« AnkstesnisTęsti »
be taken for what they are worth; but I should be very sorry if any emphasis in expression should be mistaken for dogmatism, the one infirmity in criticism which is at once ridiculous and inexcusable. Like my contemporaries, I belong to a generation which has been so much under the spell of Tennyson's genius that an impartial estimate of him can hardly be expected from us, but I have endeavoured to judge him as he would himself have desired to be judged, not in comparison with the Dii Minores but with the Dii Majores of his art. And if by such a comparison he is not likely to gain, to what other poet since the death of Wordsworth would not such a comparison be fatal ?
It will be seen that a special feature of the notes is illustration by parallel passages. Such illustrations, generally speaking, belong rather to the trifles and curiosities of criticism, to its tolerabiles nuga, than to anything approaching importance. But they seem to me, as they have seemed to many of my betters among critics, always at least of interest. In the case of some poets, notably of Virgil, of Milton, of Gray, and of Tennyson, they are not merely of interest but indispensable in commentary. Eminently learned, these poets studied the works of their predecessors as minutely and reverently as they studied nature. And to trace their obligations, direct and indirect, to those predecessors, to note how they applied, moulded, or modified the material thus derived, is surely an essential part of a commentator's duty. Many of the parallels here pointed out are, of course, only parallels in all probability accidental, but some of them undoubtedly represent Tennyson's originals.
It remains for me to add that where I have owed anything to preceding commentators-three of whom
deserve special mention, Mr. S. E. Dawson, author of A Study of The Princess, published by Messrs. Sampson Low in 1882, Mr. Percy M. Wallace, editor of an excellent edition of that poem published by Messrs. Macmillan in 1893, and Professor A. C. Bradley, author of an interesting and valuable Commentary on In Memoriam published by the same firm last year-I have acknowledged it in the notes. I have, of course, made much use of the Life of Tennyson by the present Lord Tennyson, to whom I am grateful in the abstract. I am also obliged to my son, Mr. Laurence Collins, for the assistance which he has given me in the miserable drudgery of collation. But above all, my thanks are due to Messrs. Macmillan, who have most generously allowed me to insert a section of In Memoriam, and to cite all the variants, still protected by copyright, without which permission the present work would have been impossible.
It is scarcely necessary to say that the collection of poems published under the title of In Memoriam was so entitled because the poems were dedicated to the memory of Arthur Henry Hallam, eldest son of Henry Hallam, the eminent historian. As the poems are the records of real incidents and are associated very intimately with the personal life and character of young Hallam, some account of him is appropriate. He was born in Bedford Place, London, on the 1st of February 1811, so that he was some eighteen months younger than Tennyson. As a boy he was unusually precocious. After spending some months in Germany and Switzerland in 1818, and reading with a private tutor in 1820, he entered Eton in 1822 as the pupil of the Rev. E. C. Hawtrey, and at Eton he remained till the summer of 1827. When, in October 1828, he went into residence at Trinity College, Cambridge, he was the master of many accomplishments. Though not an exact scholar, he could read Greek and Latin with fluency, and had a sympathetic acquaintance with the chief classics. With Italian he was profoundly and nicely acquainted, and had written several sonnets in that language, which Panizzi some years afterwards described as "much superior not only to what foreigners have written, but to what I thought possible for them to write in Italian." He had distinguished himself in the Debating Society at Eton,