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Ch. 6: Diffused Romanticism in the Literature of the Nineteenth Century

Most of the poetry of the century that has just closed has been romantic in the wider or looser acceptation of the term. Emotional stress, sensitiveness to the picturesque, love of natural scenery, interest in distant times and places, curiosity of the wonderful and mysterious, subjectivity, lyricism, intrusion of the ego, impatience of the limits of the genres, eager experiment with new forms of art—these and the like marks of the romantic spirit are as common in the verse literature of the nineteenth century as they are rare in that of the eighteenth. The same is true of imaginative prose, particularly during the first half of the century, the late Georgian and early Victorian period. In contrast with Addison, Swift, and Goldsmith, De Quincey, Carlyle, and Ruskin are romanticists. In contrast with Hume, Macaulay is romantic, concrete, pictorial. The critical work of Hazlitt and Lamb was in line with Coleridge's. They praised the pre-Augustan writers, the Elizabethan dramatists, the seventeenth-century humorists and moralists, the Sidneian amourists and fanciful sonneteers, at the expense of their classical successors.

But in the narrower sense of the word—the sense which controls in these inquiries—the great romantic generation ended virtually with the death of Scott in 1832. Coleridge followed in 1834, Wordsworth in 1850. Both had long since ceased to contribute anything of value to imaginative literature. Byron, Shelley, and Keats had died some years before Coleridge; Leigh Hunt survived until 1859. The mediaevalism of Coleridge, Scott, and Keats lived on in dispersed fashion till it condensed itself a second time, and with redoubled intensity, in the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which belongs to the last half of the century. The direct line of descent was from Keats to Rossetti; and the Pre-Raphaelites bear very much such a relation to the elder group, as the romantic school proper in Germany bears to Bürger and Herder, and to Goethe and Schiller in their younger days. That is to say, their mediaevalism was more concentrated, more exclusive, and more final.

We have come to a point in the chronology of our subject where the material is so abundant that we must narrow the field of study to creative work, and to work which is romantic in the strictest meaning. Henceforth we may leave out of account all works of mere erudition as such; all those helps which the scholarship of the century has furnished to a knowledge of the Middle Ages; histories, collections, translations, reprints of old texts, critical editions. Middle English lexicons and grammars, studies of special subjects, such as popular myths or miracle plays or the Arthurian legends, and the like. Numerous and valuable as these publications have been, they concern us only indirectly. They have swelled the material available for the student; they have not necessarily stimulated the imagination of the poet; which sometimes—as in the case of Chatterton and of Keats—goes off at a touch and carries but a light charge of learning. In literary history it is the beginnings that count. Child's great ballad collection is, beyond comparison, more important from the scholar's point of view than Percy's "Reliques." But in the history of romanticism it is of less importance, because it came a century later. Mallet's "Histoire de Dannemarc" has been long since superseded, and the means now accessible in English for a study of Norse mythology are infinitely greater than when Gray read and Percy translated the "Northern Antiquities." But it is not the history of the revival of the knowledge of mediaeval life that we are following here; it is rather the history of that part of our modern creative literature which has been kindled by contact—perhaps a very slight and casual contact—with the transmitted image of mediaeval life.

Nor need we concern ourselves further with literary criticism or the history of opinion. This was worth considering in the infancy of the movement, when Warton began to question the supremacy of Pope; when Hurd asserted the fitness for the poet's uses of the Gothic fictions and the institution of chivalry; and when Percy ventured to hope that cultivated readers would find something deserving attention in old English minstrelsy. It was still worth considering a half-century later, when Coleridge explained away the dramatic unities, and Byron once more took up the lost cause of Pope. But by 1832 the literary revolution was complete. Romance was in no further need of vindication, when all Scott's library of prose and verse stood back of her, and

"High-piled books in charactery
Held, like rich garners, the full-ripened grain."

As to Scott's best invention, the historical romance, I shall not pursue its fortunes to the end. The formula once constituted, its application was easy, whether the period chosen was the Middle Ages or any old period B.C. or A.D. Here and there an individual stands forth from the class, either for its excellent conformity with the Waverley type or for its originality in deviation. Of the former kind is Charles Reade's "The Cloister and the Hearth" (1861); and of the latter Mr. Maurice Hewlett's "The Forest Lovers" (1898). The title page of Reade's novel describes the book as "a matter-of-fact romance." It is as well documented as any of Scott's, and reposes especially upon the "Colloquies" of Erasmus, the betrothal of whose parents, with their subsequent separation by the monastic vow of celibacy, is the subject of the story. This is somewhat romanticised, but keeps a firm grip upon historical realities. The period of the action is the fifteenth century, yet the work is as far as possible from being a chivalry tale, like the diaphanous fictions of Fouqué. "In that rude age," writes the novelist, "body prevailing over mind, all sentiments took material forms. Man repented with scourges, prayed by bead, bribed the saints with wax tapers, put fish into the body to sanctify the soul, sojourned in cold water for empire over the emotions, and thanked God for returning health in 1 cwt, 2 stone, 7 lbs., 3 oz., 1 dwt. of bread and cheese." There is no lack in "The Cloister and the Hearth" of stirring incident and bold adventure; encounters with bears and with bandits, sieges, witch trials, gallows hung with thieves, archery with long bow and arbalest—everywhere fighting enough, as in Scott; and, also as in Scott, behind the private drama of true love, intrigue, persecution, the broad picture of society. It is no idealised version of the Middle Ages. The ugly, sordid side of mediaeval life is turned outwards; its dirt, discomfort, ignorance, absurdity, brutality, unreason and insecurity are rendered with crass realism. The burgher is more in evidence than the chevalier. Less after the manner of the Waverley novels, and more after that of "Hypatia," "Romola," and "Fathers and Sons," it depicts the intellectual unrest of the time, the conflicting ideals of the old and new generations. The printing-press is being set up, and the hero finds his art of calligraphy, learned in the scriptorium, no longer in request. The Pope and many of the higher clergy are infected with the religious scepticism and humanitarian enthusiasm of the Renaissance. The child Erasmus is the new birth of reason, destined to make war on monkery and superstition and thereby avenge his parents' wrongs. Of quite another fashion of mediaevalism is Mr. Hewlett's story—sheer romance. The wonderful wood of Morgraunt, with its charcoal burners and wayside shrines, black meres frowned over by skeleton castles, and gentle hinds milked by the heroine to get food for her wounded lover, is of no time or country, but almost as unreal as Spenser's fairy forest. Through its wild ways Isoult la Desirous and Prosper le Gai go adventuring like Una and her Red Cross knight, or Enid and Geraint. Or, again, Isoult in her page's dress, and forsaken by her wedded lord, is like Viola or Imogen or Rosalind, or Constance in "Marmion," or any lady of old romance. Or sometimes again she is like a wood spirit, or an elemental creature such as was Undine. The invented place names, High March, Wanmeeting, Market Basing, etc., with their transparent air of actuality, sound an echo from William Morris' prose romances, like "The House of the Wolfings" and "The Sundering Flood." As in the last named, and in Thomas Hardy's "Return of the Native," the reader's imagination is assisted by a map of the Morgraunt forest and the river Wan. Mr. Hewlett has evidently profited, too, by recent romances of various schools: by "Prince Otto," e.g., and "The Prisoner of Zenda," and possibly by others. His Middle Ages are not the Middle Ages of history, but of poetic convention; a world where anything may happen and where the facts of any precise social state are attenuated into "atmosphere" for the use of the imagination. "The Forest Lovers" is nearer to "Christabel" or "La Belle Dame sans Merci" than to "Ivanhoe": is, indeed, a prose poem, though not quite an allegory like "Sintram and his Companions."

Among Scott's contemporaries, Byron and Shelley, profoundly romantic in temper, were not retrospective in their habit of mind; and the Middle Ages, in particular, had little to say to them. Scott stood for the past; Byron—a man of his time, a modern man—for the present; Shelley—a visionary, with a system of philosophical perfectionism—for the future. Memory, Mnemosyne, mother of the muses, was the nurse of Scott's genius. Byron lived intensely in the world which he affected to despise. Shelley prophesied, with eyes fixed upon the coming age. We have found, in Byron's contributions to the Pope controversy, one expression of his instinctive sympathy with the classical and contempt for the Gothic. Shelley, too, was a Hellenist; and to both, in their angry break with authority and their worship of liberty, the naked freedom, the clear light, the noble and harmonious forms of the antique were as attractive as the twilight of the "ages of faith," with their mysticism, asceticism, and grotesque superstitions, were repulsive. Remote as their own feverish and exuberant poetry was from the unexcited manner of classical work, the latter was the ideal towards which they more and more inclined. The points at which these two poets touch our history, then, are few. Byron, to be sure, cast "Childe Harold" into Spenserian verse, and gave it a ballad title.[1] In the first canto there are a few archaisms; words like fere, shent, and losel occur, together with Gothic properties, such as the "eremite's sad cell" and "Paynim shores" and Newstead's "monastic dome." The ballad "Adieu, adieu my native shore," was suggested by "Lord Maxwell's Good-Night" in the "Border Minstrelsy," and introduces some romantic appurtenances: the harp, the falcon, and the little foot-page. But this kind of falsetto, in the tradition of the last-century Spenserians, evidently hampered the poet; so he shook himself free from imitation after the opening stanzas, and spoke in his natural voice.[2] "Lara" is a tale of feudal days, with a due proportion of knights, dames, vassals, and pages; and an ancestral hall with gloomy vaults and portrait galleries, where

"—the moonbeam shone
Through the dim lattice o'er the floor of stone,
And the high fretted roof and saints that there
O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer. . . .
The waving banner and the clapping door,
The rustling tapestry and the echoing floor;
The long dim shadows of surrounding trees,
The flapping bats, the night-song of the breeze,
Aught they behold or hear their thought appalls,
As evening saddens o'er the dark grey walls."

