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A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times. It has come to you over a new route, by a new and express train of associations.
The more we study the body and the mind, the more we find both to be governed, not by but according to laws, such as we observe in the larger universe.
Don't flatter yourselves that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. On the contrary, the nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy be
Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant truths from his enemies: they are ready enough to tell them. Goodbreeding never forgets that amour-propre is universal. When you read the story of the Archbishop and Gil Blas, you may laugh, if you will, at the poor old man's delusion; but don't forget that the youth was the greater fool of the two, and that his master served such a booby rightly in turning him out of doors.
At thirty we are all trying to cut our names in big letters upon the walls of this tenement of life; twenty years later we have carved it, or shut up our jackknives. Then we are ready to help others, and care less to hinder any, because nobody's elbows are in our way.
One-story intellects, two-story intellects, three-story intellects with skylights. All fact-collectors, who have no aim beyond their facts, are one-story men.
story men compare, reason, generalize, using the labors of the fact-collectors as well as their own. Three-story men idealize, imagine, predict; their best illumination comes from above, through the skylight.
There are minds with large ground-floors, that can store an infinite amount of knowledge; some librarians, for instance, who know enough of books to help other people, without being able to make much other use of their knowledge, have intellects of this class. Your great working lawyer has two spacious stories; his mind is clear, because his mental floors are large, and he has room to arrange his thoughts so that he can get at them,-facts below, principles above, and all in ordered series. Poets are often narrow below, incapable of clear statement, and with small power of consecutive reasoning, but full of light, if sometimes rather bare of furniture, in the attics.
Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch: nay, you may kick it about all day, like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.
Whatever comes from the brain carries the hue of the place it came from, and whatever comes from the heart carries the heat and color of its birthplace.
XVIII. – ALFRED TENNYSON.
LIFE AND WORKS.
When the generation of singers represented by such divergent types of genius as Scott, Byron, and Wordsworth had died out, — we may loosely mark the period by making it coincide with the beginning of Victoria's reign (1838), – there arose a new school of poets differing widely from the potent race of bards who had stirred the souls of men during the first third of our century. These “ Victorian poets," as they have been named, though unlike in many respects, have one common characteristic, — the exquisite refinement of art which they carry into their poetic treatment.
The earliest of this modern school of singers, and still in many regards its head master, is Alfred Tennyson, the most musical of what Leigh Hunt calls “a nest of nightingales.”
Alfred, the third son of the Rev. George Clayton Tennyson, D.D., was born in the parsonage of Somersby (in Lincolnshire), England, in the year 1810. His early education was received at the school of his native town, and he passed a happy boyhood.
Like Pope, Tennyson“ lisped in numbers.” His first verses were written upon a slate which his brother Charles put into his hand, also giving him a subject, the flowers in the garden. The slate was brought to the elder brother all covered with blank-verse. “Yes, you can write,” said Charles, giving Alfred back the slate.
6 for ten years no one saw his name in a review, but
Later on, his grandfather asked him to write an elegy on his grandmother, who had recently died. When it was written, the old gentleman put ten shillings into the boy's hand, and said,
"There, that is the first money you have ever earned by your poetry, and, take my word for it, it will be the last.” The grandfather was neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, for the poet has earned many thousands of pounds by his poetry.
For his higher education young Tennyson was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge, where, in 1829, he gained the chancellor's medal for a prize poem in blank-verse, on “Timbuctoo." Two years before this, Alfred and his elder brother Charles had given out anonymously a small volume entitled Poems by Two Brothers. In the opinion of Coleridge, those signed “C. T.” gave promise of a rising poet, while those signed “A. T.” did not.
In 1830 Tennyson published his own first volume. It was full of promise, but was received by the critics with coldness or censure: so that Tennyson could not say with Byron that he "awoke one morning and found himself famous." “He held his peace,” says Taine;
when he appeared again before the public, his books had made their way alone and under the surface, and he passed at once for the greatest poet of his country.”
Taine in this statement has reference to the volume which Tennyson published in 1842. It contained such poems as Ulysses, Morte d'Arthur, Godiva, and Locksley Hall; and it certainly raised him above all other living
English poets except Wordsworth. His
fame was further heightened by his next two poems, — The Princess (1847) and In Memoriam (1850). The latter was a tribute to the memory of his college chum, Arthur Henry Hallam, son of the historian, and betrothed to the poet's sister Emily. It has been pronounced the most memorable of Tennyson's works, and the bestsustained poem of the kind in all literature.
In the following year (1851) he was raised to the dignity of poet-laureate, succeeding Wordsworth in that office. Yet it is an evidence of the slow growth of our poet's fame, that when in 1850 Queen Victoria told her prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, that she desired Tennyson to be made poet-laureate, the minister confessed that he had never read a line of this poet's works. However, he read Ulysses, and then acknowledged that the new poet had the right to be England's laureate.
It is related, that, after his appointment to the office of laureate, Tennyson, before his presentation to the Queen, secured the same court suit- clothes, buckles, stockings, and sword – which his predecessor Wordsworth had worn when similarly honored. It had been a hard squeeze to get Wordsworth into “smallclothes,” but by pulling and hauling it had been done; and Tennyson, himself not a small man, was fortunate in having had his suit well stretched by the author of The Excursion.
In 1855 Tennyson published Maud, a sort of parlor “Hamlet;” and four years later, The Idyls of the King. The Idyls are based on the legends of the Celtic King