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powers is better than to astonish the world. Short swallowflights of song' should for awhile content those who most ardently long for the eagle's flight. The poet who 'awakes one morning to find himself famous' is generally unimproveable. Byron himself never produced anything of more sustained and enduring greatness than Childe Harold.' But between Mr. Tennyson's earlier and his later volumes, the distance is great indeed. The patient thought, and steady work, by which that interval was filled up, may suggest to many, who could never dream of being laureates, some lessons of inestimable worth.
Hitherto I have spoken only in general of the growth of the poet's mind. It may not be inappropriate to add a brief connected sketch of his poetic career. Perhaps, to most of the readers of the
Christian Spectator,' this may be superfluous; but a few may be inclined to say with M. Jourdain : 'True, we know, but make as if we did not know; and for their sakes, as for the sake of others whose ignorance is more confessed, we will venture to fill a few pages with the outline.
Mr. Tennyson, then, was born in the year 1810, in Lincolnshire, his father being a clergyman. There were three brothers, Frederick, Charles and Alfred. The two former rank among the minor poets of the generation. Charles is a clergyman, like the father; and seems to have adopted the name of Turner, his poems being introduced as by the Rev. Charles (Tennyson) Turner.'
At the age of nineteen, Mr. Alfred Tennyson, then student at Trinity College, Cambridge, had the honour of gaining the Chancellor's Medal for the best poem in English blank verse. The topic was 'Timbuctoo ;' but what the youthful poet made of his theme, what light be threw upon the somewhat obscure history of that interesting kingdom, or what presages he drew of its destiny, it is scarcely important to inquire. Such topics are reserved for Prize Poems, which as Macaulay said, ought to be burned with candles made from the tallow of prize oxen. Alfred Tennyson's may have been an exception. I cannot tell.
In 1830 Charles and Alfred Tennyson published a joint volume of poems. Such of these as the poet has considered worth preserving, are now to be read at the beginning of the collected edition. It may be thought that I have spoken too slightingly of these early efforts, when it is remembered that with other pieces they contain Mariana in the Moated Grange,' 'Recollections of the Arabian Nights and the ballad of Oriana. Yet these are at the best but pictures, with scarcely a glimpse of the higher beauty towards which the young poetic heart was aspiring. Then, considering that a youth of twenty was the writer, how shadowy and uninteresting are the ladies! There are ' airy, fairy Lilian,' 'ever varying. Madeline,' 'faintly smiling Adeline,' with a tender reminiscence of
Mathologic beingo'an imagine without animation is the light of have
· Claribel low-lying ; but in individuality and depth of soul, how unmeasurably below the ‘Gardener's Daughter,'' Dora,'' Lady Clare' the Princess Ida'-noblest of all ;-or · Enid' or · Elaine !' The 'Mermaid,' too, we have, the Merman' also, the 'Sirens,'* with other mythologic beings; fantastic impossibilities, drawn with a wonderful power of realizing an imaginary condition, and with pictorial accessories of a rare beauty ; but without any power to command our sympathy. We admire ; but the admiration is cold. The most noticeable piece, perhaps, in this volume, read in the light of our present knowledge of Tennyson, is The Poet. Here we have glimpes of the ideal which he was not yet to reach.
Dowered with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
The love of love,
He saw through his own soul.
An open scroll,
The secretest walks of fame.
And winged with flame.' A second volume appeared in 1833, and the greater part of it, as of the former, still survives for us, though chastened and illuminated by the wisdom of after years. Here we have ladies again in a goodly crowd, but with a more definite character, and a more winning grace. Had the poet meanwhile fallen in love—that love which glorifies all womanhood? The · Lady of Shalott 'leads the way; then comes another Mariana,' with ‘serene imperial Eleanore,'
sweet pale Margaret,' poor deserted 'Enone,' with the wondrous tale of Paris and the goddesses; the 'Miller's Daughter, most exquisite in her charm; and the 'Queen of the May,' in her rustic pride, and exultation, and tenderness, but without the last most touching sequel. The ‘Dream of Fair Women' is one long revel in sensuous beauty, yet pure and beautiful exceedingly. An extract will confirm this assertion, and refresh my readers. The poet is describing the apparition in the haunted wood of the shade of Jepthah's daughter :
Then I heard
That claps his wings at dawn.
