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The concept of nature in the poetry of Alfred Tennyson and George Meredith Stone, James Stuart 1950

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THE CONCEPT OF NATURE IN THE POETRY OF ALFRED TENNYSON AND GEORGE MEREDITH  by  J a m e s  S t u a r t  S t o n e  A thesis submitted i n p a r t i a l fulfilment of the requirements f o r the degree of MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA AUGUST  1950  The Concept of Nature i n the Poetry of Alfred. Tennyson and. George Meredith by James Stuart Stone ABSTRACT OF THESIS Following a general h i s t o r i c a l discussion of the idea of nature, the study continues with an analysis of the main sources f o r Tennyson's-nature, concept.... He-re some stress i s put upon the temperament of - the-poet as well as upon h i s s c i e n t i f i c , philosophical and r e l i g i o u s a f f i n i t i e s with the doctrines of progress and evolution. Chapter three deals with the view of nature i n Tennyson's poetry. -That Tennyson regarded nature-merely as the physical world interpreted by-science is-demons-trated by a treatment of his poetry that recognizes the d i f f e r e n t moods of the poet. The conclusion arrived at i s that, no matter what mood he was i n , Tennyson viewed nature with suspicion.  His-attempts to  embrace pantheism or to escape a c t u a l i t y through mysticism, transcendentalism, or romantic primitivism indicated h i s f a i l u r e to reconcile h i s idea of nature with r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s that demanded personal immortality and absolute morality for man.  Because of these emotional needs, Tennyson, e s p e c i a l l y  a f t e r the publication of Darwin's s c i e n t i f i c t r e a t i s e s on evolution, was forced into a dualism that separated moral (or s p i r i t u a l ) man from a vast, c r u e l , immoral (or amoral) nature that Tennyson saw as antagonistic to both man and God. For Tennyson man's progress had nothing to do with nature. Chapter four argues that Meredith adopted Goethe's  idea that nature i s a v i t a l , benevolent being that includes man and God i n a unity of the r e a l and i d e a l worlds.  Because  Meredith avoided the contradictions that science and Kantian transcendentalism introduced into Tennyson's philosophy, he was able to a t t a i n to a conception of the creative and e t h i c a l oneness of Earth.  Hence he could use Darwinism to c l a r i f y his  b a s i c a l l y Goethian concept of nature, f o r he abjured the ideas of personal immortality and absolute morality and saw man as a creature of Earth who was progressing toward the harmonious a l t r u i s t i c balance of blood, brain, and s p i r i t that existed i n e s s e n t i a l humanity.  Meredith could r e j o i c e i n the struggle of  l i f e , which he saw as a struggle f o r balance and not f o r existence, because he had from the beginning accepted nature as a beneficent Earth to whose operations man must adjust himself. The l a s t chapter discusses the d i f f e r e n t approaches of Tennyson and Meredith to nature, their attitudes to nature's law, and t h e i r ideas concerning man's place i n nature.  One  argument r e s u l t i n g from t h i s comparison i s that Tennyson, applying Kant's transcendental theories and h i s own emotional reactions to h i s s c i e n t i f i c interpretation of nature, was pessimistic about nature, whereas Meredith, approaching nature by way of the Goethian synthesis and a happy outlook that discerned a desirable mean i n a l l nature's operations, was optimistic about her.  Moreover, Meredith's idea of nature was  more modern than Tennyson's, f o r Meredith's b e l i e f i n altruism and co-operation being the primary law of nature i s supported by c e r t a i n present-day b i o l o g i c a l and s o c i o l o g i c a l theories.  TABLE OF CONTENTS I  BACKGROUND: -GENERAL CONCEPTS OF NATURE (800-1900)  II  THE FORMATIVE INFLUENCES UPON TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE  III TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE AS SEEN IN HIS POETRY  Page 1  24 53  A. Nature regarded as the physical world interpreted by science B. Attempted  pantheism  C. Mystical apprehension of "supernature" D. Other escapes into a supernature E. Nature i n Tennyson: Summary IV  MEREDITH'S CONCEPT OF NATURE  91  A. Chrysalis period - up to 1 & 5 9 B. F i r s t impact of Darwinism  (1859-1871)  C. Meredith's mature concept of nature V  VI  A COMPARISON OF THE CONCEPTS OF NATURE IN MEREDITH AND TENNYSON THAT INCLUDES AN. ESTIMATE OF THE RELATIVE MODERNITY OF THEIR PHILOSOPHIES  142  BIBLIOGRAPHY  I57  A.  B i b l i o g r a p h i c a l references  B.  Alfred Tennyson  C.  George Meredith  D.  Other references consulted  1 THE CONCEPT OF NATURE IN THE POETRY OF ALFRED TENNYSON AND GEORGE MEREDITH BACKGROUND: GENERAL CONCEPTS OF NATURE (800-1900) The idea of nature has always been a w i l l o' the wisp, changing with each wind and a l l winds.  For example, even i n  the eighteenth century, when i t apparently had received i t s most stable form, "nature" was recognized by Samuel Johnson as a word which did not lend i t s e l f to s t r i c t d e f i n i t i o n .  In  his Dictionary Johnson defines "nature" i n eleven d i f f e r e n t ways, some obsolescent, some contemporaneous and generally acceptable, and some only beginning to receive the recognition that was l a t e r accorded them.  Obviously i t i s impossible f o r  .- me adequately to treat of either the many concepts of nature l i s t e d by Johnson or those many others that were favoured during the eleven hundred years with which I am concerned. Therefore, I s h a l l discuss only the main ideas of nature of each period i n order to indicate the general pattern of human thought and feeling which determined i n a large measure the concepts of nature i n A l f r e d Tannyson and George Meredith. Nature - Medieval (800-1450) Man's position i n the order of things a f t e r the F a l l was the substratum upon which rested medieval man's concept of and attitude toward nature.  As a result of O r i g i n a l S i n , man,  though he s t i l l had some divine a t t r i b u t e s , was but a creature of clay that had to follow the teachings of the church i n order to achieve salvation.  And below him on a fixed hierarohy of  being was nature, the world of change that represented, i f man  2  did not approach her with a proper love of and obedience to the Church and to God, a trapdoor opening over the entrance to an actual h e l l .  Nature's transient beauty was therefore  a lure that man should avoid as he would avoid the plague or the ever-present emissaries of Satan., But nature was not e n t i r e l y d e v i l i s h , f o r she had been created by the Deity.  Because God had set nature i n motion i n  order that man "might work out h i s l i f e and destiny"^ medieval thinkers reasoned that they might see i n her some evidence of the moral and s p i r i t u a l truths that man had to grasp f o r salvation.  As a consequence, nature, though a l l i e d with  Satan, became a source of moral example for man.  Man was to  look to her not f o r "knowledge and enlightenment" - the t h i r s t for knowledge was the temptation that had introduced O r i g i n a l S i n into the world - but f o r " e d i f i c a t i o n and  exemplification"  of the divine truths of which the Church was aware.  On the  authority of God's ministers medieval man might observe nature's order as an imperfect manifestation of God's power; the practice of white magic (mainly medicinal healing based on astronomical observation) and the compilation of bestiaries that dealt with the admirable ethics of legendary beasts were permissible, but any objective study of nature f o r i t s own sake was black magic, the penalty for which was the death of both body and soul. Nevertheless, many of the ablest thinkers of the middle 1 J.H. Randall, The Making of the Modern MinaT~Bostbn and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1926, p.18. 2 C.E. Raven, English Naturalists from Neokam to Ray. Cambridge, University Press, 1947, p.3.  2  ages d i d not accept the l e t t e r , though they did comply with the s p i r i t , of t h i s authoritative church dogma.  S t . Thomas Aquinas,  for instance, appealed to authority only when he had to; a l though he s t i l l regarded nature from the viewpoint of e t h i c s , he d i d contend that human actions should be based upon the natural law discernible through reason as well as upon the eternal law that was revealed through f a i t h and the church"; And St. Francis of A s s i s i likewise l a i d more stress upon the goodness of nature than the Church usually condoned. Randall  As  says: Seeing only God i n a l l things, i t was natural that Francis should love every man, every beast of the f i e l d and bird of the a i r , that he should r e j o i c e i n that fellowship with nature that i s bred of and breeds pantheism of the s p i r i t . 2  St Francis's and Aquinas's attitudes to nature, i t i s true, were exceptional i n t h i s period when authority dictated that nature be seen i n symbolic, not aesthetic or r a t i o n a l i s t i c terms.  Yet their d i f f e r e n t approaches did indicate a growing  interest and delight i n nature that r e f l e c t e d the influence both of an expanding trade and of the H e l l e n i s t i c science that was entering Europe through contact with the Arabs.  3  Even  Chaucer, a man more representative of the l a t e r medieval period than Aquinas or St. Francis, could express his joy i n the awakening of new l i f e amongst nature's creatures: 1 Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, p.98 and J.W. Beach, The Concept of Nature i n Nineteenth-Century E n g l i s h Poetry, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1936, p.18. 2 Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, p.72. 3 I b i d . , p.207.  4  Whan that A p r i l l e with hise shoures sqpte The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne i n swich liquor Of which vertu engendred i s the f l o u r ; Whan Zephiris eek with h i s swete breeth Inspired hath i n every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath i n the Ram his halfe cours yronne; And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen a l the nyght with open eye So priketh hem nature i n h i r corages ... 1 Nature - Renaissance (1450-J662) The discovery of the c l a s s i c s constituted the f i r s t threat to the medieval concept of two widely separated worlds, the world of r e l i g i o n and the world of nature and common l i f e . But, though the science and philosophy of A r i s t o t l e and Galen provided the i n i t i a l impetus toward bringing the two worlds closer together, i t remained f o r renaissance science and p h i l osophy to e s t a b l i s h natural theology on a firm basis.  One  must not, of course, assume that the t r a n s i t i o n from medieval to renaissance thought was effected i n a few decades.  Natural  history, the study of zoology and botany i n p a r t i c u l a r , did not base i t s findings upon exact observation of natural phenomena u n t i l the time of Francis Bacon?  And the Copernican  and Cartesian revolutions, which led to the mechanistic and mathematical view of nature so popular for a t least 150 years after Newton, did not begin to make themselves manifest u n t i l the f i r s t half of the seventeenth century. 1 Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, J.M. Manly, ed., New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1928, p.149. 2 see Raven, English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray, p.47 - "For a century or more the study of nature for i t s own sake by observation and experiment was carried on alongside of i t s use for hieroglyphics, symbols, fables, and moralisings."  5  Hence i t i s to the Elizabethans  that one must look for  an aesthetic and s c i e n t i f i c appreciation of nature that d i f f e r s noticeably from that of the medieval period. to and during Elizabeth's reign the new being, as Raven says,  For just p r i o r  i n t e r e s t i n nature was  "popularized":  Antiquaries l i k e Leland and Camden, chroniclers l i k e Holinshed and Stow, L a t i n i s t s l i k e l l y o t and Cooper, poets l i k e Spenser and Drayton were beginning to display a concern f o r nature, an interest i n the world about them, a delight i n noting and naming i t s flowers and b i r d s , that were wholly new. 1 While t h i s popularization was  taking place, other men  like  Francis Bacon were investigating nature's phenomena by means of an experimental method which was as exact as t h e i r crude instruments would permit and which was 2 modern inductive method.  the forerunner  of the  Widening the "bounds of man's  empire" through an objective knowledge of this world was pursuit of Bacon and his followers that gave new  the  importance  to the concept of nature i n an age that had accepted the goodness of both the world of the f l e s h and the world of the  spirit.  Because Bacon's s c i e n t i f i c discoveries had to do mainly with the phenomena of earth, he was superiority over nature.  able to assert man's  But other discoveries were beginning  to question this, dominance.  In the f i f t e e n t h century  cus had advanced the hypothesis that earth was  not the  Copernicenter  of a t i g h t , r e l a t i v e l y small universe, as the middle ages had conceived 1 2  it.  And G a l i l e o at the. beginning of:the seventeenth  Raven, English N a t u r a l i s t s from Neckam to Ray, I b i d . , p.340.  p.193.  6 century consummated this Copemican revolution by experimentally proving the i n f i n i t e s i z e o f the world of nature i n which earth was neither c e n t r a l nor s i g n i f i c a n t .  Galileo's theories, which  indicated the i n s i g n i f i c a n c e and r e l a t i v e unimportance of man i n this vast scheme, were further r a t i f i e d by his follower Desoartes, who by means of deductive reasoning formulated an hypothesis that subjected man to the mathematical, order of nature.  immutable  Descartes'-explanations could not stand  close scrutiny because they were not based on observation or experiment; however, they did form the Cartesian arch into which Newton l a t e r set the keystone^  And they did i n s p i r e i n a  the f i r s t h a l f of the seventeenth century/mechanistic of nature.  concept  Hobbes, following Descartes* lead, suggested that  man, who was b a s i c a l l y s e l f i s h and c r u e l , should follow nature and her fixed laws  2  and not l i v e according to a morality d i c -  tated by h i s conscience or the church.  And Spinoza founded  a r e l i g i o n upon the new science, a mechanistic pantheism that saw God as order and man's soul as part of t h i s natural order that was regulated by the mathematical law of necessity? Spinoza's pantheism and Hobbes's morality were not generally acceptable to the majority of the i n t e l l e c t u a l s of the f i r s t part of the century; but the idea of nature as a machine was compatible with t h e i r experience and- f a i t h .  For such a view  of nature conformed with both the human experience of designing 1 2 3  Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, p.242. I b i d . , p.186. I b i d . , p.244-45.  7 and constructing machines and the b e l i e f i n a creative and omnipotent God.  Had Descartes been a Newton, the period be-  fore 1650 probably would have produced an Analogy to r i v a l Butler's. But Descartes was no Newton.  Hence the most prevalent  view of nature i n the seventeenth century was neither mechanist i c nor mathematical.  The emphasis was s t i l l on f a i t h and  revelation, even though the two worlds of the middle ages had been brought very close to one another.  C e r t a i n l y the mechan-  i s t i c conception of nature gave support to the widespread b e l i e f that nature was i n her dotage; but the hope f o r the return of the golden age and the strong interest i n the "noble savage" resulted from a b e l i e f i n the b i b l i c a l Eden, not from Cartesianism.  The best minds of the l a t t e r half of the seven-  teenth century based t h e i r ideas of nature not on mechanical law but on a "sense of wonder and of the r e a l i t y and presence of God i n the world of nature"  1  The neo-platonists, Cudworth  and More, f o r example, were so disturbed by the mechanistic view of nature that they postulated a " p l a s t i c nature", a s p i r i t i n nature that carried out i n a v i t a l way the laws that God had imposed upon nature.  And most of the members of the  Royal Society, who did not i n the main agree with Cudworth's or More's assumption of a separate s p i r i t i n nature, did experience a sensible f e e l i n g of wonder as to how God manifested his s p i r i t and his w i l l i n the world. 1 2  The general f e e l i n g of  Raven, English N a t u r a l i s t s from Neckam to Ray, p.343. Beach, Concept of Nature, pp.58-66.  8 "new  philosophers" l i k e S i r Thomas Browne-- was that t h e i r scien1  t i f i c appeal to f a c t u a l evidence, observation, and  experiment  should be made i n order that man might come closer to God through nature.  Their s c i e n t i f i c approach and t h e i r r e l i g i o u s  b e l i e f were thus at one i n forming an attitude toward a nature whose matter was informed i n some mysterious way by God's s p i r i t . Nature - Eighteenth Century [Natural R e l i g i o n With Newton the mechanistic view of nature came into f u l l flower.  For Newton's picture of nature as a world-machine  operating independently of the God that was i t s f i r s t cause became the foundation of the general eighteenth-century f a i t h i n a natural r e l i g i o n based on reason, the " l i g h t of Nature". Reason, as Newton had shown, proved that an external Creator was "a necessary s c i e n t i f i c hypothesis" deducible from the 2  evidence i n nature of immutable law, s i m p l i c i t y , order, design and providence.  As a r e s u l t of the operation of reason, nature  was interpreted as "the whole r a t i o n a l order of things, of which man was the most important p a r t "  4  The r a t i o n a l d e s i g n  5  of nature was the true source of eighteenth-century optimism. Out of Newton's science, therefore, arouse the d e i s t i c r e l i g i o n that depended s o l e l y upon reason.  And what was  reason?  For Rapin and Pope i t was i d e n t i f i e d with nature, the ancients,  <•  1 2 3 4, 5  Raven, English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray. pp.343ff. Randall. The Making of the Modern Mind, p.2*76. Beach, Concept of Nature, pp.77-8. Randaill, ;The ^Makingao.£ tha .Modern Mind, p.274. c f . Chapter 2 (on Paley} p.3li  9  and the l i t e r a r y r u l e s  1  i n such a way that only the educated  admirers of the c l a s s i c s could enter i t s saorosanct  limits.  Obviously t h i s l i t e r a r y d e f i n i t i o n was not the one which the d e i s t s , following Newton, could accept.  Locke's d e f i n i t i o n ^  embraced the general conception more f u l l y : Reason i s natural Revelation, whereby the Father of l i g h t and fountain of a l l knowledge, communicates to mankind that portion of t r u t h which He has l a i d within the reach of t h e i r natural f a c u l t i e s . 3 Locke's "reason" was more i n keeping with Newton's deductive and mathematical treatment of nature than with Bacon's i n ductive view of natural phenomena, f o r his d e i s t i c approach to nature subordinated f a i t h to reason.  Through reason alone  could man perceive the natural law that governed man's morality as well as a l l things p h y s i c a l .  Locke and the deists i n general  apparently d i d not r e a l i z e that, i n stressing the power of man's reason, they were automatically assuming the existence of free w i l l , while at the same time they were recognizing nature's law of necessity through the equation o f the moral world with the physical.  They praised nature, paradoxically,  as both a l i b e r a t i n g p r i n c i p l e and a supreme regulative power. But, whatever t h e i r errors i n logic may have been, the deists held consistently to the idea that r e l i g i o n was to be founded upon the meohanistic laws of nature, upon the universal fixed harmony lauded by Pope i n his Essay on Man.  Even Bishop  1 B a s i l Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background. London, Chatto & Windus, 1940, p.18. 2 Pope'3 Essay on Man presents a similar but not so e x p l i c i t idea of reason's existence and function. 3 John Locke, "Essay Concerning Human Understanding" (Bk. IV, Ch. 19, Section 4), The Works of John Locke. London, Tegg, Sharpe and others, 1823, 10 vols.  Butler, representative of orthodoxy i n the eighteenth  century,  founded his b e l i e f i n revelation upon an analogy of God's laws with a reasoned i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of nature's laws.- Reason and nature were the causes of his f a i t h , and not the e f f e c t s of i t . Butler's b e l i e f i n miracles was the only point of difference between his and the d e i s t i c natural r e l i g i o n so w e l l  described  by Benn: The deist position then ... amounts to t h i s . Reason i s our sole and s u f f i c i e n t guide i n l i f e . I t teaches us that nature i s the work of a p e r f e c t l y good Being, who desires us to be good, not f o r his sake, but f o r our own. The r a t i o n a l end of human action i s happiness, and happiness i s best secured by the observance of moral laws ascertained by studying the natural r e l a t i o n s of things ... ( L i v i n g i n .an orderly manner i s j the law of nature, and such also i s Natural Religion. 2 For the deists reason was a l l man needed to discern the benevolence and purpose in-the order of nature. Deism carried to i t s l o g i c a l extreme became a materi a l i s t i c , necessarian, and sometimes a t h e i s t i c ,  philosophy.  In France the Encyclopedists, of whom d'Holbach i s the bestknown representative, adopted an a t h e i s t i c materialism.  They  shelved the r e l i g i o u s associations of the e a r l i e r deists and assumed that nature working according to f i x e d laws'was a l l  3 that man could know.  And, although they s t i l l maintained a.  f a i t h i n reason (or s e l f - i n t e r e s t ) and postulated on the basis of a i t h a progress of man 1 that c f . fChapter 2, p.36 and p.47.toward future perfection^ 2 A.W. Benn, The History of English Rationalism i n the Nineteenth Century, London,, LongmansGreen & Co., 1906, Vol.1,  p.137,  3-  Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background, p.156. 4 The idea of p e r f e c t i b i l i t y was originated by Joseph P r i e s t l e y , but stated most c l e a r l y by Concordet.  11 t h e i r philosophy of nature was so somber that even Goethe found i t gloomy.  On the E n g l i s h side of the channel the world picture  was not painted i n such black colours.  P r i e s t l e y could s t i l l  assume the existence both of- God and of a beneficent nature^" Nevertheless, he too. placed man i n a framework of natural necessity and materialism.  Indeed, both he and William Godwin  carried the r a t i o n a l i s t i c conclusions of deism to t h e i r l o g i c a l and impracticable l i m i t .  P r i e s t l e y saw Providence and reason  working together toward man's inevitable p e r f e c t i b i l i t y .  And  Godwin believed that with reason as i t s sole guide and abstract Good as i t s only end mankind must be victorious i n i t s search for truth; necessity, the law of causation governing the uni2 verse was f o r Godwin man's assurance of t h i s triumph.  Nature  with Godwin had gone as f a r into the abstract and p o t e n t i a l as reason could take her" After Godwin pure deductive reason could no longer be the means of ascertaining either man's true morality or h i s method of progress i n nature.  Some theory  closer to actual l i f e was needed. Reactions against the interpretation of nature oy deductive reasoning The other important concepts of nature i n the eighteenth century had t h e i r o r i g i n mainly i n reaction against the i n t e r pretation of nature through the mechanistic operation of reason.  Though the exponents of these philosophies of reaction  did not question the facts of Newtonian science, they did 1 2 3  Willey, op. c i t . , p.168. Ibid., p.218. Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background, p.239.  c r i t i c i z e the conventional explanation of those f a c t s . The i d e a l i s t s , f o r example, p a r t i c u l a r l y Bishop Berkeley and 1  Hegel, regarded the laws of nature as mere " 'rules or methods 2 observed i n the productions (sio) of natural e f f e c t s ' ". As an alternative to d e i s t i c mechanism Berkeley proposed an anima 3 mundi, an i n t e l l e c t u a l s p i r i t which could assume both material and non-material form and which governed nature f o r God. (Berkeley's anima mundi, one w i l l note, was not very d i f f e r e n t from the " p l a s t i c nature" assumed by the neoplatonists, Cudworth and More.)  Hegel's philosophy was even more platonic  and i d e a l i s t i c than that of Berkeley.  Hegel did not recognize  either nature or man as material: he saw nature as a manifestation of pure thought and man as e s s e n t i a l i n t e l l i g e n c e 4  incarnate. Idealism, however, had few followers i n the eighteenth century.  What was more destructive to the d e i s t i c philosophy  was the negative c r i t i c i s m of David Hume. Hume turned to the empiricism which had constituted Locke's fundamental difference from the deists and constructed a natural r e l i g i o n upon man's experience of nature through his f e e l i n g s .  Hume s t i l l accepted  the orderly conception of nature revealed by Newton, but he believed that experience, not reason, was the means of corroborating s c i e n t i f i c f a c t . His compromise with science 1 c f . Chapter 2, p. 2 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.72 (quoted from Berkeley, S i r i s , Section 231). 3 Ibid., p.71. 4 Benn, History of English Rationalism, Vol. I , p.384.  13 represented a watershed between deism and Kant, between the 1 combination of Nature and Reason and that of Nature and f e e l i n g . Kant also was concerned with the f a i l u r e , as he saw i t , of the deists to j u s t i f y r e l i g i o n on a t r u l y r a t i o n a l basis that agreed with the facts of nature and with man's feelings (or i n t u i t i o n ) .  He, therefore, presented i n his Critique of 2  Pure Reason his subject-object d i s t i n c t i o n , which gave to science the investigation of natural phenomena that could be explained by objective f a c t , and which j u s t i f i e d the use of f a i t h i n that domain where science could neither prove nor disprove what the i n t u i t i o n apprehended.  Kant's  transcenden-  talism thus separated the world of material nature from moral man, t h e i r union being apparent for Kant only i n the God who transcended them. What i n Kant most concerns the changing concept of nature i s the importance he gave back to the i n t u i t i o n a l interpretation of nature.  This emphasis on i n t u i t i o n was not  new - Shaftesbury and the pre-romantic poets (Thomson, Akenside, the Warton brothers, and so on) had hinted at i t s importance but the weight of philosophy behind Kant's i n t u i t i v e view gave new strength to t h i s reaction against deism.  I t was Kant,  probably more than anyone else, who made possible both the popularity of Rousseau's natural man, the man of passion and f e e l i n g , and the great success of the romantic idea of man's returning to nature through obedience to his i n s t i n c t s and not to his reason. 1 Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background, p.111. 2 o f . Chapter 2, p. V$ . T  Another blow to the natural r e l i g i o n of the deists came through the eighteenth-century study of natural h i s t o r y . Eighteenth-century b i o l o g i s t s did not refute the p r i n c i p l e s of plenitude and continuity that the deists had read into the chain-of-being concept f i r s t brought into prominence by Locke and Leibniz. did  But, because of paleontological discoveries, they  begin to wonder about the missing "links'* and to question  the s t a b i l i t y of the l i n k s of which something was already known. Kant  1  and other investigators showed that, i f one acknowledged  the time required for evolution i n the cosmos, i t was a l o g i c a l assumption that the chain was being completed only i n i n f i n i t e time.  This idea, combined with the general idea of progress  that was  displacing the "nothing new  under the sun" concept of  the early part of the century, began to a l t e r the chain of 2 being to a program of endless Becoming.  For the f i r s t  time  since the Greeks, nature was being regarded as an organism; and f o r the f i r s t time i n h i s t o r y she was  being seen as an  actual and h i s t o r i c a l record of the universe and of  man.  Confusion at the end of the century The movements "back to nature" through reason and feeling created at the end of the century a confused In theory th!e c o n f l i c t was  through  situation.  between the conception of an ab-  stract and p o t e n t i a l nature and that of an actual and h i s t o r i c a l nature.  But i n practioe the d i s t i n c t i o n was not so clear-cut.  The s c i e n t i s t s , f o r instance, could do l i t t l e with the idea of 1 2  cf. cf.  Chapter 2, p. 35"Chapter 2, p^.M*-  nature as an organism because they were s t i l l trying to f i t her evolutionary manifestations into the Newtonian p i c t u r e . Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, to name two of the eighteenthcentury forerunners of Charles Darwin, were obliged to assume that conscious or i n s t i n c t i v e desire both brought about v a r i a tions i n species and evolved new species, f o r these s c i e n t i s t s no could f i n d ^ n a t u r a l i s t i c explanation of change or progress i n Newton's mathematical conclusions. Because they were labouring under the eighteenth-century delusion that free w i l l and necessi t y could be e a s i l y reconciled, they could not see, as Malthus  1  (in reaction to Godwin) saw, the inherent contradictions i n their theories. Another source of confusion was the mode of operation of natural law i n society. that of Europe?  Was i t to be the law of Eden or  No one was quite sure, although almost every  i n t e l l i g e n t person agreed that the "noble savage", happy though he might be, was not as c i v i l i z e d or as progressive as a European.  Besides, the French Revolution, which the followers  of reason had hailed as the passport to a natural state of a f f a i r s , had shown that c i v i l i z e d i n s t i t u t i o n s were perhaps better than the "natural" state of anarchy extolled by Godwin. And yet, because nature was generally viewed as a l i b e r a t i n g p r i n c i p l e , the moral nexus remained, even though the "noble savage" was transformed into an English peasant. The r e l i g i o u s picture was even more unbalanced than either the s c i e n t i f i c * or the moral one. 1  c f . Chapter 2, p. 3 7  Was God immanent i n  16 an organic nature and. i n man, as the transcendentalists and the romantics believed, or was he the Creator apart from his machine, as the d e i s t s , Paley, and the science of the eighteenth century a l l agreed?  On the answer to t h i s question rested the peace  of mind of the people of the f i r s t half of the nineteenth century.  But there was no d e f i n i t e answer.  As a consequence,  the nineteenth century inherited a confused mixture of s c i e n t i f i c f a c t , philosophical speculation, and r e l i g i o u s controversy. Nature - Nineteenth Century Nature i n the romantic period Romanticism, i n revolt against reason and a mechanistic philosophy of nature, attempted to achieve a basic unity of the physical and s p i r i t u a l elements i n nature and man. One idea which the romantic poets a l l had i n common was that i t was possible to see i n the r e a l world a manifestation of the s p i r i t u a l force behind or i n nature.  