But these things are unimportant in Byron—mere commonplaces of description inherited from Scott and Lewis and Mrs. Radcliffe. Neither is it of importance that "Parisina" is a tale of the year 1405, and has an echo in it of convent bells and the death chant of friars; nor that the first scene of "Manfred" passes in a "Gothic gallery," and includes an incantation of spirits upon the model of "Faust"; nor that "Marino Faliero" and "The Two Foscari" are founded on incidents of Venetian history which happened in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries respectively; nor yet that Byron translated the Spanish ballad "Woe is me Alhama" and a passage from Pulci's "Morgante Maggiore." [3] Similarly Shelley's experimental versions of the "Prolog im Himmel," and "Walpurgisnacht" in "Faust," and of scenes from Calderon's "Magico Prodigioso" are felt to be without special significance in comparison with the body of his writings. "Faust" impressed him, as it did Byron, and he urged Coleridge to translate it, speaking of the current English versions as wretched misrepresentations of the original. But in all of Shelley's poetry the scenery, architecture, and imagery in general are sometimes Italian, sometimes Asiatic, often wholly fantastic, but never mediaeval. Their splendour is a classic splendour, and not what Milton contemptuously calls "a Hunnish and Norwegian stateliness." His favourite names are Greek: Cythna, Ianthe, and the like. The ruined cathedral in "Queen Mab"—a poem only in its title romantic—is coupled with the ruined dungeon, in whose courts the children play; both alike "works of faith and slavery," symbols of the priestcraft and kingcraft which Shelley hated, now made harmless by the reign of Reason and Love in a regenerated universe. How different is the feeling which the empty cathedral inspires in Lowell; once thronged with worshippers, now pathetically lonely—a cliff, far inland, from which the sea of faith has forever withdrawn! At the time when "Queen Mab" was written, Coleridge, Southey, and Landor's "Gebir" were Shelley's favourite reading. "He was a lover of the wonderful and wild in literature," says Mrs. Shelley, in her notes on the poem; "but had not fostered these tastes at their genuine sources—the romances and chivalry of the Middle Ages—but in the perusal of such German works as were current in those days.[4] . . . Our earlier English poetry was almost unknown to him."

"Queen Mab" begins with a close imitation of the opening lines of Southey's "Thalaba the Destroyer." The third member of the Lake School is a standing illustration of Mr. Colvin's contention that the distinction between classic and romantic is less in subject than in treatment. Southey regarded himself as, equally with Wordsworth and Coleridge, an innovator and a rebel against poetic conventions. His big Oriental epics, "Thalaba" and "The Curse of Kehama," are written in verse purposely irregular, but so inferior in effect to the irregular verse of Coleridge and Scott as to prove that irregularity, as such, is only tolerable when controlled by the subtly varying lyric impulse—not when it is adopted as a literary method. Southey's worth as a man, his indefatigable industry, his scholarship, and his excellent work in prose make him an imposing figure in our literature. But his poetical reputation has faded more rapidly than that of his greater contemporaries. He ranged widely in search of subjects and experimented boldly in forms of verse; but his poems are seldom inspired; they are manufactures rather than creations, and to-day Southey, the poet, represents nothing in particular.

But, like Taylor of Norwich, Southey, by his studies in foreign literature, added much to the romantic material constantly accumulating in the English tongue. In his two visits to the Peninsula he made acquaintance with Spanish and Portuguese; and afterwards by his translations and otherwise, helped his countrymen to a knowledge of the old legendary poetry of Spain, the country above all others of chivalry and romance. Mention has already been made of his versions of "Amadis of Gaul," "Palmerin of England," and the "Chronicle of the Cid." The last named was not a translation from any single source, but was put together from the "Poem of the Cid," which the translator considered to be "unquestionably the oldest poem in the language" and probably by a writer contemporary with the great Campeador himself; from the prose "Chronicle" assigned to the thirteenth century; and from the ballads, which Southey thought mainly worthless, i.e., from the historical point of view.

Southey's long blank verse poems on mediaeval subjects, partly historical, partly legendary, "Joan of Arc" (1795), "Madoc" (1805), and "Roderick, the Last of the Goths" (1814), like his friend Landor's "Gebir," are examples of romantic themes with classical or, at least, unromantic handling. The last of them was the same in subject, indeed, with Landor's drama, "Count Julian." I have spoken of "Thalaba" and "The Curse of Kehama" as epics; but Southey rejected "the degraded title of epic" and scouted the rules of Aristotle. Nevertheless, the best qualities of these blank verse narratives are of the classic-epic kind. The story is not badly told; the measure is correct if not distinguished; and the style is simple, clear, and in pure taste. But the spell of romance, the witchery of Coleridge and Keats is absent; and so are the glow and movement of Scott.

Southey got up his history and local colour conscientiously, and his notes present a formidable array of authorities. While engaged upon "Madoc," he went to Wales to verify the scenery and even came near to leasing a cottage and taking up his residence there. "The manners of the poem," he asserted, "will be found historically true." The hero of "Madoc" was a legendary Welsh prince of the twelfth century who led a colony to America. The motif of the poem is therefore nearly the same as in William Morris's "Earthly Paradise," and it is curious to compare the two. In Southey's hands the blank verse, which in the last century had been almost an ear-mark of the romanticising schools, is far more classical than the heroic couplet which Morris writes. In the Welsh portion of "Madoc" the historical background is carefully studied from Giraldus Cambrensis, Evans' "Specimens," the "Triads of Bardism," the "Cambrian Biography," and similar sources, and in the Aztec portion, from old Spanish chronicles of the conquest of Mexico and the journals of modern travellers in America. In "The Earthly Paradise" nothing is historical except the encounter with Edward III.'s fleet in the channel. Over all, the dreamlike vagueness and strangeness of romance. Yet the imaginative impression is more distinct, not an impression of reality, but as of a soft, bright miniature painting in an old manuscript.

In common with his literary associates, Southey was prompted by Percy's "Reliques" to try his hand at the legendary ballad and at longer metrical tales like "All for Love" and "The Pilgrim to Compostella." Most of these pieces date from the last years of the century. One of them, "St. Patrick's Purgatory," was inserted by Lewis in his "Tales of Wonder." Another of the most popular, and a capital specimen of grotesque, "The Old Woman of Berkeley," was upon a theme which was also undertaken by Taylor of Norwich and Dr. Sayers of the same city, when Southey was on a visit to the former in 1798. The story, told by Olaus Magnus as well as by William of Malmesbury, was of a witch whose body was carried off by the devil, though her coffin had been sprinkled with holy water and bound with a triple chain. For material Southey drew upon Spanish chronicles, French fabliaux, the "Acta Sanctorum," Matthew of Westminster, and many other sources. His ballads do not compare well with those of Scott and Coleridge. They abound in the supernatural—miracles of saints, sorceries, and apparitions; but the matter-of-fact narrative, common-place diction, and jog-trot verse are singularly out of keeping with the subject matter. The most wildly romantic situations become tamely unromantic under Southey's handling. Though in better taste than Lewis' grisly compositions, yet, as in Lewis, the want of "high seriousness" or any finer imagination in these legendary tales makes them turn constantly towards the comic; so that Southey was scandalised to learn that Mr. Payne Collier had taken his "Old Woman of Berkeley" for a "mock ballad" or parody. He affected especially a stanza which he credited to Lewis' invention:

"Behind a wide column, half breathless with fear
She crept to conceal herself there;
That instant the moon o'er a dark cloud shone clear,
And she saw in the moonlight two ruffians appear,
And between them a corpse did they bear." [5]

Southey employs no archaisms, no refrains, nor any of the stylistic marks of ancient minstrelsy. His ballads have the metrical roughness and plain speech of the old popular ballads, but none of their frequent, peculiar beauties of thought and phrase,

Spain, no less than Germany and Italy, was laid under contribution by the English romantics. Southey's work in this direction was followed by such things as Lockhart's "Spanish Ballads" (1824), Irving's "Alhambra," and Bryant's and Longfellow's translations from Spanish lyrical poetry. But these exotics did not stimulate original creative activity in England in equal degree with the German and Italian transplantings. They were imported, not appropriated. Of all European countries Spain had remained the most Catholic and mediaeval. Her eight centuries of struggle against the Moors had given her a rich treasure of legendary song and story. She had a body of popular ballad poetry larger than either England's or Germany's.[6] But Spain had no modern literature to mediate between the old and new; nothing at all corresponding with the schools of romance in Germany, from Herder to Schlegel, which effected a revival of the Teutonic Middle Age and impressed it upon contemporary England and France. Neither could the Spanish Middle Age itself show any such supreme master as Dante, whose direct influence on English poetry has waxed with the century. There was a time when, for the greater part of a century, England and Spain were in rather close contact, but it was mainly a hostile contact, and its tangential points were the ill-starred marriage of Philip and Mary, the Great Armada of 1588, and the abortive "Spanish Marriage" negotiations of James I.'s reign. Readers of our Elizabethan literature, however, cannot fail to remark a knowledge of, and interest in, Spanish affairs now quite strange to English writers. The dialogue of the old drama is full of Spanish phrases of convenience like bezo los manos, paucas palabras, etc., which were evidently quite as well understood by the audience as was later the colloquial French—savoir faire, coup de grâce, etc.—which began to come in with Dryden, and has been coming ever since. The comedy Spaniard, like Don Armado in "Love's Labour's Lost," was a familiar figure on the English boards. Middleton took the double plot of his "Spanish Gipsy" from two novels of Cervantes; and his "Game of Chess," a political allegorical play, aimed against Spanish intrigues, made a popular hit and was stopped, after a then unexampled run, in consequence of the remonstrances of Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador. Somewhat later the Restoration stage borrowed situations from the Spanish love-intrigue comedy, not so much directly as by way of Molière, Thomas Corneille, and other French playwrights; and the duenna and the gracioso became stock figures in English performances. The direct influence of Calderon and Lope de Vega upon our native theatre was infinitesimal. The Spanish national drama, like the English, was self-developed and unaffected by classical rules. Like the English, it was romantic in spirit, but was more religious in subject and more lyrical in form. The land of romance produced likewise the greatest of all satires upon romance. "Don Quixote," of course, was early translated and imitated in England; and the picaro romances had an important influence upon the evolution of English fiction in De Foe and Smollett; not only directly through books like "The Spanish Rogue," but by way of Le Sage.[7] But upon the whole, the relation between English and Spanish literature had been one of distant respect rather than of intimacy. There was never any such inrush of foreign domination from this quarter as from Italy in the sixteenth century, or from France in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and latter half of the seventeenth.

