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partly on Lord Lytton's romance entitled • Harold. What the
poem really does owe to that work we have not been able to make out; but when we consider what such a reference might have led to, when we reflect that we might have been shown how • Harold's head rose erect as he spoke, and already
the brow seemed august, as if encircled by the diadem of the * Basileus,' and that we might have found him on the battlefield with the words Edith-England!' inscribed indelibly on his breast, and when we find there is nothing at all like this in Mr. Tennyson's poem, we feel that we may at least say, 'For • this relief, much thanks!'
Nor would it be right to forget, while we complain of the poet's personality as too predominant in the mannerisms referred to, that this personality also shows itself in thoughts and expressions which are such as we would not willingly lose-such as remind us once more of the high chivalrous feeling which pervades all that Mr. Tennyson has written, regarded in its moral aspect. We feel in good temper even with Bagenhall, when in answer to the remark about the one fault of the Lord Mayor—too thoroughly to believe in his own self'-he says:
'Yet thoroughly to believe in one's own self,
Great things, my lord.' How quietly that is brought in, and how true and thorough' it is. In the phrase in the same play
• It is the low man thinks the woman low,' we read the epitome of the chivalrous feeling in regard to woman which, at greater length and with much beauty of expression, has been made familiar to us in some of the poet's earlier writing. When Harold says
'Better to be a liar's dog, and hold
Move one without the other'we feel that the writer's intent has travelled far beyond the mere desire to put something suitable into the mouth of his hero. So, too, with that couplet, certainly too obviously modern in feeling for the time or the character of William :-
The voice of any people is the sword
That guards them, or the sword that beats them down'which received the honour of citation by the most brilliant of orators even before the publication of the poem in which it
occurs. Such passages as these and others, in which the author's own personal feeling comes to the front, seem to us as worthy of proverbial acceptance and currency in the language as many passages and expressions in Shakspere which have received the stamp of national recognition. It may be that the peculiarly English feeling which breathes through the poetry of Mr. Tennyson, and has given it so large a hold on the sympathies of his own generation, is too exclusively the expression of a special phase of national sentiment to have much chance of retaining that hold upon the hearts of future generations; and it is remarkable that for this same reason his works have not met with an acceptance at all proportioned to their merit on the continent of Europe, though they have in America. But to ourselves Mr. Tennyson is endeared by some of the noblest passages in the literature of our age. We have the most unfeigned admiration for the careful and skilful workmanship to be traced in almost every line he has written --for his consummate mastery of the language--for the pure, generous, and lofty sentiments he has expressed in words which will never die; and for the dignity and elevation he has given to the thoughts and aspirations of the century he adorns.
Art. V.- Charles Kingsley : his Letters and Memories of his
Life. Edited by his Wife. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1877. THE He life of Charles Kingsley illustrates in a very striking
manner the truth of the old adage, that sympathy is the source of influence. It is not merely as the author of a few clever novels, or brilliant essays, or pretty little poems; it is not merely as an eloquent preacher or capable exponent of popular science that Charles Kingsley has a distinctive claim to be honourably remembered amongst the men of his time: it is rather as one who, as a teacher and writer, exercised a very remarkable influence over others, and especially over those of a younger generation--an influence due not so much to any great superiority of genius or intellect as to the kindly fellow-feeling which he had with his brother man; to the outspoken sympathy with all that was good, the hatred and scorn of all that was base; to the strength, the ardour, the enthusiasm, the courage, the boldness with which, either as a friend or foe, he maintained the right or denounced the wrong. To the life of such a man, it was almost a necessary sequence that the story of it should be made public. This, illustrated and filled in, as it now is, by his familiar letters, cannot but increase and perfect that love for his character, that admiration for his work, which so many have already felt; nor will the interest be less real, because the book, being written and edited by his widow under the deep feeling of a still recent loss, bears evident marks of restraint, and of a natural disinclination to enter into matters of personal detail.
Of a family belonging originally to Cheshire, but settled for many generations in Hampshire; the son of a country gentleman who had in early life spent his small inheritance, and, at a comparatively late period, had taken to the Church as a profession; Charles Kingsley was born in the vicarage of Holne, on the borders of Dartmoor, on June 12, 1819. His father, after holding two or three curacies for short periods, was, in 1824, temporarily appointed to the living of Barnack, in Northamptonshire; but six years later was moved back into Devonshire, where he held the living of Clovelly, till, in 1836, he was transferred to the rectory of St. Luke's, Chelsea.