When they were looking  with delight at the beauteous forms i n wild nature or when they noticed the noble q u a l i t i e s i n man that were inspired by nature's beauty, they a l l agreed that nature's loveliness gave hints of moral and benevolent q u a l i t i e s , no matter whether they saw nature as the Deity or merely as His unintelligent agent. Goethe's nature r e l i g i o n  1  was possibly the most balanced  and consistent of a l l the romantic ideas of nature.  For him  nature was the i n t e l l i g e n t God who only appeared to be 1 see Beach, Concept of Nature, pp.276-291 (also see Chapters 2 and 4 ) .  17 indifferent -to-man.  Therefore, man's duty i n l i f e was to  labour toward a mystical conception of the oneness of l i f e , death,^change, nature, man, and God. Goethe's pantheism was founded on a balance of freedom and law, change and permanence, science and r e l i g i o n , that permitted him the luxury of joy i n an actual nature possessing a l l the sanity attributed to her by eighteenth-century rationalism. Coleridge, following Kant, could not see nature as Goethe did.  Nature was f o r him the natura naturata, that i s , a material  expression of the. natura naturans, the active and benevolent God transcending nature  1  Nature was the "not-me that operM  ated according to a cause-and-effeet  law; for Coleridge the  true view of the universe was only possible through the recogn i t i o n of the " I am . tt  In other words, Coleridge interpreted  the evolutionary scale of being as a dynamic l i f e  process  existing only i n the minds of men and i n the mind of God. He had no f a i t h i n an objective study of the material world, f o r he believed that s c i e n t i f i c investigation dealt with the part and neglected the whole.  The apprehension  of the whole, of the  active p r i n c i p l e moulding material nature and s p i r i t u a l man was the prime endeavour which convinced Coleridge that the dualism inherent i n his philosophy was only apparent.  Yet he,  l i k e Shelley i n the l a s t years of his l i f e , could embrace only a surface naturalism, for he could not conceive of man's a l l important mind being derived from an unconscious, power l i k e nature. 1  Beach, Concept of Nature, p.326.  unintelligent  I have treated of Goethe and Coleridge i n order to indicate the extremes i n nature philosophy among the romantics and to point out the breadth of Wordsworth's concept of nature. For Wordsworth compounded a natural r e l i g i o n from both pantheism and transcendentalism.  In h i s early l i f e Wordsworth saw  nature as something divine;- her beauty, providential law, benevolence, and unity constituted proof f o r him, as i t d i d for  Goethe, that man,  merely by l e t t i n g nature play upon his  senses, could obtain the moral force and s p i r i t u a l i n s p i r a t i o n he needed to l i v e a good l i f e .  Following Hartley, Locke, and  Rousseau, Wordsworth f e l t that nature developed man's character 1 through the pleasurable sensations she aroused i n him. This sensuous communion with nature, e s p e c i a l l y wild nature, was for  the early Wordsworth the only way i n which man might return  to h i s natural state of virtue and benevolence.  But a f t e r  1800  Wordsworth began to doubt the d i v i n i t y of nature, f o r he r e a l i z e d the d i f f i c u l t y of reconciling man's divine mind and s p i r i t with a nature that was, after a l l , not the Creator of man.  Man's creative mind, which gave him dominance over nature,  had to be united with God.  Therefore, the l a t e r Wordsworth  turned more and more toward transcendentalism. completely forsook his pantheistic doctrine.  But he never  Nature, which to  Wordsworth did not reveal the cruel aspect that many Victorians 2 saw i n her, was s t i l l a r e f i n i n g and purifying influence insofar as man's morality was concerned. 1 2  Beach, Concept of Nature, p.180. Beach, Concept of Nature, p.31.  His Ode to Duty  indicates that he was s t i l l able to conceive of nature as an e t h i c a l norm, f o r i n this poem he i d e n t i f i e s moral and physical law i n words that are reminiscent both of Goethe's joy i n a "benevolent nature and of Coleridge's b e l i e f i n an absolute morality: Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear The Godhead's most benignant grace; Nor know we anything so f a i r As i s the smile upon thy face: Flowers laugh before thee on their beds And fragrance i n thy footing treads; Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong; And the most ancient heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong. (Ode to Duty, 11. 50-58) Wordsworth, "ignoring contemporary s c i e n t i f i c discoveries, was able, as were most of the romantic poets, to achieve a balance between delight i n nature's beauty and f a i t h i n man's e t h i c a l progress. Nature i n the V i c t o r i a n period Because the V i c t o r i a n s were swept up i n the f u l l flood of  s c i e n t i f i c progress, i t was no longer possible f o r them to  regard nature i n the general way the romantics had looked at her.  Progress , "the central and most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c b e l i e f 1  of the nineteenth century"  was making i t s e l f a l l too evident  in every phase of V i c t o r i a n l i f e .  I t was generally believed  that, through the e f f o r t s of the individual man exercising his 1 , Ideas and B e l i e f s of The Sylvan Press, 1949, p.33 - Progress f o r "a b e l i e f i n the steady, cumulative and of human awareness and power- material, 2 I b i d . , p.33.  V i c t o r i a n s , London, the V i c t o r i a n s was inevitable expansion intellecutal, spiritual"  free w i l l to the l i m i t , mankind had reached a high point i n human development.  And yet the Victorians were faced with the  dire economic conditions of the I n d u s t r i a l Revolution, the poverty that the l a i s s e z - f a i r e economists conceived to be a law of nature.  The i n t e l l e c t u a l s , most of whom were up i n arms  over the "condition of England", had to r e a l i z e that progress as they conceived- i t seemed to be inimical to the b e l i e f i n a benevolent nature that was t h e i r heritage both from the eighteenth century and from the romantics.  These leaders of  Victorian thought therefore came to the conclusion that ethics was t h e i r prime concern.  Whether or not nature could be f i t t e d  into the e t h i c a l scheme depended upon the a b i l i t y of each i n d i v i d u a l poet, s c i e n t i s t , or philosopher to formulate a philosophy consistent with his e t h i c a l i d e a l , his r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s , his temperament,his recognition of s c i e n t i f i c f a c t , or a combination of a l l these matters. For example, men l i k e August Comte and John Stuart M i l l believed that e t h i c a l progress was possible only i f society was founded upon nature's law of universal causation.  Society for  them was everything, and nature was but the e t h i c a l balance of pleasure and pain; their only God was a Humanity which progressed according to a law of self-preservation that tended toward the "greatest good of the greatest number".  Thomas  C a r l y l e , on the other hand, believed that e t h i c a l progress could take place only through either a C a l v i n i s t i c renunciation of s e l f that would develop a moral sense of nature's essential goodness and s p i r i t u a l i t y or the strong rule of a man  like  Napoleon who would maintain an order of nature that i d e n t i f i e d  21 right and might. Other Victorians adopted the b e l i e f of Matthew Arnold that man could progress only i f he adhered to a s t o i c a l and recognized the humanizing effect of culture.  pantheism  Arnold, who  saw no purpose i n nature, suggested that man should transcend her by allowing h i s higher moral s e l f to l i f t him into a better realm than t h i s world of nature that contained both good and evil. for  Arnold saw the value of nature's order as a moral example  r e s t l e s s man, but he condemned her m a t e r i a l i s t i c law. But these men were not dealing with progress inthe l i g h t  of  the evolutionary concept that i n t e r p r e t e d i n h i s t o r i c a l  terms, seemed to assure man's progressive development.  Early  in the century the late eighteenth-century concepts of time and history had been r a t i f i e d by the discoveries i n geology, astronomy and paleontology^  And even though the r e l i g i o u s  fundamentalists opposed the idea of man being the end-product of  a progress that had involved hundreds of m i l l i o n s of years,  science had i t s way.  Nature therefore became an e n t i t y of vast  proportions i n both space and time. 2 t i s t s agreed to  Yet for a time the scien-  both that man's mind andmorality were not subject  the laws of physical development and that nature might  still  be seen as benevolent, since the incompleteness of the geol o g i c a l record could uphold eighteenth-century ideas of plenitude. Darwin's On The Origin of Species, however, wrought 3 havoc with both these b e l i e f s , for the s c i e n t i s t ' s theory *T c f . Chapter 2,"~p- °2 c f . Chapter 2, p. 39. 3 c f . Chapter 2, pp.^ W, ^ • 3  struck both, at the idea of a divine nature and at the concept of progress.  But the Victorians i n general did not at f i r s t  r e a l i z e the implications of Darwin's r e f u s a l to recognize progress.  What they did react against was his theory that  mind was a r e s u l t of natural selection and that there was no evidence i n nature to j u s t i f y f a i t h i n a d i v i n i t y of any sort, either i n nature or outside her.  The evolutionary s c i e n t i s t s  had made of nature "a temporary phase of a process of incessant change" but most Victorians had to have assurance of something 1  permanent i n nature or outside her.  Although they f i n a l l y  accepted Darwinism i n i t s essentials, they kept up a search for something more. Hence i n the l a s t t h i r t y years of the century many of the old r e l i g i o u s f a i t h s gave way to a concern for e t h i c a l standards.  Some Victorians t r i e d to reconcile moral progress  with nature, but most of t h i s group found i t d i f f i c u l t to assume any benevolence  i n her.  Others scorned nature and  turned to God f o r e t h i c a l guidance.  A t h i r d group based  their  morality on an agnostic f a i t h i n humanism; they, l i k e those who turned to God, acknowledged the necessity for man to f i g h t against " c r u e l " nature.  And s t i l l others, l i k e Hardy, took  refuge i n a meliorism that^assumed a b l i n d , immanent w i l l c o n t r o l l i n g the universe according to chance.  Hardy could see  no evidence f o r any b e l i e f i n purpose, design, providence, harmony, or benevolence  i n nature.  His only hope f o r the  world was that consciousness, which he saw i n man, might someday 1 T.H. Huxley, Evolution and Ethics and other Essays, London, Macmillan and Co., 1895, p.5.  enter into t h i s blind force and thus bring some sort of unity and harmony into the universe. This, then, was the changing climate i n which Tennyson and Meredith moved.  Tennyson, i n p a r t i c u l a r , saw during h i s  l i f e t i m e a t r a n s i t i o n from the eighteenth-century b e l i e f i n a divine, ordered nature to an agnostic stoicism or an a t h e i s t i c despair that placed man i n opposition to nature, the only v i s i b l e evidence of his existence. Meredith, born nineteen years a f t e r Tennyson, was not influenced by many of the eighteenth-century ideas, but, because he had close a f f i l i a tions with romanticism, he also viewed the general change from a strong f a i t h i n nature to an emphasis on e t h i c a l man.  My  concern i n the following chapters w i l l be to indicate how  this  general pattern- of action and reaction i n the nineteenth century both affected the growth of the concepts of nature and tested the strength of the mature convictions of these two poets.  24 THE FORMATIVE INFLUENCES UPON TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE  Tennyson's temperament - his c o n t r o l l i n g genius A l f r e d Tennyson was throughout h i s l i f e a very sensitive person, a man with an inordinate aversion to physical or mental pain.  This extreme s e n s i t i v i t y was not without good/cause, f o r ,  though he was almost always i n good physical health, Tennyson did  pass through a period of great mental s t r a i n during h i s  most impressionable  years, that i s , between 1824 and 1832,  the years of his adolescence and e a r l y manhood. father, because of f i n a n c i a l worries  In 1824 his  (for which Tennyson as  one of eleven children was p a r t l y responsible), turned to drink as an escaped  But l i q u o r made his condition worse; he became 2  subject to "paroxysms of violence"  that inspired his whole  household, p a r t i c u l a r l y the already sensitive A l f r e d , with shame, g r i e f , and t e r r o r .  The scenes that resulted from his  father's black moods often troubled Tennyson so g r e a t l y that he longed f o r death. As Charles Tennyson t e l l s us: It was p a r t i c u l a r l y unfortunate that A l f r e d , with h i s sensitive and imaginative temperament, should have been exposed to such influences during the years of adolescence. This exaggerated i n him the family tendency toward melancholy and depression, the "black-bloodedness" of the Tennysons, which was to a f f e c t him a l l his l i f e . 4 The domestic trouble begun by the father's i l l n e s s d i d not, moreover, end there.  Two p a r t i c u l a r incidents, among  1 Charles Tennyson, A l f r e d Tennyson, New York, The Macm i l l a n C o . , 1949, p.46. 2 I b i d . , p.48. 3 I b i d . , p.48. 4 I b i d . , p.48.  25 others,  t h a t l e f t t h e i r mark on Tennyson's nervous temperament  are the f o l l o w i n g : f i r s t ,  the r u s t i c a t i o n from Cambridge o f h i s  brother F r e d e r i c k , which, because i t had  a d i s a s t r o u s e f f e c t on  h i s f a t h e r ' s p h y s i c a l h e a l t h , plunged A l f r e d i n t o a s t a t e o f depression  and  hypochondria; and  secondly, the extreme f i n a n -  c i a l d i s t r e s s of the f a m i l y i n 1831  that i n d i r e c t l y caused a  mental breakdown i n A l f r e d ' s brother Edward"" and  an  addiction  2 to opium i n another b r o t h e r ,  Charles.  A l l t h i s domestic a f f l i c t i o n , I b e l i e v e , accentuated n a t u r a l moodiness o f the c o n t r o l l e d him.  young poet to a p o i n t where temperament  That i s , the ideas and  b e l i e f s of Tennyson  came t o depend f o r t h e i r s t r e n g t h of c o n v i c t i o n on the of the poet's mood of the moment.  Yet Tennyson'3  s t r u g g l e d to subdue h i s governing g e n i e ; f u l l y to f i n d an A l a d d i n ' s the dust of p a i n and genie t o be gone.  the  state  intellect  i t strove  unsuccess-  lamp from which i t could f i r s t  doubt and  then command the  objectionable  For Tennyson b e l i e v e d that i t was  i n l i f e to supply an i n t e l l e c t u a l l y a c c e p t a b l e  rub  his  mission  s o l u t i o n to  the  problems r a i s e d by s c i e n c e and r e l i g i o n , to uphold human d i g n i t y and p e r s o n a l i t y i n the face of the f a c t s of change and i n the world.  Therefore,  process  i t i s f a i r to assume both that  the  poet's i d e a o f nature was  s t r o n g l y i n f l u e n c e d by any  ideas that tended to g i v e  u n i t y to the attempted compromise  and  that the concept of nature r e s u l t i n g from h i s  knowledge or f a i t h  (or both) was  2  Ibid., p.-12g.  acquired  always r e l a t i v e to o r dependent  1 C h a r l e s Tennyson, A l f r e d Tennyson. Mew m i l l a n Co., 1949, p» 127. :  f a c t s or  York, The Mac-  26 upon the p o e t ' s mood. Aesthetic-scientific  i n f l u e n c e s on Tennyson's concept o f Nature  Tennyson i n the 1870*s made the f o l l o w i n g remark to Carlyle: I n my o l d age I should l i k e to get away from a l l t h i s tumult and t u r m o i l of c i v i l i z a t i o n and l i v e on the top o f a t r o p i c a l mountain.' I should at l e a s t l i k e t o see the splendours of the B r a z i l i a n f o r e s t s before I die. 1 Did the poet mean by t h i s to a p p r e c i a t e  statement t h a t he had not been a b l e  the b e a u t i e s of European s c e n e r y ,  as a " n o b l e savage" c o u l d he have an a e s t h e t i c of nature?  C e r t a i n l y one may e a s i l y f i n d  p o e t r y which i n d i c a t e s  and t h a t  only  appreciation  imagery i n h i s  a f e e l i n g f o r beauty;  but seldom  is  there the "sense of something d e e p l y i n t e r f u s e d "  that  was  Wordsworth's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c  What  accounts  f o r this basic difference  aesthetic reaction.  i n nature a p p r e c i a t i o n between  Tennyson and the., romantic poet? P a r t of the answer to t h i s l a s t q u e s t i o n l i e s Tennyson's e a r l y environment. Nicolson t e l l s  in  Somersby, L i n c o l n s h i r e , as  us, presented a constant  contrast  to the  Harold sensitive  1 Hallam Tennyson, A l f r e d L o r d Tennyson, A Memoir, London, M a c m i l l a n and C o . L t d . , 1897, V o l . 1 1 , p . 2 3 6 . • ~™~ 2 c f . Wordsworth's comment on Tennyson (c. 1842-50): He is a p p a r e n t l y "not much i n sympathy w i t h what I s h o u l d . m y s e l f most value i n my a t t e m p t s , v i z . the s p i r i t u a l i t y with which I have endeavoured to i n v e s t the m a t e r i a l u n i v e r s e , and the m o r a l r e l a t i o n s under which I have wished to e x h i b i t i t s most o r d i n a r y appearances." - "Wordsworth Grows O l d " The Times L i t e r a r y Supplement. A p r i l 21, 1950, p . 2 3 8 . '  TEnnysonj a contrast between-the gentler beauties of nature as seen i n the trees, the flowers, the gardens - i n general, the domesticated growth that Tennyson beheld i n the small Rectory garden - and the harsher kind of scenery - the gloomy wolds, the.stark plowland, the flattened counties, and the distant, thundering s e a  1  The young Tennyson took a keen  interest i n both these aspects of nature.  But, because of h i s  temperamental p r e d i l e c t i o n f o r s c i e n t i f i c knowledge, he observed with s a t i s f a c t i o n those beauties which were e x p l i c able and viewed with awe those that he found mysterious. I t i s true that he was able to advise h i s brother Fred, who was shy of going to a dinner party, to "think of Herschel's great *2 star patches, and you w i l l soon get over a l l that. Yet, when he l a t e r r e a l i z e d the implications of the r e a l mysteries 3 "Time, l i f e and ' f i n i t e - i n f i n i t e • space" - or when he f e l t the vastness of the heavens, the strangeness of t h i s cosmic beauty sometimes must have repelled him. Thus even h i s i n t u i t i o n would have driven him to seek the beauties of nature which had i n them no awe-inspiring mysteryr.  Wordsworth  had been able to construct a natural theology upon the pleasure 4 to be derived from the beauty of an orderly Nature;  but how  could Tennyson have done likewise? Nature f o r the V i c t o r i a n poet was too often strange and a l i e n , sometimes even e v i l . 1 Harold Nicolson, Tennyson, Aspects of his L i f e , Character, and Poetry, London, Constable & Co. Ltd., 1923,p.33. 2 Hallam Tennyson, o p . c i t . , Vol.1, p.20. . 3 Ibid., Vol.1, p.316. 4 J.W. Beach, The Concept of Nature i n NineteenthCentury English Poetry. New York, The Macmillan Co., 1936, p.42.  Tennyson's remark i n 1839  t h a t he was  years t o commune alone w i t h Nature" the age of t h i r t y he was  unable  "not so a b l e as i n o l d s i g n i f i e d t h a t even at  to get from nature  the  s p i r i t u a l p l e a s u r e t h a t a Wordsworthian " s o l i t a r y " would have experienced.  What Tennyson had observed  i n nature had  appar-  e n t l y c a s t a shadow over h i s e a r l y l o v e of n a t u r a l beauty t h a t c o u l d be d i s p e l l e d o n l y through Tennyson's f u l l knowledge of the f u n c t i o n and the " r a i s o n d'&tre" being c o n s i d e r e d .  The  of the n a t u r a l o b j e c t  emotional i n s p i r a t i o n from the  star,  from the t r e e , from the f l o w e r , d i d not, i t seems, matter so much to Tennyson a f t e r 1840  as the s t a t i s t i c s concerning  the  p l a c e of the s t a r i n the ordered cosmos, the growth r a t e of the 2 t r e e , and the e x a c t c o l o u r of the f l o w e r . Besides, t h i s s c i e n t i f i c a e s t h e t i c i s m was V i c t o r i a n s wanted.  what the  S i n c e many of them were amateur n a t u r a l i s t s ,  nothing d e l i g h t e d them more than " t o be p r o v i d e d w i t h  their 3  own  f a m i l i a r thoughts  i n a form which would appear tremendous".  Scores of Tennyson's readers even went to the t r o u b l e of w r i t i n g to the p r e s s to comment upon the exactness o b s e r v a t i o n of  'Nature'-of  wind, the t r e e s .  o f the  Laureate's  b i r d s , of f l o w e r s , of the sea, the  These c r i t i c s were not i n t e r e s t e d i n "the  i n t r i n s i c r e a l i t y of the emotion presented" but i n " e x t e r n a l accuracy of presentation"*^ was  Tennyson, h i m s e l f a l o v e r of f a c t ,  not deaf to t h e i r p r a i s e or c r i t i c i s m .  1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir. V o l . 1 , p.168. 2 See f o o t n o t e on p r e v i o u s page (Wordsworth's comment on Tennyson). 3 H a r o l d N i c o l s o n , Tennyson, p.234. 4 H a r o l d N i c o l s o n , Tennyson, p.236.  It i s reasonable then to conclude that Tennyson's aesthetic view of nature was  influenced by the impact of e a r l y  environment and this favourable c r i t i c i s m i n such a way  that  t h i s view came more and more to express s c i e n t i f i c rather than aesthetic appreciation.  However, i n s p i t e of t h i s reasoned  conclusion, one must remember that Tennyson was romantic.  Therefore,  i t i s to be expected that expressions  his aesthetic conception accuracy.  something of a of  of nature sometimes transcend mere  A composite picture of h i s aesthetic idea of nature  w i l l require some balancing of romantic f e e l i n g f o r and scient i f i c observation of nature.  The t r o p i c a l mountain and  the  B r a z i l i a n forests represent the longing of the romantic to s l i p the bonds of s c i e n t i f i c  exactitude.  S c i e n t i f i c influences on Tennyson's concept of nature In Under the Microscope (1872) one finds the following statement: We l i v e i n an age when not to be s c i e n t i f i c i s to be nothing; the man untrained i n science...is but a p i t i a b l e and worthless pretender i n the sight of professors to whom natural science i s not a mean but an end.l Swinburne, i t i s true, made t h i s remark i n a s a t i r i c a l vein; nevertheless, science.  i t does express the general V i c t o r i a n f a i t h i n  Tennyson, as a representative V i c t o r i a n , would have  agreed - and t h i s statement seems to apply throughout his l i f e t i m e - that the facts of science were to be trusted. "Science indeed i n his opinion was  one of the main forces  1 A.C. Swinburne, Under The Microscope. London, D. White 1872, p . l . :  30 tending to disperse the s u p e r s t i t i o n that s t i l l darkens the world"  As Professor Sidgwick stated i n an appraisal of  1  Tennyson's In Memoriam: (for Tennyson} the physioal world i s always the world as known to us through physioal science; the s c i e n t i f i c view of i t dominates his thoughts about i t ; and his-general acceptance of t h i s view i s r e a l and sincere, even when he utters the intensest f e e l i n g of i t s inadequacy to s a t i s f y our deepest needs. 2 Which of the physical sciences had the greatest e f f e c t on Tennyson's idea of nature?  I think i t i s a l o g i c a l assum-  ption that physics and chemistry had l i t t l e influence. two sciences  (physics especially) were based on  These  complicated  mathematical formulae mainly derived from Newtonian calculus. Moreover, they were controlled by deterministic natural laws which had l i t t l e to do with man's place i n nature, and hence had only an i n d i r e c t e f f e c t on the V i c t o r i a n compromise between science and r e l i g i o n . interest to Tennyson was was  The rule of law which was  the rule of progress;  of  "progress"  the catalyst which he thought would accelerate the union  of fact andfaith.  Because astronomy, geology, palaeontology,  and biology a l l seemed to support t h i s b e l i e f i n "progress" through t h e i r increasing emphasis on evolution, i t was  natural  that an amateur s c i e n t i s t l i k e Tennyson should turn to these scienoes with great i n t e r e s t . S c i e n t i f i c influences (Pre-Cambridge) Some of Tennyson's evolutionary ideas had t h e i r o r i g i n 1 2  Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I, p.299. I b i d . , Vol. I, p.303.  31 i n the Somersby period, of his l i f e .  The Memoir t e l l s us that  Tennyson read i n h i s father's l i b r a r y books by Burke, Goldsmith, and Buffon  1  Each of these men doubtless contributed  something to Tennyson's evolutionary views.  In Burke the  young poet would have seen the conception of nature as "the funded wisdom of the ages", . as the possession of a human s o c i e t y that was slowly evolving toward perfection.  The idea of nature  as actual and h i s t o r i c a l was a s c i e n t i f i c concept i n Burke which would have impressed Tennyson. In Goldsmith too was t h i s idea of gradation, t h i s time in the realm of biology.  I f Tennyson read Goldsmith's popular  edition of natural history, he may have noticed a suggestion of the i n a d m i s s i b i l i t y of fixed species; Goldsmith had contended that the d i v i s i o n s between species were a r b i t r a r i l y 3 fixed by man,  not by nature.  But, whether or not Tennyson found a hint as to the possible mutability of species i n Goldsmith, he c e r t a i n l y encountered i t i n Buffon's H i s t o i r e Naturelle, which traced the growth of nature from the formation of earth to man.  Yet  Buffon's views must have confused the young Tennyson, f o r , unlike Linnaeus, the great n a t u r a l i s t had i n s i s t e d on c l a s s i f y i n g man apart from the apesf  Furthermore, Buffon had  1 Ibid. , V o l . I, p.16. 2 B a s i l Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background, London, Chatto & Windus, 1940, p.245. 3 A.O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain.of Being, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Univ. Press, 1936, p.231. 4 S i r Charles L y e l l , The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man, London, John Murray, 1863, p.475.  32 wavered between two p o s i t i o n s : f i r s t , the b e l i e f that, because of imperceptible gradation, there were no f i x e d species, and second, because of the i n f e r t i l i t y of hybrids, the assertion that species were "objective and fundamental r e a l i t i e s "  1  The awakening of Tennyson's interest i n astronomy was c e r t a i n l y contemporaneous with that i n biology, i f not of e a r l i e r date.  From William Herschel's writings, which he and  his brother Frederick at least knew at second hand, Tennyson would have learned of the nttbular hypothesis of Laplace 3, Kant, as Thomas Huxley showed ).  In t h i s hypothesis  (or of  was  evidence of cosmic evolution (in the o r i g i n and development of solar systems) taking place i n an i n f i n i t e space-time universe. Tennyson must have wondered even i n the 1820's i f there was  any  possible connection between t h i s evolution i n the cosmos and the progressive development of earth's creatures. I t i s also l i k e l y that during t h i s period of his l i f e the poet was subjected to c e r t a i n general s c i e n t i f i c ideas.  eighteenth-century  The p r i n c i p l e of plenitude, f o r example,  would have f i t t e d i n very r e a d i l y with h i s astronomical knowledge.  What supposition would have seemed more reasonable  to Tennyson than that of the other planets being peopled?  We  know that Tennyson l a t e r held t h i s assumption to be truth, for he objected to William Whewell's contention (in his book,. P l u r a l i t y of Worlds) that only t h i s earth was populated^ 1 2 Essays 3 p.108. 4  And  Lovejoy, op.cit., p.230. W.R. Rutland, "Tennyson and the theory of evolution", and Studies, V o l . xxvi, 1940. T.H. Huxley, Darwiniana, London, Macmillan & Co.,1893, Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I, p.379.  33 along with t h i s b e l i e f i n the plenum formarum Tennyson no doubt accepted some conception of a chain of being.  No  reputable  s c i e n t i f i c discovery by 1828 would have led him to doubt either of these tenets. Hence from his reading and observation Tennyson i n a l l p r o b a b i l i t y had formulated  the following " s c i e n t i f i c " concept  of nature by the time he entered Cambridge: an i n f i n i t y of worlds progressing very slowly i n i n f i n i t e time and space toward a state of perfection, t h i s cosmic progression being paralleled by the slow development of inorganic and  organic  l i f e on earth (within a fixed chain of being, between the links of which the gradation i s almost imperceptible) toward another kind of perfection. S c i e n t i f i c influences (Cambridge) The s c i e n t i f i c influences on Tennyson's concept of nature during the Cambridge years tended to add to, to v e r i f y , and to consolidate the vague b e l i e f i n science and i n evolution that he had held to i n the seclusion of Somersby.  For instance,  William Whewell, the master of T r i n i t y for whom Tennyson had a great r e s p e c t , and geology,  1  increased the young poet's interest i n astronomy  whewell, who  Hersehel and who  was a college friend of S i r John  l a t e r became a friend of L y e l l ,  no doubt both  c l a r i f i e d the theories of the two Herschels for his student excited his Interest i n the great geologist.  and  Whewell also would  1 I b i d . , Vol. I, p.38. 2 George R. Potter, "Tennyson and the B i o l o g i c a l Theory of M u t a b i l i t y i n Species", P h i l o l o g i c a l Quarterly, V o l . xv, October, 1937, p.323.  have strengthened Tennyson's idea of a general law of progress working with no interference i n the material world  1  The "apostles", that group of i n t e l l e c t u a l s into which 2  Tennyson and Arthur Hallam were introduced i n 1829, also had some influence on Tennyson's concept of nature.  Tennyson ad-  mittedly was not a very good "apostle"; he read very l i t t l e i n the many books on metaphysics that the apostles discussed. But he did attend t h e i r meetings, and so one may assume that he assimilated some of t h e i r ideas.  The problem then i s to extract  the relevant s c i e n t i f i c notions from the welter of "philosophy" gathered by the "apostles" from Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Butler, Hume, Bentham, Descartes, Kant, Goethe, Coleridge, Wordsworth, 3 4 Shakespeare, Shelley, and Keats.'  Of these I believe one may  discount, because of the l i t t l e effect they would have had on the s c i e n t i f i c framework Tennyson had already constructed, the following: Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Coleridge, Shakespeare, and Keats. Descartes and Hume were very l i k e l y the source of the " s c i e n t i f i c method" of the apostles, that i s , a reaching through a v e i l of doubt toward a f a i t h they hoped would be behind the veil.  