great men, and, when they had gone, turned to
    me and said, "Good morning; I am happy to have had the pleasure of
    making your acquaintance," and strode away. Had I been a piquable man
    I should have been piqued: but I don't think I was, for the movement
    after all was amicable.

Then follows an account, by Mrs. Bradley, of a visit to Farringford, with
"its careless ordered garden close to the ridge of a noble down"; and at
the end of the _Memoir_ is an appendix containing, among other things,
Arthur Hallam's striking critical appreciation of "Mariana in the South,"
a poem which must be ranked as a masterpiece by all exiled Englishmen who
have dreamt of their native breezes and verdure, under the blinding glare
and intolerable heat of a tropical summer. Mr. Aubrey de Vere has
contributed a reminiscence describing the effect produced upon himself and
others by the poems of 1832-45, with a dissertation upon their style and
philosophic significance. And in this manner the course and circumstances
of the Poet's life are set out, with much taste and regard for
proportionate value of the materials for those singularly untroubled years
through which he rose steadily from straitened means in youth to
comparative affluence in middle age, and from distinction among a group of
choice spirits to enduring fame as the greatest of poets born in the
nineteenth century.

When, in 1864, Tennyson returned with "Enoch Arden" to the romance of real
life among his own people, the poem was heartily welcomed, and sixty
thousand copies were speedily sold. Spedding declared it to be the finest
story he had ever heard, and added (in our opinion quite rightly) that it
was "more especially adapted for Alfred than for any other poet." Yet the
plot, so to speak, of this pathetic narrative is as ancient as the
_Odyssey_, for it rests upon a situation that must have been common in all
times of long and distant voyaging, when men disappeared across the seas,
were not heard of for years, and their wives were counted as widows. A
well-known sailor's ditty tells in rude popular rhymes the same story of
the wandering mariner's return home, to find himself forsaken and
forgotten; and it frequently occurs in the folklore of the crusades. The
first title in the proof-sheets of the "Enoch Arden" volume was "Idylls of
the Hearth," and here, says his biographer,

    he writes with as intimate a knowledge, but with greater power (than
    in 1842), on subjects from English life, the sailor, the farmer, the
    parson, the city lawyer, the squire, the country maiden, and the old
    woman who dreams of her past life in a restful old age.

No great poet, in fact, has travelled for his subjects so little beyond
his native land; and so his best descriptive work shows the painter's eye
on the object, with the impressions drawn fresh and at first hand from
Nature, as in the poetry of primitive bards who saw things for themselves.
His letters and notes teem with observations of wild flowers and wild
creatures, of wide prospects over sea and land; and even when he followed
Enoch Arden into the world that was to himself untravelled, he could
surprise those who knew it by his rendering of tropical scenery.

A very good account, by the late Mr. Locker-Lampson, of his tour through
France and Switzerland with Tennyson in 1869, has preserved for us the
flavour of his table and travelling talk upon literature, and occasionally
upon religious problems. Into the philosophical or metaphysical abyss he
did not let down his plummet very far; he recognized the limits of human
knowledge, and for the dim regions beyond he accepted Faith as his guide
and comforter. In regard to the poets--"As a boy," he said, "I was a great
admirer of Byron, so much so that I got a surfeit of him, and now I cannot
read him as I should like to do." Probably this habit of premature and
excessive indulgence in Byron has blunted many an eager admirer's
appetite, and has had something to do with the prevailing distaste for
him, wherein we think that he has fallen into unmerited neglect. Of
Shelley Tennyson said that there was "a great wind of words in a good deal
of him, but that as a writer of blank verse he was perhaps the most
skilful of the moderns. Nobody admires Shelley more than I once did, and I
still admire him." For Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" he had a profound
admiration; yet even in that poem he thought "the old poet had shown a
want of literary instinct," and he touched upon some defects of
composition; but he ended by saying emphatically that Wordsworth's very
best is the best in its way that has been sent out by moderns. He told an
anecdote of Samuel Rogers. "One day we were walking arm and arm, and I
spoke of what is called Immortality, and remarked how few writers could be
sure of it. Upon this Rogers squeezed my arm and said, 'I am sure of it.'"

His wife's journal of this time is full of interest, recording various
sayings and doings, conversations, correspondence, anecdotes, and glimpses
of notable visits and visitors, Tourguéneff, Longfellow, Jenny Lind,
Huxley, and Gladstone, to the last of whom Tennyson read aloud his "Holy
Grail." At the house of G. H. Lewes he read "Guinevere," "which made
George Eliot weep." The diary is a faithful and valuable memorial of
English country life at its best in the middle of the last century. Living
quietly with his family, he was in constant intercourse with the most
distinguished men of his day, and was himself honoured of them all.

In 1873 Tennyson had declined, for himself, Mr. Gladstone's offer of a
baronetcy. In 1874 this offer was repeated by Mr. Disraeli, who does not
seem to have known that it had been once before made, in a high-flying
sententious letter, evidently attuned to the deeper harmonies of the
mysterious relation between genius and government.

    A government should recognize intellect. It elevates and sustains the
    spirit. It elevates and sustains the spirit of a nation. But it is an
    office not easy to fulfil, for if it falls into favouritism and the
    patronage of mediocrity, instead of raising the national sentiment, it
    might degrade and debase it. Her Majesty, by the advice of her
    Ministers, has testified in the Arctic expedition, and will in other
    forms, her sympathy with science. But it is desirable that the claims
    of high letters should be equally acknowledged. That is not so easy a
    matter, because it is in the nature of things that the test of merit
    cannot be so precise in literature as in science. Nevertheless, etc.

The honour, even thus offered, was again respectfully declined, with a
suggestion that it might be renewed for his son after his own death; but
this was pronounced impracticable.

The Metaphysical Society was founded by Tennyson and two others in 1869,
and a list of the members is given in the _Memoir_, which touches on the
style and topics of the debates, and on the umbrage taken by agnostic
friends at the profound deference shown by Tennyson to Cardinal Manning. A
letter from Dr. James Martineau describes the Poet's general attitude
toward the Society's discussions; he sent his poem on the "Higher
Pantheism" to be read at the first meeting; and he was "usually a silent
listener, interposing some short question or pregnant hint." The letter
discourses, in expansive and perhaps faintly nebulous language, upon the
influence of his poetry on the religious tendencies of the day.

    That in a certain sense our great Laureate's poetry has nevertheless
    had a dissolving influence upon the over-definite dogmatic creeds
    within hearing, or upon the modes of religious thought amid which it
    was born, can hardly be doubted. In laying bare, as it does, the
    history of his own spirit, its conflicts and aspirations, its
    alternate eclipse of doubt and glow of faith, it has reported more
    than a personal experience; he has told the story of an age which he
    has thus brought into Self-knowledge.... Among thousands of readers
    previously irresponsive to anything Divine he has created, or
    immeasurably intensified, the susceptibility of religious reverence.

After taking into due account the circumstances in which Dr. Martineau's
letter was written, to many readers this high-flying panegyric will seem
to have in some degree overshot its mark.

It has been my duty, in reviewing this _Memoir_, to pass under some kind
of critical survey the more important writings of Lord Tennyson, in
particular relation to the narrative of his life, and to the formation of
his views and opinions. I am, however, placed in some embarrassment by the
fact that this work is for the most part done already in the volumes
themselves. They contain ample quotations from letters and articles by
very eminent hands, written with all the vigour of immediate impressions
when the poems first appeared. And some of the reminiscences that have
since been contributed to the biography by personal friends deal so
thoroughly with its literary side as to fall little short of elaborate
essays; so that on the whole not much is left to be said by the
retrospective reviewer. We are met with this difficulty in taking up the
chapters on the Historical Plays, which set before us, with an analysis of
the plays by the biographer himself, a catena of judgments upon them,
unanimously favourable, by the highest authorities. Robert Browning writes
with generous enthusiasm of "Queen Mary." Froude, the most dramatic of
historians, expresses unbounded admiration: "You have reclaimed one more
section of English history from the wilderness, and given it a form in
which it will be fixed for ever. No one since Shakespeare has done that."
Gladstone, Mr. Aubrey de Vere, Longfellow, G. H. Lewes and his wife, the
statesmen, the poets, and the men of letters, each from his own standpoint
attests the merits of one or another play, in letters of indisputable
strength and sincerity. Nor can it be doubted that these pieces contain
splendid passages, and fine engravings, so to speak, of historical
personages, with a noble appreciation of the spacious Elizabethan period,
and of the earlier romantic episodes. The dramatic art provides such a
powerful instrument for striking deep into the national mind, and success
in this form of high poetic execution is so lasting--while it is so
rare--that almost every great English poet has written plays. On the other
hand, few of them have ventured, like Tennyson, to face the capricious
ordeal of the public theatre, where the _vox populi_ is at least so far
divine that it pronounces absolutely and often incomprehensibly.

"For Tennyson to begin publishing plays after he was sixty-five years of
age was thought to be a hazardous experiment"; though I may remark that he
started with the advantage of a first-class poetic reputation, which
stimulated public curiosity. But he knew well the immense influence, for
good or for ill, that the stage can bring to bear on the people; and for
the stage all his plays were directly intended, not for literature, in the
expectation that the necessary technical adaptations might be supplied by
the actors or the professional playwright. Their historical truth, their
vigorous conceptions of motive and circumstance, and their poetic force
received ample acknowledgment. W. G. Ward, who was "grotesquely truthful,"
though ultramontane, broke out into unqualified praise after listening to
the reading of "Becket." On the stage, where first impressions are
all-important, the pieces had their share of success. Browning writes of
the "tumult of acclaim" which greeted the appearance of "Queen Mary"; and
of "Becket" Irving has told us that "it is one of the three most
successful plays produced by him at the Lyceum."

It is a question, often debated, whether in these latter days the theatre
can be made a vehicle for the artistic representation of history.
Literature, a jealous rival of all her sister arts, has so vastly extended
her dominion over the people, she speaks so directly to the mind, without
need of plastic or vocal interpretation, she is so independent of
accessories and intermediaries, that her competitive influence weighs down
all other departments of imaginative and pictorial idealization, religious
or romantic. Against this stream of tendency even Tennyson's genius could
hardly make sufficient headway to conquer for his plays a lasting hold
upon English audiences; and moreover his primal vigour had been spent upon
other victories. Yet to have held the stage at all, for a brief space, is
to have done more than has been achieved by any other poet of this (last)
century. In 1880 his drama, "The Cup," was produced with signal success at
the Lyceum; and Tennyson summed up his theatrical experience by observing
that "the success of a piece does not depend on its literary merit or even
on its stage effect, but on its _hitting_ somehow," wherein Miss Ellen
Terry agreed with him.

The annals of his daily life, throughout all this later part of it,
consist of extracts from letters, journals, and memorials of intercourse,
which abound with appropriate, amusing, and valuable matter, connected by
the biographer's personal recollections. We have thus a many-coloured
mosaic, in which many figures and characters are reproduced by a kind of
literary tessellation; while, as to the Poet himself, his habits, wise or
whimsical, his thoughts from year to year on the subjects of the day, his
manner of working, are all preserved. The correspondence of his friends
maintains its high level of quality. Mr. W. H. Lecky gives us, in one of
the best among all the reminiscences, a fine sample of his own faculty for
delineation of character, bringing out the Poet's simplicity of soul, his
love of seclusion, the scope of his religious meditations, the keen
sensibility (acquired by long culture) of his rhythmic ear, and also his
susceptibility to the hum and pricking of critics.

    Many persons spoke of your father as too much occupied with his
    poetry. It did, no doubt, fill a very large place in his thoughts, and
    it is also true that he was accustomed to express his opinions about
    it with a curiously childlike simplicity and frankness. But at bottom
    his nature seemed to be singularly modest. No poet ever corrected so
    many lines in deference to adverse criticism. His sensitiveness
    seemed to me curiously out of harmony with his large powerful frame,
    with his manly dark colouring, with his great massive hands and strong
    square-tipped fingers.

His son records how in lonely walks together Tennyson would chant a poem
that he was composing, would search for strange birds or flowers, and
would himself take flight on discovering that he was being stalked by a
tourist. Among the letters is one from Victor Hugo, in the grand
cosmopolitan style, beginning "Mon Éminent et Cher Confrère," professing
love for all mankind and admiration for noble verse everywhere; another
from Cardinal Newman, smooth and adroit; there is also a note by Dr. Dabbs
of his colloquy with Tennyson, showing how he began with the somewhat
musty question about the incompatibility of Science with Religion, and
found the Poet, as we infer, tolerably dexterous with the foils. Renan
called, and put the essence of his philosophy into one phrase, "La vérité
est une nuance"; there are jottings of talks with Carlyle, and a long
extract from the journal of a yachting voyage with Mr. Gladstone, who
said, "No man since Aeschylus could have written the _Bride of
Lammermoor_." It would be doing less than justice to the biography if I
did not choose a few samples from an ample storehouse, and it would be
unfair to make too many quotations, even from a book which surpasses all
recent memoirs as a repertory of characteristic observations and short
views of life and literature, interchanged by speech or writing, with many
notable friends and visitors.

In 1883 the Queen, on the recommendation of Mr. Gladstone, offered
Tennyson a peerage, which, after some rumination, he accepted, saying, "By
Gladstone's advice I have consented, but for my own part I shall regret my
own simple name all my life." We are to suppose that the Prime Minister's
only misgiving "lest my father might insist on wearing his wideawake in
the House of Lords" had been duly overcome; and so next year the Poet,
having taken his seat, voted, not without some questioning and doubts of
the time's ripeness, for extension of franchise. No more worthy
representative of literature has ever added lustre to that august assembly
than he who now took his seat on the cross benches, holding no form of
party creed, but contemplating all. From a man of his traditions and
tastes, his dislike of extravagance, his feeling for the stateliness of
well-ordered movement, at his age, moderation in politics was to be
expected; and indeed we observe that he commended to his friends Maine's
work on _Popular Government_, which carries political caution to the verge
of timidity. But Tennyson, like Burke, had great confidence in the common
sense and inbred good nature of the English people. "Stagnation," he once
said, "is more dangerous than revolution." As he was throughout
consistently the poet of the _via media_ in politics, the dignified
constitutional Laureate, so he was spared the changes that passed over the
opinions of Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge, who were Radicals in
youth, and declined into elderly Tories. Undoubtedly the temper of his
time affected his politics as well as his poetry, for his manhood began in
the calm period which followed the long stormy years when all Europe was
one great war-field, and when the ardent spirits of Byron and Shelley had
been fired by the fierce uprising of the nations.

In 1885, being then in his seventy-sixth year, Lord Tennyson published
"Tiresias," preluding with the verses to E. FitzGerald, so vigorous in
tone and so finely wrought, with their rhymes ringing true to the
expectant ear like the chime of a clear bell. Some years before, he had
paid a passing visit at Woodbridge to "the lonely philosopher, a man of
humorous melancholy mark, with his gray floating locks, sitting among his
doves.... We fell at once into the old humour, as if we had been parted
twenty days instead of so many years." It is a rarity in modern life that
two such men as Tennyson and FitzGerald, whose mutual friendship was never
shaken, should have met but once in some twenty-five years, although
divided by no more space than could be traversed by a three hours' railway
journey. "Tiresias" was soon followed by "Locksley Hall: Sixty Years
After"; then, in 1889, came "Demeter" and other poems; until, in 1892, the
volume containing the "Death of Œnone" and "Akbar's Dream" closed the
long series of poems which had held two generations under their charm. One
line in the second "Locksley Hall" its author held to be the best of the
kind he had ever written:

  Universal ocean softly washing all her warless isles;

though in my poor judgment the harmony seems marred by the frequent
sibilants, which vex all English composers[97]; and the suggestion that
the sea would become stormless when the land should be at peace may be
thought overbold.

It was but seasonable that his later poetry should have been tinged with
autumnal colouring. The philosophic bent of his mind had necessarily grown
with increasing years; its range had been widened by constant assimilation
with the scientific ideas of the day, with social and political changes;
but as far horizons breed sadness and wistful uncertainty, so his later
verse leans more toward the moral lessons of experience, toward
reflective and retrospective views of life and character. In poetry, as in
prose, the sequel to a fine original piece has very rarely, if ever, been
successful; though the second part, when it follows the first after a long
interval, often exhibits the special value that comes from alteration of
style and the natural changes of mood. Tennyson himself thought that "the
two 'Locksley Halls' were likely to be in the future two of the most
historically interesting of his poems, as descriptive of the tone of the
age at two distant periods of his life." In my opinion, the interest is
less historical than biographical, in the sense that the second poem takes
its deeper shade from the darkening that seems to have overspread his
later meditations. For the interval of sixty years had, in fact, brought
increased activity and enterprising eagerness to the English people; and
the gray thoughts of the sequel, the heavier feeling of errors and perils
encompassing the onward path toward the remote ideal, are the Poet's own.
He employed them, it is true, for the dramatic presentation of old age,
and disclaimed any identity with the imaginary personage.

However this may be, the poems that appeared toward the close of his long
literary career show a change of manner. We miss, to some degree, the
delicate handling, the self-restraint, the serene air of his best
compositions; there is a certain gloominess of atmosphere,[98] breaking
out occasionally into vehement expression, in the rolling dithyrambic
stanzas of "Vastness," "The Dawn," or "The Dreamer." In the "Death of
Œnone," the beautiful antique nymph of Tennyson's youth, deserted and
passionately lamenting on many-fountained Ida, has become soured and
vindictive.[99] She is now a jealous wife, to whose feet Paris, dying
from the poisoned arrow, crawls "lame, crooked, reeling," to be spurned as
an adulterer, who may "go back to his adulteress and die." Here the Poet
abandons the style and feeling of Hellenic tradition;[100] the echo of the
old-world story has died away; it is rather the voice of some tragedy
queen posing as the injured wife of modern society; and one remembers that
the Homeric adulteress, Helen of Troy, went back to live happily and
respected with her husband in Sparta. It was not to be expected that
Tennyson's later inspirations should reach the supreme level of the poems
which he wrote in his prime, or that there should be no ebb from the
high-water mark that he touched, in my opinion, fifty years earlier in
1842.[101] Yet hardly any poet has so long retained consummate mastery of
his instrument, or has published so little that might have been omitted
with advantage or without detriment to his permanent reputation. And it
will never be forgotten that he wrote "Crossing the Bar" in his
eighty-first year.

It is clear from the _Memoir_, at any rate, that the burden of nigh
fourscore years weakened none of his interest in literature and art, in
political and philosophical speculation, or diminished his resources of
humorous observation and anecdote. Among many recollections he told of
Hallam (the historian) saying to him, "I have lived to read Carlyle's
_French Revolution_, but I cannot get on, the style is so abominable;" and
of Carlyle groaning about Hallam's _Constitutional History_: "Eh, it's a
miserable skeleton of a book"--bringing out into short and sharp contrast
two opposite schools, the picturesque and the precise, of
history-writing. Robert Browning's death in December 1889 distressed him
greatly; it was, moreover, a forewarning to the elder of two brothers, if
not equals, in renown. In 1890 Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was Tennyson's
junior by only twenty-three days, wrote to him:

    I am proud of my birth-year, and humbled when I think of who were and
    who are my coevals. Darwin, the destroyer and creator; Lord Houghton,
    the pleasant and kind-hearted lover of men of letters; Gladstone, whom
    I leave it to you to characterise, but whose vast range of
    intellectual powers few will question; Mendelssohn, whose music still
    rings in our ears; and the Laureate, whose "jewels five words
    long"--many of them a good deal longer--sparkle in our memories.

He wrote kindly to William Watson and Rudyard Kipling, whose patriotic
verse pleased him; and twelve months later Watson paid a grateful tribute
to his memory in one of the best among many threnodies. He spoke of
Carlyle's having come to smoke a pipe with him one evening in London,
"when the talk turned upon the immortality of the soul, upon which Carlyle
said, 'Eh, old Jewish rags, you must clear your mind of all that. Why
should we expect a hereafter?'" and likened man's sojourn on earth to a
traveller's rest at an inn, whereupon Tennyson turned the simile against
him. His son describes how the old man's "dignity and repose of manner,
his low musical voice, and the power of his magnetic eye kept the
attention riveted." In August 1892 Lord Selborne and the Master of Balliol
visited him; but

    ... he did not feel strong enough for religious discussions with
    Jowett, and begged Jowett not to consult with him or argue with him,
    as was his wont, on points of philosophy and religious doubt. The
    Master answered him with a remarkable utterance: "Your poetry has an
    element of philosophy more to be considered _than any regular
    philosophy in England_";

which is certainly an ambiguous and possibly not an extravagant eulogy.

The final chapter of the _Memoir_ gives, briefly, some sentences from his
last talks, and describes a peaceful and noble ending. He found his
Christianity undisturbed by jarring of sects and creeds; but he said, "I
dread the losing hold of forms. I have expressed this in my 'Akbar.'" The
welfare of the British Empire, its expansion and its destiny, had been
from the beginning and were to the end of his poetic career matters of
intense pride and concern to him. When, in September 1892, he fell
seriously ill, and Sir Andrew Clark arrived, the physician and the patient
fell to discussing Gray's "Elegy"; and a few days later, being much worse,
he sent for his Shakespeare, tried to read but had to let his son read for
him. Next day he said: "'I want the blinds up, I want to see the sky and
the light.' He repeated 'The sky and the light.' It was a glorious
morning, and the warm sunshine was flooding the weald of Sussex and the
line of South Downs, which were seen from his window." On the second day
after this he passed away very quietly. The funeral service in Westminster
Abbey, with its two anthems--"Crossing the Bar" and "The Silent
Voices"--filling the long-drawn aisle and, rising to the fretted vault
above the heads of a great congregation, will long be remembered by those
who were present. "The tributes of sympathy," his son writes, "which we
received from many countries and from all classes and creeds, were not
only remarkable for their universality, but for their depth of feeling."

To those who had so long lived with him, the loss of one whom they had
tended for many years with devoted affection and reverence was indeed
irreparable. Yet they had the consolation of knowing that his life had
been on the whole happy and fortunate, marked by singularly few griefs or
troubles; that he had proved himself a master of the high calling which he
set before himself, and departed, full of honours, at the coming of the
time when no man can work.

A collection of letters that passed between the Queen and Tennyson,
including two from Her Majesty to his son on receiving the news of
Tennyson's death, is added to the _Memoir_; and the volume closes with
"Recollections of the Poet," written at some length, by Lord Selborne,
Jowett, John Tyndall, F. Myers, F. T. Palgrave, and the Duke of Argyll.
These papers will be read, as they deserve to be, with attentive interest
for their descriptions of the personal characteristics, recorded by those
who knew him best, of a very remarkable man; they show also how his poems
were conceived and elaborated, they trace his thoughts on high subjects,
and they contain very ample dissertations on his poetry. They inevitably
anticipate the work of the public reviewer, who cannot pretend to write
with equal authority, while it is not his business to criticize the
carefully composed opinions of others.

One can see, looking backward, that Tennyson's genius flowered in due
season; there had been a plentiful harvest of verse in the preceding
generation, but it had been garnered, and the field was clear. The hour
had come for a new writer to take up the succession to that brilliant and
illustrious group who, in the first quarter of the last century, raised
English poetry to a height far above the classic level of the age before
them. Three leaders of that band--Byron, Keats, and Shelley--died young;
the sum total of their years added together exceeds by no more than a
decade the space of Tennyson's single life. And if the creative period of
a poet's life may be reckoned as beginning at twenty-one (which is full
early), it sums up to no more than thirty-one years for all the three
poets whom we have named, and to sixty years for Tennyson alone. When his
first volume appeared (1832), Byron, Shelley, and Keats were dead; Scott
and Coleridge had long ceased to write poetry, and were dying; Wordsworth,
who had done all his best work long before, alone survived, for Southey
cannot be counted in the same rank. Moreover, England may be said to have
been just then passing through one of those periods of artistic depression
that precede a revival; the popular taste was artificial and decadent, it
was running down to the pseudo-romantic and false Gothic, to the
conventional Keepsake note in sentiment, to extravagant admiration of such
poems as Moore's _Lalla Rookh_. The purchase by the State of the Elgin
Marbles, and the opening of the National Gallery, had prepared the way for
better things in art; but I may affirm, speaking broadly, that it was a
flat interval, when the new generation was just looking for some one to
give form to an upward movement of ideas.

It was upon the rising wave after this calm that Tennyson was lifted
forward by the quick recognition of his talent among his ardent and
open-minded contemporaries; although his general popularity came
gradually, since even in 1850, as may be seen from the list already given
of his competitors for the Laureateship, his pre-eminence had not been
indisputably established in high political society. Yet all genuine judges
might perceive at once that here was the man to raise again from the lower
plane the imaginative power of verse, who knew the magical charm that
endows with beauty and dramatic force the incidents and impressions which
the ordinary artist can only reproduce in a commonplace or unreal way,
while the master-hand suddenly illumines the whole scene, foreground and
background. He struck a note that touched the feelings and satisfied the
spiritual needs of his contemporaries, and herein lay the promise of his
poetry; for to the departing generation the coming man can say little or
nothing. We have to bear in mind, also, that during Tennyson's youth the
whole complexion and "moving circumstance" of the age had undergone a
great alteration. It was the uproar and martial clang, the drums and
trampling of long and fierce wars, the mortal strife between revolutionary
and reactionary forces, that kindled the fiery indignation of Shelley and
Byron, inspiring such lines as

  Still, Freedom, still thy banner, torn yet flying,
     Streams like a meteor flag _against_ the wind,

and affected Coleridge and even Southey "in their hot youth, when George
the Third was king." Tennyson's opportunity came when these thunderous
echoes had died away, when the Reform Bill had become law, when the era of
general peace and comfortable prosperity that marks for England the middle
of this century was just setting in. The change may be noticed in
Tennyson's treatment of landscape, of the aspects of earth, sea, and sky.
With Byron and Coleridge the prevailing effects were grand, stormy, wildly
magnificent; with Tennyson the impressions are mainly peaceful,
melancholy, mysterious: he is looking on the happy autumn fields, or
listening in fancy to the long wash of Australasian seas. There are of
course exceptions on both sides; yet in Byron the best-known descriptive
passages are all of the former, and in Tennyson of the latter, character.
The difference in style corresponds, manifestly, not only with the
contrast in the temper of their times, warlike for the earlier poets and
peaceful for the later, but also with the disorder and unrest which vexed
the private lives of Byron, Shelley, and Coleridge, as compared with the
happy domestic fortunes of Tennyson.

It is almost superfluous to lay stress on the well-known metrical variety
of Tennyson's poems, or upon the musical range of his language. He
followed the best models, and perhaps improved upon them, in using the
primitive onomatopœia as the base for a higher order of composition,
in which the words have a subtle connotation, blending sound and colour
into harmonies that accord with the sense and spirit of a passage, convey
the thought, and create the image. His skill in wielding the long flowing
line was remarkable, nor had any poet before him employed it so
frequently; its flexibility lent freedom and scope to his impersonations
of character, and in other pieces he could give it the rolling melody of a
chant or a chorus. On the instrumental power of blank verse we know that
he set the highest value; he had his own secret methods of scansion, and
his long practice enabled him to extend the capabilities of this
peculiarly English metre. But for an excellent critical analysis of
Tennyson's blank verse, in comparison with the rhythm of other masters, I
must refer my readers to Mr. J. B. Mayor's _Chapters on English Metre_,
with especial reference to the final chapter, where the styles of Tennyson
and Browning, as representative of modern English verse, are
scientifically examined.

I make no apology for having included some criticisms of Tennyson's work
in this review of his life, because not the least valuable feature of the
_Memoir_ is that it has been so arranged as to form a running commentary
upon and interpretation of his poems, as reflecting his mind and his
manner of life. Throughout the second half of the last century Tennyson
has been foremost among English men of letters, and it is his proud
distinction to have maintained the apostolic succession of our national
poets in a manner not unworthy of those famous men who went immediately
before him.



A hundred years have passed since Tennyson's birth, seventeen years since
his death. It is too soon to attempt to fix his permanent place among
English poets, but it is not too soon to feel assured that much that he
has written is of imperishable worth. Will you bear with me if I offer
some brief remarks, not by way of critical estimate, but in loving
appreciation of the poet and the man? And let me say at once how deeply
all who care for Tennyson are indebted to the illuminating _Memoir_ and
Annotated Edition published by his son.

Tennyson's poetic career is in some respects unique in English literature.
He fell upon a time when fiction, science, and sociology were displacing
poetry. He succeeded in conquering the poetic indifference of his age. For
nearly sixty years he held a listening and eager audience, including not
only fastidious hearers but also the larger public. Probably no English
poet except Shakespeare has exercised such a commanding sway over both
learned and unlearned. He unsealed the eyes of his contemporaries and
revealed to them again the significance of beauty. To the English people,
and indeed the English-speaking race, he was not merely the gracious and
entrancing singer, but also the seer who divined their inmost thoughts
and interpreted them in melodious forms of verse.

