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crowned Queen of Beauty in the lists; Or this from the “ Brut ab Arthur":the lust of the flesh is all but paramount.
“ In short, God has not male, since Adam Then comes the dismal • autumn-dripping was, the man more perfect than Arthur.” gloom of the Last Tournament, with its Or this from Alberic:awful and portentous close—and then in Guinevere the final lightning stroke,
“ Hic jacet Arturus, flos regum, gloria regni, and all the fabric of the earthly life falls Quem probitas morum commendat laude perenni.” smitten into dust, leaving to the soul a Or many others in which (as Sharon broken heart for company, and a convic- Turner says)“ all human perfection was tion that if in this world only it had hope, collected in Arthur.” it were of all things most miserable.
But, indeed, it was not worth while. “Thus ends the · Round Table’and the From the very first he had seized upon the story of the life-long labor of the soul. cardinal point of the ancient thought
" There remains but the passing of the about Arthur, and this was sufficient. soul from the great deep to the great deep,
The royal Liberator of his people—who and this is the subject of the closing idyll. shall surely come again and complete Here the “ last dim, weird battle, fought his work ;-the mystically born King, vicout in densest mist, stands for a picture of torious, defeated but deathless—this was all human death, and paints its awfulness the central figure of a whole literature and confusion. The soul alone, enduring which flourished for generations, and beyond the end wherein all else is swallow= doubtless was the secret of its wonderful ed up, sees the mist clear at last, and finds influence and duration. those three crowned virtues, abiding
It is difficult not to see the analogy it true and fast, and waiting to convey it to suggests, and difficult to doubt that as a its rest. Character, upheld and formed knightly version of the Christ Himself, by these, is the immortal outcome of that figure became so popular in the days mortal life. They wail with it awhile in of chivalry. sympathy for the failure of its earthly It may surely well have been so, for all plans ; but at the very last of all are
the thought of the time ran unconsciously heard to change their sorrow into songs
into but one mould, and—as a sort of of joy, and departing, ' vanish into compromise between the Christ of the
Gospels and the Christ which men were Now in giving such a significance to the able to bear—the ideal of chivalry was old legends Mr. Tennyson has kept truer fostered by clerical learning and invention and closer to their spirit than some readers as much as by lay imitation and reveof their letter only have perceived. For rence. nothing is more remarkable amongst all
The blemishes and short-comings of it, the various and disconnected versions of inseparable by reason of its traditionary the older times than the tendency to growth, were of course censured, although make of King Arthur an ideal man. chiefly from an ecclesiastical point of view; This constantly pervades them over a
and in the latest versions the priest-bred sweep of centuries, and notwithstanding Galahad displaces as an ideal the warrior-all their great diversities of form and king himself. But this is towards the end-treatment.
ing of its time, and when the whole cycleHad it been worth his while the poet of the legends was losing influence. might easily have justified himself as an Mr. Tennyson was thus amply justified antiquary also by adding to the “ Flos re- by ancient precedent in making of his gum Arturus” of his title-page such extracts Arthur an ideal king, and also in moulding as this from Joseph of Exeter :
his plastic material, as the old bards and
rhymers and compilers did, to suit his “ The old world knows not his peer, nor will purpose. the future show us his equal,-he alone towers If he has chosen to make a parable not over all other kings, better than the,, past ones, only of a soul, but of the Crowned Souland greater than those that are to be.”
to paint a “ blameless king,"—in other words to write an “ Imitation of Christ,"
the mass of modern men will think that he * The greater part of the foregoing passage is has chosen well and wisely, and will thank extracted from an article which appeared in the Spectator of January, 1870.
him for it. What the ancient men did unNEW SERIES.–Vol. XVIII., No. 2
consciously and in part he seems to have Indeed so fine are the touches which condone deliberately and thoughtfully. vey it, that but for the author's own ad
To a certain set, however, this proceed- mission many readers would still hold there ing gives a great offence, and they assail it was no parable at all. It is very interesting precisely on the grounds alleged against to follow the thread of realism which is the King by the baser sort in the poem itself. preserved throughout, and which, whether Men who dislike the Christian ideal as such, intentionally or not, serves the double and hold it to be merely effeminate, call purpose of entirely screening any such the Arthur of the Idylls“ an impeccable symbolic under-meaning from all who do prig,” and rage against his want of manli- not care to seek it, and also of accounting ness. They would cry down “self-reve- naturally for the supernatural adventures rence, self-knowledge, self-control," to set and beliefs recorded in the story itself. up self-indulgence, and would push back Thus, for example, in “ The Holy Grail," down-hill again towards the brutes the race the various apparitions of the mystic vessel which has so tediously climbed a little up- are explicable by passing meteors or sudwards from them.