The unequalled wealth of Spanish literature in popular ballads is partially explained by the facility with which such things were composed. The Spanish ballad, or romance, was a stanza (redondilla, roundel) of four eight-syllable lines with a prevailing trachaic movement—just the metre, in short, of "Locksley Hall." Only the second and fourth lines rimed, and the rime was merely assonant or vowel rime. Given the subject and the lyrical impulse, and verses of this sort could be produced to order and in infinite number by poets of the humblest capacity. The subjects were furnished mainly by Spanish history and legend, the exploits of national heroes like the Cid (Ruy Diaz de Bivar), the seven Princes of Lara, Don Fernán Gonzalez, and Bernaldo del Carpio, the leader in the Spanish versions of the great fight by Fontarabbia

"When Rowland brave and Olivier,
And every paladin and peer
On Roncesvalles died."

Southey thought the Spanish ballads much inferior to the English and Scotch, a judgment to which students of Spanish poetry will perhaps hardly agree.[8] The Spanish ballads, like the British, are partly historical and legendary, partly entirely romantic or fictitious. They record not only the age-long wars against the Saracen, the common enemy, but the internecine feuds of the Spanish Christian kingdoms, the quarrels between the kings and their vassals, and many a dark tale of domestic treachery or violence. In these respects their resemblance to the English and Scotch border ballads is obvious; and it has been pointed out that they sprang from similar conditions, a frontier war for national independence, maintained for centuries against a stubborn foe. The traditions concerning Wallace and the Bruce have some analogy with the chronicles of the Cid; but as to the border fights celebrated in Scott's "Minstrelsy," they were between peoples of the same race, tongue, and faith; and were but petty squabbles in comparison with that epic crusade in which the remnants of the old Gothic conquerors slowly made head against, and finally overthrew and expelled, an Oriental religion, a foreign blood, and a civilisation in many respects more brilliant than anything which Europe could show. The contrast between Castile and Granada is more picturesque than the difference between Lothian and Northumberland. The Spanish ballads have the advantage, then, of being connected with imposing passages of history. In spirit they are intensely national. Three motives animate them all: loyalty to the king, devotion to the cross, and the pundonor: that sensitive personal honour—the "Castilian pride" of "Hernani,"—which sometimes ran into fantastic excess. A rude chivalry occasionally softens the ferocity of feudal manners in Northern ballad-poetry, as in the speech of Percy over the dead Douglas in "Chevy Chase." But in the Spanish romances the knightly feeling is all-pervading. The warriors are hidalgos, gentlemen of a lofty courtesy; the Moorish chieftains are not "heathen hounds," but chivalrous adversaries, to be treated, in defeat, with a certain generosity. This refinement and magnanimity are akin to that ideality of temper which makes Don Quixote at once so noble and so ridiculous, and which is quite remote from the sincere realism of the British minstrelsy. In style the Spanish ballads are simple, forcible, and direct, but somewhat monotonous in their facility. The English and Scotch have a wider range of subject; the best of them have a condensed energy of expression and a depth of tragic feeling which is more potent than the melancholy grace of the Spanish. Women take a more active part in the former, the Christians of the Peninsula having caught from their Saracen foes a prejudice in favour of womanly seclusion and retirement. There is also a wilder imagination in Northern balladry; a much larger element of the mythological and supernatural. Ghosts, demons, fairies, enchanters are rare in the Spanish poems. Where the marvellous enters into them at all, it is mostly in the shape of saintly miracles. St. James of Compostella appears on horseback among the Christian hosts battling with the Moors, or even in the army of the Conquistadores in Mexico—an incident which Macaulay likens to the apparition of the "great twin Brethren" in the Roman battle of Lake Regillus. The mediaeval Spaniards were possibly to the full as superstitious as their Scottish contemporaries, but their superstitions were the legends of the Catholic Church, not the inherited folklore of Gothic and Celtic heathendom. I will venture to suggest, as one reason of this difference, the absence of forests in Spain. The shadowy recesses of northern Europe were the natural haunts of mystery and unearthly terrors. The old Teutonic forest, the Schwarzwald and the Hartz, were peopled by the popular imagination with were-wolves, spectre huntsmen, wood spirits, and all those nameless creatures which Tieck has revived in his "Mährchen" and Hauptmann in the Rautendelein of his "Versunkene Glocke." The treeless plateaus of Spain, and her stony, denuded sierras, all bare and bright under the hot southern sky, offered no more shelter to such beings of the mind than they did to the genial life of Robin Hood and his merry men "all under the greenwood tree." And this mention of the bold archer of Sherwood recalls one other difference—the last that need here be touched upon—between the ballads of Spain and of England. Both constitute a body of popular poetry, i.e., of folk poetry. They recount the doings of the upper classes, princes, nobles, knights, and ladies, as seen from the angle of observation of humble minstrels of low degree. But the people count for much more in the English poems. The Spanish are more aristocratic, more public, less domestic, and many of them composed, it is thought, by lordly makers. This is perhaps, in part, a difference in national character; and, in part, a difference in the conditions under which the social institutions of the two countries were evolved.

Spain collected her ballads early in numerous songbooks—cancioneros, romanceros—the first of which, the "Cancionero" of 1510, is "the oldest collection of popular poetry, properly so-called, that is to be found in any European literature." [9] But modern Spain had gone through her classic period, like England and Germany. She had submitted to the critical canons of Boileau, and was in leading-strings to France till the end of the eighteenth century. Spain, too, had her romantic movement, and incidentally her ballad revival, but it came later than in England and Germany, later even than in France. Historians of Spanish literature inform us that the earliest entry of French romanticism into Spain took place in Martinez de la Rosa's two dramas, "The Conspiracy of Venice" (1834) and "Aben-Humeya," first written in French and played at Paris in 1830; and that the representation of Duke de Rivas' play, "Don Alvaro" (1835), was "an event in the history of the modern Spanish drama corresponding to the production of 'Hernani' at the Theatre Francais" in 1830.[10] Both of these authors had lived in France and had there made acquaintance with the works of Chateaubriand, Byron, and Walter Scott. Spain came in time to have her own Byron and her own Scott, the former in José de Espronceda, author of "The Student of Salamanca," who resided for a time in London; the latter in José Zorrilla, whose "Granada," "Legends of the Cid," etc., "were popular for the same reason that 'Marmion' and 'The Lady of the Lake' were popular; for their revival of national legends in a form both simple and picturesque." [11] Scott himself is reported to have said that if he had come across in his younger days Perez de Hita's old historical romance, "The Civil Wars of Granada" (1595), "he would have chosen Spain as the scene of a Waverley novel." [12]

But when Lockhart, in 1824, set himself to

In high-born words the worth of many a knight
From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate"—

her ballad poetry had fallen into disfavour at home, and "no Spanish Percy, or Ellis, or Ritson," he complains, "has arisen to perform what no one but a Spaniard can entertain the smallest hope of achieving." [13] Meanwhile, however, the German romantic school had laid eager hands upon the old romantic literature of Spain. A. W. Schlegel (1803) and Gries had made translations from Calderon in assonant verse; and Friedrich Schlegel—who exalted the Spanish dramatist above Shakspere, much to Heine's disgust—had written, also in asonante, his dramatic poem "Conde Alarcos" (1802), founded on the well-known ballad. Brentano and others of the romantics went so far as to practise assonance in their original as well as translated work. Jacob Grimm (1815) and Depping (1817) edited selections from the "Romancero" which Lockhart made use of in his "Ancient Spanish Ballads." With equal delight the French romanticists—Hugo and Musset in particular—seized upon the treasures of the "Romancero"; but this was somewhat later.

Lockhart's "Spanish Ballads," which were bold and spirited paraphrases rather than close versions of the originals, enjoyed a great success, and have been repeatedly reprinted. Ticknor pronounced them undoubtedly a work of genius, as much so as any book of the sort in any literature with which he was acquainted.[14] In the very same year Sir John Bowring published his "Ancient Poetry and Romance of Spain." Hookham Frere, that most accomplished of translators, also gave specimens from the "Romancero." Of late years versions in increasing numbers of Spanish poetry of all kinds, ancient and modern, by Ormsby, Gibson, and others too numerous to name, have made the literature of the country largely accessible to English readers. But to Lockhart belongs the credit of having established for the English public the convention of romantic Spain—the Spain of lattice and guitar, of mantilla and castanet, articles now long at home in the property room of romance, along with the gondola of Venice, the "clock-face" troubadour, and the castle on the Rhine. The Spanish brand of mediaevalism would seem, for a number of years, to have substituted itself in England for the German, and doubtless a search through the annuals and gift books and fashionable fiction and minor poetry generally, of the years from 1825 to 1840, would disclose a decided Castilian colouring. To such effect, at least, is the testimony of the Edinburgh reviewer—from whom I have several times quoted—reviewing in January, 1841, the new and sumptuously illustrated edition of "Ancient Spanish Ballads." "Mr. Lockhart's success," he writes, "rendered the subject fashionable; we have, however, no space to bestow on the minor fry who dabbled in these . . . fountains. Those who remember their number may possibly deprecate our re-opening the floodgates of the happily subsided inundation."

