unity of this great work, or indeed at all knights to drive forth invaders and subthat it is one thing with a definite pur- due rebels. The enthusiasm of high courpose, and not a collection of beautiful age and of warlike achievement is not even tiles. Though we do not doubt that the now slow to spread : a battalion of Engpoet intended it so from the beginning, lish ne'er-do-weels, a regiment of darkyet the succession of new episodes exe- skinned Goorkhas, or even

a band of cuted afterward, but each filling its proper negroes, the least elevated of human races, place in great undertaking, shows how will take it from a brave commander even it expanded in bis bands. It is no vague in this diminished day. It is one of the collection of beautiful romances like the first of human qualities to be awakened, original“ Morte d'Arthur" of old Mallory, and the last to be destroyed. "This old imperfect tale,

But the kingdom of Arthur is someNew-old and shadowing Sense at war with thing more. It is “Sense at war with Soul,”

Soul.” It is a kingdom in which dwellis the growth of a great design, selecting eth righteousness. All knights of ro. and shaping the ancient story for higher mance are brave, and every conqueror has ends. The epic of Arthur thus forms had his encircling ring of paladins bent itself out of all the traditions and super- not only upon his service, but upon carvstitions of the ages which have made of ing out kingdoms and principalities for that visionary hero the emblem of all that themselves. But a king who will bring is noblest in ancient chivalry. lle is the highest order out of chaos, and erect something still more than this in the hands an ideal kingdom of God on earth, must of Tennyson—the true knight but at the lay a different foundation. These heroes same time the ideal king, guardian of his must be pure as they are brave : no selfpeople, ruler of men, an enthusiast yet a regard, no wantonness, no treachery must sage, ruling himself chief of all, and de- be among them. They must be above remanding of every oflicer of his that he too ward, beyond temptation, white in their should rule himself as the first condition shining panoply of purity, and compassion, of his he!p to others. It is chivalry com- and truth. The


rule of the old plete, yet it is more than chivalry-it is knight-errantry, by which a wandering the highest dream ever conceived of a champion defeated the foes of the beautiUtopia, an ideal kingdom. These fair ful princess, and received her and her visions have all but this, partaken of the lands as the prize, is not the chivalry of character of that island of dreams far sepa- Arthur. It is the poet's task to tell how rated from the shock of actual life, where this fairest dream of earth, after the first sometimes the lotus is eaten, but always moment of an enthusiasm which carried peace and well-being reigns, an earthly all before it, crumbled and fell away, leavparadise lulled with celestial breezes and ing behind it nothing but a vision. And freed from all elements of shame or pain. yet the vision itself is more than conNot so was Arthur's kingdom, in which quered realm or kingdom. It is scarcely at first wrong and cruelty were rampant, to be expected, perhaps, that the careless and disorder reigned, and the distant Ro- reader, seeing Enid's patient following man power exacted tribute, and every lit- of her lord, and hearing Elaine's song, tle king ground down his subjects to the and the soft sweep down the river of the dust—not to speak of the plague of wan- solem.n barge that bears her, should condering knights-errant, each following his cern himself with the construction of the own devions

and keeping forlorn poem or its unity of thought and purladies and all the weak in constant peril. pose. It is enough that these charmed The hero king, no classic leader, but a tales of constancy and of love, and of the Christian monarch, bearing the trouble dread impossible which surrounds our around him upon bis heart, comes out of mortal footsteps wherever they turn, the unknown, and into the unknown de- should fill car and heart. But beyond is parts again, as in the prevailing legend the larger purpose, the tragedy of man's dear to every primitive people, all human endeavor, the cver-recurring failure in nature holding close in its heart that hope which all, yet never all, perhaps nothing of a return. But it would be little if Ar- in the widest sense, is lost. thur were merely a patriot chief inspiring Tennyson was no creator in the Shakewith his own valor the chosen band of spearian sense of the word. It was not his to people the world for us with the some new revelation in his hands.



We noble and wonderful figures which are know no other instance in which this one more distinct in our hearts than our own bas been disclosed in flesh and blood. nearest kindred, less surdered by those The poets in general have been over-facile "eils of individuality that divide us from about the lovers : but even in the wonevery, soul we know. Yet there is one derful tale of Francesca and Paolo, the image with which he has filled the earth, husband is a curmudgeon : the lover a and which can

never die.
He had no

inere shadow of passionate youth. Sbakeskill, like Shakespeare, to make us women speare, will bis imperial band, cognizant wonderful in their womanhood, almost as of all things, never touched the subject at if they had come from the band of God all; and perhaps Mr. John Morley thinks Himself. But there is one man who will that bis, too, are school-girl tales in conyield to none, as noble a conception as sequence. . Browning, to come to the ever human genius has given birth to. latest example, made his Guido a still We will not compare him with Hamlet, more dreadful curmudgeon than the Lord for nothing could be more futile than of Ravenna, while his Deliverer was no comparison between two so unlike ; and lover at all, but a knight as stainless as yet to ourselves Lancelot gives place in Sir Galabad. But Tennyson dared to the world, if to Hamlet, yet to him alone. take up this blot and work it into the There are sone points in which be is more most noble, the most sad, the inost wonwear and touches us more deeply than even derful of sivning men.

