WRITING OF TENNYSON'S "MORTE D'ARTHUR," THE FIRST OF THE BOOKS that later became Idylls of the King, Leigh Hunt remarked that the poem "treats the modes and feelings of one generation in the style of another, always a thing fatal, unless it be reconciled with something of self-banter in the course of the poem itself. ... The impossibility of a thorough earnestness must, somehow or other, be self-acknowledged." (1) On the other hand, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who dedicated his life to the most Christian of the ideals in Malory in all its Catholicism, thought that Tennyson had not taken his model seriously enough. In the Idylls, Hopkins asserted, Malory's Morte d'Arthur had become simply "Charades from the Middle Ages." (2) Although the treatment of medieval legend and the uses to which it could be put are well known factors in the Victorian encounter with the Middle Ages, I would like to suggest that Tennyson's place in this debate is slightly different from that which has been understood.
Tennyson began to work on the Arthurian legends in the early 1830s, when he wrote "The Lady of Shalott," "Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere," and "Sir Galahad." The first version of the "Morte d'Arthur" was added in 1842. But he was also experimenting with a larger allegorical framework for the material, either as an epic or a musical masque. Tennyson knew all three of the English editions of Malory's Le Morte DArthur published in the Romantic period by Wilks, Walker, and Southey. As he worked on into the second half of the century there were more editions: Thomas Wright's of 1858 and James Knowles' popular modernized version of 1862 that went through seven printings by the time of Tennyson's death. Malory was Tennyson's main source because it is the most complete and ordered collection of the legends. However, a fissure runs through Le Morte d'Arthur deriving from the amalgamation of two traditions: a British chanson de geste strain emphasizing military courage, Christianity, and group loyalty centered on Art hur, and a French roman courtois strand focused on Lancelot. In the latter, women's approval motivates the knights to daring deeds, and individual personal qualities are more important. There are also more magical elements. Tennyson knew a number of these earlier English and French versions, and their differences, perhaps unintentionally, remain embedded in his Idylls of the King. He also knew an Italian version of the story of Elaine, which he used for "The Lady of Shalott" and, travelling extensively in Wales, he collected local fables. As he used the material more and more, he came increasingly to introduce his own emphasis and even to invent incidents.
"Enid and Nimue" (Nimue was later called Vivien) was set up in print but not published in 1857 because of an objection made privately to Tennyson about the explicitness of Nimue's seduction of Merlin. (3) Gustave Dore, in illustrations to the poem in 1868, pictures Vivien as an exotic swarthy gypsy--middle-eastern in dress and appearance--recalling the epithets applied in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra to Cleopatra. A group of four Idylls of the King--Enid, Vivien, Elaine, and Guinevere--appeared in 1859, and it was not till 1885 that the full twelve books were complete. So Tennyson worked on the legends for over fifty years.
When Tennyson began his work in the 1830s, the medieval period was already being used for contemporary debate. A.W.N. Pugin's book Contrasts: A Parallel Between the Noble Edifices of the Middle Ages and the Corresponding Buildings of the Present Day, Showing the Present Decay of Taste (1836) was not just a scholarly and aesthetic comparison. Pugin showed in contrasting plates, for example, a medieval monastery and a Victorian workhouse as examples of the degradation in charity to the poor. Made two years after the introduction of the widely unpopular law instituting workhouses, this was very much a political statement. Pugin, who converted to Catholicism, naturally turned back to the edifices in which Catholicism had been practiced in England. His construction of a number of chapels and the manufacture of ecclesiastical fittings for other people with similar sympathies contributed to the flourishing of Catholicism in England that culminated in the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in 1850.
