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Beacon Lights of History, Volume XIII by John Lord

Part 5 out of 6

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Their manners were more engaging, their tempers more amiable, their
tastes more elegant, and their households more cheerful.

Milton did not strictly belong to any of the classes which we have
described. He was not a Puritan. He was not a freethinker. He was not a
Royalist. In his character the noblest qualities of every party were
combined in harmonious union. From the Parliament and from the court,
from the conventicle and from the Gothic cloister, from the gloomy and
sepulchral circles of the Roundheads, and from the Christmas revel of
the hospitable Cavalier, his nature selected and drew to itself whatever
was great and good, while it rejected all the base and pernicious
ingredients by which those finer elements were defiled. Like the
Puritans, he lived

"As ever in his great taskmaster's eye."

Like them, he kept his mind continually fixed on the Almighty Judge and
an eternal reward. And hence he acquired their contempt of external
circumstances, their fortitude, their tranquillity, their inflexible
resolution. But not the coolest sceptic or the most profane scoffer was
more perfectly free from the contagion of their frantic delusions, their
savage manners, their ludicrous jargon, their scorn of science, and
their aversion to pleasure. Hating tyranny with a perfect hatred, he had
nevertheless all the estimable and ornamental qualities which were
almost entirely monopolized by the party of the tyrant. There was none
who had a stronger sense of the value of literature, a finer relish for
every elegant amusement, or a more chivalrous delicacy of honor and
love. Though his opinions were democratic, his tastes and his
associations were such as best harmonize with monarchy and aristocracy.
He was under the influence of all the feelings by which the gallant
Cavaliers were misled. But of those feelings he was the master, and not
the slave. Like the hero of Homer, he enjoyed all the pleasures of
fascination; but he was not fascinated. He listened to the song of the
Sirens; yet he glided by without being seduced to their fatal shore. He
tasted the cup of Circe; but he bore about him a sure antidote against
the effects of its bewitching sweetness. The illusions which captivated
his imagination never impaired his reasoning powers. The statesman was
proof against the splendor, the solemnity, and the romance which
enchanted the poet. Any person who will contrast the sentiments
expressed in his treatises on Prelacy with the exquisite lines on
ecclesiastical architecture and music in the Penseroso, which was
published about the same time, will understand our meaning. This is an
inconsistency which, more than anything else, raises his character in
our estimation, because it shows how many private tastes and feelings he
sacrificed, in order to do what he considered his duty to mankind. It is
the very struggle of the noble Othello. His heart relents; but his hand
is firm. He does naught in hate, but all in honor. He kisses the
beautiful deceiver before he destroys her.

That from which the public character of Milton derives its great and
peculiar splendor still remains to be mentioned. If he exerted himself
to overthrow a forsworn king and a persecuting hierarchy, he exerted
himself in conjunction with others. But the glory of the battle which he
fought for the species of freedom which is the most valuable, and which
was then the least understood, the freedom of the human mind, is all his
own. Thousands and tens of thousands among his contemporaries raised
their voices against ship-money and the Star-chamber. But there were few
indeed who discerned the more fearful evils of moral and intellectual
slavery, and the benefits which would result from liberty of the press
and the unfettered exercise of private judgment. These were the objects
which Milton justly conceived to be the most important. He was desirous
that the people should think for themselves as well as tax themselves,
and should be emancipated from the dominion of prejudice as well as from
that of Charles. He knew that those who, with the best intentions,
overlooked these schemes of reform, and contented themselves with
pulling down the King and imprisoning the malignants, acted like the
heedless brothers in his own poem, who, in their eagerness to disperse
the train of the sorcerer, neglected the means of liberating the
captive. They thought only of conquering when they should have thought
of disenchanting.

"Oh, ye mistook! Ye should have snatched his wand
And bound him fast. Without the rod reversed,
And backward mutters of dissevering power,
We cannot free the lady that sits here
Bound in strong fetters fixed and motionless."

To reverse the rod, to spell the charm backward, to break the ties which
bound a stupefied people to the seat of enchantment, was the noble aim
of Milton. To this all his public conduct was directed. For this he
joined the Presbyterians; for this he forsook them. He fought their
perilous battle; but he turned away with disdain from their insolent
triumph. He saw that they, like those whom they had vanquished, were
hostile to the liberty of thought. He therefore joined the Independents,
and called upon Cromwell to break the secular chain, and to save free
conscience from the paw of the Presbyterian wolf. With a view to the
same great object, he attacked the licensing system, in that sublime
treatise which every statesman should wear as a sign upon his hand and
as frontlets between his eyes. His attacks were, in general, directed
less against particular abuses than against those deeply-seated errors
on which almost all abuses are founded, the servile worship of eminent
men and the irrational dread of innovation.

That he might shake the foundations of these debasing sentiments more
effectually, he always selected for himself the boldest literary
services. He never came up in the rear, when the outworks had been
carried and the breach entered. He pressed into the forlorn hope. At the
beginning of the changes, he wrote with incomparable energy and
eloquence against the bishops. But when his opinion seemed likely to
prevail, he passed on to other subjects, and abandoned prelacy to the
crowd of writers who now hastened to insult a falling party. There is no
more hazardous enterprise than that of bearing the torch of truth into
those dark and infected recesses in which no light has ever shone. But
it was the choice and the pleasure of Milton to penetrate the noisome
vapors, and to brave the terrible explosion. Those who most disapprove
of his opinions must respect the hardihood with which he maintained
them. He, in general, left to others the credit of expounding and
defending the popular parts of his religious and political creed. He
took his own stand upon those which the great body of his countrymen
reprobated as criminal, or derided as paradoxical. He stood up for
divorce and regicide. He attacked the prevailing systems of education.
His radiant and beneficent career resembled that of the god of light and

"Nitor in adversum; nec me, qui caetera, vincit
Impetus, et rapido contrarius evehor orbi."

It is to be regretted that the prose writings of Milton should, in our
time, be so little read. As compositions, they deserve the attention of
every man who wishes to become acquainted with the full power of the
English language. They abound with passages compared with which the
finest declamations of Burke sink into insignificance. They are a
perfect field of cloth of gold. The style is stiff with gorgeous
embroidery. Not even in the earlier books of the Paradise Lost has the
great poet ever risen higher than in those parts of his controversial
works in which his feelings, excited by conflict, find a vent in bursts
of devotional and lyrical rapture. It is, to borrow his own majestic
language, "a sevenfold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies."

We had intended to look more closely at these performances, to analyze
the peculiarities of the diction, to dwell at some length on the sublime
wisdom of the Areopagitica and the nervous rhetoric of the Iconoclast
and to point out some of those magnificent passages which occur in the
Treatise of Reformation, and the Animadversions on the Remonstrant. But
the length to which our remarks have already extended renders this

We must conclude. And yet we can scarcely tear ourselves away from the
subject. The days immediately following the publication of this relic of
Milton appear to be peculiarly set apart, and consecrated to his memory.
And we shall scarcely be censured if, on this his festival, we be found
lingering near his shrine, how worthless soever may be the offering
which we bring to it. While this book lies on our table, we seem to be
contemporaries of the writer. We are transported a hundred and fifty
years back. We can almost fancy that we are visiting him in his small
lodging; that we see him sitting at the old organ beneath the faded
green hangings; that we can catch the quick twinkle of his eyes, rolling
in vain to find the day; that we are reading in the lines of his noble
countenance the proud and mournful history of his glory and his
affliction. We imagine to ourselves the breathless silence in which we
should listen to his slightest word, the passionate veneration with
which we should kneel to kiss his hand and weep upon it, the earnestness
with which we should endeavor to console him, if indeed such a spirit
could need consolation, for the neglect of an age unworthy of his
talents and his virtues, the eagerness with which we should contest
with his daughters, or with his Quaker friend Elwood, the privilege of
reading Homer to him, or of taking down the immortal accents which
flowed from his lips.

These are perhaps foolish feelings. Yet we cannot be ashamed of them;
nor shall we be sorry if what we have written shall in any degree excite
them in other minds. We are not much in the habit of idolizing either
the living or the dead. And we think that there is no more certain
indication of a weak and ill-regulated intellect than that propensity
which, for want of a better name, we will venture to christen
Boswellism. But there are a few characters which have stood the closest
scrutiny and the severest tests, which have been tried in the furnace
and have proved pure, which have been weighed in the balance and have
not been found wanting, which have been declared sterling by the general
consent of mankind, and which are visibly stamped with the image and
superscription of the Most High. These great men we trust that we know
how to prize; and of these was Milton. The sight of his books, the sound
of his name, are pleasant to us. His thoughts resemble those celestial
fruits and flowers which the Virgin Martyr of Massinger sent down from
the gardens of Paradise to the earth, and which were distinguished from
the productions of other soils, not only by superior bloom and
sweetness, but by miraculous efficacy to invigorate and to heal. They
are powerful, not only to delight, but to elevate and purify. Nor do we
envy the man who can study either the life or the writings of the great
poet and patriot without aspiring to emulate, not indeed the sublime
works with which his genius has enriched our literature, but the zeal
with which he labored for the public good, the fortitude with which he
endured every private calamity, the lofty disdain with which he looked
down on temptations and dangers, the deadly hatred which he bore to
bigots and tyrants, and the faith which he so sternly kept with his
country and with his fame.






Genius of the supreme order presupposes a nature of equal scope as the
prime condition of its being. The Gardens of Adonis require little
earth, but the oak will not flourish in a tub; and the wine of Tokay is
the product of no green-house, nor gotten of sour grapes. Given a
genuine great poet, you will find a greater man behind, in whom, among
others, these virtues predominate,--courage, generosity, truth.

[Footnote 5: From "Hours with the German Classics," by FREDERIC HENRY
HEDGE (copyright by him in 1886). With permission of Messrs. LITTLE,
BROWN, & CO., Publishers, Boston, Mass.]

Pre-eminent among the poets of the modern world stands Goethe, chief of
his own generation, challenging comparison with the greatest of all
time. His literary activity embraces a span of nigh seventy years in a
life of more than fourscore, beginning, significantly enough, with a
poem on "Christ's Descent into Hell" (his earliest extant composition),
and ending with Faust's--that is, Man's--ascent into heaven. The rank
of a writer--his spiritual import to human kind--may be inferred from
the number and worth of the writings of which he has furnished the topic
and occasion. "When kings build," says Schiller, speaking of Kant's
commentators, "the draymen have plenty to do." Dante and Shakspeare have
created whole libraries through the interest inspired by their writings.
The Goethe-literature, so-called,--though scarce fifty years have
elapsed since the poet's death,--already numbers its hundreds
of volumes.

I note in this man, first of all, as a literary phenomenon, the
unexampled fact of supreme excellence in several quite distinct
provinces of literary action. Had we only his minor poems, he would rank
as the first of lyrists. Had he written only "Faust," he would be the
first of philosophic poets. Had he written only "Hermann and Dorothea,"
the sweetest idyllist; if only the "Maerchen," the subtlest of
allegorists. Had he written never a verse, but only prose, he would hold
the highest place among the prose-writers of Germany. And lastly, had he
written only on scientific subjects, in that line also--in the field of
science--he would be, as he is, an acknowledged leader.

Noticeable in him also is the combination of extraordinary genius with
extraordinary fortune. A magnificent person, a sound physique, inherited
wealth, high social position, official dignity, with eighty-three years
of earthly existence, compose the framework of this illustrious life.

Behind the author, behind the poet, behind the world-renowned genius, a
not unreasonable curiosity seeks the original man, the human individual,
as he walked among men, his manner of being, his characteristics, as
shown in the converse of life. In what soil grew the flowers and ripened
the fruits which have been the delight and the aliment of nations? In
proportion, of course, to the eminence attained by a writer,--in
proportion to the worth of his works, to their hold on the world,--is
the interest felt in his personality and behavior, in the incidents of
his life. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the person is not always
proportioned to the lustre of the name. Of the two great poets to whom
the world's unrepealable verdict has assigned the foremost place in
their several kinds, we know in one case absolutely nothing, and next to
nothing in the other. To the question, Who sung the wrath of Achilles
and the wanderings of the much-versed Odysseus? tradition answers with a
name to which no faintest shadow of a person corresponds. To the
question, Who composed "Hamlet" and "Othello"? history answers with a
person so indistinct that recent speculation has dared to question the
agency of Shakspeare in those creations. What would not the old
scholiasts have given for satisfactory proofs of the existence of a
Homer identical with the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey? What
would not the Shakspeare clubs give for one more authentic anecdote of
the world's great dramatist?