And from Shelley and Kant the apostles doubtless drew  evidence for f a i t h i n science and i n an immutable law of 1 See quotation from Whewell*s Bridgewater Treatise, opposite t i t l e page i n Darwin, On The Origin of Species, London, Ward, Lock, & Co. Ltd., 1901. - "But with regard to the material world, we can at least go so f a r as t h i s - we can perceive that events are brought about not by insulated interpositions of Divine power, exerted i n each p a r t i c u l a r case, but by the establishment of general laws." 2 Charles Tennyson, Tennyson, p.67. (3 Ibid., p.73 {4 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I , p.36 and p.43-44.  progress.  From Shelley, too, the apostles and Tennyson may have  borrowed a b e l i e f i n the physical a l l i a n c e of man with nature as explored and interpreted by s c i e n c e  1  But i t seems to me that of a l l these figures Kant had the greatest effect on Tennyson's concept of nature. quite possible that the apostles, who  It i s  regarded Kant as one of  t h e i r d e i t i e s , read his Allgemeine Naturgeschichte.  I f they  did, they provided Tennyson with another, and very important, evolutionary idea, namely, the "temporalized chain of being" theory (as A. 0. Lovejoy terms i t ) .  From his theory of i n f i n i t e  cosmic evolution Kant had decided that "continuous development and progressive d i v e r s i f i c a t i o n [was"] the supreme law of 2 nature".  This law for him applied to a l l l i f e , organic and  inorganic, cosmic and earth-bound.  Thus Kant saw the chain of  being as something "perpetually self-expansive"?  Kant postulated  fixed species, but at least h i s theory did permit  infinite  development within each l i n k of the chain. Of course, Tennyson could have found a somewhat similar temporalization of the chain of being i n Wordsworth, who  got  i t from Leibniz.  Or he may have obtained the concept from  Henry Ha11am, who  l a t e r i n the '30's suggested that the chain  was a plan existing i n the Divine mind and working out only i n the whole course of h i s t o r y f  The temporalized chain of  being had, i n f a c t , been adhered to i n some form or other by 1 2 3 4  Beach, Concept of Nature, p.241. Lovejoy, The- Great Chain of Being, p.268. loc c i t . L y e l l , Antiquity of Man, p.502.  36 many of the men f a m i l i a r with science from 1750 on.  Still  Kant's theory possessed, a unity that would have appealed to Tennyson.  Perhaps Hallam's theory was merely the historian's  restatement of Tennyson's  interpretation of Kant.  Such an  interpretation c e r t a i n l y f i t t e d i n with the s c i e n t i f i c knowledge Tennyson had i n 1830, f o r i t was vague enough to admit of an evolutionary metamorphosis, which only God could understand, from one step on the ladder of being to the next (and higher) one.  Tennyson would have seen affirmation of t h i s  theory i n the discoveries by Von Baer (and others) of the successive resemblance of the human embryo (during to f u l l y developed embryos of lower organisms.  development)  That Tennyson  knew of the Von Baer discovery seems apparent from h i s presentation of i t i n outline to Arthur Hallam during college 1 years. Another "evolutionary" concept of Tennyson's which took form i n college discussion i s that£>f cruelty i n nature (or the " s u r v i v a l of the f i t t e s t " , as Darwin l a t e r expressed i t ) . Cruelty i n nature had been recognized as early as the seventeenth century - Tennyson would have found the late seventeenth 2  and early eighteenth-century view i n Bishop Butler  - but up to  the  end of the eighteenth century i t had received sanction from  the  p r i n c i p l e of plenitude.  By Tennyson's Cambridge days,  however, plenitude was not so u n i v e r s a l l y obvious; therefore, 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol.1, p.44 -."My father seems to have propounded i n some college discussion the theory, that the development of the human body might possibly be traced from the radiated, vermicular, molluscous, and vertebrate organisms." 2 Joseph Butler, The Works of Joseph Butler, D.C.L., ed. by W. Gladstone, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1897, p.108.  for many thinkers i t could no longer excuse the unaccountable waste i n nature. Tennyson, through his reading and through the Cambridge discussions of the writings of Goethe, Adam Smith and Bentham, was made aware of the s c i e n t i f i c fact of waste i n nature, for these men had a l l noted i t ; Goethe hadfeven recognized t h i s waste 1 as an apparent e v i l . Moreover, i n 1830 t h i s cruel waste must have impressed Tennyson, f o r i t was manifest i n the f a l l i b l e operations of the I n d u s t r i a l Revolution, the explanation of which Tennyson undoubtedly found i n Malthus's Essay on Population (1798), which supplied a vast amount of h i s t o r i c a l  evidence  to show that waste, sickness, and premature death were i n e v i t 2 able because of necessity, that "all-pervading law of nature" which dictated that population unchecked increases i n geometr i c a l r a t i o , while subsistence increases only i n arithmetical r a t i o . Only Tennyson's b e l i e f i n the temporalized chain of being could have offset the d i s q u i e t i n g effect of the fact of cruelty i n nature.  This e v i l was  c e r t a i n l y enough to. cause  Tennyson at this time to disagree with Paley's argument that 3  the design of the universe proved the existence of God.  The  phenomena of the universe were f o r Tennyson, from Cambridge days onward, no proof of a Supreme Being.  As he remarked i n  1833 on observing some creatures under a microscope: 1 2  Beach, Concept of Nature, p.276. T.R. Malthus, An Essay on Population (1798), London, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1927, Vol.1, p.6. 3 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol.1, p.44.  38 Strange that these wonders should draw some men to God and repel others. No more reason i n one than i n the other.  1  S c i e n t i f i c influences (Post-Cambridge, 1831-1859) Tennyson had, therefore, formed his main ideas of evolution before he l e f t Cambridge.  Yet his interest i n the ever-in-  creasing discoveries of science was  unabated.  him i n this period p a r t i c u l a r l y f a s c i n a t i n g .  Geology was for In 1837  he read  g L y e l l ' s P r i n c i p l e s of Geology with great i n t e r e s t .  Before  reading L y e l l , he had most l i k e l y attached himself to the catastrophist school of Cuvier, for t h i s view of Cuvier's 3 the dominant one even among s c i e n t i s t s up to 1859.  was  But after  reading the P r i n c i p l e s ... he doubtless changed h i s a f f i l i a t i o n s . There i s no evidence to indicate exactly when Tennyson swung to the side of L y e l l and the Uniformitarians, but I am to believe that i t was soon a f t e r 1837.  inclined  The idea of applying  present causes of change (erosion, deposition, r a i s i n g and lowering of land masses) to explain geological change throughout a l l time f i t t e d better than catastrophism b e l i e f i n slow, uninterrupted  did into Tennyson's  evolution.  Besides, the other evolutionary concepts i n L y e l l agreed quite well with Tennyson's theory.  For example, L y e l l , a f t e r  examining and condemning Lamarck's hypothesis, made the following statement: 1 2 3  Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . 1 , p.102. I b i d . , V o l . I, p.162. T.H. Huxley, Darwiniana, p.231.  39 i t appears that species have a r e a l existence i n nature; and that each was endowed, at the time of i t s creation, with the a t t r i b u t e s and organization by which i t i s now distinguished. 1 And with t h i s affirmation of fixed species L y e l l coupled the idea of progressive development of organic l i f e at successive geological periods.  These two concepts must have seemed to  Tennyson to support the "temporalized  chain .of being" concept.  L y e l l ' s recognition of the struggle f o r existence as "part of 2 the regular and constant order of nature"  and his emphasis on  the i n f i n i t y of geological time would also have produced a glow of agreement i n the poet. From 1837 to 1859, the years when he was regarded "champion of science", Tennyson maintained i n science and i n s c i e n t i s t s .  a constant  as the  interest  I t i s very u n l i k e l y that during  these years he changed his evolutionary ideas, for most of the eminent s c i e n t i s t s - L y e l l , Owen, Agassiz, Adam Sedgwick, Hugh M i l l e r - held views which supported  those of the poet.  Perhaps  he s l i g h t l y altered his "evolution" to conform with Sedgwick's doctrine of progression, which postulated creative additions (not transmutation  of species) to account f o r the appearance of 3.  new species i n the rock record; but there i s no reason to assume any other changes i n Tennyson's b e l i e f .  I believe that  between 1840 and 1859 Tennyson held so f i r m l y to the general s c i e n t i f i c b e l i e f of the period that he could confidently say, after reading the advertisement on Chambers's Vestiges of 1 S i r Charles L y e l l , P r i n c i p l e s of Geology (1830), Boston, L i t t l e , Brown and Co., 1853, p.666. 2 I b i d . , p.678. 3 L y e l l , Antiquity, p.396.  Creation (1844), that i t seems to contain many- speculations with which I have been f a m i l i a r f o r years, and.on.which. I have written more than one poem. 1 Chambers, a f t e r a l l , was merely repeating Lamarck's theory i n popular form.  And had not L y e l l apprised Tennyson of the lack  of evidence f o r Lamarck's theory? The "speculations" i n Chambers, not h i s "conclusions", were what Tennyson had written about. S c i e n t i f i c Influence (Darwin and after) Tennyson i n 1859 read an early copy of Darwin's Origin  2  of Species "with intense i n t e r e s t " . Here was a theory backed by a multitude of facts, a theory which did not assume "progress  3 as self-evident, a theory which purported to explain a l l of l i f e on the basis of the m a t e r i a l i s t i c law of "natural select i o n " (which f o r Tennyson would have been synonymous with "cruelty i n nature").  How could the Laureate f u l f i l h i s mission  of r e c o n c i l i n g these "indisputable" facts o f science, which did not require the assumption that s p i r i t existed, with r e l i g i o n ? The following sentence near the end of- Darwin's s c i e n t i f i c t r e a t i s e must have seemed p a r t i c u l a r l y ominous to Tennyson: Light w i l l be thrown on the o r i g i n of man and h i s history. 4 It i s l i t t l e wonder that, when Darwin v i s i t e d him i n 1868,  Ten-  nyson queried, "Your theory of Evolution does not make against Christianity?"^ 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I, p.223. 2 I b i d . , p.443. 3 Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species bv Means of Natural Selection. London, Ward, Lock & Co.Ltd.,1901,p.267. 4 Ibid., p.375. 5 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir. V o l . I I , p.57.  Tennyson may not have read Thomas Huxley s essay, Man 1  and The Lower Animals(1863), but he very probably d i d read L y e l l s Antiquity of Man of the same year. 1  some cold comfort.  In L y e l l there was  The geologist pointed out that Darwin's  theory could not be proven u n t i l the record of the rocks was perfeoted.  The imperfect record, L y e l l stated, i f added to a  f a i t h i n the f u l l n e s s of the annals, could sustain b e l i e f i n a creative f o r c e  1  Moreover, L y e l l saw implications of pro-  gress i n Darwin's theory of transmutation; i n the evolutionary pattern from sensation to mind he saw "a picture of ever2 increasing dominion of mind over matter". But t h i s r e s p i t e f o r Tennyson was a short one. Descent of Man was published i n 1871.  Darwin's  The s c i e n t i s t i n t h i s  book provided facts that pointed " i n the plainest manner to the conclusion that man i s the co-descendant with other mammals of a common progenitor". And Darwin also discredited any assumptions that h i s evolutionary theory postulated the immortality of the soul.  Tennyson's r e l i g i o u s f a i t h , unorthodox though i t  was, would not allow him to accept these m a t e r i a l i s t i c i m p l i cations.  S t i l l , as champion of science, he could not r e j e c t  Darwin's well-founded theory.  He had to compromise, and so he  accepted Darwin's "evolution" as being " p a r t i a l l y t r u e " i n a "modified form. ^ 11  After a l l , h i s f r i e n d Tyndall and many other  notable s c i e n t i s t s had accepted the theory.  And i t s t i l l was  1 L y e l l , A n t i q u i t y , p.40jS. 2 Ibid., p.506. 3 Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection i n Relation t o Sex, London, John Murray, 190b, V o l . I I , p.3b6. 4 -Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I I , p.167.  possible to look to men  l i k e A.R.  Wallace, co-discoverer  of  ••Darwinism", f o r reassurance that man^s mental f a c u l t i e s could not be accounted for by natural s e l e c t i o n  1  and that,  2 therefore, an i n t e l l i g e n t agent must be assumed. 1880  But  by  there was r e l i a b l e evidence to show that these suppos-  edly great mental differences between man animals were non-existent?  and the lower  Though Tennyson i n 1892  still  was able to say that he believed that science would help us toward a higher conception of the law of the world and of the  4 'lav; behind the law , 1  he must sometimes have wondered i f  science and r e l i g i o n were reconcilable, e s p e c i a l l y since "progress" was and other men  at that time being doubted by  anthropologists  of science.  Religious, moral, and philosophical influences on Tennyson's concept of nature The general concept of evolution (or progress) seems to have l e d Tennyson up two d i f f e r e n t paths.  Progress as a  law of the material world j u s t i f i e d h i s f a i t h i n science. But what of r e l i g i o n ? What of the progress of the s p i r i t i n t h i s world and i n the next one?  Gould the two ideas of pro-  gress be reconciled i n such a way that the  eighteenth-century  b e l i e f i n a,universal nature (including man)  was l e f t intact?  The early Wordsworth and some of the other Romantics had stated that everything physical and moral was  explainable i n  1 W i l f r i d Ward, "Talks with Tennyson", L i v i n g Age, V o l . 210, July-September, 1896, p.332. 2 Huxley, Darwiniana, p.122. 3 Ibid., p.234. 4 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I I , p . 4 0 9 .  terms of 'Nature'.  Could Tennyson also believe, as the Deists  and Pantheists did, that man  should worship nature because i n  her operations was proof of a supernatural animating p r i n c i p l e ? In order to formulate Tennyson's concept of nature, I f e e l that these questions must be answered.  Therefore, i t i s  necessary to look at some of the r e l i g i o u s , moral, and p h i l o sophical influences on Tennyson. Pre-Cambridge The temperament of the "black, unhappy mystic of the Lincolnshire wolds"  was,  as I have noted, a strong factor i n  determining Tennyson's e a r l y idea of nature.  Intellectually  and emotionally the i n c i p i e n t poet was more concerned about certain matters than most young men are.  In general, he was  3 a f r a i d of a l l things related to "death, and sex, and  God".  Even t h i s early i n l i f e he worried about the problems of Resurrection and the Immortality of the Soul, subjects which  4 were always nearest h i s heart.  Where could he f i n d some  l o g i c a l answer to these questions?  He could not embrace the  C a l v i n i s t i c doctrine of the "elect", which he might have taken from h i s aunt or from a study of Bunyan (whose books were i n 5  his father's l i b r a r y ) , for he regarded Calvinism as a superstitious, selfish belief.  Nor was h i s father's rather weak  Anglican f a i t h of any help. I t i s a f a i r assumption that i n 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.116. 2 Harold Nieolson-, -Tennyson, p.1.5. 3 Ibid., p.28. 4 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I I , p.103. 5 Ibid., V o l . I, p.lb. .  44 those pre-Cambridge days Tennyson f e l t that the only i n t e l l ectual r e s o r t was science. him t o peer behind the v e i l .  Knowledge of t h i s world might allow Science, at l e a s t , would have  constituted a source for optimism, f o r at that time i t was not concerned with man's place i n nature.  The s c i e n t i f i c  knowledge Tennyson was imbibing perhaps caused him to doubt the account of Genesis, but i t did not d i r e c t l y query the d u a l i t y of man's nature or the immortality of man's s p i r i t . Cambridge The apostles introduced Tennyson to the transcendental philosophies of Kant and his followers.  Kant had no doubt  impressed them not only with h i s trust i n science (because science made knowledge possible) but also with h i s stress on 1 moral obligation as the key to r e a l i t y .  Morality for Kant was  a categorical imperative which, i f viewed i n terms of a highest good not r e a l i z a b l e i n t h i s world, postulated i n d i v i d u a l 2 < • immortality and God. Kant made only these two assumptions of a supernatural order.  But just imagine Tennyson's reaction to  Kant's philosophyl These two postulates were the bases of the poet's r e l i g i o n .  Therefore, i t i s highly probable  that  Tennyson adopted t h i s b e l i e f i n an absolute morality, f o r he would have believed that Kant's theory allowed him to accept, ,all the findings of science and s t i l l achieve a unity between 1 J.H. Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, Boston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1926, p.414. 2 A.W. Benn, The History of English Rationalism i n the Nineteenth Century, London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1906. Vol. I , p.192  45 physioal nature and " d i v i n e morality. n  As Kant had stated,  t h i s compromise was possible through a joint appeal to the Reason (Vernunft),  "the f a c u l t y by which f i r s t p r i n c i p l e s are  apprehended" and to the Understanding 1  (Verstand).  A l l subjective phenomena [said Kant^\ are f i n a l l y referred to an abiding unity, which i s the soul. A l l objective phenomena, conceived In t h e i r t o t a l i t y together constitute the world. And the synthesis of these two i s the Being of Beings, the absolute r e a l i t y ; i n other words, i t i s God. 2 Tennyson, who believed that the existence of a f i r s t cause was not deducible merely through observation of the "objective  3  phenomena" was perhaps convinced even during the Cambridge 7  years of -the d e s i r a b i l i t y of t h i s Kantian synthesis.  In any  case, the influence of Kant on the poet does imply a growing dualism i n Tennyson, a separation of nature (interpreted as the physical world understandable through science) and moral man. In Goethe the poet would have found a philosophy somewhat similar to Kant's*  Goethe also divorced man's s p i r i t u a l  nature from external nature and i n s i s t e d that man's creative  4  s p i r i t d i d not evolve.  -  '  But Goethe d i f f e r e d from Kant i n that  he believed that a synthesis o f the two 'natures' constituted a universal nature, not the author of nature.  Therefore, I  doubt that Tennyson accepted Goethe's view; h i s emotional need 1 A.W. Benn, The History of English Rationalism i n the Nineteenth Century, London, -LongmansT Green & Co., 1906. Vol. I , p.187. 2 loc. c i t . 3 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I, p.44 (or p.102)'. , 4 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.283. 5 Ibid., p.277. :  of a beneficent, personal God and a personal immortality would have turned him more toward Kant's transcendentalism than toward Goethe's pantheistic naturalism.  Besides, Coleridge's  transcendental views, which were on the l i p s of most Cambridge students during Tennyson's stay at college* supported Kant's theories. a f t e r 1800,  And a study of the poetry of Wordsworth written especially his Ode,  would also have impressed  Intimations of Immortality...,  Tennyson with the idea that earth 2  was weaning man away from h i s s p i r i t u a l essence  or, as  Tennyson would have phrased i t , h i s "divine morality". Berkeley and Shelley would have lent further support to t h i s transcendentalism with which Tennyson was being indoctrinated.  Both these men had assumed that physical nature was  secondary to the i n t e l l e c t u a l s p i r i t (or p r i n c i p l e ) which  3 4 governs the universe.* Berkeley had also assumed that t h i s s p i r i t was a d i f f u s i o n of the divine soul through the souls 5 6 of men and that nature was a l i e n to t h i s soul or. mind.of r m a n . And'i Inrsplte of Dr. Johnson's famous r e f u t a t i o n of Berkeley's i d e a l i s t i c theory, Berkeley had recognized that t h i s a l i e n  7 'nature' r e a l l y existed; Does i t seem curious that the apostles, who believed strongly i n the findings of mechanistic science, should have 1 Potter, "Tennyson and Mutability", P&, Vol.XV,p. 325. 2 Beach, op.cit., p. 1J52. 3,4 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.74 and p. 246. 5 Ibid,, p . 0 7 . 6 R.G. Collingwood, The Idea of Nature, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 194J?, p.7. 7 Ibid., p.7.  turned so completely towards a morality based on idealism? The reason i s that they f e l t the need of a s p i r i t u a l reaction against m a t e r i a l i s t s l i k e Bentham and James M i l l , who, l i k e August Comte l a t e r i n the century, wanted to found society not on any theology or philosophy but on the truths of p o s i t i v e science alone.  These u t i l i t a r i a n s wanted to erect a ^Goddess  Humanity" that would supersede God and immortality  or at l e a s t  make the Supreme Being, as Lucretius had done, a remote, un• ••  i •  concerned god.  .  .  .  Tennyson's very reaction to these m a t e r i a l i s t s  would have helped transcendentalism  to gain a hold on his mind.  I t i s i r o n i c , though, that the poet was faced i n these years with the problem of e v i l , the f a c t of c r u e l t y (or pain) i n nature, which was the very matter the u t i l i t a r i a n s were trying to deal with.  Tennyson had always f e l t that the e x i s -  tence of e v i l was "the greatest d i f f i c u l t y "  1  But the cold,  m a t e r i a l i s t i c solution was not f o r him an acceptable way out of the maze.  Nor was the equally harsh suggestion  e v i l was an attribute of a God of love.  that t h i s ,  The only course l e f t  for Tennyson was to accept the view of Bishop Butler that the physical world was a place of t r i a l  and that i t was man's  duty to obey God's voice within him,  that i s , to f r e e l y obey  the "divine morality" i n order to bring about a f i n a l r e g u l 3 a r i t y , order and r i g h t .  Tennyson, following Butler, would  have said that man's lower nature (the f l e s h l y part of him) was subject t o e v i l - t h a t e v i l somehow being part of 1 2 3  Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I I , p.400. Gladstone, ed., Butler, p . 6 6 . I b i d . , p.13.  external nature - but that man's higher nature (his conscience) escaped e v i l i n i t s march toward God. A l l t h i s mass of i d e a l i s t i c  philosophy, however, must  have seemed i n 1831 a b i t remote to the young poet leaving Cambridge.  The mere presence of his f r i e n d , Arthur Hallam,  was enough both to d i s p e l h i s fears about l i f e , death, and the l i f e a f t e r death and to make the whole accumulated mass of metaphysics and science seem unreal.  But Hallam's death i n  1833 revived the poet's fears and his need f o r facts and theories to calm these fears. Post-Cambridge Hallam's death re-emphasized f o r Tennyson the c r u e l t y which existed i n nature.  The physical death of a man of such  promise ,was added confirmation of the existence.of e v i l . Tennyson turned to science again i n hopes that a s a t i s f a c t o r y explanation was there.  Yet by 1839 he could only say that the  answer to the problem of good and e v i l l a y i n the hope of 1  u n i v e r s a l good  and that morality i n man at le-ast made him . 2  greater than a l l animals. His  friendship with Carlyle during the 1840*s seems to  have been of help i n a l l a y i n g the poet's fears.  C a r l y l e had  the convictions that Tennyson lacked. C a r l y l e enforced the ideas that Tennyson had found i n Kant and the i d e a l i s t s .  The  author of Sartor Resartus recognized the order i n nature; yet 1 2  H. Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I , p.170. Memoir, l o c . c i t . ' "  49  1 he saw the h o s t i l i t y i n i t too, and he praised Tennyson f o r the "goodness" i n the poems that presented the morality of man i n 2 opposition to external nature and to the "lower s e l f " i n man. But the s c i e n t i f i c and philosophical thought of the 1850's tended to shake Tennyson's f a i t h i n the d i v i n i t y of morality, i n the d i v i n i t y of man's mind.  I f Tennyson read Herbert 3  Spencer'3 Psychology i n 1855 - as he no doubt did - he would not have been unduly disturbed by the idea that mind was but a p a r t i c u l a r aspect of life-f  (Spencer had not said that  "life"  was merely p h y s i c a l ) ; but when Darwin f i r s t implied, and l a t e r d e f i n i t e l y stated, that mind originated through natural s e l e c t i o n , that mind was part of a m a t e r i a l i s t i c evolutionary scheme, Tennyson must have r a i s e d a l l his r e l i g i o u s and philosophical defences. As Beach says, the offense of Darwinian evolution for Tennysonwas the explanation of the o r i g i n and nature of J  5  mind.  I t was because of t h i s of f ensel that Tennyson could  accept "Darwinism" only i n a modified form.  The s p i r i t (or  mind) of man was not, f o r the Laureate, evolved from matter (though s p i r i t might evolve according to a s i m i l a r principle)§ As he stated to W i l f r i d Ward on the subject of the descent of man's body from the lower animals: 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.303. 2 Memoir,' V o l . I I , p.241. 3 Ibid., V o l . I , p.411. 4 Benn, History of Rationalism, passim. 5 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.431. 6 H. Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I , p.323.  50 i f i t i s true i t helps to solve the mystery of man's dual nature ... the s p i r i t u a l nature i s something superadded, hut the brute nature i s there and remains side by side with the other. 1 Tennyson was profoundly shocked by the materialism of Darwin's theory and, indeed, by the materialism-of science as a whole a f t e r 1859.  He had to r e a l i z e now that his philosophy  had been s i t t i n g on a " s p i r i t u a l i s t i c " limb, through which i t was  cutting with a " m a t e r i a l i s t i c " saw.  His problem was whether  he should grasp another branch or t r y to patch up the damaged one.  I t appears that he-chose the f i r s t a l t e r n a t i v e , even  though he contended to the end that he had temporarily resolved the s c i e n c e - r e l i g i o n dichotomy.  Metaphysics,  the Memoir t e l l s 2  us, began to engross Tennyson more and more a f t e r 1866,  a meta-  physics drawn from the i d e a l i s t and transcendental philosophers. A f t e r 1867,  as the following quotations indicate, the poet con-  s t a n t l y affirmed the r e a l i t y of s p i r i t : He talked about ... all-pervading S p i r i t being more understandable by him than matter. 3 Matter Q i s ^ a greater mystery What such a thing as a s p i r i t from God and man I have never to conceive. S p i r i t seems to the r e a l i t y of the world.  than mind. i s apart been able me to be 4  S p i r i t became f o r him something akin to divine morality, the essential characteristic of God and man.  He s t i l l  recognized  matter as existing i n 'Nature', but man's s p i r i t was not f o r 1 2 3  4  Ward, "Talks with Tennyson", p.332. op.cit., V o l . I I , p.39. I D i d . , Vol.11, p.48. H. Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I I , p.424.  him part of this 'Nature'. s p i r i t above matter.  He seems, moreover, to have placed  "Progress" came to mean, predominantly God  or S p i r i t for him, as i t had for Kant, to whose philosophy he was reintroduced by Jowett.  In f a c t , i t appears that i n the  1860's he fashioned (or attempted to fashion) a Pantheistic b e l i e f of sorts stressing  s p i r i t and the all-importance of  s p i r i t u a l progress. That he d i d hold to such a philosophy for a time i s demonstrated by his remark i n 1863: .Darwinism, Man from Ape, would that r e a l l y make any difference? ...Time i s nothing ... are we a l l not part of Deity? 1 Kant's philosophy seems to have been of further help to Tennyson at t h i s time.  Some of the poet's deepest expressions  of f a i t h are s t r i k i n g l y s i m i l a r to those uttered by the p h i l osopher one hundred years before: the nobler nature does not pass from i t s i n d i v i d u a l i t y when i t passes out of this l i f e .  2  I believe i n God, not from what I see i n Nature, but from what I f i n d i n man. 3 This l a s t quotation i s an expression of the dualism one may expect to f i n d i n Tennyson's poetry: "Nature versus Man or "Nature versus God".  Tennyson, i t seems, never agreed with  any hypothesis that assigned more than man's f l e s h to the physical world; i n f a c t , i t i s f a i r to assume that one w i l l f i n d i n the poems written from Cambridge years on that 'nature' i s used as a term i d e n t i c a l with 'the world of matter'. 1 2  3  H. Tennyson, Memoir. V o l . I, p.514. iPicU , V o l . I I , p.155. Ibid.. V o l . I I , p.374.  The  52  poet apparently took l i t t l e stock i n natural r e l i g i o n ; only i n God  could the divine part of man  nature he united.  - his morality - and material  Therefore, what one may  confidently expect to  find i n a l l but Tennyson's early poems i s either a discussion of nature considered  i n general as the physical world or perhaps  one of a universal nature seen i n a moment of mystical apprehension as the Divine Idea; that i s , nature seen as matter operating according to a universal, immutable law of change, but nevertheless h o s t i l e to moral man,  who  i s embraced f u l l y  only by that other nature which i s s p i r i t or essence, which i s God  himself. The d i s t i n c t i o n between these two  'natures' i s not of  course so c l e a r l y defined as I have indicated i n t h i s discussion of the various influences on the poet's concept of nature. Tennyson's temperament, l e t me repeat, was  also one of the  foroes acting to produce each resultant idea of nature. may  One  anticipate that Tennyson's chameleon-like moods w i l l at  least explain his changeable attitude toward a 'nature' seen as the physical world interpreted by science; they w i l l account i n part for an optimistic acceptance of progress i n the material world as well as for a pessimistic r e j e c t i o n of the implications a r i s i n g from the e v i l evident i n nature's operations.  Indeed,  i t i s l o g i c a l to assume that, because of Tennyson's moodiness, his attitude toward t h i s nature ran the gamut from optimism to pessimism.  Hence a coherent exposition of the poet's concept  of nature w i l l require some recognition of his d i f f e r e n t moods.  53 TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE AS SEEN IN HIS POETRY Tennyson informs us i n The Two Voices that his mission in l i f e  was 'As f a r as might be, to carve out Free space f o r every human doubt, That the whole mind might orb about  ~  *To search thro' a l l I f e l t or saw, The springs of l i f e , the depths of awe, And reach the law within the law: " • 1 2 These lines express the compromise  he hoped to achieve between  'nature' regarded as the physical world interpreted by soience (and governed by the "outer" law) and some force c o n t r o l l i n g or controlled by the "inner" law.  