The popular ballad, indeed, is, next after the historical romance, the literary form to which the romantic movement has given, in the highest degree, a renewal of prosperous life. Every one has written ballads, and the "burden" has become a burden even as the grasshopper is such. The very parodists have taken the matter in hand. The only Calverley made excellent sport of the particular variety cultivated by Jean Ingelow. And Sir Frederick Pollock, as though actuated by Lowell's hint, about "a declaration of love under the forms of a declaration in trover," cast the law reports into ballad phrase in his "Leading Cases Done into English (1876):

"It was Thomas Newman and five his feres
(Three more would have made them nine),
And they entered into John Vaux's house,
That had the Queen's Head to sign.
The birds on the bough sing loud and sing low,
What trespass shall be ab initio."

Of course the great majority of these poems in the ballad form, whether lyric or narrative, or a mixture of both, are in no sense romantic. They are like Wordsworth's "Lyrical Ballads," idyllic; songs of the affections, of nature, sentiment, of war, the sea, the hunting field, rustic life, and a hundred other moods and topics. Neither are the historical or legendary ballads, deriving from Percy and reinforced by Scott, prevailingly romantic in the sense of being mediaeval. They are such as Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome," in which—with ample acknowledgment in his introduction both to Scott and to the "Reliques"—he applies the form of the English minstrel ballad to an imaginative re-creation of the lost popular poetry of early Rome. Or they continue Scott's Jacobite tradition, like "Aytoun's Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers," Browning's "Cavalier Tunes," Thornbury's "Songs of the Cavaliers and Roundheads" (1857), and a few of Motherwell's ditties. These last named, except Browning, were all Scotchmen and staunch Tories; as were likewise Lockhart and Hogg; and, for obvious reasons, it is in Scotland that the simpler fashion of ballad writing, whether in dialect or standard English, and more especially as employed upon martial subjects, has flourished longest. Artifice and ballad preciosity have been cultivated more sedulously in the south, with a learned use of the repetend, archaism of style, and imitation of the quaint mediaeval habit of mind.

Of the group most immediately connected with Scott and who assisted him, more or less, in his "Minstrelsy" collection, may be mentioned the eccentric John Leyden, immensely learned in Border antiquities and poetry, and James Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd." The latter was a peasant bard, an actual shepherd and afterward a sheep farmer, a self-taught man with little schooling, who aspired to become a second Burns, and composed much of his poetry while lying out on the hills, wrapped in his plaid and tending his flocks like any Corydon or Thyrsis. He was a singular mixture of genius and vanity, at once the admiration and the butt of the Blackwood's wits, who made him the mouthpiece of humour and eloquence which were not his, but Christopher North's. The puzzled shepherd hardly knew how to take it; he was a little gratified and a good deal nettled. But the flamboyant figure of him in the Noctes will probably do as much as his own verses to keep his memory alive with posterity. Nevertheless, Hogg is one of the best of modern Scotch ballad poets. Having read the first two volumes of the "Border Minstrelsy," he was dissatisfied with some of the modern ballad imitations therein and sent his criticisms to Scott. They were sound criticisms, for Hogg had an intimate knowledge of popular poetry and a quick perception of what was genuine and what was spurious in such compositions. Sir Walter called him in aid of his third volume and found his services of value.

As a Border minstrel, Hogg ranks next to Scott—is, in fact, a sort of inferior Scott. His range was narrower, but he was just as thoroughly saturated with the legendary lore of the countryside, and in some respects he stood closer to the spirit of that peasant life in which popular poetry has its source. As a ballad poet, indeed, he is not always Scott's inferior, though even his ballads are apt to be too long and without the finish and the instinct for selection which marks the true artist. When he essayed metrical romances in numerous cantos, his deficiencies in art became too fatally evident. Scott, in his longer poems, is often profuse and unequal, but always on a much higher level than Hogg. The latter had no skill in conducting to the end a fable of some complexity, involving a number of varied characters and a really dramatic action. "Mador of the Moor," e.g., is a manifest and not very successful imitation of "The Lady of the Lake"; and it requires a strong appetite for the romantic to sustain a reader through the six parts of "Queen Hynde" and the four parts of "The Pilgrims of the Sun." By general consent, the best of Hogg's more ambitious poems is "The Queen's Wake," and the best thing in it is "Kilmeny." "The Queen's Wake" (1813) combines, in its narrative plan, the framework of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" with the song competition in its sixth canto. Mary Stuart, on landing in Scotland, holds a Christmas wake at Holyrood, where seventeen bards contend before her for the prize of song. The lays are in many different moods and measures, but all enclosed in a setting of octosyllabic couplets, closely modelled upon Scott, and the whole ends with a tribute to the great minstrel who had waked once more the long silent Harp of the North. The thirteenth bard's song—"Kilmeny"—is of the type of traditionary tale familiar in "Tarn Lin" and "Thomas of Ercildoune," and tells how a maiden was spirited away to fairyland, where she saw a prophetic vision of her country's future (including the Napoleonic wars) and returned after a seven years' absence.

"Late, late in a gloamin' when all was still,
When the fringe was red on the westlin hill,
The wood was sere, the moon i' the wane,
The reek o' the cot hung o'er the plain,
Like a little wee cloud in the world its lane;
When the ingle lowed wi' an eiry leme,
Late, late in the gloamin' Kilmeny came hame."

The Ettrick Shepherd's peculiar province was not so much the romance of national history as the field of Scottish fairy lore and popular superstition. It was he, rather than Walter Scott, who carried out the suggestions long since made to his countryman, John Home, in Collins' "Ode on the Superstitions of the Highlands." His poems are full of bogles, kelpies, brownies, warlocks, and all manner of "grammarie." "The Witch of Fife" in "The Queen's Wake," a spirited bit of grotesque, is repeatedly quoted as authority upon the ways of Scotch witches in the notes to Croker's "Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland." Similar themes engaged the poet in his prose tales. Some of these were mere modern ghost stories, or stories of murder, robbery, death warnings, etc. Others, like "The Heart of Eildon," dealt with ancient legends of the supernatural. Still others, like "The Brownie of Bodsbeck: a Tale of the Covenanters," were historical novels of the Stuart times. Here Hogg was on Scott's own ground and did not shine by comparison. He complained, indeed, that in the last-mentioned tale, he had been accused of copying "Old Mortality", but asserted that he had written his book the first and had been compelled by the appearance of Sir Walter's, to go over his own manuscript and substitute another name for Balfour of Burley, his original hero. Nanny's songs, in "The Brownie of Bodsbeck," are among Hogg's best ballads. Others are scattered through his various collections—"The Mountain Bard," "The Forest Minstrel," "Poetical Tales and Ballads," etc.

Another Scotch balladist was William Motherwell, one of the most competent of ballad scholars and editors, whose "Minstrelsy: Ancient and Modern," was issued at Glasgow in 1827, and led to a correspondence between the collector and Sir Walter Scott.[15] In 1836 Motherwell was associated with Hogg in editing Burns' works. His original ballads are few in number, and their faults and merits are of quite an opposite nature from his collaborator's. The shepherd was a man of the people, and lived, so far as any modern can, among the very conditions which produced the minstrel songs. He inherited the popular beliefs. His great-grandmother on one side was a notorious witch; his grandfather on the other side had "spoken with the fairies." His poetry, such as it is, is fluent and spontaneous. Motherwell's, on the contrary, is the work of a ballad fancier, a student learned in lyric, reproducing old modes with conscientious art. His balladry is more condensed and skilful than Hogg's, but seems to come hard to him. It is literary poetry trying to be Volkspoesie, and not quite succeeding. Many of the pieces in the southern English, such as "Halbert the Grim," "The Troubadour's Lament," "The Crusader's Farewell," "The Warthman's Wail," "The Demon Lady," "The Witches' Joys," and "Lady Margaret," have an echo of Elizabethan music, or the songs of Lovelace, or, now and then, the verse of Coleridge or Byron. "True Love's Dirge," e.g., borrows a burden from Shakspere—"Heigho! the Wind and Rain." Others, like "Lord Archibald: A Ballad," and "Elfinland Wud: An Imitation of the Ancient Scottish Romantic Ballad," are in archaic Scotch dialect with careful ballad phrasing. Hogg employs the broad Scotch, but it is mostly the vernacular of his own time. A short passage from "The Witch of Fife" and one from "Elfin Wud" will illustrate two very different types of ballad manner:

"He set ane reid-pipe till his muthe
And he playit se bonnileye,
Till the gray curlew and the black-cock flew
To listen his melodye.

"It rang se sweit through the grim Lommond,
That the nycht-winde lowner blew:
And it soupit alang the Loch Leven,
And wakenit the white sea-mew.

"It rang se sweit through the grim Lommond,
Se sweitly but and se shill,
That the wezilis laup out of their mouldy holis,
And dancit on the mydnycht hill."

"Around her slepis the quhyte muneschyne,
(Meik is mayden undir kell),
Hir lips bin lyke the blude reid wyne;
(The rois of flouris hes sweitest smell).

"It was al bricht quhare that ladie stude,
(Far my luve fure ower the sea).
Bot dern is the lave of Elfinland wud,
(The Knicht pruvit false that ance luvit me).

"The ladie's handis were quhyte als milk,
(Ringis my luve wore mair nor ane).
Hir skin was safter nor the silk;
(Lilly bricht schinis my luve's halse bane)."

Upon the whole, the most noteworthy of Motherwell's original additions to the stores of romantic verse were his poems on subjects from Norse legend and mythology, and particularly the three spirited pieces that stand first in his collection (1832)—"The Battle-Flag of Sigurd," "The Wooing Song of Jarl Egill Skallagrim," and "The Sword Chant of Thorstein Randi." These stand midway between Gray's "Descent of Odin" and the later work of Longfellow, William Morris and others. Since Gray, little or nothing of the kind had been attempted; and Motherwell gave perhaps the first expression in English song of the Berserkir rage and the Viking passion for battle and sea roving.

