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was beyond her strength, and that more appropriate and more original machinery might have been hit upon to place in broad relief the depth, purity, humility, and devotedness of a true woman's love, which we take to be the intended moral of . Enid.' There is hardly an incident in the combats which may not have been suggested by Ivanhoe.' The lances of the assailants splinter against the breast of Geraint, as they splintered against the breast of Richard in Sherwood Forest; and Geraint sinks down, from the effects of a concealed wound, like Ivanhoe.

This is repeated in 'Elaine,' where Lancelot is similarly wounded in the melée, and leaves the field (like the Black Knight) without claiming the prize. But in the development of fine feeling, relieved by natural weakness, Elaine' is unsurpassed. It was a difficult and delicate subject,—the unresisted sway of an unrequited passion over a pure-minded girl, the slave of her imagination and her heart, who falls in love with Lancelot, as Desdemona fell in love with Othello, for the deeds he had done and the soul that beamed in his face:

' He spoke and ceased, the lily maid Elaine,
Won by the mellow voice before she look'd,
Lifted her eyes, and read his lineaments.
The great and guilty love he bare the Queen,
In battle with the love he bare his lord,
Had marr'd his face, and mark'd it ere his time.
Another sinning on such heights with one,
The flower of all the west and all the world,
Had been the sleeker for it: but in him
His mood was often like a ficnd, and rose
And drove him into wastes and solitudes
For agony, who was yet a living soul.
Marr'd he


he seem'd the goodliest man,
That ever among ladies ate in Hall,
And noblest, when she lifted up


However marr'd, of more than twice her years,
Seam'd with an ancient swordcut on the cheek,
And bruised and bronzed, she lifted up her eyes

And loved him, with that love which was her doom.' It is the conventional thing for a damsel never to tell her love, but let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, feed on her damask cheek.' Elaine does tell her love, and no sullying thought or suspicion is awakened by her burst of uncontrollable self-sacrificing tenderness :

• Then suddenly and passionately she spoke :
“ I have gone mad. I love you : let me die.”
“Ah, sister,” answer'd Lancelot, "what is this ?”
And innocently extending her white arms,


" Your

“ Your love,” she said, “ your love—to be your wife.”
And Lancelot answer'd, “ Had I chos'n to wed,
I had been wedded earlier, sweet Elaine :
But now there never will be wife of mine."
“ No, no," she cried, “I care not to be wife,
But to be with you still, to see your face,

To serve you, and to follow you thro’ the world."" Lancelot's gentle words, soothing and flattering, but chilling and withering, prove her death-blow. She dies, after lingering through some touching pages, of that. rare and (some think) apocryphal disease, a broken heart; and her image on her bier has taken permanent rank, in painting and poetry, with that of Ophelia floating down the brook :

In her right hand the lily, in her left
The letter-all her bright hair streaming down-
And all the coverlid was cloth of gold
Drawn to her waist, and she herself in white
All but her face, and that clear-featured face
Was lovely, for she did not seem as dead

But fast asleep, and lay as tho' she smiled.' The mixed emotions of Lancelot, and the Queen's jealous forebodings, equally exhibit the poet's mastery of the springs of thought and action; and we are almost tempted to ask why is not · Elaine'a chapter of a great drama or epic, with unity of action, a beginning, a middle, and an end ? in which all the incidents should have a bearing on the plot, and all the characters should co-operate towards one common object of interest. Why are we eternally tantalised with specimens or fragments of a never-to-be-completed whole? Is it the power that is wanting, or the will? or is the will ever wanting where there consciously and indisputably exists the power?

The absence of creative genius in Mr. Tennyson is thus mentioned by M. Taine :

' He is born a poet, that is, a builder of aerial palaces and imaginary castles. But the personal passion, and the absorbing pre-occupations which ordinarily master the hand of his peers, have failed him : he has not formed the plan of a new edifice in himself: he has built after all the others : he has simply chosen amongst the most elegant forms, the most ornate, the most exquisite. The utmost that can be said is that he has amused himself in arranging some cottage, thoroughly English and modern. If, in this recovered or renewed architecture, we look for the trace of him, we shall find it here and there in some frieze more finely sculptured, in some more delicate and graceful rosette; but we shall not find it marked and clear, except in the purity and elevation of the moral emotion that we shall carry away on leaving his museum.'


The chronological succession of Mr. Tennyson's Arthurian poems, or parts of poems, proves that he never conceived or comprehended the Arthurian period as a whole. The Morte d'Arthur' was amongst his carlier productions; ‘The Coming of Arthur' (including the birth and marriage) amongst his last. He seems to have picked out a legend here and there as he wanted one for a subject, without regarding its connection with the rest.

