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sitting still with folded hands, and observing ‘Kismet,' while our neighbours right and left are being shot down and we are ourselves receiving an occasional wound. We want to be roused to go and stop the shooting ; we want to believe that it is worth while to try. Now that is just the effect which the cry of selfcommiseration which sundry minor poets have loved to raiseand for the matter of that will go on, raising-does not produce. It makes us feel that we have quite as good a right as they to call upon gods and men to pity us ; though the cry of sympathetic pity is another matter, and rouses the chivalrous instincts in him who hears it. There is no whining about Matthew Arnold, but there is not much sympathy either. The effect of most great poetry is to stir the emotions, to give them a worthy object; the effect of Arnold is to calm them, not to say suppress them.
Wordsworth holds an altogether exceptional place as an influence, for he generally lets the fighting emotions at any rate alone. When we read him the stress of the struggle passes away from our minds; a great peace is over all things, and yet not the peace of the Lotus Eaters, which is a weariness. This is a healing and refreshing calm.
• But where will Europe's later hour
Perhaps it is really because he restores our mental and moral balance by getting things into their right proportion. When you get into a hill-country, in the valleys, the lesser peaks obscure the great ones. In the rough-and-tumble of every-day life, the little things affect us to the forgetting of the larger things. Wordsworth takes you up among the tops, where things recover their right level ; not because he makes you despise the little things—it is he who speaks of
“That best portion of a good man's life,
Those are what we look upon as little things all along. It is the mole-hills which we have magnified into mountains that resume their proper dimensions in the landscape. He sounds no trumpetcall to action, but he restores us to that state of mental health which is the condition of any action worth taking Things that are petty, and paltry, and mean, sordid personal motives and selfish cares, lose the sham significance with which we have invested them ; in the presence of the Infinite we bow our heads and feel the blessing. And when we rise again to face the struggle anew, we do so with clearer perceptions, purer aims ; looking forward through the battle-smoke to the infinite peace beyond, the
central peace, subsisting at the heart Of endless agitation.'
In the early stages of life, no doubt one is inclined to be rather impatient, not over-anxious about seeing things in their true proportions ; not, indeed, greatly desirous of peace at all. There is joy in fighting for its own sake.
*Then Gareth, “Here be rules. I know but one-
And Gareth was a very valiant youth, and won a scornful damsel's heart by his valiancy; all the same, he did not understand the noble art of demolishing his enemies quite so well as Lancelot. But one likes him all the better for his impetuosity. And it must be confessed that Wordsworth does not encourage impetuosity; therefore the elder folk love him, and the younger folk do after the manner of young folk, and are something disposed to 'put him by.'
The influence of Tennyson is chiefly felt in his power of stirring those softer emotions which the every-day lives of most of us call or ought to call into constant play. The kindly affections of kinsfolk and friends, the chivalry of the strong towards the weak; the beauty of these things and the ugliness of their opposites are what he most loves to dwell on, and dwells on with most success. His phases are so various that curiously opposite criticisms are often passed upon him. One critic cannot tolerate his pessimism, having in mind, I suppose, such pieces as the second 'Locksley Hall,' while another complains of his rosewater optimism'; one applauds his noble ideals, while another sneers at his country-parsonage ethics. Country-parsonage ethics are no such contemptible matter, but they are apt to be framed within limited horizons, and to leave us stranded and without a guide when unexpected complications appear. Hence we are some of us a little apt to forget that life is mostly made up of the minor relations, and that living harmoniously in them will occupy most of our time, if our lives are to be profitable to ourselves or to anybody else. Now and then we are brought up face to face with some great problem, suddenly and awfully thrust upon us, as a part of the riddle of our own lives which must be unravelled, instead of a vague something of which we may be content with supposing there is a vague solution somewhere ; and it seems to me that for the hardest problems of the younger generation--the problems which they feel to be for them the most pressing–Tennyson fails to provide the key ; whereas he did supply just the key which the previous generation wanted. The movement of science, of criticism, of democracy, has produced new conditions which do not affect the mental attitude of people who had made up their minds before these complications arose, but which do make all the difference to those who are still occupied in making up their minds. When the new facts have been brought into line with the old truths, it is likely enoughthough prophesying be vanity—that Tennyson will recover much of the ground which it seems that he is losing to-day. But as it is, the problems are apt to take a form in which his aid is deficient.
