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Ulyssks. v 9XM»r%itTa{,

The only objection which I can conceive taken to this poem" is that it is a linguistic tour de force, without adequate motive —a labored and superlative expression of a mood of over-civilized lassitude, with which the poet has not, and no one ought to have, true sympathy. I shall not say that this objection is wholly unreasonable; but a poet is the yEolian harp of his time, on whose mind every wandering wind of its characteristic moods may be expected to awaken some tone of music; and there can be no doubt—the more's the pity—that the melodious effeminacy of the Lotos-Eaters has many to sympathize with it in these weary days.

Antithetically ami grandly opposed to the nerveless sentiment of the Lotos-Eaters is the masculine spirit of the lines on Ulysses, one of the healthiest as well as most masterly of all Tennyson's poems. The old sea-king, strong as a fishing-boat that has battled long with tide and storm, spurns the idea of rest .

IIow dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life.

He is far above the weakness of disguising his pride, or pretending not to know that he is a man of men.

I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
iruch have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

"Delight of battle"—what a superb translation of the certaminis gaudia of the Latin poet! The kindly but measure- ] less contempt with which old Ulysses regards his universallyrespected son Telemachus has a finer humor in it than Tennyson ever attains elsewhere.

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere

Of common duties, decent not to fail

In offices of tenderness, and pay

Meet adoration to my household gods,

When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

Excellent young man !—but what an unspeakable relief it will be never to hear his judicious remarks again. A wilder sot of fellows I have been accustomed to:

My mariners,

Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—

That ever with a frolic weleome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honor and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stais until I die.

Observe how chary Tennyson here is of color. Compare the roseate glow that pervades (Enone, where the tale is of goddesses contending for the prize of beauty—the wealth of flowers, and clouds delicately creeping among pine-trees, and sunlights floating between shadows of vine-bunches on the rounded form of Aphrodite—with the sharp, smiting, unadorned, laconic phrases of the leader of men. That will tell us how great a master of tone is Tennyson! We need not quarrel with him for having bestowed those mariners on Ulysses in his old age. There were, indeed, none such. They all lay fathom-deep in brine; no Homer, no Athene had paid ST. SIMEON STYLITES.


regard to them; Ulysses returned alone to his isle, the hero only being of account in the eyes of classic poet or Pagan goddess. Tennyson's Ulysses is, after all, an Englishman of the Nelson wars rather than a Greek, and his feeling for his old salts is a distinctively Christian sentiment. So, indeed, i9 his desire for effort, discovery, labor, to the end. It never would have occurred to Homer that Ulysses could want anything for the rest of his life but pork-chops and Penelope.

Another of Tennyson's memorable and masterly studies of character is St. Simeon Stylites. Few characters in history are better deserving of consideration than Simeon of the pillar; for Simeon is typical, as the fewest men are, of an ago and generation. He belonged to the end of the fourth and first half of the fifth centuries of our era, and was a pattern Christian of the period. It was characteristic of the pious men of the time that they utterly perverted Christianity by overdoing it. Forgetful of St. Paul's divine simplicity and inspired common-sense, of his angry impatience with people that imposed a yoke upon themselves, observed days and times and months and years, hesitated to eat what they found in the market, and fancied that God Almighty could possibly wish them to do anything with their bodies except keep them clean and healthy, Simeon and his contemporaries nursed an immoral sanctity by subjecting their bodies to pains and privations, and rejecting all sorts of natural delights. Simeon was a Syrian, who, at the early age of thirteen, deserting the useful vocation of sheep-feeding, entered an austere monastery, and addressed himself to the worse than useless business of torturing himself into a saint. "After a long and painful novitiate," says Gibbon, whose historical accuracy on the subject may be relied upon, " in which Simeon was repeatedly saved from pious suicide, he established his residence on a mountain, about thirty or forty miles to the east of Antioch. Within the space of a tnandra, or circle of stones, to which he had attached himself by a ponderous chain, he ascended a column, which was successively raised from the height of nine to that of sixty feet from the ground. In this last and lofty station, the Syrian Anachoret resisted the heat of thirty summers, and the cold of as many winters. Habit and exercise instructed him to maintain his dangerous situation without fear or giddiness, and successively to assume the different postures of devotion. He sometimes prayed in an erect attitude, with his outstretched arms in the figure of a cross; but his most familiar practice was that of bending his meagre skeleton from the forehead to the feet; and a curious spectator, after numbering twelve hundred and forty-four repetitions, at lengtli desisted from the endless account. The progress of an uleer in his thigh might shorten, but it could not disturb, this celestial life; and the patient Hermit expired without descending from his column. . . . Successive crowds of pilgrims from Gaul and India saluted the Divine pillar of Simeon; the tribes of Saracens disputed in arms the honor of his benediction; the queens of Arabia and Persia gratefully confessed his supernatural virtue; and the angelic Hermit was consulted by the younger Theodosius in the most important concerns of the Church and State. The remains were transported from the mountain of Telenissa, by a solemn procession of the patriarch, the master-general of the East, six bishops, twenty-one counts or tribunes, and six thousand soldiers; and Antioch revered his bones as her glorious ornament and impregnable defence."

Such was the man whose feelings, intentions, hopes—whose theory of life and general conception of duty and destiny— Tennyson undertakes to express in Simeon's own words as he stands or crouches on his pillar. In the spirit of earnest sympathy, not without a trace of reverence, does the poet enter on his task, not permitting himself a touch of grotesquerie, and not in the least inclined, as Gibbon slyly is, to poke fun at Simeon. He at once penetrates to the centre of his hero's ST. SIMEON STYLITES.


scheme of things by grasping his conception of himself as a sinner. These are the opening lines, the speaker being Simeon:

Altho' I be the basest of mankind,

From scalp to sole one slough and crust of sin,

Unfit for earth, unfit for heaven, scarce meet

For troops of devils, mad with blasphemy,

I will not cease to grasp the hope I hold

Of saintdom, and to clamor, mourn, and sob,

Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer,

Have mercy, Lord, and take away my sin.

The man, remember, had gone in for saintship at thirteen years of age. I am not aware that it has ever been suggested that, before then, he had committed any serious offence. A good-for-nothing shepherd I can well imagine him to have been, but that would not strike him a9 a sin. The probability, the practical certainty, is that Simeon's sin, as is usual in similar cases, w as almost entirely a thing of the imagmation, and that there was no definite form of sin, whether of wrong-doing to mankind, wrong-doing to himself, or wrong-doing, in the shape of hatred or indifference, to God—under one or other of which heads all sin that is not mere fantastic imagining must come—of which he could be accused. But you will find that nearly the whole of the false or foolish religiosity in the world —the religiosity that is the shame of religion, pure and undefiled, and that corrupts the best into the worse attribute of man—depends upon a preposterously exaggerated conception of sin. The self-degradation of false humility lies close to spiritual pride, and there is exquisite psychological truth in Tennyson's representation of Simeon, for all his sense of the tons of sin that weigh him down, as reckoning up the claims he has to Divine consideration.

Bethink thee, Lord, while thou and all the saints
Enjoy themselves in heaven, and men on earth
House in the shade of comfortable roof?,

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