Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/225

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213
LIFE OF TENNYSON

of the charming aunt, who would 'weep for hours' over the infinite goodness of God. He had damned most of her friends, and 'picked out for eternal salvation,' her who was 'no better than her neighbours.' One would like again to know more even of the cook, who declared that if you ‘ raäked out hell with a smaäll tooth coämb’ you wouldn't find the likes of her master and mistress. Was this characteristic of the cook or of her employers? It might conceivably be interpreted as confirming a later statement that Tennyson's mother, being an angel, was undiscoverable in the lower regions, and she appears to have been in fact a most charming old lady, with a strong sense of humour. There are hints enough here for a hypothetical biography, with any number of remarks about 'heredity' and 'environment.' All that can be safely said is that Tennyson was obviously a born poet, writing verses of unmistakable promise at the age of fourteen and fifteen; even getting, at the age of seventeen, £20 from a singularly discriminative country bookseller for the volume (written with his brother); and accumulating at least the materials for other poems, including the 'Ode to Memory,' which, we are told, he considered to be one of the best among his 'very early and