At the outset of his poetic life, Arthur Hallam notes the "strange
earnestness of his worship of beauty." Like Milton, he was studious of
perfection. Like Milton, too, he had in a supreme degree the poet's double
endowment of an exquisite ear for the music of verse and an unerring eye
for the images of nature. Like Milton, he acquired a mastery of phrase
which has enriched the capacities of our English speech; and not Milton
himself drew from the purely English elements in the language more finely
modulated tones. No poet since Milton has been more deeply imbued with
classical literature, and the perfection of form which he sought fell at
once into a classic and mainly a Hellenic mould. We find in him
reminiscences or close reproductions not only of Homer and Theocritus, of
Virgil and Horace, of Lucretius and Catullus, of Ovid and Persius, but
also of Sappho and Alcman, of Pindar and Aeschylus, of Moschus,
Callimachus, and Quintus Smyrnaeus, more doubtfully of Simonides and
Sophocles. We can follow the tracks of his reading also in Herodotus,
Plato, Plutarch, and Livy. His early volumes contain varied strains of
classical and romantic legend. In some of the poems we are aware at once
of the pervasive atmosphere and enchantment of romance, as in "The Lady of
Shalott," "Mariana," "Sir Galahad," and many more. Others--such as
"Œnone," "The Lotos-Eaters," "Ulysses," "Tithonus"--what are we to call
them, classical or romantic? The thought and the form are chiefly
classical, but the poems are shot through with romantic gleams and tinged
with modern sentiment. Yet so skilful is the handling that there is no
sense of incongruity between the things of the past and the feelings of a
later day. The harmony of tone and colour is almost faultless, more so
than in the treatment of the longer themes taken from Celtic sources. But
while some poems are dominantly classical, others dominantly romantic,
Tennyson's genius as a whole is the spirit of romance expressing itself in
forms of classical perfection. To the romanticist he may seem classical;
to the classicist he is romantic: romantic in his choice of subjects, in
his attitude towards Nature, in his profusion of detail, in an ornateness
sometimes running to excess; in his moods, too, of reverie or languor and
in the slumberous charm that broods over many of his landscapes. Yet he is
free from the disordered individualism of the extreme romantic school.
Disquietude and unrest are not wanting, but there is no unruly
self-assertion; the cry of social revolt is faintly heard, and, when
heard, its tones are among the least Tennysonian. Those who demand subtle
or curious psychology find him disappointing; his characters are in the
Greek manner _broadly human_, types rather than deviations from the type.
That he was capable of expressing intense and poignant feeling is shown by
such impassioned utterances as those of "Fatima" and "Maud"; but passion
with him is usually restrained. There are critics for whom passion is
genuine only if turbid, just as thought is profound only if obscure; and
for them Tennyson's reserve--again a Greek quality--seems an almost
inhuman calm. His own most deeply felt experiences find their truest
expression when passed through the medium of art; they come out
tranquillized and transfigured. The sorrow and love of "In
Memoriam"--which poem I take to be the supreme effort of his genius--are
merged in large impersonal emotions. The poem, as he himself says, "is
rather the cry of the whole human race than mine." Tennyson's intense
humanity gives rise to a peculiar vein of pathos, and even of melancholy.
Side by side there are his "mighty hopes" for the future and the power and
"passion of the past"--"the voice of days of old and days to be": on the
one hand the forward straining intellect, on the other the backward
glance, the lingering regret, and "some divine farewell." Those haunting
and recurrent words, "the days that are no more," "for ever and for ever,"
and the "vague world whisper" of the "far-far-away," are charged with a
sadness which recalls the pathetic but stoical refrain of "Nequiquam" in

Throughout Tennyson's long career we can trace the essential oneness of
his mind and art, beginning with his early experiments in language and
metrical form. By degrees his range of subjects was enlarged; we are
amazed at the ever-growing variety of theme and treatment and his manifold
modes of utterance. In some, as in his lyrics and dramatic monologues, he
displays a flawless excellence, in almost all consummate art. But diverse
as are the chords he has struck, the voice, the touch, the melody are all
his own. In his latest poems we may miss something of the early rapture of
his lyric song, but he is still himself and unmistakable; and had he
written nothing but the lines "To Virgil" and "Crossing the Bar" he would
surely take rank among the highest. We think of him primarily as the
artist, but the artist and the man in him were never far apart; and as
years went on his human sympathies, always strong, were strengthened and
broadened, and drew him closer to the common life of humble people. We
overhear more of "the still sad music of humanity." Towards the close of
his life the moral and religious content of the poems becomes fuller with
his deepening sense of the grandeur and the pathos of man's existence.
Some see in this a weakening of his art, the intrusion into poetry of an
alien substance. Yet eliminate this element from art, and how much of the
greatest poetry of the world is gone! Now and then, it must be confessed,
the ethical aim in Tennyson seems to some of us unduly prominent, but
_very rarely_ does the artist lose himself in the teacher or the preacher.
He has a message to deliver, but it is not a mere moral lesson: its true
appeal is to the imagination; put it into prose and it is no longer his.
It lives only in its proper form of imaginative beauty.

Aristotle noted two types of poet, the [Greek: euphyês], the finely gifted
artist, plastic to the Muse's touch, who can assume many characters in
turn; and the [Greek: manikos], the inspired poet, with a strain of
frenzy, who is lifted out of himself in a divine transport. Were we asked
to select three examples of the former type, one from Greece, one from
Rome, and one from England, our choice from the ancient world would
probably fall on Sophocles and Virgil, and might we not, as a fitting
third, add Tennyson to the list? I do not attempt to determine their
relative rank, but I do suggest that they all belong to the same family,
and that already in this centenary year of our Poet we can recognize the
poetic kinship. Each of the three had in him the inmost heart of poetry,
beating with a full humanity and instinct with human tenderness; each
remained true to his calling as an artist and pursued throughout life the
vision of beauty; and each achieved, in his own individual way, a noble
and harmonious beauty of thought and form, of soul and sense.



By W. ALDIS WRIGHT, Vice-Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

    "Spedding was the Pope among us young men--the wisest man I
    know."--_Tennyson: a Memoir, by his Son_, p. 32.

James Spedding, of whom FitzGerald wrote, "He was the wisest man I have
known," was born June 20, 1808, at Mirehouse, Keswick, and was the third
son of John Spedding. He was educated at the Grammar School, Bury St.
Edmunds, where his father, leaving his Cumberland home, went to live for
the purpose of putting his sons under the care of Dr. Malkin. Among his
school-fellows were W. B. Donne, J. M. Kemble (the Anglo-Saxon scholar),
the three brothers FitzGerald, and his own brother Edward, who with
himself was at the head of the school when they left. From Bury he went to
Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1827, where he was contemporary with
Frederick, Charles, and Alfred Tennyson, Arthur Hallam, Monckton Milnes
(afterwards Lord Houghton), and W. H. Thompson (afterwards Master of
Trinity), and was very early admitted into the fellowship of the Apostles.
On Commemoration Day, 1830, he was called upon to deliver an oration in
the College Chapel, the subject being "An Apology for the Moral and
Literary Character of the Nineteenth Century," which was afterwards
printed. Another of his early productions was a speech against Political
Unions, written for a debating society in the University of Cambridge,
which, although anonymous, attracted the notice of the author of _Philip
van Artevelde_, afterwards his colleague in the Colonial Office, who
quoted some passages from it in the notes to his poem, with the remark:
"It is a singular trait of the times that a speech containing so much of
sagacity and mature reflection as is to be found in this exercitation,
should have been delivered in an academical debating club, and should have
passed away in a pamphlet, which, as far as I am aware, attracted no
notice. Time and place consenting, a brilliant Parliamentary reputation
might be built upon a tithe of the merit." In 1831 he won the Members'
Prize with a Latin essay on "Utrum boni plus an mali hominibus et
civitatibus attulerit dicendi copia," and in 1832 he was again a
candidate, and wrote to Thompson on the 4th of May about it:

    Tennant and I both got in our Essays, both in a very imperfect state,
    and both the last minute but one.... I find that Alford also wrote. So
    the Apostles have three chances. What Alford's may be I do not know.
    But Tennant's and mine are neither of them worth much: Tennant's from
    dryness, mine from impertinence: for of all the impertinent things I
    ever wrote (and this is a bold word) my "Dissertatio Latina" was the
    most impertinent. It was in the form of a letter from Son Marcus to
    Father Cicero; cutting up the Offices in the most reverential way
    possible. The merit of it is, that if no prize is given at all I may
    fairly put it down to the novelty of the experiment and the nature of
    the Judges, whom to my horror I found out the day after to be the
    Heads of Colleges! Marry, God forbid! I rather calculated on
    Graham's[103] being one of the chief voters, who is fond of fun in
    general, and of my Latin in particular. However, it is no matter. I
    spent an amusing fortnight and improved my composition: and my mind is
    easy anyhow, which you will not easily believe.

On June 21 he writes again:

    You will be glad to know that scoffing and utilizing march (like
    humanity according to the St. Simonians), and that Cicero the son has
    justified his parentage by getting the first prize for Latin
    composition. You will be sorry to hear that not Alford nor Tennant,
    but Hildyard Pet. hath obtained the second. Whether their labour has
    been lost I know not, but mine has been fairly paid, being at the rate
    of a guinea a day, and therefore 365 guineas a year, a very tolerable
    income, and I shall increase my establishment accordingly.... I wish
    you would decide, with your character, to come to Cambridge in the
    vacation and not stay by that dismal sea. There will be George Farish,
    and Edm. Lushington, and God knows whether Tennant, and do but add
    yourself to myself, and ourselves to the aforesaid: and lo you a
    select company as ever smoked under the shadow of a horse chesnut. If
    you do not come, you will simply be behind the world of the wise
    (which you know is as much like a goad as like a nail fastened by the
    master of an assembly) in the understanding of things spoken. For we
    talk out of the "Palace of Art" and the "Legend of Fair Women." The
    great Alfred is here, _i.e._ in Southampton Row, smoking all the day,
    and we went from this house [14 Queen Square, Westminster] on a
    pilgrimage to see him; to wit, Two Heaths, my brother and myself, and,
    meeting Allen on the way, we took him along with us, and when we
    arrived at the place appointed we found A. T. and A. H. H. and J. M.
    K. So we made a goodly company, and did as we do at Cambridge, and,
    but that you were not among us, we should have been happy.

Again, on the 18th of July:

    A new volume by A. T. is in preparation and will, I suppose, be out in
    Autumn. In the meantime I have no copy of the "Palace of Art," but
    shall be happy to repeat it to you when you come,--no copy of the
    "Legend of Fair Women," but can repeat about a dozen stanzas which are
    of the finest,--no copy of the conclusion of "Œnone" but one in
    pencil which no one but myself can read. The two concluding stanzas of
    "The Miller's Daughter," I can give you in this letter.... A broad
    smiling letter from John Heath commissions me this morning to engage
    Mrs. Perry's lodgings for Dunbar, whereat I rejoice: also informs me
    that he himself keeps a Parroquet, and that Douglas has become a great
    Berkeleian, and would leave his body, like Jeremy Bentham's, to be
    dissected, if he thought he had one.

His brother Edward, who had been for some time in delicate health, died on
the 24th of August 1832, and a few days later Spedding writes to Thompson:

    If you have seen Tennant you will be prepared to hear that my brother
    Edward died early on Friday morning, after above a month of severe
    suffering, leaving a ghastly vacancy in my prospects, not to be filled
    up. However, what is past--the profit and the pleasure which I have
    gathered out of long and pleasant years of brotherly society--this at
    least is safe, and is so much to be thankful for. Why should I be the
    sorrier because I have so long been graced with a source of comfort
    and of pride, which, if I had never known, I should now be as cheerful
    as when I last wrote to you? You knew him but little, but you knew him
    enough to form some notion of how much I have to regret--or, in other
    words, how much I have had to bless God for. He made a good and a
    Christian end, and it is ascertained by a _post-mortem_ inspection
    that he could not possibly have had health for any length of time
    together. His disease was the formation of internal abscesses, in
    consequence of a failure of some of the membranes, and quite beyond
    the reach of surgery, so that, had one been at liberty to decide by a
    wish whether he should live or die, it would have been an act of
    unpardonable selfishness to wish him a moment more of captivity. This
    too is something to take off the bitterness of regret, which, however,
    in any way has no business to be bitter. But whether it is that I
    value high human friendship more highly than I ought to do, or
    whatever be the cause, a strange fatality seems to hang over the
    objects of my more especial esteem, and I would have you, Thompson,
    beware in time. But I shall lose my character with you if I do not
    take care. I hope you will communicate the news to Tennant and Farish,
    and to all our common friends, for explanations face to face are
    formidable things.

It was the death of this brother that gave occasion to the verses "To J.
S." which Tennyson published in the volume then in course of preparation.

In October 1832, after unsuccessfully sitting for a Fellowship, he decided
upon another trial. Writing from Mirehouse to Thompson, he says:

    I find it impossible to read here, the valleys look so independent of
    circumstances. There stand the mountains, there lie the valleys, and
    there is that brook which thou hast made to take its pastime therein,
    a jolly old beck that has lately taken to worshipping its maker; for
    it overflowed and went into the church, turning us Christians out, or
    rather preventing us from going in--a better thing, inasmuch as
    prevention is better than cure.

He was again unsuccessful, and Whiston was elected before him.

In the spring of this year (1833) he had written to Thompson: "Hallam
announces himself this morning as not otherwise than unwell." He had long
been delicate, and his early and sudden death at Vienna on the 15th of
September came as a shock but not a surprise to his friends. There was a
suggestion that his memory should be perpetuated by an inscription in the
College Chapel, but it came to nothing. Spedding wrote to Thompson on
November 18:

    Phillips has been consulting me and others as to the propriety and
    possibility of getting a tablet to Arthur Hallam's memory erected in
    Trinity Chapel. Everybody approves cordially to whom he has
    communicated the proposal, and he now wishes it to be known among
    Hallam's friends that such a plan is in contemplation, but privately
    and quietly. He will then get Christopher Wordsworth to get the
    Master's permission, and then it will be time to think about the rest.
    It is just possible that there may be some College etiquette or other
    in the way, and it would be a pity in that case that the intention
    should have been talked about publicly. Will you communicate this to
    friends in Cambridge who may communicate with friends out of
    Cambridge, and so there will be little difficulty in letting every one
    know who is interested in the matter? Kemble can tell Trench, etc.;
    Merivale, Alford, etc. Who will write to Monteith, or send me his
    address? I will write to Donne myself. I think you must know every
    friend of Hallam's whom I know. I have communicated with no one yet,
    except those in town. You will be able to do what is fitting better
    than I can tell you.

The scheme came to nothing, for what reason we do not know; possibly
"college etiquette," as Spedding anticipated, might stand in the way, for
Hallam was neither Fellow nor Scholar of the College.

In the spring of 1834 Spedding was still at Mirehouse, and gives Thompson
an account of a day and night he spent with Hartley Coleridge:

    The said Hartley is indeed a spirit of no common rate--his mind is
    brimful of rare and precious fancies, which leap out of him as fresh
    as a fountain in the sunshine. His biographical engagement with
    Bingley is for the present suspended, by his own fault, as he says. I
    suppose he could not stand it any longer. But the three first numbers
    are completed, and bound up in a goodly fat volume of 720 closely
    printed pages. It contains twelve or fifteen lives, and more good
    things of all sorts and sizes than any other book of 720 pages. It is
    published by Bingley in Leeds and Whitaker in London, called
    _Biographia Borealis_, costs sixteen shillings, and the notes alone
    are worth the money. Wherefore, I pray you not only to get it
    yourself, but likewise to make everybody else get it. No apostolic
    bookcase should be without it. It should become a _household_ book;
    therefore, let no one think of borrowing it, but whosoever is wise and
    good let him buy or steal it. If any man should ask what are the
    _politics_ of the work (a question which no Apostle, who is indeed an
    Apostle, ever thought of asking but in the way of mere curiosity),
    then say thou, the same politics which were held in common by Plato,
    Demosthenes, Shakespeare, Bacon, Burke, and God Almighty, and let him
    make what he can of the information.

    Wordsworth's eyes are better, but not well, nor ever likely to be.
    Reading inflames them and so does composing. I believe it was a series
    of Highland Sonnets that brought on the last attack, so much worse
    than any he had had before. He read me several that I had not seen nor
    heard before, many of them admirably good; also a long, romantic
    wizard and fairy poem, in the time of Merlin and King Arthur, very
    pretty, but not of the first order. But I should not have expected
    anything so good from him, which was so much out of his beat. He has
    not advanced much in his knowledge of Alfred; but he is very modest in
    his refusal to praise attributing his want of admiration to a
    deficiency in himself, whether from the stiffness of old age, which
    cannot accommodate itself to a new style of beauty, or that the
    compass of his sympathies has been narrowed by flowing too long and
    strongly in one direction. (_N.B._ He is not answerable for the
    English that I am writing.) But he doubts not that Alfred's style has
    its own beauty, though he wants the faculty to enter fully into it,
    alleging as a parallel case the choruses in "Samson Agonistes" the
    measure of which he has never been able to enjoy, which comes to
    perhaps as high a compliment as a negative compliment can be. He spoke
    so wisely and graciously that I had half a mind to try him with a poem
    or two, but that would have been more perhaps than he meant. And
    indeed it is always so pleasant to hear a distinguished man
    unaffectedly disclaiming the office of censor, that I never think it
    fair to take him at his word. I have given a copy of Alfred's second
    volume to Hartley Coleridge, who, I trust, will make more of it. He
    had only seen it for a few minutes, and was greatly behind the age,
    though he admitted that A. T. was undoubtedly a man of genius; and was
    going to say something about the _Quarterly_ in a Review of _The
    Doctor_, which he was, or is, writing for Blackwood. I also sent him
    yesterday a copy of Charles Tennyson, accompanied with one of my most
    gentlemanly letters.

Spedding was now nearly six-and-twenty, and had no settled plan of life
before him. "For myself," he says, "I am unsettled in all my prospects and
plans. I am, in fact, doing nothing, but I flatter myself I am pausing on
the brink to take a good look at the different ways of life which are open
to me before I take the fatal plunge."

At the end of 1834 he invited Thompson, who was then at York, to visit him
at Mirehouse.

    Excuses shall not be admitted, at least not such as yours. Is there
    not a stage-coach which fears God, and do you _for that reason_ refuse
    to employ it? You ought rather to encourage it. What is a little bile
    or rheumatism, compared with the advancement of Truth, and the
    conservation of the Faith that is on the earth? Moreover, every
    Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, a coach leaves Kendal at 8 o'clock in
    the morning, and arrives in Keswick about one, having traversed in the
    short space of five hours many miles of the finest scenery in the
    country, containing both other things and five lakes, and the
    dwelling-places of Wordsworth, Hartley Coleridge, and Hamilton[104]
    (more commonly known as Cyril Thornton). As for your time lost last
    term, that I know, from my experience of your character, to be a
    fiction of modesty: and as for your hopes of making up for it at home,
    that I know, from my experience of my own character, to be humbug.
    Besides, you write as one balancing his own desires according to a
    principle of enlightened self-interest. You forget that it is not for
    your own pleasure, but for my profit, that I ask you to come. Am I not
    sliding daily from bad to worse? Am I not losing the race I do not
    run? Am I not learning to look on all knowledge as vanity, all labour
    as sorrow? for not the knowledge for which men labour is profitable,
    but the labour only, and yet who can labour for that which profiteth
    not? Have I not already parted with the hope, and am I not now parting
    with the wish, to advance? Am I performing any duty? Am I making any
    money? Am I not falling away from the Apostolic mind, notwithstanding?
    Am I not taking pleasure in the shooting of snipes? Am I not in danger
    of having a bad German pronunciation for evermore? Roll these things
    in your mind, and then roll yourself into the coach. I will meet you
    at Ambleside, if you like.

    I had read the review of Wordsworth several times over: and thought
    the criticism (except. excipiend.) good, and the moral philosophy
    superb. The passage about the moon looking round her, etc., I of
    course felt to be a blunder, though I was less surprised than sorry to
    see it. It seems to me to chime in too well with what I marked as the
    defect of his preface to _P. v. A._,[105] so that I fear it is not a
    negligent criticism, as one might have hoped: but an opinion well
    weighed and carefully adopted. I wonder what he would say to Ebenezer
    Elliott, with his flowers and mountains, for a taste?

                                Welcome then again
        Love-listening Primrose! tho' not parted long
        We meet like lovers after years of pain.
        Oh thou bringst blissful childhood back to me,
        Thou still art loveliest in the lowest place,
        Still as of old Day glows with love for thee,
        And reads our heavenly Father in thy face.
        Surely thy thoughts are humble and devout,
        Flower of the pensive gold! for why should heaven
        Deny to thee his noblest boon of thought,
        If to Earth's demigods 'tis vainly given?
        Answer me, Sunless Sister, Thou hast speech
        Though silent Fragrance is thy eloquence,
        Beauty thy language, and thy smile might teach
        Ungrateful man to pardon providence.

    He would call it a very bold figure of speech: figure of _speech_,
    quotha! However, Philip is a noble fellow, and the apology for this
    piece of criticism is so wise and so good that one can hardly regret
    that an apology was needed. I have sent for the citation of Will.
    Shakespeare, though rather with the desire than the expectation of
    great delight. I read a few extracts in the _Atlas_, with which I was
    not at all struck, or, if at all, not favourably; but that does not go
    for much, as I did not know who it was by, or anything about it, and
    the extracts were most probably ill-chosen. But to tell you the truth
    I never took much to Landor. To be sure I never read much of him, but
    I have often had the book in my hand. Perhaps I might have liked him
    better if the speakers had been named Philander and Strephon, and
    Philalethes and the like, instead of Bacon, and Hooker, and Raleigh,
    and so following. I shall have every chance this time: for besides the
    prejudice derived from your praise, I am by no means easy in feeling
    no great respect for a writer of whom _P. v. A._ speaks so very
    highly. There is something in Philip's intellect which commands more
    than my usual reverence. More _genial_ minds I have met with, but for
    strength, and integrity, and _discretion_ of understanding, I do not
    know his equal. He puts me in mind of F. Malkin. We must have him
    change his mind, though, about the moon and the streams. I read the
    review of Coleridge in the _Quarterly_ the other day. The parts which
    are not Coleridge's own might have been better, but they are well

The spring of 1835 was memorable at Mirehouse for a visit of Tennyson and
FitzGerald. That this made a vivid impression on FitzGerald is evident
from a letter which he wrote after Spedding's death to his niece, when
there was some idea of gathering together his miscellaneous essays:

    "I rejoice," he says, "to hear of a Collection, or Reprint, of his
    stray works.... I used to say he wrote 'Virgilian Prose.' One only of
    his I did not care for; but that, I doubt not, was because of the
    subject, not of the treatment: his own printed Report of a Speech he
    made in what was called the 'Quinquaginta Club' Debating Society (not
    the Union) at Cambridge about the year 1831. This speech his Father
    got him to recall and recompose in Print; wishing always that his Son
    should turn his faculties to such public Topics rather than to the
    Poets, of whom he had seen enough in Cumberland not to have much
    regard for: Shelley for one, at one time stalking about the mountains
    with Pistols, and other such Vagaries. I do not think he was much an
    admirer of Wordsworth (I don't know about Southey), and I well
    remember that when I was at M_e_rehouse (as Miss Bristowe would have
    us call it), with A. Tennyson in 1835, Mr. Spedding grudged his Son's
    giving up much time and thought to consultations about Morte
    d'Arthur's, Lords of Burleigh, etc., which were then in MS. He more
    than once questioned me, who was sometimes present at the meetings,
    'Well, Mr. F., and what is it? Mr. Tennyson reads, and Jem
    criticizes:--is that it?' etc. This, while I might be playing Chess
    with dear Mrs. Spedding, in May, while the Daffodils were dancing
    outside the Hall door."

    "At the end of May," he writes to Mrs. Kemble, "we went to lodge for a
    week at Windermere--where Wordsworth's new volume of _Yarrow
    Revisited_ reached us. W. was then at his home, but Tennyson would not
    go to visit him: and of course I did not: nor even saw him."

In the summer of 1835 Thompson spent the Long Vacation at the Lakes, and
Spedding was engaged in securing lodgings for him and his pupils, while
Tennyson was still at Mirehouse.

    "I am going," he writes, "with Alfred, I believe, to Buttermere, and
    so have not time to tell you how much I am rejoiced that your destiny
    should have dragged you hither--nor to discuss the London Review--nor
    to tell you about Fitz and Alfred Tennyson, and Hartley Coleridge,
    and W. W., etc., only that Alfred is very gruff and unmanageable, and
    the weather very cold. He desires to be remembered. Fitz is gone."

A few days later he says:

    Alfred left us about a week since, homeward bound, but meaning to
    touch at Brookfield's on his way. The weather has been much finer
    since he went; certainly, while he was here, our northern sun did not
    display himself to advantage. Nevertheless, I think he took in more
    pleasure and inspiration than any one would have supposed who did not
    know his almost personal dislike of the Present, whatever it may be.
    Hartley Coleridge is mightily taken with him; and, after the fourth
    bottom of gin, deliberately thanked Heaven (under me, I believe, or me
    under Heaven, I forget which) for having brought them acquainted. Said
    Hartley was busy with an article on "Macbeth," to appear (the
    vegetable spirits permitting) in the next _Blackwood_. He confessed to
    a creed touching Destiny which was new to me: denying Free Will (if I
    understood him right) _in toto_; but at the same time maintaining that
    man is solely and entirely answerable for whatever evil he does: not
    merely that he is to suffer for it, which I could understand, but that
    he is _answerable_ for it which I do not. Now this, I think, is not
    fair. I could not get Alfred to Rydal Mount, he would and would
    not--sulky one, although Wordsworth was hospitably minded towards him;
    and would have been more so had the state of his household permitted,
    which I am sorry to say is full of sickness.... By a letter from D. D.
    H[eath] received to-day I infer that _Subscription no Bondage_ is out;
    which I shall accordingly send for. I am sorry it is not to be
    understood in the sense of "Killing no Murder," which seems to me,
    till I be further enlightened, the only sort of construction which
    will make sense of it. D. D. H. looketh on this pamphlet as the final
    cause of the system of subscription at Oxford, and, now that the
    effect hath been accomplished doth heartily wish that custom may be
    discontinued. Euge, D. D. H.! For myself, since Alfred went, my time
    has been chiefly employed (that is, all my time which was not occupied
    in exercising the puppies) upon three several books: to wit, _Ralph
    Esher_, a sort of novel by Leigh Hunt, containing a most graceful and
    lively portraiture of Charles II.'s times, a good deal of rot about
    Truth and Love, and a good deal of metaphysics, hard to understand in
    parts, but in parts (to me, at least) very deep and touching. Item,
    _Isaac Comnenus_, a Play (Murray, 1827): by Henry Taylor, as Southey
    who lent me the book informs me; a work much in the tone and [style
    of] _P. v. A._, and though far behind in design and execution by [no
    means] an unworthy precursor. It has some passages as fine as anything
    in _Philip_. Item, thirdly and lastly, Basil Montagu's _Life of
    Bacon_, a work of much labour both on the writer's part and the
    reader's, but well meant, and if not itself a good one containing all
    the materials necessary for a good one, which is saying a great deal.
    I have not read all the notes. In fact I believe they are all
    contained in the text. I should think that on a moderate computation,
    half the two volumes is a reprint of the other half, for if there are
    a few pages which are printed twice over, there are many half and
    quarter pages which are repeated four or five times. I should half
    like to review it.

If he had acted on his own suggestion we might not have had Macaulay's
_Essay_, and certainly should not have had the _Evenings with a Reviewer_.
This is the first intimation of his interest in what was to be the work of
his life. It was at this time that he made the acquaintance of Henry
(afterwards Sir Henry) Taylor, the author of _Philip van Artevelde_, which
influenced his occupation for the next six years.

    "At this time," says Sir Henry in his Autobiography, "I obtained
    another relief, and in obtaining it obtained a friend for life. James
    Spedding was the younger son of a Cumberland squire who had been a
    friend of my father's in former, though I think they had not met in
    latter days. In the notes to _Van Artevelde_ I had quoted a passage
    from an admirable speech of his spoken in a debating club at Cambridge
    when he was an undergraduate. This led to my making his acquaintance;
    and when some very laborious business of detail had to be executed, I
    obtained authority to offer him the employment with the remuneration
    of £150 a year. He was in a difficulty at the time as to the choice of
    a profession, and feeling that life without business and occupation
    of some kind was dangerous, was glad to accept this employment as one
    which might answer the purpose well enough, if he proved suited to it,
    and if not might be relinquished without difficulty and exchanged for
    some other. I wrote to Mr. Southey, 24th January 1836:

    "'Spedding has been and will be invaluable, and they owe me much for
    him. He is regarded on all hands, not only as a man of first-rate
    capacity, but as having quite a genius for business. I, for my part,
    have never seen anything like him in business on this side Stephen....
    When I contemplate the easy labours of Stephen and one or two others I
    am disposed to think that there are giants in _these_ days.'

    "For six years Spedding worked away with universal approbation, and
    all this time he would have been willing to accept a post of précis
    writer with £300 a year, or any other such recognised position, and
    attach himself permanently to the office. But none such was placed at
    his disposal ... and he took the opportunity of the Whig government
    going out in 1841 to give up his employment. He then applied himself
    to edit the works and vindicate the fame of Lord Bacon. In 1847, on
    Sir James Stephen's retirement, the office of Under Secretary of State
    with £2000 a year was offered to him by Lord Grey, before it was
    offered to me, and he could not be induced to accept it. He could not
    be brought to believe, what no one else doubted, that he was equal to
    the duties.

    "Be this as it may, the fact that the man being well known and close
    at hand for six years, who could have been had for £300 a year in
    1841, should have been let slip, though he was thought worth £2000 a
    year in 1847, if not a rare, is a clear example of the little heed
    given by the Government of this country to the choice and use of

The exact date of Spedding's beginning work at the Colonial Office is not
known, but it must have been between the middle of June 1835 and the end
of August,[106] for by that time he found that Downing Street was "no
place for the indulgence of the individual genius." In a letter to
Thompson he writes:

    I did take the liberty of insinuating a scoff at a Spanish Governor in
    one of my Despatches, but H. T. said it was clever and would not do.
    Said H. T. rises day by day in my esteem. He is not the least stiff or
    awful, but very gentle and majestic. He has a great deal of P. v. A.
    in him. But we do not talk much except on matters of business, which,
    however, rises in his hands to the dignity of statesmanship. I have
    not yet ascertained the contingencies on which my stay here depends,
    but I should think it probable that I may in the end have the offer of
    a permanent appointment in the office. If I have, I mean to take it,
    purely from a sense of duty; that I may have a nominal employment to
    satisfy impertinent enquiries withal, and perhaps also (as I dream in
    my more romantic moments) that I may have a real employment to
    discipline my own soul withal. The prospect of its leading to wealth
    or dignity is so small under present circumstances as not to be worth
    taking into account, yet not exactly so neither, for any prospect of
    any thing to come, however faint and distant, dignifies an employment
    with a relationship to the future and the indefinite.

    I meant to have gone to Kitlands to-day, but the coach was full.
    Recollect that _you_ are not a man of many cares new taken up, and
    therefore may find time to shower your wiser meditations upon a sheet
    of paper, which addressed to me under cover to "R. W. Hay, Esq., Under
    Secretary of State, Colonial Office, Downing Street," will not be lost
    upon one who sometimes did but observe and wonder, but has now to
    enquire and dispatch.

Thompson had been with a reading party at Keswick during the summer, but
had proved a bad correspondent.

    "I have heard," Spedding writes in November, "occasionally from
    Mirehouse dim intimations of your supposed existence; and latterly I
    have seen Martineau, to whom I have carefully pointed out the weak
    points in your character, which he had not observed. I have reason to
    believe that I am rising rapidly in public estimation, and I have only
    to pray that I may not become too sufficient for my place. My sense of
    Duty has already been appealed to in the most flattering manner, to
    draw me to the undertaking of nobler business, which, being capable
    of, I have no right (it is said) to decline. My capacity, it would
    seem, is beyond doubt; and, as it has been evinced without any effort
    or observation of mine, perhaps the best way after all will be to let
    it have its own way and trouble my soul no more about it. Turn it
    adrift in the world, leave it to find its own market and provide its
    own goods, and if my soul (which would be a stranger in such
    pilgrimage) should return in after years to enquire after it, who
    knows how great she may find it grown? P. v. A. is away for his
    holidays. If you can suggest a good subject for a dramatic romance out
    of English or Scotch history between the Conquest and the time of
    Elizabeth, you shall thereby do him a good turn, and perhaps get
    praised in a note. Helps has just been here asking for information
    about Cambridge in general, more particularly about you and Blakesley.
    I could only tell him what I knew of you, which you must confess is
    not much to your credit. Sterling has established himself and his
    family in Bayswater, and gives tea parties to the wiser minds. I am
    going thither to-night. Garden (I understand from himself, writing
    from Carstairs) is to curatise in Cornwall. D. D. H. thinks there is
    humour in an equity draft.... My own career is as far from being
    marked out as ever. There is no present prospect of a vacancy here,
    and I cannot get any body to advise me to accept it if there were."

