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Begone: we will not look upon you more.
This is the accent of the Renaissance, as it left the heart of Spenser and Shakspeare; they had this voluptuous adoration of form and soul, and this divine sentiment of beauty.
There is another chivalry, which inaugurates the middle age, as this closes it; sung by children, as this by youths; and restored in the Idylls of the King, as this in the Princess. It is the legend of Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of_the_Round Table. With
How is this fierce heart to be softened, fevered with feminine anger, embittered by disappointment and insult, excited by long dreams of power and ascendency, and rendered more savage by its virginity! But how anger becomes her, and how lovely she is! And how this fire of sentiment, this lofty declaration of independence, this chimerical ambition for reforming the future, reveal the generosity and pride of a young heart, enamored of the beautiful! It is agreed that the quarrel shall be set-admirable art, Tennyson has moderntled by a combat of fifty men against fifty other men. The prince is conquered, and Ida sees him bleeding on the sand. Slowly, gradually, in spite of herself, she yields, receives the wounded in her palace, and comes to the bedside of the dying prince. Before his weakness and his wild delirium pity expands, then tenderness, then love: "From all a closer interest flourish'd up Tenderness touch by touch, and last, to these, Love, like an Alpine harebell hung with tears By some cold morning glacier; frail at first And feeble, all unconscious of itself, But such as gather'd colour day by day." ↑
ized the feelings and the language; this pliant soul takes all tones, in order to give itself all pleasures. This time he has become epic, antique, and ingenuous, like Homer, and like the old trouvères of the chansons de Geste. It is pleasant to quit our learned civilization, to rise again to the primitive age and manners, to listen to the peaceful discourse which flows copiously and slowly, as a river in a smooth channel. The distinguishing mark of the ancient epic is clearness and calm. The ideas were new-born; man was happy and in his infancy. He had not had time to refine, to cut down and adorn his thoughts; he showed them bare. He was not yet pricked by manifold lusts; he thought at leisure. Every idea in
One evening he returns to consciousness, exhausted, his eyes still troubled by gloomy visions; he sees Ida before him, hovering like a dream, painfully opens his pale lips, and "utter'd whis-terested him; he unfolded it curiously, peringly:
"If you be, what I think you, some sweet
I would but ask you to fulfil yourself:
Stoop down and seem to kiss me ere I die.'
And I believe that in the living world
and explained it. His speech never jerks; he goes step by step, from one object to another, and every object seems lovely to him: he pauses, observes, and takes pleasure in observing. This simplicity and peace are strange and charming; we abandon ourselves, it is well with us; we do not desire to go more quickly; we fancy we would gladly remain thus, and forever. For primitive thought is wholesome thought; we have but marred it by grafting and cultivation; we return to it as our familiar element, to find contentment and repose.
But of all eps, this of the Round Table is distinguished by purity. thur, the irreproachable king, has as
"A glorious company, the flower of men. To serve as model for the mighty world, And be the fair beginning of a time.
I made them lay their hands in mine and
There is a sort of refined pleasure in having to do with such a world; for there is none in which purer or more touching fruits could grow. I will show one " Elaine, the lily maid of A stolat "—who, having seen Lancelot ɔnce, loves him when he has departed, and for her whole life. She keeps the shield, which he has left in a tower, and every day goes up to look at it, counting "every dint a sword had beaten in it, and every scratch a lance had made upon it," and living on her dreams. He is wounded: she goes to tend and heal him:
"She murmur'd, 'vain, in vain: it cannot be. He will not love me: how then? must I die ?'
Then as a little helpless innocent bird,
At last she confesses her secret ; but with what modesty and spirit! He cannot marry her; he is tied to another. She droops and fades; her father and brothers try to console her, but she will not be consoled. She is told that Lancelot has sinned with the queen; she does not believe it:
"At last she said, 'Sweet brothers, yester night
I seem'd a curious little maid again, As happy as when we dwelt among the woods,
And when you used to take me with the flood
Up the great river in the boatman's boat.
Now shall I have my will."" t
She dies, and her father and brothers did what she asked them to do:
Then, those two trethren slowly with ben brows
Accompanying, the sad chariot-brier
Past like a shadow thro' the field, that shone
'Sister, farewell for ever,' and again
Steer'd by the dumb went upward with the flood
In her right hand the lily, in her left The letter-all her bright hair streaming down
And all the coverlid was cloth of gold Drawn to her waist, and she herself in white All but her face, and that clear-featured face Was lovely, for she did not seen as dead But fast asleep, and lay as tho' she smiled." Thus they arrive at Court in great silence, and King Arthur read the letter before all his knights and weeping ladies:
"Most noble lord, Sir Lancelot of the Lake, I, sometime call'd the maid of Astolat, Come, for you left me taking no farewell, Hither, to take my last farewell of you. I loved you, and my love had no return, And therefore my true love has been my death.
