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tinued into futurity, shall survive in Let then the minister of Christ the ransomed soul and the immortal dedicate himself a living sacrifice song.
to God, an offering to the spirit of We admire the hero. We revere humanity and Christian love; and the sage, who gives us thought, and go forth to that work to which so aim and hope ; who seems to stand much of genius has been consecraon an eminence above his fellow ted, feeling that he is entering on men, and stretch out his arms over duties which minister to the fullest the human race to bless them. How growth, and call for the intensest far above the king stands the bene. action of all his powers; that the factor of his race, who has quicken- field which opens before him is ed the soul to effort, enlarged the boundless, and the ends in view are boundaries of knowledge, purified all noble; and that, as he has but men's desires, strengthened their one life to live, there is nothing bet. good resolutions, cheered their feeble ter than to toil without ceasing for hopes, and sent an influence abroad, the honor of God in the promotion to bless a thousand homes. Such of every thing that is good; for the is the influence which the Christian welfare of man in his regeneration minister is privileged to exert. On and advancement; for the interests the faithful discharge of his duties, of that kingdom which shall never rests the hope of the human race. be destroyed.
It is a great refreshment to dis- of its numerous forms, would be cover, as we do from time to time, such a one as we should not care to that the spirit of poetry has not yet live in, even if every acre of its left the earth, driven away by dis- broad surface were flowing with gust of the numberless shams and milk and honey. We have the counterfeits that infest her rightful highest love, nay, reverence for realm. Sometimes a faint gleam of the true poetic spirit. We rejoice light reaches us, which we see at whenever evidence is presented that once can come from no other eye this spirit yet lives and works among than hers; and again, but with inter- men; and having found what seems vals of long duration, the whole at- to us such evidence, in these two mosphere grows bright in the flashes volumes of Mr. Alfred Tennyson, of her golden wings. We are not we meet them with a welcome not about to commit the folly of attempt the less hearty because so long deing a set eulogium upon the “Spirit layed. of Poetry,” for behind our recollec- Ten years ago the elder Dana tion of Channing's splendid rhetoric wrote thus ; “A more spiritual phion this very theme, there is a voice losophy than man ever before looksaying unto us, “What can the man ed on, and a poetry twin with it, are do that cometh after the king ?” fast coming into full life. Yes, a We must be allowed, however, to day of far-spreading splendor is declare our opinion that a world breaking; the clear streak of it is without poetry, manifested in some already in the east, and the earth
even now, here and there touched * Poems by Alfred Tennyson. In two by it, and yonder, the dawning volumes. Boston: William D. Ticknor. hills !'” That which Dana saw in 1842.
prophetic, or what is much the same Vol. III.
thing, poetic vision, has already But on the other hand there are come upon us.
some writers belonging to the new Alfred Tennyson belongs to this school who always remind us of new school of poets, having most of Pope's widow: the excellences and many of the faults which characterize the cla
"Before my face my handkerchief 1 spread,
To hide the floods of tears ) did not shed.” Some of these faults and excellences we now propose to designate Their obscurity is not the result of as briefly as possible; without ven- great ideas, seeking to clothe them. turing, however, upon a minute selves in a virgin vesture of words, analysis of the various poems, or of but rather an artificial umbra, emthe mind of their author. And as ployed on purpose to hide the im. the eye of the critic naturally falls portant fact that beneath it there are soonest upon blemishes rather than no ideas at all. It was Talleyrand beauties, we charge first of all, that (was it not?) who defined language a part of the poems are shadowed as the art of concealing thought, by what seems to us a needless ob. but the writers we speak of, have scurity. We are not unaware that outfrenched the Frenchman. With what is really profound, can not al- them language is not so much the ways, indeed can not often be pene- art of concealing thought, as a haptrated at a single glance; and we py method of hiding the absence of are never unwilling to have our face all thinking. The reason why we ulties tasked, even to the utmost, in can not always see the bottom of a uncovering hidden mines of thought. stream may be its depth or its mudThere has been a great deal of diness. unmanly complaint on this score. We shall not undertake to deter. Intellectual indolence has led many mine to which of these two causes to throw aside in contempt volumes the obscurity we have charged upon filled with the richest thoughts, Tennyson is to be ascribed. If we merely because the whole mind of had only the first half of his first the writer did not flow into their volume before us—those poems minds, as their eyes ran over the namely, all of them short ones, page, without any effort on their which were published, as the vol. part to apprehend him. They are ume itself intimates, previous to offended with new words and new 1832—there would be no difficulty forms of speech, as if the growing at all in forming a judgment; and mind did not need the enlargement it could scarcely fail to be one of of language, which is its vesture. immediate and total condemnation ; It is always easy to discover whether but there is so much of sublime or not a writer has an actual, living and beautiful thought in the later soul in his sentences, and if we see and longer poems; the pictures that it is so, the labor is never lost which the author paints are so diswhich we put forth in attempting to tinct and vivid; we find it difficult bring out that spirit, and to represent to believe that the earlier dashes of it in a formal and substantial being his pen are in reality as senseless to our minds. The fisherman saw as they seem. What shall we say at first, nothing but black, shapeless however to such a song as the folsmoke issuing from the mouth of lowing? the vessel which he had drawn from
" TO THE OWL. the sea, but as he earnestly gazed
" Thy tuwhits are lull'd, I wot, upon it, the form and vast propor
Thy tuwhoos of yesternight, tions of a giant began to develope Which upon the dark afloat, themselves, until at last they stood
So took echo with delight,
That her voice untuneful grown, revealed in perfect distinctness.
