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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,
he seem'd the goodliest man,
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 :
“ Your love,” she said, “ your love—to be your wife.”
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
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
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
Before her, moving ghost-like to his doom.'
“I thought I could not breathe in that pure air,
I wanted warmth and colour which I found
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,
On her offering to swear that she would never use the charm against himself, he suggests—
You might perhaps
And all because you dreamy they babble of you.'
• And Vivien, frowning in true anger, said:
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.
Whose kinsman left him watcher o'er his wife
Those twelve sweet moons confused his fatherhood.”'
What say ye then to sweet Sir Sagramore,
“I trow it is no treason."
To crop his own sweet rose before the hour?”.
• What say ye then to fair Sir Percivale
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
Not even Lancelot brave, nor Galahad clean.'
• Then crying, I have made his glory mine,
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