Imágenes de páginas

merely often, and occasionally still, Ay, ay, I. mind him coming down the the Laureate has been known to Held bis head high, and cared for no man, indulge himself in a clever simile

he.' which, by its far-fetched air, sug- "His head is low, and no man cares for

Slowly and sadly Enocb answer'd her, gests that the subject was made for him. it, and not it for the subject. But I think I have not three days more to live ; it is not so here. How finely ap

I am the man." propriate it is to liken the attrac- The dying man's last victory over tion which his “ lost wife's fireside” selfishness (when, forbidding the exercises on the returned sailor, to woman to fetch' his children, he "the beacon blaze," which "allures sends to them and to his wife the "The bird of passage, till he madly strikes

loving messages which it might Against it, and beats out his weary life !" * grieve them too much to hear from

bis own lips), bespeaks not merely Again, after Enoch's heroic de- our pity for him, bat our reverence. termination, we are told that,

There is also something profoundly "Prayer from a living source within the sad in the way in which that desowill,

late heart, after half-claiming back And beating up through all the bitter the living children, feels that, in

world, Like fountains of sweet water in the sea, real fact, only the dead little one is Kept him a living soul."

left it: And when his year of hopeless “And now there is but one of all my toil and living death has done its

blood, work, we read of him that

Who will embrace me in the world-to-be." * No gladlier does the stranded wreck

But his last words give us comSee thro' the gray skirts of a lifting squall

fort:The boat that bears the hope of life approach,

“Howoke, he rose, he spread his arms To save the life despair'd of, than he saw

abroad, Death dawning on him, and the close of Crying with a loud voice, 'A saill a sail! all."

I am saved; and so fell back and spoke no These three images are all good in themselves; but they derive an For they tell us that what he prayed especial excellence from the fact, for in those long years of banishthat they occur in a tale of sea- ment, to which his mind has wanadventure, narrated on a sea-beach.

dered back, has come at last: the And when Enoch's lips, unsealed ship to take him to the true Haven : by approaching death, reveal his and that the exile has at length secret to his humble attendant, how been fetched home. few are the lines which set before

There, in our judgment, the poem us that contrast which sounds with should have ended.

Its author, such thrilling power in Job's long thinking differently, adds:lamentation I the man as he once "go past the strong heroic soul away. was, and the man such as calamity And when they burled him the little port has made him

Had seldom seen a costlier funeral." ** Did you know Enoch Arden of this What need of the first of these

town' *Know him ? she said ; 'I knew him far lines? What need to tell us that away.

the noble fisherman was strong and


* Contrast the same simile in 'The Princess,' where Ida is said to stand

"Fixt like a beacon-tower above the wavos
Of tempest, when the crimson-rolling eye
Glares ruin, and the wild birds on the light

Dash themselves dead." Not to speak of the disproportion between the terror raised by these words and the small amount of ruin” which ensues, the image seems a violent one to apply to a beautiful girl, however steadfast in her anger !

heroic, when the poet has just com- as the clerk's worthy wife proves pleted' bis fine delineation of his berself by her rejoinder :strength and heroism? And what need of the two last? The costly Wrongs himself more, and ever bears about

" He that wrongs his friend funeral sounds an impertinent in- A silent pourt of Justice in his breast, trusion. We cannot doubt for a Himself the judge and jury, and himself

The prisoner at the bar, ever condemnd." moment that Philip gave honourable barial to the man whom he While praising the clever imitation had so deeply, though so unwitting- of the satire of the eighteenth cenly, wronged.' But the atonement tary, with which the clerk brands is such a poor one, that it looks the hypocrite who has wronged him like a mockery; and we would (the two first lines of which might rather hear nothing of it. Why be sworn to as Pope's any day), he disturb in our minds the image might yet pertinaciously beg to be which what went before had left informed how a satire of the prethere —the humble bed on which sumed date could contain a referthe form, so often tempest-tossed, ence to Bible-meetings:reposes in its last sleep; the white face, serene in death, waiting for So false, he partly took himself for true.

