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ENOCH ARDEN.

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THIRTY-FOUR years ago the name let on something like equal terms, of Alfred Tennyson was only known and you will find their number en

to a small circle of admirers; larged to four by the lenient, and tims and the worthiest of these did not confined to two by the severe. It en ut he long remain to cheer his friend's was different fifty years ago.

Then labours by his sympathy and gener- it might be hard for bystanders, al nous praise : but departed, leaving seeing so many doing worthily in

to him a double legacy of enduring the race, to assign to each aspirant regrets and precious memories to the place he had a right to occupy. enshrine in noble verse. A few Now we are getting used to see one years later, and Alfred Tennyson man standing alone in the foremost had still to content himself (like rank, and none stepping forth to other and yet greater poets) with challenge his right to that pre-emihoping to find “fit audience, though nence. Thus, alike by his merit and few ; perhaps, too, at times to his good fortune, has it come to pass complain that the fewness of an au- that Mr Tennyson has been for dience does not, of necessity, insure some time the elect poet alike of its fitness. But he “'bated not a the British Court and of the British jot of heart or hope.” He sent nation; that he wears worthily forth volume after volume clad in on living brows that laurel which Hope's livery—one, too, robed in has before now only come in time

darker hues of mourning; and to grace a poet's bier; and that, he watching while he did so, his circle of ad- if he needs fresh assurance that

any mirers widened, till it has at last in his case the many have heartily become extensive enough to include accepted the verdict of the few, he nearly all who can read English. has only to inquire of his publisher Doubtless the hushing of political how many copies of 'Enoch Arden' strife, and the absence of formid- he has sold in the short time which able competitors, have contributed has elapsed since its appearance. to this result. The bards who sang The Laureate has been grateful while Arthur Wellesley fought, were beforehand to his admiring readers. numerous enough to form separate He has written (we do not say it in schools, and to divide the literary any of the bitterness of his own world into hostile camps of ad- misanthropic hero) “to the purmirers and detractors; whilst that pose, easy things to understand," catholic spirit which, appreciating for the most part; and things, too, various styles of beauty fairly, which they will be the better for should have meted even-handed jus- understanding. There is little to tice to them all, was often hindered bewilder the reader in his new volin its exercise by prejudice and

He will find in it no such party-spirit. It is far otherwise now. gusts of passion as drive confusing The British public has wisely ceased clouds over the clear moonlight to inquire into its poets' political in ‘Maud;' which poem a young opinions; and there are few rival lady of our acquaintance finished candidates for the distinction of perusing, uncertain whether its being its chosen bard. Call upon heroine were dead or alive. No any good judge to reckon up the metaphysics, no bits of recondite names of men still living, who might pbilosophy, no puzzles like the 'Pa(their fates favouring) have con- lace of Art;' no mystic forms like tended with Tennyson for his chap- those perplexing maidens in the

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Enoch Arden, &c.' By Alfred Tennyson, D.C.L., Poet-Laureate. London: Edward Moxon & Co. 1864.

