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Equality. 261

And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then,
Underneath the light he looks at, in among the throngs of men:
Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do.

"Work," "brotherhood," there are no words more expressive of the kinship of humanity, of the fellowship which is at once noble, rational, and practicable, than these. Mr. Matthew Arnold read us lately an eloquent lecture on the antique precept, " Choose equality and fiee greed ;" and there can, I think, be no doubt that, from the days of Menander downwards, men have believed that, in some sense or other, social equality was a blessing and a boon, a something to be aimed at and held precious as the finest essence of civilisation. But unless we merge all precision of idea in vague flourishes of rhetoric, we must have some understanding as to the nature of the equality in question. Negatively, it cannot be better defined than by pointing out, with Menander and Mr. Arnold, its opposition to greed, selfishness, pride of possession. But when we attempt to define it positively, we are met by the fact, which none but a lunatic will dispute, that, apart from all question of property, no two men, women, or children in the world are equal in respect of capacity, sensibility, or energy. Is there any trait of character which may link us in the bond of a real, and not a merely imaginary equality,— an equality attainable by all, and, therefore, presenting a basis on which the brotherhood of mankind might be worked out, not merely as a pleasing fancy, but as a possible fact?

We may venture, I think, to return an affirmative answer to this question. I see no reason why mutual consideration should not become a universal characteristic of men; that is to say, I do not see that any degree of weakness of intellect or will, however extreme, is incompatible with the attainment of this habit. When it becomes so—when a man is literally incapable, whether from meagreness of brain or infirmity of will, of considering any one but himself—then he falls below the human level, and I would no more call him my equal than I should a born idiot. But I can imagine that, in a society in which mutual consideration reached a high point of development, the circumstance of there being a wide range of capacities, a wide diversity of traits and characteristics, would tend to heighten rather than destroy the charm of social intercourse.

It were sheer folly or affectation to deny that a large number of persons are grossly devoid of consideration for others, and I cannot believe that any true poet could be so nighty a sentimentalist as to hail these as his brethren. The equality the true poet desires is the recognition, wherever it occurs, of that spirit of gentleness and consideration which is the sole indispensable characteristic of good society. This is the true gentlemanliness, which may be found under the fustian jacket, and may fail to be found under the imperial purple. Now I think that Tennyson is peculiarly felicitous in discerning this badge of the natural knighthood and ladyhood of mankind. His gardener's daughter is a lady, and yet not a bit too fine for a real gardener's daughter. His Dora is as generous, gentle, faithful, modest, affectionate, and simple-hearted as any lady that ever, from dais or gallery, rained bright influence upon hex knight charging in the lists below; she even has the graciousness, the sweet, winning artfulness, of a lady; fox what could be more exquisitely lady-like than her setting the flower-wreath on the little boy's head in the wheatneld. in order that he might be beautiful in his grandfather's eyes? And yet there is not one word uttered by Dora, not one thing done, that we do not feel to be entirely natural and appropriate to the niece of a yeoman. When Burns, in that yearning anticipation of a better future which has visited poetic seers in all ages, spoke of a time A Poet of the People. 263

when men should be brothers all over the world, he must have meant partly that this fine essential manhood would receive social recognition in spite of class distinctions, and partly that the area of noble manhood would be extended, that the ape and tiger would die out of the race, and that individual and natural selfishness would give place to mutual consideration and a passion for the common advancement. Meanwhile the best proof that one's sympathies are given not to a class but to mankind is the habit of affectionate and honourable recognition of gentle persons, be their station what it may. In this sense Tennyson has been a Poet of the People.

