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to coin new English for his own purposes. But otherwise we have not a fault to find. We especially admire the words in italics. How admirably they succeed in setting open (like their original) those heavens of heavens, which a clear night shows us, to our raptured gazes!
As to Mr Tennyson's other " experiments," we feel they deserve a friendly reception, by the very fact of their owning themselves to be such. Some of our poets feel no compunction in showering similar compositions on the unsuspecting public, without the faintest hint that they are not established forms of English verse. Still we cannot say that 'Boadicea' is an experiment which we should like to see repeated; as, to our ear, its somewhat loose Trochees stand much in need of rhyme, to distinguish them from awkward prose. Nor do we much mind whether the Laureate "flounder" with or "without a tumble through his metrification of Catullus." But his 'Ode to Milton,' with its graceful alliterations and stately march, is surely as fine a specimen of English Alcaics as can be imagined; though its author is perhaps right in relegating a form of composition which only scholars can fully appreciate, to his appendix. It is worthy of a place near Milton's own Pyrrha. Both grand; neither quite English, yet each majestic in its exotic beauty.
If, however, Mr Tennyson does not encourage poets to try to transplant classic metres into English, except as an occasional pastime, he gives us in this volume a noble instance of the true use to which a poet should put his knowledge of the ancients, by his 'Tithonus.' . Its subject is profoundly pathetic. It is the supplication of Tithonus to Eos to remove from him the burden of an immortality, embittered by the infirmities of age. Ancient legend contains many similar exemplifications of the vanity of hu
man wishes; but none more impressive than this one. Tithonus has prayed for endless life: he has forgotten to ask at the same time for unending happiness. His bliss has ended, but his life continues. Change has done her worst upon him, and is forbidden to compensate his injuries by her last boon, death. His latest prayers are unheard, through the fatal success of his earlier. When the last great poet of Rome has completed his survey of prayers, granted in like manner to their offerer's destruction, he pauses, and bids men cease from their vain supplications, since the gods love us better than we love ourselves. But this noble sentiment belongs to those latter days of the ancient world, when the reflected beams of the true Sun were beginning to enlighten its darkness. Greek legend teaches the direct contrary. Its gods are either too careless or too ignorant to secure the happiness of those whom they favour most. Eos can but lament the fatal effects of her gift; she cannot recall it. Even by making her weep, as he does, over her husband's anguish, Mr Tennyson may seem to some to have incorrectly imported modern feeling into the ancient story he is treating of. The well-known words which pass between Artemis and the dying Hippolytus in Euripides,* might seem to forbid the representation of a god in tears, as opposed to the Hellenic conception of deity. Such, in truth, was the conclusion which the Greek mind arrived at, when it set itself to reason on the traditions which it had at first received without inquiry. Man's strong disposition to worship Power rather than Love, made the Greek (while "with his own worse self he clothed his god") deprive the objects of his adoration of what even the fierce satirist has styled "nostri pars optima sensus. But Tennyson's 'Tithonus' belongs to an earlier epoch-to the day when the
"Hip. Queen, seest thou me, the wretched, how I suffer? Art. Yes: but with eyes from which no tear may fall."
Hellenic eye gazed fondly, but as yet uncritically, on the beauteous forms which stood around it; when Homer sang the loves and hates of gods and goddesses, without troubling himself, like Pindar and Euripides, to make their doings agree with any ideal standard. The tears of Zeus for Sarpedon in the 'Iliad' justify these which Eos sheds for Tithonus. (Not to mention that no god has a better right to tears than dewy Morn.) For the Eos of Tennyson is the Homeric Eos seen closer. In the 'Iliad' we view her from afar; her rosy fingers unbarring the eastern portals; her saffron garments brightening the sky. Tennyson admits us into
"The ever-silent spaces of the East, Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn,"
to paint her nearer in those exquisite lines in which Tithonus says:
"Once more the old mysterious glimmer
his prayer for death, thrill us by their tones of hopeless anguish; as they contrast the goddess in her immortal beauty with the man who shrinks even from her loved presence that he may hide his sorrows in that grave, which he yet loves to think she will visit with regretful looks. How they paint in their Homeric simplicity that weary spirit which finds all its former joys turned to wormwood, and now can only long for death :
"Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the
I earth in earth forget these empty And thee returning on thy silver wheels." courts,
We are inclined to give a very high place indeed to this beautiful poem (shall we say the highest?) among the Laureate's compositions on classical subjects. Not that we are insensible to the deep thought in his 'Ulysses,' to the rich loveliness of his 'Enone,' or to the varied melody of his 'Lotos-Eaters;' but that his Tithonus' seems to us to exclude the intrusion of alien ideas even more perfectly than they do, and to reach, if possible, a greater height of poetic beauty.
