Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/280

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266
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"Should all the churchmen foam in spite
At you so careful of the right,
Yet one lay-heart will give you welcome
(Take it and come) to the isle of Wight."

In the preceding verse he had intimated that he would not mind in the least if "eighty thousand college councils" had "thundered anathema" at his friend. His references to the clergy, indeed, were not in general flattering; and this, considering that his own father whom he greatly revered was a beneficed clergyman, is a little remarkable. When the old woman in The Goose began to grow rich with her golden eggs, "the parson," we read, "smirked and nodded." In Maud we read of "the snowy-banded, delicate-handed, dilettante priest"; and in the Northern Farmer we do not get a deep impression of the value of the ministrations of the parson whom that worthy, when he went to church, heard "a bummin' away "over his head. At the same time the tone of Tennyson's mind was essentially reverent. Without cramping his thought he bowed his will to a Power that he recognized as divine. No man ever faced intellectual difficulties more fully and fairly than he did. He would sometimes solve his difficulties by what Comte has called "the logic of feeling" in a way which is not given to all of us, but he never laid false pretensions to argumentative victory. In his Two Voices he lets the evil spirit have its say to the fullest extent, and then answers:

"I can not make this matter plain,
But I would shoot, howe'er in vain,
A random arrow from the brain."

So in In Memoriam there is earnest aspiration and even affirmation, but no dogmatism, no appeal to authority or reliance on authority.

To the moral law Tennyson throughout his works is unfailingly loyal. If, as he says, he received his laurel "green from the brows of him who uttered nothing base," he has bequeathed that laurel as fresh and stainless as he received it. We can not think of a better course of moral hygiene than a selection which might be made from the late laureate's poetry. The Palace of Art tells most powerfully of the misery of selfishness; the Idylls of the King are a noble and impassioned plea for truth and fidelity; Maud and Locksley Hall strike all the chords of high and generous feeling; and The Princess sets the relations of the sexes in a light which is familiar enough to us to-day, but which forty-five years ago had almost the character of a gospel. It may be said of Tennyson's Muse that, while the world in which she lives and moves is a noble one, it is not an impossible one: hence the benefit of reading Tennyson; the virtues which he depicts and glorifies are essentially human in their character and make for the perfection of human life. They are within our reach if we will but strenuously grasp at them. If the verse of Tennyson had descended into the grave with him, the world to-day would be a grievous loser; but while we mourn the poet who gladdened and instructed our age, we rejoice to think how much he has left that our children and our children's children will prize not less highly than we, and that will extend its healthful influence through ages to come.

 

 

LITERARY NOTICES.

Man and the Glacial Period. By Prof. G. Frederick Wright, author of The Ice Age in North America. With an Appendix on The Tertiary Man, by Prof. Henry W. Haynes. With Three Folded Maps, and 108 Figures, Maps, and Sections in the Text. New York: D. Appleton & Co. (No. 69 of the International Scientific Series.) 12mo. Pp. xvi+385. Price, $1.75.

The rapid progress of scientific investigations during this latter half of the nineteenth century has been scarcely less surprising than the countless applications of invention in manufactures, in the vast development of railroads, and in the uses of electricity for the telegraph and telephone, and for motive