Another related range of associations concerned the idea of chivalry. Richard Hurd's Letters on Chivalry and Romance of 1762 was largely responsible for introducing into the Gothic Revival the idea of Chivalry as an institution carried out and represented in the figure of the knight. Hurd understood chivalry as a code of moral behavior of upper-class men that showed "their romantic ideas of justice; their passion for adventures; their eagerness to run succour of the distressed and the pride they took in redressing wrongs and removing grievances" (4) Hurd's Letters influenced Thomas Percy, Bishop of Dromore, whose Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) became a major source of medieval subjects for nineteenth-century writers and artists. The third volume of Percy's Reliques was a collection of "Poems on King Arthur &c" and in the introduction to it Percy stated that although the institution of chivalry postdated King Arthur, the ideas of chivalry were already evident in Arthurian society. Percy's poems, man y of them from a medieval manuscript, were accompanied by scholarly essays. One of those influenced by Percy's Reliques was Walter Scott, whose Ivanhoe (1819) was important in the popularizing of the notions of chivalric behavior that were virtually personified by the protagonist, Wilfred of Ivanhoe. Scott's novel made chivalry a code of behavior to be thought about by the upper-class young men of his own day. Such a link between chivalry and gentlemanly actions was made specific by Kenelm Digby, whose Broad stone of Honour, or Rules for the Gentlemen of England (1822) was well known in the Victorian period. It went through a number of editions in successively expanded form. Edward Burne-Jones kept it as bedside reading, and it is the source for his painting The Merciful Knight (1863), recognized as one of his most important early works. The subject makes Christian virtue central to the image of knighthood, and Burne-Jones inscribed the essence of the legend on the frame: "Of a Knight who forgave his enemy wh en he might have destroyed him and how the image of Christ kissed him in token that his acts had pleased God." The painting was exhibited at the Old Water Colour Society in 1864 and was criticized in the Art Journal in the following way: "We cannot indeed but fear that such ultra manifestations of medievalism, however well meant, must tend inevitably, though of course unconsciously, to bring ridicule upon truths which we all desire to hold in veneration." The problem was that Burne-Jones took literally what was acceptable to Protestant Britain in a vaguely symbolic form. The setting of the painting in a shrine with a large carved figure of Christ, and the depiction of the miraculous behavior of the statue was entirely too Catholic to be comfortable. (5) This too was a type of response that Tennyson was worried by, inevitably most in the quest for the Holy Grail, of which he wrote: "I doubt whether such a subject as the San Graal could be handled in these days without incurring a charge of irreverence. It woul d be too much like playing with sacred things" (Ricks, 3:463). The fear might have been as much of a charge of Catholicism as of irreverence. He finally wrote the section in 1868.
There was another contemporary project of relevance to Tennysons handling of medieval legend. When the old Palace of Westminster was burned down in 1834, British politicians and artists had the opportunity of making a political and nationalist statement in designing the new seat of Parliament. (6) A design competition was won by Charles Barry and A. W. N. Pugin, who produced a symmetrical structure encrusted with Perpendicular ornament, a style that is uniquely British and Medieval in origin. The architects created panels in the Lords' Chamber and in the Queens Robing Room for frescoes. William Dyce, painter and superintendent of the School of Design, unofficially presided over the painting of the frescoes and completed the first of them in August 1846. He spent a winter in Italy studying fresco style and technique before starting, and The Baptism of Ethelbert reflects that Italian influence. Ethelbert was a seventh-century Saxon king of Kent who accepted Christianity. The balanced composition, the power and solidity of the figures, and the arch are all Italianate; specific resemblances can be seen to work by Masaccio and the Vatican Stanza. The other subjects for the Lords' chamber were: The Spirit of Chivalry, The Spirit of Religion, The Spirit of Justice, Edward III Conferring the Order of the Garter on the Black Prince, i.e. institutionalizing a code of chivalry, and Prince Henry Acknowledging the Authority of Chief Justice Gascoyne. They are paintings that are meant to be inspirational, meant to establish the idea that the power of rulers must be subordinate to justice and Christianity. In comparison with earlier history painting the compositions are slimmed down, with far less scholarly detail. They convey a message meant to be timeless but proudly nationalistic: these, they declare, are the values of the British people.