During the nineteenth century English romance received new increments of heroic legend and fairy lore from the Gaelic of Ireland. It was not until 1867 that Matthew Arnold, in his essay "On the Study of Celtic Literature," pleading for a chair of Celtic at Oxford, bespoke the attention of the English public to those elements in the national literature which come from the Celtic strain in its blood. Arnold knew very little Celtic, and his essay abounds in those airy generalisations which are so irritating to more plodding critics. His theory, e.g., that English poetry owes its sense for colour to the Celts, when taken up and stated nakedly by following writers, seems too absolute in its ascription of colour-blindness to the Teutonic races. Still, Arnold probably defined fairly enough the distinctive traits of the Celtic genius. He attributes to a Celtic source much of the turn of English poetry for style, much of its turn for melancholy, and nearly all its turn for "natural magic." "The forest solitude, the bubbling spring, the wild flowers, are everywhere in romance. They have a mysterious life and grace there; they are Nature's own children, and utter her secret in a way which makes them something quite different from the woods, waters, and plants of Greek and Latin poetry. Now, of this delicate magic, Celtic romance is so pre-eminent a mistress that it seems impossible to believe the power did not come into romance from the Celts."

In 1825 T. Crofton Croker published the first volume of his delightful "Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland." It was immediately translated into German by the Grimm brothers, and was received with enthusiasm by Walter Scott, who was introduced to the author in London in 1826, and a complimentary letter from whom was printed in the preface to the second edition.

Croker's book opened a new world of romance, and introduced the English reader to novel varieties of elf creatures, with outlandish Gaelic names; the Shefro; the Boggart; the Phooka, or horse-fiend; the Banshee, a familiar spirit which moans outside the door when a death impends; the Cluricaune,[16] or cellar goblin; the Fir Darrig (Red Man); the Dullahan, or Headless Horseman. There are stories of changelings, haunted castles, buried treasure, the "death coach," the fairy piper, enchanted lakes which cover sunken cities, and similar matters not unfamiliar in the folk-lore of other lands, but all with an odd twist to them and set against a background of the manners and customs of modern Irish peasantry. The Celtic melancholy is not much in evidence in this collection. The wild Celtic fancy is present, but in combination with Irish gaiety and light-heartedness. It was the day of the comedy Irishman—Lover's and Lever's Irishman—Handy Andy, Rory O'More, Widow Machree and the like. It took the famine of '49 and the strenuous work of the Young Ireland Party which gathered about the Nation in 1848, to displace this traditional figure in favour of a more earnest and tragical national type. But a single quotation will illustrate the natural magic of which Arnold speaks: "The Merrow (mermaid) put the comb in her pocket, and then bent down her head and whispered some words to the water that was close to the foot of the rock. Dick saw the murmur of the words upon the top of the sea, going out towards the wide ocean, just like a breath of wind rippling along, and, says he, in the greatest wonder, 'Is it speaking you are, my darling, to the salt water?'

"'It's nothing else,' says she, quite carelessly; 'I'm just sending word home to my father not to be waiting breakfast for me.'" Except for its lack of "high seriousness," this is the imagination that makes myths.

Catholic Ireland still cherishes popular beliefs which in England, and even in Scotland, have long been merely antiquarian curiosities. In her poetry the fairies are never very far away.

"Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men." [17]

Irish critics, to be sure, tell us that Allingham's fairies are English fairies, and that he had no Gaelic, though he knew and loved his Irish countryside. He was a Protestant and a loyalist, and lived in close association with the English Pre-Raphaelites—with Rossetti especially, who made the illustration for "The Maids of Elfin-Mere" in Allingham's volume "The Music Master" (1855). The Irish fairies, it is said, are beings of a darker and more malignant breed than Shakspere's elves. Yet in Allingham's poem they stole little Bridget and kept her seven years, till she died of sorrow and lies asleep on the lake bottom; even as in Ferguson's weird ballad, "The Fairy Thorn," the good people carry off fair Anna Grace from the midst of her three companions, who "pined away and died within the year and day."

To the latter half of the century belongs the so-called Celtic revival, which connects itself with the Nationalist movement in politics and is partly literary and partly patriotic. It may be doubted whether, for practical purposes, the Gaelic will ever come again into general use. But the concerted endeavour by a whole nation to win back its ancient, wellnigh forgotten speech is a most interesting social phenomenon. At all events, both by direct translations of the Gaelic hero epics and by original work in which the Gaelic spirit is transfused through English ballad and other verse forms, a lost kingdom of romance has been recovered and a bright green thread of Celtic poetry runs through the British anthology of the century. The names of the pioneers and leading contributors to this movement are significant of the varied strains of blood which compose Irish nationality. James Clarence Mangan was a Celt of the Celts; Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and Aubrey de Vere were of Norman-Irish stock, and the former was the son of a dean of the Established Church, and himself the editor of a Tory newspaper; Sir Samuel Ferguson was an Ulster Protestant of Scotch descent; Dr. George Sigerson is of Norse blood; Whitley Stokes, the eminent Celtic scholar, and Dr. John Todhunter, author of "Three Bardic Tales" (1896), bear Anglo-Saxon surnames; the latter is the son of Quaker parents and was educated at English Quaker schools.

Mangan's paraphrases from the Gaelic, "Poets and Poetry of Munster," appeared posthumously in 1850. They include a number of lyrics, wildly and mournfully beautiful, inspired by the sorrows of Ireland: "Dark Rosaleen," "Lament for the Princes of Tir-Owen and Tir-Connell," "O'Hussey's Ode to the Maguire," etc. The ballad form was not practised by the ancient Gaelic epic poets. In choosing it as the vehicle for their renderings from vernacular narrative poetry, the modern Irish poets have departed widely from the English and Scottish model, employing a variety of metres and not seeking to conform their diction to the manner of the ballads in the "Reliques" or the "Border Minstrelsy." Ferguson's "Lays of the Western Gael" (1865) is a series of historical ballads, original in effect, though based upon old Gaelic chronicles. "Congal" (1872) is an epic, founded on an ancient bardic tale, and written in Chapman's "fourteener" and reminding the reader frequently of Chapman's large, vigorous manner, his compound epithets and spacious Homeric similes. The same epic breadth of manner was applied to the treatment of other hero legends, "Conary," "Deirdré," etc., in a subsequent volume (1880). "Deirdré," the finest of all the old Irish stories, was also handled independently by the late Dr. R. D. Joyce in the verse and manner of William Morris' "Earthly Paradise." [18] Among other recent workers in this field are Aubrey de Vere, a volume of selections from whose poetry appeared at New York in 1894, edited by Prof. G. E. Woodberry; George Sigerson, whose "Bards of the Gael and the Gall," a volume of translations from the Irish in the original metres, was issued in 1897; Whitley Stokes, an accomplished translator, and the joint editor (with Windisch) of the "Irische Texte "; John Todhunter, author of "The Banshee and Other Poems" (1888) and "Three Bardic Tales" (1896); Alfred Perceval Graves, author of "Irish Folk Songs" (1897), and many other volumes of national lyrics; and William Larminie—"West Irish Folk Tales and Romances" (1893), etc.

The Celtism of this Gaelic renascence is of a much purer and more genuine character than the Celtism of Macpherson's "Ossian." Yet with all its superiority in artistic results, it is improbable that it will make any such impression on Europe or England as Macpherson made. "Ossian" was the first revelation to the world of the Celtic spirit: sophisticated, rhetorical, yet still the first; and it is not likely that its success will be repeated. In the very latest school of Irish verse, represented by such names as Lionel Johnson, J. B. Yeats, George W. Russell, Nora Hopper, the mystical spirit which inhabits the "Celtic twilight" turns into modern symbolism, so that some of their poems on legendary subjects bear a curious resemblance to the contemporary work of Maeterlinck: to such things as "Aglivaine et Salysette" or "Les Sept Princesses." [19]

The narrative ballad is hardly one of the forms of high art, like the epic, the tragedy, the Pindaric ode. It is simple and not complex like the sonnet: not of the aristocracy of verse, but popular—not to say plebeian—in its associations. It is easy to write and, in its commonest metrical shape of eights and sixes, apt to run into sing-song. Its limitations, even in the hands of an artist like Coleridge or Rossetti, are obvious. It belongs to "minor poetry." The ballad revival has not been an unmixed blessing and is responsible for much slip-shod work. If Dr. Johnson could come back from the shades and look over our recent verse, one of his first comments would probably be: "Sir, you have too many ballads." Be it understood that the romantic ballad only is here in question, in which the poet of a literary age seeks to catch and reproduce the tone of a childlike, unself-conscious time, so that his art has almost inevitably something artificial or imitative. Here and there one stands out from the mass by its skill or luck in overcoming the difficulty. There is Hawker's "Song of the Western Men," which Macaulay and others quoted as historical, though only the refrain was old:

"And shall Trelawney die?
Here's twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why!" [20]

There is Sydney Dobell's "Keith of Ravelston," [21] which haunts the memory with the insistent iteration of its refrain:—

"The murmur of the mourning ghost
That keeps the shadowy kine;
Oh, Keith of Ravelston,
The sorrows of thy line!"

And again there is Robert Buchanan's "Ballad of Judas Iscariot" which Mr. Stedman compares for "weird impressiveness and power" with "The Ancient Mariner." The mediaeval feeling is most successfully captured in this poem. It recalls the old "Debate between the Body and Soul," and still more the touches of divine compassion which soften the rigours of Catholic theology in the legends of the saints. It strikes the keynote, too, of that most modern ballad mode which employs the narrative only to emphasize some thought of universal application. There is salvation for all, is the thought, even for the blackest soul of the world, the soul that betrayed its Maker.[22] Such, though after a fashion more subtly intellectual, is the doctrinal use to which this popular form is put by one of the latest English ballad makers, Mr. John Davidson. Read, e.g., his "Ballad of a Nun," [23] the story of which was told in several shapes by the Spanish poet Alfonso the Learned (1226-84). A runaway nun returns in penitence to her convent, and is met at the gate by the Virgin Mary, who has taken her likeness and kept her place for her during the years of her absence. Or read "A New Ballad of Tannhäuser," [24] which contradicts "the idea of the inherent impurity of nature" by an interpretation of the legend in a sense quite the reverse of Wagner's. Tannhäuser's dead staff blossoms not as a sign of forgiveness, but to show him that "there was no need to be forgiven." The modern balladist attacks the ascetic Middle Age with a shaft from its own quiver.