den lightning flashes seen in a season of It may be questioned whether really great tempests and thunderstorms—first manly critics would do this, and whether acting on the hysterical exaltation of an doing it is not in itself a note of effeminacy. enthusiastic nun, and then, by contagion Those who cried loudest“ Io bacche,” were from her faith, upon the imaginations of a not of old the manliest of their kind. Nor, few kindred natures. if in these days women writers and women- Again, in the “Coming of Arthur," the like men fall down and worship animal marvellous story of his birth, as told by passion does it even follow that they have Bleys, might simply have been founded on most of what they simulate and praise. a shipwreck when the sea was phosphoresRather perhaps they so much lack it that cent, and the dragon-shaped bark lifted even as animals they are in defect, and as up on wave-crests against the heaven, and defective animals they make their bleat for when all hands suddenly perished, save it. The full and perfect animal looks fur- one infant, who was washed ashore. ther on for his ambition. The imperfect Or, again, in the same poem, the three one finds field enough for unfulfilled desires mystic Queens at the Coronation-who and unattained powers without transcend- become, in one sense, so all-important in ing the limits of the brute.
their meaning-derive their import in the It is clear that in making of his ideal eyes of Bellicent simply from the accident man so obviously an imitation of Christ, of colored beams of light falling upon Mr. Tennyson has, and must always have them from a stained-glass window. had, the most direct intention to oppose, It is beyond the scope of the present so far as lies within his power, the gospel paper to consider the “ Idylls of the King” of the “fleshly school.” He clearly holds from more than one point of view, and so that the old chivalrous ideal of a personal much has of late been written on their and knightly purity is one of the greatest treatment and execution that little could and highest qualities possible to men and well be added. Yet it may be permitted nations, and a doctrine nioreover which in conclusion to call attention to one or there is good need just now to preach from two points of workmanship which seem the housestop.
to have escaped the notice of many critics. We would commend to certain writers One of them is the Proportion which is the high song of the knights as they went kept throughout between the fashion of before the king:
the language employed and the matter
which it conveys. It rises and falls in tone “Blow, trumpet ! he will lift us from the dust. Blow, trumpet ! live the strength, and die the very markedly with the nature of the sub
ject. For instance, the first and last idylls
have a distinctly more grave, elevated, and, and with this we may pass on from them so to speak, “ monumental” character than and their bleatings.
the body of the work, and the reason seems Nothing is more remarkable, touching to be that the opening and closing poems the symbolic aspect of the Idylls, than the deal with the more striking awfulnesses of way in which it is attained without the Birth and Death ; while in poems of the slightest forcing of the realistic narrative. “ Round Table" we move in and out
“among the throngs of men,” and the daily in interest, and even closer to ordinary ways and doings of life.
sympathy. The ceaseless inner war which Here the gravity and state of the diction tears him before our eyes, breeds in us a is much modified. It descends into more sense of nearer kinship than we dare to claim or less of colloquial and familiar-falling with the Royal calm. But through it all to its lowest on the tongue of Vivien, and how lofty and how great he is : no wonder rising when Lancelot, or Arthur, or Merlin that he “knew not he should die a holy speaks, but preserving a general level be- man,” and no wonder also that he did so low that which tells of the coming and pass- die. ing of the soul.
Tristram comes next—with half of LanceAnother point is the consummate art lot left out of him-a second Esau-as with which the irregularities of the versifica- bold, as careless, as attractive, and as anition, while they break up or prevent all mal—and when he dies how fitting is the monotony, are almost invariably introduced swift, dark death that seems to abolish where they help the meaning as much as both him and his works. the music.