In the following year Thompson was appointed to the Head Mastership of the
recently founded Leicester and Leicestershire Collegiate School, and at
the opening ceremony on August 9, 1836, he delivered an address, of which
Spedding says:

    I have read your speech, not with the distant and respectful
    admiration, the wonder broken off, which I am apt to call _faith_, but
    with the deliberate admiration of a man who understands and strongly
    assents. I see your audience had sense enough to utter loud cheers,
    but I want to know whether they had sense enough to see that such a
    speech ought not to be let pass away in a newspaper, but to be
    provided with some permanent, portable, and self-subsisting existence.
    If the proceedings of the day are to be published in a pamphlet, I
    should like to invest money in a few copies. If not, I shall think
    about printing your part of them in a legible shape on my own
    account.... G. Farish is going to Madeira, with Sterling, I believe.
    James F. speaks hopefully of the latter, but is more alarmed about his

In a letter to Allen we get a glimpse of Tennyson:

    Alfred Tennyson has reappeared, and is going to-day or to-morrow to
    Florence, or to Killarney, or to Madeira, or to some place where some
    ship is going--he does not know where. He has been on a visit to a
    madhouse for the last fortnight (not as a patient), and has been
    delighted with the mad people, whom he reports the most agreeable and
    the most reasonable persons he has met with. The keeper is Dr. Allen
    (any relation of yours?), with whom he had been greatly taken!

Again writing to Thompson in October 1840 he says:

    I have been studying Alfred Tennyson's MSS., and I send you a copy of
    a poem which I think he once repeated to you and me, and which we
    neither of us much entered into. Reading it again the other day, I was
    surprised with the power and beauty of it, and I now think it wants
    nothing but a better name, or, I should rather say, a historical
    foundation. I would have it put into the mouth of some noted man
    (among the many such that must have been) involved in a marriage which
    he does not like, in violation of a pre-existing attachment. The
    imagining of such situations for the mere purpose of entering into the
    feelings which belong to them has something unwholesome in it, to my
    fancy; but the situation being given (whether in fact or fiction),
    there is no harm in turning it into poetry.

In 1840 Lord Lyndhurst was a candidate for the office of High Steward of
the University of Cambridge in opposition to Lord Lyttelton. Spedding
voted for the latter.

    "I went down to Cambridge," he writes to Thompson, "to support Lord
    Lyttelton in his late distinguished defeat, of which you have, of
    course, heard all particulars with apostolic embellishments and
    illustrations both from other apostolic souls and from Merivale. I
    have been happy in being able in these trying circumstances to
    preserve my natural tranquillity. My view of the nature of the contest
    is this: The University would select Lord Lyndhurst as the sort of man
    whom a University should delight to honour. A dissentient minority say
    not content. The majority reply to the dissentients, 'Why divide? You
    see you cannot win.' The minority rejoins, 'Never mind; divide we
    will, win or not win. If Lord Lyndhurst is to be selected for such an
    honour as this, it shall be deliberately and not by accident. The
    objections shall be formally brought forward and formally overruled.'
    The bringing of the question to the poll I consider as an appeal to
    the constituency to consider what they were about; and, in spite of
    the result, I am glad it has been brought to this issue. For the
    credit of the University it was fit it should be known that there were
    500 dissentients, and for the instruction of mankind it was fit it
    should be known that there was a majority of two masters of arts to
    one who thought Lord Lyndhurst the proper man to receive the honours
    and dignities of the University. Had I been an enemy I should have
    voted in the majority; but being a dutiful, though not perhaps a very
    respectful son, I was glad of an opportunity of making the 586 into

The friends of Lord Lyndhurst made every effort to secure his election,
and we learn from his Life by Sir Theodore Martin that he was only induced
to be a candidate on condition that his return would be certain. The
majority was 480.

Thompson, who had returned to Cambridge, was at this time in feeble
health, and, as it was not known where a letter would find him, FitzGerald
wrote under cover to Spedding, who was still at the Colonial Office. The
letter does not appear to have been preserved, but it suggested to
Spedding some criticism of the theatres and actors of the time which is
not without interest at the present day.

    "Fitz," he writes on November 25, 1840, "has forwarded this to me that
    I may direct it properly, and as it is not sealed I have made free
    with the contents. The meaning of the writing on the wall had
    hitherto escaped me, I confess, but the effect of my head in the Pit
    has often occurred to me as something unseemly, like Scriptures out of
    Church; inasmuch as when I am by myself I always choose a place where
    I can wear my hat. I have sometimes thought of getting a wig to wear
    in such places of vain resort. But to say the truth, a bad play will
    often afford more rational entertainment for two or three hours than
    an average dinner party, provided a man goes to it with an
    understanding that such a thing can be neither better nor worse than a
    shadow, and with an imagination to amend it. It is strange enough, for
    your best modern plays and your modern acting of the best plays
    (except in a very few instances) are so wretched that one should think
    they could only bore and disgust one--meagre, vapid, false and vulgar
    in the highest degree. One only wonders that so many human heads and
    hearts can consent to sit it out, and be amused and refreshed by it. I
    believe it is this very problem which gives the theory an interest to
    me, for certainly the spectators are to me an integral part of the
    spectacle (do I use 'integral' right? I could never properly
    understand the calculus), and the most entertaining part of the action
    is the action of the play upon the audience. You not only see the
    mirror held up to Nature, but you see Nature looking at her image in
    it, which presents her in still another aspect. Of the nature of the
    multitude, their ways of thinking and feeling certainly, and partly
    too of their ways of acting, much may be learned in the pit of a
    theatre. From the effect of Bulwer's plays upon the play-going public
    one might have inferred the effect of his novels upon the reading
    public, almost as surely as you might have inferred the effect of his
    plays from observing the style of acting which is most popular. But
    besides my pleasure in contemplating the nature of the fool multitude,
    I am curious about the laws of art, and I observe, in that as in other
    things, that specimens of the want of the thing are as instructive as
    the specimen of the thing itself. I never understood Shakespeare's
    idea of Julius Caesar till I once saw George Bennett enact him; and I
    think I gained more light as to the meaning of many parts of Falstaff
    in the _Merry Wives_ from the grossest and, I think, worst piece of
    acting I ever saw (by Bartley) than I have gained as to _Benedick_
    from C. Kemble, or _Hamlet_ from Macready. Altogether, I find that the
    clumsy, tawdry, motley pageant, with its little good and much bad,
    its touches of nature here and there, and its scene after scene of
    vulgarity, insipidity, cant, and monstrous unnaturalness, has the
    effect of provoking my understanding and imagination into agreeable

The time had come when, after six years of service, Spedding resolved to
shake himself free from the uncongenial business of the Colonial Office,
and devote himself to what was to be the work of his life. On the 19th of
August 1841 he writes from Wycliffe Rectory to Thompson who was then in

    You told me to write on speculation and not put off too long, but I
    suppose I am not the less qualified to perform the former part of your
    injunction for having neglected to perform the latter. But I suppose
    the worst consequence will be that my letter will not reach you, by
    which you will save something in postage and lose nothing in any other
    way. The fact is that your letter reached me during the last hours of
    my official life, when between the duty of clearing my table, and
    preparing for another and a better life (packing up, to wit), I had no
    time to write anything that was to go as far as Dresden. From the
    business of Downing St. I relapsed suddenly to the not less absorbing
    recreations of the 12th August and the moors; and since we left the
    grouse in quiet I have been on constant duty in looking at rocks and
    rivers and whatever there is to be looked at in a country not barren
    of natural attractions and the scene of one of Walter Scott's poems.
    To-day I have been I do not know how many miles to see a handsome
    modern house and fine estate on the banks of the Tees, and to enjoy
    the most formidable of all mortal entertainments, a lunch of about 16
    persons at a house you were never in before; all low voices and only
    one of the family known to you by name. However the beef was good, and
    silence is richer than speech. I am now returned, my skin is full of
    tea and bread and butter, and the room is full of young women talking
    about ghosts and singing Irish melodies. I have borrowed this sheet of
    thin paper that you may have the less to pay, and I have set off in
    this minute hand that I may have the more room to utter whatsoever
    shall be given to me to utter in this house: what that may be I shall
    not stay to conjecture, but proceed at once to the proof.

    I need not describe to you the appearance of London or the manners of
    the inhabitants in the galleries and institutions with which it
    abounds, as you have had opportunities of learning better by the use
    of your own eyes and ears as much about these as you wish to know.
    Something I might say about the manners and morals of Downing Street
    which would be new to you, that section of London society having been
    rarely penetrated by travellers, and if penetrated still more rarely
    escaped from without the loss of that peculiar faculty by virtue of
    which man tells truth. But this also I shall at present spare you.
    Downing Street already lies behind me, and I think it is St. Paul who
    tells us that we should fix our eyes on what is before, and what, I
    wonder, is before _me_? I see a fair array of years abounding in
    capabilities and in leisure to cultivate them, and if I could follow
    that precept of St. Paul's faithfully, and abstain from looking
    backwards at an equally fair array of opportunities unimproved and
    leisure run to waste, I should think the prospect a splendid one....
    For these six years past I have been working for other men's purposes,
    and cultivating my life for their use. Now I set up for myself; and
    the question is this, of all things which most need to be done what am
    I best able to do?... But I had forgotten that all this will be a
    mystery to you who do not know what I have done to myself since I saw
    you. You must know this that as soon as it was clear which way the
    elections were going, I wrote to Stephen to say that I meant to leave
    the C.O., not because the change of parties need make any difference
    to me, but because my position had already yielded all the good I
    could expect from it, and a change of administration formed a natural
    period which it would not be desirable to let pass, the gain of the
    salary being, in fact, to a person who could live without it, no
    adequate compensation for the loss of time to a person who could use
    it in other ways, etc. etc. Stephen thought me quite right, and
    recommends me to persevere in my present intention of making
    literature my business: so far at least as to make a fair experiment
    of it: not doubting that, for a man who has enough to live upon, and
    who has resolution enough to employ five or six hours every day in
    reading or writing with some definite practical object, there is no
    kind of life so eligible: and there is plenty of work to do. So on the
    10th of August 1841 (which day I will trouble you, in the memoir of my
    life which you will prefix to your edition of the fragments of my
    great work which you will find among my papers at my untimely death,
    to make for ever memorable) I took my leave of the Colonial Office and
    recovered possession of my time and my hours at the moderate cost of
    £150 per annum, and here I am with the responsibility: a German, I
    suppose, would spell it with a capital R. And now what have you to
    say? One thing I really think is promising. I set out with a definite
    project, not too big or too remote: and if I had not involved myself
    in a desire to make something of these Baconian letters, which I could
    not so well do without more leisure and liberty to hunt down my game,
    I should not have trusted myself to my own guidance with quite so free
    a conscience. I have already made an entrance into the Lambeth Library
    and satisfied myself that former editors are not to be trusted; and
    that a great deal may probably be done by a man who unites two
    important requisites which have not yet met in any of them, industry
    and brains. Would you believe, for instance, that there is more than
    one letter from Francis Bacon to his Mother, and vice versa, which
    have never been included in any collection of his letters? And that
    there are many letters between Antony Bacon and his mother relating to
    the prospects and goings on of the two brothers between the ages of
    twenty and thirty-five which no biographer of Francis appears to have
    studied, probably none has ever seen? Mr. Maitland showed me a MS.
    commonplace book containing a good many anecdotes about Bacon and the
    people of that time (most of them published I believe in the
    Apophthegms, etc.) interspersed with memoranda of all kinds, of which
    he says he can find no account. I suspect it to be Dr. Rawley's
    private memorandum book; a point which may easily be verified: and if
    so it will no doubt contain many things which being laid alongside of
    many other things will throw light upon various obscurities. That such
    a MS. should be known to exist in the Lambeth Library, and that, after
    some half-dozen editors have been over the ground in pursuit of
    Baconiana, it should remain there without anything being known about
    it, is it not a proof that in fact the ground has yet to be explored?
    And if so who can say but that among the volumes upon volumes of
    letters relating to these times which are still preserved in print or
    in MS., matter may not be found out of which to construct an edition
    of Bacon's letters that will read as easily and as clearly as a
    novel. I am sure if it were done properly, it would be one of the most
    valuable historical and probably the most valuable biographical works
    that has been produced about these times. For there is hardly any
    contemporary political question of interest which is not indirectly or
    directly touched upon at one time or another, and which would not
    therefore require elucidation.

The subject is pursued in the next letter written from Mirehouse ten days
later to Thompson, who was still abroad.

    I am quite sure that much remains to be done with regard to those
    Baconian letters which I told you of, and I am sure too that without
    leisure and liberty I at least could not fairly set about it. I have
    been among the MSS. in the Lambeth Library and found that, though
    there are probably not many letters of Bacon's which have not been
    published, there is a wilderness of papers closely connected with them
    which has never been properly explored. It is a field in which nobody
    has been at work that had both industry and brains. For the present,
    therefore, I look forward to this as my main business, in which if I
    prosper, I shall know what to do when (Peel having lost that no
    confidence in his opponents in which consists all the confidence he
    has to rest upon himself) Lord John shall come in again and fortune
    shall be again in a condition to be wooed; if I prosper not, I shall
    still know what to do; though it will be different. But I am filling a
    second letter with myself.

    I am afraid you are not likely to see any people of the right sort,
    such as you describe, at Munich; though I duly advertised them of your
    street and lodging. Pollock has been circuiting as simple barrister,
    and will shortly have to circuit again as Barrister revising. In the
    between he comes here, and indeed I expect him this evening....
    Douglas Heath had meant to join John, who has been tumbling up and
    down the Alps under the guidance of some Geologist; an unsafe guide, I
    should fancy, for what death so sweet to a Geologist as to knock out
    his brains against a stone; or to be embedded in some liquid,
    liquefying, or indurescent substance (such as snow or mud or lava) in
    which a million of years hence some other Geologist may find him
    embedded and so satisfy himself that a man was once there? He seems
    to have had some fine rides on the backs of avalanches down fissures.
    But Douglas was kept in London by business partly, and partly by the
    illness of his mother and the uncertain health of his father, and does
    not expect to get out of England this year. I hope he will contrive to
    get hither in about a month. I am afraid there is no chance of your
    finding a chink of time between your return to England and your
    October term business in which you might pay us another visit. Your
    first object ought to be to put yourself into the most convenient
    place for being thoroughly cured, which implies the neighbourhood of a
    thoroughly good Doctor: a luxury which we cannot offer you here. But I
    hope that, now the year is mine all round to dispose of as I think
    best, we shall be able some day to make our several times suit and our
    several lines meet at Mirehouse, and run on together for a while. You
    are very much approved of by everybody here.

Early in the year 1842, Spedding accompanied the first Lord Ashburton to
the United States as Secretary to a commission, the object of which was to
determine a boundary question which was successfully settled by the treaty
of Washington. He writes to Thompson from Gosport on February 9, 1842:

    Having heard that you think I might have written to you upon the
    occasion by my breaking out in this new light, and partly concurring
    in that sentiment, and finding myself as much at leisure for the rest
    of the evening as if the destinies of no country, much less the
    destinies of two, depended upon me, I sit down to shake mental hands
    with you, and to wish you prosperity during my eclipse and setting
    behind the Atlantic.

    I will not trouble you with explanations concerning my inducement for
    taking so considerable a step as this. You will easily understand that
    I had to listen to more inward voices than one, and to wait the result
    of much confused inward debate before I decided to take it.
    Fortunately there was no question as to the comparative worth of the
    said two voices, nor any doubt as to the side on which they
    respectively appeared. It was the Fiend, _i.e._ the baser nature, the
    human instinct, that said, "Budge not." The better voice said, "Go,
    why not?" The decision was soon taken, and being taken, the thing
    itself seemed much easier than it looked at first. It is now above
    three weeks since I have looked at it only as a thing that is to be,
    and I almost feel as if it would be strange if it were otherwise. What
    the effect of it may be on my character and fortunes I do not trouble
    myself to prophesy. It will at least make me think many things easy
    which seemed unapproachably difficult a month ago. It will teach me to
    keep accounts. And it will give me some insight into the nature of a
    state-conscience, a state-reason, a state-understanding, and a
    state-character. Many things besides. It may very likely ruin my
    reputation, but I am not sure that that would be an evil. I should be
    much happier, I think, without any reputation, not to add that if it
    were gone, I should be thrown upon my resources, which might after all
    turn out to be a better thing. But let these things pass. One thing is
    quite clear, that I could not spend the next six months in any way by
    which I should gain so much either in knowledge or in power. My
    immortal work must, of course, be suspended, but what is six months in
    an immortality? By the way, touching my Falstaff Platonizing, I agree
    with you, as reported by Merivale, that the insertion of such a joke
    would be unbecoming in a Museum Academicum, the more's the pity, for
    with the joke itself I was a good deal pleased. But then, on the other
    hand, you will not let me prefix a serious introduction, explaining
    the thing which it is meant to illustrate. I can only suggest that you
    should yourself write an introduction _refuting_ the said theory, if
    you really believe that the thing is worth putting in at all. But let
    this also pass, for I see the bottom of my paper (by the way I suppose
    I must not say such a thing in the U.S.), and the chambermaid would
    fain be dismissed to her bed. At present you may truly say that I am
    going ahead, for I alone of the suite have arrived, and my master, by
    being unpunctual, has lost a day of fair wind.

At this time FitzGerald wrote to Laurence, the artist:

    You have, of course, read the account of Spedding's forehead landing
    in America. English sailors hail it in the Channel, mistaking it for
    Beachy Head. There is a Shakespeare cliff, and a Spedding cliff. Good
    old fellow! I hope he'll come back safe and sound, forehead and all.
    Not swords, nor cannon, nor all the bulls of Bashan butting at it,
    could, I feel sure, discompose that venerable forehead. No wonder that
    no hair can grow at such an altitude; no wonder his view of Bacon's
    virtue is so rarefied, that the common consciences of men cannot
    endure it. Thackeray and I occasionally amuse ourselves with the idea
    of Spedding's forehead; we find it somehow or other in all things,
    just peering out of all things; you see it in a milestone, Thackeray
    says. He also draws the forehead rising with a sober light over Mont
    Blanc, and reflected in the Lake of Geneva. We have great laughing
    over this.

Tennyson's 1842 volume came out while Spedding was at Washington, and
FitzGerald, writing to Pollock, regretted that it contained some pieces
which he thought better omitted.

    I agree with you quite about the skipping-rope, etc. But the bald men
    of the Embassy would tell you otherwise. I should not wonder if the
    whole theory of the Embassy, perhaps the discovery of America itself,
    was involved in that very Poem. Lord Bacon's honesty may, I am sure,
    be found there.

    "The Yankees," Donne writes to Bernard Barton, "seem to think baldness
    a rarity appertaining to the old country, for their papers could not
    sufficiently express their wonder, when Ld. Ashburton went over about
    the Boundary question, at the lack of hair among his attachés.
    Spedding's crown imperial of a cranium struck them like a view of
    Teneriffe or Atlas."

    "Nothing has been heard of Spedding," says FitzGerald, "but we all
    conclude, from the nature of the case, that he has not been scalped."

The mission ended happily in the treaty of Washington, and Spedding
returned to his friends, in spite of the forebodings of FitzGerald, who

    A man on the coach the other day told me that all was being settled
    very easily in America, but stage-coach politicians are not always to
    be trusted.

By the end of the year (1842), Spedding was again at Mirehouse.

    "I am at present," he writes to Thompson, "absorbed in teaching the
    young idea of a water spaniel how to shoot. He promises to be an
    accomplished dog. He can already catch a wounded hare and bring it,
    rescue a snipe out of a rapid stream, hunt (though in vain) for a
    water-hen among the roots of an alder-bush, and wait with intense
    breathless anxiety to hear the sound of a duck's wing in the gloaming.
    In time I hope to teach him to do as I bid him. We are all well here.
    How is all at Cambridge? What shall you do at Christmas? If I am still
    here, can you come so far north? You shall see the dog."

But although these country delights had their attractions for him, he had
for some years established himself in London, where his rooms at 60
Lincoln's Inn Fields were the meeting-place of Tennyson, Thackeray,
FitzGerald, and any of his friends who happened to be in London at the

    "Spedding is just now furnishing chambers in Lincoln's Inn Fields,"
    FitzGerald writes in 1836, "so that we may look on him as a fixture in
    London. He and I went to dine with Tennant at Blackheath last
    Thursday: there we met Edgeworth, who has got a large house at Eltham,
    and is lying in wait for pupils. I am afraid he will not find many. We
    passed a very delightful evening."

His return from America after four months at Washington, led to his being
selected by the editor of the _Edinburgh Review_ to write an article on
Dickens's _American Notes_, which gave the novelist strange and
unreasonable offence. Spedding had originally written, "He is understood
to have gone out as a kind of missionary in the cause of international
copyright," and this had been changed by the editor to "He went out, if we
are rightly informed, as a kind of missionary," etc. To this Dickens
writes in a towering passion, "I deny it wholly. He is wrongly informed,
and reports without enquiry, a piece of information which I could only
characterise by using one of the shortest and strongest words in the
language." And yet his letters show that, whether the subject of
international copyright were the real object of his visit or not, his
speeches on it are referred to with a kind of satisfaction as if they were
of the utmost importance. Apparently he was dissatisfied with the
impartial way in which Spedding distributed his praise and blame, praising
only where praise was due and blaming where it was not, and not
attributing too much value to the hasty results of a four months'
experience of the country.

But for several years Spedding had been a contributor to the _Edinburgh
Review_, and the articles which he selected for republication are full of
that calm wisdom which distinguished all that he wrote. In 1836 he
reviewed his friend Henry Taylor's _Statesman_; in 1838 he wrote on "Negro
Apprenticeship"; in 1839 on the "Suspension of the Jamaica Constitution";
in 1840 on the "Wakefield Theory of Colonization"; in 1841 on the
"Civilization of Africa and the Niger Expedition," in which his friend
John Allen lost a brother; and in 1842 on "South Australia in 1841," a
sequel to the article on the "Wakefield Theory of Colonization." And now
for the next thirty years of his life he devoted himself to the task of
what FitzGerald called washing his blackamoor, "a Tragedy pathetic as
Antigone or Iphigenia." His own special work was the arrangement of
Bacon's letters and minor writings, which had hitherto been very
carelessly edited, and for this purpose he spent his days among the
originals in the Lambeth Library and the British Museum. "Spedding devotes
his days to Lord Bacon in the British Museum," writes FitzGerald in 1844;
and again in 1846, "I saw very little of Spedding in London, for he was
out all day at State paper offices and Museums."

But he was not so absorbed in his special pursuits as not to take interest
in public affairs, and the Maynooth Grant in 1845 and the opposition
which it excited caused him to take part in an address to the Chancellor
of the Exchequer in its favour.

    "You will see in the _Morning Herald_ of to-day," he writes to
    Thompson, "that the great event has already taken place, and though
    the world continues to move as it did, there does appear to be a
    change of weather.

    "We had only 300 names. But that was quite enough, considering all
    things, especially the respectability of the people, and the
    imperfection of the agitation, to make the address well worth
    presenting. Having gone so far, to hold back altogether would have
    been to confess that the attempt was a mere failure, which nobody can
    say it was. To hold it back past the time specified in the circulars
    and originally designed, for the chance of obtaining more signatures,
    would have been useless: people would have only said that though we
    boasted of the shortness of the time in which the signatures were
    collected, yet in fact we waited as long as there was any chance of
    gathering any more. And in point of fact they had begun to come in
    very slowly by Monday morning. At best, it could not have been
    improved into an effectual canvass, and as it is, it shows very well.
    Let any one put the two lists side by side, and then say, if the
    weight of opinion in Cambridge inclines one way, which way is it? I
    was doubtful of the expediency of stirring it at first, but I am now
    very glad that it has been done. I wish the _Herald_ had printed the
    names. But it was an unlucky day, there being a great debate in both

    "Hare declined presenting; upon which H. Lushington, Venables,
    Micklethwaite, and myself (who had, in fact, been the chief actors),
    distributed ourselves into two cabs: and drove slap up to the
    Chancellor of Exchequer's. Harry Lushington was the chief speaker, and
    did it very well and gracefully. Goulburn was, of course, gracious,
    but I should hardly have inferred that he was glad. However, he said
    he was; glad that this had been done, and glad that no more had been
    done; and (upon the whole) easy about the matter. The fever (he said)
    appeared to be gradually subsiding, and indeed the opposition was less
    formidable than might be supposed. 'From what the gentleman said who
    presented the address on the other side, he gathered that it was for
    the most part a _conscientious_ opposition, not arising from any
    political animosity.' Certainly _Punch_ cannot be said to beat

Nothing, however, diverted him from his great object. FitzGerald writes to
Frederick Tennyson:

    Spedding, you know, does not change: he is now the same that he was
    fourteen years old when I first knew him at school, more than twenty
    years ago; wise, calm, bald, combining the best qualities of Youth and

But his calmness was not proof against the enthusiasm created by the
advent of Jenny Lind in 1847. Again FitzGerald writes:

    All the world has been, as I suppose you have read, crazy about Jenny
    Lind.... Spedding's cool blood was moved to hire stalls several times
    at an advanced rate.... I have never yet heard the famous Jenny Lind,
    whom all the world raves about. Spedding is especially mad about her,
    I understand: and, after that, is it not best for weaker vessels to
    keep out of her way? Night after night is that bald head seen in one
    particular position in the Opera house, in a stall; the miserable man
    has forgot Bacon and philosophy, and goes after strange women.

His health, however, had been giving some cause for anxiety at this time
to his old friend, who writes to Carlyle:

    Thank you for your account of Spedding: I had written however to
    himself, and from himself ascertained that he was out of the worst.
    But Spedding's life is a very ticklish one.

Hitherto Spedding had been working in his own way at Bacon's life and
letters without any idea of contributing to a complete edition of his
works, but rather with the object of defending him against what he
believed to be the injustice done him by Macaulay in his famous _Essay_.
But in 1847 Mr. Leslie Ellis had been preparing an edition of Bacon's
philosophical works which was offered for publication to Messrs. Longman,
and Spedding acted as intermediary.

    "Better, I think," he writes to Thompson, "to be with the publishers
    than against them so long as one keeps the reins. Therefore I have
    written to Longman, reporting Ellis's proposition, and recommending
    them to treat immediately with him upon those terms; for that if they
    get the philosophical works alone so edited, their edition will
    command the market, even if they do nothing but reprint the rest as
    they are. Whereas, if any other publisher should engage Ellis's
    services for that portion, their trade edition would be worthless for
    ever. All which I believe to be true, and I hope will be conclusive.
    When that point is fixed there will be time enough to consider what
    else may be done. If they refuse the opportunity, I think I shall
    decline further connexion with the enterprise. My own project, as I
    never counted upon anything but expense from it, will not be much
    affected either way."

The result, as is well known, was a complete edition of Bacon's works, in
which Mr. Leslie Ellis undertook the philosophical, Mr. Douglas Heath the
legal and professional, and Spedding the literary and miscellaneous, to
which he afterwards added the life and letters. In the meantime he wrote,
but never published, for his own satisfaction and that he might gather the
opinions of his friends, _Evenings with a Reviewer_, the reviewer being
Macaulay and the review his Essay on Bacon. In sending a copy to Dr.
Whewell he says:

    It may seem absurd in a man to print a book, and yet to wish not only
    to keep it private, but also to prevent it from _circulating_
    privately. But after considering the matter carefully, with reference
    to what I may call the interest of the subject--I mean to the chance
    of making a successful and durable impression upon the popular
    opinion--I am satisfied that it would not be judicious to present the
    question to the public _first_ in this form. It would probably provoke
    controversy. The result of the controversy would depend upon
    reviewers. Reviewers, until they have heard the evidence as well as
    the argument, are not in a condition to judge; yet unless the evidence
    be made easily accessible and bound up with the argument, they cannot
    be expected either to seek it out or to suspend their opinions, but
    will simply proceed to judgment _without_ hearing it. In such a case,
    considering the strength of popular prepossessions and the tendency of
    the first blow at them to raise a dust of popular objections, the
    verdict would in the first instance go against me; and though I might
    appeal with a better chance to the second thoughts and the next
    generation, yet the appeal would be conducted at great disadvantage,
    because I should then stand in the position of an advocate with a
    personal interest in the cause. As it is, I hope in my division of
    Bacon's works to set forth _all_ the evidence clearly and impartially,
    so that everybody who has the book will have the means of judging for
    himself, and if I can get that credit for justice and impartiality
    which I mean to deserve, I do not much doubt the issue. But the first
    reception of the work, upon which in these times so much depends, will
    itself depend very much upon my coming before the public with a clear
    and unsuspected character: and this, if I should previously acquire
    the reputation (justly or not) of an advocate engaged to make good his
    own cause, I could not expect.

FitzGerald, writing to Donne at the end of 1848, says of _Evenings with a

    I saw many of my friends in London, Carlyle and Tennyson among them;
    but most and best of all, Spedding. I have stolen his noble book away
    from him; noble, in spite (I believe, but am not sure) of some
    _adikology_ in the second volume: some special pleadings for his idol:
    amica Veritas, sed magis, etc.

And Donne in reply:

    I, too, have Spedding's "glorious book," which I prefer to any modern
    reading. Reading one of his "Evenings" is next to spending an evening
    with the author.

