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ment, tbe circumstance of there being a wide range of capacities, a wide diversity of traits and characteristies, 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 flowerwreath on the little boy's head in the wheat-field, 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 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 honorable 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 arc the current coin of onr language. There are but two or three words of three syllables, one of these being "consider," another "laborer." 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 Hcrmann and Dorothea, perhaps the most perfect idyl 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 flinty heart indeed that can reach the end of Dora unmoved. The pathos is like that of the simple stories of the old Hebrew Bible, the story of Joseph or the story of Ruth. These move and fascinate us in childhood, and the longer we live the more do we love them.
There is exquisitely fine character-painting in the treatment, slight as it looks, of the two women, Dora and Mary. They are not only sharply defined in their individualities, but are types of great contrasted orders among women. Dora is the superior nature, the deeper, the more thoughtful, the more selfsacrificing, of the two; incapable of coming short in any duty owed either to herself, or to her benefactor, or to the man she loves; capable of forgiving even the deadliest offence that can be offered to woman, the injuria spretce formce, the contemptuous disparagement of her beauty, and rejection of her love. Yet we feel that she has her womanly pride, too, and that, if one glance of her eye could enchain William and make her a happy bride, she would not cast it. When her uncle, enraged that his son had married Mary in defiance of him, ordered her not to speak to William or his wife, she "promised, being meek," thinking that the old man would require only to be humored for awhile. "It cannot be," she said to herself; "my uncle's mind will change." But when troubles overtook William, and he passed his father's door day by day heart-broken, then
Dora stored what little she could save,
And sent it them by stealth, nor did they know
Who sent it; till at last a fever seized
On William, and in harvest-time he died.
Dora will now obey her uncle no longer. There had been nothing of superstition or slavishness in her obedience, because she felt sure it would be temporary; but she is quick to blame herself, feeling that it was wrong to countenance even so far the old man's unrighteous anger.
Then Dora went to Mary. Mary sat
You know there has not been for these five years
So full a harvest: let me take the boy,
And I will set him in my uncle's eye
Among the wheat; that when his heart is glad
Of the full harvest, he may see the boy,
And bless him for the sake of him that's gone."
The first day the farmer did not see her as she sat with the child; on the second he noticed her, rebuked her sharply, but took the boy.
"I see it is a trick
Dora, meekly acquiescent, does not utter one remonstrant word, but at the same time makes no apology for having done what she knows to be right. After weeping in secret, she returns to Mary, and asks to be allowed to live and work with her. But the comparatively commonplace, yet alert and readywitted Mary, armed with the instinctive wisdom of maternity, has now the advantage. A touch of sacred anger thrills her, and she rebels against the hard old man.
"This shall never be,
This is obviously right, as well as brave and womanly. They set out for the farm. Mary's courage does not fail. She nppeals to her father-in-law to take Dora back, and tells him that William died confessing that, though he could not rue marrying Mary, he had done wrong to cross his father, and had prayed God to bless him.
So Mary said, and Dora hid her face
By Mary. There was silence in the room;
And all at once the old man burst in sobs:
"I have been to blame—to blame. I have kill'd my son.
I have kill'd him—but I loved him—my dear son.
May (Jod forgive me!—I have been to blame.
Kiss me, my children."
Then they clung about
So these four abode
The piece would have been utterly ruined if there had been another fate than this for Dora. Had she been married, a perfect poem would have become a trivial novelette. The blunder would have been far worse than making Dinah Morris end her life suckling fools and chronicling small-beer, a desecration of the Methodist Saint Theresa for which I have never been able to stifle a little bit of grudge against George Eliot. Marriages, however, are the natural climaxes, the final ends of novels, and no denouement could be more in accordance with rule than marriage between the hero and the heroine, especially when the hero was Adam Bede. Tennyson was under no such temptation to let Dora be absorbed into the mass of commonplace humanity.
Poor Esther Johnson said of Swift that he could write beau