The purpose of t h i s chapter w i l l  be to show both that, t h i s "force" was e s s e n t i a l l y supernatural and that 'nature' meant to Tennyson only the physical (or material) universe revealed by science. Nature regarded as the physical world interpreted by science  L  Objectivity concerning science, emotional I reaction towards nature J  Tennyson, unlike Wordsworth and the other Romantic poets, made nature the handmaiden of science.  The V i c t o r i a n  poet believed that man could love nature most when he, l i k e Edwin Morris, ...knew the names, Long learned names of agaric, moss and fern 1 The Two Voices, I, p.128. - #A11 quotations from Tennyson's poetry used i n t h i s chapter are taken from the nine volume e d i t i o n of his works: Hallam, Lord Tennyson, ed., The Works of Tennyson. London, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1908. 2 c f . Chapter 2, p.^H-.(the apostles' method of approaching knowledge).  [and when he hadj ...forged a thousand theories of the rocks.  1  In other words, Tennyson's love f o r nature was due to h i s s c i e n t i f i c knowledge of her operations, not to any s p i r i t u a l or emotional power nature had over him. Because science represented authority, Tennyson reacted against nature rather than against her interpreter.  Nature, not science, was a mistress  of questionable f i d e l i t y ; - therefore, the temperamental poet gave free r e i n to his suspicions of her.  As long as she kept  within the bounds of law, he approved of her.  But when her  actions could be questioned he lapsed into moods of mere acceptance or pessimism. An optimistic Tennyson looking at nature Tennyson saw reason for optimism i n the orderly manifestations of nature, namely, law, progress, and evolution, three p r i n c i p l e s which for him were almost synonymous.  For Tennyson  law i n nature was the law of progress; and progress i n nature was possible only within an evolutionary, temporalized  chain  of being. In Tennyson's poetry are many a l l u s i o n s to the fixed law of the universe. expresses  For example, an,early poem, On A Mourner,  confidence i n nature's law being the external i n -  dication of God's law: Nature, so f a r as i n her l i e s , Imitates God, and turns her face To every land beneath the skies, Counts nothing that she meets with base, But l i v e s and loves i n every place; 1  Edwin Morris, I, p.£98.  And murmurs of a deeper voice Going before to some f a r shrine, Teach that sick heart the stronger choice, T i l l a l l thy l i f e one way i n c l i n e With one wide W i l l that closes thine.  1  Tennyson does not a t t a i n to such praise of nature as semidivine again, but he does reaffirm the necessity f o r man to obey the laws of nature.  The recluse of The Palace of Art  suffers because she t r i e s to separate herself from nature and man, -from the "one f i x ' d law" that controls "the hollow orb of 2 moving Circumstance". And the v i l l a g e maid who marries the lord of Burleigh dies because she opposes nature's laws i n 3 trying to l i v e a l i f e she was not born to.  Necessity i s , for  an optimistic Tennyson, part of nature's commendable order; "cursed"; he says, "be the s i c k l y forms that err from honest Nature's rule I"f  Even-during the gray moods of In Memoriam  Tennyson i s able to brighten his. tone through contemplation of orderly law i n nature: The fa*me i s quench'd that I foresaw, The head hath miss'd an earthly wreath: I curse not.-nature, no, nor death; For nothing i s that errs from law. 5 Through observing and imitating, nature's laws, Tennyson t e l l s us, man may slowly approach a state of true freedom. The follower of the v i s i o n , the gleam, . . . l i k e Nature, wouldst not mar By changes a l l too f i e r c e and fast 1 2 3 4 5  On A Mourner, I, pp.237-8. The Palace of A r t , I, p.184. The Lord of Burleigh, I I , p.107. Locksley H a l l , I I , p.39. In Memoriam, I I , p.107.  T h i s order o f Her Human S t a r , T h i s h e r i t a g e o f the p a s t . 1,2 The poet thus commends law i n nature because of the p r o g r e s s implied i n i t s operation.  Progress,he  b e l i e v e s , i s good be-  cause i t means constant change and p r o g r e s s i o n i n man and nature toward a f u t u r e golden age. Hence i n h i s o p t i m i s t i c e u l o g i e s o f progress Tennyson a v o i d s , i n t y p i c a l V i c t o r i a n f a s h i o n , any s p e c i f i c reference to s c i e n t i f i c ditions.  d i s c o v e r y or t o present  con-  He sees change and process as sources of optimism  whenever he has a f i x e d eye on the m i l l e n i u m , when "the world" w i l l show " l i k e one g r e a t  garden".  H i s b e l i e f i n p r o g r e s s , however, i s based a c t i o n s than on nature's o p e r a t i o n s .  on man's  Nature, he s t a t e s ,  alters  the p h y s i c a l p a r t o f man; but her law o f change does not a p p l y to man's s o u l : F o r Nature a l s o , c o l d and warm, And moist and dry, d e v i s i n g l o n g , Thro' many agents making s t r o n g , Matures the i n d i v i d u a l form. Meet i s i t changes should c o n t r o l Our being, l e s t we r u s t i n ease. We a l l are changed by s t i l l degrees, A l l but the b a s i s of the s o u l . 4 T h i s s o u l o f man, which i s not s u b j e c t to the process o f p h y s i c a l nature, c o n t r o l s man's progress.. ledge through  Man may g a i n know-  the o b s e r v a t i o n o f nature's p r o c e s s e s , but the  purpose governing progress i s something d i v i n e t h a t e x i s t s i n 1 Freedom, V I , p.338. 2 c f . Chapter 2, (Burke's concept gradual progress of s o c i e t y ) . 3 The Poet, I , p.59. 4 Love Thou.;. Thy Land, I , p.245.  o f nature as t h e  God and i n the divine h a l f of  man:  Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs, And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the progress of the suns. 1 Nature supplies the p r i n c i p l e of change, but man  (through  God)  provides the power to use this p r i n c i p l e : Not i n vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward l e t us range, Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. 2 Small wonder that Tennyson could be hopeful about progress i n nature.'  For him nature r e a l l y did not govern earthly progress;  she but handed on the sceptre so that man might r u l e . The same dichotomy between nature and man  i s present i n  Tennyson's idea of evolution. His general evolutionary b e l i e f s , however, had firmer roots i n science than h i s idea of progress had.  Tennyson could see hope i n evolution before 1859 because  science sustained his trust i n the temporalized chain of being. Oh yet we trust that somehow good W i l l be the f i n a l goal of i l l , To pangs of nature, sins of w i l l , Defects of doubt, and taints of blood; That nothing walks with aimless feet; That not one l i f e s h a l l be destroy'd, Or cast as rubbish to the void, When God hath made the p i l e complete; That not a worm i s cloven i n vain; That not a moth with vain desire Is s h r i v e l l ' d i n a f r u i t l e s s f i r e , Or but subserves another's gain.  1  2 3 4  Locksley H a l l , I I , p.45. I b i d . , p.49. c f . Chapter 2^ t>. 3<J. In Memoriam. I l l , pp.90-91.  4  58 Here i s a b e l i e f , one may note, i n the creative power of God, not i n nature's evolution. C e r t a i n l y the idea that nature had moulded man does appear i n The Two Voices: ... 'When f i r s t the world began, Young Nature thro' f i v e cycles ran, And i n the s i x t h she moulded man. •She gave him mind, the l o r d l i e s t Proportion, and, above the r e s t , Dominion i n the head and breast.'  1  But t h i s Voice discards the eighteenth-century b e l i e f i n divine nature i n favour of a more general f a i t h i n a progress directed by God.  Although Tennyson gives credit to nature, on the basis  of Von Baer's embryological theory, for the part she has played i n evolving man  —  'Or i f thro' lower l i v e s I came — Tho' a l l experience past became Consolidate i n mind and frame — he can find no hope i n t h i s theory alone.  • 2  His optimism i s  based on the conviction that man's s p i r i t came from some 3  Platonic realm outside nature. The evolutionary p r i n c i p l e i n nature of which Tennyson p a r t i c u l a r l y approves i s the law of gradation.  I f man does not  obey t h i s law, i f he should Tumble Nature heel o'er head, and, y e l l i n g with the y e l l i n g street, Set the feet above the brain and swear the brain i s i n the feet 4 then he w i l l 1 2 3 4  The Two Voices, I , p.123. Ibid., p.139. Ibid., p.140. Locksley H a l l S i x t y Years A f t e r , VI, p.291.  Bring the old dark ages back without the f a i t h , without the hope, Break the State, the Church, the Throne, and r o l l t h e i r ruins down the slope.  1  But i f man does obey this precept, then he may scale "the 2 3 shining steps of Nature" toward "the s t a t e l i e r Eden" where 4 the "crowning race of humankind"  w i l l exist.  In f a c t , Tennyson  t e l l s us, i f man observes gradation a higher race may come into being a f t e r t h i s human zenith i s attained (a l o g i c a l deduction from the temporalized chain of being theory).  Tennyson v i s u a l -  izes the chain of being as a kind of mural i n which higher beings are depicted as evolving through the conquest of the lower elements within themselves: ... i n the lowest [zone] beasts are slaying men, •' And i n the second men are slaying beasts, And on the t h i r d are warriors, perfect men, And on the'fourth are men with growing wings 6 This hope for a higher race also appears i n In Memoriam, i n a passage which, Tennyson states, refers to Goethe's phrase, "Von Aenderungen zu httheren Aenderungen" (from changes to higher changes): I held i t truth, with him who sings To one clear harp i n divers tones, That men may r i s e on stepping-stones Q Of t h e i r dead selves to higher things. The evolution of the human race and the future creation of a higher race thus was for Tennyson a matter of moral and 1 2  3 4 5 6 7 8  I b i d . , p.291. The Princess, IV, p.134. Ibid., p.135. I b i d . , p.135. c f . Chapter 2. The Holy G r a i l . V,'p.287. Poems, I I I , p.225 (notes). In Memoriam, I I I , p.41.  60 s p i r i t u a l progress.  Nature had shown man her law of gradation;  now he should make use of h i s divine powers i n order gradually to  "work out the beast".  Although man  "the grades of l i f e and l i g h t "  1  i s bound p h y s i c a l l y i n  he should  Arise and f l y The reeling Faun, the sensual feast; Move upward, working out the beast, And l e t the ape and t i g e r d i e .  2  The process, of course, w i l l be gradual: Where i s one that, born of woman, altogether can escape From the lower world within him, moods of t i g e r , or of ape? Man as yet i s being made, and ere the crowning . Age of Ages, S h a l l not aeon after aeon pass and touch him into shape? 3 S t i l l , the g l o r y of God guarantees  the f i n a l r e s u l t :  All  about him shadow s t i l l , but, while the races flower and fade, Prophet-eyes may catch a g l o r y slowly gaining on the shade, T i l l the peoples a l l are one, and a l l t h e i r voices blend i n choric 4 H a l l e l u j a h to the Maker 'It i s f i n i s h ' d . Man i s made.' In these l a s t few quotations one may see Tennyson's general pattern of evolution from animal, to man, man,  and to a higher being.  i s on the future.  to the perfect  In a l l this progression the stress  Nevertheless, Tennyson, in_facing the  future, recognizes the links of the past and present, and thus is able to formulate a complete, o p t i m i s t i c , evolutionary scheme based on the temporalized chain of being.  But one w i l l  note, i n reading the following passages (which enunciate t h i s 1 2 3 4  In Memoriam, I I I , p.80. . Ibid., p.166... The Making of Man, VII, p.177. Ibid., p.177.  61 scheme), that man's divine s p i r i t , not nature's evolving matter, i s always paramount f o r Tennyson. Out of the deep, my c h i l d , out of the deep, Where a l l that was to he, i n a l l that was, Whirl'd f o r a m i l l i o n aeons thro' the vast Waste dawn of multitudinous eddying l i g h t — Out of the deep, my c h i l d , out of the deep, Thro' a l l t h i s changing world of changeless law, And every phase of ever-heightening l i f e , And nine long months of antenatal gloom, With t h i s l a s t moon,-this crescent — her dark orb Touch'd with earth's l i g h t — thou comest, darling boy; •••  ...and prophet of the perfect •• •  man;  Live, and be happy i n thyself, and serve This mortal race thy k i n so well, that men May bless thee as we bless thee, 0 young l i f e Breaking with laughter from the dark; and may The fated channel where thy motion l i v e s Be prosperously shaped, and sway thy course Along the years of haste and random youth Unshatter'd; then f u l l - c u r r e n t thro' f u l l man; And l a s t i n k i n d l y curves, with gentlest f a l l , By quiet f i e l d s , a slowly dying power, To that l a s t deep where we and thou are s t i l l .  1  Except f o r the b r i e f nine month period when the foetus i s passing through the various embryological stages, Tennyson gives nature no r e a l control over this human being.  Change i n  nature and nature's changeless law a f f e c t only the body, not the s p i r i t which passes from "the great deep to the great deep", not the soul of man which i s the v i t a l element i n the evolution of a race that w i l l not be dominated by nature. ... star and system r o l l i n g past, A soul s h a l l draw from out the vast And s t r i k e his being into bounds, And, moved thro' l i f e of lower phase, Result i n man, be born and think, And act and love, a closer l i n k Betwixt us and the crowning race 1  De Profundis, VI, pp.177-8.  Of On Is Is  those that, eye to eye, s h a l l look knowledge; under whose command Earth and Earth's, and i n their hand Nature l i k e an open book;  No longer half-akin to brute, Eor a l l we thought and loved and d i d , And hoped, and suffer'd, i s but seed Of what i n them i s flower and f r u i t ; Whereof the man, that with me trod This planet, was a noble type Appearing ere the times were r i p e , That friend of mine who l i v e s i n God, That God, which ever l i v e s and loves, One God, one law, one element, And one f a r - o f f divine event, To which the whole creation moves. 1 This f i n a l cause and the progress leading to i t are the true sources of Tennyson's joy i n evolution.  Man, he t r u s t s , i s  moving away from nature by means of Aeonian Evolution, swift or slow, Thro' a l l the spheres — an ever opening height, An ever lessening earth —  2  Nature consequently receives no more than a rather suspicious recognition from a Tennyson praising the hopeful p r i n c i p l e s evident i n orderly nature . - law, progress, and evolution.  Nature reveals commendable laws f o r man's edi-  f i c a t i o n ; and she, as science has proven, has played a part in man's evolution.  But, Tennyson constantly reminds us,  man's s p i r i t must, a f t e r noting nature's laws, f i r s t  purge  i t s e l f of the brutish q u a l i t i e s with which i t has been burdened through nature's physical evolution, and then assert i t s superiority i n order that further evolution may take place. Tennyson'is optimistic about man's future state, not about 1 2  In Memoriam, I I I , pp.183-4. The Ring, VII, p.38.  63 nature's present existence. Calm acceptance of s c i e n t i f i c fact and " r e l a t i v e - o b j e c t i v i t y concerning nature It i s worth noting that i n his optimistic moods Tennyson deals with nature i n a very general way and thus i s able to extend s c i e n t i f i c p r i n c i p l e s into r e l i g i o n .  That i s , he does  not at these moments consider p a r t i c u l a r s c i e n t i f i c discoveries which might c o n f l i c t with h i s simple r e l i g i o u s f a i t h }  It i s  true that the passage quoted from De Profundis contains many references to the world revealed by science; i t refers to i n f i n i t y of time, nature's law of necessity, the nebular hypothesis, the vastness of space, and man's physical embodi2 ment i n nature.  But, as I said before, a hopeful Tennyson treats  a l l these matters as incidental to all-important s p i r i t .  Only  i n a calm mood of acceptance can he look at nature i n a r e l a t i v e l y objective way, and even then he usually just faces the s c i e n t i f i c fact and not i t s implications. Tennyson i n t h i s mood of acceptance, when the a c t u a l i t y of "the past and present occupies h i s thoughts somewhat more than the R e a l i t y of the future does, gives us h i s clearest -picture of nature, a picture embracing h i s whole conception of evolution from cosmos to physical man.  Let us ascertain whether  or not the design of t h i s more detailed representation of nature concurs with the broader outline we have already looked at. Cosmic evolution, Tennyson believed, had to be studied 1 2  c f . Chapter 2, p , ^ W i l f r i d Ward, "Talks with Tennyson", p.333.  s c i e n t i f i c a l l y because i t possibly could give man a hint of the law of nature he had to follow i n order to, paradoxically, escape from nature's shackles.  Besides, a study of astronomical  evolution d i d not d i r e c t l y involve the p o s i t i o n of man i n nature. Therefore, Tennyson can use such speculations as the nebular 1 hypothesis without trepidation: 'There sinks the nebulous star we c a l l the Sun, I f that hypothesis of theirs be sound' 2 And he i s able to include t h i s hypothesis i n the o v e r a l l progression from nebula to barbarous, or merely physical, man: 'This world was once a f l u i d haze of l i g h t , T i l l toward the centre set the s t a r r y tides, And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast The planets: then the monster, then the man; Tatbo'd or woaded, winter-clad i n skins, Raw from the prime, and crushing down h i s mate; As yet we f i n d i n barbarous i s l e s , and here Among the lowest.' 3 Tennyson's interest i n astronomy was. not confined merely 4 to t h i s hypothesis  of cosmic evolution.  His quest f o r unity  i n the world demanded a general knowledge of a l l the phenomena of the heavens.  Therefore, one finds throughout h i s poetry  constant reference to planets, stars, constellations, meteors and comets.  I t appears that Tennyson was p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r -  ested i n those bodies of the universe that he could see with 1  c f . Chapter 2, p.SZ. The Princess, IV, p.59. 3 Ibid., p.27. 4 For other references to the nebular hypothesis see In Memoriam, I I I , p.149 ("the shaping of a star") and In Memoriam, I I I , p.130 ("before the crimson c i r c l e d star/Had f a l l e n into her father's grave"). The poet explains' the second quotation with the following note: "Before Venus, the evening s t a r , had dipt into the sunset. The planets, according to Laplace, were evolved from the s u n " . ( I l l , p.250). 2  65 the naked eye or with the aid of the small telescopes he had the opportunity to use. Consequently, his view of nature i n the cosmos i s usually that of the empirical s c i e n t i s t , and he frequently q u a l i f i e s his acceptance of authoritative discoveries.  The  moon, for instance, i s perhaps "dead"; at l e a s t , the "new 1 astronomy" so describes her state.  Yet only when Tennyson re-  lates this s c i e n t i f i c fact to the whole p r i n c i p l e of evolution does he admit the "deadness" of the moon.  The nebular hypoth-  e s i s , he r e a l i z e s , demands d i s s o l u t i o n as a necessary c o r o l l a r y to evolution i n the cosmos; therefore, i t i s conceivable  to him  that the moon i s dead: Dead, but how her l i v i n g glory l i g h t s the h a l l , the dune, the grass. Yet the moonlight i s the sunlight £L.e. r e f l e c t e d g sunlight}, and the sun himself w i l l pass. However, the poet does not always treat of the'stars, 1  u  i  planets, and constellations with s c i e n t i f i c caution.  I n deal-  ing with f a m i l i a r cosmic landmarks l i k e Mars, Venus, Saturn, and Hesper, Tennyson sometimes accepts philosophical speculation rather than s c i e n t i f i c fact: Venus near her! smiling downward at t h i s e a r t h l i e r earth of ours, Closer on the Sun, perhaps a world of never fading flowers. Hesper, whom the poet c a l l ' d the Bringer home of a l l good things. A l l good things may move i n Hesper, perfect peoples, perfect kings. 1 2  L o c k 3 l e y H a l l S i x t y Years A f t e r , VI, p.894. Ibid., p.295.  66 Hesper--Venus —  were we native to that splendour or i n Mars, We should see the Globe we groan i n , f a i r e s t of t h e i r evening stars. 1 and And 'while the world runs round and round', I said, •Reign thou apart, a quiet king, S t i l l as, while Saturn w h i r l s , h i s stedfast shade Sleeps on his luminous r i n g . ' 2 These quotations i l l u s t r a t e more than Tennyson's astronomical knowledge; they also indicate h i s p r e d i l e c t i o n f o r viewing the operations of nature, at long range i n space (as well as i n time).  Because he could not see the defects i n cosmical nature,  Tennyson was, as the above passages indicate, able to turn loose his imagination on i t - or perhaps one should say "fancy" rather than "imagination".  I t i s very d i f f i c u l t to divorce  Tennyson's wishful thinking from his acceptance of s c i e n t i f i c f a c t , to discuss h i s view of the a c t u a l world without  incl-  uding the "Real" world of the f a r future, a world so distant i n space and time that the poet can imagine i t existing on some other planet that i s also remote i n space-time;  What one  must keep i n mind i s that nature (cosmical or earthly) i s not part of Tennyson's "Real" world; nature i s material, whereas Reality is spiritual. The poet brings us back to a c t u a l i t y i n h i s discussions of comets and meteors, f o r these phenomena demonstrate  to him  that physical struggle i s part of the evolutionary scheme. S t i l l Tennyson does not see evidence of c r u e l t y i n nature i n t h i s cosmic struggle - a f a i r fight i s quite acceptable to 1 Looksley H a l l S i x t y Years A f t e r , VI, p.295. 2 The Palace of A r t , I, p.172. 3 His optimism here was probably a r e s u l t of his f a i t h i n plenitude i n cosmos - c f . Chapter 2, p."o£*  him.  The meteor, though i t "leaves a shining furrow",  on i t s way i n silence.  slides  And the comet, indicative of "war i n 3  heaven", does not imply war on earth. Hence astronomical fact and observation did not unduly disturb the sensitive poet.  Nor d i d the majority of geol-  o g i c a l and paleontological discoveries up to Darwin's time. Tennyson can talk with equanimity  of man's p h y s i c a l precursors, 4  for, as he states, "Nature brings not back the Mastodon". He also i s able to accept the f a c t , which was so destructive to orthodox r e l i g i o n , of the "old-world mammoth bulk'd i n ice'.'  5  And he can recognize the p a r a l l e l between the development of the human foetus and the progression through nature's long evolution from monster to p h y s i c a l man (Von Baer's theory again): A monstrous e f t was of old the Lord and Master of Earth, For him did his high sun flame, and his r i v e r billowing ran, And he f e l t himself i n his force to be Nature's crowning race. As nine months go to the shaping an infant ripe for his b i r t h , So many a m i l l i o n of ages have gone to the making of man: He now i s f i r s t , but i s he the last? Is he not too base? 6  The l a s t l i n e of t h i s passage from Maud constitutes, one w i l l notice, another u n s c i e n t i f i c condemnation of the brute q u a l i t i e s 1 2  3  4  5 6  see h i s poem Ulysses. The Princess. IV, p.131. Harold, IX, p.219. The Epic, I, p.254. The Princess. IV, p.88. Maud, IV, pp.158-9.  68 with which nature has endowed man.  Tennyson thus both acknow-  ledges and deprecates nature's evolution. But, i n spite of this biased attitude towards material nature, the poet does find the geological theories of the method of nature's evolution acceptable. Cuvier's catastrophic hypothesis, f o r example,,appears  i n a poem written i n  183E, i n which Tennyson imagines ... the surge Of some new deluge from a thousand h i l l s [flinging] .. .leagues of roaring foam into the gorge Below us, as f a r on as eye could see. 1 In Memoriam, however, shows the e f f e c t of L y e l l ' s uniformitar2 ianism.  In one section of t h i s poem Tennyson makes no decision  between L y e l l and Cuvier: They say, The s o l i d earth whereon we tread In tracts of fluent heat began, An grew to seeming-random forms, The seeming prey, of c y c l i c storms, T i l l at the l a s t arose the man. 3 But i n two other parts of the elegy Tennyson gives h i s vote to Lyell: The sound of streams that swift or slow Draw down Aeonian h i l l s , and sow The dust of continents to be; 4 and  There r o l l s the deep where grew the t r e e . 0 earth, what changes hast thou seen! There where the long street roars, hath been The s t i l l n e s s of the central sea.  1 Sonnet X, I, p.112. 2 c f . Chapter 2, p.sfc3 In Memoriam, I I I , p.165. - The l i n e "Seeming prey of c y c l i c storms", says Hallam Tennyson (III, p.261), means evolution 'by gradual self-development, or by sorrows and f i e r c e s t r i v i n g s and calamities'. 4 In Memoriam I I I , p.74.  69 The h i l l s are shadows, and they flow From form to form, and nothing stands; They melt l i k e mist, the s o l i d lands, Like clouds they shape themselves and go.  1  And he voices an e x p l i c i t approval of uniformitarianism i n the Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington (written i n 1852): the Giant Age3 heave the h i l l And break the shore, and evermore Make and break, and work t h e i r w i l l ; 2 A l l these geological discoveries led Tennyson to the unmistakable conclusion that man had some d e f i n i t e place i n nature's evolution.  One discovers that, i n the poems which  pre-date Darwinism, the poet i s content to allow nature a vague lease on man's blood: He knows a baseness i n his blood At such strange war with something good, He may not do the thing he would.  3  (Even t h i s early Tennyson blamed nature for weaning man away from God.) But i n those poems written after 1859 he i s more s p e c i f i c . F i r s t , he admits that a "brute brain within the 4 man's" exists; and, secondly, he accepts the popular misinterpretation of Darwin's theory, the erroneous idea that man i s d i r e c t l y descended from the apes: We come from monkeys - prove i t who can But here i s a clue to the vices of man. 5 and How i s i t that men have so l i t t l e grace, When a great man's found to be bad and base, 1 2 3  In Mamoriam I I I , p.169. Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington. I I , p.220. The Two Voices. I, p.136. Lucretius. I I , p.199. 5 Charles Tennyson, ed., "Tennyson: unpublished poetry", Nineteenth Century and A f t e r . 1931, p.631. 4  That they chuckle and chatter and mock? We come from apes - and are f a r removed But r e j o i c e when a bigger brother has proved That he springs from the common stock.  1  Yet one may observe that Tennyson's acceptance of man's descent, though i t i s s p e c i f i c , i s not unqualified.  Only man's body i s  bound by nature; his soul must claim i t s sovereignty over her. I f my body come from brutes, tho' somewhat f i n e r than t h e i r own, I am h e i r , and t h i s my kingdom,. S h a l l the royal voice be mute? No, but i f the rebel subject seek to drag me from the throne, Hold the sceptre, Human Soul, and r u l e thy Province of the brute. 2 S t i l l t h i s Leviathan, man's soul, should have a dispassionate regard f o r h i s subject nature i f only for the reason that man's lower s e l f i s related to her: Hold thou, my f r i e n d , no lesser l i f e i n scorn, A l l Nature i s the womb whence Man i s born. 3 Because nature i s the mother of physical man,  Tennyson grants  us permission to admire her beauty, on condition that we be 4 cognizant of Beauty's two s i s t e r s , Good and Knowledge: 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I I , p.58, "By A Darwinian" 2 By An E v o l u t i o n i s t , VII, p.110. 3 H. Tennyson, op.cit., V o l . I I , p.399. 4 One may remark a s i g n i f i c a n t difference between the aesthetic appreciation of nature i n Tennyson and that i n Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth. When the three Romantic poets regarded the beauties of nature, they i n s t i n c t i v e l y recognized a divine animating p r i n c i p l e behind the outward l o v e l i ness. Keats f e l t with almost physical urgency the touch of v i t a l truth i n the beauty that "moves away the p a l l from our dark s p i r i t s " , the beauty.that i s An endless fountain of immortal drink Pouring into us from the heaven's brink. (Endymion, Book I ) Shelley also perceived a force working through natural beauty f o r the good of man; f o r Shelley this " p l a s t i c stress" was an i n t e l l e c t u a l power which swept (cont. next page)  71 Beauty, Good, and Knowledge, are three s i s t e r s That doat upon each other, friends to man, L i v i n g together under the same roof, And never can be sunder'd without tears. 1 For example, i n observing the chestnut, one should notice more than the b e a u t i f u l colour of the nut i t s e l f . add to his knowledge by marking  One should also  how the s h e l l  Divides threefold to show the f r u i t within:  £  The most s a t i s f y i n g beauties are therefore those about which Tennyson can know something.  He takes pleasure i n d i f f e r e n t -  i a t i n g between the "oat-grass and the sword-grass, and the 3 t bulrush i n the pool". He i s interested i n the exace appearance of trees i n their setting: through the d u l l sense world, compelling there, A l l new successions to the forms they wear; Torturing th' unwilling dross that checks i t s f l i g h t To i t s own likeness, as each mass may bear; And bursting i n i t s beauty and i t s might From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven's l i g h t . (Adonais, Section XLIII) And Wordsworth, discerning i n nature's beauty A motion and a s p i r i t that impels A l l thinking things, a l l objects of a l l thought And r o l l s through a l l things, (...Tintern Abbey) believed that One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral e v i l and of good, Than a l l the sages can. (The Tables Turned) Tennyson, however, thought that man's morality and knowledge should inform his aesthetic appreciation, for Tennyson could not see i n external nature any evidence for b e l i e f i n a s p i r i t u a l power. Even when he seemingly' liberated beauty from morality and science(see pp.SJ-^of t h i s chapter), he s t i l l superimposed his r e l i g i o u s f a i t h upon his aestheticism i n such a way that he was no longer communing with nature, but was escaping into a supernatural realm. As f a r as nature was concerned, "Good" and "Knowledge" were f o r the V i c t o r i a n poet the privileged step-sisters of a Cinderella "Beauty" who had no f a i r y godmother to whom she might look for deliverance. To , I, p.171. E The Brook,. I I , p.149. 3 New Year's Eve, I, p.197. 1  Enormous elm-tree-boles did stoop and lean Upon the dusky brushwood underneath Their broad curved branches, fledged with clearest green, New from i t s s i l k e n sheath.  1  And he l i k e s to exhibit his wide knowledge of nature's beauties: Bring orchis, bring the foxglove s p i r e , The l i t t l e speedwell's darling blue, Deep t u l i p s dash'd with f i e r y dew, Laburnums, dropping-welis o f . f i r e . 2 The harsher beauties i n nature, those which are d i f f i c u l t because they do not tend to the good of man,  do not  impinge upon Tennyson's emotions when he i s i n a mood of calm acceptance.  