"With all his conscience and one eye askew, the kisses which it might not receive in life. “Ciò che'i viver non Nor deeds of gif, but gifts of grace he ebbe, abbia la morte."

And, snake-like, 'slimned his victim ere he Obeying that attraction to the gorged; sea which Enoch Arden' leaves be- Arising, did his holy oily best,

And oft at Bible-meetings, o'er the rest hind it, we feel inclined next to Dropping the toorough in Hell and cast a passing glance at the ‘Sea to spread the word by which himsell had Dreams. As Theocritus, in one of thriven." bis idyls, gives us the talk of two townswomen of his own day, And, lastly, he might point at the hastening to a festival, so here pomp of gorgeous language in which the Laureate records for our edifi- the two dreams are told, as a reckcation the far weightier sayings of less expenditure of poetic wealth, two towospeople of our time, dur- alike unsuited to the occasion and ing the festive rest from toil which to the persons who employ it. a visit to the sea-side affords Nor can we deny that there would them. A stern critic might, indeed, be some truth in these observations. find fault with them as somewhat But we might reply, and we do, too magniloquent. He might ask that in like manner our old friends whether it is not incongruous for a Tityrus and Menalcas are more city clerk (however superior to city polite and more poetical than the clerks in general) to complain of shepherds of actual life; and that his treacherous 'friend in such if the clerk chose to pass off his own Shakspearean terms as the follow. composition as an "old satire," he ing:

had a right (poetically speaking) to

do so. Indeed, what reasonable "I found a hard friend in his loose ac- liberties can we forbid a man to

counts, A loose one in the hard grip of his hand,

take, who has enriched our stock of A curse in his "God bless you;" then my quotations with such a saying as Pursued him down the street, and far

this: away,

"How many will say,, 'Forgive' and find Among the honest shoulders of the crowd, A sort of absolution in the sound Read rascal in the motions of his back, To hate a little longer ?” And scoundrel in the supple-sliding knee."

Or this, which we like still better :He might inquire whether poor "Is it so true that second thoughts are artists' daughters are usually so Not First, and third, which are a ripe well read in the ancient moraliste,



We can find no fault, and only audience. Mr. Tennyson bas avoided wish for ourselves visions as fair this first peril with his usual suowhen next we sleep beside the sea cess. His farmer has no long hisas those two dreams; in the last of tory to relate. That of Tithonus which we seem to bear the mu- may be safely supposed already sical roar of the swelling tide so known. And the Grandmother has plainly:

a right to tell as much as she pleases

of her own story; both because her " Bat round the North, a light, young auditor capnot know much A belt, it seem'd of luminous vapour, lay,

of it, and because it is the privilege And over in it a low musical note Swella up and died ; and as it swell'd, & of old age to be garrulous. The ridge

second and greater difficulty, is one of breaker issued from the belt, and still Grew with the growing note, and when the which the writer of the monologue Had reached a thunderous fullness, on those dramatist

. He must preserve the

has to overcome in common with the cliffs Broke, mixt with awful light,

propriety of its speaker's character And then the great ridge drew, Lessening to the lessening music, back,

throughout. He must not suffer And pass'd into the belt and sweli'd again him to reflect on his own case with Slowly to music."

