Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/246

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234
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

aside, pledge each other in a good glass of wine, and refresh their souls in a jolly conversation. No doubt they showed on such occasions a side which did not get into official biographies. Tennyson certainly could doff his 'canonicals'; but, however this may be, it suggests another point which demands some delicacy of handling. Professor Sidgwick thinks that In Memoriam expresses with admirable clearness a true philosophical judgment of certain tendencies of modern speculation. I cannot discuss that problem on which Professor Sidgwick speaks with authority as well as sympathy. In any case the poetical merit of a work does not depend upon its philosophical orthodoxy. The orthodox, whoever they may be, can be terribly vapid and the heretics much more inspiring. A man would be a very narrow-minded critic who was unable to admire any of the great men from Lucretius to Dante who have embodied the most radically opposite conceptions of the world. But we must draw a line, as Tennyson is reported to have said, between such poets as Keats, Byron, and Shelley, and the 'great sage poets' at once thinkers and artists, such as Æschylus, Shakespeare, 'Dante, and Goethe.' Can we think of Tennyson himself as belonging