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nanirnity is the sign-manual of the false sublime. Tennyson makes it plain, also, that it is only what is degrading in Amy's life that the lover blames and hates. Beneath all his angry words, his love for her remains ineradicable, and he would wish her happy, if he could do so and at the same time save her from his contempt.
After ranging through many moods, sometimes rising almost into rapture, sometimes settling almost into despair, the hero decides for progress and for hope.
Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward, let us range.
The "palsied heart" and the "jaundiced eye " are but signs of disease; the idol-gods of fashion and conventionality may be hurled from their thrones; "one increasing purpose" runs through the ages, " and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns."
Aylmer's Field seems to me the companion picture to Locksley Hall. It is one of the most tragic of Tennyson's pieces— one of the saddest, sternest, and I would almost add mightiest, poems in the world. In Locksley Hall we see desecrated affection making two persons unhappy; in Aylmer's Field the blight is more deadly and more comprehensive. I know nothing of Tennyson^s in which the moral earnestness is so prophetlike as in this great poem. With all the might of his genius in its maturity, he pours a molten torrent of indignation and of scorn upon that pride which is, perhaps, the central vice of England, that pride which displays itself in many ways—in pride of birth, in pride of gold, in pride of insular superiority, and which is always desolating and deadly. Pride, in this instance, trampling love under its feet, provides exquisite pain for all the chief personages in the poem, and obliterates two ancient families from the face of the earth.
Briefly, in stern, compact enunciation, the moral thesis or text of the poem is stated in the opening lines.
Dust are our frames; and, gilded dust, our pride
Edith, the daughter of the proud squire, is one of the loveliest of Tennyson's creations; lovely specially in this, that her beauty, far more than commonly with Tennyson, is a thing of the heart and the mind, rather than of form or feature. Wo love her for her home-bred truth and tenderness, for the delicate tact and gentleness that make her a ministering angel in the dwellings of the poor. Tennyson opens his sketch-book, and gives us a series of pen-pictures—each a line or two in length—of the laborers' homes which she loved to haunt.
Hcrc was one that, summer-blanch'd,
What a constellation of English cottages! Edith, the squire's daughter, loved Leolin, the rector's son, who in all fine and strong qualities was worthy of her; who,
even in ancicntness of blood, was not much her unequal, and lacked only gold.
Having the warmth and muscle of the heart,
attested his sterling goodness. The boy and girl, neighbors in the village, grew up together. The pride of the squire and his lady blinded them to the possibility that love could arise between the two. When at last the truth flashes on them, Leolin is spurned from their door like a dog. He and Edith remain true to each other; but, by her imprisonment in the Hall and its grounds, and by interception of letters, in a way analogous to that practised against Lucy, in the Bride of Lammcrmoor, they are debarred from all intercourse. After twenty months of silence Edith droops, and then
Some low fever ranging round to spy
Maddened with the news of her death, Leolin strikes to his heart a dagger, which she had once playfully presented to him. The rector, Leolin's brother (their father had been dead long before), is asked by the mother of Edith to preach a funeral sermon on her daughter, and he preaches on the desolation wrought by pride. It is one of the grandest and most terrible sermons ever penned. We know nothing in modern verse, except Jean Ingelow's wonderful sermon, preached by the old pastor to fisher-folk in the little chapel by the sea, that will at all compare with it. It was the death-knell of the guilty parents. The lady died soon; the squire lingered for awhile, but spoke only one word, " desolate."
Then the great HalI was wholly broken down,
"The two contrived their daughter's good!"—the irony of that is tremendous in its calmness. In this poem Tennyson has reaped the highest honor man can attain, namely, that of adding to the Scripture of his country; nor should I think it a much less dark or pernicious error than the pride which caused all this woe, to hold that the Almighty could speak only through or to Jewish seers, and that there is no true inspiration in such writing as this.
THE TWO VERSIONS OF MAUD.
MAUD has a particular interest for me; I reviewed it long since; and with that postprandial freedom which I craved liberty to take, I have to inform my readers that my old criticism now seems to me unsatisfactory. The poem appeared in 1855, the year when I first got into journalistic harness, and I was one among many ardent admirers of Tennyson who expressed disappointment with the production. In my essay on Tennyson and his Teachers, published (along with others) in America in 1858, and in this country in the following year, I devoted several pages to a notice of Maud, reiterating my unfavorable judgment, declaring the work deficient in beauty, and pronouncing it, on the whole, a failure. That estimate I still look upon as not altogether wrong or unreasonable; and I have the comfort of believing that it was much less wrong in 1855 than it would be if first put forward in 1879. When Maud appeared, Tennyson's reputation rested upon the early poems and In Memoriam, and the difference between these and the new work was hardly more startling than the inferiority of the new to the old seemed to be conspicuous. But now that Tennyson has written as much again as he had then given to the world, and when it has been proved that the somewhat crude realism of Maud was but a passing variation in his manner of composition, the right of such a poem to take its place in the totality of his works—to play its part in the general Tennysonian orchestra—is much more easily recognizable. What is still more important, the Maud of 1879 is a much more excellent poem than the Maud of 1855. With a massive sense and