John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 87 pages of information about John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works.
“Of all the capacities of a poet, that which seems to have arisen earliest in Mr. Tennyson, and in which he most excels, is that of scene-painting in the higher sense of the term; not the mere power of producing that rather vapid species of composition usually termed descriptive poetry,—­for there is not in these volumes one passage of pure description,—­but the power of creating scenery in keeping with some state of human feeling, so fitted to it as to be the embodied symbol of it, and to summon up the state of feeling itself with a force not to be surpassed by any thing but reality.”

* * * * *

“The poems which we have quoted from Mr. Tennyson prove incontestably that he possesses in an eminent degree the natural endowment of a poet,—­the poetic temperament.  And it appears clearly, not only from a comparison of the two volumes, but of different poems in the same volume, that with him the other element of poetic excellence, intellectual culture, is advancing both steadily and rapidly; that he is not destined, like so many others, to be remembered for what he might have done rather than for what he did; that he will not remain a poet of mere temperament, but is ripening into a true artist....  We predict, that, as Mr. Tennyson advances in general spiritual culture, these higher aims will become more and more predominant in his writings; that he will strive more and more diligently, and, even without striving, will be more and more impelled by the natural tendencies of an expanding character, towards what has been described as the highest object of poetry,—­’to incorporate the everlasting reason of man in forms visible to his sense, and suitable to it.’”

This last sentence might easily be construed into a prediction of “In Memoriam” and “The Idyls of the King.”

If it is asked why Mr. Mill, with all his width of knowledge and sympathy, has achieved so little of a reputation as a miscellaneous writer, part of the reason no doubt is, that he sternly repressed his desultory tendencies, and devoted his powers to special branches of knowledge, attaining in them a distinction that obscured his other writings.  Another reason is, that, although his style is extremely clear, he was for popular purposes dangerously familiar with terms belonging more or less to the schools.  He employed these in literary generalizations, without remembering that they were not equally familiar to his readers; and thus general readers, like Tom Moore, or the author of the recent notice in “The Times,” who read more for amusement than instruction, were disposed to consider Mr. Mill’s style “vastly unreadable.”

W. Minto.



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John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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