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101st division of 'In Memoriam,' here adorns his clerk's holiday ? about whose numbers and symbolic Will not some eyes which never signification no two Tennysonians wept over the sorrows of his young were ever known to agree. Cock- May Queen,” feel a kindly tear neys indeed may find 'The North- bedim them as his faithful photoern Farmer's' dialect difficult, and graph of the “Grandmother” in we ourselves cannot profess to think her elbow-chair appeals to their love the sermon in 'Aylmer's Field' for the aged ? Will those by whose easier to take in at one hearing sweet voices this volume's shorter (though for a very different reason) lyrics will be sung at Yule-tide, in than the most abstruse of Bishop many a hall and parsonage, care to Butler's. We also boldly risk the be told that these later efforts are confession, that if “The Voyage' not worthy of those_earlier songs has any one very decided mean- which first taught England that ing, of the half - dozen which Tennyson (like his own Elaine) might be fitted to it, we have could “sweetly make and sing" failed to fathom its import. So, Was not the Welcome to Alexantoo, the latter of the two 'Sea- dra' (here reprinted) copied as eaDreams' is, we suppose, an al- gerly from one newspaper to anlegory like the first. It may be other, as was the noble dedication that we think we see the truth it is of the 'Idylls' to the memory of meant to convey; but it is not so the late Prince Consort; without a clearly put that it would be wise hint of how clearly these two poems for any interpreter of dark sayings show that, if other men have one to stake his credit on its explana- reason for thinking it “better to go tion while its author lives to con- to the house of mourning than to the tradict him. Hereafter, learned Ger- house of feasting," poets have two? man critics may find a delightful Not that we at all mean to inmental exercise in expounding these sinuate that the Laureate's new two poems, and may evolve mean- volume is calculated to give pleaings for them out of their own in- sure to none but those who read ternal consciousness to their heart's for entertainment. That smaller content. But, with the exception class who regard a poem as a work of these few passages, the book be- of art; who do not so much infore us can be understood without quire what story it tells, as how it a commentator. And, for the very is told ; who are its personages, as reason that the scholiast's labours whether they are correctly reprewould be thrown away upon it, it sented : readers, whose practised is sure to delight the general reader. ears watch for the music of That, in these days, very pains- moving its many-twinkling feet " taking person knows how to be in varied cadence, will read Enoch thankful to great poets, when they Arden' (and much besides in this condescend to write things which volume) with very complete satisare not too hard for him. In his faction : unless they choose to spoil estimation this volume will very it by comparing them with the very likely eclipse its predecessors. For greatest of their author's previous does it not contain two stories, each performances. For of the first of as interesting as a novel, told in these new poems especially we may musical verse ?—'Enoch Arden, so safely say, both with regard to its like a tale by Mrs Gaskell ; 'and subject and execution, that if its “Aylmer's Field,' which (before his author has not unfrequently soared reconciliation with the British aris- higher, he has often sunk much tocracy) would have made a first- lower, that though he has many rate subject for Mr Kingsley? Is times before attempted some far it not pleasant to see such bright greater thing, those attempts have hues of poetry cast on seaside trips, not always met with so full a measas those with which the Laureate ure of success.

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* Enoch Arden' is a true idyl to write thus is no very difficult (so we believe the word should be attainment. We only answer, Let T spelt). It is a simple story of a them try. It is well known that easy

seafaring man's sorrows; not as- writing proves very hard reading. piring to the dimensions or pomp

There is no doubt that the converse ous march of the strain which sings of this is true, and that, mostly, heroes and their exploits ; but easy reading has been very hard charming the heart by its true writing. But art's true triumph pathos, and the ear by a sweet is to make the reader insensible to music of its own. It fulfils, so far the labour which it has cost. That as we understand them, the condi- expended on 'Enoch Arden effects tions of the modern Idyl ; which this so completely as to require, and are, to depict the joys and sorrows well repay, very close attention. of humble life-to describe those Amongst other things, we have

beauties of nature which, unper- been struck by the delicate manageheceived, enhance the former and ment of that slight infusion of the

soothe the latter—and (most im- supernatural which adds dignity 4 portant of all) to be short. Such to its humble hero's fate; and it ng notably (to take instances from the seems the more worth pointing out,

Laureate's earlier poems) are The because its necessary unobtrusiveGardener's Daughter,' and 'Dora, ness makes it liable to pass unwith their sweet English land- noticed. scapes and true and tender feeling. Everyone knows with what

