Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/243

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231
LIFE OF TENNYSON

a poet, of abnormally sensitive character even for a poet, was surrounded by an atmosphere of unbroken harmony for so many years. If he lost Hallam, he always preserved the friendship of Carlyle (tempered by an occasional growl); of the inimitable FitzGerald, never less delightful because he could never affect insincere admiration; of the wise and placid Spedding, the 'Pope,' as Tennyson called him, of the young men at Trinity; of Maurice, revered by all who knew him for saintliness of character if not for lucidity of intellect; of the cordial and generous Kingsley, and of Mr. Aubrey de Vere, and others who still live and cherish his memory. If he was over-sensitive to 'fleabites' of petty criticism, the irritation never embittered him; no ungenerous and 'nasty' remark about his contemporaries seems to mar the impression of real dignity of character. He thought a good deal about himself: most people do; but any little vanity he shows is perfectly innocent and consistent with substantial simplicity and modesty. His foibles added a certain piquancy to the sentiment of his friends: it is pleasant to feel that you are petting a tender and childlike nature as well as simply sitting at a great man's feet. Undoubtedly a man might be equally lovable and