There are several standards by which the later poems of an author may be tried, who occupies the position held by Mr Tennyson. They may be regarded as materials for forming the judgment which is to assign their writer his permanent niche in the Temple of Fame; and, with this view, compared with poems in similar styles to themselves of many ages and of many lands. But such a proceeding would be premature. For the verdicts of contemporaries on the poets of their era are always very liable to be reversed by posterity. Like those who dwell at
the foot of high mountains, our nearness to men of very great genius hinders us, while they live among us, from estimating their full height. On the other hand, the same cause adds to the stature of genius of an inferior order. These things are set right to succeeding generations. The farther off they grow, the more they lose sight of all greatness which is not supereminent, and the higher what really is so towers to their view. Again, at most periods a comparison may be instituted between the works of one great poet and those of others living like himself, and an attempt made to fix, not his place among the poets of all times, but amongst those who adorn his own. For the reason just given, such an undertaking is always apt to be as unsatisfactory as it is invidious; and, after our own opening remarks, it will certainly not be expected from us. We must, therefore, have recourse to another and a very natural standard of comparison; that, namely, with which the expectations raised by previous works of the same author furnish us. And then the subject for our consideration narrows into the following question: Is this volume equal to those which have gone before it Is it worthy of its author? To the last of these two queries we answer with little hesitation, Yes. Not that the subjects of these latest poems are so grand as some of those which inspired the Laureate in former days. Not that we should not vastly have preferred (what we hope yet to receive from his pen) a fresh series of pictures from the legends of King Arthur; but that these later themes are treated with unabated force, and that the power displayed in handling them is more equal in its exercise than of old. We dare not say that there is anything in the book we are closing which impresses the mind with such a sense of re
verent admiration as do the finest parts of 'Guinevere;' but neither is there anything in it puerile and spasmodic, like the worst parts of 'Maud;' or weak, as certain passages in 'Enid.'
The simple pathos and freedom from straining after effect of 'Enoch Arden;' the solemn seriousness of the conclusion of Aylmer's Field;' the sweet music to which the 'SeaDreams' are set, no less than the unexpected might of satire developed in that short poem, leave a sense of great satisfaction in the mind. Still (may we confess it?) we could bear the loss of all these better than we could that of several we might mention among Mr Tennyson's earlier poems-infinitely better than we could endure to lose the two last of the Idylls of the King.' For we should not feel in the former, as we should in the latter case, that unique types of beauty had been taken from us. Not such is the feeling with which we regard 'Tithonus.' It inspires us with a deeper sense of admiring love than do its fellows. In its perfection alike of form and colouring, it affects us as do the mournful glories of the autumn woods, or the setting sunbeams of a day at whose dying we are moved to weep. It is of poems like 'Tithonus' that the words are emphatically true-" A thing of beauty is a joy for ever." It, at least, may its author bequeath to succeeding generations with little fear that they will regard it with less admiration than that with which his contemporaries behold it now-an admiration filled by which we close this volume, saying (not for the first time) that, whether we consider the gifts bestowed on its author, or the use to which he puts them, we have reason to render thanks that we have lived to hear such a poet sing, and that we may hope to live to hear him sing yet again.
THE HISTORY OF OUR LORD.
RELIGION has in all ages been the noblest inspiration of Art. The truths which came from God and led to God, which served as a guide upon earth, and spake of a glory in heaven, quickened the soul of the artist to lofty conception. And thus, if the highest forms of art have risen around all religions, so far as in them dwelt the universal light, we can easily understand how much more glorious were those manifestations which sprang from a revelation perfect in truth, pure in beauty, and untainted in goodness. The nations of the heathen world reached, perhaps, the utmost civilisation compatible with the holding of dogmas corrupt and malevolent. And so their national arts received even mighty development, and then stopped short, arrested, as humanity itself, in the path towards ultimate perfection. Thus in Egypt the arts were stayed in icy petrifaction; in Assyria, sculpture did not rise above rude naturalism; and even in Greece, unsurpassed to this day at least in plastic art, the sculptor was content Co rest in the ideal of physical form. It was reserved, then, for a more perfect religion to give to art, even as it extended to the human race, the possibility of a higher and a wider development. And just as history in divers nations had prepared for the advent of the new revelation, so did the arts known to the Old World stand around the cradle and watch the growth of the new-born art of Christendom. It has been said that the Jews preserved the knowledge of the true God, that the Greeks sowed the seeds of a divine philosophy, that the Romans laid the foundations of universal empire, and that thus the
world was made ready for the coming of Christ. And so, in like manner, was the earth tempered and moulded for Christian art. The Roman Empire, where the fury of the north mingled with the fire of the south and the light of the east, gave first to pagan, and then to Christian art, the wide diffusion of universal dominion. The Greeks, with whom beauty had grown into religion, in like manner imparted to the successive arts of the pagan and Christian world a subtle symmetry of form. And then, coming to Judea, not to be forgotten are the grand revelations which neither sculptor nor painter had ventured to touch-the inheritance handed down from patriarchs, traditions stretching through the dim distance from out the times when God spake with man; then, too, must be remembered the cloud of witnesses, who spake of the glory which should be revealed; then, likewise, must live in memory Moses, who stood face to face before Jehovah in the mount—Isaiah, whose torch of prophecy still burns through the far-off ages-and the Psalmist King whose harp reverberates in every land,-all these must be remembered when we recount the heritage showered so richly upon Christian art. And thus it
was, when the Roman Empire had broken down, when the Greek philosophy had confessed to foolishness, that there came from the cradle of Bethlehem, there arose from the sepulchre of the Catacombs, a power, a wisdom, and a matchless beauty to crown the art of Christendom.