William Dyce suggested that Malory's Morte d'Arthur would provide subjects for the Queen's Robing Room and he was set the project. It was the first major depiction of the Arthurian legend since the Middle Ages. Beginning in the autumn of 1849, Dyce painted Religion: The Vision of Sir Galahad and his Company. This was followed by Generosity: King Arthur Unhorsed Spared by Launcelot and, in 1852, Courtesy: Sir Tristram Harping to La Beale Isoud, Mercy: Sir Gawain Swearing to Be Merciful and Never Be Against Ladies (1854), and Hospitality: The Admission of Sir Tristram to the Fellowship of the Round Table, begun in 1859 but which Dyce did not live to complete. There were two other designs but these were abandoned on Dyce's death. The decoration was completed in 1870 by eighteen oak bas-reliefs depicting the lives of Arthur and Sir Galahad. What the Westminster project was intended to convey was a prestigious statement that the ethics portrayed were still viable. But, painted in the nineteenth century, the messag e seemed to be in an outmoded pictorial language, oblivious to the realities of industrial Britain and prettified so that they were unfaithful to the period they purported to present and to Malory. Dyce had great trouble in finding in the romance incidents that he could use to allegorize the various virtues that were thought relevant in the nineteenth century. One of those suggested, Temperance, he simply had to abandon. He also had to bowdlerize the story, leaving out the earthier details in the scenes depicted, reducing the prominence of Guinevere and avoiding the overtly Catholic symbolism. (7)
In 1850 Dyce, who had taught William Holman Hunt and Millais at the Royal Academy, became a patron to Hunt and, although the general public were not allowed to see the Robing Room frescoes, Dyce, who was pushed for time, held discussions there with Hunt and F. G. Stephens about his commission. Stephens was the first of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to paint an Arthurian subject and in it was stylistically influenced by the Lords' Chamber frescoes. Stephens' picture, which he intended for an exhibition in Liverpool, was begun in July 1849 but never completed. It is, in what survives of it, clearly a close rendering of the following passage from Tennyson's "morte d'Arthur" as it was published in 1842:
Him Sir Bedevere Remorsefully regarded through his tears, And would have spoken, but he found not words, Then took with care, and kneeling on one knee, O'er both his shoulders drew the languid hands, And rising bore him through the place of tombs. (ll. 170-175)
The "Morte d'Arthur" was the first of the poems which Tennyson ultimately shaped into the Idylls of the King, where he prefaced it with a longer description of the battles that result in the destruction of the Round Table. Tennyson kept the narrative strand of the tale as it is in Book XXI, Chapter 5 of Malory, although he made one significant change in that Malory's Arthur is buried and Bedevere spends the rest of his life as a monk praying for the King's soul. The last we see of Arthur in Tennyson's version is:
Thereat once more he[that is Sir Bedivere] moved about, and clomb Even to the highest he could climb, and saw, Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand, Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King, Down that long water opening on the deep Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go From less to less and vanish into light. And the new sun rose bringing the new year. (ll. 462-469)
Whether Arthur is passing to death elsewhere or to Avilion where he will be healed to come again is left deliberately ambiguous. The more hopeful possibility was emphasized when, in incorporating the poem into the Idylls of the King, Tennyson altered its title from "Morte d'Arthur" to The Passing of Arthur. Tennyson embroidered Malory with descriptions such as the clothing of the arm that catches Excalibur and the carrying of Arthur to the barge (11. 349-360), which is famous and deservedly so.
Less successfully to my mind, he changed the final exchange between Arthur and Bedivere. In Malory Bedivere calls out to Arthur asking what he is to do left alone among his enemies. Arthur tells Bedivere to fare as best he can; he himself is going to Avilion to try to recover from his wound and if Bedivere hears no more of him he is to pray for Arthur's soul. Tennyson, in the 1842 version, turns Bedivere's question into an epitaph for the Round Table:
Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere: 'Ah! My Lord Arthur, whither shall I go? ........................................ For now I see the true old times are dead, When every morning brought a noble chance, And every chance brought out a noble knight. ........................................ But now the whole Round Table is dissolved Which was an image of the mighty world, And I, the last, go forth companionless, And the days darken round me, and the years, Among new men, strange faces, other minds.' (ll. 394-406)
Tennyson seems to teeter between claims for the reality of what he has depicted--"an image of the mighty world"--and the suggestion that the pictured world has no connection with the modern one--"I . . . go forth ... among new men, strange faces, other minds." There is, too, ambiguity as to whether "mighty" refers primarily to a world of mighty beings gone forever or means "the whole world." Arthur's response is surprising:
And slowly answered Arthur from the barge: 'The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfils himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world. Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me? I have lived my life, and that which I have done May He within himself make pure! but thou, If thou shouldst never see my face again, Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voce Rise like a fountain for me night and day. For what are men better than sheep or goats That nourish a blind life within the brain, If, knowing God they lift not hands of prayer Both for themselves and those who call them friend? For so the whole round earth is every way Bound by gold chains about the feet of God." (ll. 407-423)
"God fulfils Himself in many ways, / Lest one good custom should corrupt the world" is ingenious rationalization, but reads as a disclaimer about the status of the Round Table as an ideal. How could the Round Table "corrupt the world"? John Sterling, in a lengthy review of the 1842 volume in the Quarterly Review, commented:
The miraculous legend of "Excalibur" does not come very near to us, and as reproduced by any modern writer must be a mere ingenious exercise of fancy. The poem, however, is full of distinct and striking description, perfectly expressed; and a tone of mild, dignified sweetness attracts, though it hardly avails to enchant us. The poem might perhaps have made the loss of the magic sword, the death of Arthur, and dissolution of the Round Table, a symbol for the departure from earth of the whole old Gothic world, with its half-pagan, all-poetic faith, and rude yet mystic blazonries. (8)
Tennyson wavers, just as he does in In Memoriam over the physical possibilities of faith in the modern world. Arthur fades away with a possibility of return and represents in himself an uncomplicated Christian idealism that Tennyson cannot bear to relinquish. But, as in In Memoriam, the more worldly side of his mind knew another reality, which can be seen in the next of the idylls that he wrote, "Nimue" (1856), which was to become Merlin and Vivien.
