Download Alfred Tennyson: A Literary Life by Leonee Ormond PDF

By Leonee Ormond

Throughout his lengthy operating lifestyles, Tennyson was once experimenting with new types and matters. broadly learn in a variety of disciplines, he responsed to some of the personalities, occasions and discoveries of the Victorian age. nonetheless generally considered as an apologist for the 'establishment', Tennyson used to be constantly an intruder. Scourged via reviewers, and haunted by means of his personal frightened disposition, Tennyson continued years of depression. even if the tide became in 1850 Tennyson remained a stern critic of his contemporaries.

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This was probably Tennyson's most precious memory of Arthur Hallam, and the valley of Cauterets gave the word 'valley' a special significance in his work. 'For Love,' as he wrote in The Princess, 'is of the valley'. (VII, 184) Cauterets was already a popular thermal resort, recommended for respiratory complaints. Alfred de Vigny, Chateaubriand and Victor 34 Alfred Tennyson Hugo are among French writers known to have stayed there. Then, as now, energetic visitors walked up past Pont d'Espagne to the Lac de Gaube, a walk recalled in The Princess, where Ida is described standing like a stately Pine Set in a cataract on an island-crag.

Some insight into his feelings is to be found in the letters of Arthur Hallam. In October 1831 Alfred accompanied Emily to Cheltenham for treatment to a pain in her side. Visiting them there, Hallam reported 'Alfred in such precarious health that I cannot altogether repress my fears about him'. 19 By January, Hallam had decided that Tennyson's real ailment was 'extreme nervous irritation ... It is most melancholy that he should have so completely cut himself off from those light mental pleasures, which may seem insignificant in themselves, but in their general operation serve to make a man less unhappy, by making him more sociable, and more disposed therefore to receive satisfaction from the numberless springs of enjoyment which the mechanism of society affords'.

His own father had expressed instinctive sympathy with the oppressed urban poor, declaring in 1819 that the Manchester magistrates responsible for the Peterloo massacre should be indicted for murder. If found guilty and hanged, their example would serve as a useful reminder to the clergy and magistracy not to exceed their powers. Liberalism was not Jacobinism, however. Tennyson was horrified by the idea of violent revolution. An early poem, 'Come hither, canst thou tell me if this skull', expressed a feeling of revulsion from mob rule in its account of the sacking of the royal tombs at St Denis in 1793: (Oh!

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