Thompson, whose health had completely broken down in 1849, was undergoing
the water-cure at Great Malvern, and early in 1850 Spedding writes to him:

    They tell me that a letter will find you at Great Malvern. Indeed, I
    had reason to think so before, for I had heard of you twice since you
    went thither; once from Spring Rice and once from Blakesley.... I
    have been stationary here since August, seeing nobody and hearing
    nothing, so you must not expect any news.... You want to know,
    perhaps, what I am about myself. I am at this moment sitting in an
    easy-chair with the ink on a table beside me, and the papers on a
    blotting-board on my knee. On the little table beside me is first a
    leaden jar, bought long since to keep tobacco in, now holding
    snipe-shot. Next to it a pocket Virgil lying on its belly. On my left
    a ledge made for a lamp, on which are three different translations of
    Bacon's _Sapientia Veterum_, and some loose pieces of paper destined
    in due time to be enriched with a fourth translation, of which I need
    say no more. Next to my little table stands a large round table, now
    quite uninhabitable by reason of the litter of books that has taken
    possession of it, as, for instance, another Virgil with English
    translation and notes, open, upon its back; a Dryden's translation
    shut, and standing upright on its edge. A letter-clip holding a packet
    in brown-paper cover, inscribed "De sapientia veterum: translation." A
    volume of Bacon standing shut on its edge. A Cruden's _Concordance_;
    and near it, lying on its side and shut, Alford's Greek Testament (an
    excellent book of immense industry, and very neat execution; good in
    all ways so far as I have looked, and so far as I can judge of what I
    see in such a matter; it seems as if one might find in it everything
    one can want to know about the four gospels, that an editor can tell
    one). Another volume of Bacon open, on its back; beneath it a folio
    Aristotle (!) also open, and beneath that again a huge old folio
    Demosthenes and Æschines (but this was brought down from the garret
    two days ago, and has not yet been put away). Many other things of the
    same kind; which, however, I cannot describe particularly without
    getting up, which I do not feel disposed to do. But I must not forget
    a striped box which belongs to my portmanteau, but serves here as a
    receptacle for loose papers, and stands on the table. Another table in
    the corner sustaining two vols. of Facciolati evidently out for use,
    reposing on a huge Hogarth which lies there because no bookcase is big
    enough to hold it, and itself reposes upon all the Naval Victories,
    flanked by a ball of string, an unopened packet of Bernard Barton's
    remains, a Speed's _History of England_, a ream of scribbling paper,
    and an Ainsworth. Under my chair lies my own dog Tip, who once went
    with you and me to the top of Ullock. Opposite stands a long narrow
    box containing bows, and hung about with quivers, belts, and other
    archery equipments. The chimney-piece is littered with disabled
    arrows. It is now half-past 3 P.M., I have a slight headache, due (I
    really believe) to a sour orange. The lake was yesterday frozen over
    with ice as smooth and transparent as glass. I had no skates, and
    to-day it is going either to thaw or to snow. I intended to buy a pair
    of skates last midsummer, but forgot. I have a great mind to go and
    buy a pair now. I leave you to gather the condition of my mind from
    the condition of my room. I am in truth doing very little. These
    family establishments are not favourable for work. I do not know how
    it is; the day seems as long, and one seems to have it all to oneself,
    but there are no _hours_ in it. What becomes of half of them I cannot
    guess. Time leaks in a gentleman's house.

    My father has had a bad cold this winter, which hung about him longer
    than usual, and made him both look and feel ill. But he has thrown it
    quite off and seems now to be as well [as] usual, which is very well.
    His sight grows worse as of course it must do; but as fast as it
    leaves him he learns to make less do, so that he does not appear to be
    much distressed by the gradual privation. His old bitch is dead, and
    his old mare retires upon a pension, a paddock, a horse-pond, and a
    house, all to herself, with a daily feed of corn. He is now very well
    mounted on a fast walking pony, borrowed from a neighbour, and has a
    boy to walk with him and two puppies. He looks after his farming
    affairs as usual, and does not at all believe that land can be ruined
    by plenty. In truth we hear little in these latitudes of the
    agricultural distress of which we see so much in the newspapers.

    I have not heard from Ellis since he left England, and I do not know
    exactly where he is. He talked of staying some time at Avignon. But I
    am so doubtful whether a letter would find him there that I do not
    care to write upon the chance. Our publishers seem to be quite easy in
    mind, and made no enquiries as to the rate of progress. If Ellis can
    be ready within two years, I shall have to stir myself in order to be
    ready with my contribution. But I expect a good year's respite. I have
    finished the _Henry VII._, however, which is my principal labour; and
    I like very well what I have done.

But all his plans were disarranged by Mr. Ellis's illness. In the latter
part of 1849, while travelling on the Riviera, Ellis had a severe attack
of rheumatic fever, from which he never recovered, and which entirely
disabled him for the work he had undertaken and in which he had made some
progress. Spedding, therefore, had to take his place and edit as best he
could Bacon's Philosophical Works. He has explained very fully in the
Preface to them the method he adopted, and the careful manner in which he
kept Mr. Ellis's work distinct. "Early in 1853," he says, "I took the work
in hand." In the meanwhile he was to be found at his rooms in Lincoln's
Inn Fields, and there FitzGerald visited him in April 1850.

    "Spedding is my sheet-anchor," he says, "the truly wise and fine
    fellow: I am going to his rooms this very evening, and there I believe
    Thackeray, Venables, etc. are to be. I hope not a large assembly, for
    I get shyer and shyer even of those I know."

    "I was in London only for ten days this spring," FitzGerald writes to
    Frederick Tennyson, "and those ten days not in the thick of the
    season.... The most pleasurable remembrance I had of my stay in town
    was the last day I spent there; having a long ramble in the streets
    with Spedding, looking at books and pictures; then a walk with him and
    Carlyle across the Park to Chelsea, where we dropped that Latter-Day
    Prophet at his house; then, getting upon a steamer, smoked down to
    Westminster; dined at a chop-house by the Bridge, and then went to
    Astley's; old Spedding being quite as wise about the horsemanship as
    about Bacon and Shakespeare. We parted at midnight in Covent Garden,
    and this whole pleasant day has left a taste on my palate like one of
    Plato's lighter, easier, and more picturesque dialogues."

In August he went into Suffolk to stay with FitzGerald and the Cowells at
their home in Bramford, near Ipswich. FitzGerald again writes to Frederick

    I have not seen any one you know since I last wrote; nor heard from
    any one: except dear old Spedding, who really came down and spent two
    days with us, me and that Scholar and his Wife in their Village, in
    their delightful little house, in their pleasant fields by the River
    side. Old Spedding was delicious there; always leaving a mark, I say,
    in all places one has been at with him, a sort of Platonic perfume.
    For has he not all the beauty of the Platonic Socrates, with some
    personal beauty to boot? He explained to us one day about the laws of
    reflection in water; and I said then one never could look at the
    willow whose branches furnished the text without thinking of him. How
    beastly this reads! As if he gave us a lecture! But you know the man,
    how quietly it all came out; only because I petulantly denied his
    plain assertion. For I really often cross him only to draw him out;
    and vain as I may be, he is one of those that I am well content to
    make shine at my own expense.

In August 1851 he writes again to Frederick Tennyson:

    Almost the only man I hear from is dear old Spedding, who has lost his
    Father, and is now, I suppose, a rich man. This makes no apparent
    change in his way of life; he has only hired an additional Attic in
    Lincoln's Inn Fields, so as to be able to bed a friend upon occasion.
    I may have to fill it ere long.

And a few months later:

    Spedding is immutably wise, good, and delightful; not as immutably
    well in Body, I think, though he does not complain.

The great work went slowly on, but nothing as yet was published. Spedding
had just taken over Ellis's portion and was devoting himself to this. We
get a glimpse of him again in FitzGerald's letters:

    I saw old Spedding in London; only doubly calm after the death of a
    Niece he dearly loved, and whose death-bed at Hastings he had just
    been waiting upon.

It was 1857 before the first three volumes appeared, followed by three
others in 1858, and by the final volume in 1859. Ellis did not live to see
the completion of the work, for he died in May of that year.

FitzGerald, writing in 1857 to Cowell, who was now in Calcutta, from
Portland Terrace, where he lived during his early married life, says:

    Spedding has been once here in near three months. His _Bacon_ keeps
    coming out: his part, the Letters, etc., of Bacon, is not come yet; so
    it remains to be seen what he will do then, but I can't help thinking
    he has let the Pot boil too long.

It was 1861, however, before the first volume of the _Life and Letters_
appeared, and Spedding found that he had already been forestalled by
Hepworth Dixon in _The Story of Lord Bacon's Life_. In a note to the
earliest letter printed, probably the earliest specimen remaining of
Bacon's handwriting, he says, with quiet contempt:

    The copies of some of these letters lately published by Mr. Hepworth
    Dixon ... differ, I observe, very much from mine; most of them in the
    words and sense, more or less, and some in the name of the person
    writing, or the person written to, or both. But as mine are more
    intelligible, and were made with care and at leisure, and when my eyes
    were better than they are now, I do not suspect any material error in
    them, and have not thought it worth while to apply for leave to
    compare them again with the originals.

    "I am very glad," FitzGerald writes to Thompson, "to hear old Spedding
    is really getting _his_ share of Bacon into Print: I doubt if it will
    be half as good as the "Evenings," where Spedding was in the _Passion_
    which is wanted to fill his Sail for any longer Voyage."

Some three years later, he says:

    Spedding's _Bacon_ seems to hang fire; they say he is disheartened at
    the little Interest, and less Conviction, that his two first volumes
    carried; Thompson told me they had convinced _him_ the other way; and
    that _Ellis_ had long given up Bacon's Defence before he died.

And so it continued to the end. When the sixth volume appeared in 1872
FitzGerald wrote:

    And here is Spedding's vol. vi. which leaves me much where it found me
    about Bacon: but though I scarce care for him, I can read old
    Spedding's pleading for him for ever; that is old Spedding's simple
    statement of the case, as he sees it. The Ralegh business is quite
    delightful, better than Old Kensington.

Carlyle alone of all the critics was unstinted, though rather patronizing,
in his praise. Writing to FitzGerald, he says:

    Like yourself I have gone through _Spedding_, seven long long volumes,
    not skipping except when I had got the sense with me, and generally
    reading all of Bacon's own that was there: I confess to you I found it
    a most creditable and even surprising Book, offering the most perfect
    and complete image both of Bacon and of Spedding, and distinguished as
    the hugest and faithfullest bit of literary navvy-work I have ever met
    with in this generation. Bacon is washed down to the natural skin; and
    truly he is not, nor ever was, unlovely to me; a man of no culpability
    to speak of; of an opulent and even magnificent intellect, but all in
    the magnificent prose vein. Nothing or almost nothing of the "melodies
    eternal" to be traced in him. There is a grim strength in Spedding,
    quietly, very quietly invincible, which I did not quite know of till
    this Book; and in all ways I could congratulate this indefatigably
    patient, placidly invincible and victorious Spedding.

But for the last eight years he had given up his rooms in Lincoln's Inn
Fields and gone to live with his nieces at 80 Westbourne Terrace, where he
remained till his death. Thompson, in succession to Dr. Whewell, had been
appointed Master of Trinity, and in writing to congratulate him Spedding

    I was not unprepared for your news, having just returned from
    Kitlands, where the Pollocks were, and the rumour was under discussion
    and generally thought to be well-founded, and the thing if true very
    much rejoiced over. I have great pleasure in adding my own
    congratulations, as well to yourself as to Trinity. It was all that
    was wanted to make one of the last acts of Lord Russell a complete
    success. I should be very glad to think that I had as much to do with
    it as you suppose: but I was only one of many, and not by any means
    the most influential, and as the thing is done, no matter how it was
    brought about.

    I am myself preparing for a shift of position, though the adventure is
    of a milder kind. My nephew (J. J. S.) is going to be married within a
    month or so: and it has been settled that he is to live at Greta Bank,
    and that the rest of the party now living there are to take a house in
    London: where I am invited to join them, with due securities for
    liberties and privileges. Though the exertion incident to dislodgment
    from quarters overgrown with so many superfetations of confusion and
    disorder, is formidable to contemplate, the proposed arrangement is so
    obviously convenient and desirable, that I am going to encounter it.
    And though the place is not yet settled, it seems probable that before
    the end of the year I shall be transferred or transferring myself and
    my goods to the western part of London, and preparing to remodel my
    manners and customs (in some respects) according to the usages of
    civilized society. Though I shall live among women, they will be women
    of my own house, and therefore not worshippers, which is a great
    advantage, and though there may be some danger for an obedient uncle
    in being where he can always be caught, I hope to be able to preserve
    as much independence as is good for a man.

    I have four proof sheets to settle, and have just been interrupted by
    an engraver with a proof [of] the D. of Buccleugh's miniature of
    Bacon, which will be the best portrait that has yet been done of him
    in black and white.

This was the miniature which was reproduced at the beginning of the third
volume of the _Life and Letters_, and which Spedding regarded as the
original of Van Somer's portrait.

The following letter to Tennyson, written in 1870, is necessary to the
full understanding of Tennyson's reply (see _Memoir by his Son_)[107]:

    MY DEAR ALFRED--I do not know where you are, and I want to know for
    three reasons: 1st, that I may thank you for your book; 2nd, that I
    may send you mine; 3rd, that I may let you know, if you do not know it
    already, that there has been a box here these many weeks, which is
    meant for you and comes from FitzGerald.

    A copy of your new volume[108] came early from the publisher, yet not
    so early but that it found me already half way through. I was happy to
    observe that neither years nor domestic happiness have had any
    demoralizing effect upon you as yet. Your touch is as delicate and
    vigorous and your invention as rich as ever: and I am still in hope
    that your greatest poem of all has not yet been written. Some years
    ago, when you were in want of a subject, I recommended Job. The
    argument of Job, to be treated as you treat the legends of Arthur, as
    freely and with as much light of modern thought as you find fit. As we
    know it now, it is only half intelligible, and must be full of
    blunders and passages misunderstood. Probably also the peculiar
    character of the oriental style would at any rate stand in the way and
    prevent it from producing its proper effect upon the modern and
    western mind. Yet we can see through all the confusion what a great
    argument it is, and I think it was never more wanted than now. If you
    would take it in hand, and tell it in verse in your own way, without
    any scruples about improving on Scripture, I believe it would be the
    greatest poem in the language. The controversy is as much alive to-day
    in London as it could ever have been in the place where and the time
    when it was composed, of which, as the author, I am altogether
    ignorant. And the voice out of the whirlwind may speak without fear of

    My own book,[109] though there is only one volume this time, is much
    bigger than yours. It is wrapped up ready to go by the book-post, and
    only wants to know to which of your many mansions it is to be

    Fitz's box, which is about as large as a tailor's box for a single
    suit, contains a drawing of Thackeray's, an illustration of the "Lord
    of Burghley," a pretty sketch of the landskip-painter and the village
    maiden. He sent it here under the vain delusion that whenever you
    happened to come to London I should be sure to know. And I presume he
    sent word to you of what he had done, for he did not ask me to
    communicate the fact. I was only to write to _him_ in case the box did
    _not_ arrive, and as the box did arrive I did not write. If you will
    let me know what you wish to be done with it, I will do with it

    There is a line in your last volume which I can't read: the last line
    but one of the "flower in the crannied wall."

In the course of the same year he edited the _Conference of Pleasure_,
written by Bacon for some masque or festive occasion, and printed from a
MS. belonging to the Duke of Northumberland which had been slightly
injured by fire. FitzGerald, in a letter to me, says of it:

    Spedding's Introduction to his grilled Bacon, I call it really a
    beautiful little _Idyll_, the mechanical Job done so perfectly and so

But while he was engaged in the great labour of his life he found time to
write beautiful pieces of criticism on Shakespeare to which FitzGerald
would willingly have had him devote his whole attention. "I never heard
him read a page," he writes to Sir Frederick Pollock, "but he threw some
new light upon it." In the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for August 1850 he
contributed a paper on "Who wrote Shakespeare's _Henry VIII._?" which he
discussed with characteristic thoroughness. His conclusion was that it was
the work of two authors, one of whom was Fletcher, and this was confirmed
by the investigations of another enquirer, who independently arrived at
substantially the same result. The division of the Acts in _Much Ado_,
_Twelfth Night_, _Richard II._, and _King Lear_ formed the subject of
other discussions, and these he considered his most valuable contribution
to the restoration of Shakespeare. A criticism of Miss Kate Terry's acting
in Viola gave him the opportunity of pointing out the corruptions by which
the fine comedy, _Twelfth Night_, has been degraded into farce.

    "Spedding says," FitzGerald writes in 1875 to Fanny Kemble, "that
    Irving's Hamlet is simply--_hideous_--a strong expression for Spedding
    to use. But--(lest I should think his condemnation was only the Old
    Man's fault of depreciating all that is new) he extols Miss Ellen
    Terry's Portia as simply _a perfect Performance_: remembering (he
    says) all the while how fine was Fanny Kemble's."

Again to the same correspondent early in 1880 he says:

    By far the chief incident in my life for the last month has been the
    reading of dear old Spedding's Paper on the _Merchant of Venice_,
    there, at any rate, is one Question settled, and in such a beautiful
    way as only he commands. I could not help writing a few lines to tell
    him what I thought, but even very sincere praise is not the way to
    conciliate him. About Christmas I wrote him, relying on it that I
    should be most likely to secure an answer if I expressed dissent from
    some other work of his, and my expectation was justified by one of the
    fullest answers he had written to me for many a day and year.

The paper referred to was "The Story of the _Merchant of Venice_" in the
_Cornhill Magazine_ for March 1880. In sending a copy to Frederick
Tennyson he says:

    I now post you a paper by old Spedding--a very beautiful one, I think;
    _settling_ one point, however unimportant, and in a graceful, as well
    as logical, way such as he is Master of.

    A case has been got up--whether by Irving, the Stage Representative of
    Shylock, or by his Admirers--to prove the Jew to be a very amiable and
    ill-used man: insomuch that one is to come away from the theatre
    loving him and hating all the rest. He dresses himself up to look like
    the Saviour, Mrs. Kemble says. So old Jem disposes of _that_, besides
    unravelling Shakespeare's mechanism of the Novel he draws from, in a
    manner (as Jem says) more distinct to us than in his treatment of any
    other of his Plays "not professedly historical." And this latter point
    is, of course, far more interesting than the question of Irving and
    Co.,--which is a simple attempt, both of Actor and Writer, to strike
    out an original idea in the teeth of common-sense and Tradition.

And now came the end, unexpected and the result of an accident, which he
maintained was entirely his own fault. In writing to tell me of the fatal
result, one of his dearest friends said:

    I grieve to tell you that all is over with our dear old friend.... He
    intended to cross before two carriages--crossed before one--found
    there was not time to pass before the other, and instead of pausing
    stepped back under the hansom which he had not seen, and which had not
    time to alter its course. He spent more strength in exculpating the
    poor driver than on any personal matter during his illness as soon as
    he regained memory of the circumstances.

    "Mowbray Donne," says FitzGerald, when all was over, "wrote me that
    Laurence had been there four or five days ago, when Spedding said,
    that had the Cab done but a little more, it would have been a good
    Quietus. Socrates to the last."

And in another letter:

    Tennyson called at the Hospital, but was not allowed to see him,
    though Hallam did, I think. Some one calling afterwards, Spedding took
    the doctor's arm, and asked, "Was it Mr. Tennyson?" Doctors and nurses
    all devoted to the patient man.

To Fanny Kemble he writes:

    It was very, very good and kind of you to write to me about Spedding.
    Yes: Aldis Wright had apprised me of the matter just after it
    happened--he happening to be in London at the time; and but two days
    after the accident heard that Spedding was quite calm, and even
    cheerful; only anxious that Wright himself should not be kept waiting
    for some communication which S. had promised him! Whether to live, or
    to die, he will be Socrates still.

    Directly that I heard from Wright I wrote to Mowbray Donne to send me
    just a Post Card--daily, if he or his wife could, with but one or two
    words on it--"Better," "Less well," or whatever it might be. This
    morning I hear that all is going on even better than could be
    expected, according to Miss Spedding. But I suppose the Crisis, which
    you tell me of, is not yet come; and I have always a terror of that
    French Adage--"_Monsieur se porte mal--Monsieur se porte
    mieux--Monsieur est--_" Ah, you know, or you guess, the rest.

    My dear old Spedding, though I have not seen him these twenty years
    and more--and probably should never see him again--but he lives--his
    old Self--in my heart of hearts; and all I hear of him does but
    embellish the recollection of him--if it could be embellished--for he
    is but the same that he was from a Boy--all that is best in Heart and
    Head--a man that would be incredible had one not known him.

Again he writes of him to Professor Norton:

    He was the wisest man I have known; a great sense of Humour, a
    Socrates in Life and in Death, which he faced with all Serenity so
    long as Consciousness lasted. I suppose something of him will reach
    America, I mean, of his Death; run over by a Cab and dying in St.
    George's Hospital to which he was taken, and from which he could not
    be removed home alive.

    "I did not know," he says in another letter, "that I should feel
    Spedding's Loss as I do, after an interval of more than twenty years
    [since] meeting him. But I knew that I could always get the Word I
    wanted of him by Letter, and also that from time to time I should
    meet with some of his wise and delightful Papers in some Quarter or
    other. He talked of Shakespeare, I am told, when his Mind wandered. I
    wake almost every morning feeling as if I had lost something, as one
    does in a Dream; and truly enough, I have lost _him_. 'Matthew is in
    his Grave, etc.'"

In apologizing to Fanny Kemble for not writing to her as usual, he says:

    I have let the Full Moon pass because you had written to me so lately,
    and so kindly, about our lost Spedding, that I could not call on you
    too soon again. Of him I will say nothing except that his Death has
    made me recall very many passages in his Life in which I was partly
    concerned. In particular, staying at his Cumberland Home along with
    Tennyson in the May of 1835.... His Father and Mother were both
    alive--he a wise man, who mounted his Cob after Breakfast, and was at
    his Farm till Dinner at two--then away again till Tea: after which he
    sat reading by a shaded lamp: saying very little, but always courteous
    and quite content with any company his Son might bring to the house,
    so long as they let him go his way: which indeed he would have gone
    whether they let him or no. But he had seen enough of Poets not to
    like them or their Trade: Shelley for a time living among the Lakes:
    Coleridge at Southey's (whom perhaps he had a respect for--Southey, I
    mean); and Wordsworth, whom I do not think he valued. He was rather
    jealous of "Jem," who might have done available service in the world,
    he thought, giving himself up to such Dreamers; and sitting up with
    Tennyson conning over the "Morte d'Arthur," "Lord of Burleigh," and
    other things which helped to make up the two Volumes of 1842. So I
    always associate that Arthur Idyll with Basanthwaite Lake, under
    Skiddaw. Mrs. Spedding was a sensible, motherly Lady, with whom I used
    to play Chess of a Night. And there was an old Friend of hers, Miss
    Bristowe, who always reminded me of Miss La Creevy, if you know of
    such a Person in _Nickleby_.

We will conclude with what his old friend, Sir Henry Taylor, wrote of him
after his death:

    As he will not read what I write I may allow myself to say something
    more. He was always master of himself and of his emotions; but
    underlying a somewhat melancholy composure and aspect there were
    depths of tenderness known only to those who knew his whole nature and
    his inward life, and it is well for those by whom he is mourned if
    they can find what he has described in a letter to be his great
    consolation in all his experiences of the death of those he loved
    (experiences which had begun early and had not been few), "that the
    past is sacred and sanctified; nothing can happen hereafter to disturb
    or obliterate it; nor need the recollection have any bitterness if a
    man does not, out of a false and morbid sentiment, make it so for

And he adds:

    To me there are no companions more welcome, cordial, consolatory or
    cheerful than my dead friends.



After Tennyson's and Hallam's memorable journey to the Pyrenees in aid of
the revolutionary movement against King Ferdinand of Spain, vividly
described by Carlyle in his _Life of John Sterling_.

Alfred Tennyson (in profile), John Harden and Mrs. Harden (on the left),
and the Miss Hardens.]



    [The following article, containing the Memoir of Arthur Hallam by his
    father, Henry Hallam, is reprinted from _Horae Subsecivae_.--ED.]

    PRAESENS imperfectum,--perfectum, plusquam perfectum

    The idea of thy life shall sweetly creep
    Into my study of imagination;
    And every lovely organ of thy life
    Shall come apparelled in more precious habit--
    More moving delicate, and full of life,
    Into the eye and prospect of my soul,
    Than when thou livedst indeed.
                                  _Much Ado about Nothing._

In the chancel of Clevedon Church, Somersetshire, rest the mortal remains
of Arthur Henry Hallam, eldest son of our great philosophic historian and
critic,--and the friend to whom "In Memoriam" is sacred. This place was
selected by his father, not only from the connection of kindred, being the
burial-place of his maternal grandfather, Sir Abraham Elton, but likewise
"on account of its still and sequestered situation, on a lone hill that
overhangs the Bristol Channel." That lone hill, with its humble old
church, its outlook over the waste of waters, where "the stately ships go
on," was, we doubt not, in Tennyson's mind when the poem, "Break, break,
break," which contains the burden of that volume in which are enshrined so
much of the deepest affection, poetry, philosophy, and godliness, rose
into his "study of imagination"--"into the eye and prospect of his

  Break, break, break,
    On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
  And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.

  O well for the fisherman's boy,
    That he shouts with his sister at play!
  O well for the sailor lad,
    That he sings in his boat on the bay!

  And the stately ships go on
    To their haven under the hill;
  But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!

  Break, break, break,
    At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
  But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.

Out of these few simple words, deep and melancholy, and sounding as the
sea, as out of a well of the living waters of love, flows forth all "In
Memoriam," as a stream flows out of its spring-all is here. "I would that
my tongue could utter the thoughts that arise in me,"--"the touch of the
vanished hand--the sound of the voice that is still,"--the body and soul
of his friend. Rising as it were out of the midst of the gloom of the
valley of the shadow of death:

  The mountain infant to the sun comes forth
  Like human life from darkness;

and how its waters flow on! carrying life, beauty, magnificence,--shadows
and happy lights, depths of blackness, depths clear as the very body of
heaven. How it deepens as it goes, involving larger interests, wider
views, "thoughts that wander through eternity," greater affections, but
still retaining its pure living waters, its unforgotten burden of love and
sorrow. How it visits every region! "The long unlovely street," pleasant
villages and farms, "the placid ocean-plains," waste howling wildernesses,
grim woods, _nemorumque noctem_, informed with spiritual fears, where may
be seen, if shapes they may be called:

  Fear and trembling Hope,
  Silence and Foresight; Death the Skeleton,
  And Time the Shadow;

now within hearing of the Minster clock, now of the College bells, and the
vague hum of the mighty city. And overhead through all its course the
heaven with its clouds, its sun, moon, and stars; but always, and in all
places, declaring its source; and even when laying its burden of manifold
and faithful affection at the feet of the Almighty Father, still
remembering whence it came:

  That friend of mine who lives in God,
  That God, which ever lives and loves,
      One God, one law, one element,
      And one far-off divine event,
  To which the whole creation moves.

It is to that chancel, and to the day, 3rd January 1834, that he refers in
Poem XVIII. of "In Memoriam":

  'Tis well; 'tis something; we may stand
      Where he in English earth is laid,
      And from his ashes may be made
  The violet of his native land.

  'Tis little; but it looks in truth
      As if the quiet bones were blest
      Among familiar names to rest
  And in the places of his youth.

And again in XIX.:

  The Danube to the Severn gave
      The darken'd heart that beat no more;
      They laid him by the pleasant shore,
  And in the hearing of the wave.

  There twice a day the Severn fills;
      The salt sea-water passes by,
      And hushes half the babbling Wye,
  And makes a silence in the hills.

Here, too, it is, LXVII.:

  When on my bed the moonlight falls,
      I know that in thy place of rest
      By that broad water of the west,
  There comes a glory on the walls:

  Thy marble bright in dark appears,
      As slowly steals a silver flame
      Along the letters of thy name,
  And o'er the number of thy years.

This young man, whose memory his friend has consecrated in the hearts of
all who can be touched by such love and beauty, was in nowise unworthy of
all this. It is not for us to say, for it was not given to us the sad
privilege to know, all that a father's heart buried with his son in that
grave, all "the hopes of unaccomplished years"; nor can we feel in its
fulness all that is meant by

  A friendship as had master'd Time;
  Which masters Time indeed, and is
      Eternal, separate from fears:
      The all-assuming months and years
  Can take no part away from this.

But this we may say, we know nothing of in all literature to compare with
the volume from which these lines are taken, since David lamented with
this lamentation: "The beauty of Israel is slain. Ye mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew, neither rain upon you. I am distressed for thee, my
brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me, thy love for me
was wonderful." We cannot, as some have done, compare it with
Shakespeare's sonnets, or with "Lycidas." In spite of the amazing genius
and tenderness, the never-wearying, all-involving reiteration of
passionate attachment, the idolatry of admiring love, the rapturous
devotedness, displayed in these sonnets, we cannot but agree with Mr.
Hallam in thinking "that there is a tendency now, especially among young
men of poetical tempers, to exaggerate the beauties of these remarkable
productions"; and though we would hardly say with him, "that it is
impossible not to wish that Shakespeare had never written them," giving
us, as they do, and as perhaps nothing else could do, such proof of a
power of loving, of an amount of _attendrissement_, which is not less
wonderful than the bodying forth of that myriad-mind which gave us Hamlet,
and Lear, Cordelia, and Puck, and all the rest, and indeed explaining to
us how he could give us all these;--while we hardly go so far, we agree
with his other wise words:--"There is a weakness and folly in all
misplaced and excessive affection"; which in Shakespeare's case is the
more distressing, when we consider that "Mr. W. H., the only begetter of
these ensuing sonnets," was, in all likelihood, William Herbert, Earl of
Pembroke, a man of noble and gallant character, but always of licentious

As for "Lycidas," we must confess that the poetry--and we all know how
consummate it is--and not the affection, seems uppermost in Milton's mind,
as it is in ours. The other element, though quick and true, has no glory
through reason of the excellency of that which invests it. But there is no
such drawback in "In Memoriam." The purity, the temperate but fervent
goodness, the firmness and depth of nature, the impassioned logic, the
large, sensitive, and liberal heart, the reverence and godly fear, of

  That friend of mine who lives in God,

which from these Remains we know to have dwelt in that young soul, give to
"In Memoriam" the character of exactest portraiture. There is no excessive
or misplaced affection here; it is all founded in fact: while everywhere
and throughout it all, affection--a love that is wonderful--meets us first
and leaves us last, giving form and substance and grace, and the breath of
life and love, to everything that the poet's thick-coming fancies so
exquisitely frame. We can recall few poems approaching to it in this
quality of sustained affection. The only English poems we can think of as
of the same order, are Cowper's lines on seeing his mother's portrait:

  O that these lips had language!

Burns' "To Mary in Heaven"; and two pieces of Vaughan--one beginning

  O thou who know'st for whom I mourn;

and the other:

  They are all gone into the world of light.