Far-heard beneath the moon.
* In the later editions the Sirens (or Sea-fairies) is entirely re-written. A comparison between the old form and the new would again be most instructive.
*“ The balmy moon of blessed Israel
With spires of silver shine."
Of sound on roof and floor
To save her father's vow;
A maiden pure; as when she went along
With timbrel and with song. *My words leapt forth; "Heaven heads the count of crime, With that wild oath." She render'd answer high : “Not so, nor once alone; a thousand times
I would be born and die.
Changed, I was ripe for death.
Down to a silent grave.
Leaving the dance and song,
Beneath the battled tower.
Or, from the darken'd glen,
A solemn scorn of ills.
For God and for my sire !
6“ It comforts me in this one thought to dwell,
That I subdued me to my father's will;
Sweetens the spirit still.
Glow'd as I look'd at her.
Toward the morning star.
The ‘Palace of Art awakens yet deeper chords, and in spite of weaknesses and defects (removed in later editions), stands out as the poblest poem, and the richest in promise, which Tennyson had yet produced. To this I hope to return in the next paper; of the whole series, it may suffice to say here, that there is as yet little hint of the true depth of the poet's soul. The true lovers of poetry were delighted, but dissatisfied, perplexed ; and in some uncertainty, but more hopefulness, awaited his next appearance before the world. But this was not to be yet. The great sorrow of his youth was fresh and bitter. From this cause or perhaps --because the coldness of the critics disheartened him, or, more likely still, because he was conscious of powers which it required time and culture to unfold-he remained silent until 1842, when, in the publication of his ‘English Idylls and other Poems,' he came forth, without preface, introduction, or explanation of any kind, and in his own calm greatness took his place among the foremost singers of the world. To some of these poems I shall have again to refer ; enough now to say that the volume contained the Gardener's Daughter,' the * Two Voices,' the · Morte d’Arthur,' and · Locksley Hall.' Many other poems accompany these inasterpieces of thought and expression; and the other poems are masterpieces too. The critics hastened to make amends. Quarterly,'' Edinburgh,' Blackwood,' all vied in the enthusiasm with which they greeted the man who thus, without haste and without rest, by patient thought and study, had matured every natural gift, and had won his way to recognition as chief poet of the land.
Five years afterwards, in 1847, appeared. The Princess, a Medley ;' epic in fashion ; in substance, fantastic, romantic, satirical, and yet profound. In most musical blank verse the story is told-a tale of woman's rights and wrongs, and of her heroisms meltiug into love. Seven collegians tell the story
And the women sang
and certainly the melody of the little lyrics interspersed is surpassed by nothing in the English language.
* In Memoriam' was published in 1850, with no name on the title page, and for dedication or preface the simple inscription :
A. H. H.
OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII. For seventeen years, the world soon learned, the poet had mourned his friend Arthur Hallam. The thoughts and memories of life had all been coloured by this great sorrow, and with the very music of earthly joy had mingled the undertone of sadness. In his former volume there were at least casual indications what depths had been stirred.
· Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
The thoughts that arise in me.
That he shouts with his sister at play!
That he sings in his boat on the bay !
To their haven under the hill;
And the sound of a voice that is still!
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
Will never come back to me.' Now, the full meaning of these 'wild and wandering cries' was shown. But the utterance of sorrow is not all. Some have called 'In Memoriam''one long dirge,' but it is not so. Grief for the poet's friend is there—the scenery of the tomb; as in varying moods through those serenteen years, he recalls with passionate fondness 'the days that are no more.' With all this, however, are linked thoughts on all those high questions which the friends in youthful days had often discussed. The one is now beyond the veil, beyond the veil,' the other is left to grapple alone with the problems of Being, of Reason, and of Faith. Many of the hundred and thirty poems of which the work consists, are solemn meditations on the loftiest things which the heart of man can ponder. The poem is a new Essay on Man, but as different from Pope's as the earnestDess and depth characteristic of the best thinkers in our wondrous mother-age,' transcend the sceptic scorn of the eighteenth century. Some who have not read it very attentively, or who have been