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CHANGE OF LIFE-SCENE,

« The Danube to the Severn gave

The darkened heart that beats no more:

They laid him by the pleasant shore,
And in the hearing of the wave.

There twice a day the Severn fills ;

The salt sea-water passes by,

And hushes half the babbling Wye,
And makes a silence in the hills.”

Tennyson's early life amid the fens of Lincolnshire and Cambridge led him to paint, in his earlier poems, the features of such landscapes as are common there. The barren moor—the tangled water-courses, embroidered with brilliant flowering weeds—the great mere, shimmering in the frosty moonlight—the pool, fringed with tall sword-grass and bristling with bulrushes, meet us continually in his first volumes. But his manhood has been spent in a different scene. At Farringford in the Isle of Wight, on the road from Alum Bay to Carisbrook, he has resided for many years, amid green undulating woodland, thick with appletrees, and fringed with silver sand and snowy rocks, on which the light-green summer sea and the black waves of winter flow with the changeful music of their seasons. The landscape of southern England, where green and daisied downs take the place of the grey wolds to which his young eyes were accustomed, is often painted in his later works. Within his quiet home by the sea the stalwart, dark-bearded poet lives among his children and his books, strolling often, no doubt, beyond the privet-hedge that bounds his lawn and garden, but seeing little society except that of a few chosen friends. When Wordsworth died in 1850, the vacant laurel was worthily

conferred on the author of “ Locksley Hall” and “The 1850 Princess.” His Ode on the Death of Wellington, which is

the chief work he has produced in his official capacity,

though somewhat monotonous, sounds in many passages like the roll of the muffled drums that startle Nelson in his sleep beneath the pavement of St. Paul's, as the car of bronze bears a dead soldier to his side.

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"THE IDYLLS OF THE KING.”

477

Maud and other Poems were published by Tennyson in 1855. “ Maud” is scarcely so fine a work as many that preceded it from the same pen. A squire's daughter, wooed by a new-made lord, prefers another gentleman, who is somewhat of the Byronic stamp. The serenade or invocation, sung by the lover as he waits at dawn for Maud among the roses and lilies in the Hall garden, after the guests of the evening have gone, is full of passionate fire and delicacy of thought. In the duel, which results from the discovery of their meeting, Maud's brother is killed, and her sweetheart has to flee the land. The Crimean war is then hauled most incongruously into the dream,—for it is now the dream of a dead man,—and “the blood-red blossom of war with a heart of fire,” flaming from the cannon's mouth, lights up the concluding scene of a wild, ill-jointed tale, rich, however, in such splendours of English expression as few but Tennyson can produce.

We now notice the Laureate's Arthurian epic, of his longer poems undoubtedly the best.*

Turning his gaze back into that dim past from which he had already drawn one or two striking scenes, he reproduced the shadowy court at Caerleon, where King Arthur and his knights won their dusky-bright renown He has succeeded admirably in setting before us the brilliant and the darker sides of that old and well-nigh for- 1859 gotten life, in the four tales which form The Idylls of the King. The delicate Enid, riding in her faded silk before her cruel lord,—the sweet and faithful Elaine gazing tenderly on the shield of her absent knight,—the crafty beauty, Vivien, weaving her spells round old wizard Merlin to shear him of his strength, and shrieking, as the forked lightning splinters an oak hard by,—and, finest picture of all, the guilty Queen Guinevere lying in an agony of remorse at the feet of Arthur, her tear-wet face crushed close to the convent floor, and her dark, dishevelled hair floating in the dust, while the noble forgiveness of the injured King and his sad farewell pierce her to the very soul,—these are the subjects of the song. The “Idylls” are in blank

A.D.

* We must look upon “In Memoriam " rather as a group of elegiesma funeral wreath of uningled asphodel and yew-than as a single poem.

