6 JANUARY 1912, Page 27



THIS is, and must be hi the nature of things, an unusual book, making an appeal to our interest of a very special reunions and his Friends. Edited by Halsnk, Lord Tenuys9n. London ?

Macmillan and Co. 110n. act.]

kind. The greater part of it is new, freshly written for the occasion, with material not given to the world before. Some, as comparatively small part, consists of papers alreadypublished„ and inserted here for the sake of giving completeness to the• book, or because they were too good to be lost, and find here a proper, proportionate, and permanent place. The whole is a further presentation to a new audience and a fresh generation of a great figure, one of the greatest, of their fathers' and

grandfathers' day. • It is a little more than nineteen years ago that Tennyson. was buried in Westminster Abbey, amid the "ramming of a mighty nation." Bearing his pall, or following in the "long. long procession," were the leaders of the time in arts and arms, in letters and affairs. Almost all were friends of the poet, and many were friends of the man ; yet, strictly speaking,. hardly any were his contemporaries. These, even the older,. with one or two exceptions, he had already outlived. He had seen the companions of his youth, his prime, his age, pass. away. Yet he had held his own with them all through three. generations.. Now, yet another era has come up with altered standards and new ideas. The hour has arrived when a further presentation may be both desired and attempted.

Five years after his death his son brought out the well known Memoir. It-was done with a completeness, yet with a justness of selection, the merit of which has been brought out. more and more by the test of time. It contained, as has been well said, everything that should be there, and nothing that should not. This very quality makes it difficult to add to the original scheme. To enlarge it in a new edition would have been to spoil it.

The present volume does not attempt to do that. Rather, it revives and refreshes through the testimony of friends yet. living the tradition while it still persists, of the man himself. It picks up the threads of the old memories, it confirms and here and there supplements, rather than corrects, the old classic account of one who became a classic figure more than sixty years ago.

It is necessarily, much of it, an aftermath, the gleanings, after a splendid vintage. But, as the Bible says, seine glean- ings are better than some vintages, or, as Homer puts it, even from the straw you can tell what the harvest has been.

The book has been produced only just in time. Of the old friends, few remain ; of those who carried the pall at West- minster, only two survive to-day, Lord Rosebery and the Master of Trinity--one a contributor to this book. Even while it was passing through the press three of the best vanished— Sir Alfred Lyall, Professor S. H. Butcher, and Mr. Graham. Dakyns. Were it not that Tennyson had a genius for friend- ship and a genius for making friends of the young, and even of children, the book would hardly have been possible. As it is these, once young themselves, can still make their here. live, and tell yet one more batch of young people what he was like as a man. What he was, what .ho is as a poet the- young must -be left to judge for themselves. Nothing will make them do otherwise.

This is what the old friends in their reminiscences here attempt : "I want nothing.but to sketch the man as he always. seemed to me, one of the noblest, truest, and most lovable of God's creatures, and one who, even without the genius that crowned his brow with never-fading laurel, must by weight of character and beauty of soul alone stand a giant among his' fellow men." So writes Mrs. Richard Ward, the daughter of that special friend of Tennyson, one of the three whom he• selected as among his very nearest and dearest, " The Prince of Courtesy," as he called him in some beautiful lines inserted , in this volume—Sir John Simeon. And this result the book •

largely achieves. It brings back the splendid presence, the• grand simplicity, the wide genius sweeping from highest to. lowest, from shepherd to statesman, from daisy to fixed star.. the humour, the -truth, the playfulness, the ueeuraoy, the- artistic sense of the poet, in his walks and talks, over his pipe. in the snuggery, " across the walnuts and the wine," by " high wold " or "enormous marsh " in Lincolnshire, at "the foot of the crags" of Severn Sea, "in the garden-at Swainston," "all along the valley of Cauteretz," by " olive-silvery Sirmio,;:-• on the "ridge of the noble down" at Farringford, or- between " the wild heather " and " June's high blue " at .Aldwortin But- the book does more than this. It gives the poet his Inman setting. It reconstitutes and repeoples the atmooplasre in which he moved. It brings round him once more his brothers by blood as well as the "brothers of his soul." The former have never been done so much justice to before. This was not possible when the Memoir came ont, for several of them were still living. The Tennysons were a long- lived race, and even now one sister survives. The account, 'especially of the two who illustrate, as the editor well indicates, the merits of the Laureate, as the extremes illustrate the merits .crf the mean, Frederick and Charles, is particularly well done 'here by a younger Charles Tennyson, not without the aid, obviously, of elder relatives, and is new matter.

Both were poets, and, if minor, yet distinctly good poets. The well-known early volume, "Poems by Two Brothers," was in reality poems by Three Brothers, for all three con- tributed to it. How widely they diverged, yet how much family likeness they retained I Charles wedded a sister of Lady Tennyson, and spent his days a shy, unpractical, much- beloved incumbent of a country parsonage in the depths of his own Lincolnshire. Frederick went to Italy, married an Italian wife, and became the friend of Browning, though not admiring his poetry ; gave himself up to music, to Sweden- borgianisni and Spiritualism, yet all the while retained a keen critical sanity, and at last returned to more ordinary philo- sophies and creeds, to poetry and to a happy sunset of life. With these brothers may be associated the brother-in-law, Edward Lushington, Professor of Greek at Glasgow, himself one of four singular brothers, two others of whom, at any rate, were close friends of the Tennysons. He is depicted here by a striking photogravure, one of the best where many are specially good, and an excellent sketch from the appro- Triate pen of Sir Henry Craik.

