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a sense of what is due to the rights of privacy. Of Lord Tennyson's life, apart from the records of his literary work and the glimpses occasionally afforded by the divulging candour of his personal friends, not a great deal is known, and only the vulgar would seek, without the direct encouragement of family sanctions, to know more.
Alfred Tennyson was born on August 6, 1809, at Somersby, a village in Lincolnshire, about halfway between Spilsby and Horncastle. one of twelve children, of whom seven were sons. His elder brothers, Frederick and Charles, became favourably known, when they reached manhood, as writers of poetry that would unquestionablyespecially that of Charles—have made a larger mark in the world but for the overshadowing dominance of his own subsequent powers. Frederick has published a volume of poems, called “Days and Hours," some of which have the true poetic ring about them; but there is a greater wealth of imagery and a subtler depth of thought in his unpublished “Greek Legends.” His letters are well worthy to give him a place amongst famous letter-writers, thereby showing how false in his case, as in that of Alfred, is the popular belief that a good poet is never a good prose writer. The other brothers in a less conspicuous degree wooed the muses, but their fugitive pieces, with scarcely an exception, have been borne on the bosom of that rushing river which carries so much literary drift, promising as well as worthless, down to the great sea of oblivion.
Alfred Tennyson's father was the Rev. George Clayton Tennyson, LL.D., rector of Somersby and vicar of Grimsby, who married Elizabeth Fytche, daughter of the vicar of the neighbouring town of Louth. Dr. Tennyson was the son of a wealthy retired lawyer, George Tennyson of Bayon's Manor, Lincolnshire, but the bulk of the property went to the second son Charles, uncle of Alfred, who subsequently took the name of D’Eyncourt by royal licence, and was for some time member of parliament for Lambeth. The Tennysons were, in fact, of ancient and honourable descent, tracing their pedigree to the Plantagenets through the old Norman family of D'Eyncourt. In view of the poet's recent acceptance of a peerage, and the criticisms which, in certain quarters, it has provoked,
this distinguished ancestry has a peculiar signifi
It indicates to those who do not "smile at the claims of long descent” an intermixture of noble blood worthy to rank with that of the owners of the proudest titles, and a family distinction appreciable by persons not "too proud to care from whence they came.”
A halo of romantic interest always hangs about the birth-places of distinguished men. The homes and haunts of genius are hallowed spots-shrines invested by the pilgrim and the worshipper with unique and memorable interest. In years to come Somersby, by reason of Tennyson having been born there, will be detached in the world's esteem from the multitude of English villages with which it possesses features in
common. Any one picturing it without the guidance of description would probably fancy that it partook of the characteristics popularly supposed to belong to Lincolnshire, But Somersby, although not far from the fens, is not the flat uninteresting spot one might imagine from this ominous propinquity. Years ago, William Howitt, in his delightful descriptions of the haunts of the British poets, pictured the locality in which Tennyson was born, and where he spent the early years of his life : "The native village of Tennyson is not situated in the fens, but in a pretty pastoral district of softly sloping hills and large ash-trees. It is not based on bogs, but on a clean sandstone. There is a little glen in the neighbourhood, called by the old monkish name of Holywell. Over the gateway leading to it some by-gone squire has put up an inscription, a medley of Virgil and Horace; and within, a stream of clear water gushes
2 out on a sand rock, and over it stands the old school-house almost lost among the trees, and of late years used as a wood-house, its former distinction only signified by the Scripture text on the walls, 'Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. There are also two brooks in this valley, which flow into one at the bottom of the glebe field, and by these the young poet used to wander and meditate.” The physiography of Somersby is described in a few bold touches by the Rev. D. Rawnsley, a connection of the poet's by marriage. “To the north,” he says, “rises the long peak of the wold, with its steep white road that climbs the hill above Thetford ; to the south the land slopes gently to a small deep-channelled brook, which rises not far from Somersby, and flows just below the parsonage garden."
Amid the picturesque associations of this Lincolnshire rectory, beneath its leafy elms and within the sound of its ever-brawling brook, Tennyson's childhood was passed. That these associations wove themselves into the web of his being is certified by the vividness of his description of their smallest details. In the “Ode to Memory,” he speaks of
“The woods that belt the gray hill-side,
the brook that loves
In every elbow and turn,
The inspirations of Somersby scenery, with its “ridgèd wolds," may be traced in more than one passage of Tennyson's early writings, and have