We have said that art has ever taken its noblest inspiration from religion. The reason of this is obvious. Religion is itself an inspira
'The History of our Lord, as exemplified in Works of Art: with that of his Types; St John the Baptist; and other Persons of the Old and New Testament.' Commenced by the late Mrs Jameson, continued and completed by Lady Eastlake. In two volumes. London: Longman.
tion, and therefore becomes in turn the source of inspiration. But a cause more specific and perhaps scarcely so obvious, is worthy of a moment's further meditation. Religion seeks to satisfy the craving of the heart for perfection, it brings the Divine Being into communion with his creatures, it raises man into fellowship with his Maker. Thus even the false religions of the earth have ofttimes given to the truth-seeking mind unwonted power and elevation. There is indeed the best authority for the belief that men reverently seeking after the highest good, have in all times found access to a power above themselves, and that thus, in a way they know not, the labour of their hands has grown and exalted itself beyond the measure of their feeble strength. Plato in his philosophy caught glimmerings of the coming light; nor were it reasonable to suppose that the fountains open to the sage became dry to the poet and the artist, thirsting after a beauty not of earth. The history of pagan art indeed abundantly shows that from age to age there was present the one common desire to clothe humanity in lineaments divine. Hence men were fashioned into heroes, and heroes became moulded into gods, and thus Olympus and Parnassus were peopled with beings natural yet supernatural; thus on the brow sat an intellect that might rule the world, and the arm was of giant strength to wield the thunder. Yet though there were here present thoughts which carried the work of man upwards and onwards, still, as we have before said, it was reserved for the religion of Christ to bring to the world's art a more blessed fruition. The divine in the human, which the Greek sculptor had striven, and not in vain, to inscribe in lines of beauty and of grandeur, was no longer the mere guess of a philosopher, or the dream of a poet; it stood forth as an actual verity known in the experience of each believer, and manifest in the hu
manity yet divinity of Christ himself. And this revelation, which transcended in its brightness all the scattered rays of light whence genius had before caught lustre, was henceforth to shine in the face of that Christian art which, like its great Master, became both human and divine. The import of this consummation for the world of art throughout all time it is not easy sufficiently to extol. Until humanity had this seal of divinity set upon the forehead, we find artists of all nations committed to ignoble motives; and even when an ideal had to be sought, vice but too often was magnified into heroism. But the Christian artist, taking, as the Christian believer, Christ for the great example, had at once placed before his imagination an unerring type of absolute perfection. Henceforth unrighteous actions, unworthy motives, and unholy thoughts, were to find no shelter within that fold of art which should gather the faithful into a heavenly flock. The floodgates of inspiration were now verily thrown open for Christian art, which became baptised into the fellowship of apostles, martyrs, saints, and angels, Christ himself being the shepherd and bishop of every soul, the cornerstone of that church which, in sculptured aisle and in painted arch, was to tell of the mystery of God manifest in the flesh, and the glory of Christ risen to the heavens. Here, then, is the supremacy of Christian art over and above every art that had gone before-an art which, like the Christian disciple, may be compassed with infirmity, but which yet seeks to walk the earth as Christ walked; and so the will is ofttimes accepted for the deed, the inten tion is valued even more than the act; and thus Christian art, confessing Christ before men, has been confessed before God and the angels.
It will be seen that "the history of our Lord" lies at the very centre of Christian art, as it is the crowning point to all religion. And even as we find that the world's philosophy wanted completion be