The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson

By Joanna Richardson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER TWO
EMILY

THE family at Somersby took many months to recover from the shock of Hallam's death. Since Charles had recently been ordained and become the curate of Tealby, since Frederick was soon to embark for Italy, the domestic cares fell on Alfred; and he found relief when he could in an intensive programme of study:

O leave not thou thy son forlorn;
Teach me, great Nature: make me live.

He lost himself, too, in creative work, revising and composing. The first Christmas stanzas of In Memoriam were already in private circulation, and by the beginning of the new year, 1834, he had composed three impassioned political poems. They were inspired by the crises of the Reform Bill, but their inspiration would remain with him till the end of the century; his intense love of England and English history, his belief in the cardinal English principles of moderation and justice, law and freedom, would be his throughout his life:

You ask me why, tho' ill at ease,
Within this region I subsist,
Whose spirits falter in the mist,
And languish for the purple seas.

It is the land that freemen till,
That sober-suited Freedom chose,
The land, where girt with friends or foes
A man may speak the thing he will;

A land of settled government,
A land of just and old renown,
Where Freedom slowly broadens down
From precedent to precedent:

-31-

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