Then Gawain-man of this world essenThey recur at frequent intervals with a tially—“ man about town” would perhaps little waver or ripple which relieves all be his nearest modern equivalent)—flashdeadness of surface, and changes the ing into transient fits of nobleness and shining tracts of verse from standing tumbling over into pits of selfish meanness waters into flowing streams. But though —"too blind to have desire to see,” yet fired the author seems to be dealing with his with eager zeal to help the weak against words simply as with musical notes and the strong when the occasion comes before with especial love for a certain subtle his eyes; the slave altogether, in short, of demi-semiquaver—yet in fact occasion is what he sees. almost always taken from the action of Then comes Sir Percivale, with ready the passage, and where a sense of quick- pure and fervid heart and tongue-whose ened or altered movement, whether of warm and natural love “ being rudely event or feeling, is to be given.
blunted”-has made of his impressible Thus, to quote at random from a page temperament—as of his sister's—a proper or two of the last published idyll, Sir soil for asceticism. He turns finally to Gareth :
the holy vision at the cost of a mean " Then would he whistle rapid as any lark
treason impossible to such a nature save
under the hardening impulse of fanaticism, Blustering upon them like a sudden wind, and shuts himself away from a world
which he finds himself unequal either to Would hurry thither, and when he saw the combat or to help. knights,
How different from Sir Bors, his fellow*Thy promise, King'—and Arthur glancing at enthusiast—who never could have told the
story of the Grail—nor desecrated by any
speech the things which belonged to God In all such cases—and they abound in and his own heart. His tender, true, and every idyll—the sense of the passage loyal spirit had its roots down so deep, gains as much as the sound, and the result that none but such love as the King's is as refreshing as the analysis of the pro- could pierce to where they fed on hidden cess is interesting.
and perennial springs of faith and prayer. As the pages are turned over for in- And both of these again how different stances of this treatment, and as name after from Galahad—the wild, unearthly comename again catches the eye, one is newly tary knight; the monk in armor; slave of struck by the abundant and dramatic vari- his own illusions; deaf and blind to everyety of the men and women moving to thing besides; as ignorant of the world as and fro. All, as before said, are alive and Gawain of the soul; a pseudo-Curtius recognizable at a glance, at the sound, as who makes the gulf he leaps into, and it were, of their voices.
draws down after him those who might Lancelot in the splendor of his double else have “ fulfilled the boundless purpose nature (a double star with just such com- of the King," and served and saved the plicated orbit) moves, and must always common weal with “crowning common move, upon a level with the King himself, sense.”
And so we might go on from man to with the Poet turned into a demonstrator man, and from woman to woman through- of anatomy-nor a string of instances of out--from the garrulous old Leodegran at morbid introspection, but above all things the beginning, full of his little sayings and a Poem. The limits and conditions of proverbs, to little Dagunet at the end, Art are observed and respected profound. with his pathetic many-sided ironies and ly, and with all its fulness and multitude touching loyal faith-a" converted” fool there is never loss of Form, or confusion, who has by no means lost his wit with his or contradiction. Everywhere “the spirit wickedness, and puts the fool's cap on his of the prophet is subject to the prophet.” questioner.
--Contemporary Review. And withal it is no study of Vivisection
LECTURES ON !IR. DARWIN'S PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE.
BY PROFESSOR MAX MULLER.
If we want to understand the history of First came the violent protest of Schopenthe Norman Conquest, the Reformation, hauer, and his exhortation to return to the the French Revolution, or any other great old fundamental principles of Kant's phicrisis in the political, religious, and social losophy. These, owing to their very viostate of the world, we know that we must lence, passed unheeded. Then followed a study the history of the times immediately complete disorganisation of philosophic preceding those momentous changes. thought, and this led in the end to a desNor shall we ever understand the real perate attempt to restore the old dynasty character of a great philosophical crisis un- of Locke and Hume. During the years less we have made ourselves thoroughly immediately preceding the publication of familiar with its antecedents. Without go- Darwin's Origin of Species (1860) and his ing so far as Hegel, who saw in the whole Descent of Man, the old problems which history of philosophy an unbroken dialec. had been discussed in the days of Berketic evolution, it is easy to see that there ley, Hume, and Kant, turned up again in certainly is a greater continuity in the his- full force. We had to read again that sentory of philosophic thought than in the suous impressions were the sole constituhistory of politics, and it therefore seemed ent elements of the human intellect; that to me essential to dwell in my first Lecture general ideas were all developed spontaneon the exact stage which the philosophical ously from single impressions; that the onstruggle of our century had reached before ly difference between sensations and ideas Mr. Darwin's publications appeared, in or- was the faintness of the latter ; that what der to enable us to appreciate fully his his- we mean by substance is only a collection torical position, not only as an eminent of particular ideas, united by imagination, physiologist, but as the restorer