It seems almost absurd to talk of critically estimating a poem like Dora. The thing is simplicity itself. It contains literally not one similitude, not one metaphor, which might not be used in common discourse by shepherds and husbandmen. Its words are the current coin of our language. There are but two or three words of three syllables, one of these being "consider," another "labourer." The Latin, French, Greek elements of English speech are dispensed with, and the narrative runs along on its German basis. For all this, no poem of Tennyson's strikes me as more essentially poetical, more genuinely imaginative. It is all picture, and yet you see no paint. In this respect it reminds me of Goethe's manner in Hermann and Dorothea, perhaps the most perfect idyll ever written. Neither in the one nor in the other, is there a trace of conscious ornamentation,—of that sort of adornment which a poetaster might add to the prose framework of his tale to make it pretty; but in Goethe's poem you have all the beauty of vineyards in the glow of sunlight, and in Tennyson's of cornfields and poppies, and in both you have the warm light of honest human faces, and that subtle and sympathetic knowledge of the human heart which enables the poet to penetrate to the deepest sources of laughter and of tears. It must be a man is Literally incapable, whether from meagreness of brain or infirmity of will, of considering any one but himself—then he falls below the human level, and I would no more call him my equal than I should a born idiot. But I can imagine that, in a society in which mutual consideration reached a high point of development, the circumstance of there being a wide range of capacities, a wide diversity of traits and characteristics, would tend to heighten rather than destroy the charm of social intercourse.

It were sheer folly or affectation to deny that a large number of persons are grossly devoid of consideration for others, and I cannot believe that any true poet could be so flighty a sentimentalist as to hail these as his brethren. The equality the true poet desires is the recognition, wherever it occurs, of that spirit of gentleness and consideration which is the sole indispensable characteristic of good society. This is the true gentlemanliness, which may be found under the fustian jacket, and may fail to be found under the imperial purple. Now I think that Tennyson is peculiarly felicitous in discerning this badge of the natural knighthood and ladyhood of mankind. His gardener's daughter is a lady, and yet not a bit too fine for a real gardener's daughter. His Dora is as generous, gentle, faithful, modest, affectionate, and simple-hearted as any lady that ever, from dais or gallery, rained bright influence upon her knight charging in the lists below; she even has the graciousness, the sweet, winning artfulness, of a lady; for what could be more exquisitely lady-like than her setting the flower-wreath on the little boy's head in the wheatfield, in order that he might be beautiful in his grandfather's eyes? And yet there is not one word uttered by Dora, not one thing done, that we do not feel to be entirely natural and appropriate to the niece of a yeoman. When Burns, in that yearning anticipation of a better future which has visited poetic seers in all ages, spoke of a time A Poet of the People. 263

when men should be brothers all over the world, he must have meant partly that this fine essential manhood would receive social recognition in spite of class distinctions, and partly that the area of noble manhood would be extended, that the ape and tiger would die out of the race, and that individual and natural selfishness would give place to mutual consideration and a passion for the common advancement. Meanwhile the best proof that one's sympathies are given not to a class but to mankind is the habit of affectionate and honourable recognition of gentle persons, be their station what it may. In this sense Tennyson has been a Poet of the People.

It seems almost absurd to talk of critically estimating a poem like Dora. The thing is simplicity itself. It contains literally not one similitude, not one metaphor, which might not be used in common discourse by shepherds and husbandmen. Its words are the current coin of our language. There are but two or three words of three syllables, one of these being "consider," another "labourer." The Latin, French, Greek elements of English speech are dispensed with, and the narrative runs along on its German basis. For all this, no poem of Tennyson's strikes me as more essentially poetical, more genuinely imaginative. It is all picture, and yet you see no paint. In this respect it reminds me of Goethe's manner in Hermann and Dorothea, perhaps the most perfect idyll ever written. Neither in the one nor in the other, is there a trace of conscious ornamentation,—of that sort of adornment which a poetaster might add to the prose framework of his tale to make it pretty; but in Goethe's poem you have all the beauty of vineyards in the glow of sunlight, and in Tennyson's of cornfields and poppies, and in both you have the warm light of honest human faces, and that subtle and sympathetic knowledge of the human heart which enables the poet to penetrate to the deepest sources of laughter and of tears. It must be a

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