Similar idyls abound in Words- great effect the supernatural is inis worth's poems; but had he under troduced into works of imagina

taken such a tale as 'Enoch Arden,' tion. It vastly enhances the imwe feel certain he would have left portance of their heroes : for those our last condition unfulfilled. The must needs be of great account, for moralisings of Enoch in his soli- or against whom the Powers of the tude, the poet's own observations Unseen are fighting. And to the on his griefs, and on his Annie's reader it discloses a vista into disquietude, &c., might have en- shadowy realms, which indefinitely riched the poem with precious enlarges the scenes presented to his pearls of philosophy, but would view. But this powerful engine certainly have robbed it of the should be employed very sparingly. merit of brevity. Now, one thing When author leads us, as especially to be praised in ‘ Enoch Southey does, into the intimate Arden,' is the conciseness of lan- society of ghosts and genii, familiguage with which the poet tells his arity breeds contempt (as says the story. He indulges in no digres- homely proverb), and they quickly sions, in no descriptions which are lose their awfulness. Most of all not required for its full compre- is it needful to be cautious in our hension; he rehearses no long con- use of the supernatural in a tale of versations, and makes no unneces

humble life and of modern times. sary remarks of his own. On the The few superstitions which still one hand, there is no sentimental linger amongst us, form no part of dawdling over the sad situations any recognised creed, and are not which occur in the narrative; on openly acknowledged even by those the other, there is no hurry in its who hold them. It was different march, and no excessive compres- for the tragic poet who represented sion of any of its portions. These witches in his plays when trials for are excellences which it seems, to witchcraft were of common occurthe inexperienced, easy to reach; rence; or for him who made bis the like may be their judgment whole tragedy turn on an oracle's on the smooth flow of the verse of fulfilment when men still went to this

poem ; and perchance some of consult Apollo at Delphi. And our young friends may think that even those poets took good care not

an

to strike lowly heads with these "So these were wed, and merrily rang the awful lightnings ; to reserve their Merrily rang the bells, and they were wed. chief supernatural terrors for the

But never merrily beat Annie's heart. fates of chieftains and kings. In a A footstep seem'd to fall beside her path, poem like ` Enoch Arden,' it would She knew not whence; a whisper on her be an unpardonable error to give She knew not what; nor loved she to be foreshadowings of the future any- left thing like the place held by the Alone at home, nor ventured out alone.” words of the weird sisters in Mac

And, besides prediction and prebeth,' or by the oracle's responses sentiment, we have Annie's mystein the 'Edipus Tyrannus.' Mr Tennyson has been so far from her own interpretation) justifies

rious dream, which (according to committing this mistake, that he her second marriage. Still doubtscarcely calls the reader's attention to his prophecies, and not at all to Bible to see what words will first

ing Enoch's fate, she opens her their accomplishment. It is for

meet her eye.

It falls on “ Under this reason that we are particular in remarking them. They are of a palm-tree.(The palm-tree should

? three sorts unconscious predic

asleep and dreams—the truth. For tions, presentiments, and dreams.

she beholds Enoch seated “ Under The first unconscious propbecy occurs at the beginning of the poem. he doubtless was at that moment

a palm-tree, over him the Sun;" as Its destined heroine, Annie, says in the island on which he had been to her two boy-playmates, in her wrecked, and where the ghostly childish ignorance, that she would echo of her wedding-bells is so soon be little wife to both.” Wife to

to torment his ear. But the true both her fate dooms her to be. vision is but a lying dream to his The second is uttered later on, wife. In her simplicity she cannot when her first husband tells her of think of palms as real trees grow; the long voyage he means to un

Her mind dertake ; and she exclaims, after flies to scriptural associations :

ing in foreign lands. vainly trying to dissuade him from it,

He is gone, she thought, he is happy,

he is singing 6. Well know I

'Hosanna in the highest: yonder shines That I shall look upon your face no

The Sun of Righteousness, and these be

palms Well, then,' said Enoch, 'I shall look on

Whereof the happy people strowing cried yours.'

Hosanna in the highest !' In that most touching scene near and the last obstacle to her marthe close of the poem, when Enoch, riage with Philip is removed. shrouded in the darkness without, Now these foreshadowings of the gazes on his lost wife through the future may be believed or disbewindow, his own words come true; lieved at pleasure. Men may rewhen, on his deathbed, he kindly gard them as a guardian angel's says of her,

warnings. They may equally con"She must not come, sider them as mere singular coinFor my dead face would vex her after

cidences. Their ancient credit yet life,"

survives to some extent. Of old he causes the fulfilment of hers. men have echoed a chance wordIn the next place, we have Annie's spoken with one intent, caught up presentiments. Her husband's tools, with another—as an unerring and as they sound for the last time in divine direction; and even now their house, strike her ear as if few comparatively attach no weight raising “ her own death-scaffold.” whatever to dreams and presentiAnd when, after she has long ments. Especially would such a mourned him as dead, she marries woman as Annie think her own of again, we read :

importance. We may be sure that,

more.

