Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/250

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238
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

aunt; and the suggestion is natural that the reasonable course for a man equally horrified by both opinions is to put an end to himself. It would not be fair to lay any stress upon an admitted shortcoming, and the 'dramatic monologue' argument may be taken for what it is worth. But this, too, is, I think, clear. When Tennyson is presented to us as giving the true solution of the doubts which beset our time, we should have some positive as well as negative testimony to his merits. We cannot, it is true, expect a full solution. A gentleman is reported to have asked him whether the existence of evil was not the great difficulty. Tennyson certainly could not be expected to throw much light upon Job's difficulties, and seems to have judiciously diverted the conversation by referring to the 'charge of the heavy brigade.' No poet, and indeed no philosopher, can be asked to solve the eternal problems off-hand. What we do see, is that Tennyson, like many noble and deep thinkers, was terribly perplexed by the alternatives apparently offered: by his aversion oh one side to certain orthodox dogmas, and by his dread and hatred of some tendencies which claim at least to be scientific. His ideal hero was the man who faced doubts boldly and attained clear