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That slope of softest green, the brook below, A glance at the generation of TennyOld musty stalls, and tedded hay behind

sons immediately preceding the bards, reAll have I seen ; and simple though they be,

veals a light and a shadow on the poetic A mighty awe steals with them on my heart, For they have grown and lasted as a part

pedigree; the light represented by Mrs. Of thy dear self upbuilding thine and thee :

Matthew Russell (Elizabeth Tennyson, From yon tall fir, weathering the April rain, sister of the Rev. George Tennyson), who

Came influence rare that deepened into song, wrote creditable verses polished with a Beauty lurk'd for thee in the long gray fields,

care and nicety worthy of her nephew's By tufted knolls and, Alfred, made thee

artistic conscience; and the shadow represtrong.”

sented by an uncle who is reported to The Gothic windows lighted the dining

have said: “My nephew has made a book room, where one can picture a group of

of poetry? I'd a deal rather he had made handsome boys and girls with their high

a wheelbarrow.” But the Rev. George brows and dark eyes and hair, inherited from their Huguenot ancestor, sitting in lectual dower; he was a linguist, an artist

Tennyson gave his children a rare intelthe warmly colored light looking like so

and a musician, which especially conduced many models of Velasquez. One fancies

to make his children sons of song. And, the infant Alfred mused on the woodbine

besides mental talents, he transmitted to that clambered into his nursery window, them a marvelous physique, which a Somwatching its climbing tendrils, getting the

ersby sage so eloquently admired: “What first impression and inspiration for

a clip the oud doctor used to go between · Vine, vine and eglantine,

the churches o’ Somersby and Enderby.” Clasp her window, trail and twine."

In the lines of Isabel, Tennyson's mother And without doubt he often woke at peep

stands glorified, we must believe truthof day-provoking the old nurse who ir

fully, so many are the other tributes to reverently said: “Poet or no poet, I ha’

her excellence. Literature contains few carried him on my shoulder ”—with the

portraitures so beautifully graven as these question: “What does little birdie say?"

lyrical limnings of her physical graces and Though the Tennysons' grandmother

spiritual qualities: vaingloriously boasted that all her laurelled descendant's poetic nature was due

“Eyes not dropt down nor over bright, but fed to her, the earliest recorded effusion of

With the ciear-pointed flame of chastity,

... locks not wide dispread, the family muse is an ignoble effort per

Madonna-wise on either side her head : petrated by the grandfather in collabora

Sweet lips whereon perpetually did reign tion with one of his sons:

The summer calm of golden charity,
· On yonder bank a goat I spy,
To sip the flood he seems to try.”

Revered Isabel the crown and head,

The stately flower of female fortitude, But the old gentleman justly prided Of perfect wifehood and pure lowlihead.” himself on his good judgment and critical powers; he is to be revered for his early This mother reigned over the home cirand benevolent acknowledgment of his cle supreme as over the coterie of her girlgrandson's genius, to which he accorded hood, when she was wooed by twenty-five its first emolument-lavishly bestowed in suitors, whose names she used to enumethe attractive form of half a guinea, ac- rate with pardonable pride. From her as companied, however, by the kill-joy pro- well as from the father, who, on account phecy that it was “probably the last you'll of his social graces and his brilliant menever earn from poetry.”

tal parts, was deemed an indispensable


endeavoring to impress on the minds of others the precepts of his Holy Word.”

The circumstances of the Tennysons' early life and education were particularly happy. The father, with his ample resources, was virtually the boys' only tutor till they entered Cambridge. This home instruction increased their spontaneity of thought, and gave full freedom to their youthful spirits. Somersby, with its wealth of lovely landscape, far removed from the city's hurly-burly, was an auspicious angle of earth for the upbuilding of a brood of poets; and assuredly the children enjoyed the place's natural advantages to their utmost. The hamlet's whole area was their playground. At an early age poetic tendencies began to manifest themselves—especially a passionate love of nature which was all in all to them, as to the boy Wordsworth. A favorite out-of-door sport was a game in which willow wythes were the toys-represent

ing knights taking part in tournaments. member of the neighborhood's merry

On dreary days the children would gather makings, the Tennysons inherited their in the house, perhaps in the little drawwonderful fascination over others, which ing room lined with bookshelves, from characterized their careers at Cambridge whose stately rows Shakespere, Milton, and the days of their manhood. Not so Bunyan, Goldsmith, Cervantes and Defoe much from the reverend sire, who indeed presided as the household deities, whose took orders to gratify a parental whim, as

mighty spirit was even then instilling the from the mother whose saintliness was

subtle influence which should raise one of eminent, did Alfred Tennyson imbibe the children unto an eminence not far inthat staunch, pervading moral and relig- ferior to their own. On such occasions ious sense which makes his poetry practi- story-telling was the form of entertaincally a

ment, every one taking a turn. In the

“Stair earliest days Alfred's fund of fables was Whose landing-place is wrapped about not very opulent; in fact it consisted of With glory of the clouds of Heaven."