But it is time to turn from minor poets to acknowledged masters; and above all to the greatest of modern English artists in verse, the representative poet of the Victorian era. Is Tennyson to be classed with the romantics? His workmanship, when most truly characteristic, is romantic in the sense of being pictorial and ornate, rather than classically simple or severe. He assimilated the rich manner of Keats, whose influence is perceptible in his early poems. His art, like Keats', is eclectic and reminiscent, choosing for its exercise with equal impartiality whatever was most beautiful in the world of Grecian fable or the world of mediaeval legend. But unlike Keats, he lived to add new strings to his lyre; he went on to sing of modern life and thought, of present-day problems in science and philosophy, of contemporary politics, the doubt, unrest, passion, and faith of his own century. To find work of Tennyson's that is romantic throughout, in subject, form, and spirit alike, we must look among his earlier collections (1830, 1832, 1842). For this was a phase which he passed beyond, as Millais outgrew his youthful Pre-Raphaelitism, or as Goethe left behind him his "Götz" and "Werther" period and widened out into larger utterance. Mr. Stedman speaks of the "Gothic feeling" in "The Lady of Shalott," and in ballads like "Oriana" and "The Sisters," describing them as "work that in its kind is fully up to the best of those Pre-Raphaelites who, by some arrest of development, stop precisely where Tennyson made his second step forward, and censure him for having gone beyond them." [25] This estimate may be accepted so far as it concerns "The Lady of Shalott," which is known to have worked strongly upon Rossetti's imagination; but surely "The Sisters" and "Oriana" do not rank with the best Pre-Raphaelite work. The former is little better than a failure; and the latter, which provokes a comparison, not to Tennyson's advantage, with the fine old ballad, "Helen of Kirkconnell," is a weak thing. The name Oriana has romantic associations—it is that of the heroine of "Amadis de Gaul"—but the damnable iteration of it as a ballad burden is irritating. Mediaeval motifs are rather slightly handled in "The Golden Supper" (from the "Decameron," 4th novel, 10th day); "The Beggar Maid" (from the ballad of "King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid" in the "Reliques"); and more adequately in "Godiva," a blank-verse rendering of the local legend of Coventry, in which an attempt is made to preserve something of the antique roughness under the smooth Vergilian elegance of Tennyson's diction. "The Day Dream" was a recasting of one of Perrault's fairy tales, "The Sleeping Beauty," under which title a portion of it had appeared in the "Poems Chiefly Lyrical" of 1830. Tennyson has written many greater poems than this, but few in which the special string of romance vibrates more purely. The tableau of the spellbound palace, with all its activities suspended, gave opportunity for the display of his unexampled pictorial power in scenes of still life; and the legend itself supplied that charmed isolation from the sphere of reality which we noticed as so important a part of the romantic poet's stock-in-trade in "Christabel" and "The Eve of St. Agnes"—

"The hall-door shuts again and all is still."

Poems like "The Day Dream" and "The Princess" make it evident that Scott and Coleridge and Keats had so given back the Middle Ages to the imagination that any future poet, seeking free play in a realm unhampered by actual conditions—"apart from place, withholding time"—was apt to turn naturally, if not inevitably, to the feudal times. The action of "The Day Dream" proceeds no-where and no-when. The garden—if we cross-examine it—is a Renaissance garden:

"Soft lustre bathes the range of urns
On every slanting terrace-lawn:
The fountain to its place returns,
Deep in the garden lake withdrawn."

The furnishings of the palace are a mixture of mediaeval and Louis
Quatorze—clocks, peacocks, parrots, golden mantle pegs:—

"Till all the hundred summers pass,
The beams that through the oriel shine
Make prisms in every carven glass
And beaker brimm'd with noble wine."

But the impression, as a whole, is of the Middle Age of poetic convention, if not of history; the enchanted dateless era of romance and fairy legend.

"St. Agnes" and "Sir Galahad," its masculine counterpart, sound the old Catholic notes of saintly virginity and mystical, religious rapture, the Gottesminne of mediaeval hymnody. Not since Southwell's "Burning Babe" and Crashaw's "Saint Theresa" had any English poet given such expression to those fervid devotional moods which Sir Thomas Browne describes as "Christian annihilation, ecstasies, exolution, liquefaction, transformation, the kiss of the spouse, gustation of God and ingression into the divine shadow." This vein, we have noticed, is wanting in Scott. On the other hand, it may be noticed in passing, Tennyson's attitude towards nature is less exclusively romantic—in the narrow sense—than Scott's. He, too, is conscious of the historic associations of place. In Tennyson, as in Scott,—

"The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story"—[26]

but, in general, his treatment of landscape, in its human relations, is subtler and more intimate.

"St. Agnes" and "Sir Galahad" are monologues, but lyric and not dramatic in Browning's manner. There is a dramatic falsity, indeed, in making Sir Galahad say of himself—

"My strength is as the strength of ten
Because my heart is pure,"

and the poem would be better in the third person. "St. Simeon Stylites" is a dramatic monologue more upon Browning's model, i.e., a piece of apologetics and self-analysis. But in this province Tennyson is greatly Browning's inferior.

"The Princess" (1847) is representative of that "splendid composite of imagery," and that application of modern ideas to legendary material, or to invented material arbitrarily placed in an archaic setting, which are characteristic of this artist. The poem's sub-title is "A Medley," because it is

"—made to suit with time and place,
A Gothic ruin and a Grecian house,
A talk of college and of ladies' rights,
A feudal knight in silken masquerade,
And, yonder, shrieks and strange experiments."

The problem is a modern one—the New Woman. No precise historic period is indicated. The female university is full of classic lore and art, but withal there are courts of feudal kings, with barons, knights, and squires, and shock of armoured champions in the lists.

But the special service of Tennyson to romantic poetry lay in his being the first to give a worthy form to the great Arthurian saga; and the modern masterpiece of that poetry, all things considered, is his "Idylls of the King." Not so perfect and unique a thing as "The Ancient Mariner"; less freshly spontaneous, less stirringly alive than "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," Tennyson's Arthuriad has so much wider a range than Coleridge's ballad, and is sustained at so much higher a level than Scott's romance, that it outweighs them both in importance. The Arthurian cycle of legends, emerging from Welsh and Breton mythology; seized upon by French romancers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, who made of Arthur the pattern king, of Lancelot the pattern knight, and of the Table Round the ideal institute of chivalry; gathering about itself accretions like the Grail Quest and the Tristram story; passing by translation into many tongues, but retaining always its scene in Great or Lesser Britain, the lands of its origin, furnished the modern English romancer with a groundwork of national, though not Anglo-Saxon epic stuff, which corresponds more nearly with the Charlemagne epos in France, and the Nibelung hero Saga in Germany, than anything else which our literature possesses. And a national possession, in a sense, it had always remained. The story in outline and in some of its main episodes was familiar. Arthur, Lancelot, Guinivere, Merlin, Modred, Iseult, Gawaine, were well-known figures, like Robin Hood or Guy of Warwick, in Shakspere's time as in Chaucer's. But the epos, as a whole, had never found its poet. Spenser had evaporated Arthur into allegory. Milton had dallied with the theme and put it by.[27] The Elizabethan drama, which went so far afield in search of the moving accident, had strangely missed its chance here, bringing the Round Table heroes upon its stage only in masque and pageant (Justice Shallow "was Sir Dagonet in Arthur's show"), or in some such performance as the rude old Seneca tragedy of "The Misfortunes of Arthur." In 1695 Sir Richard Blackmore published his "Prince Arthur," an epic in ten books and in rimed couplets, enlarged in 1697 into "King Arthur" in twelve books. Blackmore professed to take Vergil as his model. A single passage from his poem will show how much chance the old chivalry tale had in the hands of a minor poet of King William's reign. Arthur and his company have landed on the shores of Albion, where

"Rich wine of Burgundy and choice champagne
Relieve the toil they suffered on the main;
But what more cheered them than their meats and wine,
Was wise instruction and discourse divine
From Godlike Arthur's mouth."

There is no need, in taking a summary view of Tennyson's "Idylls," to go into the question of sources, or to inquire whether Arthur was a historical chief of North Wales, or whether he signified the Great Bear (Arcturus) in Celtic mythology, and his Round Table the circle described by that constellation about the pole star.[28] Tennyson went no farther back for his authority than Sir Thomas Malory's "Morte Darthur," printed by Caxton in 1485, a compilation principally from old French Round Table romances. This was the final mediaeval shape of the story in English. It is somewhat wandering and prolix as to method, but written in delightful prose. The story of "Enid," however (under its various titles and arrangements in successive editions), he took from Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the Welsh "Mabinogion" (1838-49).

Before deciding upon the heroic blank verse and a loosely epic form, as most fitting for his purpose, Tennyson had retold passages of Arthurian romance in the ballad manner and in various shapes of riming stanza. The first of these was "The Lady of Shalott" (1832), identical in subject with the later idyll of "Lancelot and Elaine," but fanciful and even allegorical in treatment. Shalott is from Ascalot, a variant of Astolat, in the old metrical romance—not Malory's—of the "Morte Arthur." The fairy lady, who sees all passing sights in her mirror and weaves them into her magic web, has been interpreted as a symbol of art, which has to do properly only with the reflection of life. When the figure of Lancelot is cast upon the glass, a personal emotion is brought into her life which is fatal to her art. She is "sick of shadows," and looks through her window at the substance. Then her mirror cracks from side to side and the curse is come upon her. Other experiments of the same kind were "Sir Galahad" and "Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinivere" (both in 1842). The beauty of all these ballad beginnings is such that one is hardly reconciled to the loss of so much romantic music, even by the noble blank verse and the ampler narrative method which the poet finally adopted. They stand related to the "Idylls" very much as Morris' "Defence of Guenevere" stands to his "Earthly Paradise."