Therefore it is not in the great crises of our lives that we turn to the Laureate ; unless it be in the hour of anguish when some great blow has so prostrated us that the process of recuperation must be very gradual and slow, when we are too weak for a more stimulating medicine. But what may be called his everyday ideals are singularly beautiful; to a certain type of mind more attractive and inspiring than any other, and perhaps demanding most attention precisely from that other type of mind which inclines to make light of them—the type in which energy not seldom becomes turbidity, and tenderness is often taken for weakness; one which the intellectual turmoil of to-day has made rather common. The dignity, the loyalty, the chivalrous selfsuppression and large-hearted pitifulness, to fail in which meant failure in all to the Knights of the Round Table, are not qualities to be lightly scorned, or even to be set on one side as mere social graces. The simulation of them is contemptible enough, but their essence is the spirit of self-sacrifice. No doubt there
are artificial flowers in the market, but the wilding hedge-rose is not the less lovely.
But there are fiercer temptations, sharper emotions, sterner trials to be faced than those in which Tennyson most avails us. To some people they hardly come at all, to most at very rare intervals. And partly for that reason, the poet who has dealt with them most habitually, most courageously, most truly, finds comparatively few readers ; because either you must have experienced those emotions yourself—and that depends mainly upon outside circumstances-or you must have the imaginative capacity for really realising their existence in other people before you can understand the poet's treatment of them. That has a good deal to do with Browning's ‘unintelligibility ;' in spite of which, whatever Browning's permanent position in literature may be, he appears to me to be emphatically now, at least for the younger generation, the most valuable moral and intellectual force of the century.
Even with this limitation to a particular generation, that is making a pretty strong statement, especially when a section of the said younger generation is engaged in relegating Browning to the category of intellectual gymnasts, and inviting us to draw our inspiration from the superior sanity, force, and insight of Ibsen. If anyone finds himself the better for reading Ibsen, by all means let him read; but to claim him as the truest guide, philosopher, and friend for a humanity which wants perhaps more than anything else to be assured that life is worth going through with and pain worth enduring, has a certain absurdity about it.
For the key to Browning lies in the intensity of his conviction that life is worth living just because pain is worth suffering. 'For what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
For the fulness of the days? Have we withered and agonised ? Why else was the pause prolonged, but that singing might issue
thence? Why rushed the discords in, but that harmony should be prized ? ' We start on life's journey with all the sanguine pride of youth ; others have failed, but the victory will be reserved for us. Well, when the fruit does not drop into our outstretched hands, or it may be we find that the tree is guarded by a very pestilent dragon (on which we can make no ostensible impression at all, whereas it can, and does, make a very disagreeable impression on us), then we sometimes begin to despair. Failure is very disheartening ; and when we begin further to suspect that on the whole failure is the rule, not the exception, to
• Look at the end of work, contrast
This present of ours with the hopeful past,' the natural man turns pessimistic. But Browning realised all this to the full, and it did not make a pessimist of him. Now there is a certain kind of optimism which under such circumstances is merely enraging—the optimism of the 'successful' man who, because he has aimed low, has reached his mark and is thoroughly contented ; who is unconscious that all success is so far failure that there must ever be a beyond. This is the optimism which does not even know that there is an ideal ; it is blankly unsympathetic from sheer want of imagination. But there is another kind of optimism ; the optimism of one who knows what failure means, has tasted the bitterness of the bitter drink, has felt the sting with all its keenness; the optimism that refuses to be daunted. And this is possible only as the outcome of a very intense conviction that “'tis not what man does which exalts him, but what man would do ;' failure is in the things done, that took the eye, and had the price ;' and the things done are of small account at best.
'What I aspired to be
And was not comforts me;
To have an ideal and to strive after it at any cost of suffering, and if it prove actually attainable, to realise a new ideal beyond and above ; so seeking always something higher than that to which we have attained, and whether we achieve or not, to go on striving
“ 'Tis but to keep the nerves at a strain,
Dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
So the chase takes up one's life-that's all, —
this is what makes life worth having, and without this it is a poor sort of affair. And with Browning this rested on other convictions so vigorously and intensely expressed, so vitally bound up with everything that he spoke most convincingly, that one can only stand amazed at the suggestion, which has been soberly made by admirable but surprising persons, that he is a