The scenery amidst which the early boyhood of Charles Kingsley was passed, alike the wildness of the Great Fen and the richness of North Devon, has left its own mark on all the writings of his mature years. Not only that; but living from his childhood in a country peculiarly rich in wild life, and brought up with a familiar knowledge of it, with a habit of observing it, which was cultivated by his father-himself an able naturalist and an accomplished scholar—the love of nature and of nature's works grew with him rather as an instinct than a science, and continued through life the passion and delight of his less busy hours. The fen country is not, in common opinion, one of the beauties of England, more particularly now that so much of it has been wholly or in part drained; but fifty years ago, when it still was, as in the days of Hereward or Richard of Ely, a vast inland sea, extending from Cambridge to Peterborough on the south-west, from Lynn to Tattershall on the north-east, some forty miles or more each way, it had a beauty and grandeur of its own which could appeal to the hearts and affections of those who knew it well; and how deeply this beauty had impressed the childish mind of Kingsley appears over and over again in the pages of even his later writings, in · Hereward,' and, above all, in that most poetic of prose idylls, ' The Fens.' But the impress of the rich and wild coast scenery of North Devon and the West of England would seem to have been even deeper: his life there was that of a boy, not of a mere child; and whether in his father's house at Ilfracombe or Clovelly, or at school at Helston, the west country' became to him that dearest of all memories, the home of a happy boyhood.
He was at this period, as we are told by Mr. Derwent Coleridge, the then headmaster of Helston Grammar School, 'a • tall, slight boy, of great bodily activity, high-spirited, earnest * and energetic; not a close student, but an eager reader and
inquirer, sometimes in very out of the way quarters.' And his schoolfellow and life-long friend, Mr. Powles, afterwards tutor of Exeter College, Oxford, tells us that the vehement spirit, the adventurous courage, the quick and tender sym
pathy that distinguished the man's entrance on public life, • were all in the boy.' Nevertheless, he was not, says Mr. Powles, popular as a school-boy: 'He knew too much, and his mind was, generally, on a higher level than ours. He did
not consciously snub those who knew less, but a good deal of ' unconscious snubbing went on, all the more resented perhaps • because it was unconscious.' This, written so long afterwards, is probably a conception of what may have been, rather than a memory of what really was. Kingsley's boyhood seems to have been peaceful enough; but certainly, forty-five or fifty years ago, such snubbing, conscious or unconscious, would at most schools have caused an appeal, if not to arms, at least to fists. And then, as now, boys were not too apt to recognise intellectual superiority that did not show itself in an easy mastery of the routine work of the school. But neither in classics, nor in mathematics, had Kingsley, as a boy, any such superiority. His passion, even then, was for natural science; he was fond of studying all objects of the natural world, but for botany and geology he had an absolute enthusiasm. Though strong and active, he was not expert at games; to escape from the playground was almost more of a holiday than to escape from the school-room. “He liked nothing better • than to sally out, hammer in hand, and his botanical tin
slung round his neck, on some long expedition in quest of 6 new plants, and to investigate the cliffs within a few miles of • Helston.' Nothing more is needed to explain Mr. Powles's statement. The cultivation of such exceptional studies, and the eccentricity of behaviour necessarily accompanying it, the avoiding school-boy games in favour of stupid walks, would be but little appreciated by the average school-boy, and would prevent the zealous young student of natural science from being at all popular amongst his schoolfellows; though they would be far from lessening the enthusiastic love of the more capable among them who became his friends.
This love of nature, and of nature's studies, which Mr. Powles speaks of as so characteristic of Kingsley's boyhood, attests itself eagerly, sometimes almost comically, in many of his boyish letters and scraps of verse. To his mother he writes, ' Dry me as much spurge as you can-as much bird's• nest orchis, and plenty of tway-blade... Give my love to · Emily Wellesley, and ask her to dry me some Adoxa. .. - When I go to Brighton I shall cut away by myself for miles, and be out the whole day. I will have most noble fun, ..
Ask Tom Moore if he can get me a woodpecker's nest.' In a set of verses which Mr. Powles has preserved, unpolished, unconnected as they are, some very beautiful fancies of natureworship bubble up through the uncouth vigour of the language; and in Psyche, a Rhapsody,' perhaps the earliest of his prose compositions—as distinct from mere letters, which has escaped the waste-paper basket of after days, there is throughout the clearest intimation of that descriptive power, though yet imperfect, which has left us so many gorgeous pictures of scenery and nature.
In 1836, when his father moved up to London, Charles Kingsley was entered as a day student at King's College, London, and continued there for two years, when he went into residence at Magdalene College, Cambridge. The outward side of his life during his undergraduate course is comparatively devoid of interest: the interest which really belongs to that epoch in a young man's career is the inward development of mind, the growth of character, the reception and adoption of ideas, and the formation of that tone of thought which is thenceforth to direct and constrain his words and actions.
The period was one of much religious and political excitement; the agitation in favour of the Charter was in full swing. Frost and his fellows were tried and condemned in 1839; but the Charter agitation lasted for ten long anxious years; strange views, too, were put forward, wild fancies were fermenting in the minds of all, and in the minds of the young with a force which was afterwards compared, aptly enough, by Kingsley himself, to that of yeast. The Oxford Tracts were in course of publication ; Tract XC. was published in 1841, and at the Universities—at Cambridge little less than at Oxford -gave rise to much discussion, self-examination, and moral disturbance. It is not to be supposed that, in such a time, Kingsley could escape the doubts and unbelief which beset, perhaps, every thinking man, as he emerges from boyhood and a state of unreasoning credulity. That he felt the bitterness of the struggle appears in many of his letters; but his wife certainly attaches more importance to it than a masculine