BOOKS OF THE DAY
Yoga (Monk Gibbon) ..
Mr. Keynes Interpreted (Honor Croome) The Citizen's Choice (Canon F. R. Barry) The Peopling of Germany (G. F. McCleary) Great Britain and Palestine ..
Light on Shakespeare's Circle (A. L. Rowse) to6o The Golden Century of Spain (Kate O'Brien) .. 1062 Anglo-Irish High Life (J. M. Hone) .. to& Bourgeois Verse (C. M. Bowra) 1064 Pius XI and World Peace (W. T. Wells).. to66 Escape to the Tropics (J. C. Trevor) ..
r066 Fiction (Forrest Reid) .. • •
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ALFRED TENNYSON INTERVENES
By GRAHAM GREENE
THE Victorians, one is forced to conclude, were sometimes less high-minded than ourselves. The publication of the little booklet Authors Take Sides reminds one of an earlier group of English writers who intervened in Spain a hundred years ago. They were—questionably—more romantic ; they were certainly less melodramatic ; they were, I think, a good deal wiser. "With all my anger and love, I am for the People of Republican Spain "—that is not the kind of remark that anyone with a sense of the ludicrous should make on this side of the Channel. Alfred Tennyson did at lent cross the Pyrenees, though his motives to today's hysterical partisans may appear suspect : there is every reason to suppose that ' he went for the fun of the thing—fun which nearly brought Hallam and himself before a firing squad as it did the unfortu- nate and quite unserious-minded Boyd. He doesn't seem in later years to have wished to recall the adventure, and only a few lines in the official life of Tennyson connect him and his Cambridge club, the Apostles, with the conspiracy of General Torrijos and the Spanish exiles.
It was the fashion among the Apostles to be Radical, a fashion less political than literary and metaphysical, con- nected in some curious way with the reading of Charles and Arthur Tennyson's poetry, with long talks in Highgate between Coleridge and John Sterling, when the old poet did most of the talking, starting, according to Hazlitt, from no premises and coming to no conclusions, crossing and recrossing the garden path, snuffling softly of Kant and infinitudes, em- broiling poor Sterling for ever in the fog of theology. When politics were touched on by the Apostles it was in an amused and rather patronising way. " 'Twas a very pretty little revolution in Saxony," wrote Hallam in 1830, "and a respect- able one at Brunswick" (the dilettante tone has charm after the sweeping statements, the safe marble gestures, the self-' importance—" I stand with the People and Government of Spain "). Only in the rash Torrijos adventure did the Apostles come within measurable distance of civil war.
London in 1830 contained a small group of refugees who had been driven from Spain by the restored Bourbon, Ferdinand. Ferdinand after his long captivity in Bayonne had sworn to observe the Constitution. He broke his oath, dissolved the Cortes, and restored the Inquisition. After three years of civil war the French bayonets of the Duc d'Angouleme estab- blished him as absolute king. Foreign intervention again : it is difficult for the historian to feel moral indignation.
And so in London the Spanish liberals gathered. "Daily in the cold spring air," wrote Carlyle, "under skies SQ unlike their own, you could see a group of fifty or a hundred stately tragic figures, in proud threadbare cloaks ; perambulating, mostly with closed lips "—a grotesque vision obtrudes of those tragic figures who perambulated with open mouths— , " the broad pavements of Euston Square and the regions about St. Pancras new church.' Their leader was Torrijos, a soldier and diplomat, the friend of Sterling's parents, and soon therefore the friend of the literary and metaphysical Apostles. In Sterling's rooms in Regent Street the Radicals met Torrijos and talked. Sterling was 24 and Tennyson 21.
The Apostles would probably have played no active part if it had not been for Sterling's Irish cousin, Robert Boyd, a young man of a hasty and adventurous temper, who had thrown up his commission in the Army because of a fancied insult and now, with five thousand pounds in his pocket, planned to go privateering in the FASI. Torrijos needed capital and promised Boyd the command of a Spanish cavalry regiment on Ferdinand's defeat. Even without the promise the idea of conquering a kingdom would have been enough for Boyd, whose ambition it was to live, like Conrad's Captain Blunt, "by his sword." A boat was bought in the Thames and secretly armed. Boyd and the Apostles were to sail it down the river at night to Deal and there take on board Torrijos and fifty picked Spaniards. The excitement, perhaps the sudden intrusion of reality when the arms came on board, proved too much for Sterling. "Things are going on very well, but are very, even frightfully near," he wrote in February, 1830, and soon his health gave way and furnished him an excuse to stay behind, saved him for the Bayswater curacy, for the essays on Revelation and Sin, for death at Ventnor. But he did not avoid all danger ; the Spanish Ambassador got wind of the preparations, the river police were informed, and one night they appeared over the side and seized the ship in the King's name. Sterling dropped into a wherry, a policeman brandishing a pistol and threatening to shoot, escaped to Deal and warned Torrijos. The Spaniards crossed to France, and still accompanied by Boyd and a few of the Apostles, made their way in small parties to Gibraltar.
Tennyson and Hallam were not with them—a Cambridge term intervened. But for the long vacation they had a part to play, not altogether without danger. While Torrijos waited at Gibraltar, money and dispatches had to be carried to other insurgents in the north of Spain. So Tennyson and Hallam travelled across the Pyrenees by diligence, passing Cauteretz on the way, where Tennyson found material for a gentle poem, and reached the rebels' camp.
"A wild bustling time we had of it," Hallam declared later. "I played my part as conspirator in a small way and made friends with two or three gallant men who have since been trying their luck with Valdes." One of these was the commander, Ojeda, who spoke to Tennyson of his wish " couper la gorge ci tous les cures," but added with his hand on his heart, " mais vous connaissez mon coeur." The two came back from the "ferment of minds and stir of events" in the steamer ' Leeds ' from Bordeaux, and a young girl, who was travelling with her father and sister, paid particular attention to Hallam, "a very interesting delicate looking young man." He read her one of Scott's novels, and Tennyson listened in the background, wearing a large conspirator's cape and a tall hat. They did not confide their story to her.
Soon after they reached England a report came to Somersby Rectory that John Kemble—another of the Apostles—had been caught in the south and was to be tried for his life, and Tennyson in the early, morning postecl to Lincoln to try to find someone acquainted with the Consul at Cadiz, who might help to save his friend. But the rumour was false. It anticipated a more tragic story, for Torrijos and his band, commanded to leave Gibraltar in November, 1831, sailed in two small vessels for Malaga, were chased by guardships and ran ashore. They barricaded themselves into a farmhouse, called curiously enough Ingles, and were surrounded. It was useless to resist and they surrendered, hoping for mercy. But they received none. They were shot on the esplanade at Malaga, after being shrived by,a priest. Boyd received one favour: his body was delivered to the British Consul for burial.
He was the only Englishman to die, for the. Apostles, who tired of the long wait at Gibraltar, had already scatterd through Spain with guidebooks, examining churches and Moorish remains. Sterling, who had his cousin's death CO his conscience, never quite recovered from the blow. "I hear the sound of that musketry," he wrote in a letter ; "it is as if the bullets were tearing my own brain." Hallam took the adventure lightly : "After revolutionising kingdoms.,- one is still less inclined than before to trouble one's head about scholarships, degrees, and such gear." Tennyson's silence was unbroken. He may have reflected that only a Ounbridge term had stood between him and the firing party on Malaga esplanade. _