the sharp-sightedness of a by

stander. Nor must he make him The Laureate's reputation rests think aloud (unless in some excepon few firmer pillars than are tional cases of overmastering feelafforded it by some of the mono- ing); for that would be to confound logues among his earlier poems. the monologue with the soliloquy. It is natural, therefore, to turn Now we think that 'Tithonus' will with eager expectation to the three be found the exception stated being in his new volume. The third allowed) to satisfy these condimost amply satisfies; the two first tions. In · The Northern Farmer' we do not altogether disappoint it. seem to discover one or two slight No one of the three is (like 'Locks. inconsistencies. At least he quotes ley Hall' and the greater part of St. the Psalms very correctly for a man Simeon Stylites') a soliloquy. Nor is who by his own account had such any one of them like the conclu- faint perceptions of what went on sion of their author's Ulysses,' an in church during his attendance address to an audience, numerous there. And though the boldness though mute. They are each, as with which he questions the deal. are several of his other monologues, ings of Providence towards himself spoken to a single hearer. As thé is conceivable as the thought of the mother in the Queen of May,' so in mind, it seems hardly so when it the "Grandmother,' the little girl finds expression in words. A greater is the only listener. Eos alone authority than Mr. Tennyson tells us hearkens to the lamentations of that when the fool said, “There *Tithonns,' as mother Ida to those of is no God,” he said it in his heart. Enone;' and the 'Northern Far- Surely when a get greater fool owns mer' gives the whole benefit of his God, and nevertheless presumes to strange experience to the person blame the wisdom of His appointwho fills the unenviable place of his ments, it will be done in his heart sick-nurse.


There is, however, someThere are two principal dangers thing very masterly in the life - like incurred in composing a mono- sketch of the man, with which bis logue. The one that of rendering discourse furnishes us. The subit, like an Euripidean prologue, ject is painful, but it is very a conventional narration of facts cleverly treated. How fine are by a person who has no suffici- the touches which set him beent reason for rehearsing tbem, fore us in his imperturbable selfapart from the dramatic neces- satisfaction, as he reflects on his sity of making them known to the landlord's confidence, the “qua

lity's admiration, and his own ex- own early life. There is something treme usefulness! His dislike to very pathetic in her simple account modern improvements; his insensi- of her first great grief:bility to the rebuke of a man whom he thinks less valuable to the world "But the first that ever I bare was dead before than himself; above all, his inabil- Shadow and shine is life, little Annie, flower ity to conceive how matters can go and thorn. on at all after bis own death (which His dear little face was troubled, as if with yet he would rather hasten than anger or pain; demean himself by taking the un. I looked at the still little body-bis trouble had palatable advice of a tottler"), For Willy I cannot weep, I shall see him are put before us inimitably well. There is something in the state of But I wept like a'child for the child that was

dead before he was born." mind here described which we may all be the wiser for considering ; Altogether the hand which penned and which we especially hope coon- The Queen of the May' is not try rectors will see to be written disgraced by 'The Grandmother.' off for their instruction. That We say both of it and of 'The respectable farmer who seems to Northern Farmer' (more than we listen with such rapt attention to can say of some of the other minor his Reverence's serinon every Sun- poems here) that the two pictures day, perhaps, like his northern were so well worth painting, that brother, never knows what he to do so was no waste even of Mr. means, only thinks he has "sum- Tennyson's precious time. mat to say." And how many of * Aylmer's Field, the second us all are satisfied that we come up poem in this volume, differs in fairly to our own standard of duty, subject from the scenes of humwithout considering that, if not so ble life which we have hitherto eccentric as our poor friend's here, examined. Like "Maud,' it is a it may yet be a long way from cor tale of young affection blighted rect! Much would we like to think by parental cruelty; but, unlike that he recovered and lived to un- Maud,' it is cast into a narrative, derstand the "Parson" better. not a lyrical shape. In that case

The representation of extreme old the pride of wealth, in this the age in the “Grandmother is very pride of station and of lineage, deaccurate. The freshness with which stroys the happiness of two faithful long-past events live in aged minds, lovers. The date of the story is in as well as their loss of memory for, the closing decade of the last cenand interest in, recent occurrences, tury. are described with great truth, The It is, we think, indisputable that beginning of the poem is con- this poem (though abounding in fused; and in its progress it runs fine passages) is, as_& whole, less clearer, exactly like the talk of the satisfactory than Enoch Arden.' very old. The only fault we bave to For this we are disposed to assign find is, that the old woman appears two reasons.