Of Goethe we know more--I mean of his externals--than of any other
writer of equal note. This is due in part to his wide relations,
official and other, with his contemporaries; to his large correspondence
with people of note, of which the documents have been preserved by the
parties addressed; to the interest felt in him by curious observers
living in the day of his greatness. It is due in part also to the fact
that, unlike the greatest of his predecessors, he flourished in an
all-communicating, all-recording age; and partly it is due to
autobiographical notices, embracing important portions of his history.

Two seemingly opposite factors--limiting and qualifying the one the
other--determined the course and topics of his life. One was the aim
which he proposed to himself as the governing principle and purpose of
his being,--to perfect himself, to make the most of the nature which God
had given him; the other was a constitutional tendency to come out of
himself, to lose himself in objects, especially in natural objects, so
that in the study of nature--to which he devoted a large part of his
life--he seems not so much a scientific observer as a chosen confidant,
to whom the discerning Mother revealed her secrets.

In no greatest genius are all its talents self-derived. Countless
influences mould our intellect and mould our heart. One of these, and
often one of the most potent, is heredity. Consciously or unconsciously,
for good or for evil, physically and mentally, the father and mother are
in the child, as indeed all his ancestors are in every man.

Of Goethe's father we know only what the son himself has told us in his
memoirs. A man of austere presence, from whom Goethe, as he tells us,
inherited his bodily stature and his serious treatment of life,--

"Vom Vater hab ich die Statur,
Des Lebens ernstes fuehren."

By profession a lawyer, but without practice, living in grim seclusion
amid his books and collections; a man of solid acquirements and large
culture, who had travelled in Italy and first awakened in Wolfgang the
longing for that land; a man of ample means, inhabiting a stately
mansion. For the rest, a stiff, narrow-minded, fussy pedant, with small
toleration for any methods or aims but his own; who, while he
appreciated the superior gifts of his son, was obstinately bent on
guiding them in strict professional grooves, and teased him with the
friction of opposing wills.

The opposite, in most respects, of this stately and pedantic worthy was
the Frau Raethin, his youthful wife, young enough to have been his
daughter,--a jocund, exuberant nature, a woman to be loved; one who
blessed society with her presence, and possessed uncommon gifts of
discourse. She was but eighteen when Wolfgang was born,--a companion to
him and his sister Cornelia; one in whom they were sure to find sympathy
and ready indulgence. Goethe was indebted to her, as he tells us, for
his joyous spirit and his narrative talent,--

"Von Muetterchen die Frohnatur
Und Lust zu fabuliren."

Outside of the poet's household, the most important figure in the circle
of his childish acquaintance was his mother's father, from whom he had
his name, Johann Wolfgang Textor, the _Schultheiss_, or chief
magistrate, of the city. From him Goethe seems to have inherited the
superstition of which some curious examples are recorded in his life. He
shared with Napoleon and other remarkable men, says Von Mueller, the
conceit that little mischances are prophetic of greater evils. On a
journey to Baden-Baden with a friend, his carriage was upset and his
companion slightly injured. He thought it a bad omen, and instead of
proceeding to Baden-Baden chose another watering-place for his summer
resort. If in his almanac there happened to be a blot on any date, he
feared to undertake anything important on the day so marked. He had
noted certain fatal days; one of these was the 22d of March. On that day
he had lost a valued friend; on that day the theatre to which he had
devoted so much time and labor was burned; and on that day, curiously
enough, he died. He believed in oracles; and as Rousseau threw stones at
a tree to learn whether or no he was to be saved (the hitting or not
hitting the tree was to be the sign), so Goethe tossed a valuable
pocket-knife into the river Lahn to ascertain whether he would succeed
as a painter. If behind the bushes which bordered the stream, he saw the
knife plunge, it should signify success; if not, he would take it as an
omen of failure. Rousseau was careful, he tells us, to choose a stout
tree, and to stand very near. Goethe, more honest with himself, adopted
no such precaution; the plunge of the knife was not seen, and the
painter's career was abandoned.

Wordsworth's saying, "the child is the father of the man,"--a saying
which owes its vitality more to its form than its substance,--is not
always verified, or its truth is not always apparent in the lives of
distinguished men. I find not much in Goethe the child prophetic of
Goethe the man. But the singer and the seeker, the two main tendencies
of his being, are already apparent in early life. Of moral traits, the
most conspicuous in the child is a power of self-control,--a moral
heroism, which secured to him in after life a natural leadership
unattainable by mere intellectual supremacy. An instance of this
self-control is recorded among the anecdotes of his boyhood. At one of
the lessons which he shared with other boys, the teacher failed to
appear. The young people awaited his coming for a while, but toward the
close of the hour most of them departed, leaving behind three who were
especially hostile to Goethe. "These," he says, "thought to torment, to
mortify, and to drive me away. They left me a moment, and returned with
rods taken from a broom which they had cut to pieces. I perceived their
intention, and, supposing the expiration of the hour to be near, I
immediately determined to make no resistance until the clock should
strike. Unmercifully, thereupon, they began to scourge in the cruellest
manner my legs and calves. I did not stir, but soon felt that I had
miscalculated the time, and that such pain greatly lengthens the
minutes." When the hour expired, his superior activity enabled him to
master all three, and to pin them to the ground.

In later years the same zeal of self-discipline which prompted the child
to exercise himself in bearing pain, impelled the man to resist and
overcome constitutional weaknesses by force of will. A student of
architecture, he conquered a tendency to giddiness by standing on
pinnacles and walking on narrow rafters over perilous abysses. In like
manner he overcame the ghostly terrors instilled in the nursery, by
midnight visits to churchyards and uncanny places.

To real peril, to fear of death, he seems to have had that native
insensibility so notable always in men of genius, in whom the conviction
of a higher destiny begets the feeling of a charmed life,--such as
Plutarch records of the first Caesar in peril of shipwreck on the river
Anio. In the French campaign (1793), in which Goethe accompanied the
Duke of Weimar against the armies of the Republic, a sudden impulse of
scientific curiosity prompted him, in spite of warnings and
remonstrances, to experiment on what is called the "cannon-fever." For
this purpose he rode to a place in which he was exposed to a cross-fire
of the two armies, and coolly watched the sensations experienced in that
place of peril.

Command of himself, acquired by long and systematic discipline, gave him
that command over others which he exercised in several memorable
instances. Coming from a ball one night,--a young man fresh from the
University,--he saw that a fire had broken out in the Judengasse, and
that people were standing about helpless and confused without a leader;
he immediately jumped from his carriage, and, full dressed as he was, in
silk stockings and pumps, organized on the spot a fire-brigade, which
averted a dangerous conflagration. On another occasion, voyaging in the
Mediterranean, he quelled a mutiny on board an Italian ship, when
captain and mates were powerless, and the vessel drifting on the rocks,
by commanding sailors and passengers to fall on their knees and pray to
the Virgin,--adopting the idiom of their religion as well as their
speech, of which he was a master.

As a student, first at Leipsic, then at Strasburg, including the years
from 1766 to 1771, he seems not to have been a very diligent attendant
on the lectures in either university, and to have profited little by
professional instruction. In compliance with the wishes of his father,
who intended him for a jurist, he gave some time to the study of the
law; but on the whole the principal gain of those years was derived from
intercourse with distinguished intellectual men and women, whose
acquaintance he cultivated, and the large opportunities of social life.

In Strasburg occurred the famous love-passage with Friederike Brion,
which terminated so unhappily at the time, and so fortunately in the
end, for both.

Goethe has been blamed for not marrying Friederike. His real blame
consists in the heedlessness with which, in the beginning of their
acquaintance, he surrendered himself to the charm of her presence,
thereby engaging her affection without a thought of the consequences to
either. Besides the disillusion, which showed him, when he came fairly
to face the question, that he did not love her sufficiently to justify
marriage, there were circumstances--material, economical--which made it
practically impossible. Her suffering in the separation, great as it
was,--so great indeed as to cause a dangerous attack of bodily
disease,--could not outweigh the pangs which he endured in his penitent
contemplation of the consequences of his folly.

The next five years were spent partly in Frankfort and partly in
Wetzlar, partly in the forced exercise of his profession, but chiefly in
literary labors and the use of the pencil, which for a time disputed
with the pen the devotion of the poet-artist. They may be regarded as
perhaps the most fruitful, certainly the most growing, years of his
life. They gave birth to "Goetz von Berlichingen" and the "Sorrows of
Werther," to the first inception of "Faust," and to many of his sweetest
lyrics. It was during this period that he made the acquaintance of
Charlotte Buff, the heroine of the "Sorrows of Werther," from whom he
finally tore himself away, leaving Wetzlar when he discovered that their
growing interest in each other was endangering her relation with
Kestner, her betrothed. In those years, also, he formed a matrimonial
engagement with Elizabeth Schoenemann (Lili), the rupture of which, I
must think, was a real misfortune for the poet. It came about by no
fault of his. Her family had from the first opposed themselves to the
match on the ground of social disparity. For even in mercantile
Frankfort rank was strongly marked; and the Goethes, though respectable
people, were beneath the Schoenemanns in the social scale. Goethe's
genius went for nothing with Madame Schoenemann; she wanted for her
daughter an aristocratic husband, not a literary one,--one who had
wealth in possession, and not merely, as Goethe had, in prospect. How
far Lili was influenced by her mother's and brother's representations it
is impossible to say; however, she showed herself capricious, was
sometimes cold, or seemed so to him, while favoring the advances of
others. Goethe was convinced that she did not entertain for him that
devoted love without which he felt that their union could not be a happy
one. They separated; but on her death-bed she confessed to a friend that
all she was, intellectually and morally, she owed to him.

In 1775 our poet was invited by the young Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl
August,--whose acquaintance he had made at Frankfort and at Mentz, his
junior by two or three years,--to establish himself in civil service at
the Grand-Ducal Court. The father, who had other views for his son, and
was not much inclined to trust in princes, objected; many wondered, some
blamed. Goethe himself appears to have wavered with painful indecision,
and at last to have followed a mysterious impulse rather than a clear
conviction or deliberate choice. His Heidelberg friend and hostess
sought still to detain him, when the last express from Weimar drove up
to the door. To her he replied in the words of his own Egmont:--

"Say no more! Goaded by invisible spirits, the sun-steeds of time run
away with the light chariot of our destiny; there is nothing for it but
to keep our courage, hold tight the reins, and guide the wheels now
right, now left, avoiding a stone here, a fall there. Whither away? Who
knows? Scarcely one remembers whence he came."

It does not appear that he ever repented this most decisive step of his
life-journey, nor does there appear to have been any reason why he
should. A position, an office of some kind, he needs must have. Even
now, the life of a writer by profession, with no function but that of
literary composition, is seldom a prosperous one; in Goethe's day, when
literature was far less remunerative than it is in ours, it was seldom
practicable. Unless he had chosen to be maintained by his father, some
employment besides that of book-making was an imperative necessity. The
alternative of that which was offered--the one his father would have
chosen--was that of a plodding jurist in a country where forensic
pleading was unknown, and where the lawyer's profession offered no scope
for any of the higher talents with which Goethe was endowed. On the
whole, it was a happy chance that called him to the little capital of
the little Grand-Duchy of Saxe-Weimar. If the State was one of petty
dimensions (a kind of pocket-kingdom, like so many of the
principalities of Germany), it nevertheless included some of the fairest
localities, and one at least of the most memorable in Europe,--the
Wartburg, where Luther translated the Bible, where Saint Elizabeth
dispensed the blessings of her life, where the Minnesingers are said to
have held their poetic tournament,--

"Heinrich von Ofterdingen,
Wolfram von Eschenbach."

It included also the University of Jena, which at that time numbered
some of the foremost men of Germany among its professors. It was a
miniature State and a miniature town; one wonders that Goethe, who would
have shone the foremost star in Berlin or Vienna, could content himself
with so narrow a field. But Vienna and Berlin did not call him until it
was too late,--until patronage was needless; and Weimar did. A miniature
State,--but so much the greater his power and freedom and the
opportunity of beneficent action.

No prince was ever more concerned to promote in every way the welfare of
his subjects than Karl August; and in all his works undertaken for this
purpose, Goethe was his foremost counsellor and aid. The most important
were either suggested by him or executed under his direction. Had he
never written a poem, or given to the world a single literary
composition, he would still have led, as a Weimar official, a useful and
beneficent life. But the knowledge of the world and of business, the
social and other experience gained in this way, was precisely the
training which he needed,--and which every poet needs,--for the
broadening and deepening and perfection of his art. Friedrich von
Mueller, in his valuable treatise of "Goethe as a Man of Affairs," tells
us how he traversed every portion of the country to learn what advantage
might be taken of topographical peculiarities, what provision made for
local necessities. "Everywhere--on hilltops crowned with primeval
forests, in the depths of gorges and shafts--Nature met her favorite
with friendly advances, and revealed to him many a desired secret."
Whatever was privately gained in this way was applied to public uses. He
endeavored to infuse new life into the mining business, and to make
himself familiar with all its technical requirements. For that end he
revived his chemical experiments. New roads were built, hydraulic
operations were conducted on more scientific principles, fertile meadows
were won from the river Saale by systematic drainage, and in many a
struggle with Nature an intelligently persistent will obtained
the victory.