one oft-repeated tale which, however, he How could it be otherwise when his was encouraged to tell again and again mother wrote him such words as these : for the entertainment of the smallest folk, “O dearest Ally, How fervently I have and the derision and amusement of the prayed for you that our merciful Re- elders ; later he reached the rank of chief deemer would intercede with our Heavenly story-teller and began to spin by many Father to grant thee his Holy Spirit to winter firelights yarns of Arthur and tilts urge thee to employ the talents he has and battles for the right. Some toplofty given thee by taking every opportunity of lines of Lord Tennyson's written at the

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age of fourteen are applicable to him and his brothers in those childhood days :

“Ha! by St. James, Mine was no vulgar mind in infancy. Even then the force of nature and high birth Had writ nobility upon my brow.” The glorious annual incident of the Tennysons' boyhood was the setting forth for the sea at Mablethorpe, where they first heard the “league-long rolling thunder on the reef,” the organ voice of ocean that haunted Alfred evermore. In later years he was accustomed to say that of the four elements, water was to him the most attractive. His many ocean metaphors are indeed sufficient evidence of this. Small wonder that it was so, con- Frederick whom harrowing bashfulness sidering that the magical cadences of the once made afraid to attend a dinner party: waves' marvellous music had rung so early

“Just think of Herschel's star-patches, and so often upon his ears that its echoes Fred, and you'll soon get over that.” But rolled continually in his soul like the soft these barriers of shyness and reserve soon roar in the sea-shell's convolutions. The broke down before the sallies of desire for summer days at Mablethorpe were gala good comradeship and the glorious oppordays. What a source of inspiration they tunities offered for it by a coterie of young were may be indicated by a single inci- men whose names are enrolled with the dent. With part of the pittance (twenty Tennysons in the century's annals, the pounds) received for that first book of men who were then reflecting credit on verse, “ Poems of Two Brothers," Charles old Cambridge, who are now reckoned and Alfred hired a coach to drive down to among her illustrious alumni. The old old Mablethorpe "to share their triumphs university has rarely ranked among its with the winds and the waves.” The students so many honorable names as those surge of the sea, nowhere so celebrated as that stood beside the Tennysons' at that on that Lincolnshire coast, is heard in the time. Foremost among these were the songs of the two other members of the members of that famous society indigepoetic fraternity as it is in the Laureate's nous to Cambridge, always regarded as the lines, and it seems to me no music of earth intellectual elect, so appropriately named rings in these as does the diapason of the “the apostles," since they have preached round ocean's swell and fall.

to world-wide congregations the gospels After the idyllic years of boyhood, it is of politics, ethics, literature and art. small wonder that the youths, especially Among these young men were Richard Alfred, found the early Cambridge life Monkton Milnes, J. M. Kemble, James irksome. On entering the university their Spedding, and last but transcendently first home-spent years made them at first ap- Alfred's Pythias, Jonathan-what you pear shy: Alfred and Charles were not will, provided epithet be found eloquent ahle immediately to throw off the timidity enough to name the young man whom resulting from narrow social life nor to “In Memoriam " apotheosized. Testimoprofit by an advice the former had given nies innumerable from his foremost con




“ We talk out of the ‘Palace of Art' and
* The Legend of Fair Women.' The great
Alfred is here smoking all day. We went
on a pilgrimage to see him and found him
and Arthur Hallam and Kemble."