Wears all day a fainter wnie.
“I would mock thy channt anew;
Still busying ourselves with ver-
bal criticism, we must not fail to Thee to woo to thy tuwhit,
note, as another blemish, the un. With a lengthen'd loud halloo, couth and outlandish phraseology Tuwhoo, tuwhit, tuwhit, tuwhoo-o-o."
which our poet not seldom employs. Alas! Coleridge's Christabel will For example; the first “ melody” have much to answer for.
of the first volume, entitled “ Clari. It may be thought indeed that bel,” closes with the following caco. the ridiculousness above quoted, was phonous lines : meant by the author to be just what it is; an absurd caracole of his pen,
" The fledgling throstle lispeth,
The slumbrous wave ontwelleth, merely to show its total indepen- The babbling runnel crispeth, dence of dull common sense-for
The hollow grot replieth,
Where Claribel low-lieth." we have known genius play many such pranks as these, with the evi. We might produce very much dently sole intention of verifying more of a similar character, but if its imputed relationship to madness. our readers' ears are like our own, Let us then select a poem of a more they will need nothing additional to serious cast, and remembering to convince them of the justness of our economize space, let us take the charge. shortest that comes to hand. Here Yet another unpleasant oddity of
our author is his excessive use of
compound words; and such com“ Two children in two neighbor villages pounds! We have marked a few : Playing mad pranks along the healthy leas; -“ Innocent-arch, cunning-simple, Two strangers meeting at a festival ; Two lovers whispering by an orchard wall ; black-bearded, crimson-threaded, Two lives bound fast in one with golden ease; thorough-edged, subtle-paced, thickTwo graves grass-grown beside a gray church
meted, ray-fringed, light-glooming, tower, Washed with still rains and daisy-blossomed; sudden-curved, golden-netted, clearTwo children in one hamlet born and bred;
di, stemmed, silver-chiming, vary-colSo runs the round of life from hour to hour."
ored, argent-lidded, dew-impearled, Now it is perfectly easy to dis- purple-spiked, self-pleached.” Did cover the poetic spirit in these lines, ever mortal ears endure a but we complain, as we have a right abandoned set of compounds than to do, that the poet, while he pro- are here met together! Whatever fessed to give us a picture of his may be true of the Greek and the thoughts, has purposely left so deep German, the English language does a shade upon his canvas, that we not admit, except to a very limited can do no more than distantly guess extent, the use of compound words at his meaning. We will dwell no in poetry, and every poet who has longer however upon our author's made the attempt to introduce them, obscurity. This blemish upon his has miserably failed of success. fair pages belongs, as we have said We come now to the pleasanter already, only to the first part of the duty of praise. It must have been first volume. His poetic pictures noted that the blemishes we have grow luminous as we advance, till named in the poetry of Tennyson, at last very many of them beam out are merely faults of expression. upon us in bright distinctness. The Passing through the covering of genius that is in him seems to strug. words, and looking directly upon gle for a time for perfect utterance, the thoughts and feelings which they but it soon gets ihe mastery, and represent and embody, we find al. the current of conquered words most nothing at which to take ex. flows calm and transparent between ception; nothing unworthy of a its banks of beauty.
true poet and a true man. On
the contrary, there are every where learned the lesson of the noble manifested a nobleness of senti. Burns, “ The rank is but the guin. ment, a high self-respect, a love of ea's stamp;" but with a sycophancy truth and beauty for themselves which we can not now regard withalone, and a superiority to the arti- out disgust, they crowded around ficial distinctions of society, which the footstools of the rich and powcall out our respect for the man erful, content to occupy a position whose mind we are reading ; a but one remove above that of the feeling far above mere admiration court-jester and the court-fool. But of the skillful versifier. In thus those days are gone, not to return. making himself respected, even The genius of the intellectual pe. more than his poetry is admired, riod upon which we are now enterTennyson represents the new schooling is thoroughly democratic; there to which we have more than once is to be no more worshiping of gol. alluded, and we now propose to den calves or heraldric griffins. illustrate a few of the most import- It is not at all difficult to trace ant moral positions which this new the course of this “ movement,' literature seems destined to occupy. which seems now to be fast apo
It is impossible to become ac- proaching its consummation. It be. quainted with the poets of the last gan in France ; Germany was not centuries, without being struck, even far behind, and even aristocratic to disgust, by the unmanly and ser. England, learning from the Gervile spirit which so often guided mans what national prejudice would
Milton indeed is a glo. not allow her to receive from her rious exception. The sturdy puri- “ natural enemies," the French, is tan knew not how to degrade his beginning to show no doubtful evi. genius before the accidental em- dence of a total change in the spirit bodiments of rank and power around of her literature. Her men of genhim, but he stands almost alone in ius can now look with a steady gaze his proud position. Even the great upon the feudal assumptions of a Shakspeare could humble himself thousand years, and boldly tell them into the flatterer of his “good queen that they burden the earth, and that Bess ;” the virago and the vixen; the time has come when they must whose whole character was a ter. pass away.
