Tennyson, Ruskin, Mill and Other Literary Estimates

Tennyson, Ruskin, Mill and Other Literary Estimates

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Tennyson, Ruskin, Mill and Other Literary Estimates

Tennyson, Ruskin, Mill and Other Literary Estimates

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Excerpt

Once only in the history of our literature in verse, and once in prose, has there been seen a royal suzerainty, maintained over an entire epoch by a single writer, to be compared to that by which Alfred Tennyson has dominated Victorian poetry. The supremacy held by Alexander Pope over his immediate contemporaries and that held by Samuel Johnson over his, were as great and far more autocratic. But in the half-century that has passed since Tennyson became Poet Laureate, his authority over poetic form has been paramount, as his superiority to all poets of the time is above question or doubt. His flower, to adopt his words of proud humility, has truly 'worn a crown of light.' Most writers of verse can raise the flowers now. They sow it far and wide by every town and tower. All have the seed from Alfred Tennyson. But the cynic who should call it a weed would be flayed alive, as was Marsyas by Apollo. The people, the critics, the poets with one voice continue to cry, 'Splendid is the flower!' And so say we all.

This royal prerogative enjoyed by Alfred Tennyson, in death as in life, has had some inconveniences, inherent in all royalties. It has placed him not only, as they say in French academies, hors concours -- above competition, above criticism, above discussion -- but almost above free judgment and honest understanding of his fine qualities and his true place in English poetry. No loyal subject

Copyrighted 1899, by The Macmillan Company.

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