Of Arthur Hallam's connection with the
Tennysons one can scarcely speak without
pain. Everyone must feel for the pitiful
circumstances of his premature death a
personal sorrow like that which laments
the death of the youthful Keats and
Chatterton. One fancies how attractive
to the Tennysons was Hallam, just re-
turned, when they first knew him, from
Switzerland and Italy, brimming over
with the delights of his travels; and how

charming to him must have been their temporaries declared him to have been classic culture, which was so like his own. “near perfection as mortal man could be,” He forthwith became an adopted and and we must believe that even the gods well-beloved member of the family. His loved him, since they wrought his death in letters to Mrs. Tennyson breathe a filial his youth. “The apostles” were not wholly devotion scarcely inferior to that of her given over to religion and radicalism, as He was the sworn champion and some one said; on the contrary, many of entertainer of the smaller children, the their evenings were devoted to merry- chosen comrade and friend of all the older making. However, the regulation feature boys—of Charles and Frederick as well as of the meetings was an essay read by one Alfred. Many a morning he and the sisof the body. Alfred was one evening ters and brothers went trooping together pledged to hold forth on “Ghosts,” but over the old Lincolnshire hills. In the when his turn came a spasm of timidity evenings the great bard usually slipped possessed him and he tore up his essay on into his attic den, whence he might occathe spot. One wonders at this as he was sionally be lured for a musicale, his sisalready famous for his recitations of his ters playing and singing, he sometimes own and other's poems. A favorite diver- contributing a flute number. On other sion of “the apostles” was amateur thea- evenings Hallam was the tricals, especially in Shakespearean selec

“ Central warmth-diffusing bliss, tions. What fun there must have been

When all in circle drawn when Hallam played Verges, Kemble,

About him heart and ear were fed, Dogberry, and the future Lord Houghton, To hear him as he lay and read Beatrice! It is interesting to know that The Tuscan poets on the lawn. Fanny and Adelaide Kemble were some

“ Or in the all-golden afternoon times among their audiences. Tennyson's

A guest or happy sister sung, poems were handed about in the apostolic Or here she brought the harp and flung brotherhood like sacred fire: when copies

A ballad to the brightening moon.” of new things could not be obtained, re- One of the sisters must have hung on membered stanzas were quoted orally and Hallam's words-one with an Italian proin letters. Spedding wrote at this time, file, eyes like “deep on deep "-his be

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trothed. The “ remorseless hour that 9 hand the dreadful hollow behind the made cypress of her orange flower” pre

little wood vented a marriage of perfect mind, for Emily Tennyson's intellectuality was of of an order rare as her physical beauty. The wooing days at Somersby were not all spent in light converse and loitering in the trivial ways of love. Hallam himself taught Emily Italian, in which he was conspicuously proficient, giving her a lyric diploma significant of their poetic tastes and kindred natures: “ Lady, I bid thee to a summer dome,

Ringing with echoes of Italian song ;
Old Dante's strain encircles all the air.
Hark! again like flute tones mingling rare
Comes the keen sweetness of Petrarch's moan.
Pass thou the lintel freely—without fear
Feast on the music.”

As Hallam was bound by this and so many other links to the house of Tennyson, small wonder that his sudden and tragic death at Vienna, so far from the bosom of his friends, should have sealed Alfred's lips of song for ten years. And it

TENNYSON READING was most natural that when they did speak, [From a sketch by Dante Rossetti, 1855] their utterance should be the noble poem Doctor Van Dyke so aptly calls “a dead A few years after the deaths of these two march, but a march into immortality.” nearest and dearest, the Tennysons had to

Alfred Tennyson's capacity for great sustain another grief—the going forth grief, of which “In Memoriam” was the from the old home at Somersby. fruit, was an inheritance from his father, “ The well-beloved place who despite his genial moods was such a Where first we gazed upon the sky, victim of sorrow's cruel fellowship that

The roofs that heard our earliest cry." often his lugubriousness hung a gloom for Just before this, Charles by taking orders days over the family. Even as a child and settling in his vicarage at Grasby, did Alfred was very sensitive to this ; in a his share to gratify the grandfather's dethrill of sympathy he once rushed from sire to make parsons of them all ; and the house at midnight, ran to a church- Frederick manifested the strain of the yard and flung himself upon a grave, warm south in his veins by going to live weeping bitterly. So he could truthfully in Italy. This exodus of the two elder unite the memory of a father whose heart- brothers left Alfred as the master of the aches were his own, with that of the friend house, a position he assumed with comhe held as half divine:

placency and capability. Moving into * As down the garden walks I move

new quarters demanded a large amount Two spirits of a diverse love

of the latter quality in which he was not Contend for loving masterdom.”

found wanting. Mrs. Proctor praised his



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