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guardians and other petty officials and their families, seems almost incredible, but once the idea is accepted, the unique life unbound by ordinary custom, almost primitive in its freedom from secular conventionalities but enslaved by ecclesiastical usage, becomes oddly interesting. The hero, youngest son of a family for centuries in the service of the cathedral, and having its home in this colony, is intended for the priesthood, but leaves the seminary during the September Revolution through which he passes as an officer in the rebel army. When that turbulent body is dispersed he is captured and undergoes imprisonment seasoned with Spanish cruelty; when released he enters upon the career of a Revolutionary orator and is highly scandalized to find himself hunted to and fro by the soldiers and by the officers of the law; he resents this, being satisfied that his motives are noble, betakes himself to Paris, comes under the influence of Renan and soon loses his religion. For years he preaches the doctrine of revolution, fleeing from one place to another, associating with the outlaws of all nations, an entirely self-satisfied company each assured of his own virtue, frugal, industrious, self-denying, and without ceasing proclaiming the beauty of disorder. From all this he at last returns to the cathedral, the home of his ancestors, desiring quiet and protection and obtaining it from his good, pious, stay-athome brother. The author's picture of the Spanish priesthood as immoral from the cardinal-archbishop of Toledo, to the humblest secular can be properly judged only by his own countrymen. It is appalling, but no worse than the view of the Spanish American priesthood freely presented to the Catholic summer school by American and Irish priests. Whether it be true or false, the artistic contrast between the superb mass of wonderful
architecture reared by piety, and the sordid cloud of sin enveloping it is impressive. To the poorer servants of the edifice, the descendants of generations reared on cathedral traditions, the revolutionist preaches his theories of government, of religion, of political economy; preaches so eloquently that when the great statue of the Virgin is decorated with all her jewels for a high holiday, they agree to steal the gems and gold that they may attain their human rights by dividing the spoil among themselves. Too late, the revolutionist perceives whither his teachings lead, and endeavors to dissuade his disciples from robbery, but they strike him down, in self defence, and depart with the booty, leaving him to the suspicion of the authorities, but death takes him before he fully understands who are his slayers. The author following the French tradition, stands quite aloof from his story, pleading for none, reprehending none. The hero at first seeming to be the product of Catholicity is at last seen as the product partly of national insincerity caused by the desire to achieve the appearance of self-control, and partly by the deliberate desertion of the highest righteousness. The clergy are evil not because they are Catholics but because they have allowed themselves to neglect their faith and to strive towards the pagan national ideal. The author is silent: if a revolutionist reader should choose to call the hero a saint, it is naught to him; his work is done. He has shown the present condition of a structure reared for holy purposes, hallowed by myriad prayers, sanctified by the love of innumerable Christians. At the same time he has shown an emblem of Spain. The fault in his work is that he has quite neglected the educated pious, a force existent everywhere in Christendom, the ten men who shall save the city. E. P. Dutton & Co.
By Alec Clark.
The Tennyson Centenary. By Frederic Harrison
Barry, D. D.
NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER 643
By Canon William
Hardy-on-the-Hill. Book II. Chapters VIII and IX. By M. E.
CONTEMPORARY REVIEW 670
Wild-Rose Time. By R. C. K. Ensor.
By Ben Kendim
A Dream of Spring From the Chinese of Ts'en-Ts'an. By L. Cran
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THE TENNYSON CENTENARY.
Ten years have passed since I made bold to claim for Tennyson a special rank of his own among our English poets: one without rival during the long Victorian era, and during the amazing period of his creative work, which was prolonged for sixty years. It is twenty years since he published the last of these fascinating volumes, and we may now judge his place in the glorious roll of our island singers free from the glamor of his melody, without favor, partisanship, or fear of offence.
Again I make bold to insist that Tennyson still reigns in our hearts as alone the peer of Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Wordsworth. No others since Wordsworth's death in 1850, since his long silence for many previous years. can pretend to stand beside these four in the first half of the nineteenth century; and, in the second half of the century, Tennyson alone is of their rank. To-day, in this centenary of his birth, I wish to consider two questions: What is Tennyson's place in relation to these four earlier poets? What is his place in the roll of all our poets since Chaucer?