But our object now is, not so much to illustrate Mr. Tennyson's verses, as
to introduce to our readers, what we ourselves have got so much delight,
and, we trust, profit from--_The Remains in Verse and Prose, of Arthur
Henry Hallam_, 1834; privately printed. We had for many years been
searching for this volume, but in vain; a sentence quoted by Henry Taylor
struck us, and our desire was quickened by reading "In Memoriam." We do
not remember when we have been more impressed than by these Remains of
this young man, especially when taken along with his friend's Memorial;
and instead of trying to tell our readers what this impression is, we have
preferred giving them as copious extracts as our space allows, that they
may judge and enjoy for themselves. The italics are our own. We can
promise them few finer, deeper, and better pleasures than reading, and
detaining their minds over these two books together, filling their hearts
with the fulness of their truth and tenderness. They will see how accurate
as well as how affectionate and "of imagination all compact" Tennyson is,
and how worthy of all that he has said of him, that friend was. The
likeness is drawn _ad vivum_:

  When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
  He summons up remembrance of things past.

"The idea of his Life" has been sown a natural body, and has been raised a
spiritual body, but the identity is unhurt; the countenance shines and the
raiment is white and glistering, but it is the same face and form.

The Memoir is by Mr. Hallam. We give it entire, not knowing anywhere a
nobler or more touching record of a father's love and sorrow.

    Arthur Henry Hallam was born in Bedford Place,[111] London, on the 1st
    of February 1811. Very few years had elapsed before his parents
    observed strong indications of his future character, in a peculiar
    clearness of perception, a facility of acquiring knowledge, and, above
    all, in an undeviating sweetness of disposition, and adherence to his
    sense of what was right and becoming. As he advanced to another stage
    of childhood, it was rendered still more manifest that he would be
    distinguished from ordinary persons, by an increasing thoughtfulness,
    and a fondness for a class of books, which in general are so little
    intelligible to boys of his age, that they excite in them no kind of

    In the summer of 1818 he spent some months with his parents in Germany
    and Switzerland, and became familiar with the French language, which
    he had already learned to read with facility. He had gone through the
    elements of Latin before this time; but that language having been laid
    aside during his tour, it was found upon his return that, a variety of
    new scenes having effaced it from his memory, it was necessary to
    begin again with the first rudiments. He was nearly eight years old at
    this time; and in little more than twelve months he could read Latin
    with tolerable facility. In this period his mind was developing itself
    more rapidly than before; he now felt a keen relish for dramatic
    poetry, and wrote several tragedies, if we may so call them, either in
    prose or verse, with a more precocious display of talents than the
    Editor remembers to have met with in any other individual. The natural
    pride, however, of his parents, did not blind them to the uncertainty
    that belongs to all premature efforts of the mind; and they so
    carefully avoided everything like a boastful display of blossoms
    which, in many cases, have withered away in barren luxuriance, that
    the circumstances of these compositions was hardly ever mentioned out
    of their own family.

    In the spring of 1820, Arthur was placed under the Rev. W. Carmalt, at
    Putney, where he remained nearly two years. After leaving this school,
    he went abroad again for some months; and, in October 1822, became the
    pupil of the Rev. E. C. Hawtrey, an Assistant Master of Eton College.
    At Eton he continued till the summer of 1827. He was now become a good
    though not perhaps a first-rate scholar in the Latin and Greek
    languages. The loss of time, relatively to this object, in travelling,
    but far more his increasing avidity for a different kind of knowledge,
    and the strong bent of his mind to subjects which exercise other
    faculties than such as the acquirement of languages calls into play,
    will sufficiently account for what might seem a comparative deficiency
    in classical learning. It can only, however, be reckoned one,
    comparatively to his other attainments, and to his remarkable facility
    in mastering the modern languages. The Editor has thought it not
    improper to print in the following pages an Eton exercise, which, as
    written before the age of fourteen, though not free from metrical and
    other errors, appears, perhaps to a partial judgment, far above the
    level of such compositions. It is remarkable that he should have
    selected the story of Ugolino, from a poet with whom, and with whose
    language, he was then but very slightly acquainted, but who was
    afterwards to become, more perhaps than any other, the master-mover of
    his spirit. It may be added, that great judgment and taste are
    perceptible in this translation, which is by no means a literal one;
    and in which the phraseology of Sophocles is not ill substituted, in
    some passages, for that of Dante.

    The Latin poetry of an Etonian is generally reckoned at that School
    the chief test of his literary talent. That of Arthur was good without
    being excellent; he never wanted depth of thought, or truth of
    feeling; but it is only in a few rare instances, if altogether in any,
    that an original mind has been known to utter itself freely and
    vigorously, without sacrifice of purity, in a language the capacities
    of which are so imperfectly understood; and in his productions there
    was not the thorough conformity to an ancient model which is required
    for perfect elegance in Latin verse. He took no great pleasure in this
    sort of composition; and perhaps never returned to it of his own

    In the latter part of his residence at Eton, he was led away more and
    more by the predominant bias of his mind, from the exclusive study of
    ancient literature. The poets of England, especially the older
    dramatists, came with greater attraction over his spirit. He loved
    Fletcher, and some of Fletcher's contemporaries, for their energy of
    language and intenseness of feeling; but it was in Shakespeare alone
    that he found the fulness of soul which seemed to slake the thirst of
    his own rapidly expanding genius for an inexhaustible fountain of
    thought and emotion. He knew Shakespeare thoroughly; and indeed his
    acquaintance with the earlier poetry of this country was very
    extensive. Among the modern poets, Byron was at this time, far above
    the rest, and almost exclusively, his favourite; a preference which,
    in later years, he transferred altogether to Wordsworth and Shelley.

    He became, when about fifteen years old, a member of the debating
    society established among the elder boys, in which he took great
    interest; and this served to confirm the bias of his intellect towards
    the moral and political philosophy of modern times. It was probably,
    however, of important utility in giving him that command of his own
    language which he possessed, as the following Essays will show, in a
    very superior degree, and in exercising those powers of argumentative
    discussion, which now displayed themselves as eminently characteristic
    of his mind. It was a necessary consequence that he declined still
    more from the usual paths of study, and abated perhaps somewhat of his
    regard for the writers of antiquity. It must not be understood,
    nevertheless, as most of those who read these pages will be aware,
    that he ever lost his sensibility to those ever-living effusions of
    genius which the ancient languages preserve. He loved Aeschylus and
    Sophocles (to Euripides he hardly did justice), Lucretius and Virgil;
    if he did not seem so much drawn towards Homer as might at first be
    expected, this may probably be accounted for by his increasing taste
    for philosophical poetry.

    In the early part of 1827, Arthur took a part in the Eton Miscellany,
    a periodical publication, in which some of his friends in the debating
    society were concerned. He wrote in this, besides a few papers in
    prose, a little poem on a story connected with the Lake of Killarney.
    It has not been thought by the Editor advisable, upon the whole, to
    reprint these lines; though, in his opinion, they bear very striking
    marks of superior powers. This was almost the first poetry that Arthur
    had written, except the childish tragedies above mentioned. No one was
    ever less inclined to the trick of versifying. Poetry with him was not
    an amusement, but the natural and almost necessary language of genuine
    emotion; and it was not till the discipline of serious reflection, and
    the approach of manhood, gave a reality and intenseness to such
    emotions, that he learned the capacities of his own genius. That he
    was a poet by nature, these Remains will sufficiently prove; but
    certainly he was far removed from being a versifier by nature; nor was
    he probably able to perform, what he scarce ever attempted, to write
    easily and elegantly on an ordinary subject. The lines on the story of
    Pygmalion are so far an exception, that they arose out of a momentary
    amusement of society; but he could not avoid, even in these, his own
    grave tone of poetry.

    Upon leaving Eton in the summer of 1827, he accompanied his parents to
    the Continent, and passed eight months in Italy. This introduction to
    new scenes of nature and art, and to new sources of intellectual
    delight, at the very period of transition from boyhood to youth,
    sealed no doubt the peculiar character of his mind, and taught him,
    too soon for his peace, to sound those depths of thought and feeling
    from which, after this time, all that he wrote was derived. He had,
    when he passed the Alps, only a moderate acquaintance with the Italian
    language; but during his residence in the country he came to speak it
    with perfect fluency, and with a pure Sienese pronunciation. In its
    study he was much assisted by his friend and instructor, the Abbate
    Pifferi, who encouraged him to his first attempts at versification.
    The few sonnets, which are now printed, were, it is to be remembered,
    written by a foreigner, hardly seventeen years old, and after a very
    short stay in Italy. The Editor might not, probably, have suffered
    them to appear even in this private manner, upon his own judgment. But
    he knew that the greatest living writer of Italy, to whom they were
    shown some time since at Milan, by the author's excellent friend, Mr.
    Richard Milnes, has expressed himself in terms of high approbation.

    The growing intimacy of Arthur with Italian poetry led him naturally
    to that of Dante. No poet was so congenial to the character of his own
    reflective mind; in none other could he so abundantly find that
    disdain of flowery redundance, that perpetual preference of the
    sensible to the ideal, that aspiration for somewhat better and less
    fleeting than earthly things, to which his inmost soul responded. Like
    all genuine worshippers of the great Florentine poet, he rated the
    _Inferno_ below the two latter portions of the _Divina Commedia_;
    there was nothing even to revolt his taste, but rather much to attract
    it, in the scholastic theology and mystic visions of the _Paradiso_.
    Petrarch he greatly admired, though with less idolatry than Dante; and
    the sonnets here printed will show to all competent judges how fully
    he had imbibed the spirit, without servile centonism, of the best
    writers in that style of composition who flourished in the sixteenth

    But poetry was not an absorbing passion at this time in his mind. His
    eyes were fixed on the best pictures with silent intense delight. He
    had a deep and just perception of what was beautiful in this art, at
    least in its higher schools; for he did not pay much regard, or
    perhaps quite do justice, to the masters of the seventeenth century.
    To technical criticism he made no sort of pretension; painting was to
    him but the visible language of emotion; and where it did not aim at
    exciting it, or employed inadequate means, his admiration would be
    withheld. Hence he highly prized the ancient paintings, both Italian
    and German, of the age which preceded the full development of art. But
    he was almost as enthusiastic an admirer of the Venetian, as of the
    Tuscan and Roman schools; considering these masters as reaching the
    same end by the different agencies of form and colour. This
    predilection for the sensitive beauties of painting is somewhat
    analogous to his fondness for harmony of verse, on which he laid more
    stress than poets so thoughtful are apt to do. In one of the last days
    of his life, he lingered long among the fine Venetian pictures of the
    Imperial Gallery at Vienna.

    He returned to England in June 1828; and, in the following October,
    went down to reside at Cambridge; having been entered on the boards of
    Trinity College before his departure to the Continent. He was the
    pupil of the Rev. William Whewell. In some respects, as soon became
    manifest, he was not formed to obtain great academical reputation. An
    acquaintance with the learned languages, considerable at the school
    where he was educated, but not improved, to say the least, by the
    intermission of a year, during which his mind had been so occupied by
    other pursuits, that he had thought little of antiquity even in Rome
    itself, though abundantly sufficient for the gratification of taste
    and the acquisition of knowledge, was sure to prove inadequate to the
    searching scrutiny of modern examinations. He soon, therefore, saw
    reason to renounce all competition of this kind; nor did he ever so
    much as attempt any Greek or Latin composition during his stay at
    Cambridge. In truth he was very indifferent to success of this kind;
    and conscious as he must have been of a high reputation among his
    contemporaries, he could not think that he stood in need of any
    University distinctions. The Editor became by degrees almost equally
    indifferent to what he perceived to be so uncongenial to Arthur's
    mind. It was, however, to be regretted that he never paid the least
    attention to mathematical studies. That he should not prosecute them
    with the diligence usual at Cambridge, was of course to be expected;
    yet his clearness and acumen would certainly have enabled him to
    master the principles of geometrical reasoning; nor, in fact, did he
    so much find a difficulty in apprehending demonstrations, as a want of
    interest, and a consequent inability to retain them in his memory. A
    little more practice in the strict logic of geometry, a little more
    familiarity with the physical laws of the universe, and the phenomena
    to which they relate, would possibly have repressed the tendency to
    vague and mystical speculations which he was too fond of indulging. In
    the philosophy of the human mind, he was in no danger of the
    materializing theories of some ancient and modern schools; but in
    shunning this extreme, he might sometimes forget that, in the honest
    pursuit of truth, we can shut our eyes to no real phenomena, and that
    the physiology of man must always enter into any valid scheme of his

    The comparative inferiority which he might show in the usual trials of
    knowledge, sprung in a great measure from the want of a prompt and
    accurate memory. It was the faculty wherein he shone the least,
    according to ordinary observation; though his very extensive reach of
    literature, and his rapidity in acquiring languages, sufficed to prove
    that it was capable of being largely exercised. He could remember
    anything, as a friend observed to the Editor, that was associated with
    an idea. But he seemed, at least after he reached manhood, to want
    almost wholly the power, so common with inferior understandings, of
    retaining, with regularity and exactness, a number of unimportant
    uninteresting particulars. It would have been nearly impossible to
    make him recollect for three days the date of the battle of Marathon,
    or the names in order of the Athenian months. Nor could he repeat
    poetry, much as he loved it, with the correctness often found in young
    men. It is not improbable, that a more steady discipline in early life
    would have strengthened this faculty, or that he might have supplied
    its deficiency by some technical devices; but where the higher powers
    of intellect were so extraordinarily manifested, it would have been
    preposterous to complain of what may perhaps have been a necessary
    consequence of their amplitude, or at least a natural result of their

    But another reason may be given for his deficiency in those
    unremitting labours which the course of academical education, in the
    present times, is supposed to exact from those who aspire to its
    distinctions. In the first year of his residence at Cambridge,
    symptoms of disordered health, especially in the circulatory system,
    began to show themselves; and it is by no means improbable, that these
    were indications of a tendency to derangement of the vital functions,
    which became ultimately fatal. A too rapid determination of blood
    towards the brain, with its concomitant uneasy sensations, rendered
    him frequently incapable of mental fatigue. He had indeed once before,
    at Florence, been affected by symptoms not unlike these. His
    intensity of reflection and feeling also brought on occasionally a
    considerable depression of spirits, which had been painfully observed
    at times by those who watched him most, from the time of his leaving
    Eton, and even before. It was not till after several months that he
    regained a less morbid condition of mind and body. This same
    irregularity of circulation returned in the next spring, but was of
    less duration. During the third year of his Cambridge life, he
    appeared in much better health.

    In this year (1831) he obtained the first college prize for an English
    declamation. The subject chosen by him was the conduct of the
    Independent party during the civil war. This exercise was greatly
    admired at the time, but was never printed. In consequence of this
    success, it became incumbent on him, according to the custom of the
    college, to deliver an oration in the chapel immediately before the
    Christmas vacation of the same year. On this occasion he selected a
    subject very congenial to his own turn of thought and favourite study,
    the influence of Italian upon English literature. He had previously
    gained another prize for an English essay on the philosophical
    writings of Cicero. This essay is perhaps too excursive from the
    prescribed subject; but his mind was so deeply imbued with the higher
    philosophy, especially that of Plato, with which he was very
    conversant, that he could not be expected to dwell much on the praises
    of Cicero in that respect.

    Though the bent of Arthur's mind by no means inclined him to strict
    research into facts, he was full as much conversant with the great
    features of ancient and modern history, as from the course of his
    other studies and the habits of his life it was possible to expect. He
    reckoned them, as great minds always do, the groundworks of moral and
    political philosophy, and took no pains to acquire any knowledge of
    this sort from which a principle could not be derived or illustrated.
    To some parts of English history, and to that of the French
    Revolution, he had paid considerable attention. He had not read nearly
    so much of the Greek and Latin historians as of the philosophers and
    poets. In the history of literary, and especially of philosophical and
    religious opinions, he was deeply versed, as much so as it is possible
    to apply that term at his age. The following pages exhibit proofs of
    an acquaintance, not crude or superficial, with that important branch
    of literature.

    His political judgments were invariably prompted by his strong sense
    of right and justice. These, in so young a person, were naturally
    rather fluctuating, and subject to the correction of advancing
    knowledge and experience. Ardent in the cause of those he deemed to be
    oppressed, of which, in one instance, he was led to give a proof with
    more of energy and enthusiasm than discretion, he was deeply attached
    to the ancient institutions of his country.

    He spoke French readily, though with less elegance than Italian, till
    from disuse he lost much of his fluency in the latter. In his last
    fatal tour in Germany, he was rapidly acquiring a readiness in the
    language of that country. The whole range of French literature was
    almost as familiar to him as that of England.

    The society in which Arthur lived most intimately, at Eton and at the
    University, was formed of young men, eminent for natural ability, and
    for delight in what he sought above all things, the knowledge of
    truth, and the perception of beauty. They who loved and admired him
    living, and who now revere his sacred memory, as of one to whom, in
    the fondness of regret, they admit of no rival, know best what he was
    in the daily commerce of life; and his eulogy should, on every
    account, better come from hearts which, if partial, have been rendered
    so by the experience of friendship, not by the affection of nature.

    Arthur left Cambridge on taking his degree in January 1832. He resided
    from that time with the Editor in London, having been entered on the
    boards of the Inner Temple. It was greatly the desire of the Editor
    that he should engage himself in the study of the law; not merely with
    professional views, but as a useful discipline for a mind too much
    occupied with habits of thought, which, ennobling and important as
    they were, could not but separate him from the everyday business of
    life, and might, by their excess, in his susceptible temperament, be
    productive of considerable mischief. He had, during the previous long
    vacation, read with the Editor the _Institutes_ of Justinian, and the
    two works of Heineccius which illustrate them; and he now went through
    Blackstone's _Commentaries_, with as much of other law-books as, in
    the Editor's judgment, was required for a similar purpose. It was
    satisfactory at that time to perceive that, far from showing any of
    that distaste to legal studies which might have been anticipated from
    some parts of his intellectual character, he entered upon them not
    only with great acuteness, but considerable interest. In the month of
    October 1832, he began to see the practical application of legal
    knowledge in the office of an eminent conveyancer, Mr. Walters of
    Lincoln's Inn Fields, with whom he continued till his departure from
    England in the following summer.

    It was not, however, to be expected, or even desired by any one who
    knew how to value him, that he should at once abandon those habits of
    study which had fertilized and invigorated his mind. But he now, from
    some change or other in his course of thinking, ceased in a great
    measure to write poetry, and expressed to more than one friend an
    intention to give it up. The instances after his leaving Cambridge
    were few. The dramatic scene between Raffaelle and Fiammetta was
    written in 1832; and about the same time he had a design to translate
    the _Vita Nuova_ of his favourite Dante; a work which he justly
    prized, as the development of that immense genius, in a kind of
    autobiography, which best prepares us for a real insight into the
    _Divine Comedy_. He rendered accordingly into verse most of the
    sonnets which the _Vita Nuova_ contains; but the Editor does not
    believe that he made any progress in the prose translation. These
    sonnets appearing rather too literal, and consequently harsh, it has
    not been thought worth while to print.

    In the summer of 1832, the appearance of Professor Rosetti's
    _Disquisizioni sullo spirito Antipapale_, in which the writings of
    Arthur's beloved masters, Dante and Petrarch, as well as most of the
    mediæval literature of Italy, were treated as a series of enigmas, to
    be understood only by a key that discloses a latent Carbonarism, a
    secret conspiracy against the religion of their age, excited him to
    publish his own Remarks in reply. It seemed to him the worst of
    poetical heresies to desert the Absolute, the Universal, the Eternal,
    the Beautiful and True, which the Platonic spirit of his literary
    creed taught him to seek in all the higher works of genius, in quest
    of some temporary historical allusion, which could be of no interest
    with posterity. Nothing, however, could be more alien from his
    courteous disposition than to abuse the licence of controversy, or to
    treat with intentional disrespect a very ingenious person, who had
    been led on too far in pursuing a course of interpretation, which,
    within certain much narrower limits, it is impossible for any one
    conversant with history not to admit.

    A very few other anonymous writings occupied his leisure about this
    time. Among these were slight memoirs of Petrarch, Voltaire, and
    Burke, for the Gallery of Portraits, published by the Society for the
    Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.[112] His time was, however, principally
    devoted, when not engaged at his office, to metaphysical researches,
    and to the history of philosophical opinions.

    From the latter part of his residence at Cambridge, a gradual but very
    perceptible improvement in the cheerfulness of his spirits gladdened
    his family and his friends; intervals there doubtless were when the
    continual seriousness of his habits of thought, or the force of
    circumstances, threw something more of gravity into his demeanour; but
    in general he was animated and even gay, renewing or preserving his
    intercourse with some of those he had most valued at Eton and
    Cambridge. The symptoms of deranged circulation which had manifested
    themselves before, ceased to appear, or at least so as to excite his
    own attention; and though it struck those who were most anxious in
    watching him, that his power of enduring fatigue was not quite so
    great as from his frame of body and apparent robustness might have
    been anticipated, nothing gave the least indication of danger either
    to their eyes, or to those of the medical practitioners who were in
    the habit of observing him. An attack of intermittent fever, during
    the prevalent influenza of the spring of 1833, may perhaps have
    disposed his constitution to the last fatal blow.

To any one who has watched the history of the disease by which "so quick
this bright thing came to confusion," and who knows how near its subject
must often, perhaps all his life, have been to that eternity which
occupied so much of his thoughts and desires, and the secrets of which
were so soon to open on his young eyes, there is something very touching
in this account. Such a state of health would enhance, and tend to
produce, by the sensations proper to such a condition, that habitual
seriousness of thought, that sober judgment, and that tendency to look at
the true life of things--that deep but gentle and calm sadness, and that
occasional sinking of the heart, which make his noble and strong inner
nature, his resolved mind, so much more impressive and endearing.

This feeling of personal insecurity--of life being ready to slip away--the
sensation that this world and its on-goings, its mighty interests, and
delicate joys, is ready to be shut up in a moment--this instinctive
apprehension of the peril of vehement bodily enjoyment--all this would
tend to make him "walk softly," and to keep him from much of the evil that
is in the world, and would help him to live soberly, righteously, and
godly, even in the bright and rich years of his youth. His power of giving
himself up to the search after absolute truth, and the contemplation of
Supreme goodness, must have been increased by this same organization. But
all this delicate feeling, this fineness of sense, did rather quicken the
energy and fervour of the indwelling soul--the [Greek: ti thermon pragma]
that burned within. In the quaint words of Vaughan, it was "manhood with a
female eye." These two conditions must, as we have said, have made him
dear indeed. And by a beautiful law of life, having that organ out of
which are the issues of life, under a sort of perpetual nearness to
suffering, and so liable to pain, he would be more easily moved for
others--more alive to their pain--more filled with fellow-feeling.

    The Editor cannot dwell on anything later. Arthur accompanied him to
    Germany in the beginning of August. In returning to Vienna from Pesth,
    a wet day probably gave rise to an intermittent fever, with very
    slight symptoms, and apparently subsiding, when a sudden rush of blood
    to the head put an instantaneous end to his life on the 15th of
    September 1833. The mysteriousness of such a dreadful termination to a
    disorder generally of so little importance, and in this instance of
    the slightest kind, has been diminished by an examination which showed
    a weakness of the cerebral vessels, and a want of sufficient energy in
    the heart. Those whose eyes must long be dim with tears, and whose
    hopes on this side the tomb are broken down for ever, may cling, as
    well as they can, to the poor consolation of believing that a few more
    years would, in the usual chances of humanity, have severed the frail
    union of his graceful and manly form with the pure spirit that it

    The remains of Arthur were brought to England, and interred on the 3rd
    of January 1834, in the chancel of Clevedon Church, in Somersetshire,
    belonging to his maternal grandfather, Sir Abraham Elton, a place
    selected by the Editor, not only from the connection of kindred, but
    on account of its still and sequestered situation, on a lone hill that
    overhangs the Bristol Channel.

    More ought perhaps to be said--but it is very difficult to proceed.
    From the earliest years of this extraordinary young man, his premature
    abilities were not more conspicuous than an almost faultless
    disposition, sustained by a more calm self-command than has often been
    witnessed in that season of life. The sweetness of temper which
    distinguished his childhood, became with the advance of manhood a
    habitual benevolence, and ultimately ripened into that exalted
    principle of love towards God and man, which animated and almost
    absorbed his soul during the latter period of his life, and to which
    most of the following compositions bear such emphatic testimony. He
    seemed to tread the earth as a spirit from some better world; and in
    bowing to the mysterious will which has in mercy removed him,
    perfected by so short a trial, and passing over the bridge which
    separates the seen from the unseen life, in a moment, and, as we may
    believe, without a moment's pang, we must feel not only the
    bereavement of those to whom he was dear, but the loss which mankind
    have sustained by the withdrawing of such a light.

    A considerable portion of the poetry contained in this volume was
    printed in the year 1830, and was intended by the author to be
    published together with the poems of his intimate friend, Mr. Alfred
    Tennyson. They were, however, withheld from publication at the request
    of the Editor. The poem of Timbuctoo was written for the University
    prize in 1829, which it did not obtain. Notwithstanding its too great
    obscurity, the subject itself being hardly indicated, and the
    extremely hyperbolical importance which the author's brilliant fancy
    has attached to a nest of barbarians, no one can avoid admiring the
    grandeur of his conceptions, and the deep philosophy upon which he has
    built the scheme of his poem. This is, however, by no means the most
    pleasing of his compositions. It is in the profound reflection, the
    melancholy tenderness, and the religious sanctity of other effusions
    that a lasting charm will be found. A commonplace subject, such as
    those announced for academical prizes generally are, was incapable of
    exciting a mind which, beyond almost every other, went straight to the
    farthest depths that the human intellect can fathom, or from which
    human feelings can be drawn. Many short poems, of equal beauty with
    those here printed, have been deemed unfit even for the limited
    circulation they might obtain, on account of their unveiling more of
    emotion than, consistently with what is due to him and to others,
    could be exposed to view.

    The two succeeding essays have never been printed; but were read, it
    is believed, in a literary society at Trinity College, or in one to
    which he afterwards belonged in London. That entitled _Theodicaea
    Novissima_ is printed at the desire of some of his intimate friends. A
    few expressions in it want his usual precision; and there are ideas
    which he might have seen cause, in the lapse of time, to modify,
    independently of what his very acute mind would probably have
    perceived, that his hypothesis, like that of Leibnitz, on the origin
    of evil, resolves itself at last into an unproved assumption of its
    necessity. It has, however, some advantages, which need not be
    mentioned, over that of Leibnitz; and it is here printed, not as a
    solution of the greatest mystery of the universe, but as most
    characteristic of the author's mind, original and sublime, uniting,
    what is very rare except in early youth, a fearless and unblenching
    spirit of inquiry into the highest objects of speculation, with the
    most humble and reverential piety. It is probable that in many of his
    views on such topics he was influenced by the writings of Jonathan
    Edwards, with whose opinions on metaphysical and moral subjects he
    seems generally to have concurred.

    The extract from a review of Tennyson's poems in a publication now
    extinct, the _Englishman's Magazine_, is also printed at the
    suggestion of a friend. The pieces that follow are reprints, and have
    been already mentioned in this Memoir.

We have given this Memoir almost entire, for the sake both of its subject
and its manner--for what in it is the father's as well as for what is the
son's. There is something very touching in the paternal composure, the
judiciousness, the truthfulness, where truth is so difficult to reach
through tears, the calm estimate and the subdued tenderness, the
ever-rising but ever-restrained emotion; the father's heart-throbs

We wish we could have given in full the letters from Arthur's friends
which his father has incorporated in the Memoir. They all bring out, in
different but harmonious ways, his extraordinary moral and intellectual
worth, his rare beauty of character, and their deep affection.

The following extract from one seems to us very interesting:

    Outwardly I do not think there was anything remarkable in his habits,
    except _an irregularity with regard to times and places of study_,
    which may seem surprising in one whose progress in so many directions
    was so eminently great and rapid. _He was commonly to be found in some
    friend's room, reading or canvassing._ I daresay he lost something by
    this irregularity, _but less than perhaps one would at first imagine_.
    I never saw him idle. He might seem to be lounging, or only amusing
    himself, but his mind was always active, and active for good. In fact,
    his energy and quickness of apprehension did not stand in need of
    outward aid.

There is much in this worthy of more extended notice. Such minds as his
probably grow best in this way, are best left to themselves, to glide on
at their own sweet wills; the stream was too deep and clear, and perhaps
too entirely bent on its own errand, to be dealt with or regulated by any
art or device. The same friend sums up his character thus:

    I have met with no man his superior in metaphysical subtlety; no man
    his equal as a philosophical critic on works of taste; no man whose
    views on all subjects connected with the duties and dignities of
    humanity were more large and generous, and enlightened.

And all this said of a youth of twenty--_heu nimium brevis aevi decus et

We have given little of his verse; and what we do give is taken at random.
We agree entirely in his father's estimate of his poetical gift and art,
but his mind was too serious, too thoughtful, too intensely dedicated to
truth and the God of truth, to linger long in the pursuit of beauty; he
was on his way to God, and could rest in nothing short of Him, otherwise
he might have been a poet of genuine excellence.

  Dark, dark, yea, "irrecoverably dark,"
  Is the soul's eye; yet how it strives and battles
  Through th' impenetrable gloom to fix
  That master light, the secret truth of things,
  Which is the body of the infinite God!

     *       *       *       *       *

  Sure, we are leaves of one harmonious bower,
  Fed by a sap that never will be scant,
  All-permeating, all-producing mind;
  And in our several parcellings of doom
  We but fulfil the beauty of the whole.
  Oh, madness! if a leaf should dare complain
  Of its dark verdure, and aspire to be
  The gayer, brighter thing that wantons near.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Oh, blessing and delight of my young heart,
    Maiden, who wast so lovely, and so pure,
  I know not in what region now thou art,
    Or whom thy gentle eyes in joy assure.
  Not the old hills on which we gazed together,
    Not the old faces which we both did love,
  Not the old books, whence knowledge we did gather,
    Not these, but others now thy fancies move.

  I would I knew thy present hopes and fears,
    All thy companions with their pleasant talk,
  And the clear aspect which thy dwelling wears:
    So, though in body absent, I might walk
  With thee in thought and feeling, till thy mood
  Did sanctify mine own to peerless good.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Alfred, I would that you beheld me now,
  Sitting beneath a mossy ivied wall
  On a quaint bench, which to that structure old
  Winds an accordant curve. Above my head
  _Dilates immeasurable a wild of leaves_,
  Seeming received into the blue expanse
  That vaults this summer noon.

     *       *       *       *       *

  Still here--thou hast not faded from my sight,
    _Nor all the music round thee from mine ear:
    Still grace flows from thee to the brightening year,
  And all the birds laugh out in wealthier light_.
  Still am I free to close my happy eyes,
    And paint upon the gloom thy mimic form,
    That soft white neck, that cheek in beauty warm,
  And brow half hidden where yon ringlet lies:
  With, oh! the blissful knowledge all the while
    That I can lift at will each curvèd lid,
  And my fair dream most highly realize.
  The time will come, 'tis ushered by my sighs,
    When I may shape the dark, but vainly bid
  True light restore that form, those looks, that smile.

