Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/211

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LIFE OF TENNYSON

appeared when I was a freshman—Tennyson became Poet Laureate in my first term and—Maud came out the year after I had graduated. Any one who cares to know by contemporary evidence how Tennyson's poetry affected the young men of that period may turn to the essays of George Brimley, a man of fine taste, who died prematurely, and who, as librarian of Trinity, gave utterance to the correct sentiment of Tennyson's old college. Tennyson, he declares, is doing for us of the nineteenth century what Shakespeare and Chaucer did for the England of their own days. Brimley spoke for the civilised part of University society: Tennyson's friends, Thompson (afterwards master) and W. G. Clark, the editor of Shakespeare, were conspicuous in that exalted region; and the younger generation all accepted the Tennysonian faith as that becoming enlightened persons. I only followed my companions when I tacitly assumed that 'poet' was a phrase equivalent to 'Tennyson.' The enthusiasm no doubt was partly obligatory; to repudiate it would have been to write oneself down an ass; but it was also warm and spontaneous. For that one owes a debt of gratitude to the poet not easily to be estimated. It is a blessing to share an enthusiasm, and I hope,