Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/212

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
200
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

rather than believe, that modern undergraduates have some equally wholesome stimulus of the kind. I do not think that we of the older generation have changed our estimate of Tennyson's merits, even though our 'enthusiasm' may have subsided into a more temperate warmth of approval. I mean, however, our estimate of the old poems. One could love them without putting the later works on the same level. Some readers were sensible of a considerable difficulty in that matter. The first series of Idylls of the King appeared in 1859. This volume at once extended Tennyson's popularity beyond all previous limits. Ten thousand copies were sold in the first week; hundreds went off monthly; Tennyson made such a success in the merely bookselling sense as to rival Scott, Macaulay, and Dickens. The success, too, was as marked if judged by some higher tests. Thackeray wrote in c a rapture of gratitude ' to acknowledge the greatest delight that had ever come to him since he was a young man. The Duke of Argyll reported that even Macaulay had been conquered, and predicted, truly enough, that many would appreciate the new poems who had failed to appreciate the old. Mr. Gladstone welcomed the Idylls in the Quarterly and Jowett