The moralist that prince of all our thoughts. He is might suppose that this was a rash prothe greatest prop of Arthur's throne, his ceeding, as inaking us too lenient to the most spotless and bravest kuight, his first sin for the sake of the sinner. But no brother in-arms, the chief of all that sur- reader of the tragedy of Lancelot, which round bim : and yet his betrayer, the first these poems constitute as much as they foe of his glorious reign, the one of all constitute the Epic of Arthur, will think who shows its impossibility and that it is so. but a dream. What curious limited pov- This perfect, gentle knight, the greatest erty-stricken soul was that who spoke of of Arthur's Court, the glory of the Round King Arthur and his court as of " school. Table, the first of soldiers, the right-hand girl tales”—because, we presume, there of the king, is the cause of the ruin of is no filth in them, nor what the French the ideal kingdom and the blameless moncall “ passion." It is said to be, yet we arch. His person threads throughout cannot but hope they do him wrong who every tale, a sad man whether he rides in say 804

-Mr. John Morley no less who has the jousts where men fall at the very been so bold as to mark himself with this sight of his shield, or stands in the chamsentiment for the admiration of the ages. ber of the queen, soothing the petulance We—though perhaps a less authority, and irritability which a sense of guilt can but say that we know no such embodi- works in her, or by Arthur's side heavy ment of high and fatal passion, of that with the shadow of that guilt which stands extraordinary capacity of human nature, between him and his friend, or wandering which sometimes can combine the sublime through the rural ways with the reins laid of noble character with deadly and de- softly on his charger's neck, and the musgrading sin, as it can also combine some ings of a still despair in bis heart. He is flower of noble virtue with the greatest the dearest friend of Arthur, in very truth imperfection, as in the character of Lance- loving bis king better than he does the lot of the Lake. Is it perhaps a discovery queen for whom he sins, and with whom of this age, in which, amid all its banal and by whom not only their lives but all wonders and advancements, there is a cer- their work is brought to destruction. tain strange impartiality of view, and sense But it is not the fatal progress of this love of moral complications insupportable to through all its disenchantments to an inthe first primitive judgment ?

evitable end—that commonest theme of scarcely venture to affirm this, for we are commonplace Romance, that is the purdeeply incredulous, not to say impatient, pose here—but the far more awful spectaof the vaunts of progress and development. cle of the confusion and disorder which it And yet, as sure as we get another great works in the world around, the extinction poet from heaven, so surely must we find of every better hope, the sweet bells


We can

jangled out of tune and harsh, and all the Table. Upon that perfect honor, obedihuman harmonies turned into discord. ence, truth, and, above all, purity, is the We have been made familiar with many whole visionary power dependent ; for versions of this disastrous subject, from how can he right wrong who is wrong the Russian novelist's terrible picture of himself, or defend the innocent who is the the degradation and awful passion of the enemy of innocence? The sin that comes woman clinging in despair to the man who in is not a vulgar stain. “llappier,'' is weary of her, to the cynical narratives cries Lancelot, after the failure of his wild of bousehold treachery familiar in all search for the GrailFrench literature : but never anything like

'Happier are those that welter in their sin, this story of the man

Swine in the mud that cannot see for slime,

Slime of the ditch : but in me lived a sin “ Whoso honor rooted in dishonor stood, While faith unfaithful made him falsely true.”

So strange, of such a kind, that all of pure,

Noble, and knightly in me twined and clung The woman tells for little in compari- And poisonous grew together, each as each,

Round that one sin until the wholesome flower son ; indeed we have little sympathy, lit

Not to be pluck'd asunder : and when thy tle feeling for Guinevere, who is nothing

nights to the poet until the last chapter of her Sware, I sware with them, only in the hope career, and whose rehabilitation through That could I touch or see the Holy Gril, Arthur's generous foregiveness awakens They might be pluck'd asunder.' no faith in our minds. It is Lancelot who This first and fatal secret saps the secures all the reader's interest :

foundations of the ideal kingdom. It is “ The great and guilty love he bore the Queen,

the lie hidden behind truth, the little rist In battle with the love he bore his lord,

within the lute, the canker slowly spreadHad marred his face, and marked it ere his ing, getting to the knowledge of all before time.