In Malory the story takes only two pages and is simply the tale of a young woman incessantly pestered by an old man, whom she finally manages to lock up in a cavern. Tennyson also drew on a second, longer version, the Romance of Merlin, but even so he added a good deal of substance to the story--Vivien's motivation for her destructiveness, her insidious slander-mongering at Camelot, her methods of beguiling Merlin. As in the "Morte d'Arthur," Tennyson ennobles Merlin, though by doing so he creates a less convincing character. The moral of the story on which Tennyson appears to insist is, as Burne Jones painted it, the folly of an old man beguiled by a femme fatale. Tennyson's Idyll ends:
Then crying 'I have made his glory mine,' And shrieking our 'O foll!' the harlot leapt Adown the forest, and the thicket closed Behind her, and the forest echoed 'fool.' (ll. 969-972)
This is a marvellously ambiguous modification to the ending of the Romance of Merlin, which remarks, "quil en fut depuis, et est encore tenu pour fol." Merlin is a fool for having allowed himself to be beguiled by a woman whose wiles he understood, but she is a fool for her inability to distinguish fame from infamy. What may well strike many readers is more double-edged: if the knights are as pure as Merlin thinks, then how hard it is for them to keep any control over their reputations in the face of gossip such as Vivien spreads far and wide. And secondly, if the worldly Vivien is right, then what is the reality of the Round Table as a model of chivalry? What is "chivalry"? Vivien condemns Arthur for apparently knowing of the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere and doing nothing about it:
She answered with a low and chuckling laugh: 'Man! is he man at all, who knows and winks? Sees what his fair bride is and does, and winks? By which the good King means to blind himself, And blinds himself and all the Table Round To all the foulness that they work. Myself Could call him (were it not for womanhood) The pretty, popular name suich manhood earns, Could call him the main cause of all their crime; Yea, were he not crowned King, coward, and fool.' (11. 778-787)
Her attitude here is endorsed by her earlier scoff at Mark's assertion of Arthur's purity: "This Arthur pure! / Great Nature through the flesh herself hath made / Gives him the lie! There is no being pure, / My cherub; saith not Holy Writ the same?" (ll. 49-54). It is in details like this--Vivien's cheekily calling King Mark "my cherub"--that she and the Idylls come to life. But it is a life that belongs to Victorian society, not the hierarchy of the Middle Ages. Exactly the same thing is true of Arthur's lines on the subject in the idyll titled Guinevere:
I hold that man the worst of public foes Who either for his own or children's sake, To save his blood from scandal, lets the wife Whom he knows false, abide and rule the house: For being through his cowardice allowed Her station, taken everywhere for pure, She like a new disease, unknown to men, Creeps, no prefcaution used, among the crowed, Makes wicked lightnings of her eyes, and saps The fealty of our friends, and stirs the pulse With devil's leaps, and posions half the young. Worst of the worst were that man he that reigns! Better the King's waste hearth and aching heart Than thou reseated in thy place of light, The mockery of my people, and their bane. (11. 509-523)
Guinevere was probably being written while Augustus Egg was completing Past and Present, which was displayed at the Royal Academy in 1858 and proved a popular handling of the theme of the fallen woman. Past and Present is a triptych, the first of which depicts the husband's discovery of his wife's infidelity. The scene is a comfortable middle-class sitting room. In the foreground is a woman in Victorian dress lying at her husband's feet, her hands clasped in supplication while he sits back in the chair in consternation and indecision, in his hand an intercepted letter. Beside him, prominently on a table, is an apple, which has been sliced to reveal a rotten core. On the left side in the middle ground are their two well-dressed little daughters building a house of cards. The elder, distracted by her parents, is misplacing a card that will cause the card-house to fall. On the back wall, on either side of a central fireplace, are four pictures. On the left, above a portrait of the wife, is a painting of the expu lsion from Eden. On the right, above a portrait of the husband, the painting of a shipwreck. The second and third paintings are night scenes. The second depicts the two girls in adolescence. Having lost their father through his grief, they are depicted in a poor attic, one trying to comfort the other in her despair. The third painting shows the expelled and penniless wife, resting beneath the arches of a bridge by the Thames, the thin legs of her illegitimate child visible beneath her shawl. She is evidently thinking of drowning herself.