Sound judgment insists that poets, like all writers (except perhaps the moral philosophers), have to be judged by their successes, not by their failures-by their splendid triumphs rather than by any calculable average or sum total of their product. All our poets (except Milton and Gray) published poetry that we can well do without, and, with the exception of Milton, for I will not disown Paradise Regained, they have all left poems which are sadly inferior to their own best. This, alas! is true even of Chaucer and of Spenser-nay, even of Shakespeare himself; at least, of some plays which bear his name. As to Byron, Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth (not to speak of
Dryden or of Pope and their schools and imitators; to say nothing of Cowper and Crabbe, their imitators and their schools), they have all left us poems which have truly irritating defects.
Byron, who, with all his sins, was our greatest poetic force since Milton, was the worst offender against the form of poetry, with his incurable habit of breaking out into ragged doggerel and conventional rhetoric. Shelley, again, who is conspicuously free from these crimes, too often becomes so vague, transcendental, and impalpable that one must be an esoteric illuminist to absorb the rays from so distant a star. Matthew Arnold for once quite broke his divining rod of criticism when he called Shelley an "ineffectual angel." But we do feel sometimes that Shelley was a truant angel who had lost his way, or rather was lost to human ken in the far-off empyrean. Nor had Shelley, with all his radiant light, the Titanic fire of Byron.
Poor Keats died prematurely before he had brought to full ripeness his matchless gifts, and they still unearth and reissue stuff of his which were raw experiments, or which should never meet the public eyes. Then dear old Wordsworth, who in his best hour could wing his way beside Milton himself, would drone on for days and months together in insufferable commonplace. Yet, for all their misfires, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Wordsworth were glorious poets. In judging poetry we must not weigh it by the ton as if it were a cartload of bricks; nor must failures be allowed to detract from successes. We must take account of nothing but the best.
Now, it is the peculiar distinction of Tennyson that, in spite of his immense product, as great as that of Byron or
of Wordsworth, he is never ragged, ob-
We might even say more than this, if we could only blot out some Primrose League catches and the monstrous sixteen-syllable lines of his decline. But for these we might say that Tennyson shares with Milton the high privilege of never committing himself to verses which have no trace of poetic form. Of all our poets Milton alone can be said never to have published lines unworthy of a poet-lines having neither melody, distinction, nor grace. We may say this of Shelley, if we grant that a poet may be cryptic or cloying at his own sweet will. In all this Tennyson ranks with Milton and Shelley, who alone of poets never It is a stumble into uncouth prose. to great distinction have produced some 60,000 lines all of which have been polished with uniform judgment.
This is a rare distinction, but its value must not be overstated. In our estimate of poetry we must avoid the reckoning up blunders such as examiners score with blue pencil and use to subtract marks. If we did, loosetongued, hot-headed Byron would be We have left at the bottom of the list. to take into account the sum of the truly fine things given us by the poet, the amount, variety, and range of the fine things, the permanent harvest of beauty, power, and insight contained in them, of a kind which is independent of place, time, or fashion. And in weighing it in this measure we have to admit that uniform grace and polish do not constitute in themselves a claim to the highest rank of poetry. If so, Gray would stand next after Milton. In the Day of Judgment, they tell us,
gross offences may be forgiven for the sake of transcendent merits, which will outweigh a long life of decorous virtue such has needs no expiation.
For this reason the polished perfection of Tennyson's vast product could not raise him to a rank above that of Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Wordsworth, and almost to a par with Milton, unless his best work were greater than their best. In the heyday of his popularity with æsthetic graduates of both sexes, and with the hot zealots of Church and State, this perfection of polish was thought to raise him to a trio with Shakespeare and Milton. And he himself, perhaps, would not have very stoutly resented such homage. But the time is past for such ephemeral adulation. Tennyson will hold rank with the best poets of the nineteenth century; but he is certainly not in any class above them.
Turn first to Byron. Byron's best lovers ruefully admit that he had a tempestuous way of throwing off his thoughts roughcast-that he always wrote at a white heat, and too often left his first drafts uncorrected; that he sometimes descended to rant, jingle, and ribaldry. It is a grievous faultand grievously has Byron answered it. His whole immense output was made not in sixty but in little more than fifteen years. For four or five years he poured out poems at the scandalous rate of some hundreds of lines each day. This is no sort of excuse for a poet's indifference to poetic form. And if he had never done justice to his gifts, it would be decisive against Byron's claim to be a great poet. But it is not so. He often did do justice to his genius, in form as well as in thought. Many parts of Childe Harold, of Don Juan, of Manfred, of the lyrics. even of the early romances, are as full of metrical charm as of noble imagination. If we were to sacrifice twothirds of his hasty work, we should