We can not linger tium quid, equidistant from the
over the particular proofs which nobleness of man and the winning render evident to our own mind the grace of woman. And among the truth of this assertion, and perhaps poets of a lower rank, the repulsive it is scarcely needful to produce characteristic of which we speak, is them. Any one who looks upon revealed more nakedly still
. We the present state of English literasee them fawning around the pala- ture, must see that a revolution has ces of " the great,” and prostitu- begun which promises the highest ting their modicum of poetical tal- results to that nation, and through ent to the most unworthy purposes. her, to all others—for every nation We see them roaming the land, as must follow where its literature it were, with dedications in their leads. The revolution we say has pockets, in search of patrons upon begun, and without a miracle, its whom to pour out their fulsome shadow goes not back upon the dial eulogies; their only manifest object of the world. being a quid pro quo. They never In place of any farther general seemed to understand, that man in remarks, let us recur now to the his naked nature is higher than the volumes of Tennyson, and seek nobleman or the king, and that God there for illustrations of the point is higher than all. They had never before us. It is impossible to find any where upon his pages the shad.
“ Howe'er it be, it seems to me
.Tis only noble to be good, ow of a cringing and servile spirit. Kind hearts are more than coronets, Truth is as true to him and beauty And simple faith than Norman blood." as beautiful, when clad in the russet This is sound doctrine, and if garb of the peasant, as when glit. there is a nation on earth where tering in purple and gold. He can such a gospel needs to be preached, find in the lowest walks of life, a it is aristocratic England. If the sufficient heroine for one of the frost-work of English society is sweetest of his poems. Upon his
ever to be melted, there is nothing scale of excellence, “Lady Clara that will do it so soon and so enVere de Vere,” must take her place tirely as the fire of genius, and we below the " Miller's Daughter."
are therefore glad to see that there A simple maiden in her flower,
is a feeling, and not only a feeling Is worth a hundred coats of arms."
but an expression, among the rising As this brief poem of “ Lady men of that country, of rebellion Clara" expresses with more distinct against the social tyranny with ness than any other, the (what we which the nation has so long been must call for lack of a better word) cursed. God give them speedy sucdemocratic feelings of our author, cess in pulling down the strong holds we will dwell upon it with a little of this oppression. more particularity. The writer pre- Another characteristic of Tensents himself in the character of a
nyson is, that he is the poet, not yeoman,” occupying of course a
of memory but of hope. He has low social place in English life, and no sympathy with the party of the against Lady Clara," the daughter past; that body of men of which of a hundred earls,” he brings this every generation has many, who heavy charge :
are evermore striving to freeze the “ You thought to break a country heart world into the forms of some preFor pastime, ere you went to town.'
vious age, who, if they had the He goes on to say,
power of the Israelitish general, " At me you smiled, but unbeguiled, would decree that the I saw the snare, and I retired :"
* Earth should stand at gaze, and then adds with the proud ac- Like Joshua's moon in Ajalon." cents of one who looks down from the height of his manhood upon
With these, we repeat, he has no titled and coronetted meanness,
sympathy. He seems rather to be.
lieve with St. Simon, when he says, “ You sought to prove how I could love, And my disdain is my reply ;
“L'age d'or qu'une aveugle tradiThe lion on your old slune gates tion a placé jusqu'ici dans le passé, Is not more cold to you than I."
est devant nous ;” and with Bacon, With Tennyson, the pride of birth when he declares that the world was is evidently the most contemptible never yet so old as it is at the pres. and ludicrous of human absurdities. ent moment, and that therefore the With him, “all the blood of all the generations of men now living, are Howards," while it stagnates in the the true "ancients of the earth.” foolish veins of a “tenth transmit- This party of the past may doubtter,” is worthy of no respect. less serve a useful purpose among * Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
men, and we would not therefore I know you proud to bear your name, speak of it with total condemna. Your pride is yet no mate for mine,
tion. Without it, the "fervida rota" Too proud to care from whence I came."
of the world might set themselves " Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,
on fire by their own velocity. These From yon blue heavens above us bent, The gardener Adam and his wise,
men are the ballast in the great ship Smile at the claims of long descent. of life, and so long as they confine