Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/245

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233
LIFE OF TENNYSON

an account of the meeting at the 'Metaphysical Society,' speaks of Maurice's fellowship of thought with 'the truest vates of his age.' It becomes an outsider to treat these and other weighty testimonies with all respect. And yet the insistence upon this aspect of Tennyson's work strikes one perhaps as a little excessive. There is, of course, no question as to the depth of Tennyson's interest in theological questions. The frequent recurrence of this claim, however, tends, I think, to give an impression that the famous line ought to have been 'A Mr. Tennyson, a clergyman,' and to put a little too much out of sight the fact that he was not always in the pulpit. He could yield himself, it is obvious, to perfectly unsophisticated enjoyment of sensuous impressions; he could talk very effectively and very humorously as a simple man of letters, or even, if we may say so without offence, as a man of this world capable of hearty contempt for clerical as well as other cants and hypocrisies. I have more than once had a similar surprise in reading biographies of men whom I have seen in the flesh; and the explanation is not far to seek. Fuller tells us somewhere of the bishop who used to go down to the cellar with his old friend and chaplain, where they could throw their canonicals