When he i s i n t h i s mood he can recognize the 3  contrast i n nature  only i f i t has been pressed by memory into  an a r t i s t i c mould: -Artist-like, Ever r e t i r i n g thou dost gaze On the prime labour of thine e a r l y days: No matter what the sketch might be; Whether the high f i e l d on the bushless Pike, Or even a sand-build ridge Of heaped h i l l s that mound the sea, Overblown with murmurs harsh, Or even a lowly cottage whence we see Stretch's wide and wild the waste enormous marsh, Where from the frequent bridge, Like emblems of i n f i n i t y , The trenched waters run from sky to sky; Or a garden bower'd close 'With plaited alleys of the t r a i l i n g rose, Long a l l e y s f a l l i n g down to twilight grots, Or opening upon l e v e l plots Of crowned l i l i e s , standing near Purple-spiked lavender: 4 1 2  A Dream of F a i r Women, I, p.216. In Memoriam, I I I , p.116.  4  Ode To Memory, I, p.52.  3  cf. Chapter  2,.p.M>,  One may conclude, then, that Tennyson i n a mood when s c i e n t i f i c fact and observation are acceptable attains to a measure of admiration f o r nature.  He i s able to concede that  nature, through the operation of some law or p r i n c i p l e  (about  which Tennyson i s not e x p l i c i t u n t i l a f t e r 1859, when he accepted Darwin's "natural s e l e c t i o n " as the means of nature's evolution) has evolved physical man.  He can also admire both  the orderly operation of nature's evolution i n cosmos and the beauty of an understandable nature on earth.  But even when he  is calmly appraising nature, Tennyson cannot be completely objective; he i s always conscious of the d u a l i t y existing between man's superior s p i r i t and nature's matter. A pessimistic Tennyson condemning nature Tennyson i n his pessimistic moods has to recognize the present a c t u a l i t y of nature; he has to face the implications of i n f i n i t e space and time and of c r u e l t y i n nature.  At such  moments he r e a l i z e s that a universe without bound proclaims the r e l a t i v e insignificance of man: Thereto the s i l e n t voice r e p l i e d ; 'Self-blinded are you by your pride; Look up thro* night: the world i s wide. 'This truth within thy mind rehearse, That i n a boundless universe Is boundless better, boundless worse. 'Think you this mould of hopes and fears Could find no s t a t e l i e r than h i s peers, In yonder hundred m i l l i o n spheres? 1 The modern astronomy which reveals t h i s i n f i n i t y of space i s f o r him 1  The Two Voices, I , p.123.  A sad astrology, the boundless plan That makes you [i.e. the stars] tyrants i n your i r o n skies, Innumerable, p i t i l e s s , passionless eyes, Cold f i r e s , yet with power to burn and brand His nothingness into man. 1 Nature becomes even more p i t i l e s s f o r Tennyson when he i s aware that both "Astronomy and Geology", chief interpreters 2 of nature, are " t e r r i b l e muses", astronomy because i t unveils i n f i n i t e space, and geology because i t reveals i n f i n i t e time. Man can have l i t t l e hope of attaining to perfection i f he recognizes the i n f i n i t e time required to ascend the ladder of being: Forerun thy peers, thy time, and l e t Thy feet, milleniums hence, be set In midst of knowledge, dream'd not yet. •Thou hast not gain'd a r e a l height, Nor art|bhou nearer to the l i g h t , Because the scale i s i n f i n i t e . 3 The golden age of the future i s then but a f o o l i s h dream of something that does not exist this side of heaven: •Ah, f o l l y , f o r i t l i e s so f a r away, Not i n our time, nor i n our children's time, 'Tis l i k e the second world to us that l i v e ; 'Twere a l l as one to f i x our hopes on Heaven As on t h i s v i s i o n of the golden year.• 4 5 This "secular abyss to come" i s , i n f a c t , e v i l , f o r i t rep6 resents "the war of Time against the soul of man". Consequently, Tennyson regards the vastness of the physical world as a monster antagonistic to man, 1 2 3 4 5 6  Maud, IV, p.192. Parnassus, VII, p.107. The Two Voices. I, p.126. The Golden Year,.II, p.24. In Memoriam, I I I , p.110. Gareth and Lynette, V, p.74.  a phantom  that even Tennyson's f a i t h i n the immortality of soul oannot dispel.  The poem that best expresses Tennyson's awe and fear  of t h i s spectre i s Vastness. Tennyson i n t h i s poem compares a l l the a c t i v i t i e s of man with the i n f i n i t i e s of time and space; then he says: What i s i t a l l , i f we a l l of us end hut i n being our own corpse - coffins at l a s t , Swallow'd i n Vastness, l o s t i n Silence, drown'd i n the deeps of a meaningless Past? What but a murmur of gnats i n the gloom, or a moment's anger of bees i n their hive? -  §  §  §  Peace, l e t i t be! f o r I loved him, and love him for ever: the dead are not dead but a l i v e . 1 Whatever one may say of the r e l a t i v e strengths of doubt and f a i t h i n this passage, he must admit that nature, responsible for awesome vastness, does not emerge unscathed from this struggle between science and r e l i g i o n . Nature, indeed, i s f o r a pessimistic Tennyson not merely antagonistic, but also c r u e l .  Nature exhibits such waste  that  the poet cannot conceive of her being benevolent. The i n d i v i d u a l creature does not matter to a nature that i s evolving types: It spake, moreover, i n my mind: 'Tho' thou wert scatter'd to the wind, Yet i s there plenty of the kind.'  3  Although Tennyson i n In Memoriam imputes h i s condemnation of nature to h i s " l y i n g " sorrow, one f e e l s that he trusts his 1 Vastness, VII, pp.34-,5. £ c f . Chapter 2, pp.H-31-- Tennyson, though he saw plenitude i n the cosmos, could not see i t i n "earthly" nature. 3 The Two Voices, I , p.123.  sorrow more than he t r u s t s wasteful nature: 0 Sorrow, cruel fellowship, 0 Priestess i n the vaults of Death, 0 sweet and b i t t e r i n a breath, What whispers-from thy l y i n g l i p ? 'The stars', she whispers, 'blindly run; A web i s wov'n across the- sky; From out waste places comes a cry, And murmurs from the dying sun: 'And a l l With a l l A hollow A hollow  the phantom, Nature, stands the music i n her tone, echo of my own, — form with empty hands.'  And s h a l l I take a thing so b l i n d , Embrace her as my natural good; Or crush her, l i k e a vice of blood, Upon the threshold of the mind?  —  1  This b l i n d nature, Tennyson t e l l s us i n the same poem, Is.,  so  prodigal that she seems to be i n opposition to a God of love who cares f o r the i n d i v i d u a l l i f e : Are God and Nature then at s t r i f e , That Nature lends such e v i l dreams? So careful of the type she seems, So careless of the single l i f e ; That I, considering everywhere Her secret meaning i n her deeds, And f i n d i n g that of f i f t y seeds She often brings but one to bear, 1 f a l t e r where I firmly trod...  2  Moreover, nature i s not even careful of the type. no evidence of plenitude i n the geological record: 'So careful of the type?' but no. From scarped c l i f f and quarried stone She c r i e s , 'A thousand types are gone: I care f o r nothing, a l l s h a l l go. 'Thou makest thine appeal to me: I bring to l i f e , I bring to death: The s p i r i t does but mean the breath: I know no more.' And he, s h a l l he, 1 2  In Memoriam. I l l , p.43 • In Memoriam: p.92.  There i s  Man, her last work, who seem'd so f a i r , Such splendid purpose i n his. eyes, Who r o l l ' d the psalm to wintry skies, Who b u i l t him fanes of f r u i t l e s s prayer, Who trusted God was love indeed And love Creation's f i n a l law — Tho' Nature, red i n tooth and claw With ravine, shriek*d against h i s creed 1  —  Who loved, who suffer'd countless i l l s , Who battled f o r the True, the Just, Be blown about the desert dust, Or seal'd within the iron h i l l s ? No More? A monster then, a dream, A discord. Dragons of the prime, That tare each other i n t h e i r slime, Were mellow music match'd with him.  1  Hostile nature, i n other words, knows nothing of the s p i r i t u a l life.  Man,  therefore, can either accept her blind rule and 2 the f i n a l i t y of death or " f a i n t l y trust the larger hope", the hope that his immortal soul and the souls of the whole human 3 race w i l l be saved.  Because Tennyson chooses the l a t t e r  a l t e r n a t i v e , he makes c r u e l nature and moral man able foes.  irreconcil-  Even the misanthropic hero of Maud shows concern  over the harsh struggle that takes place i n nature: For nature i s one with rapine, a harm no preacher can heal; The Mayfly i s torn by the swallow, the swallow spear'd by the shrike, And the whole l i t t l e wood where I s i t i s a world of plunder and prey. 4 Cruelty i n nature, an animistic interpretation of the 5 s c i e n t i f i c fact upon which Darwin b u i l t h i s "evolution", thus 1 2 3 4 5  In Memoriam, pp.92-3. In Memoriam I I I , p.92. Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I, pp.321-22. Maud., IV, p.158. c f . Chapter 2,  provides f o r Tennyson no evidence of progress or evolution. 1 i s an " e v i l s t a r " from whose influence moral man  It  should free  himself. Besides, Tennyson states, there i s no real;.hope for evolution through the actions of a nature that i s not only cruel but "dying".  The poet anticipates i n In Memoriam the  l a t e r s c i e n t i f i c recognition of Carnot's second law of thermodynamics, one of the conclusions of which was that the universe was running down. Contemplate a l l t h i s work of Time, The giant labouring i n his youth; Nor dream of human love and truth,' As dying Nature's earth and lime;  2  And i n The Epilogue to The Charge, of. the Heavy Brigade Tennyson declares this b e l i e f more emphatically: Earth passes, a l l i s l o s t In what they prophesy, our wise men, Sun-flame or sunless f r o s t , And deed and song a l i k e are swept Away, and a l l i n vain As f a r as man can see, except The-man himself remain: Tennyson had spoken i n h i s youth of a wise 'Nature' that would provide, a place of rest f o r men,  who  was  Then l e t wise Nature work her w i l l , . And on my clay her darnel grpw; But this was idea.  only a boyhood expression of an  sick of Time: 4 eighteenth-century  Tennyson could not r e t a i n t h i s b e l i e f once he r e a l i z e d  the existence of a cruel, dying nature. . Nor could he any longer see godlike features i n nature: 1 2 3 4  Love Thou Thy Land, I, p.246. In Memoriam. I l l , p.164. The Epilogue to The Charge of The Heavy Brigade.VI,p.514. My L i f e i s F u l l of Weary Days. I, p.102.  I found him not Or eagle's  i n world or  sun,  wing, or. i n s e c t ' s eye;  1  Tennyson's p r e s c r i p t i o n of l o o k i n g to the b r i g h t f u t u r e became, t h e r e f o r e , a desperate remedy when he  looked  c r u e l t y , b l i n d n e s s , and vastness of nature. For a l l ' s w e l l that ends w e l l , Whirl,' and f o l l o w the Sun! could g i v e no present  d i r e c t l y at Platitudes  the like  2  c o n s o l a t i o n t o a Tennyson f a c i n g nature i n i t s  actuality. Attempted Pantheism Before 1859.Tennyson thought that he had  workable compromise between s c i e n c e and mise which permitted p l a n of God.,  achieved  r e l i g i o n , a compro-  nature a subordinate p l a c e i n the  the plan, that separated  a  m o r a l man  i o n a b l e a c t i v i t i e s of n a t u r e . .Darwin's theory,  overall  from the  quest-  however,  was  a severe blow to Tennyson's f a i t h , f o r the s c i e n t i s t put  man  3 r i g h t back i n t o the n a t u r a l scene.  Darwin's c o n c l u s i o n s  the poet to seek refuge i n the o n l y s a n c t u a r y open to namely, Pantheism.  him,  But Pantheism meant i n t e r p r e t i n g the  verse through the observed course of^iature, not  forced  uni-  through the  soul  4 of man. Hence Tennyson was f a c e d w i t h an impasse. How c o u l d he regard m a t e r i a l nature as r e a l i t y when he b e l i e v e d that s p i r i t i n man  and  i n an immanent God  was  -the r e a l , the unchan-  5 ging?  And  which he saw 1 2 3 4 5  how  could he equate a God  of l o v e to a nature i n  so much e v i l ?  I n Memoriam, I I I , p.170. The Dreamer, V I I , p.179. c f . Chapter 2, p.f-lJ.H. R a n d a l l , The Making of the Modern Mind, p.415. c f . Chapter 2.  80 Nevertheless,  he made an attempt to embrace Pantheism.  Let us look at a demonstration of h i s  1  poem c a l l e d The Higher Pantheism. i n q u i r i n g i f p h y s i c a l nature  inevitable  failure,  a  Tennyson opens h i s poem by  i s not a v i s i o n of God:  The sun, the moon, the s t a r s , the s e a s , the h i l l s and the p l a i n s — Are not t h e s e , 0 S o u l , the v i s i o n of Him who r e i g n s ? But then he admits a t i o n of God's  that  the appearance of nature  i s no  manifest-  existence:  Is  not the V i s i o n He? t h o ' He be not t h a t which He seems? Dreams are true w h i l e they l a s t , and do we not l i v e i n dreams? Moreover, Tennyson c o n t i n u e s , p h y s i c a l nature  i s a symbol of  the  s o u l ' s d i v i s i o n from God: E a r t h , these s o l i d s t a r s , t h i s weight of body and l i m b , Are they not s i g n and symbol o f t h y d i v i s i o n from Him? The m a t e r i a l worldjhe then p o s t u l a t e s ,  is  because of man's s e p a r a t i o n  Y e t , he goes o n , i s God  from God.  incomprehensible  not e v e r y t h i n g except man's i n d i v i d u a l and immortal  spirit?  Dark i s the w o r l d to t h e e :  t h y s e l f a r t the reason why; F o r i s He not a l l but that which has power to f e e l » I am I ' ?  Man's d u t y , t h e r e f o r e , though he cannot do  i s t o t r y t o see God i n n a t u r e ,  so.  G l o r y about t h e e , without thee; and thou f u l f i l l e s t t h y doom Making Him broken gleams, and a s t i f l e d splendour and gloom.  1  The Higher Pantheism, I I ,  pp.288-89.  even  And how may man f u l f i l t h i s duty? — b y allowing his i n d i v i d u a l s p i r i t to commune i n a mystical way with an immanent, personal God who  i s not discernible i n nature. Speak to Him thou f o r he hears, and S p i r i t with S p i r i t can meet — Closer i s He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.  Then Tennyson makes a valiant e f f o r t to reconcile God with the only aspect of nature with which compromise was possible, that i s , the orderly law of the universe. pletely.  Yet here he f a i l s com-  For he cannot convince himself that an i d e n t i t y  exists between God and the law of nature. C e r t a i n l y he i s 1 able to say that God i s law. God i s law, say the wise; 0 Soul, and l e t us rejoice, For i f He thunder by law the thunder i s yet His voice. But he cannot complete the i d e n t i t y .  I f law i s God, then man  i s , f o r Tennyson, completely bound by nature's necessity, bound by a law that makes no provision f o r the perpetuation of human personality and moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y ; and Tennyson cannot believe that these absolutes do not e x i s t . he objects, how can man  Beside,  state that law i s God or that there i s  no God at a l l , when a l l man  sees i s the appearance of things?  Law i s God, say some: no God at a l l , says the f o o l ; For a l l we have power to see i s a straight s t a f f bent i n a pool;  1 His b e l i e f that man evolves only through the exercise of his divine morality, his conscience that communes with God,# allows him to make t h i s statement. # c f . Chapter 2 (Butler).  82 And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see; But i f we could see and hear, this V i s i o n , were i t not He? Tennyson thus concludes a c i r c u l a r argument which begins and ends with the same question: i f man could see proof of God i n nature, would nature not be God? Because the poet cannot accept a blending of man's s p i r i t into a general soul,'*' and because he w i l l r e l i n q u i s h neither his f a i t h i n man's absolute morality nor his suspicion of a physical nature that i s not at a l l godlike i n her operations, his "Higher Pantheism" i s merely a form of words that 2 expresses a d e f i n i t e monotheism.  Tennyson i s able to see  s p i r i t , the R e a l i t y , only i n a personal God and i n i n d i v i d u a l man,  not i n nature, even though he wishes he could have f a i t h  i n the pantheistic solution: Flower i n the crannied w a l l , I pluck you out of the crannies, I hold you here, root and a l l , i n my hand, L i t t l e flower — but i f I could understand What you are, root and a l l , and a l l i n a l l , know God and man iemotional s. 1 cIf .should Chapter 2, what p.V4>—Tennyson's need f o r a personal immortality made i t impossible f o r him to accept Goethe's pantheistic naturalism. 2 c f . Benn, The History of English Rationalism i n the Nineteenth Century, Vol.11, p.300 -- "Now, what Tennyson c a l l s the Higher Pantheism i s an endeavour to turn God from a F i r s t Cause into an ultimate substance of things, while preserving human personality and moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i n t a c t . But pantheism, whether Hindoo or German, had always treated the modi f i c a t i o n s of our inner consciousness, f e e l i n g s , thoughts, and wishes, as no l e s s phenomenal than the sensible appearances we c a l l matter; and God, conceived as substance, i s ' just as much the r e a l i t y of the one as of the other. For this reason i t cannot, as I have said, leave human personality as a thing i n i t s e l f , existing by the side of God. Mysticism also holds to the All-One, not to a big One plus a l i t t l e one." 3 c f . Chapter 2, p.S"/. 4 "Flower i n the crannied wall", I I , p.292.  83 Mystical apprehension of "supernature" Pantheism was not feasible f o r Tennyson because i t was based on a philosophy incompatible with h i s r e l i g i o u s f a i t h . But mysticism, i f we can so c a l l i t i n Tennyson's case, d i d furnish a synthesis that temporarily s a t i s f i e d the poet, f o r this mysticism resulted from his intense emotional need. At rare moments Tennyson was able, by means of h i s concentration on i n t u i t i v e convictions —  the existence of an immanent God  of love, the r e a l i t y of s p i r i t and s p i r i t u a l progress, and the certainty of personal immortality -- to have a mystical experience of sorts, i n the course of which he could f e e l the essential unity and order of l i f e , death, and the a f t e r - l i f e . But this experience had no r e a l connection with nature.  Tenn-  yson's personal mysticism may be compared with mathematics; each i s a game that yields conclusions completely dependent upon the premises.  Because Tennyson's premises are super-  natural, the conclusions about nature which come out of h i s trance state are also supernatural; t h e i r emphasis i s upon the s p i r i t of God and man, not on the m a t e r i a l i t y of nature. In his trance Tennyson feels the hand of God, not the grip of nature,upon him: And what I am beheld again What i s , and no man understands; And out of darkness came the hands That reach thro' nature, moulding men.  2  1 c f . Kant's influence - Chapter 2. But the emotional need, not the philosophical d i a l e c t i c , produced Tennyson's trance state.. 2 In Memoriam. I l l , p.171.  84 At such moments Tennyson does not recognize nature as a c t u a l . He f e e l s rather that, when he i s "whirled up and rapt into the 1 Great Soul", he sees the whole, timeless plan of God: A hunger seized my heart; I read Of that glad year which once had been, In those f a l l ' n leaves which kept t h e i r green, The noble l e t t e r of the dead: And strangely on the silence broke The silent-speaking words, and strange Was love's dumb c r y defying change To test his worth; and strangely spoke The f a i t h , the vigour bold to dwell On doubts that drive the coward back, And keen thro' wordy snares to track Suggestion to her inmost c e l l . So word by word, and l i n e by l i n e , The dead man touch'd me from the past, And a l l at once it-seem'd at l a s t The. l i v i n g soul was flash'd on mine, And mine i n t h i s was wound, and whirl'd About empyreal heights of thought And. came on that which i s , and caught The deep pulsations of the world, Aeonian music measuring out The steps of Time — the shocks of Chance -The blows of Death. At length my trance Was cancell'd, s t r i c k e n thro' with doubt.  2  When he apprehends t h i s plan during the trance, Tennyson i s able 3 to see nature as s p i r i t u a l harmony.  But he i s then looking at  an i d e a l nature of the past, present, and future, not at the actual nature of the present.  Harold Nicolson, I believe, i s  in error when he says that Tennyson had a "sense of the s p i r i t u a l i t y of nature". The poet, whenever he r e f e r s to nature as s p i r i t u a l , i s r e a l l y speaking of a "supernature". 1 Poems, I I I , p.252(notes).. 2 In Memoriam, I I I , pp.136-37. 3 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol.I, p.319. 4 Nicolson, Tennyson, p.278.  85 Other Escapes i n t o a  "supernature"  I n order t o complete the r e c o r d of Tennyson's i d e a of nature,  t h a t i s , to show t h a t nature meant f o r the poet  the m a t e r i a l world,  i t i s necessary  only  to t r e a t of s e v e r a l other  escapes sometimes r e s o r t e d to by Tennyson.  Although  these  evasions, of which I s h a l l d i s c u s s t h r e e , have a f f i n i t i e s mysticism,  they do not occur when the  poet i s i n the  s t a t e ; t h e r e f o r e they r e q u i r e separate The  with  trance  treatment.  f i r s t f l i g h t away from a c t u a l i t y i s one which i s  c l o s e l y r e l a t e d to Tennyson's t r a n s c e n d e n t a l views. poet looks at nature  When the  i n the s p r i n g t i m e , he i s a b l e to b e l i e v e  t h a t God's immanence i s manifest  i n the l i f e renewing  itself:  Once more the Heavenly Power Makes a l l t h i n g s new, And domes the red-plow'd h i l l s With l o v i n g b l u e ; The b l a c k b i r d s have t h e i r w i l l s , The t h r o s t l e s t o o . Opens a door i n Heaven From s k i e s of g l a s s A Jacob's l a d d e r f a l l s On greening g r a s s And o'er the mountain w a l l s Young angels pass. 1 And  he can f e e l a s u p e r n a t u r a l touch  i n the "ambrosial a i r "  that b r i n g s peace. Sweet a f t e r showers, a m b r o s i a l a i r , That r o l l e s t from the gorgeous gloom Of evening over brake and bloom And meadow, s l o w l y b r e a t h i n g bare The round of space, and r a p t below Thro' a l l the d e w y - t a s s e l l ' d wood, And shadowing down the horned f l o o d In r i p p l e s , f a n my brows and blow 1  E a r l y S p r i n g , VI,  p.3£4.  86 The fever from my cheek, and sigh The f u l l new l i f e that feeds thy breath Throughout my frame, t i l l Doubt and Death, 111 brethren, l e t the fancy f l y From belt to belt of crimson seas On leagues of odour streaming f a r , To where i n yonder orient star A hundred s p i r i t s whisper 'Peace' His  1  occasional retreat into a romantic primitivism i s  likewise an expression of his longing for an i d e a l nature. For example, because he had never v i s i t e d the t r o p i c s , he could imagine a perfect, though unreal, nature existing there; By peaks that flamed, or, a l l i n shade, Gloom'd the low coast and quivering brine With ashy r a i n s , that spreading made Fantastic plume or sable pine; By sands and steaming f l a t s , and floods Of mighty mouth, we scudded f a s t , And h i l l s and scarlet-mingled woods Glow'd for a moment as we past. 2 and  A mountain i s l e t pointed and peak'd; Waves on a diamond shingle dash, Cataract brooks to the ocean run, F a i r i l y - d e l i c a t e palaces shine Mixt with myrtle and clad with vine, And overstream'd and silvery-streak'd With many a r i v u l e t high against the Sun The facets of the glorious mountain f l a s h , Above the valleys of palm and pine.  3  Of course, Tennyson c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y spurns a f l i g h t of this sort because i t i s unbecoming to moral man, who must suffer the d i s c i p l i n e of actual nature. But he does not condemn another kind of escape, namely the  i d e a l i z i n g of nature through the eyes of love, f o r pure  love was to him of Supernatural o r i g i n . 1 2 3  In Memoriam, I I I , pp.124-25. The Voyage, I I , p.110. The I s l e t , I I , pp.276-77.  Tennyson's descriptions  of the v a l l e y and h i l l s i n Oenone are not designed for the e d i f i c a t i o n or! moral improvement of his readers, hut are unrestrainedly devoted to capturing the beauty of Cauteretz, that sacred v a l l e y through which Tennyson and Arthur Hallam journeyed together. There l i e s a vale i n Ida, l o v e l i e r Than a l l the valleys of Ionian h i l l s . The swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen, Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine, And l o i t e r s , slowly drawn. On either hand The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down Hang r i c h i n flowers, and f a r below them roars. The long brook f a l l i n g thro' the clov'n ravine In cataract a f t e r cataract to the sea.  1  And "Come into the garden, Maud", the l y r i c a l r e f r a i n of Maud's lover, presents a s i m i l a r view of an i d e a l nature, a nature which bears a supernatural imprint because i t i s the p e r s o n i f i cation of man's divine love. i s on the s p i r i t of man,  The stress i n both these passages  not on physical nature.  A l l these rare and short-lived escapes —  Pantheism,  mysticism,- immanentism, romantic primitivism, transformation of nature through love"'3 eyes —  must be recognized as leaps into 2  a "supernature" that has l i t t l e resemblance to nature h e r s e l f . Nature, i n spite of a l l the poet's attempts to a r r i v e at a f u l l e r comprehension  of her, remains f o r Tennyson primarily  the physical world revealed by science. Oenone, I, p.158. 2 c f . Chapter 2, wherein was a speculation that Tennyson's romanticism or mysticism might permit a "natural supernaturalism". 1  88 Nature i n Tennyson: Summary Tennyson's acceptance nature forced, him,  of s c i e n t i f i c f a c t i n i n t e r p r e t i n g  as s c i e n c e became i n c r e a s i n g l y m a t e r i a l i s t i c ,  i n t o a more and more d e f i n i t e d u a l i s m .  God  and man  c o u l d not  r e c o n c i l e d w i t h m a t e r i a l nature- except on the b a s i s of  be  law.  T h e r e f o r e , w h i l e t h i s law of u n i n t e r r u p t e d p r o g r e s s or e v o l u t i o n i n nature i n d i c a t e d an understandable  order i n the u n i v e r s e ,  Tennyson admired n a t u r e ; g r a d u a l change i n the cosmos, on e a r t h , and  i n man's body were n e c e s s a r y p a r t s of a u n i f i e d e v o l u t i o n -  ary pattern.  As long as the poet was  a b l e to view the g e n e r a l  p r i n c i p l e s of e v o l u t i o n from a d i s t a n c e or w i t h an eye to the f u t u r e , he c o u l d r e l a t e immutable law i n nature to God's law, 1 the f o r c e c o n t r o l l i n g n a t u r e .  But when he r e a l i z e d —  r e a l i z a t i o n came e a r l y i n h i s l i f e  —  and  this  t h a t n a t u r e ' s order d i d  not conform w i t h h i s ideas of an a b s o l u t e m o r a l i t y and of a b e n e f i c e n t God,  the compromise, no matter how  p r o t e s t e d to the c o n t r a r y , was  not p o s s i b l e .  s t r o n g l y Tennyson When he  judged  n a t u r e , through the a u t h o r i t y of s c i e n c e , as the a c t u a l , n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y , p h y s i c a l world, he had  to conclude  that her  b l i n d wastefulness and her awesome vastness not o n l y were d e t r i m e n t a l t o h i s b e l i e f i n man's d i v i n e s p i r i t but were i r r e c o n c i l a b l e w i t h the omnipotence and  benevolence  of the  1 The A n c i e n t Sage, V I , p.201, 2 o f . Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol.11, p.171 f o r Tennyson's r e f e r e n c e t o the d e f i n i t i o n s of "nature", " n a t u r a l " and " s u p e r n a t u r a l " g i v e n by Reverend F.D. Maurice i n a paper read to the m e t a p h y s i c a l s o c i e t y . Both Maurice and Tennyson l i k e d these C o l e r i d g e a n d e f i n i t i o n s because they harmonized the " u n i f o r m i t y of the m a t e r i a l world" and the "freedom of the s p i r i t u a l world".  Creator.  Actual nature was f o r the poet, from 1833 on, antag-  o n i s t i c to man.  After Hallam s death nature became f o r Tenn1 !  yson a " d i s t r e s s f u l necessity" which would lead man's s p i r i t away from G-od, and even away from further progress (since nature was dying).  Therefore Tennyson, well before 1859,  progress out of nature's hands and presented i t to moral 3 and to God.  Moral man,  s p e c i f i c duty.  took 2 man  Tennyson believed a f t e r 1842, had a  He was, f i r s t , to observe the general p r i n c i p l e s  by means of which nature had evolved to her l i m i t  (physical  man)  and, secondly, to exercise his divine Free W i l l , his "highest 4 5 Human Nature" which was not bound by nature's laws, i n order to ensure the future evolution of the human race and of a higher race of s p i r i t u a l beings that would control wasteful nature.  Tennyson's study of the physical world, which he had  begun with the purpose of establishing nature's evolution as proof of the world plan of God, thus became a task dedicated to the future release of man from the physical bonds of a,nature i n opposition to both God and man.  And the more knowledge the  poet accumulated, the more d i s t i n c t t h i s d u a l i s t i c attitude became.  Because Darwinism demonstrated  that nature had evolved  her creatures not just by means of adaptation but by the very waste Tennyson had deprecated, Tennyson was compelled to widen the breach between f l e s h and s p i r i t , sense and soul, e v i l and 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.428. 2 Spedding's comment on Tennyson's 1842 volumes(Memoir, Vol.1, p.190) i s i n t e r e s t i n g : "Moral and s p i r i t u a l t r a i t s of character are more dwelt upon, i n place of external scenery and circumstance". 3 c f . Chapter 2. 4 Looksley H a l l S i x t y Years A f t e r , VI, p.304. 5 W i l l , I I , p.267 and The Voyage, I I , p.112.  90 goodt  A f t e r 1859 the Laureate c o u l d j u s t i f y l i f e o n l y by  assuming that man's immortal s p i r i t was merely banished 2 m a t e r i a l nature f o r a s h o r t p e r i o d o f d i s c i p l i n e :  into  . . . 0 dear S p i r i t h a l f - l o s t In t h i n e own shadow and t h i s f l e s h l y s i g n That thou a r t thou — who w a i l e s t being born And banish'd i n t o mystery, and the p a i n Of t h i s d i v i s i b l e - i n d i v i s i b l e w o r l d Among t h e numerable-innumerable Sun, sun, and sun, thro* f i n i t e - i n f i n i t e space In f i n i t e - i n f i n i t e Time — our m o r t a l v e i l And s h a t t e r ' d phantom o f t h a t i n f i n i t e One, ?ifho made thee unconeeivably T h y s e l f Out of H i s whole W o r l d - s e l f and a l l i n a l l — L i v e thou.' and o f the g r a i n and husk, the grape And i v y b e r r y , choose; and s t i l l depart From death t o death t h r o ' l i f e and l i f e , and f i n d Nearer and ever nearer Him, who wrought Not M a t t e r , nor the f i n i t e - i n f i n i t e , But t h i s main-miracle, that thou a r t thou, With power on t h i n e own a c t and on the w o r l d . 3 Tennyson, l o o k i n g upon nature as a c t u a l and m a t e r i a l , had to admit t h a t he c o u l d not b e l i e v e that God would c r e a t e "a t h i n g so b l i n d " .  Y e t , on the other hand, he had to r e c o g -  n i z e the d u a l i t y o f man's b e i n g : the p h y s i c a l man i n n a t u r e , the s p i r i t u a l man s e p a r a t e d from n a t u r e .  