that of him who is most concerned, secretly Another sinning on such heights with one,

loosening every bond. The gradual rising The flower of all the West, and all the world Had been the sleeker for it; but in him

again of the serpent-heads of evil, nerer His mood was often like a fiend, and rose wholly crushed in a human sphere, finding And drove him into wastes and solitudes warrant and encouragement in that dread For agony, who was yet a living soul.

rupture of law and truthi, come up before Marr'd as he was, he was the goodliest man That ever among ladies ate in hall."

our eyes in tragic sequence : the Vivien

with all mockery in her eyes and all imIt is strange that the poet of purity- purity in her heart ; the Modred, keen the laureate of that kingdom which the with envy and hatred-ill things which spotless king founded upon it-should be had been awe-stricken for a moment and the one to give us this wonderful picture overborne : the fierce and half-mad terror of the great spirit stained with sin. Ar- of Geraint, hi aping cruelty and insult upon thur's historian, we might have thought, the wife whom he had adored, lest she would have made the disturber of his might have shared in the sin of the Queen : peace into a monster of iniquity, as in- the coarser liorrible travesty of that sin in ferior artists do. So do invariably the the story of Tristram and Isolt ; the vile. singers of the school-girl tales—unworthi- preference of evil to good in Ettarre ;est of false and foolish judgments !—the until in the fierce overthrow and overturn easy contrast of white with black which of all things, the evil triumphant and the pleases the vulgar mind. More than that good desperate, a wild mysticism comes was needed to overthrow the kingdom of in, and those knights who are half-madArthur, established so nobly when we see dened by the sense of coming chaos and it first with every splendor of poetic vision the downfall of all hope, ting themselves in the “dim rich city,” in the well-won madly into the Quest of the Holy Grail peace which has come after strenuous with that hope in a miracle which surfighting, the rebels quelled, the country vives all human failures. All this springs out of all its divisions restored to unityfrom that fatal love of Lancelot and the the noble company about the king living Queen. Such an interposition of lovely amid the pleasures of a stainless Court, in and touching romance as the story of instant readiness to set forth on any noble Elaine is caused by it also, yet with the quest, or to dare any adventure for the relief of a sweeter'inevitable catastrophe, love of God and the honor of the Round which softens the strain of tragic advanc



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ing ruin.
It is this that breaks up the do, especially so near his grave.

It is bis kingdom, lets loose the dogs of war, and highest effort of imaginative and creative proves over again and over that the ideal power. That he had a longing, as so reign, which had seemed to eager hope so many poets have had, to prove hiinself nearly realized, the dream of all fine master of the dramatic lyre, as well as spirits, is under these our earthly condi- that which was his own, was, we think, tions never to be.

one of those mistakes from which the But it is the special splendor and inspi- greatest are not exempted. His Arthur, ration of these poems that the source of too, mistook, as does not misbecome a all the evil is no outburst of what the sick

But none will dare, we think, a ening science of this age calls the Bête century hence, to dispute the creative Humaine. It is a far deeper tragedy : force of an imagination which produced the finest of all fine spirits, the one most this noblest sorrowful image—so great, so near the throne, he in whom the spotless true-to whom nothing was impossible glory of Arthur had been most closely re- but discourtesy or unkindness, and who is fiected, and whose life had been risked a throughout, even in his careless humor hundred times for the establishment of with young Gareth and Gawaine, even in that high kingdom, who is the culprit. his cheerful friendliness in the hall of AsIt has been said that the blameless king is tolat, always lowly in his loftiness, always beyond human sympathy. * The low tragic with the great burden of his sin, sun makes the color, says the queen, in that it should have been he who fell into her warped and inferior perceptions. We that sin, being at all times the greatest do not stop to question that sentiment: tragedy of all. for indeed the figure of Lancelot is that to which we turn, with the ache of sympa- We need not linger much longer on this thetic pain. No one can know so well as record, which is not a criticism of the he all that is involved in bis sin ; no one life-work of Alfred Tennyson, but only a can hate it more than he, whose whole reproclamation proudly, as is just, of the purpose

and glory of life is distracted and honor given him sixty years ago by our ruined by it as well as that of Arthur; great predecessor on this self-same page. but with a deeper tragedy in that he is He was young then, and made reflections, himself the cause of the world's disap- for which we cheerfully forgive him, upon pointment and his own, and of the tii- Christopher : as Christopher no doubt umph of every mean and miserable thing. did with a laugh, big as himself, at the In his despair, when all the horrible forces boy calling names—who was yet so wise that sin bas freed and set in motion are as to adopt almost every suggestion he about to clash in the last struggle, he made. The present writer is not fit to tie cries out in that helplessness which his the shoes of Christopher, but bas been strength makes more bitter :

nourished upon Tennyson from what “For what am I? what profits me my name

seems the beginning of time. Yet what Of greatest knight? I fought for it and have there is to say now is not more than the

great critic then said. A poet—then as Pleasure to have it, none; to lose it, pain,

now : and the first utterance of that great Now grown a part of me ; but what uso in it? To make men worse by making my sin known?