And therefore to our lady Guinevere, And to all other ladies, I make moan. Pray for my soul, and yield me burial. Pray for my soul thou too, Sir Lancelot, As thou art a knight peerless." t Nothing more: she ends with this word, full of so sad a regret and so tender an admiration : we could hardly find any thing more simple or more delicate.
It seems as if an archæologist might reproduce all styles except the grand, and Tennyson has reproduced all, even the grand. It is the night of the final battle; all day the tumult of the mighty fray "roll'd among the mountains by the winter sea; " Arthur's knights had fallen "man by man; " he himself had fallen, "deeply smitten through the helm," and Sir Bedivere, the last of all
"But when the next sun brake from under- his knights, bore him to a place hard
"A chapel nigh the field, A broken chancel with a broken cross, That stood on a dark strait of barren land. On one side lay the Ocean, and on one Lay a great water, and the moon was full."* Arthur, feeling himself about to die, bids him take his sword Excalibur "and fling him far into the middle meer;" for he had received it from the seanymphs, and after him no mortal must handle it. Twice Sir Bedivere went to obey the king: twice he paused, and came back pretending that he had flung away the sword; for his eyes were dazzled by the wondrous diamond setting which clustered and shone about the haft. The third time he throws it:
Put forth their han is, and took the King and wept.
But she, that rose the tallest of them all
And call'd him by his name, complaining loud...
Before the barge drifts away, King Arthur, raising his slow voice, consoles Sir Bedivere, standing in sorrow on the shore, and pronounces this heroic and solemn farewell :
"The old order changeth yielding place
And God fulfils himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
If thou shouldst never see my face again, Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of..
For so the whole round earth is every way
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
And bowery hollows crown'd with summer
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound." t
Nothing, I think, calmer and more imposing has been seen since Goethe.
How, in a few words, shall we assemble all the features of so manifold a talent? Tennyson is a born poet, that is, a builder of airy palaces and imaginary castles. But the individual passion and absorbing preoccupations which generally guide the hands of such men are wanting to him; he found in himself no plan of a new edifice; he has built after all the rest; he has simply chosen amongst all forms the most elegant, ornate, exquisite. Of their beauties he has taken but the flower. At most, now and then, he has here and there amused himself by de signing some genuinely English and modern cottage. If in this choice of architecture, adopted or restored, we look for a trace of him, we shall find it, here and there, in some more finely sculptured frieze, in some more delí cate and graceful sculptured rosework; but we only find it marked and sensible in the purity and elevation of * Ibid. 196.
the moral einotion which we carry away with us when we quit his gallery of art.
The favorite poet of a nation, it seems, is he whose works a man, setting out on a journey, prefers to put into his pocket. Nowadays it would be Tennyson in England, and Alfred De Musset in France. The two publics differ: so do their modes of life, their reading, and their pleasures. Let us try to describe them; we shall better understand the flowers if we see them in the garden.
Here we are at Newhaven, or at Dover, and we glide over the rails looking on either side. On both sides fly past country houses; they exist everywhere in England, on the margin of lakes, on the edge of the bays, on the summit of the hills, in every picturesque point of view. They are the chosen abodes; London is but a business-place; men of the world live, amuse themselves, visit each other, in the country. How well ordered and pretty is this house! If rear it there was some old edifice, abbey, or castle, it has been preserved. The new building has been suited to the old; even if detached and modern, it does not lack style; gable-ends, mullions, broad-windows, turrets perched at every corner, have a Gothic air In spite of their newness. Even this cottage, though not very large, suited to people with a moderate income, is pleasant to see with its pointed roofs, its porch, its bright brown bricks, all covered with ivy. Doubtless grandeur is generally wanting; in these days the ner who mould opinion are no longer great lords, but rich gentlemen, well brought up, and landholders; it is pleasantness which appeals to them. But how they understand the word! All round the house is turf fresh and smooth as velvet, rolled every morning. In front, great rhododendrons form a bright thicket, in which murmur swarms of bees; festoons of exotics creep and curve over the short grass; honeysuckles clamber up the trees; hundreds of roses, drooping over the windows, shed their rain of petals on the paths. Fine elms, yew-trees, great oaks, jeal
ously tended, everywhere combine their leafage or rear their heads. Trees have been brought from Australia and China to adorn the thickets with the elegance or the singularity of their foreign shapes; the copper-beech stretches over the delicate verdure of the meadows the shadow of its dark metallichued foliage. How delicious is the freshness of this verdure! How it glistens, and how it abounds in wild flowers brightened by the sun! What care, what cleanliness, how every thing is arranged, kept up, refined, for the comfort of the senses and the pleasure of the eyes! If there is a slope, streamlets have been devised with little islets in the glen, peopled with tufts of roses; ducks of select breed swim in the pools, where the water-lilies display their satin stars. Fat oxen lie in the grass, sheep as white as if fresh from the washing, all kinds of happy and model animals, fit to delight the eyes of an amateur and a master. We return to the house, and before entering I look upon the view; decidedly the love of Englishmen for the country is innate; how pleasant it will be from that parlor window to look upon the setting sun, and the broad network of sunlight spread across the woods! And how cunningly they have disposed the house, so that the landscape may be seen at distance between the hills, and at hand between the trees! We enter. How nicely every thing is got up, and how commodious. The smallest wants have been forestalled, and provided for; there is nothing which is not correct and perfect; we imagine that every thing in the house has received a prize, or at least an honorable mention, at some industrial exhibition. And the attendance of the servants is as good as every thing else; cleanliness is not more scrupulous in Holland; English men have, in proportion, three times as many servants as Frenchmen; not too many for the minute details of the service. The domestic machine acts without interruption, without shock, without hindrance; every wheel has its movement and its place, and the comfort which it dispenses falls like honey in the mouth, as clear and as exquis ite as the sugar of a model refinery wher quite purified.