His final  position  concerning nature was an unhappy one, f o r i t was based on a b e l i e f i n a universe o p e r a t i n g a c c o r d i n g to f i x e d , m a t e r i a l i s t i c laws which Tennyson, as champion o f s c i e n c e , had t o accept as t r u e but which, because  of h i s f a i t h i n the R e a l i t y o f man's  s p i r i t , he l i k e w i s e had t o assume to be f a l s e f o r man. 0 P u r b l i n d race of m i s e r a b l e men, How many among us a t t h i s very hour Do f o r g e a l i f e - l o n g t r o u b l e f o r o u r s e l v e s , By t a k i n g t r u e f o r f a l s e , o r f a l s e f o r t r u e ; Here, t h r o ' the f e e b l e t w i l i n g t o f t h i s world Groping, how many, u n t i l we pass and reach That o t h e r , where we see as we are seen.' 1 2 3 4  Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I I , p p . 1 2 3 - 1 3 4 . c f . Chapter 2 , p. «f7.(Bishop B u t l e r ) . De P r o f u n d i s . V I , p . 1 7 9 . G e r a i n t and E n i d . V, p . 1 1 9 .  91 MEREDITH'S CONCEPT OF NATURE His p e c u l i a r i t y was an apt common-sense, which rested upon a cheerful d i s p o s i t i o n , and took delight i n uniform habitual a c t i v i t y . That he should labour incessantly was his f i r s t and most necessary care; that he regarded everything else as secondary, - t h i s kept up his comfortable state of mind; and I must reckon him before many others i n the class of those who are c a l l e d p r a c t i c a l unconscious philosophers. 1 My purpose i n t h i s chapter w i l l be twofold: f i r s t , to indicate the derivation and the evolution of G-eorge Meredith's philosophy and to ascertain why his idea of nature remained constant i n i t s essentials while i t embraced Darwinism and the new morality a r i s i n g from Darwinism, and seoond, to determined Meredith's mature concept of nature.  In pursuing t h i s plan,  I s h a l l deal c h i e f l y with-Meredith's poetry, for I l i k e ?  Trevelyan, believe that "Mr. Meredith's r e l i g i o n , philosophy, and ethics, which inspire and illuminate his novels, are 2 expressed more f u l l y and i n more exact terms i n his poems". Chrysalis Period - up to 1859 It i s very d i f f i c u l t to come to a hard-and-fast  con-  clusion concerning the formative influences on Meredith's concept of nature, f o r Meredith was extremely r e t i c e n t about his  private l i f e .  The biographers and essayists who have  commented on Meredith's idea of nature i n v a r i a b l y have had to 1 John Oxenford, translator, The Autobiography of Goethe. "Truth and Poetry: From My Own L i f e " , London, George B e l l and Sons, 1897, Vol.1, pp.273-4 (Goethe's comment on the Dresden shoemaker) 2 G.M. Trevelyan, The Poetry and Philosophy of George Meredith. London, Constable and Co. Ltd., 1920, p.2.  speculate about the o r i g i n of his b e l i e f s .  Tennyson has been  named as the i n s p i r a t i o n of the sentimental s p i r i t u a l i s m i n Meredith's early nature poems} Mary (Peacock N i c o l l s ) Meredith has been given credit for h i s b e l i e f i n the s p i r i t u a l i t y of 2 3 love and f o r his courageous outlook on l i f e ; the Moravian brothers of Neuwied and Thomas Love Peacock have been suggested as possible sources of Meredith's altruism; R.H. Horne has been mentioned as the wellspring of the poet's embryonic nature 4 5 philosophy; and even Shelley, James Thomson, and August Comte have received their due f o r influencing Meredith i n these e a r l y years of his l i f e .  A l l these'hypotheses, i t i s true, are sup-  ported by the idea of nature that one finds i n Meredith's poems.  However, i t seems to me that i f one takes a l l these  suggestions into accountvhe must assume that Meredith's p h i l osophy of nature was a patched-up  conception.  There i s no  evidence i n Meredith's poetry to j u s t i f y that assumption.  The  r e l a t i v e consistency of the poet's concept of nature should, I believe, lead one to the more l o g i c a l conclusion that Meredith r e l i e d on one source of wisdom, one coherent philosophy of l i f e into which a l l the distrubing facts and theories of nineteenthcentury science could be f i t t e d .  I contend that t h i s chief  oracle was Goethe. I do not say that Goethe's influence was  particularly  1 Lionel Stevenson, Darwin Among the Poets, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1932, p.184. 2 Ibid., p.185. 3 S. Sassoon, Meredith. London, Constable and Co.Ltd., 1948, p.22. 4 Ibid., p.11. 5 James Thomson, writer of The Seasons.  93 strong i n t h i s f i r s t chrysalis period - Wordsworth, "the voice of great Nature'^obviously had a very marked e f f e c t on the youthful Meredith - but I do believe that Goethe was the fount of wisdom at which Meredith refreshed his philosophy a l l his formative years. •Try to understand  As J.W.  throughout  Beach says: "Goethe's idea of  thyself, and to understand nature ...' i s 2  the theme of Meredith i n a l l his writings, prose and verse". In his l e t t e r s Meredith frequently recognizes the effect on him of t h i s r e a l i s t i c Goethian approach to nature.  He  tells  us that, of the influences forming his philosophy, Goethe's 3 influence was "the most enduring". And he praises Goethe's f a i t h i n the unity of the r e a l and the i d e a l , Goethe's b e l i e f 4 that the i d e a l must be based upon the r e a l : Between realism and idealism there i s no natural c o n f l i c t . This completes that...I hold the man who gives a p l a i n wall of fact higher i n esteem than one who i s constantly s h u f f l i n g the clouds ... Does not a l l science (the mammoth balloon, to wit) t e l l us"that when we forsake earth, we reach up to a frosty, i n i m i c a l Inane? For my part I love and c l i n g to earth, as the one piece of God's handiwork which we possess. I admit that we can refashion; but of earth must be the material. 5 But these comparisons of the two poets are of too general a nature.  In our examination of Meredith's e a r l y poetry, l e t us  1 The Poetry of Wordsworth. I, p.30. - A l l footnotes to quotations from Meredith's poetry r e f e r to the Memorial E d i t i o n (Vols. 24,25,26,27) of Meredith's Works (published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1910. 2 J.W. Beach, The Comic S p i r i t i n George Meredith, Longmans, Green, and Co., New York, 1911, p.186. 3 Letters, I I , p.578 - footnotes to quotations from Meredith's l e t t e r s also r e f e r to the Memorial E d i t i o n of his works. 4 The " r e a l " for Meredith corresponds to what Tennyson sees as the "actual". S i m i l a r l y the " i d e a l " f o r Meredith i s the "Real" f o r Tennyson. 5 Letters, I, p.156-7.  94 look for s p e c i f i c ideas on nature that c l o s e l y p a r a l l e l those of the German poet. Acceptance of a beneficent > motherly nature In t h i s period of his youth, physical strength, and v i t a l i t y Meredith could discern no defect or e v i l i n nature. His  acceptance of the beneficent Mother i s complete and  un-  qualified.  Accept, he t e l l s us, nature i n her "beauty and 1 wisdom, gentleness, joyance, and kindness!" I f you would be free and i f you would learn about the world, Meredith prescribes 2 i n words reminiscent, both of Goethe  and of Wordsworth, then  resign yourselves to the mentorship of great Nature: The voice of nature i s abroad This night; she f i l l s the a i r with balm; Her mystery i s o'er the land; And who that hears her now and yields His being to her yearning tones, And seats h i s soul upon her wings, And broadens o'er the wind-swept world With her, w i l l gather i n the f l i g h t More knowledge of her secret, more Delight i n her beneficence, Than hours of musing, or the lore That l i v e s with men could ever give! 3 Such resignation requires no thought, but just a sensuous communion with a l l nature: 1 Pastorals, I, p.82. 2 Eckermann, Conversations with Goethe, John Oxenford, translator, London, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1930, p.157. — Goethe's idea of freedom i s close to Meredith's resignation —"Freedom consists not i n refusing to recognize anything above us, but i n respecting something which i s above us; f o r , by respecting i t , we r a i s e ourselves to i t , and, by our very acknowledgment, prove that we bear within ourselves what i s higher, and are worthy to be on a l e v e l with i t ' . South-West Wind i n The Woodland, I, p.45. 1  3  For every elemental power Is kindred, to our hearts, and once Acknowledged, wedded, once embraced, Once taken to the unfettered sense, Once clasped into the naked l i f e , The union i s eternal. 1 This union with nature through resigned acceptance of her rule is a sure road to contentment: A thing of Nature am I now, Abroad, without a sense or f e e l i n g Born not of her bosom; Content w i t h - a l l her truths and fates; Ev'n as yon s t r i p of grass that bows Above the new-born v i o l e t bloom And sings with wood and f i e l d . 2 But i t i s not knowledge, or union, or contentment which makes Meredith's surrender to nature convincing.  It i s f i r s t , his  transport of youthful joy, nature's chief i n s p i r a t i o n f o r man: Oh! do not say that this w i l l ever cease; This joy of woods and f i e l d s , This youth that nature y i e l d s , W i l l never speak to me i n vain, tho' soundly rapt i n peace. and second, his trust that this joy i s no dream, no t r i c k of 4 nature *s: No disenchantment follows here, For nature's i n s p i r a t i o n moves The dream which she herself f u l f i l s ; And he whose heart, l i k e valley warmth, Steams up with joy at scenes l i k e this S h a l l never be f o r l o r n . 5  1 South-West Wind i n The Woodland, I, p.45. 2 Pastorals, I, p.78. 3 Song, I, p.116. 4 c f . Goethe ("Truth and Poetry", Vol.1, p.186) "Surely there i s no more b e a u t i f u l adoration of the-Deity than that which needs no image, but which springs up i n our bosom merely from the intercourse with nature." Pastorals, I, p.75. 5  3  96 The scheme of nature [Nature's law] This j o y f u l acceptance of a beneficent nature permits Meredith i n t h i s e a r l y period to take nature's sombre law of change, of constant a l t e r n a t i o n of l i f e and death, and to see in i t a scheme which, though vague, contains no inherent con1 2 t r a d i c t i o n s . To avoid inconsistency he, l i k e Goethe, bases his  scheme upon nature's immutable law that cannot be read as  an anthropomorphic r e f l e c t i o n of man's changeable feeling:. Tho' a l l thy great emotions l i k e a sea, Against her stony immortality, Shatter themselves unheeded and amazed. Yet  ,  Meredith sees death as prophetic of more l i f e ; he believes  that death i s the means of producing l i f e .  Therefore, he  envies the^changing seasons, e s p e c i a l l y Winter, because through t h e i r frequent death they sustain new  life:  0 Winter! I'd l i v e that l i f e of thine, With a f r o s t y brow and an i c i c l e tongue, And never a song my whole l i f e long, Were such d e l i c i o u s b u r i a l mine! To die andA.buried, and so remain A wandering brook i n A p r i l ' s t r a i n , Fixing my dying eyes f o r aye On the dawning brows of maiden May. 4 And he sees i n the snowdrop's short l i f e span something good, an example f o r man.  The death of the snowdrop i s not to be  1 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.191) - "I have always avoided contradictions, have s t r i v e n to d i s p e l the doubts within me, and have uttered only the r e s u l t s I have discovered." 2 c f . Goethe on natural catastrophes (Eckermann, Conversations, p.75) - "Nature goes her own way...and a l l that to us seems an exception i s r e a l l y according to order". 3 To Alex. Smith, The 'Glasgow Poet', I, p.164. 4 The Death of Winter, I, p.20.  be mourned, for i t i s prophetic of the b i r t h of the rose. Meredith thus makes of death both a s a c r i f i c e and a service to 2 future generations. Nevertheless, the poet r e a l i z e s that death's blow brings g r i e f to the l i v i n g .  But he has a way out of t h i s dilemma too.  His philosophy, based on nature's law, i s not vanquished  by  sorrow as was that of the philosopher i n Rasselas, for Meredith, l i k e Wordsworth, can look to nature as healer and teacher i n adversity.  Look f o r prophetic sight, he says, to the l i g h t of  the stars; see the t r u s t i n g love the flowers have for nature; understand the prophecy of l i f e i n the snowdrop; then r e a l i z e how you are a bud sprung from the dead stem of him for whom 3 you grieve. In other words, give way to your g r i e f for a moment, and then peroeive that your sorrow i s proof of a motherly love because i t i s so c l o s e l y akin to joy i n the 4 fecundity and beauty of nature. Meredith thus approves of nature's p r o d i g a l i t y , for he sees i n i t both a manifestation of nature's concern f o r more and more l i f e and a proof of the law that unites a l l created beings. Now a l l Nature i s a l i v e , Bird and beetle, man and mole; Bee-like goes the human hive, Lark-like sings the soaring soul: Hearty f a i t h and honest cheer Welcome i n the sweet o* the year. 5 1 The Wild Rose and the Snowdrop, I,pp.17-18. 2 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.294) - "The D i v i n i t y works i n the l i v i n g , not i n the dead; i n the becoming and changing, not i n the become and f i x e d . " The Flower of The Ruins, I, pp.38-39. 4 Sorrows and Joys, I, pp.86-87. 5 The Sweet 0' The Year, I, p.127. 3  Beauty, too, he connects with t h i s law of change upon which he 1 bases h i s concept of nature.  Transient, changing beauty  2  is a  source of pleasure, to him because i t i l l u s t r a t e s nature's benevolent r u l e : Beauty renews i t s e l f i n many ways: The flower i s fading while the new bud blows; And the beauty which he most appreciates i s that which reveals contrasts, e s p e c i a l l y contrasting l i g h t and darkness, f o r i n scenes of t h i s sort nature i s symbolically demonstrating to man how inseparable are l i f e and death.  The month of July, for  example, i s one of Meredith's favourite months because i t r e veals a pattern of colour ranging from the bright greens and blues to the blackness of " r o l l i n g glooms": I welcome thee with thy f i e r c e love, Gloom below and gleam above. But Meredith's great joy i s the dawn, for i n the sunrise he sees exemplified the warmth of new l i f e - l i f e n a t u r a l l y had a stronger" appeal to h i s cheerful temperament than d i d the death 5 that made l i f e possible. He frequently attributes godlike 1 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.169) concerning the law of change - "a great law, which pervades a l l nature and' on whichtall' l i f e and. ali;,.the\.i3 6y^.of l i f e depend. This... i s the qase not only with pur other senses, but also with our higher s p i r i t u a l nature". 2 c f . Keats's Ode On a Grecian Urn. Meredith, unlike Keats, does not worry about the r e l a t i v e permanence or transience of beauty. Beauty i s , i n f a c t , more " t r u t h f u l " f o r Meredith when i t i s transient, for non-permanence amongst nature's creations i s the best evidence for the permanenae of Nature and her law. 3 Pictures of The Rhine, I, p.120. 4 July, I, p.97. .5 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.422) - " I f I am asked whether i t i s i n my nature to revere the Sun, I... say - c e r t a i n l y . For he i s . . . a manifestation of the highest Being, and indeed the most powerful that we children of earth are allowed to behold. I adore i n him the l i g h t and the productive power of God; by which we a l l l i v e , move, and have our being - we, and a l l the plants and animals with us."  q u a l i t i e s ' t o the-sun: that throning bosom Where a l l earth i s warmed, -  1  How barren should I be were I Without above that loving splendour Shedding l i g h t and warmth.* 2 And he greets happily the reawakening of l i f e and l i g h t with each dawn: now the sun In saffron clothes the warming atmosphere; The sky l i f t s up her white v e i l l i k e a nun, And looks upon the landscape blue and clear; The lark i s up; the h i l l s , the vines i n sight; The r i v e r broadens with his waking b l i s s And throws up islands to behold the>light; Voices begin to r i s e , a l l hues to k i s s ; Was ever such a happy morn as t h i s I Birds sing, we s h o u t f l o w e r s breathe,trees shine with one delight!  3  Amid a l l t h i s l i f e and beauty the active poet found no time to worry about the problem of immortality.  Personal immor-  t a l i t y f o r man would have been inconsistent with his idea of the oneness of nature.  Moreover, nature's law of alternating l i f e  and death gave Meredith no reason to assume that he had an i n d i v i d u a l and immortal soul.  No doubt he, l i k e Goethe, saw  "more and more d i s t i n c t l y , that i t i s better to avoid a l l A  thought of the immense and incomprehensible".  Juggling Jerry '  expresses Meredith's unconcern with the matter: May-be - for none see i n that black hollow It's just a place where we're held i n pawn, And, when the Great Juggler makes as to swallow, It's just the sword-trick — 5 1  2 3 4 5  Daphne, I,' p.59. Pastorals, I, p.80. Pictures of The Rhine, I, p.121. Oxenford, Goethe: "Truth and Poetry", Vol.11, p.157. Juggling Jerry, I, p.137.  100 Y e t M e r e d i t h does h i n t tality  at h i s l a t e r  belief  that  our  immor-  lies  i n o u r b e q u e a t h i n g k n o w l e d g e and v i g o u r t o 1 f u t u r e g e n e r a t i o n . He n o t e s t h a t t h e n i g h t i n g a l e d o e s  heed the death around  the not  i t when i t i s engaged w i t h i t s p r o g e n y :  The .waves o f f e r n may f a d e and b u r n , The g r a s s e s may f a l l , t h e f l o w e r s and a l l , And t h e p i n e - s m e l l s o ' e r t h e oak d e l l s F l o a t on t h e i r d r o w s y and o d o r o u s w i n g s , But t h o u w i l t do n o t h i n g but c o o , • Brimming t h e n e s t w i t h t h y b r o o d i n g b r e a s t , ' M i d s t t h a t young t h r o n g o f f u t u r e s o n g , Round whom t h e F u t u r e s i n g s . 2 And  he p r a i s e s a G l a s g o w p o e t ' s  attempt  to achieve  fame  through  3  his  work, f o r M e r e d i t h f e e l s  sure that  Man's p l a c e i n n a t u r e ' s Man,  f o r M e r e d i t h , has  nature's benevolent t h e n he must  possible, Meredith  accepted  law.  And  expect  Nature  no a l t e r n a t i v e i f he  to pay  but  should l i v e  to an  accept unnatural  the consequences.  back by t h e g r e a t M o t h e r ; but  terrible.  scheme  It is  s t a t e s , f o r man t o t r a n s g r e s s and 5  t o o f a r f r o m n a t u r e , as is  impulse  4 ban".  p u t s no  life,  "to noble  Even the  f o r him  did S i r Austin Feverel,  who the  still  has  be  strayed  punishment  i n n o c e n t s , L u c y and R i c h a r d , who  are  1 B o t h t h e g e n e r a l i d e a s o f p r o g r e s s and t h e f a c t o f change i n n a t u r e c o u l d have i m p l a n t e d t h i s i d e a i n M e r e d i t h ' s mind. 2 To A N i g h t i n g a l e , I , p.123. 3 c f . Goe t h e (EI ekermann, C o n v e r s a t i o n s , p.45) - " T h i s p r e o c c u p a t i o n w i t h i m m o r t a l i t y i s f o r p e o p l e . . . w h o have n o t h i n g to do. But a n a b l e man, who has s o m e t h i n g r e g u l a r t o do h e r e , and must t o i l and s t r u g g l e and p r o d u c e d a y b y day, l e a v e s t h e f u t u r e w o r l d , t o i t s e l f , and i s a c t i v e and u s e f u l i n this'.'. ( C a r l y l e ' s , d o c t r i n e o f work, s t e r n e r t h a n G o e t h e ' s i d e a , w o u l d a l s o ' have i n f l u e n c e d M e r e d i t h i n t h e w r i t i n g o f t h i s poem.) 4 To A l e x . S m i t h , The 'Glasgow P o e t ' , I , p.164. 5 s e e L o n d o n by L a m p l i g h t , I , p.70.  101 caught  i n the t o i l s o f S i r A u s t i n ' s "system",  h i s s i n a g a i n s t nature.  must s u f f e r f o r  Lucy d i e s , and R i c h a r d , we a r e t o l d at  the end o f the n o v e l , f a c e s a f u t i l e , v i r t u a l l y  lifeless  existence. What, then, i s Meredith's e a r l y p r e s c r i p t i o n  (beyond  mere acceptance o f nature) f o r the happy l i f e ? F i r s t , man must r e c o g n i z e t h e importance t i e w i t h nature.  o f h i s s e n s a t i o n s , h i s most immediate  M e r e d i t h agrees w i t h Goethe"*" that any n e g l e c t  of the senses produces  an u n n a t u r a l s t a t e o f a f f a i r s .  "Honest  p a s s i o n " , the E n g l i s h poet t e l l s us, "can be s a f e r than c o n s c i o u s 2 wisdom", f o r nature approves  o f p a s s i o n as the f i r s t and neces-  s a r y step towards a purer l o v e : Great Pan i n h i s c o v e r t Beheld the r a r e g l i s t e n i n g , The c r y o f the l o v e h u r t , The s i g h and the k i s s "Of the l a t e s t c l o s e m i n g l i n g : But l o v e , thought he, l i s t e n i n g , W i l l not do a dove h u r t , I know, — and a t i n g l i n g , Latent with b l i s s , P r i c k t t h r o him, I w i s , For the Nymph he was s i n g l i n g . 1  The  3  c u l t i v a t i o n of man's b r a i n i s a second matter w i t h  which M e r e d i t h wants man to concern h i m s e l f .  But the poet  would not have man s t r e s s t h i s development to the. e x c l u s i o n o f h i s senses.  Though M e r e d i t h i s not in.complete a c c o r d with  1 c f . Goethe ("Truth and P o e t r y " , V o l . 1 , p.503) - "The s e p a r a t i o n of the s e n s u a l from the moral, which i n the comp l i c a t e d , c u l t i v a t e d world sunders the f e e l i n g s of l o v e and d e s i r e , produces...an exaggeration which can l e a d to no good." 2 G. M e r e d i t h , The Ordeal of R i c h a r d F e v e r e l , New York, The Modern L i b r a r y , 1927, p.331. 3 The Pape of. Aurora, I , p.41  102  Lady B l a n d i s h ' s of i g n o r i n g l i f e  condemnation of s c i e n c e } he does see the i n order  2 s c i e n t i f i c theory.  to pursue an idea based upon a  danger purely  "Men's thoughts", he f e e l s , "must borrow  3  -i  [_from naturej r a t h e r than bestow." But the poet wishes man to be more than a c r e a t u r e d r i v e n by h i s p a s s i o n s .  Go  out  selfish  to n a t u r e , he  suggests  to the e g o i s t , and experience the c l e a n s i n g e f f e c t of her 4 storms; then you w i l l be a t one w i t h nature's c r e a t u r e s and w i t h man  in The ebb and f l o w o f Nature's A s e l f - f o r g e t f u l sympathy.  T h i s a l t r u i s t i c tendency o p e r a t i v e the b i r d s ) , M e r e d i t h opines,  tide;  5  among the animals ( e s p e c i a l l y  is-something which man  would do  w e l l to emulate, f o r i t shows that the b a s i c meaning of nature 7 f o r man i s the f u t u r e brotherhood of the' human r a c e . Meredith 8 thus g i v e s to nature an e t h i c a l  as w e l l as a c r e a t i v e meaning,  though he admits t h a t a l t r u i s m i s not immediately apparent i n nature's law but o n l y i n the a c t i o n s of her  creatures.  1 M e r e d i t h , R i c h a r d F e v e r e l , p.588-9. 2 c f . Goethe (Bckermann, C o n v e r s a t i o n s , p.349) - "Napoleon a f f o r d s an example of the danger of e l e v a t i n g o n e s e l f to the A b s o l u t e and s a c r i f i c i n g e v e r y t h i n g to the c a r r y i n g out o f an i d e a . " 3 P a s t o r a l s , I , p.78. 4 M e r e d i t h , R i c h a r d F e v e r e l , pp. 556-58. 5 The Two B l a c k b i r d s , I , p.95. 6 c f . Goethe on a l t r u i s m i n b i r d s (Eckermann, Conversat ions , p.412) - "Did not God i n s p i r e the b i r d w i t h t h i s a l l powerful love f o r i t s young, and d i d not s i m i l a r impulses pervade a l l animate n a t u r e , the world could not s u b s i s t . But t h i s i s the d i v i n e energy everywhere d i f f u s e d , and d i v i n e l o v e everywhere a c t i v e . " 7 The O l i v e Branch, I , p.13. 8 A l b e r t S c h w e i t z e r , Goethe, London, Adam and C h a r l e s Black, 1949, p.72 - "Goethe b e l i e v e s . . . that God, who i s i d e n t i c a l w i t h Nature, by means o f what f o r us i s an unfathomable mystery, i s not o n l y c r e a t i v e f o r c e but a l s o e t h i c a l w i l l . "  The f i n e s t m a n i f e s t a t i o n f o r M e r e d i t h of both  ethical  w i l l and c r e a t i v e f o r c e i s l o v e , f o r l o v e has i n i t both s p i r i t u a l and e a r t h l y q u a l i t i e s - c r e a t i v e power i n i t s p a s s i o n and e t h i c a l w i l l i n i t s p u r i f i e d essence.  For the poet l o v e  a t t a i n s to the p r o p o r t i o n s of a law of nature, the law which man  may  see behind her outward law of l i f e and death.  something  beyond p h i l o s o p h y , beyond s c i e n c e ; i t i s the  s e n s u a l s p r i n g of the r i p e senses i n t o p a s s i o n " !  Love i s "super-  Love of nature  2 and of man  or woman  vital spirit  i s f o r M e r e d i t h the s u r e s t road to the  behind nature's'outward  d r e s s , t o the s p i r i t which  man must r e c o g n i z e i f he would be i n happy accord  with a  nature which though, heathenish, reaches at her best to the f o o t s t o o l of the H i g h e s t . She i s not a l l dust, but a l i v i n g p o r t i o n of the spheres. I n a s p i r a t i o n i t i s our e r r o r to despise her, f o r g e t t i n g that through Nature o n l y can we ascend. 4 The  benevolent  spirit  of l i v i n g nature r e c o g n i z e s t h i s  l o v e " as a r e f l e c t i o n of her own  e s s e n t i a l being;  "aspiring  consequently,  the marriage o f t r u e l o v e r s a l s o means the wedding of both w i t h nature's  spirit:  1 M e r e d i t h , R i c h a r d F e v e r e l , p.194. 2 Meredith's p a s s i o n a t e l o v e f o r Mary (Peacock) N i c o l l s was p r o b a b l y the c h i e f reason f o r h i s p l a c i n g l o v e i n such a pre-eminent p o s i t i o n at t h i s time. 3 c f . Goethe ("Truth and P o e t r y " , V o l . 1 , p.470) - " I sought to f r e e myself from a l l that was f o r e i g n to me, t o r e g a r d the e x t e r n a l w i t h l o v e , and t o a l l o w a l l beings, from man downwards, as low as they were comprehensible to act upon me, each a f t e r i t s own k i n d . Thus arose a wonderful a f f i n i t y w i t h the s i n g l e o b j e c t s of nature, and a h e a r t y concord, a harmony w i t h the whole." 4 M e r e d i t h , R i c h a r d F e v e r e l , p.240.  And  thus i n me,  and thus i n me,  they s a i d ,  E a r t h ' s m i s t s d i d w i t h the sweet hew  s p i r i t wed.  1  The v o i c e o f - n a t u r e ' s s p i r i t , which i s so d i s t i n c t i f one approaches j u s t i n man  nature i n the r i g h t way, e x i s t s f o r M e r e d i t h not 2  and woman, but i n the wind, p a r t i c u l a r l y the South-  west wind, and i n the songs of b i r d s , e s p e c i a l l y the  skylarks.  The "low-pervading breeze" b r i n g s to the poet "a whisper the s t a r s  ... l i k e the s t r i n g s Of a s i l v e r harp swept by a s p i r i t ' s hand I n some strange glimmering l a n d , 'Mid gushing s p r i n g s , And g l i s t e n i n g s Of waters and of p l a n e t s , w i l d and grand!  But the South-West wind i s nature's c l e a r e s t v o i c e ,  3 telling,  l i k e the sun, of nature's p h y s i c a l and s p i r i t u a l l i f e warmth, a l l sweetness,  comes w i t h the South-West" 5  F e v e r e l to h i s f r i e n d R i p t o n . life  from  And  the s k y l a r k  4  -"All  says R i c h a r d  too speaks  of  i n joyous tones so s i m i l a r to those of nature e x u l t i n g i n  her c r e a t i o n s that M e r e d i t h imagines an i d e n t i t y e x i s t i n g : 0 S k y l a r k ! I see thee and c a l l thee j o y ! Thy wings bear thee, up to the b r e a s t of the dawn; 1 see thee no more, but t h y song i s s t i l l The tongue of the heavens to me! 6 1 Song, I , p.50. 2 c f . Goethe's remark concerning the p r o d u c t i v e powers of nature - "Such.powers l i e i n the water, and p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the atmosphere. The f r e s h a i r of the open c o u n t r y i s our proper element; i t i s as i f the b r e a t h of God were t h e r e wafted immediately to men and a d i v i n e power e x e r t e d i t s influence". 3 T w i l i g h t Music, I , p.34. 4 M e r e d i t h , R i c h a r d F e v e r e l , p.304. 5 c f . S h e l l e y ' s Ode To A S k y l a r k - Meredith's s p i r i t i n nature d i f f e r s from S h e l l e y ' s I n t e l l e c t u a l Beauty i n that i t i s more v i t a l , more a l i v e . . . 6 TooA S k y l a r k , I , p.84.  105 I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that t h i s creed of M e r e d i t h ' s , though i t i n c l u d e s s p i r i t ,  i s of E a r t h , not of the u n i v e r s e .  M e r e d i t h o b v i o u s l y found i t v e r y d i f f i c u l t t o b r i n g the cosmos i n t o the c l o s e i n t e r - r e l a t i o n s h i p of nature and man. he even s h i e d away from the immenseness and of mountains,  f o r h i g h mountains appeared  f r o s t y , i n i m i c a l Inane".  In f a c t ,  incomprehensibility  to "reach up t o a  M e r e d i t h d i d not, l i k e Wordsworth,  want to be caught i n the d u a l i s m that t r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s m fos-^ t e r e d ; but h i s i m p r e s s i o n on viewing mountain h e i g h t s almost f o r c e d him i n t o t h i s t r a p .  H i s view of the A l p s i n 1861"'"  •aroused the f e a r s he had e n t e r t a i n e d i n w r i t i n g one of h i s 1851 poems: 0 Mountain! h i d from peak to base, And image of the awful power With whibh the s e c r e t of a l l t h i n g s , That stoops from heaven to garment e a r t h , Can speak to any human s o u l , When once the e a r t h l y l i m i t s l o s e T h e i r p o i n t e d h e i g h t s and sharpened l i n e s , And measureless immensity I s p a l p a b l e to sense and  sight.  Yet h i s whole p h i l o s o p h y of nature even in. 1851 would have confirmed, as i t d i d i n 1861, t a l i s m was  h i s f a i t h i n E a r t h ; transcenden-  not f o r him: Our great e r r o r has been ( t h e ^ r r o r of a l l r e l i g i o n , as I fancy) to r a i s e a s p i r i t u a l system i n antagonism to Nature. What though yonder A l p does touch the Heavens? 3  1 L e t t e r s , I , p.33 -"""My f i r s t s i g h t of the A l p s has r a i s e d odd f e e l i n g s . Here at l a s t seems something more than e a r t h , and v i s i b l e , i f not t a n g i b l e . They have the whiteness, the s i l e n c e , the beauty and mystery of thoughts seldom unv e i l e d w i t h i n us, but which conquer E a r t h when once t h e y a r e . I n f a c t t h e y have made my creed tremble. - o n l y f o r a time." 2 "Swathed round i n mist and crown'd with cloud",1,p.92. 3 L e t t e r s , I , p.33.  106 Nature philosophy i n Meredith before 1859; Summary It i s apparent that Meredith's pre-Darwinian philosophy of nature i s not a unified concept.  For Meredith i n t h i s  period stresses "blood" rather than "brain" or '-'spirit".  That  i s , h i s emphasis i s upon the physical union of man with a l l nature and upon man's complete acceptance of nature and her law.  Like Wordsworth, Meredith sees nature as Healer and  Revealer, but h i s sheer passionate delight i n nature's beauty and fecundity i s .a pagan adoration d i f f e r e n t from the "high 1 ethereal love with which Wordsworth regarded nature".  Mere-  dith's attitude r e a l l y brings him closer to Goethe than to - • 2 Wordsworth, f o r i t emphasizes man's physical a c t i v i t y and joy in nature rather than his passive acceptance of her benevolence. Yet Meredith does l a y the groundwork for the i n t e l l e c t u a l and s p i r i t u a l components of h i s mature philosophy.  There i s  nothing i n Meredith's early writings to indicate a b e l i e f i n a struggle which w i l l evolve, i n t u r n / brain and s p i r i t from the merely sensual part of man.  