     *       *       *       *       *

  The garden trees _are busy with the shower_
    That fell ere sunset: now methinks they talk,
  Lowly and sweetly as befits the hour,
    One to another down the grassy walk.
  Hark the laburnum from his opening flower,
    This cheery creeper greets in whisper light,
    While the grim fir, rejoicing in the night,
  Hoarse mutters to the murmuring sycamore.[113]
  What shall I deem their converse? would they hail
    The wild grey light that fronts yon massive cloud,
  Or the half bow, rising like pillar'd fire?
  Or are they fighting faintly for desire
    That with May dawn their leaves may be o'erflowed,
  And dews about their feet may never fail?

In the Essay, entitled _Theodicaea Novissima_, from which the following
passages are taken, to the great injury in its general effect, he sets
himself to the task of doing his utmost to clear up the mystery of the
existence of such things as sin and suffering, in the universe of a being
like God. He does it fearlessly, but like a child. It is in the spirit of
his friend's words:

    An infant crying in the night,
    An infant crying for the light,
  And with no language but a cry.

  Then was I as a child that cries,
    But, crying, knows his father near.

It is not a mere exercitation of the intellect, it is an endeavour to get
nearer God--to assert His eternal Providence, and vindicate His ways to
men. We know no performance more wonderful for such a boy. Pascal might
have written it. As was to be expected, the tremendous subject remains
where he found it--his glowing love and genius cast a gleam here and there
across its gloom; but it is brief as the lightning in the collied
night--the jaws of darkness do devour it up--this secret belongs to God.
Across its deep and dazzling darkness, and from out its abyss of thick
cloud, "all dark, dark, irrecoverably dark," no steady ray has ever, or
will ever, come--over its face its own darkness must brood, till He to
whom alone the darkness and the light are both alike, to whom the night
shineth as the day, says, "Let there be light!" There is, we all know, a
certain awful attraction, a nameless charm for all thoughtful spirits, in
this mystery, "the greatest in the universe," as Mr. Hallam truly says;
and it is well for us at times, so that we have pure eyes and a clean
heart, to turn aside and look into its gloom; but it is not good to busy
ourselves in clever speculations about it, or briskly to criticize the
speculations of others--it is a wise and pious saying of Augustine,
_Verius cogitatur Deus quam dicitur; et verius est quam cogitatur_.

    I wish to be understood as considering Christianity in the present
    Essay rather in its relation to the intellect, as constituting the
    higher philosophy, than in its far more important bearing upon the
    hearts and destinies of us all. I shall propose the question in this
    form, "Is there ground for believing that the existence of moral evil
    is absolutely necessary to the fulfilment of God's essential love for
    Christ?" (_i.e._ of the Father for Christ, or of [Greek: ho patêr] for
    [Greek: ho logos]).

    "Can man by searching find out God?" I believe not. I believe that the
    unassisted efforts of man's reason have not established the existence
    and attributes of Deity on so sure a basis as the Deist imagines.
    However sublime may be the notion of a supreme original mind, and
    however naturally human feelings adhered to it, the reasons by which
    it was justified were not, in my opinion, sufficient to clear it from
    considerable doubt and confusion.... I hesitate not to say that I
    derive from Revelation a conviction of Theism, which, without that
    assistance, would have been but a dark and ambiguous hope. _I see that
    the Bible fits into every fold of the human heart. I am a man and I
    believe it to be God's book because it is man's book._ It is true that
    the Bible affords me no additional means of demonstrating the falsity
    of Atheism; _if mind had nothing to do with the formation of the
    Universe, doubtless whatever had was competent also to make the
    Bible_; but I have gained this advantage, that my feelings and
    thoughts can no longer refuse their assent to _what is evidently
    framed to engage that assent; and what is it to me that I cannot
    disprove the bare logical possibility of my whole nature being
    fallacious? To seek for a certainty above certainty, an evidence
    beyond necessary belief, is the very lunacy of scepticism_: we must
    trust our own faculties, or we can put no trust in anything, save that
    moment we call the present, which escapes us while we articulate its
    name. _I am determined therefore to receive the Bible as Divinely
    authorized, and the scheme of human and Divine things which it
    contains, as essentially true._

           *       *       *       *       *

    In the Supreme Nature those two capacities of Perfect Love and Perfect
    Joy are indivisible. Holiness and Happiness, says an old divine, are
    two several notions of one thing. Equally inseparable are the notions
    of Opposition to Love and Opposition to Bliss. _Unless, therefore, the
    heart of a created being is at one with the heart of God, it cannot
    but be miserable._ Moreover, there is no possibility of continuing for
    ever partly with God and partly against Him: we must either be capable
    by our nature of entire accordance with His will, or we must be
    incapable of anything but misery, further than He may for a while "not
    impute our trespasses to us," that is, He may interpose some temporary
    barrier between sin and its attendant pain. _For in the Eternal Idea
    of God a created spirit is perhaps not seen, as a series of successive
    states_, of which some that are evil might be compensated by others
    that are good, _but as one indivisible object of these almost
    divisible modes_, and that either in accordance with His own nature,
    or in opposition to it....

    Before the Gospel was preached to man, how could a human soul have
    this love, and this consequent life? I see no way; but now that Christ
    has excited our love for Him by showing unutterable love for us; now
    that we know Him as an Elder Brother, a being of like thoughts,
    feelings, sensations, sufferings, with ourselves, it has become
    possible to love as God loves, that is, to love Christ, and thus to
    become united in heart to God. Besides, Christ is the express image of
    God's person: in loving Him we are sure we are in a state of readiness
    to love the Father, whom we see, He tells us, when we see Him. Nor is
    this all: the tendency of love is towards a union so intimate as
    virtually to amount to identification; when then by affection towards
    Christ we have become blended with His being, the beams of eternal
    love, falling, as ever, on the one beloved object, will include us in
    Him, and their returning flashes of love out of His personality will
    carry along with them some from our own, since ours has become
    confused with His, and so shall we be one with Christ, and through
    Christ with God. Thus, then, we see the great effect of the
    Incarnation, as far as our nature is concerned, _was to render human
    love for the Most High a possible thing_. The law had said, "Thou
    shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,
    and with all thy strength"; and could men have lived by law, "which is
    the strength of sin," verily righteousness and life would have been by
    that law. But it was not possible, and all were concluded under sin,
    that in Christ might be the deliverance of all. I believe that
    Redemption (_i.e._, what Christ has done and suffered for mankind) is
    universal, in so far as it left no obstacle between man and God, but
    man's own will; that indeed is in the power of God's election, with
    whom alone rest the abysmal secrets of personality; but as far as
    Christ is concerned, His death was for all, since His intentions and
    affections were equally directed to all, and "none who come to Him
    will He in any wise cast out."

    I deprecate any hasty rejection of these thoughts as novelties.
    Christianity is indeed, as St. Augustine says, "pulchritudo tam
    antiqua"; but he adds, "tam nova," for it is capable of presenting to
    every mind a new face of truth. The great doctrine which in my
    judgment these observations tend to strengthen and illumine, _the
    doctrine of personal love for a personal God_, is assuredly no
    novelty, but has in all times been the vital principle of the Church.
    Many are the forms of anti-christian heresy, which for a season have
    depressed and obscured that principle of life, but its nature is
    conflictive and resurgent; and neither the Papal Hierarchy with its
    pomp of systematized errors, nor the worst apostasy of latitudinarian
    Protestantism, have ever so far prevailed, but that many from age to
    age have proclaimed and vindicated the eternal gospel of love,
    believing, as I also firmly believe, that any opinion which tends to
    keep out of sight the living and loving God, whether it substitute for
    Him an idol, an occult agency, or a formal creed, can be nothing
    better than a vain and portentous shadow projected from the selfish
    darkness of unregenerate man.

The following is from the Review of Tennyson's Poems; we do not know that
during the lapse of years anything better has been said:

    Undoubtedly the true poet addresses himself, in all his conceptions,
    to the common nature of us all. Art is a lofty tree, and may shoot up
    far beyond our grasp, but its roots are in daily life and experience.
    Every bosom contains the elements of those complex emotions which the
    artist feels, and every head can, to a certain extent, go over in
    itself the process of their combination, so as to understand his
    expressions and sympathize with his state. _But this requires
    exertion_; more or less, indeed, according to the difference of
    occasion, but always some degree of exertion. For since the emotions
    of the poet during composition follow a regular law of association, it
    follows that to accompany their progress up to the harmonious prospect
    of the whole, and to perceive the proper dependence of every step on
    that which preceded, it is absolutely necessary _to start from the
    same point_, _i.e._, clearly to apprehend that leading sentiment of
    the poet's mind, by their conformity to which the host of suggestions
    are arranged. _Now this requisite exertion is not willingly made by
    the large majority of readers. It is so easy to judge capriciously,
    and according to indolent impulse!_

    Those different powers of poetic disposition, the energies of
    Sensitive, of Reflective, or Passionate emotion, which in former times
    were intermingled, and derived from mutual support an extensive empire
    over the feelings of men, were now restrained within separate spheres
    of agency. The whole system no longer worked harmoniously, and by
    intrinsic harmony acquired external freedom; but there arose a violent
    and unusual action in the several component functions, each for
    itself, all striving to reproduce the regular power which the whole
    had once enjoyed. _Hence the melancholy which so evidently
    characterizes the spirit of modern poetry_; hence that return of the
    mind upon itself, and the habit of seeking relief in idiosyncrasies
    rather than community of interest. _In the old times the poetic
    impulse went along with the general impulse of the nation._

    One of the faithful Islâm, a poet in the truest and highest sense, we
    are anxious to present to our readers.... He sees all the forms of
    Nature with the _eruditus oculus_, and his ear has a fairy fineness.
    There is _a strange earnestness in his worship of beauty_, which
    throws a charm over his impassioned song more easily felt than
    described, and not to be escaped by those who have once felt it. We
    think that he has _more definiteness and roundness of general
    conception_ than the late Mr. Keats, and is much more free from
    blemishes of diction and hasty capriccios of fancy.... The author
    imitates nobody; _we recognize the spirit of his age, but not the
    individual form of this or that writer_. His thoughts bear no more
    resemblance to Byron or Scott, Shelley or Coleridge, than to Homer or
    Calderon, Ferdusi or Calidasa. We have remarked five distinctive
    excellences of his own manner. First, his luxuriance of imagination,
    and at the same time his control over it. Secondly, his power of
    embodying himself in ideal characters, or rather modes of character,
    with such extreme accuracy of adjustment, that the circumstances of
    the narration seem to have a natural correspondence with the
    predominant feeling, and, as it were, to be evolved from it by
    assimilative force. Thirdly, his vivid, picturesque delineation of
    objects, and the peculiar skill with which he holds all of them
    _fused_, to borrow a metaphor from science, in a medium of strong
    emotion. Fourthly, the variety of his lyrical measures, and exquisite
    modulation of harmonious words and cadences to the swell and fall of
    the feelings expressed. Fifthly, the elevated habits of thought,
    implied in these compositions, and imparting a mellow soberness of
    tone, more impressive, to our minds, than if the author had drawn up a
    set of opinions in verse, and sought to instruct the understanding,
    _rather than to communicate the love of beauty to the heart_.

What follows is justly thought and well said:

    And is it not a noble thing that the English tongue is, as it were,
    the common focus and point of union to which opposite beauties
    converge? Is it a trifle that we temper energy with softness, strength
    with flexibility, capaciousness of sound with pliancy of idiom? Some,
    I know, insensible to these virtues, and ambitious of I know not what
    unattainable decomposition, prefer to utter funereal praises over the
    grave of departed Anglo-Saxon, or, starting with convulsive shudder,
    are ready to leap from surrounding Latinisms into the kindred,
    sympathetic arms of modern German. For myself, I neither share their
    regret, nor their terror. Willing at all times to pay filial homage to
    the shades of Hengist and Horsa, and to admit they have laid the base
    of our compound language; or, if you will, have prepared the soil from
    which the chief nutriment of the goodly tree, our British oak, must be
    derived, I am yet proud to confess that I look with sentiments more
    exulting and more reverential to the bonds by which the law of the
    universe has fastened me to my distant brethren of the same Caucasian
    race; to the privileges which I, an inhabitant of the gloomy North,
    share in common with climates imparadized in perpetual summer, to the
    universality and efficacy resulting from blended intelligence, which,
    while it endears in our eyes the land of our fathers as a seat of
    peculiar blessing, tends to elevate and expand our thoughts into
    communion with humanity at large; and, in the "sublimer spirit" of the
    Poet, to make us feel

        That God is everywhere--the God who framed
        Mankind to be one mighty family,
        Himself our Father, and the world our home.

What nice shading of thought do his remarks on Petrarch discover!

    But it is not so much to his direct adoptions that I refer, _as to the
    general modulation of thought, that clear softness of his images, that
    energetic self-possession of his conceptions, and that melodious
    repose in which are held together all the emotions he delineates_.

Every one who knows anything of himself, and of his fellow-men, will
acknowledge the wisdom of what follows. It displays an intimate knowledge
both of the constitution and history of man, and there is much in it
suited to our present need:

    _I do not hesitate to express my conviction, that the spirit of the
    critical philosophy, as seen by its fruits in all the ramifications of
    art, literature, and morality, is as much more dangerous than the
    spirit of mechanical philosophy_, as it is fairer in appearance, and
    more capable of alliance with our natural feelings of enthusiasm and
    delight. Its dangerous tendency is this, that it perverts those very
    minds, whose office it was to resist the perverse impulses of society,
    and to proclaim truth under the dominion of falsehood. However
    precipitate may be at any time the current of public opinion, bearing
    along the mass of men to the grosser agitations of life, and to such
    schemes of belief as make these the prominent objects, _there will
    always be in reserve a force of antagonistic opinion, strengthened by
    opposition, and attesting the sanctity of those higher principles
    which are despised or forgotten by the majority_. These men _are
    secured by natural temperament_ and peculiar circumstances from
    participating in the common delusion: but if some other and deeper
    fallacy be invented; if some more subtle beast of the field should
    speak to them in wicked flattery; if a digest of intellectual
    aphorisms can be substituted in their minds for a code of living
    truths, and the lovely semblances of beauty, truth, affection, can be
    made first to obscure the presence, and then to conceal the loss, of
    that religious humility, without which, as their central life, all
    these are but dreadful shadows; if so fatal a stratagem can be
    successfully practised; I see not what hope remains for a people
    against whom the gates of hell have so prevailed.

    But the number of pure artists is small: few souls are so finely
    tempered as to preserve the delicacy of meditative feeling, untainted
    by the allurements of accidental suggestion. The voice of the critical
    conscience is still and small, like that of the moral: it cannot
    entirely be stifled where it has been heard, but it may be disobeyed.
    Temptations are never wanting: some immediate and temporary effect can
    be produced at less expense of inward exertion than the high and more
    ideal effect which art demands: it is much easier to pander to the
    ordinary and often recurring wish for excitement, than to promote the
    rare and difficult intuition of beauty. _To raise the many to his own
    real point of view, the artist must employ his energies, and create
    energy in others: to descend to their position is less noble, but
    practicable with ease._ If I may be allowed the metaphor, one partakes
    of the nature of redemptive power; the other of that self-abased and
    degenerate will, which "flung from his splendours" the fairest star in

    _Revelation is a voluntary approximation of the Infinite Being to the
    ways and thoughts of finite humanity._ But until this step has been
    taken by Almighty Grace, how should man have a warrant for loving with
    all his heart and mind and strength?... Without the gospel, nature
    exhibits a want of harmony between our intrinsic constitution and the
    system in which it is placed. But Christianity has made up the
    difference. It is possible and natural to love the Father, who has
    made us His children by the spirit of adoption: it is possible and
    natural to love the Elder Brother, who was, in all things, like as we
    are, except sin, and can succour those in temptation, having been
    himself tempted. _Thus the Christian faith is the necessary complement
    of a sound ethical system._

There is something to us very striking in the words "Revelation is a
_voluntary_ approximation of the Infinite Being." This states the case
with an accuracy and a distinctness not at all common among either the
opponents or the apologists of _revealed religion_ in the ordinary sense
of the expression. In one sense God is for ever revealing Himself. His
heavens are for ever telling His glory, and the firmament showing His
handiwork; day unto day is uttering speech, and night unto night is
showing knowledge concerning Him. But in the word of the truth of the
gospel, God draws near to His creatures; He bows His heavens, and comes

  That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
  And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,

he lays aside. The Word dwelt with men. "Come then, let _us_ reason
together";--"Waiting to be gracious";--"Behold, I stand at the door, and
knock; if any man open to Me, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and
he with Me." It is the father seeing his son while yet a great way off,
and having compassion, and running to him and falling on his neck and
kissing him; for "it was meet for us to rejoice, for this my son was dead
and is alive again, he was lost and is found." Let no man confound the
voice of God in His Works with the voice of God in His Word; they are
utterances of the same infinite heart and will; they are in absolute
harmony; together they make up "that undisturbèd song of pure concent";
one "perfect diapason"; but they are distinct; they are meant to be so. A
poor traveller, "weary and waysore," is stumbling in unknown places
through the darkness of a night of fear, with no light near him, the
everlasting stars twinkling far off in their depths, and yet unrisen sun,
or the waning moon, sending up their pale beams into the upper heavens,
but all this is distant and bewildering for his feet, doubtless better
much than outer darkness, beautiful and full of God, if he could have the
heart to look up, and the eyes to make use of its vague light; but he is
miserable, and afraid, his next step is what he is thinking of; a lamp
secured against all winds of doctrine is put into his hands, it may in
some respects widen the circle of darkness, but it will cheer his feet, it
will tell them what to do next. What a silly fool he would be to throw
away that lantern, or draw down the shutters, and make it dark to him,
while it sits "i' the centre and enjoys bright day," and all upon the
philosophical ground that its light was of the same kind as the stars',
and that it was beneath the dignity of human nature to do anything but
struggle on and be lost in the attempt to get through the wilderness and
the night by the guidance of those "natural" lights, which, though they
are from heaven, have so often led the wanderer astray. The dignity of
human nature indeed! Let him keep his lantern till the glad sun is up,
with healing under his wings. Let him take good heed to the "sure" [Greek:
logon] while in this [Greek: auchmêrô topô]--this dark, damp, unwholesome
place, "till the day dawn and [Greek: phôsphoros]--the day-star--arise."
Nature and the Bible, the Works and the Word of God, are two distinct
things. In the mind of their Supreme Author they dwell in perfect peace,
in that unspeakable unity which is of His essence; and to us His children,
every day their harmony, their mutual relations, are discovering
themselves; but let us beware of saying all nature is a revelation as the
Bible is, and all the Bible is natural as nature is: there is a perilous
juggle here.

The following passage develops Arthur Hallam's views on religious feeling;
this was the master idea of his mind, and it would not be easy to overrate
its importance.

    "My son, give me thine heart";--"Thou shalt _love_ the Lord thy
    God";--"The fool hath said in his _heart_, There is no God."

He expresses the same general idea in these words, remarkable in
themselves, still more so as being the thought of one so young.

    The work of intellect is posterior to the work of feeling. _The latter
    lies at the foundation of the man_; it is his proper self--the
    peculiar thing that characterizes him as an individual. No two men are
    alike in feeling; but conceptions of the understanding, when distinct
    are precisely similar in all--the ascertained relations of truths are
    the common property of the race.

Tennyson, we have no doubt, had this thought of his friend in his mind, in
the following lines; it is an answer to the question, Can man by searching
find out God?--

  I found Him not in world or sun,
      Or eagle's wing, or insect's eye;
      Nor thro' the questions men may try,
  The petty cobwebs we have spun:

  If e'er when faith had fallen asleep,
      I heard a voice "believe no more,"
      And heard an ever-breaking shore
  That tumbled in the godless deep;

  _A warmth within the breast would melt_
      The freezing reason's colder part,
      _And like a man in wrath, the heart
  Stood up and answered, "I have felt."_

  No, like a child in doubt and fear:
      But that blind clamour made me wise;
      Then was I as a child that cries,
  But, crying, knows his father near;

  And what I seem beheld again
      What is, and no man understands:
      And out of darkness came the hands
  That reach thro' nature, moulding men.

This is a subject of the deepest personal as well as speculative interest.
In the works of Augustine, of Baxter, Howe, and Jonathan Edwards, and of
Alexander Knox, our readers will find how large a place the religious
affections held in their view of Divine truth as well as of human duty.
The last-mentioned writer expresses himself thus:

    Our sentimental faculties are far stronger than our cogitative; and
    the best impressions on the latter will be but the moonshine of the
    mind, if they are alone. Feeling will be best excited by sympathy;
    rather, it cannot be excited in any other way. Heart must act upon
    heart--the idea of a living person being essential to all intercourse
    of heart. You cannot by any possibility _cordialize_ with a mere _ens
    rationis_. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," otherwise we
    could not have "beheld His glory," much less "received of His

Our young author thus goes on:

    This opens upon us an ampler view in which the subject deserves to be
    considered, and a relation still more direct and close between the
    Christian religion and the passion of love. What is the distinguishing
    character of Hebrew literature, which separates it by so broad a line
    of demarcation from that of every ancient people? Undoubtedly the
    sentiment of _erotic devotion_ which pervades it. Their poets never
    represent the Deity as an impassive principle, a mere organizing
    intellect, removed at infinite distance from human hopes and fears. He
    is for them a being of like passions with themselves, _requiring heart
    for heart, and capable of inspiring affection, because capable of
    feeling and returning it_. Awful indeed are the thunders of His
    utterance and the clouds that surround His dwelling-place; very
    terrible is the vengeance He executes on the nations that forget Him:
    but to His chosen people, and especially to the men "after His own
    heart," whom He anoints from the midst of them, His "still, small
    voice" speaks in sympathy and loving-kindness. Every Hebrew, while his
    breast glowed with patriotic enthusiasm at those promises, which he
    shared as one of the favoured race, had a yet deeper source of
    emotion, from which gushed perpetually the aspirations of prayer and
    thanksgiving. He might consider himself alone in the presence of his
    God; the single being to whom a great revelation had been made, and
    over whose head an "exceeding weight of glory" was suspended. For him
    the rocks of Horeb had trembled, and the waters of the Red Sea were
    parted in their course. The word given on Sinai with such solemn pomp
    of ministration was given to his own individual soul, and brought him
    into immediate communion with his Creator. That awful Being could
    never be put away from him. He was about his path, and about his bed,
    and knew all his thoughts long before. _Yet this tremendous, enclosing
    presence was a presence of love. It was a manifold, everlasting
    manifestation of one deep feeling--a desire for human affection._ Such
    a belief, while it enlisted even pride and self-interest on the side
    of piety, had a direct tendency to excite the best passions of our
    nature. Love is not long asked in vain from generous dispositions. A
    Being, never absent, but standing beside the life of each man with
    ever-watchful tenderness, and recognized, though invisible, in every
    blessing that befel them from youth to age, became naturally the
    object of their warmest affections. Their belief in Him could not
    exist without producing, as a necessary effect, that profound
    impression _of passionate individual attachment_ which in the Hebrew
    authors always mingles with and vivifies their faith in the Invisible.
    All the books of the Old Testament are breathed upon by this breath of
    life. Especially is it to be found in that beautiful collection,
    entitled the Psalms of David, which remains, after some thousand
    years, perhaps the most perfect form in which the religious sentiment
    of man has been embodied.

    But what is true of Judaism is yet more true of Christianity: "_matre
    pulchrâ filia pulchrior_." In addition to all the characters of Hebrew
    Monotheism, _there exists in the doctrine of the Cross a peculiar and
    inexhaustible treasure for the affectionate feelings_. The idea of the
    [Greek: Theanthrôpos], the God whose goings forth have been from
    everlasting, yet visible to men for their redemption as an earthly,
    temporal creature, living, acting, and suffering among themselves,
    then (which is yet more important) transferring to the unseen place of
    His spiritual agency the same humanity He wore on earth, so that the
    lapse of generations can in no way affect the conception of His
    identity; this is the most powerful thought that ever addressed
    itself to a human imagination. It is the [Greek: pou stô], which alone
    was wanted to move the world. Here was solved at once the great
    problem which so long had distressed the teachers of mankind, how to
    make _virtue the object of passion_, and to secure at once the warmest
    enthusiasm in the heart with the clearest perception of right and
    wrong in the understanding. The character of the blessed Founder of
    our faith became an abstract of morality to determine the judgment,
    _while at the same time it remained personal, and liable to love_. The
    written word and established church prevented a degeneration into
    ungoverned mysticism, but the predominant principle of vital religion
    always remained that of self-sacrifice to the Saviour. Not only the
    higher divisions of moral duties, but the simple, primary impulses of
    benevolence, were subordinated to this new absorbing passion. The
    world was loved "in Christ alone." The brethren were members of His
    mystical body. All the other bonds that had fastened down the spirit
    of the universe to our narrow round of earth were as nothing in
    comparison to this golden chain of suffering and self-sacrifice, which
    at once riveted the heart of man to one who, like himself, was
    acquainted with grief. _Pain is the deepest thing we have_ in our
    nature, and union through pain has always seemed more real and more
    holy than any other.[115]

There is a sad pleasure--_non ingrata amaritudo_--and a sort of meditative
tenderness in contemplating the little life of this "dear youth," and in
letting the mind rest upon these his earnest thoughts; to watch his keen
and fearless, but childlike spirit, moving itself aright--going straight
onward along "the lines of limitless desires"--throwing himself into the
very deepest of the ways of God, and striking out as a strong swimmer
striketh out his hands to swim; to see him "mewing his mighty youth, and
kindling his undazzled eye at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance":

  Light intellectual, and full of love,
  Love of true beauty, therefore full of joy,
  Joy, every other sweetness far above.

It is good for every one to look upon such a sight, and as we look, to
love. We should all be the better for it; and should desire to be thankful
for, and to use aright a gift so good and perfect, coming down as it does
from above, from the Father of lights, in whom alone there is no
variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Thus it is, that to each one of us the death of Arthur Hallam--his
thoughts and affections--his views of God, of our relations to Him, of
duty, of the meaning and worth of this world and the next--where he now
is--have an individual significance. He is bound up in our bundle of life;
we must be the better or the worse of having known what manner of man he
was; and in a sense less peculiar, but not less true, each of us may say:

        ----The tender grace of a day that is dead
        Will never come back to me.

        ----O for the touch of a vanished hand,
        And the sound of a voice that is still!

        God gives us love! Something to love
          He lends us; but when love is grown
        To ripeness, that on which it throve
          Falls off, and love is left alone:

        This is the curse of time. Alas!
          In grief we are not all unlearned;
        Once, through our own doors Death did pass;
          One went who never hath returned.

                              This star
          Rose with us, through a little arc
        Of heaven, nor having wandered far,
          Shot on the sudden into dark.

        Sleep sweetly, tender heart, in peace;
          Sleep, holy spirit, blessed soul,
        While the stars burn, the moons increase,
          And the great ages onward roll.

        Sleep till the end, true soul and sweet,
          Nothing comes to thee new or strange,
        Sleep, full of rest from head to feet;
          Lie still, dry dust, secure of change.

    _Vattene in pace, alma beata e bella._--Go in peace, soul beautiful
    and blessed.

    "O man greatly beloved, go thou thy way till the end, for thou shalt
    rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."--DANIEL.





He had often said he would go through the "De Profundis" with me line by
line, and he did so late in January or early in February 1889, when I was
staying at Farringford. He was still very ill, having had rheumatic fever
in the previous year; and neither he nor his friends expected that he
would recover after his many relapses. He could scarcely move his limbs,
and his fingers were tied with bandages. We moved him from bed to sofa,
but he could not sit up. His mind, however, was quite clear. He read
through the "De Profundis," and gave the substance of the explanation I
have written down. He began languidly, but soon got deeply interested.
When he reached the prayer at the end, he said: "A B" (naming a well-known
Positivist thinker) "exclaimed, when I read it to him, 'Do leave that
prayer out; I like all the rest of it.'"

I proceed to set down the account of the poem written (in substance)
immediately after his explanation of it. The mystery of life as a whole
which so constantly exercised him is here most fully dealt with. He
supposes a child just born, and considers the problems of human existence
as presented by the thought of the child's birth, and the child's future
life with all its possibilities. The poem takes the form of two greetings
to the new-born child. In the first greeting life is viewed as we see it
in the world, and as we know it by physical science, as a phenomenon; as
the materialist might view it; not indeed coarsely, but as an outcome of
all the physical forces of the universe, which have ever contained in
themselves the potentiality of all that was to come--"all that was to be
in all that was." These vast and wondrous forces have now issued in this
newly given life--this child born into the world. There is the sense of
mystery in our greeting to it; but it is of the mysteries of the physical
Universe and nothing beyond; the sense of awe fitting to finite man at the
thought of infinite Time, of the countless years before human life was at
all, during which the fixed laws of Nature were ruling and framing the
earth as we know it, of the countless years earlier still, during which,
on the nebular hypothesis, Nature's laws were working before our planet
was separated off from the mass of the sun's light, and before the similar
differentiation took place in the rest of the "vast waste dawn of
multitudinous eddying light." Again, there is awe in contemplating the
vastness of space; in the thoughts which in ascending scale rise from the
new-born infant to the great globe of which he is so small a part, from
that to the whole solar system, from that again to the myriad similar
systems "glimmering up the heights beyond" us which we partly see in the
Milky Way; from that to those others which human sight can never descry.
Forces in Time and Space as nearly infinite as our imagination can
conceive, have been leading up to this one birth, with the short life of a
single man before it. May that life be happy and noble! Viewing it still
as the course determined by Nature's laws--a course unknown to us and yet
unalterably fixed--we sigh forth the hope that our child may pass
unscathed through youth, may have a full and prosperous time on earth,
blessed by man for good done to man, and may pass peacefully at last to
rest. Such is the first greeting--full of the poetry of life, of its
wondrous causes, of the overwhelming greatness of the Universe of which
this new-given baby is the child, cared for, preserved hitherto unscathed
amid these awful powers, all in all to its parents, inspiring the hope
which new-given joy makes sanguine, that fortune may be kind to it, that
happiness may be as great, sorrow and pain as little, as the chances of
the world allow.