No more significant change perhaps has occurred in the nearly twenty years since Tennyson's death than the rise into prominence of his lifelong if somewhat eccentric friend, " Old Fitz." This is brought out in the article on FitzGerald and Carlyle, which has the interest, moreover, of giving many original letters hitherto unpublished. These -speak for themselves. The same may be said of a letter by 'George Meredith, who again must, it seems, be added to the catholic and all-embracing list of Tennyson's friends and admirers among younger mon of letters.

Among the reminiscences, pure and simple, some of the freshest are those of Mr. Dakyns, already mentioned—the tutor of Tennyson's boys, " little Dakyns," as Tennyson called thdm, whose astonishing gift for sympathetic divination o fhis friend's moods all his friends knew so well, and of whom the great man on a great occasion said, as may be read here,

Dakyns is not a fool." His testimony, alas! was cut short by his own death last June, though luckily it could be pieced out by the recollections of a younger neighbour and scholar, Miss F. M. Stawell. Among the children of old friends who 'entered into the inheritance of their parents none is more -successful than Mrs. Woods. Many will recall the delightful :and illuminating account given by Dean Bradley in the Memoir, of Tennyson in the early "forties," at Park House, and of the effect of the early poems on Oxford and her Wordsworthians. His daughter most charmingly -takes up the tale of her father's, her mother's, and her -own memories and friendship from the Marlborough times, fwhen the editor of this volume and Henry Butcher were Sixth-form boys, on to the day when the Dean, who now ihimself, as she says, "also sleeps, as it were, in the next room," pronounced the last words of blessing over his friend's grave in the Abbey. " Tennyson and Thackeray," by 'Tha,ckeray'e daughter, Lady Ritchie, has some of the same ocharm, and, it need hardly be said, a cachet of its own, that of 'Tha.ckeray's daughter. It is very brief, but its brevity %belongs to its merit and its art. " I seem to know more," Lady Ritchie writes, " than I actually remember." And she conveys 'the sense to ourselves. She has, to use Browning's unfor- :gettable phrase, " seen Shelley plain." She hands us one feather. It is a small one, but it is " an eagle-feather."

Some of the writers mingle reminiscence with criticism, and that with the advantage of having lived on to see and -share new times and new tastes. Conspicuous among these is the Master of Tennyson's own Trinity, who sums up his ,appreciation of the poet and his poetry together in his few, in optic, discriminating pages, and ends by calling him " the most remarkable man," the " richest, largest, and most diverse personality," with whom he had ever come into contact, " a great and truly noble man." More critical, yet also reminiscent, is the paper that follows by Mr. Wilfrid Ward, son of Tennyson's Ultramontane neighbour,'" most generous of all Ultramontanes," as Tennyson styled him—" Ideal Ward," the somewhat boisterous protagonist of the Catholic Revival.

The subtle and careful analysis of that noble poem, the " Ancient Sage," would have been better than it is had Mr.

Ward remembered Professor Tyndall's striking reference to it in the appendix to the Memoir, "The Ancient Sage, 1885," and also what the Memoir itself records about the " whole poem " being " very personal."

With this should be read the Bishop of Ripon's brief but masterly paper on "Tennyson and his Talk on some Religious Questions," and also Sir Oliver Lodge's still shorter five pages on " Tennyson's Attitude towards Science." Short as it is, this contribution is one of the best, as it is one of the newest, things in the whole volume. It was well known, received, and recog- nized that Tennyson is the poet of Science and of the men of Science. This was said long ago by Huxley, and still more forcibly by Tyndall—both, the last especially, close friends. In detail it has never been demonstrated better than by Sir Norman Lockyer in his little book the excellent preface of which is reprinted in this volume. But Sir Oliver Lodge, starting, it is true, from a dictum of Henry Sidgwick, in a few pregnant and trenchant sentences, tells those of this newest generation in what sense Tennyson is the poet of Science. He is that, not in his knowledge about Science, not in his record- ing or depicting the facts, but because, " with all his lordship of 1•vvguage and power of expression, so immensely superior to our own, he yet moves in the atmosphere of Science, not as an alien, but as an understanding and sympathetic friend."

Here—and in this we see the friend, not only of Henry Sidg- wick, but of F. W. H. Myers—Sir Oliver likens Tennyson to Virgil.

With all this abundant new material about his father, Lord Tennyson has happily interwoven somewhat of the old. He gives some precious gold dust, the fragmentary remains of the dicta of FitzGerald and Jowett. The volume opens happily with a vivid yet not overdrawn depiction of Lincolnshire by

Mr. W. Rawnsley, while, like the songs in " The Princess," the Laureate's own beautiful poems on many of his friends, both of Cambridge and of later days, are interspersed among the severer prose of the critics, like the voices of "linnets in the pauses of the wind."

What is the result of it all ? Not to give us a new Tennyson, but to give us again, and to recall us to, the old true Tennyson; to make us stand once more in that heroic presence and hero• that commanding voice ; to tell the young why, whatever they may think about the poet, their fathers admired and loved him, and, what is more, why they admired • and loved the man.

" Whatever record leap to light

He never shall be shamed.'

He could write thus of the " Great Duke." It is true of himself. It is well that of one great artist and poet, at any rate, there should be the fullest account. For the student of Tennyson this book is an invaluable addition to his know. ledge ; for the lover of the poet it is an added, and an un- expectedly added, joy ; for the general reader, if it does not alter his conceptions, it supplements the previous record, and emphasizes the strong and happy lines in which that was drawn.