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Therein may lie for Tennyson, as there has lain for Virgil, a strangely wide-spread fame. He does not indeed stand almost alone in the field, as Virgil did with scarcely one serious competitor; but he has had the good fortune to be the chosen prophet of his race at a period of its widest expansion; and he may, like Horace and Virgil, go to teach boys their rudiments on the banks of rivers known to him only by name.
It is rating Tennyson high indeed to put him into comparison with Virgil, and I think he sustains the comparison, though there is no doubt as to where the greater greatness lies. That imperial style compassed by Virgil Wielder of the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of
was not to be attained in a modern tongue by any, save perhaps by Milton. In range of thought, in single felicities of expression, in command of pathos Tennyson may at least challenge comparison; in passion he attains what Virgil never attempted; but for the supreme magic he cannot match such lines as these:
Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari. Tennyson was a great, Virgil was the great literary artist. As one may call Tennyson without extravagance a greater Spenser, it may be admitted without dispraise that he is a lesser Virgil; and if anyone resents the terms “greater” and “lesser' in such comparisons, it suffices to say that in temper and achievement he seems a sort of connecting link between these two great names—a less dreamy Spenser, and a less materially - minded Virgil.
However we rank him, all of us are indisputably in his debt. Those of us who write-and not those who write verse only, nor even only those who write-are his disciples; we have him in our blood: he is a chief part in our endowment. We owe him thanks, not only for melody of words and beauty of images; not only for opening our eyes to what is beautiful in nature and making it yet more beautiful; but because he showed to his age poetry in what seemed at first the negation of poetry, all this march of modern discovery;. and because, confronted with theories which seemed to threaten man's spiritual existence, and to make of his best hopes a delusion, he did not let himself be intimidated, but chose rather to accept truth proven as necessarily good in itself, but not as necessarily concluding in itself the search for other and higher verities. And, lastly, we are grateful to the man merely for having existed. No one can read his Life and his works, and look at his picture, without being aware that here at least was one who in body, mind, and spirit filled up the measure of man; one who did honour to the race, and one who assures by his life and work among us that we have not yet spent our strength. Compare Spenser the Elizabethan with Tennyson the Victorian, and say which of the two is the poet of a decadence.
Reade, E., minor poet, basis of
Edinburgh Review article
of Lucknow, 145.
Ruskin's reception of the Idylls, 13,
St. Simeon Stylites, 136.
ing of, 131, 132.
compared with Tennyson's love-
the In Memoriam stanza, 211.
Tears, idle Tears, 146, 147.
early verse, 4; models, 4; at