Thoroughly romantic in content, the "Idylls of the King" are classical in form. They may be compared to Tasso's "Gierusalemme Liberata," in which the imperfectly classical manner of the Renaissance is applied to a Gothic subject, the history of the Crusades. The first specimen given was the "Morte d'Arthur" of 1842, set in a framework entitled "The Epic," in which "the poet, Everard Hall," reads to his friends a fragment from his epic, "King Arthur," in twelve books. All the rest he has burned. For—

"Why take the style of those heroic times?
For nature brings not back the Mastodon,
Nor we those times; and why should any man
Remodel models? these twelve books of mine
Were faint Homeric echoes."

The "fragment" is thus put forward tentatively and with apologies—apologies which were little needed; for the "Morte d'Arthur," afterwards embedded in "The Passing of Arthur," remains probably the best, and certainly the most Homeric passage in the "Idylls." Tennyson's own quality was more Vergilian than Homeric, but the models which he here remodels were the Homeric epics. He chose for his measure not the Spenserian stanza, nor the ottava rima of Tasso, nor the octosyllables of Scott and the chivalry romances, but the heroic blank verse which Milton had fixed as the vehicle of English classical epic. He adopts Homer's narrative practices: the formulated repetitions of phrase, the pictorial comparisons, the conventional epithets (in moderation), and his gnomic habit—

"O purblind race of miserable men," etc.

The original four idylls were published in 1859.[29] Thenceforth the series grew by successive additions and rearrangements up to the completed "Idylls" of 1888, twelve in number—besides prologue and epilogue—according to the plan foreshadowed in "The Epic." The story of Arthur had thus occupied Tennyson for over a half century. Though modestly entitled "Idylls," by reason of the episodic treatment, the poem when finished was, in fact, an epic; but an epic that lacked the formal unity of the "Aeneid" and the "Paradise Lost," or even of the "Iliad." It resembled the Homeric heroic poems more than the literary epics of Vergil and Milton, in being not the result of a single act of construction, but a growth from the gradual fitting together of materials selected from a vast body of legend. This legendary matter he reduced to an epic unity. The adventures in Malory's romance are of very uneven value, and it abounds in inconsistencies and repetitions. He also redistributed the ethical balance. Lancelot is the real hero of the old "Morte Darthur," and Guinivere—the Helen of romance—goes almost uncensured. Malory's Arthur is by no means "the blameless king" of Tennyson, who makes of him a nineteenth-century ideal of royal knighthood, and finally an allegorical type of Soul at war with Sense. The downfall of the Round Table, that order of spiritual knight-errantry through which the king hopes to regenerate society, happens through the failure of his knights to rise to his own high level of character; in a degree, also, because the emprise is diverted from attainable practical aims to the fantastic quest of the Holy Grail. The sin of Lancelot and the Queen, drawing after it the treachery of Modred, brings on the tragic catastrophe. This conception is latent in Malory, but it is central in Tennyson; and everywhere he subtilises, refines, elevates, and, in short, modernises the Motivirung in the old story. Does he thereby also weaken it? Censure and praise have been freely bestowed upon Tennyson's dealings with Malory. Thus it is complained that his Arthur is a prig, a curate, who preaches to his queen and lectures his court, and whose virtue is too conscious; that the harlot Vivien is a poor substitute for the damsel of the lake who puts Merlin to sleep under a great rock in the land of Benwick; that the gracious figure of Gawain suffers degradation from the application of an effeminate moral standard to his shining exploits in love and war, that modern convenances are imposed upon a society in which they do not belong and whose joyous, robust naïveté is hurt by them.[30]

The allegorical method tried in "The Lady of Shalott," but abandoned in the earlier "Idylls," creeps in again in the later; particularly in "Gareth and Lynette" (1872), in the elaborate symbolism of the gates of Camelot, and in the guardians of the river passes, whom Gareth successively overcomes, and who seem to represent the temptations incident to the different ages of man. The whole poem, indeed, has been interpreted in a parabolic sense, Merlin standing for the intellect, the Lady of the Lake for religion, etc. Allegory was a favourite mediaeval mode, and the Grail legend contains an element of mysticism which invites an emblematic treatment. But the attraction of this fashion for minds of a Platonic cast is dangerous to art: the temptation to find a meaning in human life more esoteric than any afforded by the literal life itself. A delicate balance must be kept between that presentation of the concrete which makes it significant by making it representative and typical, and that other presentation which dissolves the individual into the general, by making it a mere abstraction. Were it not for Dante and Hawthorne and the second part of "Faust," one would incline to say that no creative genius of the first order indulges in allegory. Homer is never allegorical except in the episode of Circe; Shakspere never, with the doubtful exception of "The Tempest." The allegory in the "Idylls of the King" is not of the obvious kind employed in the "Faëry Queene"; but Tennyson, no less than Spenser, appeared to feel that the simple retelling of an old chivalry tale, without imparting to it some deeper meaning, was no work for a modern poet.

Tennyson has made the Arthur Saga, as a whole, peculiarly his own. But others of the Victorian poets have handled detached portions of it. William Morris' "Defence of Guenevere" (1858) anticipated the first group of "Idylls." Swinburne's "Tristram of Lyonesse" (1882) dealt at full length, and in a very different spirit, with an epicyclic legend which Tennyson touched incidentally in "The Last Tournament." Matthew Arnold's "Tristram and Iseult" was a third manipulation of the legend, partly in dramatic, partly in narrative form, and in changing metres. It follows another version of Tristram's death, and the story of Vivian and Merlin which Iseult of Brittany tells her children is quite distinct from the one in the "Idylls." Iseult of Brittany—not Iseult of Cornwall—is the heroine of Arnold's poem. Thomas Westwood's "Quest of the Sancgreall" is still one more contribution to Arthurian poetry of which a mere mention must here suffice.

For our review threatens to become a catalogue. To such a degree had mediaevalism become the fashion, that nearly every Georgian and Victorian poet of any pretensions tried his hand at it. Robert Browning was not romantic in Scott's way, nor in Tennyson's. His business was with the soul. The picturesqueness of the external conditions in which soul was placed was a matter of indifference. To-day was as good as yesterday. Now and then occurs a title with romantic implications—"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," e.g., borrowed from a ballad snatch sung by the Fool in "Lear" (Roland is Roland of the "Chanson"). But the poem proves to be a weird study in landscape symbolism and the history of some dark emprise, the real nature of which is altogether undiscoverable. "Count Gismond," again, is the story of a combat in the lists at Aix in Provence, in which a knight vindicates a lady's honour with his lance, and slays her traducer at her feet. But this is a dramatic monologue like any other, and only accidentally mediaeval. "The Heretic's Tragedy: A Middle Age Interlude," is mediaeval without being romantic. It recounts the burning, at Paris, A.D. 1314, of Jacques du Bourg-Molay, Grand Master of the Templars; and purports to be a sort of canticle, with solo and chorus, composed two centuries after the event by a Flemish canon of Ypres, to be sung at hocktide and festivals. The childishness and devout buffoonery of an old miracle play are imitated here, as in Swinburne's "Masque of Queen Bersabe." This piece and "Holy Cross Day" are dramatic, or monodramatic, grotesques; and in their apprehension of this trait of the mediaeval mind are on a par with Hugo's "Pas d'armes du Roi Jean" and "La Chasse du Burgrave." But Browning's mousings in the Middle Ages after queer freaks of conscience or passion were occasional. If any historical period, more than another, had special interest for him, it was the period of the Italian Renaissance. Yet Ruskin said: "Robert Browning is unerring in every sentence he writes of the Middle Ages."

Among Mrs. Browning's poems, which, it needs hardly be said, are not prevailingly "Gothic," there are three interesting experiments in ballad romance: "The Romaunt of the Page," "The Lay of the Brown Rosary," and "The Rime of the Duchess May." In all of these she avails herself of the mediaeval atmosphere, simply to play variations on her favourite theme, the devotedness of woman's love. The motive is the same as in poems of modern life like "Bertha in the Lane" and "Aurora Leigh." The vehemence of this nobly gifted woman, her nervous and sometimes almost hysterical emotionalism, are not without a disagreeable quality. With greater range and fervour, she had not the artistic poise of the Pre-Raphaelite poetess, Christina Rossetti. In these romances, as elsewhere, she is sometimes shrill and often mannerised. "The Romaunt of the Page" is the tale of a lady who attends her knight to the Holy Land, disguised as a page, and without his knowledge. She saves his life several times, and finally at the cost of her own. A prophetic accompaniment or burden comes in ever and anon in the distant chant of nuns over the dead abbess.

"Beati! beati mortui."

"The Lay of the Brown Rosary" is a charming but uneven piece, in four parts and a variety of measures, about a girl who, while awaiting her lover's return from the war, learns in a dream that she must die, and purchases seven years of life from the ghost of a wicked nun whose body has been immured in an old convent wall. The spirit gives the bride a brown rosary which she wears under her dress, but her kiss kills the bridegroom at the altar. The most spirited and well-sustained of these ballad poems is "The Rime of the Duchess May," in which the heroine rides off the battlements with her husband. "Toll slowly," runs the refrain. Mrs. Browning employs some archaisms, such as chapélle, chambére, ladié. The stories are seemingly of her own invention, and have not quite the genuine accent of folk-song.