After his explanation, he read the first greeting to the child:

  Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
  Where all that was to be, in all that was,
  Whirl'd for a million æons through the vast
  Waste dawn of multitudinous eddying light--
  Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
  Thro' all this changing world of changeless law,
  And every phase of ever-heightening life,
  And nine long months of antenatal gloom,
  With this last moon, this crescent--her dark orb
  Touch'd with earth's light--thou comest, darling boy;
  Our own; a babe in lineament and limb
  Perfect, and prophet of the perfect man;
  Whose face and form are hers and mine in one,
  Indissolubly married like our love;
  Live and be happy in thyself, and serve
  This mortal race thy kin so well, that men
  May bless thee as we bless thee, O young life,
  Breaking with laughter from the dark; and may
  The fated channel where thy motion lives
  Be prosperously shaped, and sway thy course
  Along the years of haste and random youth
  Unshatter'd; then full-current thro' full man;
  And last, in kindly curves, with gentlest fall,
  By quiet fields, a slowly-dying power
  To that last deep where we and thou art still.

And then comes the second greeting. A deeper chord is struck. The
listener, who has, perhaps, felt as if the first greeting contained
all--all the mystery of birth, of life, of death--hears a sound unknown,
unimagined before. A new range of ideas is opened to us. The starry
firmament disappears for the moment. The "deep" of infinite time and space
is forgotten. A fresh sense is awakened, a deeper depth disclosed. We
leave this wondrous world of appearances. We gaze into that other
deep--the world of spirit, the world of realities; we see the new-born
babe coming to us from that _true_ world, with all the "abysmal depths of
personality," no longer a mere link in the chain of causes, with a fated
course through the events of life, but a moral being, with the awful power
of making or marring its own destiny and that of others. The proportions
are abruptly reversed. The child is no longer the minute outcome of
natural forces so much greater than itself. It is the "spirit," the moral
being, a reality which impinges on the world of appearances. Never can I
forget the change of voice, the change of manner, as Lord Tennyson passed
from the first greeting, with its purely human thoughts, to the second, so
full of awe at the conception of the world behind the veil and the moral
nature of man; an awe which seemed to culminate when he paused before the
word "Spirit" in the seventh line and then gave it in deeper and more
piercing tones: "Out of the deep--_Spirit_,--out of the deep." This second
greeting is in two parts:


  Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
  From that great deep, before our world begins,
  Whereon the Spirit of God moves as He will--
  Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
  From that true world within the world we see,
  Whereof our world is but the bounding shore--
  Out of the deep, Spirit, out of the deep,
  With this ninth moon, that sends the hidden sun,
  Down yon dark sea, thou comest, darling boy.


  For in the world, which is not ours, they said,
  "Let us make man," and that which should be man,
  From that one light no man can look upon,
  Drew to this shore, lit by the suns and moons
  And all the shadows. O dear Spirit, half-lost
  In thine own shadow and this fleshly sign
  That thou art thou--who wailest being born
  And banish'd into mystery, and the pain
  Of this divisible-indivisible world
  Among the numerable-innumerable
  Sun, sun, and sun, thro' finite-infinite space,
  In finite-infinite Time--our mortal veil
  And shatter'd phantom of that infinite One,
  Who made thee unconceivably Thyself
  Out of His whole World-self, and all in all--
  Live thou, and of the grain and husk, the grape
  And ivyberry, choose; and still depart
  From death to death thro' life and life, and find
  Nearer and ever nearer Him, who wrought
  Not matter, not the finite-infinite,
  But this main-miracle, that thou art thou,
  With power on thine own act and on the world.

Note that the second greeting considers the reality of the child's life
and its meaning, the first only its appearance. The great deep of the
spiritual world is "that true world within the world we see, Whereof our
world is but the bounding shore." And this indication that the second
greeting gives the deeper and truer view, is preserved in some of the side
touches of description. In the first greeting, for example, the moon is
spoken of as "touch'd with earth's light"; in the second the truer and
less obvious fact is suggested. It "sends the hidden sun down yon dark
sea." The material view again looks at bright and hopeful appearances in
life, and it notes the new-born babe "breaking with laughter from the
dark." The spiritual view foresees the woes which, if Byron is right in
calling melancholy the "telescope of truth," are truer than the joys. It
notes no longer the child's laughter, but rather its tears, "Thou wailest
being born and banished into mystery." Life, in the spiritual view, is in
part a veiling and obscuring of the true self as it is, in a world of
appearances. The soul is "half lost" in the body which is part of the
phenomenal world, "in thine own shadow and in this fleshly sign that thou
art thou." The suns and moons, too, are but shadows, as the body of the
child itself is but a shadow--shadows of the spirit-world and of God
Himself. The physical life is before the child; but not as a fatally
determined course. Choice of the good is to lead the spirit ever nearer
God. The wonders of the material Universe are still recognized: "Sun, sun,
and sun, thro' finite-infinite space, in finite-infinite Time"; but they
vanish into insignificance when compared to the two great facts of the
spirit-world which consciousness tells us unmistakably--the facts of
personality and of a responsible will. The great mystery is "Not Matter,
nor the finite-infinite," but "_this main-miracle, that thou art thou,
with power on thine own act and on the world_."

"Out of the deep"--in this conception of the true "deep" of the world
behind the veil we have the thought which recurs so often, as in the
"Passing of Arthur" and in "Crossing the Bar"[117]--of birth and death as
the coming from and returning to the spirit-world and God Himself.
Birth[118] is the coming to land from that deep; "of which our world is
but the bounding shore;" death the re-embarking on the same infinite sea,
for the home of truth and light.

He seemed so much better when he had finished his explanation that I asked
him to read the poem through again. This he did, more beautifully than I
ever heard him read. I felt as though his long illness and his expectation
of death gave more intensity and force to his rendering of this wonderful
poem on the mystery of life. He began quietly, and read the concluding
lines of the first "greeting," the brief description of a peaceful old age
and death, from the human standpoint, with a very tender pathos:

  And last, in kindly curves, with gentlest fall
  By quiet fields, a slowly-dying power,
  To that last deep where we and thou are still.

Then he gathered force, and his voice deepened as the greeting to the
immortal soul of the man was read. He raised his eyes from the book at the
seventh line and looked for a moment at his hearer with an indescribable
expression of awe before he uttered the word "spirit"; "Out of the
deep--Spirit,--out of the deep." When he had finished the second greeting
he was trembling much. Then he read the prayer--a prayer he had told me of
self-prostration before the Infinite. I think he intended it as a contrast
to the analytical and reflective character of the rest. It is an
outpouring of the simplest and most intense self-abandonment to the
Creator, an acknowledgment, when all has been thought and said with such
insight and beauty, that our best thoughts and words are as nothing in the
Great Presence--in a sense parallel to the breaking off in the "Ode to the
Duke of Wellington":

  Speak no more of his renown,
  Lay your earthly fancies down.

He began to chaunt in a loud clear voice:

  Hallowed be Thy Name--Halleluiah.

His voice was growing tremulous as he reached the second part:

  We feel we are nothing--for all is Thou and in Thee;
  We feel we are something--_that_ also has come from Thee.

And he broke down as he finished the prayer:

  We know we are nothing--but Thou wilt help us to be.
  Hallowed be Thy Name--Halleluiah!


It will be seen below that the lines to which reference is made--

  That man's the true cosmopolite
    Who loves his native country best,

have been altered to suit my mother's setting, arranged by Sir Charles
Stanford, to

  He best will serve the race of men
    Who loves his native country best.




_With breadth and not too slow._

                                First pledge our Queen, my
  friends, and then A health to Eng-land eve-ry guest; He
  best will serve the race of men, Who loves his na-tive
  coun-try best. May Free-dom's oak for ev-er last, With
  lar-ger life, from day to day; He loves the pre-sent and the past, Who
  lops the moulder'd branch a-way.

CHORUS (_ad lib._)


                                Hands all round!
  God the traitor's hope con-found! To the great cause of Free-dom
  drink, my friends, And the great name of Eng-land
  round and round.

    To all the loyal hearts who long
      To keep our English Empire whole!
    To all our noble sons, the strong
      New England of the Southern Pole!
    To England under Indian skies,
      To those dark millions of her realm!
    To Canada whom we love and prize,
      Whatever statesman hold the helm.
  Hands all round! God the traitor's hope confound!
    To the great cause of Freedom drink, my friends,
  And the great name of England round and round.

    To all our statesmen so they be
      True leaders of the land's desire!
    To both our Houses, may they see
      Beyond the borough and the shire!
    We sail'd wherever ship could sail,
      We founded many a mighty state;
    Pray God our greatness may not fail
      Thro' craven fears of being great.
  Hands all round! God the traitor's hope confound!
    To the great cause of Freedom drink, my friends,
  And the great name of England round and round.



[During the last twenty-five years of his life my father was probably,
throughout the whole English-speaking race, the Englishman who was most
widely known. Hence the letters addressed to him by strangers competed in
number with those which, it is well known, add a needless weariness to the
heavy task of governing a civilized state. This became a correspondence
mainly of request or of reverence, although the voice of disappointment or
of envy of what is ranked above oneself which lurks in common human nature
may have occasionally been audible. My father's experience here was that
of Dr. Johnson and, doubtless, of many more men of commanding eminence;
that of writers submitting their work for candid criticism, charging him
with conceit if he suggested publication as unadvisable; if it were
advised, and the book failed, with deception. Probably many of those who
wrote thus soon repented of their eloquence; at any rate nothing of this
nature will be here preserved. But of the ordinary type of strangers'
letters some specimens may be of interest. And although these few have
been chosen mainly from the letters addressed to my father during his last
fifteen years yet they will give a general impression of the vast quantity

I place first letters upon poetry submitted (or proposed for submission)
to my father's judgment.]


    I hope you will forgive the liberty I am taking in writing to you. I
    have heard a great deal about you, and I read a part of one of your
    poems, "The May Queen." I have not had an opportunity to read the
    whole of it, but I like what I have seen very much.... I have tried
    to write some poems myself. I have enclosed one for you to see, which
    came into my mind while I was digging a ditch in my garden. I am only
    nine years old, and if I keep on trying some day I shall write a grand


    HONOURED SIR--It has been said: where a great apology is most needed,
    it is best to begin with the business at once.

    I never had the pleasure of seeing you, but it is enough for me to
    have had the pleasure of reading your heart in your works, "though
    they be but a part of your inward soul." I am a lad scarcely seventeen
    summers old. In some of my leisure hours, particularly morning and
    evening ones, I penned a few thousand lines of small poems in fair
    metre,--so my simple-minded friend or two pronounce them in their
    partiality.... [He deprecates the suspicion that he is applying for
    money.] Will you allow me to forward to you through the post a few of
    my poems? And when your benevolent soul has given up time to read some
    of my verses ("the primrose fancies of a boy"), and should my
    productions be considered by you deserving of your good word, half the
    difficulty of finding a willing publisher will, I know, be removed.

There is something truly felt and pathetic in the two following letters.
The first is from a young poetess.

    I hardly know how I have summoned up sufficient courage to address
    you, although I have long wished to do so! Studying that most touching
    of poems "Enoch Arden," I felt somehow convinced that the heart that
    had inspired so much which is beautiful and touching, would also
    prompt a kind answer to me. Ever since I was a child (not so very long
    ago), writing was my only consolation and solace in moments of great
    grief or joy; writing--I shall not say _poetry_ but rhyme.


    DEAR MR. TENNYSON--I have heard and believed that great men are always
    the best hearted, and therefore hope you will kindly look at the
    enclosed and tell me if there is any hope that I may ever write
    anything worthy the name of poetry, and if those lines are anything
    but doggerel, I hope you will not think me as presumptuous as I do;
    something tells me you will be kind.

Now follow good average specimens.


    DEAR AND MUCH-ADMIRED LORD TENNYSON--The writer of this, an humble
    admirer of your Poetry,--an uneducated girl from the bogs of Ireland,
    has the audacity to send you her first effort in verse: whether it is
    poetry or not I leave you to decide, as I am entirely incapable of
    judging myself, as I am wholly ignorant of the art of versification,
    and indeed would never dream of attempting to write verse, only I was
    very anxious to succeed in prose writing....


    Will you kindly pardon my venturing to ask you to read some of my
    verses, and to tell me whether you consider me capable of ever writing
    poetry fit to be read? I have never had any desire to become a poet,
    but lately ideas have come into my head, once I seemed to see a line
    or two before my eyes, and in order to free myself from these fancies
    I wrote.


    DEAR SIR--I remember your figure and attire at Shiplake Vicarage in
    Mrs. Franklyn Rawnsley's house, 1852, thirty-two years ago. Does your
    memory travel back to a fine December morning when, the house full of
    guests for the christening of the latest blossom of the Rawnsley
    house, there drove up through the flooded meadows surrounding the low
    old vicarage, a cab with a young foreigner, a child of sixteen
    summers, all tremulous how she should be received, not speaking a word
    of English but her native German tongue, besides French, introduced by
    Miss Amélie Bodte, the authoress in Dresden, to teach music to Mrs.
    Rawnsley's children? What a woeful feeling for the well-known
    counsellor's daughter to be treated in a cool way as the engaged
    teacher of little children. However, there was an oasis in the desert.
    On the following morning Mrs. Rawnsley proposed to the assembled
    guests to take a walk in a neighbouring Squire's park while she looked
    after some home duties, and a tall young gentleman with an enormous
    Tyrolese hat offered to walk with a solitary stranger. He spoke a
    little German and tried to divert the gloom of the young girl by
    crossing the lawn and breaking a belated rose she admired coming from
    snow-bound Saxony. They stopped at a turtle-dove house where he made
    the prettiest little German pun she never forgot hereafter, "Ich bin
    eine kleine Taube" (I am a little dove (deaf)?). And it began to rain,
    and he--it was you--took off the Spanish cloak gathered with narrow
    stitches on the throat, a black velvet collar falling over it, and
    wrapped it round the girl's shoulders. The ladies of the company
    frowned, returning home, all told as with one voice to Mrs. Rawnsley
    what had happened during the walk, and she laughed and said to me in
    French, "My dear, you had all the honours as a German because you did
    not try for them, this is the Poet Laureate, and it displeases him
    that the ladies torment him for attentions." And now do you remember,
    of course you know this girl was I. And the next day you read the "Ode
    to the Queen," of which I did not understand a word, and you went away
    to the sea to meet your wife and baby son, and I never saw you again.
    Now after thirty-two years undergoing purification in the crucible of
    humble life, I come to ask you to accept kindly the dedication of one
    of my compositions--a song. Your name is as illustrious here as in
    England, and my poor song will find more eager listeners with your
    name attached as a patron than otherwise.... "A turtle dove" could but
    bring an olive branch to a lone woman and gladden the heart of your
    Lordship's most respectful admirer,

    MARIA * * *


Now a Transatlantic poetess:

(After excuse asked for "presumption" she says:)

    I have to thank you for some of the best thoughts and the purest
    pleasure I have ever derived from anything.

    I am an American girl nineteen years of age, and was named from the
    hero of "Aylmer's Field."

    I enclose some verses I have written. I would like exceedingly to hear
    your opinion of them and to know if they contain anything of promise.

    LEOLINE * * *


From America also we have one who modestly describes himself as "a mere
Collegian, a youth to fortune and to fame unknown...."

    I have during the past summer been engaged, to my great entertainment
    and instruction, in the perusal of your poetical works, reading many
    for the first time though of course familiar with a large number;
    having finished them, I could not refrain from expressing my
    admiration of your great genius in a few lines which I send herewith.

        O Tennyson, how great a soul is thine!
        Thy range of thought how varied
                        and how vast...


    Will you accept the enclosed lines as a slight testimonial of the high
    admiration entertained for your exquisite genius, by a rhyming
    daughter of Columbia; whose poetic wings just fledging from a first
    unpublished vol. (commended by Wm. Cullen Bryant and Geo. Bancroft,
    Esqrs.) permit only a feeble fluttering around the base of that
    "Parnassus," whose summit you have so brilliantly, and justly
    attained. * * *


Then an "Agent for Stars" offers my father £20,000 if said Agent is
permitted to arrange a tour for him in the United States.


The following is another--we will not say, a less acceptable offering:

    I send you by my good friend ---- a dozen small parcels of smoking

    We think it the best smoking tobacco in the world and I trust that you
    may find reason to agree with us. If it shall give you one moment's
    pleasure in return for the countless hours of delight that you have
    given me, I shall count myself a happy mortal.


A gift certainly not less acceptable comes from a little girl:

    MY LORD--_Please_ let these flowers be in your room, and _do_ wear the
    little bunch.--I remain, your true admirer, * * *

Now follows the _Grande Armée_ of natural, amiable, but remorseless
autograph hunters. A miscellaneous group comes first.


    HONOURED LORD--May I (an Australian maiden born 1870) hope to be
    pardoned for taking the liberty of writing to you--so distinguished a
    gentleman--to express my great admiration for your poems? It is my
    admiration that has emboldened me to venture so far ... etc. etc.

    Let me conclude with one request: namely to ask you to do me the very
    great honour to acknowledge this letter; so that I may be able to
    boast of, and dearly treasure, even a line from the Great Poet.


An obvious fisher for good things follows:

    SIR--I hope that you will kindly excuse the liberty I take in
    requesting you to be so good as to inform me how the word "humble"
    should be pronounced: _i.e._ whether or not it is proper to aspirate
    the "h"?

    A reply at your kind convenience will inexpressibly oblige....


Another ingenuously finds it needful to ask whether the word be pronounced
_I_dylls or _E_dylls.


    DEAR SIR--A simple child (who writes from Holland), would feel
    extremely happy, would be in the seventh heaven, when she would be
    favoured with a mere line of the greatest poet of renown, Alfred
    Tennyson. Allow her, to offer you before, her sincere thanks for your
    autograph, with which she would feel the happiest child in the world.

    With kind regards, most honourable lord, yours respectfully.


    A (German) collector of autographs, who has an autograph of Mr. Kinkel
    and Victor Hugo, the greatest living poets of Germany and France, only
    misses in his collection the autograph of the greatest living English
    poet. Therefore he requests you to give him an autograph of yours. May
    it only be your signature, it will find in my album a place of honour.


    _To the prince of poets._

    MONSIEUR--Forgive me, I beseech you, the liberty I take in daring to
    write to you; but I wish to beg the greatest of favours.

    This favour, Monsieur, it is your signature.

    I am only a young Belgian girl, and I have no reason to proffer why
    you should thus distinguish me; but I feel you must love all girls, or
    you could not have written "Isabel" or "Lilian"; and you must be kind
    and good, or you would not have given them to the world.

    So, Monsieur, I humbly beg you send me the name we all venerate,
    traced by the hand that has guided the world with so much beauty, and
    make one more heart supremely happy.--One who loves you, * * *

Three petitions, which touched my father, may here have place.

The first (1884) consists of some twenty letters, in very creditable
English and excellent hand-writing, each saying some handsome thing about
the "May Queen," which they had learned, and now criticized with amusing
_naïveté_, and asking for a line from Tennyson--signed with the children's
names, and dated from a German High School for girls: "who," says their
Mistress, "in the joy of their hearts tried to express their feeling of
admiration in their imperfect knowledge of the English language."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the next a young girl from India, training in England with comrades
apparently for Zenana work, thanks "Our dear aziz Sahib" for a copy of the
Poems, and then proceeds, in neat round hand:

    Oh how we wish we could see you even for one minute The Great and good
    Poet Laureate, whom everybody loves so much and we love you too dear
    sweet Sahib, we are going to learn that pretty Poetry "The May Queen"
    and several others out of that lovely Book. Will you please, dear
    Sahib, write out "The May Queen" and "The Dedication of the Idyols of
    the King," with your own hand, we will keep it till the last day of
    our lives.

They then explain why the "Dedication" is asked for; "because we know how
dearly Prince Albert loved you, and, also our beloved Queen Empress, and
how you love them": also how they long to go back "to our dear India," and
sing hymns, and nurse and dose "our own countrywomen in the Zenanas."

    Now good-bye our aziz (beloved) Sahib I am sending you some wild
    daisies and moss as you are so fond of flowers and everything
    beautiful in God's world. May God give you a sweet smile every day,
    prays your little loving, Indian Friend, * * *

This last explains itself:

    DEAR MR. TENNYSON--I am one of a large struggling family of girls and
    boys who have never yet been able to afford to give 9s. for that
    much-coveted green volume Tennyson's "Poems," so at last, the boys
    having failed to obtain it as a prize, and the girls as a birthday
    present, I, the boldest of the party, venture to ask if you would
    kindly bestow a copy on a nest full of young admirers. * * *

He wrote his little Indian maid a pretty letter, and sent his poems to the
"best girl." And in many an instance, (requests for aid included) the
correspondence bears witness to my father's open-hearted kindliness and
liberality. His _beggars_, at any rate, were often _choosers_.

The wish for an autograph, we may again reasonably suppose, was not absent
from the minds of the following (and other analogous) writers. The first
dates from Scotland:


    I take the great liberty in writing to you, in order to settle a
    dispute that has arisen amongst several parties, regarding the song
    written by Sir Walter Scott, _Jock O' Hazeldean_. The words are as

        And ye shall be his bride Lady;
        So comely to be seen.

    Does comely apply to the bride, or the bridegroom? As your opinion
    will be considered satisfactory to all, your reply will be considered
    a lasting favour. * * *


    I am an enthusiastic reader and admirer of your works, and have read
    those which I like especially, over and over again, in particular
    "Maud," which I consider to be surpassingly fresh and beautiful--there
    is a sort of fascination about the poem to me ... but I really cannot
    understand the meaning of the end of it.

    I should very much like to know whether it is intended to mean that
    Maud's brother, "that curl'd Assyrian bull," is slain by her lover:
    whether Maud is supposed to die of a broken heart, or does her lover
    come back, long after, presumably from the Russian war and marry her?

The remaining examples, in which respect is curiously blended with
familiarity, are dated from the United States.

A lively boy of thirteen (1884) who loves "Nature and Poetry" shall here
have precedence:

    In the first place I wish to ask your pardon for bothering you with
    this letter, but I want to make a collection, or I mean get the
    autographs of 5 or 6 distinguished poets; and so I thought I would
    write and get yours if possible and then the minor ones may follow.

    I have read most of your poems, and like them _very much_ indeed, etc.

    (A biographical sketch follows, including a visit to England.) When we
    drove back from Stoke Pogis to Windsor we saw the deer in the Queen's
    hunting grounds, and the tall, mighty oaks on each side of the road
    seemed to say, "This is an Earthly Paradise."...

    If you would write a verse or two from some one of your poems and
    write your name under it, I should be _very much_ obliged to you


    Forgive the intrusion of a stranger (says a lady). Long have I desired
    to have some one of the noble thoughts, I have so learned to love, in
    your own handwriting. I have felt a delicacy in asking this, but the
    wish is so earnest with me that I will venture this first and last
    request.... I crave some tangible proof that my "hero-worship" has
    some sympathetic, human foundation. Could I choose a couplet?... They
    spring to my memory in legions. The wild melody of "Blow, bugle,
    blow," etc. etc. ... They have helped to make my life beautiful,
    earnest and true, and I am grateful for it all. If I might be once
    more your debtor it would be a real joy to me, but if it _feels_ like
    a burden, do not give it another thought.

           *       *       *       *       *


    ... In behalf of _Charity Circle_, a non-sectarian organization of the
    order of King's Daughters, we are making a collection of autographs of
    prominent men and women to be used in a souvenir banner: which when
    finished will be sold and the proceeds devoted to charity work. We
    feel as if the banner will not be complete without Lord Tennyson's


    BELOVED SIR--I feel awkward and abashed, as I thus come before you,
    who are so great, so honored, so crowned with earthly fame and glory;
    and, so worthy to be thus crowned, and known to fame: but, I know,
    that in the midst of all these honors, which might spoil one, of the
    common sort of souls; you are a poet, _born_, _not_ made; and
    therefore, you have the essential gift of the poet [sympathy] and can
    feel for the imprisoned soul, beating against the stifling walls of
    silence: and longing, fainting, to come forth into the glad sunshine,
    the sweet, fresh air of _utterance_, so strangely withheld from it....
    From [youth] till now, Beloved Sir, you have been my friend, my
    soother; the dear angel, whose kindly office it has been, ever and
    anon, to speak _for_ me ... and thus to give me the _sweet sense_ of
    having been led forth from prison for a while into the blessed light
    and freedom of utterance.

    I will never forget the relief afforded by those lines:

        My very heart faints and my soul grieves
        Etc. etc.

           *       *       *       *       *


A lady writes to the honored Poet-Laureate of England, and the beloved
world-renowned verse-maker.

    Knowing the value of even one verse and your autograph I write to you
    and make my request, which if granted will be beyond my anticipations.
    I want a dedicatory poem so much, but if I get only a line from you I
    should be happy. I always loved your poetry. Now please, do send me
    the coveted verse. I, a beggar-maid at the throne of poetry, kneel and
    beg of the monarch a crumb. Have you any grandchildren? I wish I
    could get one of their photos for my book. Hoping you will act like
    the good king in the fairy kingdom and grant the request--I remain
    etc. etc.


    DEAR LADY TENNYSON--It is one of the glorious privileges of our
    government that the "first ladies of the land" may be courteously
    addressed without the formalities of an introduction, and why not the
    same rule in your country? Therefore, without the semblance of an
    apology, I request you will do me the honor to grant a small favor. I
    am engaged in collecting souvenirs from celebrated writers, and you
    being the wife of England's Poet Laureate, I would prize beyond
    measure a contribution from you: a _scrap_ of silk or velvet from one
    of _your dresses_, and also a scrap of one of your husband's
    _neckties_.... There is no one who loves his works as myself ... he
    reaches further down into the human heart and touches its tender cords
    (sic) as no man has since the days of Shakespeare.... My husband, who
    has won an enviable reputation as a writer hopes soon to produce his
    work on _The Lives of English and American Poets_. Hoping you will not
    refuse me, etc. etc.

A few miscellaneous oddities follow.


    DEAR SIR--May I ask you as a favour where I could find a "wold," to
    illustrate the following verse:

        Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
            And on these dews that drench the furze,
            And all the silvery gossamers
        That twinkle into green and gold:
                                    ("In Memoriam," XI.)

    which is the subject given this year for a painting (for the Gold
    Medal), to the Students of the Royal Academy of Arts?


A young girl, writing from America, asks a natural question.

    We have your book of poems, and I have read "Enoch Arden." So I
    thought I would write and see if it is true. Was there a girl whose
    name was Anna Lee, and two boys named Enoch Arden and Philip Ray?

    I felt very sorry for Philip at first and afterward for Enoch, when
    he came home and found his wife had married Philip and he saw her
    children grown up, but could not go to see them....

    I have a pet rooster, and it is very cunning. I hold it and pet it and
    I love it _lots_.

    Well, I must close, hoping to hear from you soon, for I want to know
    if the story of Enoch is true.


U.S.A. again supplies the following _naïveté_:

    DEAR SIR--I intrude a line on your notice, to ask a little favor.

    I am in my fourteenth year; am considered fairly advanced for my age,
    by older heads. I _wish your opinion_ of the _best line of books_ for
    me to read at leisure hours, aside from novels or fiction. I attend
    the high school, and on Saturdays, clerk in the store, of which my
    father is senior partner.

    _P.S._--You will find five cents for return postage.

    _2nd P.S._--My mother says you are not living, but I say to her, I
    believe she is mistaken; in other words, I am glad one time to differ
    with her.


    MY DEAR LORD TENNYSON--I once met you....

    You will think it strange indeed, my Lord, when I assure you that I am
    often supposed to be your noble self, once in Scarborough, often in
    Town at the great exhibitions and elsewhere. I wear a large Tyrolese
    felt hat.

    There is to be a grand summer party here, my Lord, gentlemen to appear
    in character, I having been requested to appear as "Lord Tennyson."

    Could your Lordship kindly lend me any outer clothing, by Thursday
    morning at latest? a cloak, etc.? Then I should feel so thankful and
    fulfil the character better.

           *       *       *       *       *

America characteristically supplies the following:

    Permit me to call your special attention to a pamphlet I mail you
    herewith, of an address to the _New Shakespere Society_, containing
    the announcement of a momentous discovery which I have made in the
    "Shakespeare" plays.

    My unveiling therein of the allegory of _Cymbeline_ is but a sample of
    what I have similarly discerned in the other dramas, and in which I
    find the same conclusions consistently to be reached.

           *       *       *       *       *

The fair writer's answers to objections and discourse on her discovery
unhappily throw no light upon the subject. She proceeds:

    I would add that it is singular to myself there should be so strong a
    prejudice against the acceptance of Bacon's authorship of these
    dramas, investing them, as it does, with such additional interest both
    of a historical and an autobiographical kind, in the light of his
    concealment of it.

    The value of truth, and the interests of literature, constitute my
    apology for this intrusion upon your valuable time.

           *       *       *       *       *

[The acceptance of Bacon's authorship of Shakespeare's dramas and the
attack on Shakespeare's character made my father register his opinion

  Not only with no sense of shame
  On common sense you tread,
  Not only ride your hobby lame,
  But make him kick the dead.      ED.]


    RIGHT HONORABLE SIR--The editor of a Bohemian literary journal takes
    the liberty of applying, in a very delicate matter, to you the most
    renowned poet of the first literature in the world. Yet this liberty I
    draw from having a great belief in the generous character of the
    English nation.

    What I do venture to impress on your mind is this, that a poem of
    yours written on, and dedicated to the poor descendants of Bohemia's
    happier ancestors, would as a mighty missionary go the round all over
    their fair country evoking everywhere loud echoes out of the graves of
    their heroes!


The following is a letter from an hysterical Irishman:

    EMINENT SIR--I send you the inside poem to show you what the American
    people think of your lives of tyranny, and may the day come when your
    infernal land may be torn to a million pieces. Curse you for your
    highway robbery of Ireland, and then holding her down in such misery,
    and also for your cowardly war with Napoleon. You could fight him
    alone, could you? I wish that every Englishman was in the hottest
    place of hell--their bones made into gridirons to roast their hearts
    on. * * *


A French chemist, hearing that "Monsieur" suffers from gout, has a certain
secret cure. If he could, he would come over to England, "et ... je vous
guérirais complètement."

He is assured that this remedy will rapidly make him rich. But it should
be known beyond France.

    On m'a dit que je pouvais trouver quelques-uns à l'étranger qui
    sauraient l'apprécier et le faire valoir que cela vaut une petite
    fortune pour moi; ne serai-je que pour l'humanité, je me tacherai de
    la vendre.

    Je vous le répète, Monsieur, c'est bien regrettable que je ne sois pas
    plus près de chez vous, car je vous soulagerois et, Monsieur, on peut
    se renseigner sur moi; je ne suis pas riche mais honnête et d'une
    bonne famille, et en faisant mon chimisterie je m'occupe un peu

Two of the latest letters amused my father much, one from Canada from a
little boy who said that his mother liked cheeses, and he would like
Tennyson to send him money to buy a good cheese: the other from an English
artist who said that his speciality was drawing cows, but that he must
have a cow of his own to live with and make proper studies of, would
therefore Tennyson give him a cow?