*Guinevere' is not even a short act of a drama. It consists of two scenes: one, in which the guilty Queen gives utterance to grief and repentance, mingled with bitter anger at those whose evil tongues and malice had brought her to shame; a second, in which the blameless King pardons and utters a parting blessing over her. Both are replete with pathos and tenderness, with noble thoughts, with the purest essence of Christian charity and love; and the morality that breathes through them is in parts etherealised and sublimated till it becomes poetry. Thus, in the institution of the Round Table:

· I made them lay their hands in mine and swear
To reverence the King, as if he were
Their conscience, and their conscience as their King,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds,
Until they won her ; for indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,

And love of truth, and all that makes a man.' The figure of the King is Miltonic in its shadowy aweinspiring outline as he moves off:

• And more and more
The moony vapour rolling round the King
Who seem'd the phantom of a Giant in it,
Enwound him fold by fold, and made him gray
And grayer, till himself became as mist

Before her, moving ghost-like to his doom.'
Poor Guinevere's best excuse for her infidelity to the blameless
King was that he was too good for her :-

“I thought I could not breathe in that pure air,
That pure serenity of perfect light,

I wanted

I wanted warmth and colour which I found
In Lancelot.'

It is to be feared that many readers have felt like Guinevere ; and (we speak from actual observation) when dame or damsel was seen deep in “The Idylls,' a peep over the shoulder too frequently betrayed the fact that it was Vivien’on whom the absorbing interest was fixed—the lissome, wanton Vivien,' who exerts all her pretty tricks and cajoleries to make a fool of old Merlin, and learn his charm of woven paces and of waving hands ;'

““ O Merlin, do you love me?” and again,
“O Merlin, do you love me?” and once more,
“ Great Master, do you love me?” he was mute.
And lissome Vivien, holding by his heel,
Writhed toward him, slided up his knee and sat,
Behind his ankle twined her hollow feet
Together, curved an arm about his neck,
Clung like a snake; and letting her left hand
Droop from his mighty shoulder, as a leaf,
Made with her right a comb of pearl to part
The lists of such a beard as youth gond out
Had left in ashes.'

On her offering to swear that she would never use the charm against himself, he suggests—

You might perhaps
Essay it on some one of the Table Round,

And all because you dreamy they babble of you.'
Then the vixen flares out :-

• And Vivien, frowning in true anger, said:
“ What dare the full-fed liars say of me?
They ride abroad redressing human wrongs !
They sit with knife in meat and wine in horn.
They bound to holy vows of chastity!
Were I not woman, I could tell a tale.
But you are man, you well can understand
The shame that cannot be explain'd for shame.
Not one of all the drove should touch me : swine!”


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On his challenging her for proof, she retails an amount of current scandal, touching the knights and their ladye loves, confirmatory of Byron's theory that they were no better than they should be, and leading to the conclusion that the blameless King's Court had points in common with that of Charles II. :

And Vivien answer'd frowning wrathfully.
“O ay, what say ye to Sir Valence, him


Whose kinsman left him watcher o'er his wife
And two fair babes, and went to distant lands;
Was one year gone, and on returning found
Not two but three: there lay the reckling, one
But one hour old! What said the happy sire ?
A seven months' babe had been a truer gift.

Those twelve sweet moons confused his fatherhood.”'
On Merlin's endeavouring to explain this away
““O ay,” said Vivien, "overtrue a tale.

What say ye then to sweet Sir Sagramore,
That ardent man? “to pluck the flower in season,"

“I trow it is no treason."
O Master, shall we call him overquick

To crop his own sweet rose before the hour?”.
Then there is a story of Sir Percivale :-

• What say ye then to fair Sir Percivale
And of the horrid foulness that he wrought;
The saintly youth, the spotless lamb of Christ,
Or some black wether of St. Satan's fold?
What in the precincts of the chapel yard,
Among the knightly brasses of the graves,

And by the cold Hic Jacets of the dead !' Well chosen topics for a maid-of-honour's mouth! She crowns all by the affair of Lancelot with the Queen, which sets Merlin meditating :

But Vivien deeming Merlin overborne
By instance, recommenced, and let her tongue
Rage like a fire among the noblest names,
Polluting, and imputing her whole self,
Defaming and defacing, till she left

Not even Lancelot brave, nor Galahad clean.'
She triumphs in a scene resembling that between Dido and
Æneas in the cave :-

• Then crying, I have made his glory mine,
And shricking out, “O fool!” the harlot leapt
Adown the forest, and the thicket closed

Behind her, and the forest echo'd “fool.”' Taken all in all, it strikes us that this poem is quite as objectionable as · Don Juan,' and that Vivien's conversation is not more edifying than Julia's letter, whilst in point of feminine delicacy she is decidedly inferior to Haidee.

There is a once popular novel, entitled · Ellen Wareham,' by Mrs. Sullivan, in which a woman, believing her first husband (forced on her by her parents) to have died abroad, marries the


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