Nor was it with material obstacles only that the poet-minister had to
contend. In the exercise of the powers intrusted to him he often
encountered the fierce opposition of party interest and stubborn
prejudice, and was sometimes driven to heroic and despotic measures in
order to accomplish a desired result,--as when he foiled the
machinations of the Jena professors in his determination to save the
University library, and when, in spite of the opposition of the leading
burghers, he demolished the city wall.

In 1786 Goethe was enabled to realize his cherished dream of a journey
to Italy. There he spent a year and a half in the diligent study and
admiring enjoyment of the treasures of art which made that country then,
even more than now, the mark and desire of the civilized world. He came
back an altered man. Intellectually and morally he had made in that
brief space, under new influences, a prodigious stride. His sudden
advance while they had remained stationary separated him from his
contemporaries. The old associations of the Weimar world, which still
revolved its little round, the much-enlightened traveller had outgrown.
People thought him cold and reserved. It was only that the gay,
impulsive youth had ripened into an earnest, sedate man. He found
Germany jubilant over Schiller's "Robbers" and other writings
representative of the "storm-and-stress" school, which his maturity had
left far behind, his own contributions to which he had come to hate.
Schiller, who first made his acquaintance at this time, writes
to Koerner:--

"I doubt that we shall ever become intimate. Much that to me is still of
great interest he has already outlived. He is so far beyond me, not so
much in years as in experience and culture, that we can never come
together in one course."

How greatly Schiller erred in the supposition that they never could
become intimate, how close the intimacy which grew up between them, what
harmony of sentiment, how friendly and mutually helpful their
co-operation, is sufficiently notorious.

But such was the first aspect which Goethe presented to strangers at
this period of his life; he rather repelled than attracted, until nearer
acquaintance learned rightly to interpret the man, and intellectual or
moral affinity bridged the chasm which seemed to divide him from his
kind. In part, too, the distance and reserve of which people complained
was a necessary measure of self-defence against the disturbing
importunities of social life. "From Rome," says Friedrich von Mueller,
"from the midst of the richest and grandest life, dates the stern maxim
of 'Renunciation' which governed his subsequent being and doing, and
which furnished his only guarantee of mental equipoise and peace."

His literary works hitherto had been spasmodic and lawless effusions,
the escapes of a gushing, turbulent youth. In Rome he had learned the
sacred significance of art. The consciousness of his true vocation had
been awakened in him; and to that, on the eve of his fortieth year, he
thenceforth solemnly devoted the remainder of his life. He obtained
release from the more onerous of his official engagements, retaining
only such functions as accorded with his proper calling as a man of
letters and of science. He renounced his daily intercourse with Frau von
Stein, though still retaining and manifesting his unabated friendship
for the woman to whom in former years he had devoted so large a portion
of his time, and employed himself in giving forth those immortal words
which have settled forever his place among the stars of first magnitude
in the intellectual world.

Noticeable and often noted was the charm and (when arrived to maturity)
the grand effect of his personal presence. Physical beauty is not the
stated accompaniment, nor even the presumable adjunct, of intellectual
greatness. In Goethe, as perhaps in no other, the two were combined. A
wondrous presence!--on this point the voices are one and the witnesses
many. "Goethe was with us," so writes Heinse to one of his friends; "a
beautiful youth of twenty-five, full of genius and force from the crown
of his head to the sole of his foot; a heart full of feeling, a spirit
full of fire, who with eagle wings _ruit immensus ore profundo_." Jacobi
writes: "The more I think of it, the more impossible it seems to me to
communicate to any one who has not seen Goethe any conception of this
extraordinary creature of God." Lavater says: "Unspeakably sweet, an
indescribable appearance, the most terrible and lovable of men."
Hufeland, the chief medical celebrity of Germany, describes his
appearance in early manhood: "Never shall I forget the impression which
he made as 'Orestes' in Greek costume. You thought you beheld an Apollo.
Never was seen in any man such union of physical and spiritual
perfection and beauty as at that time in Goethe." More remarkable still
is the testimony of Wieland, who had reason to be offended, having been
before their acquaintance the subject of Goethe's sharp satire. But
immediately at their first meeting, sitting at table "by the side," he
says, "of this glorious youth, I was radically cured of all my
vexation.... Since this morning," he wrote to Jacobi, "my soul is as
full of Goethe as a dewdrop is of the morning sun." And to Zimmermann:
"He is in every respect the greatest, best, most splendid human being
that ever God created." Goethe was then twenty-six. Henry Crabbe
Robinson, who saw him at the age of fifty-two, reports him one of the
most "oppressively handsome" men he had ever seen, and speaks
particularly as all who have described him speak, of his wonderfully
brilliant eyes. Those eyes, we are told, had lost nothing of their
lustre, nor his head its natural covering, at the age of eighty.

Among the heroic qualities notable in Goethe, I reckon his faithful and
unflagging industry. Here was a man who took pains with himself,--_liess
sich's sauer werden,_--and made the most of himself. He speaks of
wasting, while a student in Leipsic, "the beautiful time;" and certainly
neither at Leipsic nor afterward at Strasburg did he toil as his Wagner
in "Faust" would have done. But he was always learning. In the
lecture-room or out of it, with pen and books or gay companions, he was
taking in, to give forth again in dramatic or philosophic form the world
of his experience.

A frolicsome youth may leave something to regret in the way of time
misspent; but Goethe the man was no dawdler, no easy-going Epicurean. On
the whole, he made the most of himself, and stands before the world a
notable instance of a complete life. He would do the work which was
given him to do. He would not die till the second part of "Faust" was
brought to its predetermined close. By sheer force of will he lived till
that work was done. Smitten at fourscore by the death of his son, and by
deaths all around, he kept to his task. "The idea of duty alone sustains
me; the spirit is willing, the flesh must." When "Faust" was finished,
the strain relaxed. "My remaining days," he said, "I may consider a free
gift; it matters little what I do now, or whether I do anything." And
six months later he died.

A complete life! A life of strenuous toil! At home and abroad,--in
Italy and Sicily, at Ilmenau and Carlsbad, as in his study at
Weimar,--with eye or pen or speech, he was always at work. A man of
rigid habits; no lolling or lounging. "He showed me," says Eckermann,
"an elegant easy-chair which he had bought to-day at auction. 'But,'
said he, 'I shall never or rarely use it; all indolent habits are
against my nature. You see in my chamber no sofa; I sit always in my old
wooden chair, and never, till a few weeks ago, have permitted even a
leaning place for my head to be added. If surrounded by tasteful
furniture, my thoughts are arrested; I am placed in an agreeable but
passive state. Unless we are accustomed to them from early youth,
splendid chambers and elegant furniture had better be left to people
without thoughts.'" This in his eighty-second year!

A widely diffused prejudice regarding the personal character of Goethe
refuses to credit him with any moral worth accordant with his bodily and
mental gifts. It figures him a libertine,--heartless, loveless, bad. I
do not envy the mental condition of those who can rest in the belief
that a really great poet can be a bad man. Be assured that the fruits of
genius have never grown, and will never grow, in such a soil. Of all
great poets Byron might seem at first glance to constitute an exception
to this--I venture to call it--law of Nature. Yet hear what Walter
Scott, a sufficient judge, said of Byron:--

"The errors of Lord Byron arose neither from depravity of heart--for
nature had not committed the anomaly of uniting to such extraordinary
talents an imperfect moral sense--nor from feelings dead to the
admiration of virtue. No man had ever a kinder heart for sympathy, or a
more open hand for the relief of distress; and no mind was ever more
formed for enthusiastic admiration of noble actions."

The case of Goethe requires no appeal to general principles. It only
requires that the charges against him be fairly investigated; that he be
tried by documentary evidence, and by the testimony of competent
witnesses. The mistake is made of confusing breaches of conventional
decorum with essential depravity.

That Goethe was faulty in many ways may be freely conceded. But surely
there is a wide difference between not being faultless and being
definitely bad. To call a man bad is to say that the evil in him
preponderates over the good. In the case of Goethe the balance was
greatly the other way. It has been said that he abused the confidence
reposed in him by women; that he encouraged affection which he did not
reciprocate for artistic purposes. The charge is utterly groundless; and
in the case of Bettine has been refuted by irrefragable proof. To say
that he was wanting in love, heartless, cold, is ridiculously false. Yet
the charge is constantly reiterated in the face of facts,--reiterated
with undoubting assurance and a certain complacency which seems to say,
"Thank God! we are not as this man was." There is a satisfaction which
some people feel in _spotting_ their man,--Burns drank; Coleridge took
opium; Byron was a rake; Goethe was cold: by these marks we know them.
The poet found it necessary, as I have said, in later years, under
social pressure, for the sake of the work which was given him to do, to
fortify himself with a mail of reserve. And this, indeed, contrasted
strangely with his former _abandon_, and with the customary gush of
German sentimentality. It was common then for Germans who had known each
other by report, and were mutually attracted, when first they met, to
fall on each other's necks and kiss and weep. Goethe, as a young man,
had indulged such fervors; but in old age he had lost this effusiveness,
or saw fit to restrain himself outwardly, while his kindly nature still
glowed with its pristine fires. He wrote to Frau von Stein, "I may truly
say that my innermost condition does not correspond to my outward
behavior." Hence the charge of coldness. Say that Mount Aetna is cold:
do we not see the snow on its sides?

But he was unpatriotic; he occupied himself with poetry, and did not cry
out while his country was in the death-throes--so it seemed--of the
struggle with France! But what should he have done? What _could_ he
have done? What would his single arm or declamation have availed? No man
more than Goethe longed for the rehabilitation of Germany. In his own
way he wrought for that end; he could work effectually in no other. That
enigmatical composition,--the "Maerchen,"--according to the latest
interpretation, indicates how, in Goethe's view, that end was to be
accomplished. To one who considers the relation of ideas to events, it
will not seem extravagant when I say that to Goethe, more than to any
one individual, Germany is indebted for her emancipation, independence,
and present political regeneration.[6]

[Footnote 6: (The following interpretation of the "Maerchen" is condensed
from a later portion of this essay, and used here as a foot-note for the
light it throws upon Goethe's political career.)

In the summer of 1795 Goethe composed for Schiller's new magazine, "Die
Horen," a prose poem known in German literature as _Das Maerchen,_--"
_The_ Tale;" as if it were the only one, or the one which more than
another deserves that appellation....

Goethe gave this essay to the public as a riddle which would probably be
unintelligible at the time, but which might perhaps find an interpreter
after many days, when the hints contained in it should be verified.
Since its first appearance commentators have exercised their ingenuity
upon it, perceiving it to be allegorical, but until recently without
success.... I follow Dr. Herman's Baumgart's lead in the exposition
which I now offer.

"The Tale" is a prophetic vision of the destinies of Germany,--an
allegorical foreshowing at the close of the eighteenth century of what
Germany was yet to become, and has in great part already become. A
position is predicted for her like that which she occupied from the time
of Charles the Great to the time of Charles V.,--a period during which
the Holy Roman Empire of Germany was the leading secular power in
Western Europe. That time had gone by. Since the middle of the sixteenth
century Germany had declined, and at the date of this writing (1795) had
nearly reached her darkest day. Disintegrated, torn by conflicting
interests, pecked by petty rival princes, despairing of her own future,
it seemed impossible that she should ever again become a power among the
nations. Goethe felt this; he felt it as profoundly as any German of his
day ... and he characteristically went into himself and studied the
situation. The result was this wonderful composition,--"Das Maerchen." He
perceived that Germany must die to be born again. She did die, and is
born again. He had the sagacity to foresee the dissolution of the Holy
Roman Empire,--an event which took place eleven years later, in 1806.
The Empire is figured by the composite statue of the fourth King in the
subterranean Temple, which crumbles to pieces when that Temple,
representing Germany's past, emerges and stands above ground by the
River. The resurrection of the Temple and its stand by the River is the
_denouement_ of the Tale. And that signifies, allegorically, the
rehabilitation of Germany.]