The technique that Egg uses of incorporating symbols in naturalistic ways--the house of cards, the pictures, and the apple--is one that Holman Hunt and Ford Maddox Brown had used in their paintings reflecting contemporary life such as The Awakening Conscience and Work. Hunt had learned the style from Hogarth and from Ruskin's praise of Tintoretto's The Annunciation in the Scuola di San Rocco, Venice, (9) and it provided an alternative method of allegory.
The parting of Arthur and Guinevere is Tennyson's invention--it has no precedent in Arthurian legend that I am aware of. Tennyson is more sympathetic to Guinevere than Egg to his fallen woman:
But when the Queen immersed in such a trance, And moving through the past unconsciously, Came to that point where first she saw the King Ride toward her from the city, sighed to find Her journey done, glanced at him, thought him cold, High, self-contained, and passionless, not like him, 'Not like my Lancelot'--while she brooded thus And grew half-guilty in her thoughts again, There rode an armed warrior to the doors. A murmuring whisper through the nunnery ran, Then on a sudden a cry, 'The King.' She sat Stiff-stricken, listening; but when armed feet Through the long gallery from the outer doors Rang coming, prone from off her seat she fell, And grovelled with her face against the floor: There with her milkwhite arms and shadowy hair She made her face a darkness from the King. (ll. 398-414)
In 1865 James Archer made an oil sketch which is very much based on Tennyson's description. It shows Guinevere grovelling at the feet of the armed King. In style it is very Pre-Raphaelite with rich colors and careful detail of appropriate armor. However, it is not a subject that one finds in medieval art; style and content are out of keeping with the supposed period of the subject. Art and literature here, however, interact. Tennyson introduces into his poem a vivid description of something that is very much a contemporary issue and that description is then used to make a painting. There is almost nothing in Archer's painting that is not in Tennyson's lines but the choice of the subject has two parents: Tennyson's poem and genre paintings such as Egg's. Both probably borrow from melodrama in the posture they use for the fallen woman. Tennyson incorporates in Arthur's condemnation of Guinevere the same implications of the destructiveness of a wife's infidelity that Augustus Egg had portrayed, and he does so in a way that makes the speech more Victorian than medieval in its language and reference to disease. This seems to me to be a key moment in Tennyson's remaking of the medieval story.
In Malory sexuality has a different, much less destructive role. The rift between Arthur and Lancelot is caused not by a fight over Guinevere but because in rescuing her from the stake, which is the legal penalty for her infidelity, Lancelot accidentally kills two of Gawain's brothers, men whom he would never have injured had he recognized them. Arthur is fully prepared for a reconciliation with Lancelot--after all, as he says, he can get plenty of other queens--but the death of Gawain's brothers makes Gawain Lancelot's implacable enemy and he will not allow Lancelot's reconciliation with the King. Thus develops civil war which enables Modred to effect a coup and destroy the Round Table. So, although sexual activity is far from missing in Malory's pictured world, it is neither the dominant nor underlying sin. It is more accepted and less important.
When in the Idylls we hear Arthur's condemnation of Guinevere as the cause of the fall of the Round Table, I think we feel that we are hearing something unjust, something that limits and modifies our opinion of Arthur.
Critics such as David Staines think that our reactions are brought about by a miscalculation by Tennyson, an inability to bring Arthur to life: "The poet began his presentation of Camelot with a vivid delineation of reality in the form of Arthur's Queen, and he never managed to create an equally vivid delineation of the ideal within the reality of Arthur." (10) He sees Tennyson as having the didactic purpose of showing how necessary to all periods Arthur's values are. Although I agree with a great deal that Staines says, I would like to suggest that when we look at the Idylls as a whole, we see that the fault lies elsewhere, not in imaginative or technical failure but in an irremediable clash of styles, a clash that originated in the two sources of the "Morte d'Arthur" and was aggravated in their developed characteristics in the nineteenth century. The situation that Tennyson depicts, with the actions of Vivien, the failings of knight after knight, cannot simply be blamed on Guinevere. By articulating as many of the Idylls through women's voices as he does, Tennyson allows for counter arguments to those of the chivalric values. Even after the titles were changed, Enid remains the focusing consciousness of the Geraint and Enid stories, and her suffering at the hands of her chivalric knight is underlined. Vivien's cynicism may not be true in all the incidents she suggests but it is compelling. Throughout the Idylls, Guinevere the queen is not made a repulsive character but one with whose vivacity, moral struggles, regret, and ultimately with whose courage we can sympathize.