But the poet does imply that he  would enjoy a battle with nature and with himself; Richard Feverel's exultation when he i s b a t t l i n g the elements i s evidence that Meredith would f i g h t courageously i n the ranks of the f i t t e s t to make possible man's progress toward spirit.  altruistic  Moreover, that he does see i n nature's law of change  1 A.T. Strong, Three Studies i n Shelley and An Essay on Nature i n Wordsworth and Meredith, London, Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1921, p.161. 2 c f . Goethe ("Truth and Poetry", p.234) - "A man remains of consequence, not so f a r as he leaves something behind him, but so f a r as he acts and enjoys, and rouses others to action and enjoyment."'  107 a hint of evolution i s apparent from an observation he made i n the Monthly Observer  (c.1850):  The universe...is but a succession of l i n k s , and we are a l l united i n n o b i l i t y and gentleness and love. His  1  concept of s p i r i t i s not very c l e a r , i t i s true.  i s i t ever d i s t i n c t l y defined i n his poetry?  But  One can at least  state that, following Goethe, Meredith conceived of s p i r i t as something which was part of Earth. does not j u s t i f y J.W.  Meredith's early poetry  Gunliffe's statement that the poet "took 2  over Wordsworth's transcendental view of nature".  Archibald,  Strong's d i s t i n c t i o n between Meredith and Wordsworth i s more to the point: To Wordsworth Nature gave intimations of something that transcended her and was not h e r s e l f . To Meredith she bore no message but that written p l a i n on her face f o r a l l to read. 3 Transcendentalism would have introduced an unwanted contradiction into Meredith's philosophy of nature, f o r , though he had not formulated h i s complete concept of nature by 1859, he had erected, mainly on a Goethian base, a consistent framework that contained a l l the elements of which his f i n a l concept consisted.  The impetus from Darwinism was a l l that was needed to  quicken his seemingly diverse ideas into one coherent, unified conception. 1 R.E. Sencourt, The L i f e of George Meredith. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons,-1929, p.27. (Quoted from an unpublished MS. i n Widener L i b r a r y at Harvard). 2 J.W. C u n l i f f e , Leaders of the V i c t o r i a n Revolution. New York and. London, D. Appleton Century Co. Inc., 1934, p.215. 3 Strong, Wordsworth and Meredith, p.164.  108 F i r s t Impact of Darwinism  (1859-1871)  L i o n e l Stevenson makes the following statement about the effect of Darwinism on Meredith: George Meredith had l i t t l e perception of the idea [evolution] t i l l the s c i e n t i s t s announced i t ; but thereafter he devoted himself to i t unstintingly. When he became acquainted with Darwinism, h i s philosophic system developed promptly and comp l e t e l y ; so the stages of i t s growth cannot be chronicled...the evolutionary i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the universe...determined h i s whole outlook. 1 Mr. Stevenson, I believe, puts the matter too bluntly.  The  very fact that Meredith does not mention Darwin i n h i s l e t t e r s indicates to me that the s c i e n t i s t ' s theory had the effect of unifying Meredith's philosophy, not of adding something of import to i t .  This u n i f i c a t i o n , moreover, was not immediate;  i t i s c a l l i n g the s i n c e r i t y of Meredith into question to say that, when he suddenly discovered Darwin, he quickly developed a philosophy from Darwin's theory without giving one scrap of credit to i t s o r i g i n a t o r .  Meredith, as we have seen, had had  before 1859 an i n t u i t i v e apprehension of evolution, though not of natural s e l e c t i o n ; therefore, i s i t not l i k e l y that he, l i k e 2 his mentor Goethe, saw i n the theory merely a v e r i f i c a t i o n of his i n t u i t i o n ? Mr. Stevenson i s also i n error when he states that the stages of the growth of Meredith's philosophy of nature cannot be chronicled.  For, although Meredith"made"ho direct"reference  1 Stevenson, Darwin Among The Poets, pp.183-84. 2 c f . S . Cassirer, Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, Gutmann, K r i s t e l l e r and Randall, t r a n s l a t o r s , Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1945, p.82 - "Goethe recognized no sharp boundary between i n t u i t i o n and theory."  109 to Darwin's t h e o r y d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d between Darwin's p u b l i c a t i o n s , t h e r e i s demonstrable  e v i d e n c e . i n h i s p o e t r y of  a c a u t i o u s a s s i m i l a t i o n o f these l a t e s t i n t o the poet's creed.  Darwinism  two  ideas of e v o l u t i o n  placed Meredith i n closer  contact w i t h the r e a l ; but i t d i d not a l t e r h i s Goethian  belief  i n the n e c e s s i t y f o r a c o n s i s t e n t balance of the r e a l and worlds.  Hence d u r i n g the 1860's the poet was  ideal  c r i t i c a l of both  groups o f e x t r e m i s t s that r e s u l t e d from the" c o n f l i c t over Darw i n i a n e v o l u t i o n , namely, the m a t e r i a l i s t s } who and the r e l i g i o u s r e a c t i o n a r i e s , who  ignored s p i r i t ,  p o s t u l a t e d p e r s o n a l immor-  t a l i t y and m i r a c l e s as "opiates'' f o r the p a i n f u l s t r i f e of t h i s 2 world.  I n o p p o s i t i o n to m a t e r i a l i s t i c t e n e t s he advanced " h i s  d o c t r i n e of communion with nature and r e l i a n c e on her power to h e a l and s u s t a i n " .  And he preached the r e a l i s t i c acceptance of  s u f f e r i n g and of nature's s t e r n laws t o those who  would take  the drugs o f f e r e d by the p r i e s t h o o d : Could France accept the f a b l e s of her p r i e s t s , Who b l e s t her banners i n t h i s game of b e a s t s , And now b i d hope that heaven w i l l i n t e r c e d e To v i o l a t e i t s laws i n her sore need, She would f i n d comfort i n t h e i r o p i a t e s : Mother of Reason. can she cheat the F a t e s ? 4 1  M e r e d i t h e v i d e n t l y saw too much of the "dragon" of s e l f i n both the m a t e r i a l i s t i c concept of " s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n " and orthodox r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f i n i n d i v i d u a l i m m o r t a l i t y and  the  divine  1 See London by Lamplight, I , pp.68-72 and the poem a t t r i b u t e d to Diaper Sandoe (Richard F e v e r e l , pp.80-81) f o r Mered i t h ' s condemnation of mammon and m a t e r i a l i s m . 2 See a l s o M a r t i n ' s P u z z l e , I , pp.261-2 f o r Meredith's condemnation of the " T e a - d o o t r i n e " preached by the parsons. 3 Stevenson, Darwin Among The Poets, p.193. 4 France, I I I , p.145.  110 intervention.  However, his agnosticism was not so d e f i n i t e as  Spencer's or Huxley's.  To those Victorians who  i n s i s t e d on  retaining a b e l i e f i n the existence of God Meredith repeated his e a r l i e r advice (which now happened to agree i n part with Darwin's assumptions): i f there i s any God, you may f i n d him only through a reverent and loving study of Earth: She can lead us, only she, Unto God's footstool,-whither she reaches: . Loved, enjoyed, her g i f t s must be, Reverenced the truth she teaches, Ere a man may hope that he Ever can a t t a i n the glee Of things without a destiny.' 1 2 Like Goethe, Meredith thus saw God as the s p i r i t both behind and i n nature, as the s p i r i t man would see i n nature and i n himself  (as part of nature) i f he l i v e d close to her.  Nature,  God, and man were f o r Meredith a l l parts of an e s s e n t i a l unity. A stronger emphasis on "Earth" One influence of Darwinism  i s discernible i n the poet's  firm affirmation of his e a r l i e r b e l i e f that the r e a l world of which man could have knowledge was "Earth". Earth, not the 4 universe, was the place where Meredith could see nature's laws 1 Ode To The S p i r i t of Earth i n Autumn, I, p.259. 2 "Truth and Poetry", Vol.1, p.30 - "The God who stands i n immediate connection with nature, and owns and loves i t as his work, seemed to him the proper God." 3 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.391) - The Deity " i s Reason, i s Understanding i t s e l f . Therewith are a l l creatures penetrated; and man has so much of i t that he can recognize parts of the highest". 4 Goethe no doubt had provided Meredith with the idea that man must keep close to earth - "Man i s born, not to solve the problems of the universe, but to f i n d out where the problem applies, and then to r e s t r a i n himself within the l i m i t s of the comprehensible." (Eckermann, Conversations, p.120.)  Ill being put i n t o e f f e c t . ten a f t e r 1859  Hence one  f i n d s t h a t i n the poems w r i t -  the poet s t r e s s e s more s t r o n g l y than before h i s  f a i t h i n e a r t h l y nature. the "Great Mother" who  Earth  1  takes over the v i t a l r o l e of  achieves her own  growth through the  a l t e r n a t e l i f e and death of her c h i l d r e n : E a r t h , the mother of a l l , Moves on her s t e d f a s t way, G a t h e r i n g , f l i n g i n g , sowing. M o r t a l s , we l i v e i n her day, She i n her c h i l d r e n i s growing. And,  2  l e s t one might t h i n k her c r u e l i n her s e l f - e x i s t e n c e ,  Meredith  reminds him  that man's o n l y v i s i b l e f r i e n d i s a  v i t a l , t r u l y b e n e f i c e n t , Mother E a r t h : There i s a c u r t a i n o'er us. For once, good s o u l s , w e ' l l not pretend To be aught b e t t e r than her who bore us, And i s our o n l y v i s i b l e f r i e n d . Hark t o her laughter.* who laughs l i k e t h i s , Can she be dead or r o o t e d i n pain? She has been s l a i n by the narrow b r a i n , But f o r us who love her she l i v e s a g a i n . Can she d i e ? 0, take her kiss.' 3 x  1  T h e r e f o r e , man  should  look not above, but to E a r t h ' s s t e r n law  of development f o r c o n f i r m a t i o n of nature's  l o v e and  spirit:  I know that s i n c e the hour of b i r t h , Rooted i n e a r t h , I have looked above, In j o y and i n g r i e f , With eyes of b e l i e f , For l o v e . A mother t r a i n s us so. But the l o v e I saw was a f i t f u l t h i n g ; I looked on the sun That clouds or i s b l i n d i n g aglow: And the l o v e around had more of wing Than substance, and of s p i r i t none. 1 M e r e d i t h ' s a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h Swinburne i n the 1860's • a l s o would h a v e . i n f l u e n c e d M e r e d i t h - i n t h i s s h i f t from nature to E a r t h . 2 Ode To The S p i r i t of E a r t h i n Autumn, I , p.259. 3 Ode To The S p i r i t of E a r t h i n Autumn, I , pp.256-7.  US Then looked I on the green earth we are rooted i n , Whereof we grow, And nothing of love i t said, But gave me warnings of s i n , And lessons of patience l e t f a l l , And told how pain was bred, And wherefore I was weak, And of good and e v i l at s t r i f e , And the struggle upward of a l l , And my choice of the glory of l i f e : Was love farther to seek? 1 In other words, abiding love i s to be seen and attained through the exercise of f o r t i t u d e i n man's struggle to advance. i s a note of Darwinism. calmly.  Here  Yet Meredith accepts t h i s struggle  Earth, the l a s t i n g , the v i t a l , knows no loss or des2  olation; and man,  by a t t r i b u t i n g c r u e l t y to her whose law of  l i f e and death i s t r u l y a law of s a c r i f i c e and love, becomes a creature of hopes and fears who who  cannot enjoy l i f e .  Meredith,  feels that no j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s necessary for man'3 e x i s -  tence, i s i n favour of l i v i n g l i f e to the f u l l : L i f e thoroughly l i v e d i s a fact i n the brain, While eyes are l e f t f o r seeing. 3 Look to Earth's other creatures i f you would l i v e a happy l i f e , advises Meredith;  observe the animals who  rejoice i n the good  things of l i f e , avoid pain as best they can, and hunger not for certainties: Sweet as Eden i s the a i r , And Eden-sweet the ray. No Paradise i s lost for them That foot by branching root and stem, And l i g h t l y with the woodland share The change of night and day. 1  2 3  In The Woods, Vol. 27 (Memorial E d i t i o n ) p p . 2 7 5 - 7 6 . Ode To The S p i r i t of Earth i n Autumn, I, pp.259-60. Ode To The S p i r i t of Earth In Autumn, I, p.259.  113 Here a l l t h i n g s s a y 'We know not,'"even as I. 'We brood, w e , s t r i v e t o . s k y , We gaze upon decay, We wot of l i f e through death. We are p a t i e n t : what i s dumb We q u e s t i o n not, nor ask The hidden to unmask, The d i s t a n t to draw near.' And t h i s the woodland s a i t h : 'I know not hope nor f e a r : I take whate'er s h a l l come; I r a i s e my head to a l l t h i n g s f a i r , From f o u l I t u r n away.' Sweet as Eden i s the a i r , And Eden-sweet the r a y . T h i s c o u n s e l appears a t f i r s t  1  glance to be i d e n t i c a l w i t h the  q u a n t i t a t i v e p l e a s u r e - p a i n formula of the Benthamites.  But i t  i s not; a q u a l i t a t i v e d i s t i n c t i o n i s i m p l i e d i n the phrase, s t r i v e to sky".  Mere Benthamism r e q u i r e s l i t t l e  fortitude,  M e r e d i t h would say; i t demands o n l y a r e c o g n i t i o n of the of  change.  "we  law  What makes courage n e c e s s a r y i s the r e a l i z a t i o n  that s t r u g g l e i s p a r t of nature's law. that m o r a l l y and p h y s i c a l l y man  Because M e r e d i t h  i s i m p e l l e d to seek  feels  something  h i g h e r than h i m s e l f , he b e l i e v e s t h a t c h e e r f u l s t r u g g l e i s the f i n e s t m a n i f e s t a t i o n of the f r e e w i l l - t h a t i s nature's gift  to man.  I f man  chief  f r e e l y a c c e p t s the n e c e s s i t y of c o n t e n t i o n ,  then he has a chance f o r happiness.  But i f he i g n o r e s nature's  i m p e r a t i v e , he w i l l  be m i s e r a b l e .  Two  f a c t s , then, must  acknowledge: f i r s t ,  the law of change, the law of l i f e  man  and  death so w e l l e x e m p l i f i e d by the pine t r e e q u i e t l y d r o p p i n g its  n o n - f e r t i l i z e d seed, and second, the s t r u g g l e f o r im-  provement, symbolized f o r M e r e d i t h by the t u r b u l e n t wind above 1  I n The Woods. V o l . 27  (Memorial E d i t i o n ) , pp.276-77.  114 the pine, the race of l i f e which also drops i t s dead while i t exalts i t s l i v i n g :  1  A wind sways the pines, And below Not a breath of wild a i r : A l l s t i l l as the mosses that glow On the f l o o r i n g and over the l i n e s Of the roots here and there. The pine-tree drops i t s dead: They are quiet as under the sea. Overhead, overhead, Rushes l i f e i n a race, As the clouds the clouds chase: And we go, And we drop l i k e the f r u i t s of the tree, Even we, Even so. 2 It i s almost a superhuman task f o r man looking at the present to admit that his immediate reward f o r carrying on the struggle i s death.  Yet Meredith prays to nature f o r the  courage to accept t h i s fact and to l i v e , exempt from Time as nature is,- i n the joyous moment that reveals to him the bright future of the race: Great Mother Nature! teach me, l i k e thee, To kiss the season and shun regrets. And am I more than the mother who bore, Mock me not with thy harmony! Teach me to blot regrets, Great Mother! me inspire With f a i t h that forward sets But feeds the l i v i n g f i r e , F a i t h that never f r e t s For vagueness i n the form. 1 c f . Goethe on "nature" (Sir Charles Sherrington, Goethe on Nature and on Science, Cambridge, University Press, 1949, pp.37-8—quoted from Ges.Werke, xxx, p.313) — "We are i n her and she i n us. Unasked and unwarned we are caught up by her into the w h i r l of her dance. She c a r r i e s us along u n t i l we are t i r e d and drop from her arms - she herself i s t i r e l e s s " . Meredith's idea has more of a Darwinian tinge than has Goethe's; yet the p a r a l l e l i s obvious. 2 In The Woods (later Dirge i n Woods), V o l . 27, p.278.  115 In l i f e , 0 keep me warm! For, what i s human g r i e f ? And what do men d e s i r e ? Teach me t o f e e l myself the t r e e , And not the w i t h e r e d l e a f . F i x e d am I and await the dark to-be J.  1  A d e v e l o p i n g e t h i c a l t h e o r y based on e v o l u t i o n It life, of  w i l l be remembered'that M e r e d i t h , d u r i n g h i s e a r l y  gave the accolade of the " f i t t e s t " to the l o v e r  because  the a l t r u i s t i c tendencies shown by t h i s chosen c r e a t u r e of  nature.  But r e c o g n i t i o n of the s c i e n t i f i c f a c t of s t r u g g l e  and Meredith's own  d i s a s t r o u s marriage i n d i c a t e d t o the poet  the need f o r a readjustment o f h i s e t h i c a l v a l u e s and f o r a new  d e f i n i t i o n of the f i t t e s t .  He  began to see more c l e a r l y  than b e f o r e that a p r a c t i c a b l e m o r a l i t y had to be based on the reason evolved from man's f i g h t  both  f o r betterment and  the i n s t i n c t s that formed the c l o s e s t l i n k between man  on  and  2 nature. men  who  L i k e Goethe, he now  conceived the f i t t e s t  to be those  developed a l l s i d e s o f t h e i r n a t u r e s ; the h e a l t h y  c o m p e t i t i o n to which such men  were s u b j e c t gave- them more chance  of  a c h i e v i n g the balance of reason and i n s t i n c t than an easy 3 l i f e did. M e r e d i t h , of c o u r s e , r e a l i z e d t h a t p a i n and s u f f e r i n g 1 Ode To The S p i r i t of E a r t h i n Autumn, I , p.258. 2 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, C o n v e r s a t i o n s , p.59), - " i t i s i n c o n f l i c t w i t h natures opposed t o h i s own that a man must c o l l e c t h i s s t r e n g t h to f i g h t h i s way tlarough; and thus a l l a l l our d i f f e r e n t s i d e s are brought out and developed so that we soon f e e l o u r s e l v e s a match f o r e v e r y f o e . " 3 M e r e d i t h b e l i e v e s t h a t the hard l i f e of the g i p s y c h i l d r e n i s more " f r u i t f u l " than i s t h a t of the i n d o l e n t c h i l d r e n of wealthy parents - see The Orchard and the Heath, I I , p.90-91.  o f t e n r e s u l t e d from the s t r u g g l e o f l i f e .  The s u f f e r i n g o f  innocents was one of the incomprehensibles that he had to accept as a matter  of f a i t h ; f a i t h i n the wholeness and e s s e n t i a l good-  ness o f nature's p l a n was f o r M e r e d i t h the o n l y a c c e p t a b l e 1 answer t o t h i s problem.  But the poet could e x p l a i n the more  g e n e r a l k i n d of s u f f e r i n g i n a way c o n s i s t e n t w i t h reason. Nature's of  law of r e s u l t s and consequences c o u l d account  the tragedy i n l i f e : M e r e d i t h t e l l s  Love, t h a t , i f man cannot conform £  f o r most  us i n h i s poem, Modern  to nature, then he must "take  the hap of a l l {his} deeds";as f a r as nature i s concerned, the s t r u g g l e i s good; man's unwise a c t i o n , not any c r u e l t y i n nature, causes p a i n . It  i s w i t h the i m p l i c i t acceptance of nature's law that  M e r e d i t h d i s c u s s e s man's m o r a l i t y .  And,in accordance  Darwin's s u g g e s t i o n t h a t man's i n t e l l e c t of  i s the l a t e s t  with result  e v o l u t i o n , M e r e d i t h now c a s t s a d i s p a r a g i n g look upon the  passions.  C e r t a i n l y he would not have the s e n s u a l p a r t of man  destroyed: Oh, Raphael! when men the F i e n d do f i g h t , They conquer not upon such easy terras. H a l f - s e r p e n t i n the s t r u g g l e grow these worms. And does he grow h a l f human, a l l i s r i g h t . 4 But he wants man to be aware of the e s s e n t i a l f a l s e n e s s and the danger o f p a s s i o n per s e : 1 see M a r t i n ' s P u z z l e , I , p.£64. £ Modern Love, I , p.£00. 3 T h i s changed outlook may have had more to do with h i s broken marriage than w i t h Darwinism. N e v e r t h e l e s s , the p a r a l l e l w i t h Darwin i s t h e r e . Modern Love, I , p.213. 4  117 I see no s i n : The wrong i s mixed. In t r a g i c l i f e , God wot, No v i l l a i n need be! P a s s i o n s s p i n the p l o t ! We are betrayed by.what i s f a l s e w i t h i n . ,  1  For t h e . s e l f i s h i n s t i n c t of p a s s i o n always t h r e a t e n s to develop i n t o s e n t i m e n t a l i s m , and s e n t i m e n t a l i s m i s a s i n , f o r i t opp2 3 oses nature.  In words that b r i n g to mind Tennyson's  M e r e d i t h a t t a c k s the s e n t i m e n t a l i s t  4  for letting/the  Maud "scaly  dragon of s e l f " f r i g h t e n him away from the r e a l i t y of nature's struggle: Hawk or s h r i k e has done t h i s deed Of downy f e a t h e r s , a. c r u e l s i g h t . Sweet s e n t i m e n t a l i s t , i n t e r c e d e With P r o v i d e n c e : i t i s not r i g h t ! Complain, r e v o l t ; say heaven i s wrong, Say nature i s v i l e , that can a l l o w The innocent t o be t o r n , the s t r o n g To tower and govern - witness how! 5 In of  r e a c t i o n a g a i n s t the s e l f i s h n e s s of the p a s s i o n s and  s e n t i m e n t a l i s m M e r e d i t h c a l l s f o r the a n t i d o t e mind, f o r he  sees t h a t man's p r o g r e s s must be made through the "march of mind".  But mere b r a i n power i s not enough f o r M e r e d i t h .  he wants i s "the strenuous mind i n •quest" an a c t i v e mind  What closely  Modern Love, I , p.223. 2 c f . M e r e d i t h ' s l e t t e r to the Reverend Jessopp ( L e t t e r s p.165) - "I'm a l i t t l e s i c k of Tennysonian green t e a . I d o n ' t , t h i n k Byron wholesome - e x a c t l y , but a drop or so - Eh? And,he doesn"!t g i v e limp, l a c k a d a i s i c a l fishermen, and pander to the depraved s e n t i m e n t a l i s m of our drawing rooms." 3 c f . Chapter 3, p . 7 7 4 c f . Goethe (Oxenford, "Annals", Vol.11, p.195) Goethe s t a t e s that he had i n him a " c r o s s - g r a i n e d humour... to hoot e v e r y t h i n g s e n t i m e n t a l , and h a l f - d e s p a i r i n g l y to c l e a v e to i n e v i t a b l e r e a l i t y " . 5. I n The Woods, V o l . 27, p.276. 6 L i n e s To A F r i e n d V i s i t i n g America, I I , p.4. 1  118 l i n k e d w i t h a s t r o n g body.  Too much b r a i n i s unacceptable;  h i g h p h i l o s o p h y i s not "ordered f o r the world's i n c r e a s e " Hence M e r e d i t h ' s s t r o n g men, minds and bodies who, t e e t e r i n g senses reason  the f i t t e s t , are men  w i t h powerful  on a f u l c r u m of a l t r u i s m , balance the  (the d r i v i n g f o r c e of progress) w i t h the  (the d r i v e r ) .  An i n t e r e s t i n g short, poem t h a t s t r e s s e s  the d e s i r a b i l i t y of t h i s mean i n almost Darwinian i s To J.M.,  1  written i n  terminology  1867.  Let Fate or I n s u f f i c i e n c y p r o v i d e Mean ends f o r men who what they are would be: Penned i n " t h e i r narrow day no change they see Save one which s t r i k e s the blow to brutes and p r i d e . Our f a i t h i s ours and comes not on a t i d e : And whether E a r t h ' s great o f f s p r i n g , by decree, Must r o t i f t h e y abjure r a p a c i t y , Not argument but e f f o r t s h a l l d e c i d e . They number many heads i n that hard f l o c k : Trim swordsmen they push f o r t h : yet t r y t h y s t e e l . fhou, f i g h t i n g f o r poor humankind, w i l t f e e l The s t r e n g t h of Roland i n t h y w r i s t to hew A chasm sheer i n t o the b a r r i e r r o c k , And b r i n g the army of the f a i t h f u l through. 2 That M e r e d i t h has developed a strong f a i t h i n t h i s workable compromise i s evident from the g e n e r a l tone of the l e t t e r s written i n this period: H i t h e r t o human Nature has marched through the c o n f l i c t of extremes. With the g e n e r a l growth of reason, i t w i l l be p o s s i b l e to choose a path mid-way. 3 True s t r e n g t h i s thus not power but balance, and be won  o n l y through communion with n a t u r e .  i t may  Love of woman, says  a d i s i l l u s i o n e d Meredith, seems t o achieve a s y n t h e s i s between the senses and the mind, but such love i s not always t r u s t w o r t h y . 1 2 3  Modern Love, I, p.211. To J . M., I I , . p . l . L e t t e r s , I, p.67.  119 A complete acceptance and love of nature i s a surer road to 1 strength: Lo, Strength i s of the p l a i n root-Virtues born: Strength s h a l l ye gain by service, prove i n scorn, Train by endurance, by devotion shape.Strength i s not won by miracle or rape. It i s the offspring of the modest years, The g i f t of s i r e to son, thro' those firm laws Which we name Gods; which are the righteous cause, The cause of man, and manhood's ministers. 2 This strength which i s the product of struggle and s e l f l e s s love i s for Meredith the balance that produces altruism. A new gospel of energy founded on calm, reasoned acceptance Meredith's f a i t h i n Earth i n t h i s second period thus was founded upon a closer view of r e a l i t y than was that of his early years, f o r he had added a Darwinian concept of struggle to his basic, j o y f u l acceptance of nature.  This addition to  or c l a r i f i c a t i o n of h i s e a r l i e r philosophy demanded a calmer, more reasoned acceptance of a nature that apparently contained both good and e v i l .  A cheerful recognition of struggle required  that Meredith should draw upon the springs of f o r t i t u d e and not just upon a n a t u r a l l y happy d i s p o s i t i o n .  Hence during these  years from 1859 to 1871 he recommended, both a j o y f u l delight i n the goodness of l i f e and an active obedience of nature's law of development  through contention:  Live with the world. Wo c l o i s t e r . No languor. • Play your part. F i l l the day. Ponder w e l l and l o i t e r not. Let laughter brace you. Exist i n 1 2  see Modern Love, I, p.210. Prance, I I I , p.:145.  120 e v e r y d a y communion w i t h Nature. Nature b i d s you take a l l , only.be sure you l e a r n how t o do w i t h o u t . 2 A c t i v i t y i s the keynote  o f t h i s g o s p e l o f energy.  Life  i s t r a n s i e n t , M e r e d i t h t e l l s us, because t r a n s i e n c e i s p a r t of nature's law. T h e r e f o r e , one should l i v e the moment.  s t r e n u o u s l y and f o r  I t i s f o o l i s h s e n t i m e n t a l i t y to l i v e i n a golden  p a s t , as some l o v e r s do: Yet seek they w i t h Time's laughing t h i n g s to wed: Who w i l l be prompted on some p a l l i d day T o . l i f t the hueless flower and show that dead, Even such, and by t h i s token, i s t h e i r youth. 3 One should not b a r t e r present j o y f o r the hopes and f e a r s i n s p i r e d by the s p e c t r e o f Time t h a t sooner  or l a t e r  disill-  usions the s e n t i m e n t a l i s t s . Yet M e r e d i t h , p e r s o n a l l y r e j o i c i n g o n l y i n the moment, does have hope f o r the f u t u r e o f the human r a c e .  I f man,  l i v i n g f u l l y , w i l l take s t r e n g t h from t h e s t r u g g l e and then act  i n a t r u l y moral manner, he w i l l , M e r e d i t h f e e l s  ensure the s t r e n g t h o f h i s progeny.  certain,  For, i n l i v i n g i n this  a c t i v e , r i g h t e o u s way, man i s f o l l o w i n g n a t u r e : You teach me a f i n e l e s s o n , my o l d boy.' I've looked on my s u p e r i o r s f o r too l o n g , And s m a l l has been my p r o f i t as my j o y . You've done the r i g h t w h i l e I've denounced the wrong. Prosper me later.'  4  1 c f . Goethe on nature (Eckermann, C o n v e r s a t i o n s , p.294) -"The man i n c a p a b l e of a p p r e c i a t i n g her she d e s p i s e s ; and o n l y to t h e a p t , t h e pure, and t h e t r u e does she r e s i g n h e r s e l f , and r e v e a l her s e c r e t s . " T h i s i d e a o f nature r e s i g n i n g h e r s e l f t o man i s a note which was not i n Meredith's e a r l y p o e t r y and which he p r o b a b l y took from Goethe when he began to formulate his idea of e t h i c a l evolution. 2 Sencourt., M e r e d i t h , p. 105 (quoted from Lord Morley's Reminiscences). . 3 Time and Sentiment, I I , p.11. 4 The Old C h a r t i s t . I , p.162.  121 Thus Meredith suggests that the man with a true love of l i f e and labour has only two e t h i c a l concerns: l i v i n g a w e l l balanced, f u l l l i f e , and leaving good s o i l for his seed.  In  these two ideas l i e s Meredith's whole concept of immortality: The lover of l i f e knows his labour divine And therein i s at peace. The lust after l i f e craves a touch and a sign That the l i f e s h a l l increase. The lust after l i f e i n the c h i l l s of i t s lust Claims a passport of death. The lover of l i f e sees the flame i n our dust And a g i f t i n our breath. 1 One may observe that Meredith's idea of nature of this period d i f f e r e d from that of the f i r s t period only i n the matter of man's e t h i c a l progress through struggle.  Because Swinburne  during the 1860's had awakened i n Meredith an enthusiasm not just 2 for Earth but f o r progress and humanity, he doubtless saw a nec e s s i t y f o r defining the " f i t t e s t " i n terms consistent with Darwinism.  Yet .it i s s i g n i f i c a n t that Meredith, i n laying new  stress on ethics, did not greatly a l t e r his fundamental osophy of nature.  phil-  Nor did he at t h i s time publish a complete  expression of the doctrine of e t h i c a l evolution that the basis of his l a t e r philosophy.  formed  Meredith obviously was not  attempting to found a new concept of nature on Darwinism; he was trying merely to ascertain whether or not the s c i e n t i s t ' s ideas would f i t into the pantheism he had taken from Goethe.. The process of combining Goethian ideas of change -and Darwinian ideas of evolution was going on i n this second period, but the 1 2  In The Woods , Vol.. 27,. p.278. Sassoon, Meredith, p.87.  result of the integration was not to appear i n Meredith's poetry u n t i l a f t e r the publication of The Descent of Man. Meredith's mature concept of nature ( E t h i c a l Evolution! J  1  Although, as William C h i s l e t t Informs us, Meredith adopted a s c i e n t i f i c and p o s i t i v i s t i c attitude toward nature, he was,  unlike the t y p i c a l V i c t o r i a n , no amateur s c i e n t i s t .  It i s true that he had a good knowledge of natural history; hut i t appears that of biology, astronomy and geology he knew very l i t t l e .  He himself admitted that a s c i e n t i f i c t r e a t i s e 2  even i n popularized form was usually u n i n t e l l i g i b l e to him. It i s f a i r to assume, therefore, that Meredith received the Darwinian ideas of evolution only a f t e r they had passed through several hands.  And he, I believe, preferred this s i f t i n g pro-  cess, which provided him with just the general concept, to the f a c t u a l presentation i n such books as On The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man;  f o r a broad view of knowledge was com3 patible with his philosophy. Meredith, as i s evident from his characterization of S i r Willoughby Patterne as a devotee of 4 science, did not trust the m a t e r i a l i s t i c side of science, f o r be he saw i n i t a supporter of egotism. Science had to/humanized, 1 Wm. G h i s l e t t , G-eorge Meredith, a Study and an Appraisal, Boston, Richard G. Badger, 1925, p.213. 2 Letters,, pp.348-9. 3 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Gonversations, p.66)- "As soon as anybody belongs to a certain narrow creed i n science, every unprejudiced and true perception i s gone." 4 see The Egoist, I, p.26 (Memorial E d i t i o n ) .  