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guardians and other petty officials and architecture reared by piety, and the their families, seems almost incredible, sordid cloud of sin enveloping it is but once the idea is accepted, the impressive. To the poorer servants of unique life unbound by ordinary cus- the edifice, the descendants of generatom, almost primitive in its freedom tions reared on cathedral traditions, from secular conventionalities but en- the revolutionist preaches his theories slaved by ecclesiastical usage, becomes of government, of religion, of political oddly interesting. The hero, the economy; preaches so eloquently that youngest son of a family for centuries when the great statue of the Virgin is in the service of the cathedral, and decorated with all her jewels for a having its home in this colony, is in- high holiday, they agree to steal the tended for the priesthood, but leaves gems and gold that they may attain the seminary during the September their human rights by dividing the spoil Revolution through which he passes as among themselves. Too late, the revoan officer in the rebel army. When lutionist perceives whither his teachthat turbulent body is dispersed he is ings lead, and endeavors to dissuade captured and undergoes imprisonment his disciples from robbery, but they seasoned with Spanish cruelty; when strike him down, in self defence, and released he enters upon the career of depart with the booty, leaving him to a Revolutionary orator and is highly the suspicion of the authorities, but scandalized to find himself hunted to death takes him before he fully underand fro by the soldiers and by the of- stands who are his slayers. The auficers of the law; he resents this, being thor following the French tradition, satisfied that his motives are noble, be- stands quite aloof from his story, pleadtakes himself to Paris, comes under the ing for none, reprehending none. The infuence of Renan and soon loses his hero at first seeming to be the product religion. For years he preaches the of Catholicity is at last seen as the doctrine of revolution, fleeing from one product partly of national insincerity place to another, associating with the caused by the desire to achieve the apoutlaws of all nations, an entirely pearance of self-control, and partly by self-satisfied company each assured of the deliberate desertion of the highest his own virtue, frugal, industrious, righteousness. The clergy are evil not self-denying, and without ceasing pro- because they are Catholics but because claiming the beauty of disorder. From they have allowed themselves to neg. all this he at last returns to the cathe- lect their faith and to strive towards dral, the home of his ancestors, desir- the pagan national ideal. The author ing quiet and protection and obtain- is silent: if a revolutionist reader ing it from his good, pious, stay-at- should choose to call the hero a saint, it home brother. The author's picture of is naught to him; his work is done. the Spanish priesthood as immoral He has shown the present condition of from the cardinal-archbishop of To- a structure reared for holy purposes, ledo, to the humblest secular can be hallowed by myriad prayers, sanctified properly judged only by his own coun- by the love of innumerable Christians. trymen. It is appalling, but no worse At the same time he has shown an than the view of the Spanish American emblem of Spain. The fault in his priesthood freely presented to the work is that he has quite neglected the Catholic summer school by Amer- educated pious, a force existent everyican and Irish priests. Whether it be where in Christendom, the ten men true or false, the artistic contrast be- who shall save the city. E. P. Dutton tween the superb mass of wonderful & Co.
No. 3401 September 11, 1909
FROM BEGINNING VOL. CCLXII.
1. The Tennyson Centenary. By Frederic Harrison .
NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER 643 Literary Aspects of the Old Testament.
By Canon William
Barry, D. D.
CONTEMPORARY REVIEW 670 Romance in Bird Life. By J. A. Owen BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE 675 Simon's Father. Translated from the French of Guy de Maupassant
SATURDAY REVIEW 681
By Alec Clark.
The Leading Article. By Michael Macdonagh
The Novels of Mr. Henry James.
Games and Tempers.
The Picture Puzzle. By Owen Seaman.
PAGE OF VERSE
Wild-Rose Time. By R. C. K. Ensor.
CHAMBERS's JOURNAL 686
TIMES 691 OUTLOOK 696 SPECTATOR 698 PUNCH 701
BOOKS AND AUTHORS
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THE TENNYSON CENTENARY.
Ten years have passed since I made Dryden or of Pope and their schools bold to claim for Tennyson a special and imitators; to say nothing of Cowrank of his own among our English per and Crabbe, their imitators and poets: one without rival during the their schools), they have all left us long Victorian era, and during the poems which have truly irritating deamazing period of his creative work, fects. which was prolonged for sixty years. Byron, who, with all his sins, was It is twenty years since he published our greatest poetic force since Milton, the last of these fascinating volumes, was the worst offender against the and we may now judge his place in the form of poetry, with his incurable glorious roll of our island singers free habit of breaking out into ragged dog. from the glamor of his melody, without gerel and conventional rhetoric. Shelfavor, partisanship, or fear of offence. ley, again, who is conspicuously free
Again I make bold to insist that from these crimes, too often becomes Tennyson still reigns in our hearts as so vague, transcendental, and impalpaalone the peer of Byron, Shelley, Keats, ble that one must be an esoteric illuand Wordsworth. No others since minist to absorb the rays from so disWordsworth's death in 1850, since his tant a star. Matthew Arnold for once long silence for many previous years. quite broke his divining rod of critican pretend to stand beside these four cism when he called Shelley an "inefin the first half of the nineteenth cen- fectual angel." But we do feel sometury; and, in the second half of the times that Shelley was a truant angel century, Tennyson alone is of their who had lost his way, or rather was rank. Today, in this centenary of his lost to human ken in the far-off empybirth, I wish to consider two questions: rean. Nor had Shelley, with all his What is Tennyson's place in relation radiant light, the Titanic fire of Byron. to these four earlier poets? What is Poor Keats died prematurely before his place in the roll of all our poets he had brought to full ripeness his since Chaucer?