What Tennyson gives us in the work as a whole is a range of vision. While this is clearest in the Idyll of the Holy Grail where each of the knights sees according to his moral state, it is more widely true. There is in the work a whole range of moral response to human relationships: Elaine, whose devotion to Lancelot is the hopeless infatuation of first love; Arthur, whose idealism is seen in Guinevere, lines 457-480, but who is also shown to be unable to guide or communicate with his wife until it is too late; Lancelot, who is torn apart by conflicting loyalty to Arthur and to Guinevere, a conflict inherent in courtly love. And so on. Each position is voiced by its representative.
What the multiple vision does is to raise and leave unresolved the whole question of a code of moral action in the modern world. Tennyson possessed both an idealism that wanted a code of monogamy, loyalty, and courage, and gifts as an observer of the world around him that produced a less rosy understanding of man's nature. That is why I think that he ultimately found the form of the idylls best fitted to his work and why he was so reluctant to accept the allegorical interpretations of it. (11) Rather than being simply didactic, the poem series is exploratory, which may explain Arthur's remarkable lines in The Passing of Arthur, "The old order changeth, yielding place to new, / And God fulfils himself in many ways, / Lest one good custom should corrupt the world" (II. 408-410). This statement simply contradicts an interpretation of Arthur's way as ideal and all else as corrupt. The polyphony of the Idylls allows for participation in contemporary debate: the poem displays the chivalric code and Christian values that the decoration of Parliament vaunted but also contains a profound, contemporary understanding of human psychology that was recognized by its various critics. The fissure in the work is not, I would suggest, the result of inadequate technique but the product, as in In Memoriam, of a conflict within Tennyson and the Age.
(1.) Unsigned review, Church of England Quarterly Review (October 1842): xii, 361-376, in John Jump, ed., Tennyson: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967), pp. 132-133.
(2.) Hopkins to Richard Watson Dixon, February 27--March 3,1879, The Correspondence of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Watson Dixon, ed. C. C. Abbott, 2nd ed. (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1955), pp. 24-25.
(3.) James Spedding to Tennyson, July 15, 1856, summarized by Christopher Ricks, headnote to "Merlin and Vivien" in The Poems of Tennyson, 3 vols. (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1987), 3:393. All quotations from Tennyson are from this edition.
(4.) Richard Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance (London: H. Frowde, 1911), 3:13. See Debra N. Mancoff, The Arthurian Revival in Victorian Art (London: Garland, 1990), pp. 27-64 for an excellent and full account of the movement, on which lam drawing in this section of my article.
(5.) In the 1860s the Anglican clergy could still lose their livings through too Catholic decoration of the altar or "unwise" conduct of the services. Robert Bridges writes of one such case in a letter to Lionel Muirhead, November 25, 1865, in The Selected Letters of Robert Bridges, ed. Donald E. Stanford (Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1983), 1:85-86.
(6.) See Mancoff, pp. 65-100, for a detailed description of the project.
(7.) Christine Poulson, The Quest for the Grail: Arthurian Legend in British Art, 1840-1920 (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 24-45.
(8.) John Sterling, Quarterly Review (September 1842): lxx, 385-416; the comments on "Morte d'Arthur" are reprinted in Tennyson: The Critical Heritage, pp. 119-120.
(9.) George P. Landow, Victorian Types, Victorian Shadows (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), pp. 122-123.
(10.) David Staines, Tennyson's Camelot: the Idylls of the King and its Medieval Sources (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 1982), p. 152.
(11.) Staines, p. 153, quotes several of Tennyson's protests: "They have taken my hobby, and ridden it too hard, and have explained some things too allegorically, although there is an allegorical or perhaps rather a parabolic drift in the poem"'; "I hate to be tied down to say, 'This means that' because the thought within the image is much more than any one interpretation" (Hallam Tennyson, Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir, 2 vols. [New York, 1897], 2:126-127, 134).
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CATHERINE PHILLIPS is Fellow in English at Downing College, Cambridge. Her publications include editions of the Poems, and Selected Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the manuscripts of W. B. Yeats's play, The Hour-Glass. She has written a biography of Robert Bridges and completed vol. II of John Donne (Critical Heritage series). She is currently writing a monograph on Gerard Manley Hopkins and art.…