It is true, his writings contain no declamations against tyrants, and
no tirades in favor of liberty. He believed that oppression existed only
through ignorance and blindness, and these he was all his life long
seeking to remove. He believed that true liberty is attainable only
through mental illumination, and that he was all his life long seeking
to promote.

He was no agitator, no revolutionist; he had no faith in violent
measures. Human welfare, he judged, is not to be advanced in that way;
is less dependent on forms of polity than on the life within. But if the
test of patriotism is the service rendered to one's country, who more
patriotic than he? Lucky for us and the world that he persisted to serve
her in his own way, and not as the agitators claimed that he should. It
was clear to him then, and must be clear to us now, that he could not
have been what they demanded, and at the same time have given to his
country and the world what he did.

As a courtier and favorite of Fortune, it was inevitable that Goethe
should have enemies. They have done what they could to blacken his name;
and to this day the shadow they have cast upon it in part remains. But
of this be sure, that no selfish, loveless egoist could have had and
retained such friends. The man whom the saintly Fraulein von Klettenberg
chose for her friend, whom clear-sighted, stern-judging Herder declared
that he loved as he did his own soul; the man whose thoughtful kindness
is celebrated by Herder's incomparable wife, whom Karl August and the
Duchess Luise cherished as a brother; the man whom children everywhere
welcomed as their ready playfellow and sure ally, of whom pious Jung
Stilling lamented that admirers of Goethe's genius knew so little of the
goodness of his heart,--can this have been a bad man, heartless, cold?


I have said that to Goethe, above all writers, belongs the distinction
of having excelled, not experimented merely,--that, others have also
done,--but excelled in many distinct kinds. To the lyrist he added the
dramatist, to the dramatist the novelist, to the novelist the mystic
seer, and to all these the naturalist and scientific discoverer. The
history of literature exhibits no other instance in which a great poet
has supplemented his proper orbit with so wide an epicyle.

In poetry, as in science, the ground of his activity was a passionate
love of Nature, which dates from his boyhood. At the age of fifteen,
recovering from a sickness caused by disappointment in a boyish affair
of the heart, he betook himself with his sketch-book to the woods. "In
the farthest depth of the forest," he says, "I sought out a solemn spot,
where ancient oaks and beeches formed a shady retreat. A slight
declivity of the soil made the merit of the ancient boles more
conspicuous. This space was inclosed by a thicket of bushes, between
which peeped moss-covered rocks, mighty and venerable, affording a rapid
fall to an affluent brook."

The sketches made of these objects at that early age could have had no
artistic value, although the methodical father was careful to mount and
preserve them. But what the pencil, had it been the pencil of the
greatest master, could never glean from scenes like these, what art
could never grasp, what words can never formulate, the heart of the boy
then imbibed, assimilated, resolved in his innermost being. There awoke
in him then those mysterious feelings, those unutterable yearnings, that
pensive joy in the contemplation of Nature, which leavened all his
subsequent life, and the influence of which is so perceptible in his
poetry, especially in his lyrics....

The first literary venture by which Goethe became widely known was "Goetz
von Berlichingen," a dramatic picture of the sixteenth century, in which
the principal figure is a predatory noble of that name. A dramatic
picture, but not in any true sense a play, it owed its popularity at the
time partly to the truth of its portraitures, partly to its choice of a
native subject and the truly German feeling which pervades it. It was a
new departure in German literature, and perplexed the critics as much as
it delighted the general public. It anticipated by a quarter of a
century what is technically called the Romantic School.

"Goetz von Berlichingen" was soon followed by the "Sorrows of
Werther,"--one of those books which, on their first appearance have
taken the world by storm, and of which Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
is the latest example. It is a curious circumstance that a great poet
should have won his first laurels by prose composition. Sir Walter Scott
eclipsed the splendor of his poems by the popularity of the Waverley
novels. Goethe eclipsed the world-wide popularity of his "Werther" by
the splendor of his poems.

Of one who was great in so many kinds, it may seem difficult to decide
in what department he most excelled. Without undertaking to measure and
compare what is incommensurable, I hold that Goethe's genius is
essentially lyrical. Whatever else may be claimed for him, he is, first
of all, and chiefly, a singer. Deepest in his nature, the most innate of
all his faculties, was the faculty of song, of rhythmical utterance. The
first to manifest itself in childhood, it was still active at the age of
fourscore. The lyrical portions of the second part of "Faust," some of
which were written a short time before his death, are as spirited, the
versification as easy, the rhythm as perfect, as the songs of his youth.

As a lyrist he is unsurpassed, I venture to say unequalled, if we take
into view the whole wide range of his performance in this kind,--from
the ballads, the best-known of his smaller poems, and those light
fugitive pieces, those bursts of song which came to him without effort,
and with such a rush that in order to arrest and preserve them he
seized, as he tells us, the first scrap of paper that came to hand and
wrote upon it diagonally, if it happened so to lie on his table, lest,
through the delay of selecting and placing, the inspiration should be
checked and the poem evaporate,--from these to such stately compositions
as the "Zueignung," or dedication of his poems, the "Weltseele" and the
"Orphic Sayings,"--in short, from poetry that writes itself, that
springs spontaneously in the mind, to poetry that is written with
elaborate art. There is this distinction, and it is one of the most
marked in lyric verse. Compare in English poetry, by way of
illustration, the snatches of song in Shakspeare's plays with
Shakspeare's sonnets; compare Burns with Gray; compare Jean Ingelow
with Browning.

Goethe's ballads have an undying popularity; they have been translated,
and most of them are familiar to English readers....

In the Elegies written after his return from Italy, the author figures
as a classic poet inspired by the Latin Muse. The choicest of these
elegies--the "Alexis and Dora"--is not so much an imitation of the
ancients as it is the manifestation of a side of the poet's nature which
he had in common with the ancients. He wrote as a Greek or Roman might
write, because he felt his subject as a Greek or Roman might feel it.

"Hermann und Dorothea," which Schiller pronounced
the acme not only of Goethean but of all modern art,
was written professedly as an attempt in the Homeric[7]
style, motived by Wolf's "Prolegomena" and Voss's
"Luise." It is Homeric only in its circumstantiality,
in the repetition of the same epithets applied to the
same persons, and in the Greek realism of Goethe's
nature. The theme is very un-Homeric; it is thoroughly
modern and German,--
"Germans themselves I present, to the humbler dwelling I lead you,
Where with Nature as guide man is natural still." [8]

[Footnote 7: "Doch Homeride zu sein, auch noch als letzter, ist schoen."]

[Footnote 8: From the Elegy entitled "Hermann und Dorothea."]

This exquisite poem has been translated into English hexameters with
great fidelity by Miss Ellen Frothingham.

"Iphigenie auf Tauris" handles a Greek theme, exhibits Greek characters,
and was hailed on its first appearance as a genuine echo of the Greek
drama. Mr. Lewes denies it that character; and certainly it is not
Greek, but Christian, in sentiment. It differs from the extant drama of
Euripides, who treats the same subject, in the Christian feeling which
determines its _denouement_....

A large portion of Goethe's productions have taken the dramatic form;
yet he cannot be said, theatrically speaking, to have been, like
Schiller, a successful dramatist. His plays, with the exception of
"Egmont" and the First Part of "Faust," have not commanded the stage;
they form no part, I believe, of the stock of any German theatre. The
characterizations are striking, but the positions are not dramatic.
Single scenes in some of them are exceptions,--like that in "Egmont,"
where Clara endeavors to rouse her fellow-citizens to the rescue of the
Count, while Brackenburg seeks to restrain her, and several of the
scenes in the First Part of "Faust." But, on the whole, the interest of
Goethe's dramas is psychological rather than scenic. Especially is this
the case with "Tasso," one of the author's noblest works, where the
characters are not so much actors as metaphysical portraitures.
Schiller, in his plays, had always the stage in view. Goethe, on the
contrary, wrote for readers, or cultivated, reflective hearers, not

When I say, then, that Goethe, compared with Schiller, failed of
dramatic success, I mean that his talent did not lie in the line of
plays adapted to the stage as it is; or if the talent was not wanting,
his taste did not incline to such performance. He was no playwright.

But there is another and higher sense of the word _dramatic_, where
Goethe is supreme,--the sense in which Dante's great poem is called
_Commedia_, a play. There is a drama whose scope is beyond the compass
of any earthly stage,--a drama not for theatre-goers, to be seen on the
boards, but for intellectual contemplation of men and angels. Such a
drama is "Faust," of which I shall speak hereafter.

Of Goethe's prose works,--I mean works of prose fiction,--the most
considerable are two philosophical novels, "Wilhelm Meister" and the
"Elective Affinities."

In the first of these the various and complex motives which have shaped
the composition may be comprehended in the one word _education_,--the
education of life for the business of life. The main thread of the
narrative traces through a labyrinth of loosely connected scenes and
events the growth of the hero's character,--a progressive training by
various influences, passional, intellectual, social, moral, and
religious. These are represented by the _personnel_ of the story. In
accordance with this design, the hero himself, if so he may be called,
has no pronounced traits, is more negative than positive, but is brought
into contact with many very positive characters. His life is the stage
on which these characters perform. A ground is thus provided for the
numerous portraits of which the author's large experience furnished the
originals, and for lessons of practical wisdom derived from his close
observation of men and things and his lifelong reflection thereon.

"Wilhelm Meister," if not the most artistic, is the most instructive,
and in that view, next to "Faust," the most important, of Goethe's
works. In it he has embodied his philosophy of life,--a philosophy far
enough removed from the epicurean views which ignorance has ascribed to
him,--a philosophy which is best described by the term _ascetic_. Its
keynote is Renunciation. "With renunciation begins the true life," was
the author's favorite maxim; and the second part of "Wilhelm
Meister"--the _Wanderjahre_--bears the collateral title _Die
Entsagenden_; that is, the "Renouncing" or the "Self-denying." The
characters that figure in this second part--most of whom have had their
training in the first--form a society whose principle of union is
self-renunciation and a life of beneficent activity....

The most fascinating character in "Wilhelm Meister"--the wonder and
delight of the reader--is Mignon, the child-woman,--a pure creation of
Goethe's genius, without a prototype in literature. Readers of Scott
will remember Fenella, the elfish maiden in "Peveril of the Peak." Scott
says in his Preface to that novel: "The character of Fenella, which from
its peculiarity made a favorable impression on the public, was far from
being original. The fine sketch of Mignon in Wilhelm Meister's
_Lehrjahre_--a celebrated work from the pen of Goethe--gave the idea of
such a being. But the copy will be found to be greatly different from my
great prototype; nor can I be accused of borrowing anything save the
general idea."

As I remember Fenella, the resemblance to Mignon is merely superficial.
A certain weirdness is all they have in common. The intensity of the
inner life, the unspeakable longing, the cry of the unsatisfied heart,
the devout aspiration, the presentiment of the heavenly life which
characterize Mignon are peculiar to her; they constitute her
individuality. Wilhelm has found her a kidnapped child attached to a
strolling circus company, and has rescued her from the cruel hands of
the manager. Thenceforth she clings to him with a passionate devotion,
in which gratitude for her deliverance, filial affection, and the love
of a maiden for her hero are strangely blended. Afflicted with a disease
of the heart, she is subject to terrible convulsions, which increase the
tenderness of her protector for the doomed child. After one of these
attacks, in which she had been suffering frightful pain, we read:--

"He held her fast. She wept; and no tongue can express the force of
those tears. Her long hair had become unfastened and hung loose over her
shoulders. Her whole being seemed to be melting away.... At last she
raised herself up. A mild cheerfulness gleamed from her face. 'My
father!' she cried, 'you will not leave me! You will be my father! I
will be your child.' Softly, before the door, a harp began to sound. The
old Harper was bringing his heartiest songs as an evening sacrifice to
his friend."

Then bursts on the reader that world-famed song, in which the soul of
Mignon, with its unconquerable yearnings, is forever embalmed,--"Kennst
du das Land":--

"Know'st thou the land that bears the citron's bloom?
The golden orange glows 'mid verdant gloom,
A gentle wind from heaven's deep azure blows,
The myrtle low, and high the laurel grows,--
Know'st thou the land?[9]
Oh, there! oh, there!
Would I with thee, my best beloved, repair." ...

[Footnote 9: Literally, "Know'st thou it well?" But the word "well," in
this case, does not answer to the German _wohl_.]

The "Elective Affinities" has been strangely misinterpreted as having
an immoral tendency, as encouraging conjugal infidelity, and approving
"free love." That any one who has read the work with attention to the
end could so misjudge it seems incredible. Precisely the reverse of
this, its aim is to enforce the sanctity of the nuptial bond by showing
the tragic consequences resulting from its violation, though only in
thought and feeling....