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after she knew the truth, she would how the way in which the sailor's often dwell on their mysterious voice, resting on the pause in the meaning, and on how she had fail- psalm he had weekly chanted, sym

ed to apprehend it till too late. bolises, as nothing else could do, ** 162 And thus these judicious touches his soul's repose on the, to him,

of the supernatural make the tale all-consoling truth which it con-
in which they occur seem addition- tains ?
ally natural and life-like.

Curious felicities of expression of
But if the Laureate thus knows this sort occur often in the poem.
how to deal with the unwarranted We mean words which exactly ren-
beliefs of the simple, and how to der the thought, so arranged that
extract from them poetic embellish- their sound echoes, or forms a
ment, he also knows how to make musical accompaniment to it. Of
a noble use of their religious faith. this the lines describing Annie's
The grandest and most poetical second marriage (quoted some way
book in the English language lies back) are an instance. The wed-
as open to the poor as to the rich; ding.bells ring in the first two
and is often more deeply pondered lines. Those which succeed run
by the former than by the latter. heavily with the weight of forebod-
And it is not too much to say that ing which they carry. Of the same
some of the most beautiful passages sort is the description (earliep still
in 'Enoch Arden' are those in which in the poem) of the death of Annie's
Holy Scripture is reverently quot- little one :-
ed. Not to refer again to Annie's

" Howsoe'er it was, dream ; how fine, for instance, are

After a lingering—ere she was awarethe quotations from the Bible in

Like the caged bird escaping suddenly,

The little innocent soul flitted away.
Enoch's homely farewell to her!

The idea of life escaping like a
Annie, my girl, cheer up, be comforted; bird is indeed old, as most beauti-
Look to the babes, and till I come again
Keep everything ship-shape, for I must

ful ideas are;* but the music of

the lines (the hurried rhythm of al months And foar no more for me; or, if you

fear, the last one denoting the mother's Cast all your cares on God; that anchor anxiety, its abrupt conclusion how

holds.
Is He not yonder in those uttermost

the little heart suddenly ceases to
Parts of the morning? if I flee to these, beat, and then the pause after it
Can I go from Him? and the sea is His, betokening the mother's sorrow) is
The sea is His: He made it."

Mr Tennyson's own.t To the first nautical phrase we in- There is another secret of the Laudeed strongly object. In real life reate's strength-one which has been men do not delight in the slang often pointed out before-observaof their calling as much as books ble in the poem we are considering. make them do least of all in their The way in which he suits his backmost solemn moments. We hope to ground of landscape to the figures see ship-shape omitted in future edi- in his foreground, and so pictures tions. But who can fail to admire the aspects of nature as seen by a the rest of the speech? or to notice human eye and felt by a human

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*“ Thou, as a bird escapes, art vanished from me;

Gone with o'er-hasty leap to Hades down."
"Όρνις γαρ ώς τις εκ χερών άφαντος εί,
πήδημ' ες "Αιδου κραιπνόν ορμήσασά μοι.

--Eur. Hip. 829.
+ The "flitting" soul recalls to our mind Mr Merivale's admirable translation
of the dying emperor's address to his own. We may earn some reader's thanks by
quoting it here:
Animula, vaguila, blandula,

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"Soul of mine, pretty one, flitting one, Hospes comesque corporis,

Guest and partner of my clay,
Quæ nunc abibis in loca,-

Whither wilt thou hie away,-
Pallidula, rigida, nudula-

Pallid one, rigid one, naked oue-
Nec, ut soles, dabis jocos ?”,

Never to play again, never to play?"

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