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some old withered dames who attacked him in the public streets : it is reported that these antediluvian spinsters were the nine muses in disguise, resenting his impertinent invasion of their sacred rites. Scandal says, that they are some of the poets old earthly divinities, who were exasperated at his stopping a pension he had allowed them for many years. A comic poet, in the “ Tales of Boccaccio," alludes to the fracas thus :
“ And Rogers, unpoetical old fellow,
Beat off the muses with his silk umbrella.”
This couplet has so little poetry that it may probably contain something better; viz. Truth; and this of course relieves the poets' character of the scandal, saving his morals at the expense of sacrilege to the “Sacred Nine."
Some fifteen years ago two youths walked into the shop of Mr. Effingham Wilson, publisher, of the Royal Exchange, London, and after considerable blushing, asked him, with much deference, to publish a volume of Poems, their joint efforts. With that coy reluctance on his part, so natural to a publisher, he agreed, and the manuscript was handed to his printer. As the work advanced one of these Siamese Twins, (son of Mr. Milman, the poet,) withdrew his verses from the venture, and consequently, Alfred Tennyson appeared in the world of poetry alone. A thin volume, to be sure—some one hundred and twenty pages, but it was the fine point of a wedge which has gradually opened the world to him. It is needless to dwell upon the want of sympathy with which the volume was received; the few notices it obtained were savage or contemptuous: it was either a blow or a sneer. The Quarterly and Blackwood had their sport with the modest volume, and absurdly deemed they had extinguished him, but the true poet is indestructible. It is only the charlatan and the versifier who sink in the conflict of criticism. Like a brave knight, the poet comes out of every critical encounter with honor, and the attempt to crush him only spreads wider the renown of his prowess.
Alfred Tennyson, the abused of Christopher North, and of Lockhart, has become one of the recognized spirits of the age. On each side of the Atlantic he has placed his foot. Educa
tion, (that grand conductor of sound,) carries now the voice of truth and beauty to every human ear. The words of the poet, orator and philosopher, are no longer uttered in one corner to die in another; no smaller group than the assembled world now gathers round the great teacher. The language of Shakspere spreads every day; America carries freedom and civilization West; England East and South; they divide the mission, and work with the characteristic energy of the Anglo Saxon nature. It is not too much to predict that in time the Shaksperian will be the Universal tongue. It seems as though Providence prefigured this when he taught the greatest of poets to deliver his wonderful revelations in the English language.
It must be conceded to the harsh judging and wrong headed Christopher North, and to the elegant and conventional Lockhart, that the young poet in his first volume displayed several peculiarities calculated to arouse the entire bile of men who pinned their faith to Dryden, Pope, Campbell and Rogers and others of that school; but a truer and more generous appreciation would have convinced them that they were only misplaced ornaments, and not the main part of the building, and that there was ample evidence of the possession of the highest poetical genius.
Even the affectations and singularities of a young poet, should have made them more cautious. Originality is sometimes heralded by affectation, and the very unlikeness of a new volume to the old standards should have counselled forbearance. Critics should always doubt the powers and individuality of a poet, if on his first appearance there is nothing to offend. Be assured, if he is slavishly true to the established forms of poetry, that he is a disciple, and not a master; that he is an imitator, not an original.
We do not mean to exalt such musical verses as the following into the region of poetry, but even these like the melodious humming of a few notes, ought to have convinced the listeners that the spirit
of harmony was within, and only waiting its time to come forth in fuller power and more unmistakeable shape.
“ Where Claribel low lieth
The breezes pause and die,
But the solemn oak tree sigheth
With an ancient melody
Where Claribel now lieth !"
And so on for several stanzas:—the following tinkle too is not poetry:
“ Airy-fairy Lilian,
Laughing all she can,
Cruel little Lilian."
These lines, however, have a rich lingering beauty of diction quite delicious to the ear.
“ Thou art not steeped in golden languor,
No tranc'd summer calm is thine-
Who may know ?"