Here, a word concerning one merit of Goethe which seems to me not to
have been sufficiently appreciated by even his admirers,--his loving
skill in the delineation of female character; the commanding place he
assigns to woman in his writings; his full recognition of the importance
of feminine influence in human destiny. The prophetic utterance, which
forms the conclusion of "Faust,"--"The ever womanly draws us on,"--is
the summing up of Goethe's own experience of life. Few men had ever such
wide opportunities of acquaintance with women. If, on the one hand, his
loves had revealed to him the passional side of feminine nature, he had
enjoyed, on the other, the friendship of some of the purest and noblest
of womankind. Conspicuous among these are Fraeulein von Klettenberg and
the Duchess Luise, whom no one, says Lewes, ever speaks of but in terms
of veneration. No poet but Shakspeare, and scarcely Shakspeare, has set
before the world so rich a gallery of female portraits. They range from
the lowest to the highest,--from the wanton to the saint; they are drawn
in firm lines, and limned in imperishable colors, ... each bearing the
stamp of her own individuality, and each confessing a master's hand.
These may be considered as representing different phases of the poet's
experience,--different _stadia_ in his view of life. "The ever womanly
draws us on." So Goethe, of all men most susceptible of feminine
influence, was led by it from weakness to strength, from dissipation to
concentration, from doubt to clearness, from tumult to repose, from the
earthly to the heavenly.


Goethe appears to have derived his knowledge of the Faust legend partly
from the work of Widmann, published in 1599,[10] partly from another
more modern in its form, which appeared in 1728, and partly from the
puppet plays exhibited in Frankfort and other cities of Germany, of
which that legend was then a favorite theme. He was not the only writer
of that day who made use of it. Some thirty of his contemporaries had
produced their "Fausts" during the interval which elapsed between the
inception and publication of his great work. Oblivion overtook them all,
with the exception of Lessing's, of which a few fragments are left; the
manuscript of the complete work was unaccountably lost on its way to the
publisher, between Dresden and Leipsic.

[Footnote 10: The earlier work of Spiess (1588) was translated into
English and furnished Marlowe with the subject-matter of his "Dr.

The composition of "Faust," as we learn from Goethe's biography,
proceeded spasmodically, with many and long interruptions between the
inception and conclusion. Projected in 1769 at the age of twenty, it was
not completed till the year 1831, at the age of eighty-two....

But the effect of the long arrest, which after Goethe's removal to
Weimar delayed the completion of the "Faust," is most apparent in the
wide gulf which separates, as to character and style, the Second Part
from the First. So great, indeed, is the distance between the two that,
without external historical proofs of identity, it would seem from
internal evidence altogether improbable, in spite of the slender thread
of the fable which connects them, that both poems were the work of one
and the same author. And really the author was not the same. The change
which had come over Goethe on his return from Italy had gone down to the
very springs of his intellectual life. The fervor and the rush, the
sparkle and foam of his early productions, had been replaced by the
stately calm and the luminous breadth of view that is born of
experience. The torrent of the mountains had become the river of the
plain; romantic impetuosity had changed to classic repose. He could
still, by occasional efforts of the will, cast himself back into the old
moods, resume the old thread, and so complete the first "Faust." But we
may confidently assert that he could not, after the age of forty, have
originated the poem, any more than before his Italian tour he could have
written the second "Faust," purporting to be a continuation of the
first. The difference in spirit and style is enormous.

As to the question which of the two is the greater production, it is
like asking which is the greater, Dante's "Commedia" or Shakspeare's
"Macbeth"? They are incommensurable. As to which is the more generally
interesting, no question can arise. There are thousands who enjoy and
admire the First Part to one who even reads the Second. The interest of
the former is poetic and thoroughly human; the interest of the other is
partly poetic, but mostly philosophic and scientific....

The symbolical character of "Faust" is assumed by all the critics, and
in part confessed by the author himself. Besides the general symbolism
pervading and motiving the whole,--a symbolism of human destiny,--and
here and there a shadowing forth of the poet's private experience, there
are special allusions--local, personal, enigmatic conceits--which have
furnished topics of learned discussion and taxed the ingenuity of
numerous commentators. We need not trouble ourselves with these
subtleties. But little exegesis is needed for a right comprehension of
the true and substantial import of the work.

The key to the plot is given in the Prologue in Heaven. The devil, in
the character of Mephistopheles, asks permission to tempt Faust; he
boasts his ability to get entire possession of his soul and drag him
down to hell. The Lord grants the permission, and prophesies the failure
of the attempt:--

"Be it allowed! Draw this spirit from its Source if you can lay hold of
him; bear him with you on your downward path, and stand ashamed when you
are forced to confess that a good man in his dark strivings has a
consciousness of the right way."

Here we have a hint of the author's design. He does not intend that the
devil shall succeed; he does not mean to adopt the conclusion of the
legend and send Faust to hell. He had the penetration to see, and he
meant to show, that the notion implied in the old popular superstition
of selling one's soul to the devil--the notion that evil can obtain the
entire and final possession of the soul--is a fallacy; that the soul is
not man's to dispose of, and cannot be so traded away. We are the
soul's, not the soul ours. Evil is self-limited; the good in man must
finally prevail. So long as he strives he is not lost; Heaven will come
to the aid of his better nature. This is the doctrine, the philosophy,
of "Faust." In the First Part, stung by disappointment in his search of
knowledge, by failure to lay hold of the superhuman, and urged on by his
baser propensities personified in Mephistopheles, Faust abandons himself
to sensual pleasure,--seduces innocence, burdens his soul with heavy
guilt, and seems to be entirely given over to evil. This Part ends with
Mephistopheles' imperious call,--"Her zu mir,"--as if secure of his
victim. Before the appearance of the Second Part, the reader was at
liberty to accept that conclusion. But in the Second Part Faust
gradually wakes from the intoxication of passion, outgrows the dominion
of appetite, plans great and useful works, whereby Mephistopheles loses
more and more his hold of him; and after his death is baffled in his
attempt to appropriate Faust's immortal part, to which the heavenly
Powers assert their right....

The character of Margaret is unique; its duplicate is not to be found in
all the picture galleries of fiction. Shakspeare, in the wide range of
his feminine _personnel_, has no portrait like this. A girl of low birth
and vulgar circumstance, imbued with the ideas and habits of her class,
speaking the language of that class from which she never for a moment
deviates into finer phrase, takes on, through the magic handling of the
poet, an ideal beauty. Externally common and prosaic in all her ways,
she is yet thoroughly poetic, transfigured in our conception by her
perfect love. To that love, unreasoning, unsuspecting,--to the excess of
that which in itself is no fault, but beautiful and good,--her fall and
ruin are due. Her story is the tragedy of her sex in all time. As
Schlegel said of the "Prometheus Bound,"--"It is not a single tragedy,
but tragedy itself." ...

[The First Part ends with the prison scene, where poor Margaret,
escaping by death, ascends to heaven, while Mephistopheles, shouting an
imperious "Hither to me!" disappears with Faust.] The reader is allowed
to suppose--and most readers did suppose--that the author meant it
should be inferred that the devil had secured his victim, and that
Faust, according to the legend, had paid the forfeit of his soul to the
powers of hell.

But Faust reappears in a new poem,--the Second Part. He is there
introduced sleeping, as if burying in torpor the lusts and crimes and
sorrows of his past career. Pitying spirits are about him, to heal his
woes and promote his return to a better life....

[At the end of his hundred years of earthly life,] Mephistopheles ...
fails to secure the immortal part of Faust, which the angels appropriate
and bear aloft:

"This member of the upper spheres
We rescue from the devil;
For whoso strives and perseveres
May be redeemed from evil."

The last two lines may be supposed to contain the author's justification
of Mephistopheles' defeat and Faust's salvation. Though a man surrender
himself to evil, if there is that in him which evil cannot satisfy, an
impulse by which he outgrows the gratifications of vice, extends his
horizon and lifts his desires, pursues an onward course until he learns
to place his aims outside of himself, and to seek satisfaction in works
of public utility,--he is beyond the power of Satan: he may be redeemed
from evil.

One could wish, indeed, that more decisive marks of moral development
had been exhibited in the latter stages of Faust's career. But here
comes in the Christian doctrine of Grace, which Goethe applies to the
problem of man's destiny. Faust is represented as saved by no merit of
his own, but by the interest which Heaven has in every soul in which
there is the possibility of a heavenly life.

And so the new-born ascending spirit is committed by the Mater gloriosa
to the tutelage of Gretchen [Margaret],--_una poenitentium,_--now
purified from all the stains of her earthly life, to whom is given the

"Lift thyself up to higher spheres!
When he divines, he'll follow thee."

And the Mystic Choir chants the epilogue which embodies the moral of
the play:--

"All that is perishing
Types the ideal;
Dream of our cherishing
Thus becomes real.
Here it is done;
The ever womanly
Draweth us on."





Of Tennyson what can one write freshly to-day that will not seem but an
echo of what has been said or written of England's noble singer who, on
the death of Wordsworth, now over half a century ago, assumed the
official bays of the English laureateship? Personal homage, of course,
one can pay to the illustrious name, so dear to the heart of the
English-speaking race; but how freshly or vitally can any writer now
speak of that magnificent body of his verse which is the glory of his
age, of the nobility and knightly virtues of its author's character, of
the splendor of his genius, or of the breadth of intellectual and
spiritual interests which was so signally manifested in all that
Tennyson thought and wrote? Among the "Beacon Lights" in the present
series of volumes the Laureate of the age has not hitherto been
included, and to fill the gap the writer of this sketch has ventured,
not, of course, to say all that might be said of the great poet, but
modestly to deal with the man and his art, so that neither his era nor
his work shall go unchronicled or fail of some recognition, however
inadequate, in these pages.

Tennyson's supreme excellence, it is admitted, lies not so much in his
themes as in his transcendent art. It is this that has given him his
hold upon a cultured age and won for him immortality. His work is the
perfection of literary form, and, in his lyrical pieces especially, his
melody is exquisite. Not less masterly is his power of construction,
while his sensibility to beauty is phenomenal. His secluded life brought
him close to nature's heart and made him familiar with her every voice
and mood. In interpreting these, much of the charm lies in the fidelity
of his descriptions and in the surpassing beauty of the word-painting.
In the Shakespearian sense he lacked the dramatic faculty, and he had
but slender gifts of invention and creation. But broad, if not always
strong, was his intelligence, and keen his interest in the problems of
the time. Though living apart from the world, he was yet of it; and in
many of his poems may be traced not only the doings, but the thought and
tendencies, of his age. His Christianity, though undogmatic, was real
and pervasive, and his love for nature was a devotion. In national
affairs, as befitted the official singer of his country (witness his
fine 'Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington'), he showed himself
the historic as well as the modern Englishman, and great was his
reverence for law and freedom. Attractive also, if at times somewhat
commonplace, is the quiet domestic sphere which Tennyson has hallowed in
the many modern idylls which depict the joys and sorrows of humble life.
No trait in the poet's many-sided character is more beautiful than the
sympathy he has manifested in these poems with the world's toilers;
while nothing could well be more touching than the pathos with which he
invests their simple annals.

Typical of the Victorian age in which he lived, Tennyson is also
representative of its highest thought and culture. This is seen not only
in the thought of his verse, but in its splendid forms, and especially
in the technical equipment of the poet. In his dialogues there is much
movement and action, and he had consummate skill in the handling of
metres. Few poets have approached him in the successful writing of blank
verse, which has a delightful cadence as well as calm strength. Above
all his gifts, he was an artist in words, his ear being most sensitively
attuned and his taste pure and refined for the delicate artistry of the
poet's work. In this respect he is a matchless literary workman. Besides
the music of his verse, his thought is ever high, and in his serious
moods consecrated to noble and reverent purposes. In the midst of the
negations and convulsive movements of his day his spirit is always
serene, and his thought, while at times dreamily melancholy, is
conserving and full of faith's highest assurance. His sympathy with his
fellow-man was keen and wide-souled; and though he stood aloof from the
conflict and struggle of his day, he was far from indifferent to its
movements, and with high purpose strove if not to direct at least to
reflect them. This was specially characteristic of the man, and in the
conflict with doubt no poet has more keenly interpreted the mental
struggles of the thoughtful soul and the deep underlying spirit of his
time, or more beneficently given the age an assured ground of faith
while conserving its highest and dearest hopes. Happily, too, unlike
many poets, his own character was lofty and blameless, and hence his
message comes with more consistency, as well as with a higher
inspiration and power. Nor is the message the less impressive for the
note of honest doubt which finds utterance in many a poem, or for the
intimation of a creed that is at once liberal and conservative. With the
evidences before the reader that the poet himself had had his own
soul-wrestlings and periods of mental conflict, his counsellings of
courage and faith are all the more effective, as they are in unison with
his belief in the upward progress of the race, and his unshaken trust in
a higher Power.