of that and comprehended by a particular name; * great empire in the world of thought and that what we are pleased to call our which claims as its founders the glorious mind, is but a delusion, though who the denames of Locke and Hume. It might in- luder is and who the deluded, would seem deed be said of Mr. Darwin what was to be a question too indiscreet to ask. once said of the restorer of another empire, But the principal assault in this struggle ' Il n'est pas parvenu, il est arrivé.' The came from a new quarter. It was not to philosophical empire of Locke and Hume be the old battle over again, we were told; had fallen under the blows of Kant's Cri- but the fight was to be carried on with ticism of Pure Reason. But the successors modern and irresistible weapons. The of Kant—Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel- new philosophy, priding itself, as all phidisregarding the checks by which Kant losophies have done, on its positive charachad so carefully defined the legitimate ex- ter, professed to despise the endless arguercise of the rights of Pure Reason, indulged in such flights of transcendent fan
* Hume, Treatise on Human Nature, book i. cy, that a reaction became inevitable. sec. i. p. 33
mentations of the schools, and to appeal imagine that, being free from all the disfor evidence to matter of fact only. Our turbances produced by the impressions of mind, whether consisting of material im- the senses and out of the reach of all those pressions or intellectual concepts, was now causes of error to which man is liable, it to be submitted to the dissecting knife and may possess a much truer and deeper inthe microscope. We were shown the ner- sight into the essence of the Absolute, a vous tubes, afferent and efferent, through much fuller apprehension of eternal truths which the shocks from without pass on to than the human soul. It may be so, or it the sensitve and motive cells; the com- may not be so, for there is no limit to an missural tubes holding these cells together anthropomorphic interpretation of the life were laid bare before us; the exact place of animals. But the tacit understanding, in the brain was pointed out where the or rather the clear compromise, established messages from without were delivered ; among the philosophers of the last centuand it seemed as if nothing were wanting ry, and declaring the old battle-field, on but a more powerful lens to enable us to which so much useless ink had been shed see with our own eyes how in the work- over the question of the intellect of anishop of the brain, as in a photographic ap- mals, to be for ever neutralised, ought paratus, the pictures of the senses and the hardly to have been disturbed, least of all ideas of the intellect were being turned by those who profess to trust in nothing out in endless variety.
but positive fact. And this was not all. The old stories Nor do I think that philosophers would about the reasoning of animals, so power- have allowed the reopening of the floodfully handled in the school of Hume, were gates of animal anthropomorphism, if it brought out again. Innumerable anec- had not been for the simultaneous rise of dotes that had been told from the time of Mr. Darwin's theories. If it can be Aelian to the days of Reimarus, were told proved that man derives his origin geneaonce more, in order to show that the intel- logically, and, in the widest sense of the lect of animals did not only match, but word, historically, from some lower animal, but that in many cases it transcended the it is useless to say another word on the powers of the human intellect. One might mind of man being different from the have imagined oneself living again in the mind of animals. The two are identical, days of La Mettrie, who, after having pub- and no argument would be required any lished his work, Man, a Machine, followed longer to support Hume's opinions; they it up by another work, Brutes, more than would henceforth rest on positive facts. Machines. It is true there were This shows the immense importance of philosophers who protested energetically Mr. Darwin's speculations in solving, once against reopening that question, which had for all, by evidence that admits of no debeen closed by common consent, and murrer, the long-pending questions between which certainly ought not to have been re- man and animal, and, in its further conseopened by positive philosophers. For if quences, between mind and matter, bethere is a terra incognita which excludes all tween spiritualism and materialism, bepositive knowledge, it is the mind of ani- tween Berkeley and Hume; and it shows mals. We may imagine anything we please at the same time that the final verdict on about the inner life, the motives, the fore. his philosophy must be signed, not by sight, the feelings and aspirations of animals zoologists and physiologists only, but by --we can know absolutely nothing. How psychologists also, nay, it may be, by Gerlittle analogy can help us in interpreting man metaphysicians. their acts is best proved by the fact, that a Few men who are not zoologists and philosopher like Descartes could bring him- physiologists by profession can have read self to consider animals as mere machines, Mr. Darwin's books On the Origin of while Leibniz was unwilling to deny to Species and on the Descent of Man with them the possession of immortal souls. deeper interest than I have, and with a We need not wonder at such discrepancies, more intense admiration of his originality, considering the nature of the evidence. independence, and honesty of thought. I What can we know of the inner life of a know of few books so useful to the stumollusc ? We may imagine that it lives in dent of the Science of Language, in teachtotal darkness, that it is hardly more than ing him the true method for discovering a mass of pulp; but we may equally well similarity beneath diversity, the general