nerves. Such is this legant and com mon-sense society, refined in comfort, regular in conduct, whose dilettante tastes and moral principles confine it within a sort of flowery border, and pre vent it from having its attention divert ed.
We We converse with our host. We very soon find that his mind and soul have always been well balanced. When he left college he found his career shaped out for him; no need for him to revolt against the Church, which is half rational; nor against the Constitution, which is nobly liberal: the faith and Does any poet suit such a society law presented to him are good, useful, better than Tennyson? Without being moral, liberal enough to maintain and a pedant, he is moral; he may be read employ all diversities of sincere minds. in the family circle by night; he does He became attached to them, he loves not rebel against society and life; he them, he has received from them the speaks of Gol and the soul, nobly, whole system of his practical and spec- tenderly, without ecclesiastical preju ulative ideas; he does not waver, he dice; there is no need to reproach him no longer doubts, he knows what he like Lord Byron; he has no violent and ought to believe and to do. He is not abrupt words, extravagant and scandal carried away by theories, dulled by ous sentiments; he will pervert no. sloth, checked by contradictions. Else body. We shall not be troubled when where youth is like water, stagnant_or we close the book; we may listen running to waste; here there is a fine when we quit him, without being old channel which receives and directs shocked by the contrast, to the grave to a useful and sure end the whole voice of the master of the house, who stream of its activities and passions. reads evening prayers before He acts, works, rules. He is married, kneeling servants. And yet, when we has tenants, is a magistrate, becomes a quit him, we keep a smile of pleasure politician. He improves and rules his on our lips. The traveller, the lover parish, his estate, and his family. He of archæology, has been pleased by the founds societies, speaks at meetings, imitations of foreign and antique superintends schools, dispenses justice, sentiments. The sportsman, the lover introduces improvements; he employs of the country, has relished the little his reading, his travels, his connections, country scenes and the rich rural pichis fortune, and his rank, to lead his tures. The ladies have been charmed neighbors and dependants amicably to by his portraits of women; they are so some work which profits themselves exquisite and pure! He has laid such and the public. He is influential and delicate blushes on those lovely cheeks! respected. He has the pleasures of He has depicted so well the changing self-esteem and the satisfaction of con- expression of those proud or candid science. He knows that he has author- eyes! They like him because they ity, and that he uses it loyally, for the feel that he likes them. He even hon good of others. And this healthy state ors them, and rises in his nobility to of mind is supported by a wholesome the height of their purity. Young girls life. His mind is beyond doubt culti-weep in listening to him; certainly vated and occupied; he is well-inform-when, a little while ago, we heard the ed, knows several languages, has travel- legend of Elaine or Enid read, we saw led, is fond of all precise information; he is kept by his newspapers conversant with all new ideas and discoveries. But, at the same time, he loves and practises all bodily exercises. He rides, takes long walks, hunts, yachts, examines for himself all the details of breeding and agriculture: he lives in the open air, he withstands the encroachments of a sedentary life, which always elsewhere leads the modern man to agitation of the brain, weakness of the muscles, and excitement of the
the fair heads drooping under the flowers which adorned them, and white shoulders heaving with furtive emotion. And how delicate was this emotion! He has not rudely trenched upon truth and passion. He has risen to the height of noble and tender sentiments. He has gleaned from all nature and all history what was most lofty and amiable. He has chosen his ideas, chiselled his words, equalled by his artifices, successes, and versatility of style, the pleas antness and perfection of social ele