Lacking in intensity of passion and dramatic force, Tennyson here again
is but typical of his era, to him one of reposeful content and calm,
reasoning progress. Of permanent, lasting value much of his verse
undoubtedly is, but not all of it will escape the indifference of
posterity or the measuring-rod and censure, it may be, of the future
critic. He had not the stirring strains or the careless rapture of other
and earlier poets of the motherland,--his characteristic is more
contemplative and brooding,--yet his range is unusually comprehensive
and his power varied and sustained, as well as marked by the highest
qualities of rhythmic beauty. In the idyll, where he specially shines,
we have much that is lovely and limpid, with abounding instances of that
felicitous word-painting for which he was noted. This is especially seen
in the simple pastoral idylls, such as 'Dora,' 'The May Queen,' and 'The
Miller's Daughter,' or in those tender lyrics such as 'Mariana,' 'Sir
Galahad,' 'The Dying Swan,' and 'The Talking Oak.' In the ballads and
songs, how felicitous again is the poet's work, and how rich yet
mellifluous is the strain! Had Tennyson written nothing else but these,
with the verse included in the volumes issued by him in 1832 and 1842,
how high would he have been placed in the choir of song, and how supreme
should we have deemed his art! In "The Princess" alone there are songs
that would have made any poet's reputation, while for music and color,
and especially for perfection of poetic workmanship, they are almost
matchless in their beauty.

Fortunately, however, the poet was to give us much even beyond these
surpassingly beautiful things, and make a more unique and distinctive
contribution to the verse of his era. In the years that followed the
production of his early writings the poet matures in thought as his art
ripens and reaches still higher qualities of craftsmanship. Recluse as
he was, he moreover had his experiences of life and drank deeply of
sorrow's cup, as we see in "In Memoriam,"--that noble tribute to his
youthful friend, Arthur Hallam, with its grand hymnal qualities and
powerful and reverent lessons for an age shifting in its beliefs and
unconfirmed in its faith. In later work from his pen we also see the
Laureate--for he has now received official recognition from his
nation--in his relations to the culture as well as to the thought of his
time, keeping pace with the age in all its complex engrossments and
problems. This is shown in much and varied work turned out with its
author's loving interest in the poetic art, and with characteristic
delicacy and finish. The most important labor of this later time
includes "The Princess," "Maud and Other Poems," "Enoch Arden," the
dramas "Becket," "Queen Mary," and "Harold," "Tiresias," "Demeter," "The
Foresters," but above all, and most notably, that grand epic of King
Arthur's time,--"The Idylls of the King." In the latter, the most
characteristic, and perhaps the most permanent, of Tennyson's work, the
poet manifests his historic sense and love for England's legendary past,
and achieves his design not only to glorify it, but to imbue it with a
deep ethical motive and underlying purpose, the expression of his own
chivalrous, knightly soul and strenuous, thoughtful, and blameless life.
In these splendid tales of knight-errantry we have the full flower of
the poet's genius, narrated in the true romantic spirit, but with an
ideality and imagination quite Tennysonian, and with a spiritualistic
touch in harmony with "the voice of the age" that reminds us that,--

"Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they."

It is with such themes and speculations that Tennyson has powerfully and
impressively influenced his age. Beyond and above the mere artistry of
the poet, we recognize his interest in man's higher, spiritual being,
his love for nature, and awe in contemplating the heights and depths of
infinite time and space, ever looking upward and inward at the mysteries
of the world behind the phenomena of sense. It is difficult, in set
theological terms, to define the poet's creed, though we know that he
was won by the Broad Church teaching of his friends, Frederick Robertson
and Denison Maurice, and had himself many a battle to fight with honest
doubts until--as his 'Crossing the Bar' shows us--he finally conquered
and laid them. But while there is an absence of definite doctrine in his
work there is no question about his religious convictions or of his
belief in the eternal verities, the immanence of God in man and the
universe. Throughout his poems he assumes the existence of a great
Spirit and recognizes that our souls are a part of Him, however Faith at
times seems to veil her face from the poet, and all appears a mystery,
though a mystery presided over by infinite Power and Love. The great
problems of metaphysics and of man's origin and destiny, we are told,
occupied much of his thought, and he dwelt upon them with eager, intense
interest, and touched upon them with great candor, earnestness, and
truthfulness. No sophistry could shake his belief in man's immortality,
for without belief in this doctrine the human race, he was convinced,
had not incentive enough to virtue, while all man's inspirations were
otherwise meaningless. For the doctrine of Evolution, in its
materialistic aspect, he had nothing but scorn, though he accepted it in
the more spiritual guise with which Russel Wallace propounded it. If we
come from the brutes we are nevertheless linked with the Divine, he
believed, and it was the Divine in man that was to conquer the brute
within him, and, in the upward struggle, work out salvation. So, in the
realm of physical science, on the principles of which, as Huxley tells
us, he had a great grasp, the poet, while appalled by the mystery,
accepts and indeed rejoices in its truths, though he cannot acquiesce in
a godless world or in the denial of a life to come, in which the race,
through infinite love, shall be brought into union with God.

But leaving here Tennyson's speculations and beliefs,--a most
interesting part of the poet's analytical and reflective character,--let
us look for a little at the man personally, and record briefly the chief
incidents in his quiet though ideal home-life. To those who know the
Memoir by his son, Hallam Tennyson,--a memoir that while paying honor to
filial reverence and devotion is at the same time and in all respects
most worthy of its high theme,--the events in the poet's life will
hardly need dwelling upon, though they throw much light on, and impart
the distinction of a high dignity to, the Laureate's work. The life
Hallam Tennyson describes was, we know, not lived in the public eye, and
was wholly without sensational elements or any of the vapid interests
which usually attach to a man whose name is, in a special sense, public
property, and about whom the world was eagerly, and often officiously,
curious. The life the poet lived, in a popular sense, lacked all that
usually attracts the masses, for he was personally little known to his
generation, rarely seen among large gatherings of the people, and, great
Englishman as he was, was almost a stranger, in his later years at
least, in the English metropolis, or, if we except the seats of the
universities, in any of the chief towns of the kingdom. And yet, in
another and a higher sense, the century has hardly known among its many
intellectual forces one that has been more influential in its effect
upon literary art, or in certain directions has more potently influenced
the ideals and more profoundly given expression to the ethical and
philosophic thought of the time. Secluded as his life was, it was one
not of obscurity or of mere asceticism; on the contrary, it was rich in
all the elements that make for a great reputation, and ever devoted to
strenuous, elevating purpose, and to an ideal poetic career.

So far as his tastes and opportunity offered, Tennyson's life, moreover,
was enriched by many wise and noble friendships, and by intimacy with
not a few of the best and most thoughtful minds of his age. It was
spent, we rejoice to think also, in unceasing toil in and for his high
art, with a resulting productiveness which proved the extent and varied
range of his labors as well as the mastery of his craft.

Until the appearance of the biography referred to, we had known the
Laureate almost wholly through his books. Now, thanks to the
authoritative record of his accomplished surviving son, we know the poet
as he lived, and feel that behind his writings there is a personality of
the most interesting and impressive kind. It is a personality such as
consorts with the opinions which most thoughtful readers of Tennyson's
writings must have had of one of the greatest and serenest minds of the
age,--a poet who, aside from the splendor of his workmanship and the
beauty and melody of his verse, has greatly enriched the poetic
literature of the century, and has, we feel, given profound thought to
the intellectual problems and spiritual aspirations of his era. Nor does
the Memoir, as a revelation of the poet's intellectual and personal
life, fall away, on any page of it, from the high plane on which it has
been prepared and written. There is no undue invasion, which a son's
pride might be apt to make, of domestic privacy, and no dealing with
irrelevant topics or elaboration of those set forth with becoming
modesty and restraint; far less is there the discussion of any subject,
for a trivial or vain purpose. Throughout the work we meet with no
unnecessary lifting of veils or treatment of themes merely to satisfy
morbid curiosity. Everywhere there is the evidence of sound judgment,
unimpeachable taste, and a wholesome sanity. This is especially the case
in the frank revelation of the poet's views on religion and his attitude
towards scientific and theological thought, to which we have ourselves
referred. In this respect, a large debt is due to the biographer for
setting before the reader, not only the high ethical purpose which
Tennyson had in view in selecting the themes of his poems and in the
mode of handling them, but, as we have said, in showing us what beyond
peradventure were his religious opinions, and, despite a certain
curtaining of gloom, how profoundly he was influenced by faith in the
Divine life. Nor is the least interest in the Memoir to be found in the
light the biographer throws on the poet's writings as a whole--how they
were conceived and elaborated, and on the often hidden meaning that
underlies some of the most thoughtful verse. This, to students of the
Laureate's writings, is of high value, in addition to the service
rendered by the biographer in tracing in his father's poetic work the
influences which fashioned it and the pains he took to give it its
marvellous beauty and artistic finish of expression.

It is this instructive as well as skilled and dignified treatment, with
the vast literary and deep personal interest in the life, that will
commend the Memoir to all who are proud of the Laureate's fame, and
wished to have nothing written that was unworthy of either the poet or
the man, or that would in the least detract from his laurels. Nor does
the restraint which the biographer imposes upon himself conceal from us
the man in his human aspects, or lead him to set before the reader an
imaginary, rather than a veritable and real, portraiture. We have a
picture, it is true, of an almost ideal domestic life, and of a man of
rare gifts and fine culture, whose work and career have been and are the
pride and glory of the English-speaking race. But we have also the story
of an author not free from human weaknesses, and though endowed with
manifold and great gifts, yet who had to labor long and earnestly to
perfect himself in his art, and in his early years had much
discouragement and not a little adversity to contend with. With all the
toil and stress his early years had known, when success came to the poet
no one was less unspoiled by it; and when sunshine fell upon and gilded
his life, maturing years brought him serenity, happiness, and, at
length, peace.

Alfred Tennyson was born at his father's rectory, Somersby,
Lincolnshire, August 6,1809. He was the fourth of twelve children, seven
of whom were sons, two of them, Frederick and Charles, being endowed,
like Alfred, with poetic gifts. The poet's mother, a woman of sweet and
tender disposition, had much to do in moulding the future Laureate's
character; while from his father, a man of fine culture, he received not
only much of his education, but his bent towards a recluse, bookish
career. Alfred was from his earliest days a retired, shy child, fond of
reading and given to rhyming, and with a characteristic love of nature
and of quiet rural life. Later on he had a passion for the sea-coast,
and for those scenes of storm and stress about the seagirt shores of old
England which he was so feelingly and with such poetic beauty to depict
in "Sea Dreams," and in those incomparable songs, embodiments at once of
sorrow and of faith, 'Break, break, break,' and 'Crossing the Bar.'
Besides the education he received from his scholarly father, and at a
school at Louth for four years, young Tennyson spent some years at
Trinity College, Cambridge, where, though he did not take a degree, he
won in 1829 the Chancellor's medal for the best English poem of the
year, the subject of which was 'Timbuctoo.' At college he had the good
fortune to number among his friends several men who later in life were,
like himself, to rise to eminence,--such as Henry Alford (afterwards
Dean of Canterbury), R.C. Trench (later Archbishop of Dublin), C.
Merivale (historian and Dean of Ely), Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton),
James Spedding (editor of Lord Bacon's Works), Macaulay, Thackeray, and,
most endeared of all, Arthur Henry Hallam, son of the historian, whose
memory Tennyson has immortalized in "In Memoriam." With him at college
was also his brother Charles, one year his senior, with whom he
collaborated in the collection of verse, issued in 1827, under the title
of "Poems by Two Brothers." In 1830, Tennyson made a journey to the
Pyrenees with Arthur Hallam, who was engaged to the poet's sister
Emilia, and in the same year he published an independent volume,
entitled "Poems chiefly Lyrical." In this, his first venture alone in
poetry, and in another issued in 1832, Tennyson was to manifest to the
world his poetic powers and art, for they contained, besides much
rhythmical and contemplative verse, such poems as 'Mariana,' 'Claribel;
'Lilian,' 'Lady Clare,' 'The Lotus Eaters,' 'A Dream of Pair Women,'
'The May Queen,' and 'The Miller's Daughter,' In spite of the great
promise bodied forth in these works, the volumes were subject to not a
little unfavorable criticism, which stayed his further publishing for a
period of ten years, though not the furtherance of his creative work,
nor his enthusiastic efforts towards increasing the perfection of
his art.

