English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History eBook

Henry Coppée
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History.
needed compensation for their kindness, they found it in the celebrity of their visitor; even strangers made pilgrimages to the house at Highgate to hear the rhapsodies of “the old man eloquent.”  Coleridge once asked Charles Lamb if he had ever heard him preach, referring to the early days when he was a Unitarian preacher.  “I never heard you do anything else,” was the answer he received.  He was the prince of talkers, and talked more coherently and connectedly than he wrote:  drawing with ease from the vast stores of his learning, he delighted men of every degree.  While of the Lake school of poetry, and while in some sort the creature of his age and his surroundings, his eccentricities gave him a rare independence and individuality.  A giant in conception, he was a dwarf in execution; and something of the interest which attaches to a lusus naturae is the chief claim to future reputation which belongs to S. T. C.

HARTLEY COLERIDGE, his son, (1796-1849,) inherited much of his father’s talents; but was an eccentric, deformed, and, for a time, an intemperate being.  His principal writings were monographs on various subjects, and articles for Blackwood.  HENRY NELSON COLERIDGE, (1800-1843,) a nephew and son-in-law of the poet, was also a gifted man, and a profound classical scholar.  His introduction to the study of the great classic poets, containing his analysis of Homer’s epics, is a work of great merit.

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE REACTION IN POETRY.

   Alfred Tennyson.  Early Works.  The Princess.  Idyls of the King. 
   Elizabeth B. Browning.  Aurora Leigh.  Her Faults.  Robert Browning.  Other
   Poets.

TENNYSON AND THE BROWNINGS.

ALFRED TENNYSON.—­It is the certain fate of all extravagant movements, social or literary, to invite criticism and opposition, and to be followed by reaction.  The school of Wordsworth was the violent protest against what remained of the artificial in poetry; but it had gone, as we have seen, to the other extreme.  The affected simplicity, and the bald diction which it inculcated, while they raised up an army of feeble imitators, also produced in the ranks of poetry a vindication of what was good in the old; new theories, and a very different estimate of poetical subjects and expression.  The first poet who may be looked upon as leading the reactionary party is Alfred Tennyson.  He endeavored out of all the schools to synthesize a new one.  In many of his descriptive pieces he followed Wordsworth:  in his idyls, he adheres to the romantic school; in his treatment and diction, he stands alone.

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