matchless gifts, and they still unearth Sound judgment insists that poets,
and reissue stuff of his which were like all writers (except perhaps the
experiments, which should moral philosophers), have to be judged never meet the public eyes. Then dear by their successes, not by their fail- old Wordsworth, who in his best hour ures—by their splendid triumphs rather could wing his way beside Milton himthan by any calculable average or sum self, would drone on for days and total of their product. All our poets months together in insufferable com(except Milton and Gray) published monplace. Yet, for all their misfires, poetry that we can well do without, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Wordsworth and, with the exception of Milton, for
glorious poets. In judging I will not disown Paradise Regained, poetry we must not weigh it by the they have all left poems which are ton as if it were a cartload of bricks; sadly inferior to their own best. This, nor must failures be allowed to detract alas! is true even of Chaucer and of from successes. We must take acSpenser--nay, even of Shakespeare count of nothing but the best. himself; at least, of some plays which Now, it is the peculiar distinction of bear his name. As to Byron, Shelley, Tennyson that, in spite of his immense Keats and Wordsworth (not to speak of product, as great as that of Byron or
of Wordsworth, he is never ragged, ob- gross offences may be forgiven for scure, raw, or tiresome. His consum- the sake of transcendent merits, which mate taste and refined ear saved him will outweigh a long life of decorous from ever sinking into vulgarity, com- virtue such has needs no expiation. monplace, or a cloudland of melodious For this reason the polished perfecwords, which were the favorite sins of tion of Tennyson's vast product could Byron, of Wordsworth, of Shelley, and not raise him to a rank above that of of Keats.
Byron, Shelley, Keats, and WordsWe might even say more than this, worth, and almost to a par with Milif we could only blot out some Prim- ton, unless his best work were greater rose League catches and the monstrous than their best. In the heyday of his sixteen-syllable lines of his decline. popularity with æsthetic graduates of But for these we might say that Ten- both sexes, and with the hot zealots of nyson shares with Milton the high Church and State, this perfection of privilege of never committing himself polish was thought to raise him to a to verses which have no trace of poetic trio with Shakespeare and Milton. form. Of all our poets Milton alone And he himself, perhaps, would not can be said never to have published have very stoutly resented such homlines unworthy of a poet-lines having age. But the time is past for such neither melody, distinction, nor grace. ephemeral adulation. Tennyson will We may say this of Shelley, if we hold rank with the best poets of the grant that a poet may be cryptic or nineteenth century; but he is certainly cloying at his own sweet will. In all not in any class above them. this Tennyson ranks with Milton and Turn first to Byron. Byron's best Shelley, who alone of poets never lovers ruefully admit that he had a stumble into uncouth prose. It is a tempestuous way of throwing off his great distinction to have produced thoughts roughcast—that he always some 60,000 lines all of which have wrote at a white heat, and too often been polished with uniform judgment. left his first drafts uncorrected; that
This is a rare distinction, but its he sometimes descended to rant, jingle, value must not be overstated. In our and ribaldry. It is a grievous faultestimate of poetry we must avoid the and grievously has Byron answered it. reckoning up blunders such as examin- His wbole immense output was made ers score with blue pencil and use to not in sixty but in little more than subtract marks. If we did, loose
For four or five years tongued, hot-headed Byron would be he poured out poems at the scandalous left at the bottom of the list. We have rate of some hundreds of lines each to take into account the sum of the day. This is no sort of excuse for a truly fine things given us by the poet, poet's indifference to poetic form. And the amount, variety, and range of the if he had never done justice to his fine things, the permanent harvest of gifts, it would be decisive against beauty, power, and insight contained Byron's claim to be a great poet. But in them, of a kind which is independ- it is not so. He often did do justice ent of place, time, or fashion. And to lis genius, in form as well as in in weighing it in this measure we have thought. Many parts of Childe Harold, to admit that uniform grace and polish of Don Juan, of Manfred, of the lyrics, do not constitute in themselves a claim even of the early romances, are as full to the highest rank of poetry. If so, of metrical charm as of noble imaginaGray would stand next after Milton. tion. If we were to sacrifice twoIn the Day of Julgment, they tell us, thirds of his hasty work, we should