It was not until 1842 that the poet again appeared in print, this time
with a volume to which he appended his name, "Poems by Alfred Tennyson,"
and which gave him high rank among the acknowledged singers of his
day,--Wordsworth, Southey, Landor, Campbell, Rogers, and Leigh Hunt, in
England; and in the New World, Longfellow, Bryant, Lowell, Whittier, and
Emerson. The poet-contemporaries of his youth--Byron, Scott, Coleridge,
Shelley, and Keats--had by this time all died, and in 1843 Southey died,
when Wordsworth, whom Tennyson reverenced, became Poet Laureate. The
gap occasioned by the death of these early English poets of the century
was now to be filled in large measure by Tennyson, though among the
writers of song to arise were the Brownings, Rossetti, Matthew Arnold,
and Swinburne. Critical appreciation of the volume of 1842 was happily
encouraging to the poet; indeed, it was most gratifying, for its many
remarkable beauties were now justly and adequately appraised,
particularly such fine new themes as the volume contained--'Ulysses,'
'Godiva,' 'The Two Voices,' 'The Talking Oak,' 'Oenone,' 'Locksley
Hall,' 'The Vision of Sin,' and 'Morte D'Arthur,' the germ of the future
"Idylls of the King." Nor on this side the Atlantic did the new volume
lack substantial recognition, and from such competent critics as Emerson
and Hawthorne; while among his English contemporaries Tennyson became,
if we except for the time Wordsworth, the acknowledged head of English
song. At this period the poet resided in London or its neighborhood, his
family home in Lincolnshire having been broken up in 1837, six years
after the death of his father. Here, in spite of the secluded life he
led, he became a notable figure in literary circles, and greatly
increased the range of his friends, correspondents, and admirers. Among
the latter were the Carlyles, Thomas and his clever wife Jane being
especially drawn to the poet, and to them we owe interesting sketches
of the personal appearance of Tennyson at this time. Mrs. Carlyle, in
one of her delightful letters gossiping about Dickens, Bulwer-Lytton,
and Tennyson, esteems the latter "the greatest genius of the three,"
adding that "besides, he is a very handsome man, and a noble-hearted
one, with something of the gypsy in his appearance, which for me is
perfectly charming." This is the historian, her husband's, piece of
portraiture: "A fine, large-featured, dim-eyed, bronze-colored,
shaggy-headed man, dusty, smoky, free-and-easy; who swims, outwardly and
inwardly, with great composure in an articulate element as of tranquil
chaos and tobacco smoke; great now and then when he does emerge; a most
restful, brotherly, solid-hearted man." Another portrait we have from
the Chelsea philosopher and scorner of shams which describes the poet
very humanly as "one of the finest-looking men in the world, with a
great shock of rough, dusky, dark hair; bright, laughing, hazel eyes;
massive, aquiline face, most massive, yet most delicate; of sallow-brown
complexion, almost Indian looking; clothes cynically loose,
free-and-easy; smokes infinite tobacco. His voice is musical, metallic,
fit for loud laughter and piercing wail, and all that may lie between;
speech and speculation free and plenteous. I do not meet in these late
decades such company over a pipe! We shall see what he will grow to."
Besides the Carlyles and other notable contemporaries, Tennyson numbered
at this time among his intimates John Sterling, whose life was written
by the author of "Sartor Resartus," James Spedding, Bacon's editor, who
wrote a fine critique of the 1842 volume of poems for the Edinburgh
Review, Aubrey De Vere, Edmund Lushington, A.P. Stanley (afterwards
Dean of Westminster), and Edward Fitzgerald, the future translator of
the "Rubaiyat," or Quatrains of the Persian Poet, Omar Khayyam. These
were all enthusiastic admirers of Tennyson's work and art, and his close
personal friends, who have left on record many interesting sketches of
the poet in their published writings, or in letters to him, and
especially in reminiscences furnished for the Memoir by the poet's son.

Nine years before the appearance of the 1842 volume of Tennyson's verse
the poet's bosom friend, Arthur Hallam, died at an immature age at
Vienna, and his death was the subject of much brooding in noble, elegiac
verse, written, as was Milton's 'Lycidas,' to commemorate the loss of
one very dear to the poet. In "In Memoriam," as all know, Tennyson
sought to assuage his grief and give fine, artistic expression to his
profound sorrow at the loss of his companion and friend; but the work is
more than a labored monument of woe, since it enshrines reflections of
the most exalted and inspiring character on the eternally momentous
themes of life, death, and immortality. The work was published in 1850,
and it at once challenged the admiration of the world for the perfection
of its art, no less than for its high contemplative beauty. This was the
year when Wordsworth passed to the grave, and Tennyson, in his room, was
given the English laureateship. In this year, also, we find him happily
married to Emily S. Sellwood, a lady of Berks, to whom the poet had been
engaged since 1837. With his bride he took up house at Twickenham, near
London, where his son, Hallam Tennyson, was born in 1852. In the
following year he removed to Farringford, on the Isle of Wight, which
was to be his home for forty years, and where, as his son tells us, some
of his best-known works were written. Here, in 1854, his second son,
Lionel, was born, whose young life of promise was terminated by jungle
fever thirty-two years later on a return voyage from India,--all that
was mortal of him finding repose in the depths of the Red Sea. To
complete the chief incidents in the poet's personal career, we may here
record that while Tennyson acquired another home at Aldworth,
Surrey,--where he died Oct. 6, 1892, followed some four years later by
his wife,--his happiest days were spent at Farringford, the pilgrimage
place of many eminent worshippers of the poet's muse, where was
dispensed an unostentatious but open-handed and genial British
hospitality. It should be added that, besides the perquisites which
attach to the office of the Poet Laureate, Tennyson was given from 1845
a pension of L200 ($1000) and that, while in 1865 he refused a
baronetcy, in 1884 he accepted a peerage, and had the honor of burial
(Oct. 12, 1892) in Westminster Abbey.

We now revert to the poet's early, or, rather, to his middle-age,
creative years, and to a resume of his principal writings, with a brief,
running comment on his message and art. In 1847, three years before he
became Laureate, he published "The Princess," a charming narrative poem
in blank verse, which, though it abounds in fine descriptions and has an
obvious moral in the treatment of the theme,--the woman question of
today,--is inherently lacking in unity and strength, as well as weak in
the depicting of the characters. In later editions the poem was amended
in several faulty respects, and was especially enriched by the insertion
between the cantos of many lovely and now familiar songs, which serve
not only to bind together the whole structure of the poem, but to
enhance and enforce its high moral meaning. Any analysis of "The
Princess" is here deemed unnecessary, since it must not only be familiar
to most readers of the poet's works, but familiar also in the varied
annotated editions of such editors as Rolfe, Woodberry, and Wilson
Farrand. Familiar, it is believed, also, that it will be to Tennysonian
students in the "Study of the Princess," with critical and explanatory
notes by Dr. S.E. Dawson, of Montreal (now of Ottawa, Canada),--an able
commentary which received the approval of Lord Tennyson himself, and
elicited from him a highly interesting letter to the author on points in
the poem either misunderstood or not discerningly apprehended by other
critics and reviewers. The purport of the poem, it may be said, however,
is to frown upon revolutionary attempts to alter the position of women,
of scholastically be-gowned and college-capped dames, who would seek by
other than nature's ways to put the sex upon an equality with man, while
repressing their own individuality, doing violence to their maternal
instincts, and trampling upon their "gracious household ways." In the
handling of the "medley" Tennyson brings into exercise not only his
far-seeing powers, which were greatly in advance of his time, but his
gifts of raillery and humor, especially in the early divisions of the
poem, as well as his high, serious motives in the moral lessons to which
he points in the later cantos, where he aims at the elevation of women
in correspondence with the diversity of their natures, for, as he
himself says, "Woman is not undeveloped man, but diverse." His ideal of
perfect womanhood he would attain through the awakening power of the
affections and the transforming power of love, rather than by ignoring
the difference of physique, founding women's universities, and becoming
blue-stockinged high priestesses of learning. Of the medley of
characters in the poem, poet-princes in disguise at the college,
violet-hooded lady principals,

"With prudes for proctors, dowagers for deans,
And sweet girl-graduates in their golden hair,"

it is Lady Psyche's child that is the true, effective heroine of the
story, as Dr. Dawson aptly points out. "Ridiculous in the lecture room,
the babe in the poem, as in the songs, is made the central point upon
which the plot turns, for the unconscious child is the concrete
embodiment of Nature herself, clearing away all merely intellectual
theories by her silent influence." This is the explanation, then, of the
appearance of the babe--symbol of the power and tenderness of Nature--in
critical passages of the poem, as well as in the unsurpassably beautiful
intercalary songs, for it is the child that enables the poet to soften
the Princess's nature toward the Prince, and to effect the
reconciliation between the Princess and Lady Psyche, while imparting
beauty as well as high meaning in the recital of the incidents and
development of the tale.

"In Memoriam," as we have stated, appeared in 1850, and was unique in
its appeal to the mind of the era as a stately meditative poem on a
single theme,--the death of the poet's friend, Arthur Hallam. The
English language, if we except Milton's 'Lycidas' and 'Hymn to the
Nativity,' and Wordsworth's grand 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality,'
has no poem so noble or so faultless in its art as this magnificent
series of detached elegies. The high thought, philosophic reflection,
and passionate religious sentiment that mark the whole work, added to
the exquisiteness of the versification, place it wellnigh supreme in the
literature of elegiac poetry. Its grave, majestic hymnal measure adds to
its solemn beauty and stateliness, while the varied phases of
spiritualized thought and emotional grief which find expression in the
poem seem to elevate it in its harmonies to the rank of a profound
psalm-chant from the choir of heaven. In the sumptuously embellished
edition of the elegy, embodying Mr. Harry Fenn's drawings, with a
sympathetic preface by the Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke, there is a brief but
luminous analysis of the nine divisions of the poem, or commentary on
the great classic. To those who desire to read the great elegy
understandingly, the value of Dr. Van Dyke's work is earnestly
commended, since without this commentary, or such as are to be obtained
in other critical sources, there is much of poetic beauty, of
sorrow-brooding thought, and especially of emotional reflection on life,
death, and immortality, in the hundred and thirty lyrics of which the
poem consists, which will be lost to even the thoughtful reader. The
poem, as a critic truthfully observes, has done much "to express and to
consolidate all that is best in the life of England, its domestic
affection, its patriotic feeling, its healthful morality, its rational
and earnest religion."

The sentimental metrical romance "Maud" appeared in 1855 (the year of
the Crimean War), with some additional poems, including 'The Charge of
the Light Brigade,' written after Raglan's repulse of the Russians at
Balaclava, and the fine 'Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington.'
The lyrical love-drama, "Maud," we are told, was one of Tennyson's
favorite productions, of which he was wont to read parts to his guests.
As the poet has himself said of the monodrama, "it is a little Hamlet,"
"the history of a morbid poetic soul, under the blighting influence of a
recklessly speculative age. He is the heir of madness, an egotist with
the makings of a cynic, raised to sanity by a pure and holy love which
elevates his whole nature, passing from the heights of triumph to the
lowest depths of misery, driven into madness by the loss of her whom he
has loved, and when he has at length passed through the fiery furnace,
and has recovered his reason, giving himself up to work for the good of
mankind through the unselfishness born of his great passion." The poem,
when it appeared, was reviled by some critics as an allegory of the war
with Russia, and they did its author the injustice of supposing that he
lauded war for war's sake, instead of, as is the case, applauding war
only in defence of liberty. Apart from this misunderstanding, due to
abhorrence of the war-frenzy of the period, the poem has outlived the
mistaken objections to it when it appeared, and is now admired in its
vindicated light, and especially for the rich and copious beauty
manifest throughout the work, and for the magnificent lyric art with
which it is composed.