name is the hardest ; for who can tell Or sin seem less, the sinner seeming great ?

with any certainty whether his first opinAlas for Arthur's greatest knight, a man ion, warm with all the excitement of the Not after Arthur's heart! I needs must break hour, will stand or not? Most of us The bonds that so defame me : not without

mince the matter, not venturing upon a She wills it ; would I if she will'd it? Nay, Who knows? but if I would not, then may judgment too strong or final. There are God,

some new voices now which certain auI pray Him, send a sudden Angel down thorities answer for, yet with a faltering To seize me by the hair and bear me far, confidence. Our old Maga” did not And fling me deep in that forgotten mere,

falter, but put on the laurel crown upon Among the tumbled fragments of the bills."

tbose brows of twenty-three, with her old We think that the conception of this and gay defiance of the chances of time Lancelot will be Tennyson's great crown

and change.

" We feel assured that we in poetry to after-ages, who will judge have not exaggerated his strength, and more calmly than it is possible for us to that the millions who delight in Maga'

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will with one voice confirm our judgment neath bim, were full of this fictitious ele--tbat Alfred Tennyson is a poet."* ment. In all simple honesty and nature, What more can we add to this? In all why should a poet reject the honor which reverence, Christopher's poor successor is all his country and his Queen can give laid a wreath of the poet's laurel, culled as the visible symbol and token of his dein a homely garden, woven by maiden serts, because these are too great for

apy fingers, at Tennyson's head, at Chaucer's recompense? Tennyson of all pocts that feet, amid the sound of the mourning of have ever been, was one of the most a a mighty nation, the other day when he man, an English citizen, a loyal son of was laid to his rest. The great Abbey the nation and race which gave him birth. seemed still to peal with the echoes of his Many fables have been told of his vanities own parting song, and the still later, last and impatience of criticism and opposiwhisper of musing and hope, breathed tion, and that he flaunted his garland and from his death-bed to his wife-- which we singing robes on all occasions—than which are permitted by Lord Tennyson's pub- nothing, we believe, could be more unlishers, Messrs. Macmiilan, to quote here, true. But that vanity, had it existed, and " When the dumb hour clothed in black

not a true and lofty consciousness of his Brings the dreams about my bed,

position, would have prompted refusal. Call me not so often back,

It is not good when a man placed on the Silent voices of the dead,

highest elevation that man can reach deToward the lowland ways behind me, And the sunshine that is gone.

spises the ancient traditional tribute, the Call me rather, silent voices,

rank which may be profaned in many Forward to the starry track

cases, yet remains the sign of lionor, palGlimmering up the heights boyond me, pable, so that any clod and clown may On, and ever on!”

know and share in the gift. If it was This last utterance of the poet was set to little to Tennyson it was much to the music, a touching melody, full of sorrow Peers of England that there should be one yet exultation, most touching circumstance pecrage founded upon nothing ignoble, of all, by his faithful wife. These silent upon the highest and most elevating of all voices have called him to join his noble gifts : and we rejoice now that it should peers, his Pilot las met him beyond the stand and be known as such in the ages bar—" from the great deep to the great of the future when men may make their deep he goes.” A soul born with God's proofs of bonor : “My forefather was a noblest gift, a life never unfaithful to that great soldier : and mine a great legislator : trust, a genius perfected by all the noblest and mine—the greatest poet of his age !" arts of song.

Is that derogatory, or will the unborn peer It may not be unfit to say something on despise it who draws bis blood a hundred a subject which called forth so much curi- years hence from Tennyson! We trow, ous controversy and discussion some time That there may be others who must since. Should Tennyson the poet have gasp and keep silent, knowing that nothaccepted a peerage,


any other man of ing but wealth is the foundation of their the highest distinction in the less immor. honors, is little to us. So it was always tal arts? There is a mixture of the fictic and so will ever be, and no shame to men tious in most things, and we think that who redeem their wealth and justify their the objection to this, though made with a honors by the noble life which is in every show of higher reverence, and on the mau's reach, whether poet, peer, or nameground that all such distinctions were be- less man. -- Blackwood's Magazine.




It is a frequent remark that we moderns year, and an announcement, the other of the nineteenth century live fast. The day, that one of our great railway comspeed at which we travel increases every panies had just constructed a locomotive

engine, capable of whisking us through * Blackwood's Magazine, May 1832.

the air at the rate of one hundred miles

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