Anglo-American Antiphony: The Late Romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson

By Richard E. Brantley | Go to book overview

TWO
Empirical Procedures

The empirical procedures of In Memoriam not only come before but are also more primal if not more primary than the religious principles included in the varied but not finally unintegrated rhetoric of consolation in the poem. These empirical procedures assure a triumph of will that deepens until, by fits and starts from one section of the poem to another, the persona dispels despair through his natural, distinct from his spiritual or natural- spiritual, strategy for recovery from grief. The natural-experiential thesis of In Memoriam, quite apart from its synthesis-antiphony of the natural and spiritual kinds of experience--hence quite apart from the full unity of the poem (see my next two sections)--entails more hope than tragedy. Tennyson's human-centered "science" of bittersweet empiricism rises to the challenge posed not only to his faith but also to his philosophy by "Nature, red in tooth and claw / With ravine" (56.15-16).

Tennyson's "strong empirical bias" (Jerome H. Buckley's phrase)1 includes, of course, his knowledge of nineteenth-century science, which he knew better than did either Coleridge or Carlyle.2 At Cambridge with its "preeminence in the natural sciences," Tennyson concluded that all branches of knowledge should be subject to "scientific demonstration"; thus he showed "greater receptivity" than did the other Apostles to "the method and intention of the new inductive scientists."3 One source for his scientific thought, namely, Robert Chambers's Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation ( 1844), "interprets evolution in terms of progress and as evidence of a benevolent Providence,"4 but the gloomier evolutionary implications of Principles of Geology ( 1830-33) by Sir Charles Lyell, and for that matter of Origin of Species ( 1859) by Charles Darwin, gloss In Memo-

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Anglo-American Antiphony: The Late Romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Prelude ix
  • Theme and Variations 1
  • Exposition the First - The Method of in Memoriam 25
  • One - Introit 27
  • Two - Empirical Procedures 33
  • Three - Evangelical Principles 51
  • Four - Philosophical Theology 65
  • Five - Spiritual Sense 90
  • Six - Theodiceal Impulse 97
  • Seven - Set Pieces 106
  • Eight - Language Method 115
  • Nine - Intra-Romantic Relationships 127
  • Exposition the Second - The Method of Emerson's Prose 151
  • Ten - Introit 153
  • Eleven - Perspective-By-Perspective Understanding 160
  • Twelve - Religious Methodology 166
  • Thirteen - Suspenseful Subjectivity 177
  • Fourteen - Experience and Faith 193
  • Fifteen - Roots of Theory 204
  • Sixteen - The Play of Skepticism 211
  • Seventeen - Language Method 236
  • Recapitulation and Cadenza 245
  • Notes 277
  • Works Cited 313
  • Index 337
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