We now come to Tennyson's masterpiece, the "Idylls of the King," an epic
of chivalry, interpreted as personifying in its various characters the
soul at war with the senses. These appeared during the years 1859 and
1872. Each of the Idylls, which has a connecting thread binding it to
its fellow-allegory, takes its plot or fable from the legendary lore
that has clustered round the name of Arthur, mythical King of the
Britons about the era of the first invasion by the English. Out of the
mass of material which was gathered by Sir Thomas Malory for his prose
history of Arthur and his Knights, Tennyson takes the chief incidents
and noblest heroic traits of character in the legends and blends them in
a fashion of his own, steeping them in an atmosphere which his
imagination creates, and lighting up all with a passion and glory of
knightly adventure, as well as with a chasteness, purity, and high
fervor of ethical thought, that must perpetuate the romance, as he has
given it us, unto all time. The sections of the work as it now stands,
in addition to its introductory dedication to the late Prince Consort,
and the closing poem to the late Queen Victoria, are as follows: 'The
Coming of Arthur,' which relates the mystery of the birth of the King,
his marriage to Guinevere, daughter of Leodogran, King of Cameliard, and
the wonders attending his crowning and establishment on the throne; next
comes 'Gareth and Lynette,' a tale of love and scorn, and of the
conflict between a false pride and a true ambition; to this is appended
'The Marriage of Geraint,' of Arthur's court, and a member of the great
order of the Round Table. Next follows 'Geraint and Enid,'--Enid, the
gentle and timid, whom Geraint had married after wooing the haughty
Lynette,--a tale of pure and loyal womanhood, darkened for awhile by the
clouds of jealousy and suspicion, yet closing happily long after the
"spiteful whispers" had died down, and Geraint, assured of Enid's
fealty, had ruled his kingdom well and gone forth to "crown a happy life
with a fair death" against the heathen of the Northern Sea, "fighting
for the blameless King." The next Idyll relates how the venerable
magician Merlin succumbs to the thrall of the wily harlot Vivien, decked
in her rare robe of samite, and yields to her the charm which was his
secret. 'Lancelot and Elaine' follows with its conflict between the
virgin innocence of Elaine, the lily maid of Astolat, and the guilty
passion of the noble though erring Lancelot. To this, in order, succeeds
'The Holy Grail,' telling of the vain quest of Arthur's Knights for the
sacred relic. Despite its mystic character, this is admittedly one of
the finest of the series of Idylls, and rich in its spiritual
teaching,--that the heavenly vision is to be seen only by the eyes of
purity and grace. 'Pelleas and Ettarre' is a tale of dole, showing the
evil at work at the court, and the wrecking effect of another woman's
perfidy. 'The Last Tournament' has for its hero the court fool, who,
amid the treason of Arthur's knights, is firm in his loyal allegiance to
the King. In contrast to him is Sir Tristram, who, despite his prowess,
in jousts on the tilting-field, is "one to whom faith is foolishness,
and the higher life an idle delusion." The climax is reached in
'Guinevere,' whom, in spite of her faithlessness and guilty intrigue
with Lancelot, Arthur, with his great high soul, pityingly loves and
forgives. The end comes with the sad though shadowy 'Passing of Arthur,'
the royal barge mysteriously carrying him out into the beyond, whence
issue sounds of hail and greeting to the victor-hero

"----as if some fair city were one voice
Around a king returning from his wars."

In 1864 Tennyson published "Enoch Arden," an idyll of the hearth,
depicting a pathetic incident in a seafarer's career, of much simple
idyllic beauty. The poem has some fine descriptive passages, and many
examples of the poet's rich word-painting in treating of the splendid
tropic scenery among which the mariner is for the time cast. The volume
contained also some minor pieces, including the dialect poem, 'The
Northern Farmer,' with its humorous rendering of yokel speech. This was
followed (1875-84) by three dramas on English historical themes, which,
as the poet had not, as we have already hinted, the gifts of a
Shakespeare, were somewhat unsuccessful, though written, despite
Tennyson's advanced years, with much fine force and vividness of
character delineation. These dramas (to enumerate them in their historic
order) were "Harold," "Becket," and "Queen Mary." "Becket" is the best
and most ambitious of them, though not, as "Queen Mary" is, a play
designed for the stage. It is a vigorous Englishman's closet study of a
prolonged and bitter struggle--the conflict in Henry II.'s time between
the church and the crown--as exhibited in the person and dominant
ecclesiastical attitude of the audacious prelate who met his tragic end
by Canterbury's altar. "Harold" strikingly realizes to the modern reader
the stirring activities of a strenuous time,--that of the English
conquest by Norman William, opposed to the death by Harold at Senlac in
1066. The drama is as rich in character as it is swift and energetic in
action. "Queen Mary" deals with the religious and political dissensions
(the struggle between the Papacy and the Reformation) of Mary Tudor's
era, with her love for and marriage with Philip of Spain, and her
hopeless yearning for an heir to the double crown of England and Spain.
An important and prized addition to our English literature the drama
undoubtedly is, but it is not more than a careful, accurate, and
elaborate historical study. It lacks, both in spirit and movement, the
characteristics of the Shakespearian drama. Its characters, however, are
vividly brought out, and its situations are often picturesque and
telling. The personages, moreover, are wanting in the play of creative
effect, and the incidents lack the stir of inventive resource. Further,
though the story of Mary's life is essentially dramatic, and the
incidents of her reign are tragic in the extreme, the poet does not seem
to have extracted from either that which goes to the making of a great
drama. This evidently is the result of following too faithfully the
events of history and the records of the time, as well as, in some
degree, from want of sympathy, which Tennyson could not impart, with the
leading characters and their actions. Still, much is made of the
materials; and though the personages and incidents appear in the
narrative in the neutral tints of history, yet the period is made to
reappear with a freshness and distinctness which, while it satisfies the
scholar, gives a true charm to every lover of the drama. Again and
again, as we read, are we reminded of the Laureate's rare poetical fancy
and fine literary instinct, and the dialogues contain many passages of
striking thought and noble utterance. But the work is overcast by the
great gloom of its central figure,--the gloom of bigotry, passion,
jealousy, disappointment, and despair which ever environs the miserable
Queen; and much though the poet has striven to brighten the picture and
awaken sympathy for the weakness of the woman, who, royal mistress
though she was, could not command her love to be requited, the poetic
measure of his lines roughens and hardens to the close, when the curtain
falls on what is felt to be a tragic and unlovely life.

We can only briefly refer to the other _dramatis personae_ introduced to
us, who are among the notable historical characters that figure during
Mary Tudor's reign. They are those who take part in the incidents,
religious, civil, and political, of the period, and are, for the most
part, both in speech and bearing, the portraits familiar to us in Mr.
Froude's history. Of these the most pleasing is the Princess Elizabeth,
whose portrait is drawn with masterly skill, and engages our interest as
the fortunes of its original oscillates "'Twixt Axe and Crown":--

"A Tudor
Schooled by the shadow of death, a Boleyn too
Glancing across the Tudor."

But, aside from the interest in the safety of her person, which is in
constant jeopardy from the jealousy of her half-sister, Elizabeth wins
upon the reader by her modest, maidenly bearing, her frankness of
manner, and by a playfulness of disposition which readily adapts itself
to the restraints which the Queen is ever placing upon her person, and
which endears her to the people, who, could the hated Mary be got rid
of, would fain become her subjects. The civil strife of the period
furnishes material for some powerful passages, which are wrought up with
excellent effect, and in this connection Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir Thomas
Stafford, the Earl of Devon, Sir William Cecil, and other historical
personages appear upon the stage. The other incidents introduced are
those which attach themselves to the religious persecutions of the time,
and which brought Cranmer to the stake, and give play to the papal
intrigues of Pole, Gardiner, and the emissaries of the Spanish court.
The second and third scenes in the fourth act devoted to Cranmer, which
detail his martyrdom, are hardly so satisfactory as we think they might
have been, though the poet here again follows closely the historical
accounts. The scenes, however, give occasion for the introduction of a
couple of local gossips whose provincial dialect and keen interest in
the national and religious policy of the time, here as in occasional
street scenes, are cleverly portrayed. This sapient reflection in the
mouth of one of these gossips, Tib, is a specimen at hand:--

"A-burnin' and a-burnin', and a-making o' volk madder and madder; but
tek thou my word vor't, Joan,--and I bean't wrong not twice i' ten
year,--the burnin' o' the owld archbishop 'ill burn the Pwoap out o'
this 'ere land for iver and iver."

Philip we have not spoken of; but he fills such a hateful niche in the
historical gallery of the time, and the poet introduces him but to act
his pitiful role, that we pass him by, though many of the grandest
passages in the drama are those which give expression to Mary's
passionate love for him, and her longing desire for an issue of their
marriage, which afterwards culminates in her madness and death.

We have to speak of but one other character in the drama, whose death,
it has been said, was sufficient to honor and to dishonor an age. The
beautiful Lady Jane Grey appears for a little among the shadows of the
poem, and moves to her tragic fate.

"Seventeen,--a rose of grace!
Girl never breathed to rival such a rose!
Rose never blew that equalled such a bud."

A few songs of genuine Tennysonian harmony, pitched in the keys that
most fittingly suit the singer's mood, are interspersed through the
drama, and serve to relieve the narratives of their gloom and plaint.
Their presence, we cannot help thinking, recalls work better done, and
more within the limitations of the poet's genius, than this drama of
"Queen Mary." As a dramatic representation the drama had the advantage
of being produced at the Lyceum Theatre, London, with all the historic
art and sumptuous stage-setting with which Sir Henry Irving could well
give it,--Irving himself personating Philip, while Miss Bateman took the
part of Queen Mary. "Becket," we should here add, was also given on the
stage, and with much dramatic effectiveness, by Irving,--over fifty
performances of it being called for. None of the dramas, however, as we
have said, was a success, though each has its merit, while all are
distinguished by many passages of noble and strenuous thought.

Other dramatic compositions the poet attempted, though of minor
importance to the trilogy just spoken of. These were "The Falcon," the
groundwork of which is to be found in "The Decameron;" "The Cup," a
tragedy, rich in action, with an incisive dialogue, borrowed from
Plutarch. The former was staged by Mr. and Mrs. Kendal, and had a run of
sixty-seven nights; the latter also was staged with liberal
magnificence, by Irving, and met with considerable success. "The Promise
of May" is another play which was staged, in 1882, by Mrs. Bernard
Beere, but met with failure by the critics, owing, in some degree, to
its supposed caricature of modern agnostics, and to the repellent
portrayal of one of the characters in the piece, the sensualist, Philip
Edgar. Later, in (1892) appeared "The Foresters," a pretty pastoral
play, on the theme of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, which was produced on
the boards in New York by Mr. Daly and his company, with a charming
woodland setting. The later publications of the Laureate, in his own
distinctive field of verse, embrace "The Lover's Tale" (1879), "Ballads
and other Poems" (1880), "Tiresias and Other Poems" (1885), "Locksley
Hall Sixty Years After" (1886), "Demeter and Other Poems" (1889), and
"The Death of Oenone, Akbar's Dream, and Other Poems," in the year of
the Poet's death (1892). In these various volumes there is much
admirable work and many tuneful lyrics in the old charming, lilting
strain, with not a few serious, thoughtful, stately pieces of verse,
"the after-glow," as Stedman phrases it, "of a still radiant genius....
His after-song," continues this fine critic, "does not wreak itself upon
the master passions of love and ambition, and hence fastens less
strongly on the thoughts of the young; nor does it come with the unused
rhythm, the fresh and novel cadence, that stamped the now hackneyed
measure with a lyric's name. Yet, as to its art and imagery, the same
effects are there, differing only in a more vigorous method, an
intentional roughness, from the individual early verse. The new burthen
is termed pessimistic, but for all its impatient summary of ills, it
ends with a cry of faith."

We must now hasten to a close, delightful as it would be to linger over
so attractive a theme, and to dwell upon the personality of one who so
uniquely represents the mind, as he has so remarkably influenced the
thought, of his age. But considering the length of the present paper,
this cannot be. Happily, however, the fruitage is ever with us of the
poet's full fourscore years of splendid achievement with the hallowing
memory of a forceful, opulent, and blameless life. To few men of the
past century can the reflecting mind of a coming time more interestingly
or more instructively turn than to this profound thinker and mighty
musical singer, steeped as he was in the varied culture of the ages,
endowed with great prophetic powers, with phenomenal gifts of poetic
expression, and with a soul so attuned to the harmonies of heaven as to
make him at once the counsellor and the inspiring teacher of his time.
Who, in comparison with him, has so felt the subtle charm, or so
interpreted to us the infinite beauty, of the world in which we live, or
more impressively deepened in the mind and conscience of the age belief
in the verities of religion, while quelling its doubts and quickening
its highest hopes and faith? "Tennyson was a passionate believer in the
immortal life; this was so real to him that he had no patience with
scepticism on the subject. To question it in his presence was to bring
upon one's head a torrent of denunciation and wrath. His great soul was
intuitively conscious of spiritual realities, and he could not
understand how little soulless microbes of men and women were destitute
of his deep perception. Prayer was to him a living fact and power, and
some of his words about it are among the noblest ever written. When some
one asked him about Christ, he pointed to a flower and said, 'What the
sun is to that flower, Christ is to my soul.'"

Apart as he stood from the tumult and the frivolities of his age, he was
yet of it, and sensibly and beneficently influenced it for its higher

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