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Frontispiece-TENNYSON: From J. C. Armytage's Engraving
THE death of Tennyson was worthy of his life. He died with the simplicity which marked his life, and yet with a certain conscious stateliness which was all his own; and these two, simplicity and stateliness, were also vital in the texture of his poetry. But his dying hour, though it has left a noble picture on the minds of England, is not the important thing. His life and poetry are the real matter of use and interest, and his death gains its best import from its being the beautiful and fitting end of all the work that had gone before it. It became an artist, it became a Christian, it became a man. To these three points this Introduction is dedicated to his relation to beauty, to his relation to the Christian faith, and to his relation to the movement of humanity. The art of his poems, his work on nature and his work on human life, as far as this immense subject can be compressed into a few hundred pages, will be treated of in the rest of this book. For more than sixty years he practised his art, and his practice of it, being original and extraordinarily careful and selfrespecting, suggests and comments on almost every question that concerns the art of poetry. For more than sixty years he lived close to the present life
of England, as far as he was capable of comprehending and sympathising with its movements; and he inwove what he felt concerning it into his poetry. For many years to come that poetry-so close to modern life-will open a vast storehouse of subjects to those writers who are interested in the application of imaginative emotion to the problems and pleasures of life. Half at least of those problems and pleasures eluded Tennyson, or he did not see them. But he felt the other half all the more strongly, and he felt it for this long period of sixty years. He then who writes on Tennyson has so wide a country over which to travel, that he cannot do much more than visit it here and there. When he has finished his journey, he knows how much he has left unseen, untouched; how much more of pleasure and good he will gain in many more journeys over this varied, home-like, and romantic land.
The first characteristic of Tennyson's art-that is, of his shaping of the beauty which he saw in Nature and Humanity-was simplicity, and this came directly out of his character. The way in which he worked, his choice of subjects, his style, were all the revelation of a character drawn on large and uncomplicated lines; and in this sense, in the complete sincerity to his inner being of all he did and in the manner of its doing, he was simple in the truest sense of the word. Nothing was ever done for effect; no subject in which he was not veritably involved was taken up. Nothing