The first is, that, too much alive to her own staté. fully to engage our interest, the She explains why she cannot weep subject of a narrative poem should at the sad news she has just heard; have a certain remoteness from ourshe makes the sort of reflections on selves. If its hero is our contemage as a time of peace which we porary, he should be removed from might expect from a stranger look- us, either by place, as in stories of ing on. Now a mind so dead to the adventure in foreign lands, or by present as hers is, would hardly be station, as in tales of lowly life. capable of doing this. To our Sir Walter Scott chose no subthinking, the prettiest parts of the ject for his narrative poems more poem are the aged woman's recol. recent than Oharles I.'s reign. lections of her children, and of her and it may be doubted whether

seventy years are distance enough made his aristocratic Vivians so to lend enchantment to our view of sadly wanting in repose; and which Leolin and Editb.

reached its climax in Maud's broA second and more serious defect ther, the "corld Assyrian ball!") (for it is the business of great poets He calls bis heroine's father to manufacture exceptions to the “Sir Aylmer Aylmer that almighty man, rules of treatises on Poetics) is to the county God." be found in the construction of the story itself. We are well aware

Now what do we gain by this that there are not many tales yet profanation of words which immeunsung so beautiful as that of the morial usage has consecrated to one fair maid of Astolat, which the purpose oply? They overweight Laureate's kind fate 'reserved for by their exaggeration the satire they him to clothe in English verse; were designed to point; and seem and that we have no right to to realise on a small scale the celeexpect him to be always so forta- brated definition of the crime, which nate in his subjects. But still contrived to be not only a crime we cannot help thinking that the but a blunder. incidents in Aylmer's Field' are

Again, nothing can be prettier somewhat trite, and its charac- than the description of Edith and ters more than somewhat improb- Leolin's childhood, and, for our own able. Its heroine is a model of part, we much admire the lines every Christian virtae; yet she de- which tell us that in the romantic ceives her father, and carries on tales with which the boy amused & clandestine correspondence with his playmate her lover. Her pastor is an excel

“A passion yet unborn perhaps lent clergyınan; yet when two of Lay hidden as the music of the moon bis parishioners seek the sanctuary

Sleeps in the plain eggs of the nightingale." for the first time after their daugh- But we do not think such an equiter's death, he seizes the opportun- vocal expression as the “music of ity to preach publicly against them. the moon," so inevitably suggesting An act surely unbefitting the pulpit the music of the spheres," should of any period or of any country; have been employed to designate but simply impossible in that of a that with which Philomel salutes decent rector in the decorous Ohurch the goddess of the night. And we of England of the eighteenth century. This faulty structure some- understand in what sense the Indian

most own we are much puzzled to what mars the pleasure we receive kinsman who presents Edith with from the musical verse and gene. the fatal dagger is called the costly rally vigorous language in which it Sahib.” A man who made such is clothed. Here and there, too, handsome gifts to his relatives was something overstrained in the expression, seems to sympathise with anything but costly to them; and the exaggerations in the construc- large as may have been his pension,

we cannot think the poet meant to tion, of the poem. There is solemn allade to it as a burden on the East beauty in its introductory lines :

India Company. On the other “ Dust are our frames; and, gilded dust, hand, Edith among the poor forms our pride

a very fair picture :Looks only for a moment whole and sound; Like that long-baried body of the king,

" So lowly-lovely and so loving, Found lying with his urns and ornaments, Queenly responsive when the loyal hand Which at a touch of light, an air of heaven, Rose from the clay it work'd in as she past, Slipt into ashes, and was found no more." Not sowing hedgerow texts and passing by,

Nor dealing goodly counsel from a height

That makes the lowest hate it, but a voice Bat in the first line of the story or comfort and an open band of help, Mr. Tennyson's old infelicity in deal. A splendid presence fattering the poor ing with the higher orders surely Revered as theirs, bat kindlier than them. reappears. (That, we mean, which selves VOL. XCVI.


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