Even Matthew Arnold and Thomas Hood, representatives in their separate spheres of anti-romantic tendencies, made occasional forays into the Middle Ages. But who thinks of such things as "The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies" or "The Two Peacocks of Bedfont" when Hood is mentioned; and not rather of "The Bridge of Sighs" and "The Song of the Shirt"? Or who, in spite of "Balder Dead" and "Tristram and Iseult," would classify Arnold's clean-cut, reserved, delicately intellectual work as romantic? Hood was an artist of the terrible as well as of the comic; witness his "Last Man," "Haunted House," and "Dream of Eugene Aram." If he could have welded the two moods into a more intimate union, and applied them to legendary material, he might have been a great artist in mediaeval grotesque—a species of Gothic Hoffman perhaps. As it is, his one romantic success is the charming lyric "Fair Ines." His longer poems in this kind, in modifications of ottava rima or Spenserian stanza, show Keats' influence very clearly. The imagery is profuse, but too distinct and without the romantic chiaroscuro. "The Water Lady" is a manifest imitation of "La Belle Dame sans Merci," and employs the same somewhat unusual stanza form. Hood—incorrigible punster—who had his jest at everything, jested at romance. He wrote ballad parodies—"The Knight and the Dragon," etc.—and an ironical "Lament for the Decline of Chivalry":

"Well hast thou cried, departed Burke,
All chivalrous romantic work
Is ended now and past!
That iron age—which some have thought
Of mettle rather overwrought—
Is now all overcast."

And finally, "The Saint's Tragedy" (1848) of Charles Kingsley affords a case in which mediaeval biography is made the pretext for an assault upon mediaeval ideas. It is a tendenz drama in five acts, founded upon the "Life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary," as narrated by her contemporary, Dietrich the Thuringian. Its militant Protestantism is such as might be predicted from Kingsley's well-known resentment of the Romanist attitude towards marriage and celibacy; from his regard for freedom of thought; and from that distrust and contempt of Popish priestcraft which involved him in his controversy with Newman. "The Middle Age," says the Introduction, "was, in the gross, a coarse, barbarous, and profligate age. . . . It was, in fact, the very ferocity and foulness of the time which, by a natural revulsion, called forth at the same time the Apostolic holiness and the Manichean asceticism of the mediaeval saints. . . . So rough and common a life-picture of the Middle Age will, I am afraid, whether faithful or not, be far from acceptable to those who take their notions of that period principally from such exquisite dreams as the fictions of Fouqué, and of certain moderns whose graceful minds . . . are, on account of their very sweetness and simplicity, singularly unfitted to convey any true likeness of the coarse and stormy Middle Age. . . . But really, time enough has been lost in ignorant abuse of that period, and time enough also, lately, in blind adoration of it. When shall we learn to see it as it was?"

Polemic in its purpose and anti-Catholic in temper, "The Saint's Tragedy" then seeks to dispel the glamour which romance had thrown over mediaeval life. Kingsley's Middle Age is not the holy Middle Age of the German "throne-and-altar" men; nor yet the picturesque Middle Age of Walter Scott. It is the cruel, ignorant, fanatical Middle Age of "The Amber Witch" and "The Succube." But Kingsley was too much of a poet not to feel those "last enchantments" which whispered to Arnold from Oxford towers, maugre his "strong sense of the irrationality of that period." The saintly, as well as the human side, of Elizabeth's character is portrayed with sympathy, though poetically the best thing in the drama are the songs of the Crusaders.

Kingsley, in effect, was always good at a ballad. His finest work in this kind is modern, "The Last Buccaneer," "The Sands of Dee," "The Three Fishers," and the like. But there are the same fire and swing in many of his romantic ballads on historical or legendary subjects, such as "The Swan-Neck," "The Red King," "Ballad of Earl Haldan's Daughter," "The Song of the Little Baltung," and a dozen more. Without the imaginative witchery of Coleridge, Keats, and Rossetti, in the ballad of action Kingsley ranks very close to Scott. The same manly delight in outdoor life and bold adventure, love of the old Teutonic freedom and strong feeling of English nationality inspire his historical romances, only one of which, however, "Hereward the Wake" (1866), has to do with the period of the Middle Ages.


[1] "It is almost superfluous to mention that the appellation 'Childe,' as 'Childe Waters,' 'Childe Childers,' etc., is used as more consonant with the old structure of versification which I have adopted."—Preface to "Childe Harold." Byron appeals to a letter of Beattie relating to "The Minstrel," to justify his choice of the stanza.

[2] See vol. i., p. 98.

[3] For Byron's and Shelley's dealings with Dante, vide supra, pp. 99-102.

[4] For the type of prose romance essayed by Shelley, see Vol. i., p. 403.

[5] "Mary, the Maid of the Inn."

[6] Duran's great collection, begun in 1828, embraces nearly two thousand pieces.

[7] It is hardly necessary to mention early English translations of "Palmerin of England" (1616) and "Amadis de Gaul" (1580), or to point out the influence of Montemayor's "Diana Enamorada" upon Sidney, Shakspere, and English pastoral romance in general.

[8] "The English and Scotch ballads, with which they may most naturally be compared, belong to a ruder state of society, where a personal violence and coarseness prevailed which did not, indeed, prevent the poetry it produced from being full of energy, and sometimes of tenderness; but which necessarily had less dignity and elevation than belong to the character, if not the condition, of a people who, like the Spanish, were for centuries engaged in a contest ennobled by a sense of religion and loyalty—a contest which could not fail sometimes to raise the minds and thoughts of those engaged in it far above such an atmosphere as settled round the bloody feuds of rival barons or the gross maraudings of a border warfare. The truth of this will at once be felt, if we compare the striking series of ballads on Robin Hood with those on the Cid and Bernardo de Carpio; or if we compare the deep tragedy of Edom O'Gordon with that of the Conde Alarcos; or, what would be better than either, if we should sit down to the 'Romancero General,' with its poetical confusion of Moorish splendours and Christian loyalty, just when we have come fresh from Percy's 'Reliques' or Scott's 'Minstrelsy'." ("History of Spanish Literature," George Ticknor, vol. i., p. 141, third American ed., 1866). The "Romancero General" was the great collection of some thousand ballads and lyrics published in 1602-14.

[9] "The Ancient Ballads of Spain." R. Ford, in Edinburgh Review, No. 146.

[10] "A History of Spanish Literature." By James Fitz-Maurice Kelly, New York, 1898, pp. 366-67.

[11] Ibid., pp. 368-73.

[12] Kelly, p. 270.

[13] The collection of Sanchez (1779) is described as an imitation of the "Reliques" (Edinburgh Review, No. 146).

[14] He preferred, however, Sir Edmund Head's rendering of the ballad "Lady Alda's Dream" to Lockhart's version.

[15] Scott and Motherwell never met in person.

[16] Mr. Churton Collins thinks that the lines in "Guinevere"—

"Down in the cellars merry bloated things
Shouldered the spigot, straddling on the butts
While the wine ran"—

was suggested by Croker's description of the Cluricaune. ("Illustrations of Tennyson" (1891), p. 152.)

[17] "The Fairies." William Allingham.

[18] See vol. i., p. 314. Dr. Joyce was for some years a resident of Boston, where his "Ballads of Irish Chivalry" were published in 1872. His "Deirdré" received high praise from J. R. Lowell. Tennyson's "Voyage of Maeldune" (1880) probably had its source in Dr. P. W. Joyce's "Old Celtic Romances" (1879) (Collins' "Illustrations of Tennyson," p. 163). Swinburne pronounced Ferguson's "Welshmen of Tirawley" one of the best of modern ballads.

[19] For a survey of this department of romantic literature the reader is referred to "A Treasury of Irish Poetry in the English Tongue." Edited by Stopford A. Brooke and T. W. Rolleston (New York, 1900). There are a quite astonishing beauty and force in many of the pieces in this collection, though some of the editors' claims seem excessive; as, e.g., that Mr. Yeats is "the first of living writers in the English language."

[20] Robert Stephen Hawker was vicar of Morwenstow, near "wild Tintagil by the Cornish Sea," where Tennyson visited him in 1848. Hawker himself made contributions to Arthurian poetry, "Queen Gwynnevar's Round" and "The Quest of the Sangreal" (1864). He was converted to the Roman Catholic faith on his death-bed.

[21] Given in Palgrave's "Golden Treasury," second series. Rossetti wrote of Dobell's ballad in 1868: "I have always regarded that poem as being one of the finest, of its length, in any modern poet; ranking with Keats' 'La Belle Dame sans Merci' and the other masterpieces of the condensed and hinted order so dear to imaginative minds." The use of the family name Keith in Rossetti's "Rose Mary" was a coincidence. His poem was published (1854) some years before Dobell's. He thought of substituting some other name for Keith, but could find none to suit him, and so retained it.

[22] Cf. Matthew Arnold's "St. Brandan," suggested by a passage in the old Irish "Voyage of Bran." The traitor Judas is allowed to come up from hell and cool himself on an iceberg every Christmas night because he had once given his cloak to a leper in the streets of Joppa.

[23] "Ballads and Songs," London, 1895.

[24] "New Ballads," London, 1897.

[25] "Victorian Poets." By E. C. Stedman. New York, 1886 (tenth ed.), p. 155.

[26] This famous lyric, one of the "inserted" songs in "The Princess," was inspired by the note of a bugle on the Lakes of Killarney.

[27] See vol. i., pp. 146-47. Dryden, like Milton, had designs upon Arthur. See introduction to the first canto of "Marmion":

"—Dryden, in immortal strain,
Had raised the Table Round again,
But that a ribald king and court
Bade him toil on, to make them sport."

[28] For a discussion of these and similar matters and a bibliography of Arthurian literature, the reader should consult Dr. H. Oskar Sommer's scholarly reprint and critical edition of "Le Morte Darthur. By Syr Thomas Malory," three vols., London, 1889-91.

[29] Two of them, however, had been printed privately in 1857 under the title of "Enid and Nimuë": the true and the false. "Nimuë" was the first form of Vivien.

[30] Matthew Arnold writes in one of his letters; "I have a strong sense of the irrationality of that period [the Middle Ages] and of the utter folly of those who take it seriously and play at restoring it; still it has poetically the greatest charm and refreshment possible for me. The fault I find with Tennyson, in his 'Idylls of the King,' is that the peculiar charm of the Middle Age he does not give in them. There is something magical about it, and I will do something with it before I have done."

Henry Augustin Beers