    [This letter was written after a talk with my father, and no doubt Sir
    James Knowles has caught much of the meaning of "The Idylls of the
    King." About this poem my father said to me, "My meaning was
    spiritual. I only took the legendary stories of the Round Table as
    illustrations. Arthur was allegorical to me. I intended him to
    represent the Ideal in the Soul of Man coming in contact with the
    warring elements of the flesh."--ED.]

The fine and wholesome moral breeze which always seems to blow about the
higher realms of Art comes to us fresh as ever from this great poem, and
more acceptably than ever just now. A constant worship of Purity, and a
constant reprobation of Impurity as the rock on which the noble projects
of the "blameless king" are wrecked, appear throughout upon the surface of
the story.

But besides this, there doubtless does run through it all a sort of
under-tone of symbolism, which, while it never interferes with the clear
_melody_ of the poem, or perverts it into that most tedious of riddles, a
formal allegory, gives a profound _harmony_ to its music and a prophetic
strain to its intention most worthy of a great spiritual Bard.

King Arthur, as he has always been treated by Tennyson, stands obviously
for no mere individual prince or hero, but for the "King within us"--our
highest nature, by whatsoever name it may be called--conscience; spirit;
the moral soul; the religious sense; the noble resolve. His story and
adventures become the story of the battle and pre-eminence of the soul and
of the perpetual warfare between the spirit and the flesh.

For so exalting him there is abundant warrant in the language of many old
compilers, by whom "all human perfection was collected in Arthur"; as
where, for instance, one says,--"The old world knows not his peer, nor
will the future show us his equal,--he alone towers over all other kings,
better than the past ones, and greater than those that are to be"; or
another, "In short, God has not made, since Adam was, the man more perfect
than Arthur."

How and why Arthur ever grew to so ideal a height we need not now inquire,
it is sufficient here to note the fact, and that Tennyson is
archæologically justified thereby in making him the type of the soul on
earth, from its mysterious coming to its mysterious and deathless going.

In the "Idylls of the King," the soul comes first before us as a conqueror
in a waste and desert land groaning under mere brute power. Its history
before then is dark with doubt and mystery, and the questions about its
origin and authority form the main subject of the introductory poem.

Many, themselves the basest, hold it to be base-born, and rage against its

              And since his ways are sweet,
  And theirs are bestial, hold him less than man;
  And there be those who deem him more than man,
  And dream he dropt from heaven.

Of those who recognize its claim, some, as the hoary chamberlain, accept
it on the word of wizards who have written all about it in a sacred book
which, doubtless, some day will become intelligible. Others, as Ulfius,
and Brastias, standing for commonplace men with commonplace views, are
satisfied to think the soul comes as the body does, or not to think at all
about it. Others, again, as Bedivere, with warmer hearts, feel there is
mystery, where to the careless all is plain, yet seek among the dark ways
of excessive natural passion for the key, and drift towards the scandalous
accordingly. Then comes the simple touching tenderness of the woman's
discovery of conscience and its influence given by Queen Bellicent in the
story of her childhood; and this, again, is supplemented and contrasted by
the doctrine of the wise men and philosophers put into Merlin's mouth. His
"riddling triplets" anger the woman, but are a wonderful summary of the
way, part-earnest, part-ironical, and all-pathetic, in which great wit
confronts the problem of the soul.

The inscrutableness of its origin being thus signified, we see next the
recognition of its supremacy, and its first act of kinghood,--the
inspiration of the best and bravest near it with a common enthusiasm for
Right. The founding of the Order of the Round Table coincides with the
solemn crowning of the soul. Conscience, acknowledged and throned as king,
binds at once all the best of human powers together into one brotherhood,
and that brotherhood to itself by vows so strait and high,

  That when they rose, knighted from kneeling, some
  Were pale as at the passing of a ghost,
  Some flush'd, and others dazed, as one who wakes
  Half-blinded at the coming of a light.

At that supreme coronation-moment, the Spirit is surrounded and cheered on
by all the powers and influences which can ever help it--earthly servants
and allies and heavenly powers and tokens--the knights, to signify the
strength of the body; Merlin, to signify the strength of intellect; the
Lady of the Lake, who stands for the Church, and gives the soul its
sharpest and most splendid earthly weapon; and, above all, three fair and
mystic Queens, "tall, with bright sweet faces," robed in the living
colours sacred to love and faith and hope, which flow upon them from the
image of our Lord above. These, surely, stand for those immortal virtues
which only will abide "when all that seems shall suffer shock," and
leaning upon which alone, the soul, when all else falls from it, shall go
towards the golden gates of the new and brighter morning.

As the first and introductory idyll thus seems to indicate the coming and
the recognition of the soul, so the ensuing idylls of the "Round Table"
show how its influence fares--waxes or wanes--in the great battle of life.
Through all of these we see the body and its passions gain continually
greater sway, till in the end the Spirit's earthly work is thwarted and
defeated by the flesh. Its immortality alone remains to it, and, with
this, a deathless hope.

From the story of "Geraint and Enid," where the first gust of poisoning
passion bows for a time with base suspicion, yet passes, and leaves pure a
great and simple heart, we are led through "Merlin and Vivien," where,
early in the storm, we see great wit and genius succumb,--and through
"Lancelot and Elaine," where the piteous early death of innocence and hope
results from it,--to "The Holy Grail," where we find religion itself
under the stress of it, and despite the earnest efforts of the soul, blown
into mere fantastic shapes of superstition. It would be difficult to find
a nobler and manlier apology for pure and sane and practical religion, fit
for mighty men, than the verdict of the King at the end of this wonderful

In "Pelleas and Ettarre" the storm of corruption culminates, whirling the
sweet waters of young love and faith (the very life-spring of the world)
out from their proper channels, sweeping them into mist, and casting them
in hail upon the land. A scarcely-concealed harlot here rides splendid to
the Court, and is crowned Queen of Beauty in the lists; the lust of the
flesh is all but paramount. Then comes in "Guinevere" the final lightning
stroke, and all the fabric of the earthly life falls smitten into dust,
leaving to the soul a broken heart for company, and a conviction that if
in this world only it had hope, it were of all things most miserable.

Thus ends the "Round Table," and the story of the life-long labour of the

There remains but the passing of the soul "from the great deep to the
great deep," and this is the subject of the closing idyll. Here the "last
dim, weird battle," fought out in densest mist, stands for a picture of
all human death, and paints its awfulness and confusion. The soul alone,
enduring beyond the end wherein all else is swallowed up, sees the mist
clear at last, and finds those three crowned virtues, "abiding" true and
fast, and waiting to convey it to its rest. Character, upheld and formed
by these, is the immortal outcome of mortal life. They wail with it awhile
in sympathy for the failure of its earthly plans; but at the very last of
all are heard to change their sorrow into songs of joy, and departing,
"vanish into light."

Such or such like seems to be the high significance and under-meaning of
this noble poem,--a meaning worthy of the exquisite expression which
conveys it and of the wealth of beauty and imagery which enfolds it.

But nothing is more remarkable than the way in which so much symbolic
truth is given without the slightest forcing of the current of the
narrative itself. Indeed, so subtle are the touches, and so consummately
refined the art employed, that quite possibly many readers may hold there
is no parable at all intended. It is most interesting, for instance, to
note the thread of realism which is preserved throughout, and which,
whether intentionally or not, serves the double purpose of entirely
screening any such symbolic under-meaning from all who do not care to seek
it, and also of accounting naturally for all the supernatural adventures
and beliefs recorded in the story itself.

Thus, in "The Holy Grail," the various apparitions of the mystic vessel
are explicable by passing meteors or sudden lightning flashes seen in a
season of great tempests and thunderstorms--first acting on the hysterical
exaltation of an enthusiastic nun, and then, by contagion from her faith,
upon the imaginations of a few kindred natures.

Again, in the "Coming of Arthur," the marvellous story of his birth, as
told by Bleys, might simply have been founded on a shipwreck when the sea
was phosphorescent, and when all hands suddenly perished, save one infant
who was washed ashore.

Or, again, in the same poem, the three mystic Queens at the
Coronation--who become, in one sense, so all-important in their
meaning--derive their import in the eyes of Bellicent simply from the
accident of coloured beams of light falling upon them from a stained-glass

May I, in conclusion say how happily characteristic of their English
author, and their English theme, seems to me the manner in which these
"Idylls of the King" have become a complete poem? It brings to mind the
method of our old cathedral-builders. Round some early shrine, too
precious to be moved, were gathered bit by bit a nave and aisles, then
rich side chapels, then the great image-crowded portals, then a more noble
chancel, then, perhaps, the towers, all in fulfilment of some general plan
made long ago, but each produced and added as occasion urged or natural
opportunity arose. As such buildings always seem rather to have _grown_
than been _constructed_, and have the wealth of interest, and beauty, and
variety which makes Canterbury Cathedral, for instance, far more poetical
than St. Paul's--so with these "Idylls." Bit by bit the poem and its
sacred purport have grown continually more and more connected and
impressive. Had Tennyson sat down in early youth to write the symbolic
epic of King Arthur which he then projected, his "Morte d'Arthur" is
enough to show how fine a work might have resulted. But, for once, at any
rate, the interposing critics did art good service, for they deferred
till the experience of life had given him, as it were, many lives, a poem
which could not have been produced without wide acquaintanceship with the
world and human nature. We should never otherwise have had the parable
"full of voices" which we now fortunately possess.


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.


[1] Henry Sellwood.

[2] Sister of Sir John Franklin.

[3] [EXTRACT from a LETTER from my MOTHER to Mrs. GRANVILLE BRADLEY, April
23, 1873.

"To think of your having been among our Aldworth giants (the monuments in
Aldworth Church)! Pibworth belonged to my grandmother, a Rowland from
Wales. I am glad you did not go there, for all the grand pine grove, which
backed it, was cut down as soon as it was bought, some years ago, by some
London man, and I hear it has sunk into a mere commonplace house. The
little estate, in which were the ruins of Beche Castle, was ours. The
tombs are those of the 'de la Beches.' Their pedigree was said to have
been taken down to show to Queen Elizabeth--when she came to look at the
old yew tree, the remains of which, I hope, still exist--and never to have
been replaced, so that no more is known of the giants than that they were
'de la Beches.' Neither do we know if they were really our ancestors, as
they have been reported to be, or whether the report came from our having
owned the remains of the castle."--ED.]

[4] Rev. Drummond Rawnsley.

[5] This is written of the Lincolnshire coast.

[6] This taken from what he saw from the cliffs over Scratchell's Bay near
the Needles in the Isle of Wight.

[7] Afterwards married to Judge Alan Ker, Chief Justice of Jamaica.

[8] At Mablethorpe there was no post at all, and Alfred tells how he was
indebted to the muffin man for communication with the outer world.

[9] His wife.

[10] Mother of Lady Boyne.

[11] [The unpublished letters from Frederick Tennyson, quoted throughout
the chapter, were written either to my father, or to my father's friend,
Mary Brotherton, the novelist. The lives of my uncles Frederick and
Charles were so much interwoven with the lives of some of my father's
friends that I have ventured to insert this account of them here.
Moreover, these two brothers represent "the two extremes of the Tennyson
temperament, the mean and perfection of which is found in Alfred."--ED.]

[12] Unpublished letter to Alfred Tennyson.

[13] Alfred was always telling his brother that Spiritualism was a subject
well worthy of examination, but not to be swallowed whole. He had a great
admiration for certain passages in Swedenborg's writings.

[14] Alfred used to say of the Sonnets that many of them had all the
tenderness of the Greek epigram, while a few were among the finest in our

[15] The other three were Franklin, Harry, and Tom.

[16] She often used to sing to us "Elaine's song" which she had set to

[17] [My father was devoted to Henry Lushington, and pronounced him to be
the best critic he had ever known. To him he dedicated "In

[18] There are also the fine "beardless bust" by Tennyson's friend, Thomas
Woolner, R.A., and the earliest "beardless portrait" of him by his
sister-in-law, Mrs. Weld.

[19] This was a misunderstanding on the part of FitzGerald.

[20] This account of the talk in the Woodbridge garden has been taken from
a letter to me from the present Lord Tennyson.

[21] Sophocles, _Ajax_, 674-5.

[22] This old French paraphrase of Horace, _Odes_, I. xi., FitzGerald was
very fond of, and quotes more than once in his letters.

[23] Of the _Conversations with Eckermann_, he said, "almost as repeatedly
to be read as Boswell's _Johnson_--a German Johnson--and (as with Boswell)
more interesting to me in Eckermann's Diary than in all his own famous
works."--_Letters to Mrs. Kemble._

[24] [Some of these sayings appeared in my Memoir of my father.--ED.]

[25] See _Tennyson: a Memoir, by his Son_, p. 373.

[26] See _Tennyson: a Memoir, by his Son_, p. 352.

[27] "I suppose the worship of wonder, such as I have heard grown-up
children tell of at first sight of the Alps."--_Euphranor_, by E. F. G.

[28] Arthur Hallam, Harry Lushington, and Sir John Simeon.

[29] "The Death of Œnone."

[30] ["Ulysses," the title of a number of essays by W. G. Palgrave,
brother of my father's devoted friend Francis T. Palgrave.--ED.]

[31] 1888.

[32] Garibaldi said to me, alluding to his barren island, "I wish I had
your trees."

[33] The tale of Nejd.

[34] The Philippines.

[35] In Dominica.

[36] The Shadow of the Lord. Certain obscure markings on a rock in Siam,
which express the image of Buddha to the Buddhist more or less distinctly
according to his faith and his moral worth.

[37] The footstep of the Lord on another rock.

[38] The monastery of Sumelas.

[39] Anatolian Spectre stories.

[40] The Three Cities.

[41] Travels in Egypt.

[42] Lionel Tennyson.

[43] In Bologna.

[44] They say, for the fact is doubtful.

[45] Demeter and Persephone.

[46] [This Home was founded at the suggestion of my father, for he and
Gordon had discussed the desirability of founding training camps all over
England for the training of poor boys as soldiers or emigrants, Gordon
saying to him, "You are the man to found them."--ED.]

[47] One of Tennyson's friends asked a cabman at Freshwater, "Whose house
is that?" Cabman: "It belongs to one Tennyson." Friend: "He is a great
man, you know?" Cabman: "He a great man! he only keeps one man-servant,
and he don't sleep in the house!"

[48] Now grown into one hundred and fifty acres.

[49] He used to protest against the misuse of words of mighty content as
mere expletives, contrasting "God made Himself an awful rose of dawn," and
the colloquial "young-ladyism," as he called it, of "awfully jolly." (See
the _Memoir_.)

[50] And, though I knew him to the end of his days, that interval never
seemed to lengthen. [Among Mr. Dakyns's rough notes I find the Greek
phrase [Greek: aei pais], with an emphatic reference to "The Wanderer." I
know he thought the spirit of him "who loves the world from end to end and
wanders on from home to home" was really Tennyson's own.--F. M. S.]

[51] See _Memoir_, ii. 400.

[52] [I think that this riddle was originally made by Franklin

[53] See _Memoir_, ii. 288.

[54] ii. 284 foll., 293, "Some Criticism on Poets and Poetry"; _ib._ 420
foll., "Last Talks": that wonderful chapter.

[55] See "Poets and Critics," one of his last poems.

[56] _Solaciolum_, "poor dear, some solace"; _turgiduli ... ocelli_ (see
below), "her poor dear swollen eyes."

[57] _Miselle_, epithet of the dead like our "poor" So-and-so.

[58] Robinson Ellis notes, "The rhythm of the line and the continued
_a_-sound well represent the eternity of the sleep that knows no waking,"
and that is just the effect that Tennyson's reading gave with infinite
pathos; and then the sudden passionate change, _da mi basia_----

[59] An old experiment, being written in 1859, finished in 1860. He
himself only called it "a far-off echo of the _Attis_ of Catullus."

[60] See Carlyle, _Fr. Rev._ (Part I. Bk. v. c. ix), for the cry of the
mob. And for Béranger, cf. _Memoir_, ii. 422.

[61] Compare Merlin's song, "From the great deep to the great deep he

[62] Some commentators insist that Tennyson was born on August 5 because
the date looks like 5th in the Register of his birth. He used to say, "All
I can state is that my mother always kept my birthday on August 6, and I
suppose she knew."

[63] I can confirm this last statement from more than one talk with him.
He would note the perfection of the metre. The second line affords an
instance of the delicacy of his ear. We were speaking of the undoubtedly
correct reading:

  The lowing herd _wind_ slowly o'er the lea,

not, as is so often printed, _winds_. I forget his exact comment, but the
point of it was that the double s, wind_s_ _s_lowly, would have been to
his ear most displeasing.

Again, speaking of the line,

  And all the air a solemn stillness holds,

he observed how seldom Gray seemed satisfied with this inversion of the
accusative and the nominative, and how he himself endeavoured, as a rule,
to avoid it.--H. M. B.

[64] My own writing he compared to "the limbs of a flea."

[65] In _Problems and Persons_ (Longmans), Appendix A.

[66] _Nineteenth Century_, January 1893.

[67] _Sunday, October 27, 1872._--I asked A. T. at Aldworth what he
thought he had done most perfect. He said, "Nothing," only fragments of
things that he could think at all so--such as "Come down, O Maid," written
on his first visit to Switzerland, and "Tears, idle Tears."

He told me he meant to write the siege of Delhi, an ode in rhyme, but was
refused the papers.

[68] ["Until absorbed into the Divine."--ED.]

[69] See Appendix C.

[70] See Translation by Frederick Tennyson, p. 56.

[71] Some extracts from the paper on Tennyson in _Studies and Memories_
are included in this chapter by kind permission of Messrs. Constable & Co.

[72] [First published as a preface to _Tennyson as a Student and Poet of
Nature_ in 1910, and republished here by the kind permission of Sir Norman
Lockyer and Messrs. Macmillan.--ED.]

[73] See the fine Parsee Hymn to the Sun (written by Tennyson when he was
82) at the end of "Akbar's Dream":


  Once again thou flamest heavenward, once again we see thee rise.
  Every morning is thy birthday gladdening human hearts and eyes.
      Every morning here we greet it, bowing lowly down before thee,
  Thee the Godlike, thee the changeless in thine ever-changing skies.


  Shadow-maker, shadow-slayer, arrowing light from clime to clime,
  Hear thy myriad laureates hail thee monarch in their woodland rhyme.
      Warble bird, and open flower, and, men, below the dome of azure
  Kneel adoring Him the Timeless in the flame that measures Time!

[74] [See _Tennyson: a Memoir_, p. 259. "It is impossible," he said, "to
imagine that the Almighty will ask you, when you come before Him in the
next life, what your particular form of creed was: but the question will
rather be 'Have you been true to yourself, and given in My Name a cup of
cold water to one of these little ones?'" Yet he felt that religion could
never be founded on mere moral philosophy; that there were no means of
impressing upon children systematic ethics apart from religion; and that
the highest religion and morality would only come home to the people in
the noble, simple thoughts and facts of a Scripture like ours.--ED.]

[75] [He added, "_The_ Son of Man is the most tremendous title

[76] From Tennyson's last published sonnet, "Doubt and Prayer."

[77] [Toward the end of his life he would say, "My most passionate desire
is to have a clearer vision of God."--ED.]

[78] [The eldest daughter of Sir John Simeon, who was my father's most
intimate friend in later life--a tall, broad-shouldered, genial, generous,
warm-hearted, highly gifted, and thoroughly noble country gentleman; in
face like the portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt, by Holbein.--ED.]

[79] This MS. was given back to Tennyson at his request after Sir John
Simeon's death, and after Tennyson's death presented by his son and
Catherine, Lady Simeon, to the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.

[80] He afterwards built a larger study for himself, "looking into the
heart of the wood," as he said.

[81] "In the Garden at Swainston."

[82] Tennyson said to her, "Perhaps your babe will remember all these
lights and this splendour in future days, as if it were the memory of
another life."

[83] From "The Death of Œnone and other Poems," afterwards published

[84] First published 1909, by Sidgwick and Jackson, Ltd., 1s. net., and
kindly corrected by the author for republication here.

[85] Now Lady Ritchie.

[86] [Greek: ouranothen te huperragê aspetos aithêr.]

[87] See note by Tennyson in the "Eversley Edition" of the poems: "I made
this simile from a stream (in North Wales), and it is different, tho' like
Theocritus, _Idyll_ xxii. 48 ff.:

  [Greek: en de myes stereoisi brachiosin akron hyp' ômon
  estasan, êute petroi holoitrochoi, houste kylindôn
  cheimarrous potamos megalais periexese dinais.]"

When some one objected that he had taken this simile from Theocritus, he
answered: "It is quite different. Geraint's muscles are not compared to
the rounded stones, but to the stream pouring vehemently over them."--ED.

[88] [I am much obliged to Mr. Sidgwick for having omitted his original
statement that Tennyson "takes the anti-reform line" in the matter of the
higher education of women. My father's friends report him to have said
that the great social questions impending in England were "the housing and
education of the poor, and the higher education of women"; and that the
sooner woman finds out, before the great educational movement begins, that
"woman is not undevelopt man, but diverse," the better it will be for the
progress of the world. She must train herself to do the large work that
lies before her, even though she may not be destined to be wife and
mother, cultivating her understanding, not her memory only, her
imagination in its higher phases, her inborn spirituality, and her
sympathy with all that is pure, noble, and beautiful, rather than mere
social accomplishments; then and then only will she further the progress
of humanity, then and then only will men continue to hold her in
reverence. See _Tennyson: a Memoir_, pp. 206, 208.--ED.]

[89] From Virgil's Georgics.

[90] From Theocritus.

[91] [For another view of "Gareth" see FitzGerald's letter to my father in

MY DEAR ALFRED--I write my yearly letter to yourself this time, because I
have a word to say about "Gareth" which your publisher sent me as "from
the author." I don't think it is mere perversity that makes me like it
better than all its predecessors, save and except (of course) the old
"Morte." The subject, the young knight who can endure and conquer,
interests me more than all the heroines of the 1st volume. I do not know
if I admire more _separate_ passages in this "Idyll" than in the others;
for I have admired _many_ in _all_. But I do admire several here very
much, as

  The journey to Camelot, pp. 13-14,
  All Gareth's vassalage, 31-34,
  Departure with Lynette, 42,
  Sitting at table with the Barons, 54,
  Phantom of past life, 71,

and many other passages and expressions "quae nunc perscribere longum

[92] Bedivere.

[93] Reprinted, with some few alterations, from the _Edinburgh Review_,
No. ccclxxxii., by the kind permission of the Editor and the late Sir
Alfred Lyall.

[94] E. FitzGerald.

[95] He said to Bishop Lightfoot, "The cardinal point of Christianity is
the Life after Death."

[96] See Appendix C.

[97] [The sibilants give the lisping peacefulness of the waves. For beauty
of sound he would cite the following lines:

  The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
  And murmuring of innumerable bees;


  The mellow ouzel fluted in the elm;


  And affluent Fortune emptied all her horn,


[98] [My father would not have allowed this. He said, "It is pure nonsense
to say that my later poems are melancholy. In old age I have a stronger
faith in God and human good than I had in youth."--ED.]

[99] [This is taken from Quintus Calaber.--ED.]

[100] [It is interesting to note that Sir Richard Jebb held that the
"Death of Œnone" was "essentially Greek."--ED.]

[101] [This passage must not be misunderstood, as Sir Alfred Lyall thought
that he had touched high-water mark in some of his later poems, such as:
"In Memoriam," certain passages in the "Idylls of the King," "The Ancient
Sage," and "Maud," the "Northern Farmers," "Rizpah," "The Revenge," the
Dedication to Edward FitzGerald of "Tiresias," and "Crossing the

[102] Presidential Address to the British Academy, October 1909 (Tennyson
centenary), published here by the late Professor Butcher's kind

[103] The Master of Christ's.

[104] Captain Thomas Hamilton, who then lived at Elleray. He was the
brother of Sir William Hamilton, and is frequently mentioned in Sir Walter
Scott's Journal.

[105] _Philip van Artevelde_, by Henry Taylor.

[106] Probably August 10. See letter to Thompson, August 19, 1841.

[107] The reply referred to is:--

    FARRINGFORD, _Jan. 19th, 1870_.

    MY DEAR JAMES--Send the box, please, not without your new volume
    hither. I shall be grateful for both. I am glad that you find anything
    to approve of in the "H. G." I have not yet finished the Arthurian
    legends, otherwise I might consider your Job theme. Strange that I
    quite forgot our conversation thereupon. Where is Westbourne Terrace?
    If I had ever clearly made out I should assuredly have called. I have
    often when in town past by the old 60, the "vedovo sito," with a
    groan, thinking of you as no longer the comeatable, runupableto,
    smokeablewith J. S. of old, but as a family man, far in the west,
    sitting cigarless among many nieces, clean and forlorn, but I hope to
    see you somewhere in '70, for I have taken chambers in Victoria Street
    for three years, though they are not yet furnished.

    Where is the difficulty of that line in the "Flower"? It is rather
    rough certainly, but, had you followed the clue of "little flower" in
    the preceding line, you would not have stumbled over this, which is
    accentual anapaest,

        What you are, root and all:

    rough--doubtless.--Believe me yours ever,


[108] [_The Holy Grail and other Poems._ It was Spedding chiefly who urged
my father about this time to write his plays, because he thought that he
had the true dramatic instinct. He criticized them in proof, and gave them
his warm commendation.--ED.]

[109] _Life and Letters_, vol. v.

[110] The passage from Shakespeare prefixed to this paper contains
probably as much as can be said of the mental, not less than the
affectionate conditions, under which such a report as "In Memoriam" is
produced, and may give us more insight into the imaginative faculty's mode
of working, than all our philosophizing and analysis. It seems to let out
with the fulness, simplicity, and unconsciousness of a child--"Fancy's
Child"--the secret mechanism or procession of the greatest creative mind
our race has produced. In itself, it has no recondite meaning, it answers
fully its own sweet purpose. We are not believers, like some folks, in the
omniscience of even Shakespeare. But, like many things that he and other
wise men and many simple children say, it has a germ of universal meaning,
which it is quite lawful to bring out of it, and which may be enjoyed to
the full without any wrong to its own original beauty and fitness. A
dewdrop is not the less beautiful that it illustrates in its structure the
law of gravitation which holds the world together, and by which "the most
ancient heavens are fresh and strong." This is the passage. The Friar
speaking of Claudio, hearing that Hero "died upon his words," says:

  The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
  Into his study of imagination;
  And every lovely organ of her life
  Shall come apparelled in more precious habit--
  More moving delicate, and full of life,
  Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
  Than when she lived indeed.

We have here expressed in plain language the imaginative memory of the
beloved dead, rising upon the past, like moonlight upon midnight:

  The gleam, the shadow, and the peace supreme.

This is its simple meaning--the statement of a truth, the utterance of
personal feeling. But observe its hidden abstract significance--it is the
revelation of what goes on in the depths of the soul, when the dead
elements of what once was, are laid before the imagination, and so
breathed upon as to be quickened into a new and higher life. We have first
the _Idea of her Life_--all he remembered and felt of her, gathered into
one vague shadowy image, not any one look, or action, or time,--then the
idea of her life _creeps_--is in before he is aware, and SWEETLY
creeps--it might have been softly or gently, but it is the addition of
affection to all this, and bringing in another sense,--and now it is in
his _study of imagination_--what a place! fit for such a visitor. Then out
comes the _Idea_, more particular, more questionable, but still ideal,
spiritual,--_every lovely organ of her life_--then the clothing upon, the
mortal putting on its immortal, spiritual body--_shall come apparelled in
more precious habit, more moving delicate_--this is the transfiguring, the
putting on strength, the _poco più_--the little more which makes
immortal,--_more full of life_, and all this submitted to--_the eye and
prospect of the soul_.


  Dark house, by which once more I stand
      Here in the long unlovely street;
      Doors, where my heart was wont to beat
  So quickly, waiting for a hand.
                                    "In Memoriam."

This is a mistake, as his friend Dr. A. P. Stanley thus corrects: "'The
long unlovely street' was Wimpole Street, No. 67, where the Hallams lived;
and Arthur used to say to his friends, 'You know you will always find us
at sixes and sevens.'"

[112] We had read these lives, and had remarked them, before we knew whose
they were, as being of rare merit. No one could suppose they were written
by one so young. We give his estimate of the character of Burke. "The mind
of this great man may perhaps be taken as a representation of the general
characteristics of the English intellect. Its groundwork was solid,
practical, and conversant with the details of business; but upon this, and
secured by this, arose a superstructure of imagination and moral
sentiment. He saw little, _because it was painful to him_ to see anything,
beyond the limits of the national character. In all things, while he
deeply reverenced principles, he chose to deal with the concrete rather
than with abstractions. He studied men rather than man." The words in
italics imply an insight into the deepest springs of human action, the
conjunct causes of what we call character, such as few men of large
experience attain.

[113] This will remind the reader of a fine passage in _Edwin the Fair_,
on the specific differences in the sounds made by the ash, the elm, the
fir, etc., when moved by the wind; and of some lines by Landor on flowers
speaking to each other; and of something more exquisite than either, in
_Consuelo_--the description of the flowers in the old monastic garden, at
the "sweet hour of prime."

[114] _Remains_, vol. iii. p. 105.

[115] This is the passage referred to in Henry Taylor's delightful _Notes
from Life_ ("Essay on Wisdom"):

"Fear, indeed, is the mother of foresight: spiritual fear, of a foresight
that reaches beyond the grave; temporal fear, of a foresight that falls
short; but without fear there is neither the one foresight nor the other;
and as pain has been truly said to be "the deepest thing in our nature,"
so is it fear that will bring the depths of our nature within our
knowledge. A great capacity of _suffering_ belongs to genius; and it has
been observed that an alternation of joyfulness and dejection is quite as
characteristic of the man of genius as intensity in either kind." In his
_Notes from Books_, p. 216, he recurs to it: "'Pain,' says a writer whose
early death will not prevent his being long remembered, 'pain is the
deepest thing that we have in our nature, and union through pain has
always seemed more real and more holy than any other.'"

[116] From _Problems and Persons_, by Wilfrid Ward, published here by his
kind permission and that of Longmans, Green and Co.

[117] "From the great deep to the great deep he goes;" and "when that
which drew from out the boundless deep turns again home."


  For in the world which is not ours, they said,
  "Let us make man," and that which should be man,
  From that one light no man can look upon,
  Drew to this shore, lit by the suns and moons
  And all the shadows.

[119] Reprinted from the _Spectator_ of January 1, 1870.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these
letters have been replaced with transliterations.

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