478

SPECIMEN OF TENNYSON'S VERSE.

minor poems,

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verse, whose fine polish and sweetly-varied music prove the
Laureate to be a consummate master of that noble instrument in
skilful hands,—the English tongue.
In 1864 appeared Enoch Arden, a touching domestic story of

humble life, together with Aylmer's Field, and some 1864

of which the principal are l'ithonus and the Northern Farmer. In his later years Tennyson turned his attention to dramatic poetry. His Queen Mary, Harold, and The Cup, show great skill in delineating character, and great power of working on the emotions; but they are deficient in incident, and are therefore better adapted for the study than for the stage. In 1883 Mr. Tennyson was raised to the peerage, with the title of Baron Tennyson.

MEETING OF ENID AND GERAINT.

(FROM "

THE IDYLLS OF THE KING.”)
Then rode Geraint into the castle court,
His charger trampling many a prickly star
Of sprouted thistle on the broken stones.
He looked, and saw that all was ruinous.
Here stood a shattered archway, plumed with fern ;
And here had fall’n a great part of a tower,
Whole, like a crag that tumbles from the cliff,
And, like a crag, was gay with wilding flowers :
And high above, a piece of turret stair,
Worn by the feet that now were silent, wound
Bare to the sun; and monstrous ivy-stems
Claspt the grey walls with hairy-fibred arms,
And sucked the joining of the stones, and looked
A knot, beneath, of snakes,-aloft, a grove.

And while he waited in the castle court,
The voice of Enid, Yniol's daughter, rang
Clear through the open casement of the Hall,
Singing: and as the sweet voice of a bird,
Heard by the lander in a lonely isle,
Moves him to think what kind of bird it is
That sings so delicately clear, and make
Conjecture of the plumage and the form ;
So the sweet voice of Enid moved Geraint,
And made him like a man abroad at morn,
When first the liquid note beloved of men
Comes flying over many a windy wave
To Britain, and in April suddenly

SPECIMEN OF TENNYSON'S VERSE.

479

Breaks from a coppice gemmed with green and red,
And he suspends his converse with a friend,
Or it inay be the labour of his hands,
To think or say “ There is the nightingale ;”
So fared it with Geraint, who thought and said,
“Here, by God's grace, is the one voice for me.'

It chanced the song that Enid sang was one
Of Fortune and her wheel, and Enid sang :

“ Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel and lower the proud ,
Turn thy wild wheel, through sunshine, storm, and cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.
“Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown:
With that wild wheel we go not up or down;
Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.

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“ Hark! by the bird's song you may learn the nest
Said Yniol; enter quickly.” Entering then,
Right o'er a mount of newly-fallen stones,
The dusky-rafter'd, many-cobweb'd Hall,
He found an ancient dame in dim brocade;
And near her, like a blossom vermeil-white.
That lightly breaks a faded flower-sheath,
Moved the fair Enid, all in faded silk,
Her daughter.

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THERE are two distinguished authors, who divide the honour of being called, “First novelist of the day.” Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray stand side by side on that proud eminence, each with his multitude of admirers; each striving with the other in a fair and generous rivalry ; each more than willing to acknowledge how justly the applause of the nation, and those less evanescent fruits of literary toil, which chink and shine and fill the banker's book with figures, have fallen to the lot of his brother-artist. “I think of these past writers,” said William Makepeace Thackeray, when lecturing to a London audience upon the Reverend Laurence Sterne, “and of one who lives amongst us now, and am grateful for the innocent laughter, and the sweet, unsullied page, which the author of David Copperfield' gives to my children." Though born at Landport, Portsmouth, where his father,

John Dickens, who was connected with the Navy 1812 Pay Department, happened to be residing at the time,

the celebrated novelist is essentially a London man;

for thither the family removed upon the conclusion of the war.

The pay-clerk having become a parliamentary reporter, young Charles grew up in an atmosphere likeliest of all to develop any literary tastes he possessed; for there are, perhaps, no men who acquire a truer and more intimate knowledge of public characters and new books than those who report for the London press

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