123 that i s , i t had to be "given moral, e t h i c a l and philosophical interpretation"  1  before i t possessed any value for Meredith.  Hence one finds i n Meredith's writings very few r e f e r ences to the physical evolution of the animals and man.  In  The Egoist the phrases " s u r v i v a l of the f i t t e s t " and "natural 2 • selection" are used i n passing; and i n The Woods of Westermain appears a general idea of evolution from "mud  to mind":  where old-eyed oxen chew Speculation with the cud, Read t h e i r pool of v i s i o n through, Back to hours when mind was mud; Nigh the knot, which did untwine Timelessly to drowsy suns; Seeing Earth a slimy spine, Heaven a space f o r winging tons.  3  But, though Meredith apparently accepts Darwinism because i.t 4  gives support to his e a r l i e r b e l i e f s i n change and progress, mind and what i s beyond mind are to him more important than-. the preceding evolutionary stages. shows man,  For mind, mirroring soul,  i f he but read Earth aright, the beneficence, the  v i t a l i t y and the unity of nature.. Knowledge of the "breaking of the types" does not disturb the mind that perceives Earth's love, loves her i n return, and s t r i v e s toward the e t h i c a l Good: Numbers i n council, awake To love me more than things of my. lap, Love me; and to l e t the types break, Men be grass, rocks, r i v e r s , a l l flow; 1 E. Arthur Robinson, "Meredith's L i t e r a r y Theory and Science" (pp.857-868), PMLA, Vol.53, 1938, p.863. 2 The Egoist ; .1, p.45 (Memorial Edition) and I I , pp.75-6. 3 The Woods of Westermain, I I , p.35. 4 Meredith had no reason for not accepting the general view after 1880 that evolution was an h i s t o r i c a l fact as f a r as the animal world was concerned.  A l l save the dream s i n k a l i k e To the source o f my v i t a l i n sap: T h e i r b a t t l e , t h e i r l o s s , t h e i r ache, For my pledge o f v i t a l i t y know. The dream i s t h e thought i n the ghost; The thought sent f l y i n g f o r food; E y e l e s s , but sprung o f an aim S u p e r n a l of Reason, to f i n d The great Over-Reason we name B e n e f i c e n c e : mind seeking mind. Dream of the blossom o f Good... 1 :  Here, then a r e the assumptions  ( c o n s i s t e n t w i t h h i s ideas o f  the e a r l i e r p e r i o d s ) upon which M e r e d i t h bases h i s b e l i e f i n g  an e t h i c a l e v o l u t i o n : f i r s t , an acceptance E a r t h , and second,  o f a benevolent  a f a i t h i n an e t h i c corresponding w i t h na-  t u r e ' s t r u e m o r a l i t y t h a t i s e v o l v i n g i n man through s t r u g g l e and the dream o f a f u t u r e Good. must see benevolence  present  Man, M e r e d i t h a s s e r t s  i n nature or he can never evolve  ethically  Count Nature d e v i l i s h , and accept f o r doom The  chasm between our p a s s i o n s and our w i t s !  3  T h i s e t h i c a l progress i s f o r M e r e d i t h not a r e s u l t o f nature's n e c e s s i t y but of man's f r e e w i l l .  By assuming that  man has f r e e w i l l , Meredith i s a b l e p a r t l y to r e c o n c i l e  tragic  l i f e and the p o s s i b i l i t y of r e t r o g r e s s i o n i n man's development w i t h nature's e s s e n t i a l p e r f e c t i o n .  F o r t h i s hypothesis g i v e s  man the c h o i c e to progress i n harmony w i t h nature and her law of  change or t o s u f f e r and p e r i s h through o p p o s i t i o n t o h e r . 1 A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , pp.258-59. 2 M e r e d i t h was not at one w i t h Thomas Huxley i n assuming benevolence i n n a t u r e , f o r Huxley was convinced t h a t "the apparent paradox that e t h i c a l nature, while born o f cosmic n a t u r e , i s n e c e s s a r i l y at enmity w i t h i t s p a r e n t . . . is a truth". (Thomas Huxley, E v o l u t i o n and E t h i c s and Other E s s a y s , London, M a c m i l l a n and Co., 1895, v i i i ) . 3 The Sage Enamoured, I I I , p.25.  125 For he i s i n the l i s t s C o n t e n t i o u s with"the elements, whose dower F i r s t sprang him; f o r s w i f t v u l t u r e s to devour I f he d e s i s t s . His b r e a t h of i n s t a n t t h i r s t Is warning of a c r e a t u r e matched w i t h s t r i f e , To meet i t as a b r i d e , or l e t f a l l l i f e On l i f e ' s accursed.  1  Yet i n s p i t e of h i s acknowledgment of p o s s i b l e g r e s s i o n and of nature's consequent faith  i n man's a b i l i t y to e v o l v e .  retro-  s c o r n of. man M e r e d i t h  has  F o r , l i k e Goethe, he b e l i e v e s  that m o r a l i t y i s not merely a u t i l i t a r i a n b a l a n c e , but an i n n e r n e c e s s i t y that urges nature's h i g h e s t c r e a t u r e to a t t a i n the 2 altruistic ideal. Though he p i c t u r e s man's path to progress as 3 a z i g z a g course made by a drunkard, M e r e d i t h has confidence i n a g e n e r a l forward movement because he i s of the f i r m o p i n i o n that man's f r e e w i l l i s l i g h t e d by an i n n e r moral beacon which burns more and more b r i g h t l y w i t h each step of man's advance: 'Tis t h a t i n each r e c o v e r y he p r e s e r v e s , Between h i s upper and h i s n e t h e r w i t , Sense of h i s march ahead, more b r i g h t l y l i t ; He l e s s the shaken t h i n g of l u s t s and nerves; With such a grasp upon h i s brute as t e l l s Of wisdom from t h a t v i l e r e l a p s i n g spun. A Sun goes down i n wasted f i r e , a Sun Resplendent s p r i n g s , to f a i t h r e f r e s h e d compels. M e r e d i t h i s not, however, s a t i s f i e d  4  w i t h man's t r i a l -  and-error movement forward, f o r t h i s method a s s u r e s both an unbalanced  present e x i s t e n c e f o r i n d i v i d u a l man  m i s e r y f o r the stumbling mass of mankind.  and  constant  Because the poet  f e e l s that t h i s scheme of t h i n g s i s u n s a t i s f a c t o r y , he 1 E a r t h and Man. I I , p.92. 2 Schweitzer, Goethe. p.79. 3 The World's Advance. I I , p.17. 4 The T e s t of Manhood. I l l , p.207.  conceives  126 i t to be h i s duty to give some d i r e c t i o n to man's e t h i c a l progress.  F i r s t r e a l i z e , he t e l l s us, that men are s t i l l brutish men are s t i l l The three-parts brute which smothers the divine  1  - and then concern yourself with achieving a proper balance between the two existing members ("blood" and "Brain") of the evolutionary Triad existence.  2  i n order to bring the t h i r d (, " s p i r i t "- )V into  This i s the e t h i c a l l y r e upon the strings of which  Meredith plays endlessly. his  Let us t r y to catch the burden of  melody and to see how i t applies to h i s concept of nature. The lowest of the three rungs on h i s evolutionary  ladder i s "blood", at the nethermost * end of which i s egotism. Egotism represents f o r Meredith the primitive force (which we a l l have i n us) of mere self-preservation, the force that 3  r e s i s t s nature's law of change selfishness.  and enslaves man i n bonds of  As Mrs. Sturge Henderson phrases i t : "Egotism i s  to Meredith what O r i g i n a l S i n was to our forefathers, an i n i t i a l condition common to a l l and only to he outgrown hy much prayer and f a s t i n g .  Meredith finds egotism i n i m i c a l to  moral progress, f o r he sees that anything b u i l t on t h i s s e l f i s h 5 foundation perishes, as did A t t i l a ' s "Empire b u i l t of scorn". I I .7 a Gent Ans, I I I , p.260. 2 Goethe probably had some influence on Meredith's conception of the Triad. See Eckermann, Conversations, pp.295-6, wherein Goethe praises, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and then goes on to say, "but the c i r c l e i s not yet complete. Now, some able man should write the Critique of the Senses and Understanding of Man". Was Meredith aspiring to be Goethe's "able man"? 3 The Egoist, I , p.40. 4 Mrs. M. Sturge Henderson, "Some thoughts underlying Meredith's Poems", (pp.340-352), International Journal of E t h i c s , Vol.16, October, 1905-July, 1906, p.349. 5 The Nuptials of A t t i l a , I I , p.179. 1  Therefore, he recommends that man purge himself of this lowest element of s e l f that obscures the view of nature's Eden: But that the senses s t i l l Usurp the s t a t i o n of t h e i r issue mind, He would have burst the chrysalis of the b l i n d : As yet he w i l l ; As yet he w i l l , she prays, Yet w i l l when his distempered d e v i l of S e l f ; The glutton f o r her f r u i t s , the w i l y e l f In s h i f t i n g rays;That captain of the scorned; The coyeter of l i f e i n soul and s h e l l , The f r a t r i c i d e , the t h i e f , the i n f i d e l , The hoofed and horned;He s i n g u l a r l y doomed To what he execrates and writhes to shun;When f i r e has passed him vapour to the sun, And sun relumed, Then s h a l l the horrid p a l l Be l i f t e d ...  1  But the poet does not suggest that s e l f be s t r i c k e n from man's being because of i t s e g o t i s t i c a l quality; for out of s e l f has evolved brain, and from the union of blood and brain w i l l arise s p i r i t . What man must do i s "forge ... curbs" f o r the "scaly '2 Dragon-fowl" of s e l f , curbs that w i l l deprive him of his ruthlessness but not of his useful force. That i s , man must learn that the best part of "blood" i s not egotism but sen3 sation, nature's milk f o r man.  I f he u t i l i z e s t h i s strong  sensuous l i n k with a l l nature, then man w i l l , Meredith assures •him, achieve the humility that s h a l l r i d him of undesirable egotism: 1 Earth and Man, I I , pp.97-8. 2 The Woods of Westermain, I I , pp.39-40. 3 Hence "blood" for Meredith.is e s s e n t i a l l y i n s t i n c t , which, though i t depends upon the actions of s e l f , has no element of egotism i n i t .  128 Glad of more, t i l l you r e j e c t Your proud t i t l e of e l e c t , P e r i l o u s even here w h i l e few Roam the arched greenwood w i t h you. Yet the acceptance o n l y the f i r s t  l  o f t h i s blood-brotherhood  s t e p i n the d i r e c t i o n  of e t h i c a l  represents  evolution.  E v o l u t i o n a r y progress f o r M e r e d i t h , as f o r Darwin, must i n v o l v e struggle.  F o r the poet, however, the f i g h t i s not t o be waged  a g a i n s t nature or her c r e a t u r e s .  He believes", r a t h e r , that  the main s t r u g g l e takes p l a c e i n each i n d i v i d u a l man; the s t r u g g l e i s not one f o r e x i s t e n c e , but one to m a i n t a i n a p r e sent e t h i c a l mean that w i l l i n s u r e an even progress i n t o the future.  M e r e d i t h admits that nature does give man a k i c k as 2 w e l l as a k i s s . Yet he f e e l s that t h i s would be o n l y a g e n t l e war between nature and man nature's r e a l enemy i s s e l f .  i f man but r e a l i z e d  that h i s and  I f man would accept nature's law  and would s t r u g g l e to achieve a moral balance, then  suffering  need not be the n e c e s s a r y prologue to the growth of mind and spirit  t h a t i t has been i n the p a s t : ' T i s not i n men to r e c o g n i z e the need Before they c l a s h i n h o s t s , i n hosts t h e y b l e e d . Then may sharp s u f f e r i n g t h e i r nature g r i n d ; Of r a b b l e p a s s i o n s grow the c h i e f t a i n mind. 4 T h i s s t r u g g l e f o r balance, even f o r those who see  nature r i g h t l y , i s not an easy f i g h t . great mental  fortitude  In f a c t , i t requires  t o s t e e r the s e n s i t i v e  s e l f , which i s  so e a s i l y overwhelmed by the temptations of p l e a s u r e and the 1 2 3 4  The Woods o f Westermain, I I , p.39. A Stave of Roving Tim, I I , p. 4; The Gaging o f Ares, II,p.172. F o r e s i g h t and P a t i e n c e , I I I , p.96.  pangs of p a i n , i n a mid-course  between the Huntress and., the  Persuader, the "Powers of Nature" to whom man  must pay homage:  Ah, what a sweat of anguish i n that, s t r i f e To h o l d them f a s t c o n j o i n e d w i t h i n him s t i l l ; Submissive t o h i s w i l l Along the road of l i f e . ' 1 N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h i s important b a t t l e of l i f e , i f i t i s c a r r i e d 2 on i n c l o s e contact w i t h humanity, i s e s s e n t i a l l y good and 3 sweet. For i t i s b r i n g i n g mankind ever c l o s e r to nature and 4 her v i t a l s p i r i t  through the e v o l u t i o n of b r a i n  and more  brain: C o n t e n t i o n i s the v i t a l f o r c e , Whence pluck they b r a i n , her p r i z e of Sky of the senses! on which h e i g h t , Not d i s c o n n e c t e d , yet r e l e a s e d , They see how s p i r i t comes to l i g h t , Through conquest of the i n n e r beast, Which Measure tames to movement sane, In harmony w i t h what i s f a i r . And  gifts,  5  b r a i n , M e r e d i t h f e e l s , i s ample r e t u r n f o r the  s t r u g g l e that produces  hitter  i t , f o r brain mirrors Earth's  and g i v e s v o i c e to n a t u r e : Never i s E a r t h misread by b r a i n : That i s the w e l l i n g of her, there The m i r r o r : w i t h one step beyond, For l i k e w i s e i s i t v o i c e ;  spirit  6 7  Moreover, s t r o n g b r a i n i s "the s t a t i o n f o r the f l i g h t through i t s s t r e n g t h i t b r i n g s about  of s o u l " ;  a balance of blood and  1 The Test o f Manhood, I I I , p.201. 2 M e r e d i t h l a y s g r e a t s t r e s s on the "numbers", " R e a l i t y ' s f l o w e r " (A F a i t h On T r i a l , p.253). 3 see The Day o f The Daughter of Hades, I I , p.60. 4 " B r a i n " i s f o r M e r e d i t h man's reason. I t i s the i n t e l l i g e n c e i n a c t i o n , not j u s t the p h y s i c a l organism. 5 Hard Weather, I I , p.213. 6 I b i d . , p.213. 7 I b i d . , p.214.  130 b r a i n which g i v e s i t s possessor a v i s i o n o f f u t u r e s p i r i t , the altruistic  ideal: But when the mind, the c h e r i s h a b l e mind, The m u l t i t u d e ' s grave shepherd, took f u l l f l i g h t , Himself as m i r r o r r a i s e d among h i s k i n d He saw, and f i r s t o f brotherhood had s i g h t ? Knew that h i s f o r c e to f l y , h i s w i l l to see, His heart enlarged beyond i t s r i b b e d domain,• Had come o f many a g r i p i n mastery; Which h e l d c o n j o i n e d the h o s t i l e r i v a l twain, And of h i s bosom made him l o r d , t o keep The s t a r r y r o o f of h i s u n r u f f l e d frame Awake to e a r t h , t o heaven, and plumb the deep • Below, above, aye w i t h a w i s t f u l aim. 1  B r a i n , i n f a c t , makes E a r t h both a debtor to man and, i f he 2 obeys her laws, a servant to him.  E a r t h and man, thus m u t u a l l y  dependent upon one another, a r e , M e r e d i t h o p i n e s , not enemies but l o v e r s : Breath which i s the s p i r i t ' s bath In the o l d Beginnings f i n d , 'And endow them w i t h a mind, Seed f o r s e e d l i n g , swathe f o r swathe, That g i v e s Nature t o us, t h i s Give we her, and so we k i s s . 3 It  i s apparent, then, that Meredith's " d o c t r i n e of the  mean" i n v o l v e s joyous acceptance of nature's law as w e l l as 4 calm r e c o g n i t i o n of man's s t r u g g l e .  H i s f i t t e s t , those who  possess s t r o n g b r a i n , a r e t h e r e f o r e not j u s t  utilitarians  who q u a n t i t a t i v e l y balance p l e a s u r e and p a i n f o r the " g r e a t e s t good o f the g r e a t e s t number"; t h e i r way o f l i f e  embodies a  1 The Test o f Manhood, I I I , p.203. 2 I b i d . , p.204. 3 Nature and L i f e , I I , p.239. 4 T h i s "balance" i s s i m i l a r to that achieved by Goethe a f t e r r e a d i n g S p i n o z a . Goethe, r e l a t i n g how he added Spinoza's d i s i n t e r e s t e d calmness to h i s own a c t i v e enthusiasm says: "mind and- h e a r t , understanding and sense, sought each other w i t h an eager a f f i n i t y b i n d i n g together the most d i f f e r e n t n a t u r e s " (Goethe, " T r u t h and P o e t r y " , V o l . I I , p.26).  131 more comprehensive mean.  P r i m a r i l y , M e r e d i t h ' s chosen  have a s e l f l e s s love of both nature and man  few  and of the l a b o u r  1  they must do.  Love f o r them i s "the g r e a t e s t exemplar of the 2 s p i r i t u a l value of e a r t h l y t h i n g s " . Secondly, they f e e l t h a t they are duty bound t o mix w i t h the "numbers" and to help the weak, not  j u s t because benevolence  i s p l e a s u r a b l e but because  o n l y through such a l t r u i s m s h a l l the i n d i v i d u a l race) evolve t o  (and hence the  spirit.  I f that thou hast the g i f t of s t r e n g t h , then know Thy p a r t i s to u p l i f t the trodden low; E l s e i n the g i a n t ' s grasp u n t i l the" end A hopeless w r e s t l e r s h a l l t h y soul'":contend. 3  4  T h i r d l y , they l i v e t h e i r l i v e s i n " h i g h strenuousness", i n s e n s u a l i t y , even i f a preponderance  not  of p l e a s u r e i s the  5 immediate r e s u l t of the l a t t e r c o u r s e .  F o u r t h l y , they b e l i e v e  that the " r i g h t r e a s o n " they possess r e q u i r e s o f them c h e e r f u l p a t i e n c e and f o r e s i g h t r a t h e r than a p u r e l y s c i e n t i f i c 6 that l e a d s t o d e s p a i r .  And  outlook  l a s t l y , they, l i k e M e r e d i t h , accept  death as being good f o r the progress of the r a c e , even though i t means the s a c r i f i c e of the i n d i v i d u a l .  Melampus, who  is 7  u s u a l l y accused of being a Wordsworthian c r e a t i o n o f M e r e d i t h ' s , i s , I b e l i e v e , a good r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of t h i s e l i t e group, f o r 1 C a r of l y l es ' d o c t r ithe n e no doubt some i n f l u e n cv ei t a l he i s aware p is r iwork t through music of had "measure" (the on Meredith's b e l i e f i n i n c e s s a n t a c t i v i t y . 2 T r e v e l y a n , The P o e t r y and P h i l o s o p h y of George M e r e d i t h , p.85. 3 The Burden of S t r e n g t h . I l l , p.210. 4 Sencourt, M e r e d i t h , p.286. 5 M e r e d i t h was s t r o n g l y i n favour of p u n i s h i n g Oscar Wilde f o r h i s s e n s u a l i t y . (Sencourt, M e r e d i t h , p.286). 6 F o r e s i g h t and P a t i e n c e , I I I , p.92. 7 see Sassoon, M e r e d i t h , pp.166-67. •  balance a g a i n ) ; he l o v e s nature and man; law;  and  he wishes to help man  •happiness and It  he r e c o g n i z e s  i n his struggle for  nature's  present  f u t u r e progress}  i s from the a c t i v i t y of such men  that Meredith  r i v e s h i s f a i t h i n the p r a c t i c a b i l i t y of the T r i a d . sees i n t h e i r a c t i o n s v i s i b l e proof  he  t h a t o n l y through the  proper e x e r c i s e of a l l h i s f a c u l t i e s can man l a t e r r e a l i z e the l i f e of the  For  de-  now  perceive  and  spirit:  I have w r i t t e n always with the p e r c e p t i o n that t h e r e i s no l i f e but of the s p i r i t ; t h a t the concrete i s r e a l l y the shadowy; yet t h a t the way to the s p i r i t u a l l i f e l i e s i n the complete u n f o l d i n g of the c r e a t u r e , not i n the n i p p i n g o f h i s p a s s i o n s . An outrage to Nature h e l p s to e x t i n g u i s h h i s l i g h t . To the f l o u r i s h i n g of the s p i r i t , then, through the h e a l t h y e x e r c i s e of the senses. 2 S p i r i t , then, which i s d i s c e r n i b l e now "rapture  "God,  have the  of the forward view", the i n t u i t i o n to see a l t r u i s m  a r i s i n g from what at present for  by those who  merely appears to be a s t r u g g l e  s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n , i s the s o u l of l i v i n g nature. 3 the known"; i t i s the v i t a l , permanent l i f e ,  It is  the  e s s e n t i a l u n i t y of nature t h a t w i l l be p a r t of man's r e a l  life  when he has p e r f e c t e d through s t r u g g l e the balance of h i s faculties.  And  i t i s achievable  on E a r t h , not  i n any  realm beyond:  1 2 3 4  grasp V e r y sap of the v i t a l i n t h i s : That from f l e s h unto s p i r i t man grows Even here on the sod under sun: see Melampus, I I , p . 7 9 f f . L e t t e r s , I I , p.409. The Test of Manhood, I I I , p.204. A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , p.255.  4  unknown  133 But t h i s idea of s p i r i t  i s s t i l l r a t h e r vague.  one must t u r n f o r f u r t h e r enlightenment that attempts e m p i r i c a l way.  That poem i s A F a i t h on T r i a l .  i n a more  I n the  opening  h i s w i f e ' s impending  has been a great blow to h i s p h i l o s o p h y . w i l l t o f i g h t l e f t i n him, he cannot spirit  to a poem of Meredith's  to e x p l a i n h i s c o n c e p t i o n of s p i r i t  stanzas M e r e d i t h i s d e s c r i b i n g how  Therefore,  Because there i s no  at f i r s t  i n a nature t h a t seems so c r u e l .  death  He  conceive of  i s a s l a v e of  egotism: I champed the s e n s a t i o n s that make Of a r u f f l e d p h i l o s o p h y r a g s . F o r them was no meaning too b l u n t , Nor aspect too c u t t i n g of s t e e l . T h i s E a r t h of the b e a u t i f u l b r e a s t s , S h i n i n g up i n a l l c o l o u r s aflame, To them had a v i s a g e of hags:  1  But suddenly a r e v e l a t i o n s t r i k e s d e s p a i r from the poet's mind and r e s t o r e s to him h i s sensuous l i n k w i t h n a t u r e .  He sees  w i l d - c h e r r y t r e e , a s p i r i t u a l symbol of h i s and Marie's a symbol a l s o of nature's law of a l t e r n a t i n g l i f e and I knew i t : w i t h her my own Had h a i l e d i t pure of the pure; Out beacon y e a r l y : •• • I gazed, unaware How a s h a f t of the blossoming t r e e Was shot from the yew-wood's c o r e . I stood t o the touch of a key Turned i n a f a s t - s h u t door.  the  l o v e and  death:  2  A f t e r t h i s awakening the poet watches some c h i l d r e n i n n o c e n t l y d e l i g h t i n g i n sensuous p l e a s u r e s .  T h i s simple sacrament,  foll-  owing upon t h a t represented by the w i l d c h e r r y , renews h i s f a i t h i n nature's beneficence and 1 2  u n i t y , and he i s able to c a t c h once  A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , p.246. A F a i t h on T r i a l , pp.248-9.  134 more a f l e e t i n g glimpse  of s p i r i t :  A f l a s h through the m i s t , mere b r e a t h , Breath on a b u c k l e r of s t e e l .  1  But, more important, he gains from t h i s i n s i g h t f r e s h f a i t h i n the goodness of the e t h i c a l s t r u g g l e , i n the present  strength  of reason, and i n the f u t u r e r e a l i t y of s p i r i t . A F a i t h on T r i a l demonstrates the i n a b i l i t y o f d e s p a i r to d e s t r o y Meredith's  p h i l o s o p h y o f nature, f o r even g r i e f  i n s p i r e s i n him an i n t u i t i v e b e l i e f t h a t e t e r n i t y i s a c c e s s i b l e i n the r e a l i t y of the c r e a t i v e moment.  That  i s , the  experience d e s c r i b e d i n t h i s poem shows that f o r M e r e d i t h eternity  (or i m m o r t a l i t y ) e x i s t s i n a t i m e l e s s c o n c a t e n a t i o n  of f e r t i l e , balanced moments.  Continuous labour and s t r u g g l e  l e a d i n g up to these i n s t a n t s a r e , o f course, seen as c o n t r i butors to i m m o r t a l i t y .  But the "spot of time" r e s u l t i n g from  g r i e f o r s t r u g g l e r e p r e s e n t s the nearest approach t o nature and to e t h i c a l e v o l u t i o n i n harmony w i t h n a t u r e , f o r such  moments  are both the c l e a r e s t m i r r o r s o f s p i r i t and the h i g h e s t p o i n t s on the graph o f e v o l u t i o n toward s p i r i t . Meredith  f e e l s , i s unimportant  Personal immortality,  i n the l i g h t and. j o y of the 2  i n t u i t i v e moment when "Time i s both f a t h e r and son". F o r the poet  b e l i e v e s t h a t i f one l i v e s f u l l y i n the i n s p i r e d  that embraces a l l time, i n the " i d e a " that i s immortal 4 then he i s l i v i n g i n h i s o f f s p r i n g as nature does.  instant  This kind  of s p i r i t , the " v i t a l a i r " wafted from one e t h i c a l l y c r e a t i v e 1 A F a i t h on T r i a l , p.251. The Empty Purse, I I I , p.48. 3 L e t t e r s , I I , pp.361-2. 4 E a r t h and Man, I I , p.98. 2  2  spirit,  135 moment to the next, c o n s t i t u t e s the f i n e s t  immortality:  S p i r i t s , whose memory i s our v i t a l a i r , Through the great l o v e of E a r t h they had: l o , these, L i k e beams t h a t throw the path on t o s s i n g seas, Can b i d us f e e l we keep them i n the ghost, P a r t a k e r s of a s t r i f e t h e y joyed to share. 1 N e v e r t h e l e s s , labour done w i t h the good o f the f u t u r e race i n 2 mind a l s o a c h i e v e s f o r man  an i m m o r t a l i t y of s o r t s .  T h i s immor-  t a l i t y c o n s i s t s i n the e f f e c t of man's b e n e f i c i a l a c t i o n s upon his  offspring: Enough i f we have winked to sun, Have sped the plough a season; There i s a s o u l f o r labour done, Endureth f i x e d as reason.  Because not a l l men  3  can p e r c e i v e the importance of the moment,  M e r e d i t h allows the p l o d d e r s , the s t r i v e r s who. conform as best they can to nature's law, a subordinate p l a c e i n the f u t u r e oneness of s p i r i t  i n nature and man.  But to those who  neither  s t r u g g l e nor f u r t h e r the course of e t h i c a l e v o l u t i o n , he mises no i m m o r t a l i t y ' o f any  pro-  sort.  Nature i n M e r e d i t h : N a t u r a l r e l i g i o n Meredith's  n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n i s based upon h i s f a i t h i n  the t i m e l e s s i d e n t i t y of the r e a l and  the i d e a l , the proof of  which he sees i n the process of e t h i c a l e v o l u t i o n .  This belief  a l l o w s him to r e c o g n i z e present s t r u g g l e and  suffering  as  n e c e s s a r y r e a l i t i e s t h a t l e a d to the i d e a l .  He admits that  1 To A F r i e n d L o s t , I I I , p.265. 2 c f . G-oethe (Eckermann, C o n v e r s a t i o n s , p. 287) - "To me the e t e r n a l e x i s t e n c e of my s o u l i s proved from my i d e a of a c t i v i t y ; i f I work on i n c e s s a n t l y t i l l my death, nature i s bound to g i v e me another form of e x i s t e n c e when the present one can no longer s u s t a i n my s p i r i t . " 3 The q u e s t i o n Whither, I I , p.236.  acceptance o f these hard c o n d i t i o n s i s d i f f i c u l t ,  but he sees  t h e i r e s s e n t i a l goodness i n the d e s i r a b l e end t h e y ensure: Accept, she says; i t i s not hard In woods; but she i n towns Repeats,.accept; and have ,we wept, And have we q u a i l e d w i t h f e a r s , Or shrunk w i t h h o r r o r s , sure reward We have whom knowledge crowns; Who see i n mould the rose u n f o l d , The s o u l through blood and t e a r s .  1  T h e r e f o r e , M e r e d i t h accepts and t r u s t s n a t u r e , not i n s p i t e o f , but because o f the s t r u g g l e man has to c a r r y on w i t h i n h i m s e l f . T h i s s t r u g g l e , when i t i s c o n s i d e r e d along with nature's sane order and t r a n s i e n t beauty, even i n s p i r e s i n the poet a f e e l i n g of  l o v e and f i l i a l a f f e c t i o n f o r nature.  Though to others  nature might seem a s l a y e r , M e r e d i t h can l o v e her and endure the present because o f the -bright  future.  For love we E a r t h , then serve we a l l ; Her m y s t i c s e c r e t then i s ours. We f a l l , or view our t r e a s u r e s f a l l , Unclouded as beholds her f l o w e r s E a r t h , from a n i g h t of f r o s t y wreck, Enrobed i n morning's mounted f i r e , When l o w l y , w i t h a broken neck, The crocus l a y s her cheek to mire.  2  Man's s t r u g g l e to achieve the mean i s thus s t r o n g p r o o f for  the poet o f the b e n e f i c e n c e behind nature's law o f n e c e s s i t y ,  f o r he b e l i e v e s t h a t t h i s s t r i f e w i l l g r a d u a l l y u n f o l d f o r man a v i s i o n o f E a r t h as the "mother of t r u t h " , as the R e l e n t l e s s quencher o f l i e s ; E t e r n a l i n thought; d i s c e r n e d In thought m i d - f e r r y between The L i f e and the Death, which are one, As our b r e a t h i n o r out j o y or teen. 1 2 3  Outer and Inner, I I , p.238. Thrush i n February, I I , p.225. A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , p.255.  3  In  other words, though M e r e d i t h admits 1 2  that nature's law i s  " u n a l t e r a b l e " and severe, he can see her e s s e n t i a l s p i r i t  behind  the " s t e r n exact": The  spirit  served by h e r i s seen  Through Law; p e r u s i n g l o v e w i l l show. And,  seeing s p i r i t  3  behind outer law, M e r e d i t h c a n make of l i f e  and death an a c t of nature's l o v e : Love took my hand when hidden stood the sun To f l i n g h i s robe on s h o u l d e r - h e i g h t s of snow. Then s a i d : There l i e they, L i f e and Death i n one. VJhichever i s , the other i s , but know, I t i s t h y c r a v i n g s e l f t h a t thou dost see, Not i n them seeing me. 4 Hence i t i s w i t h eyes o f l o v e , not a s l i d e - r u l e o f s c i e n c e , that M e r e d i t h checks nature's e x t e r n a l measurements,  Minute  d e t a i l s i n t e r e s t him because they are the e x p r e s s i o n o f the i d e a l l o v e , s a n i t y , and u n i t y o f nature: Open h i t h e r , open hence, Scarce a bramble weaves a f e n c e , Where t h e strawberry runs r e d , With white s t a r - f l o w e r overhead; Cumbered by d r y twig and cone, Shredded husks o f s e e d l i n g s flown, Mine of mole and s p o t t e d f l i n t : Taking cognizance of  5  of both the r e a l and i d e a l f e a t u r e s  a c c e s s i b l e Earth., M e r e d i t h f i n d s nothing enigmatic or  q u e s t i o n a b l e i n her.  I t i s nonsense, the poet s t a t e s , to  look beyond her or to t r y to read the i n a c c e s s i b l e i n t o h e r , as do those who c r y f o r the " o p i a t e boon": 1 L u c i f e r i n S t a r l i g h t , I I , p.12. 2 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, C o n v e r s a t i o n s , p.294)-"nature understands no j e s t i n g ; she i s always t r u e , always s e r i o u s , always severe; she i s always r i g h t , and the e r r o r s and f a u l t s are always those o f man". 3 The Thrush i n February,- I I , p.225. Hymn to C o l o u r , I I , p.262.5 The Woods of Westermain, I I , p.34. 4  138 They see hot above or below; F a r t h e s t are they from my s o u l , ' E a r t h whispers: 'they s c a r c e have the t h i r s t , 'Except to u n r i d d l e a rune; 'And I s p i n none; o n l y show, 'Would humanity soar from i t s worst, 'Winged above darkness and d o l e , 'How f l e s h unto s p i r i t must grow. • S p i r i t raves not f o r a g o a l . 1 That i s , because nature n e i t h e r t e l l s us of nor shows us  any2  t h i n g beyond s p i r i t , any q u e s t i o n s l i k e  "whither?" or "whence?"  not o n l y are a waste of time but are frowned upon by nature, for  these v a i n , s e l f i s h  q u e r i e s are the c r i e s of u n f a i t h which  slow nature's and man's complementary t i d e s o f e v o l u t i o n . E a r t h heeds them not: He may e n t r e a t , a s p i r e , He may d e s p a i r , and she has never heed. She d r i n k i n g h i s warm sweat w i l l soothe h i s need, Not h i s d e s i r e . 3 And.man, i f he would assume h i s h i g h p l a c e i n n a t u r e , s h o u l d a l s o q u e s t i o n not; h i s work i s the important  thing:  Then l e t our t r u s t be f i r m i n Good, Though we be of the f a s t i n g ; Our questions a r e a m o r t a l brood, Our work i s e v e r l a s t i n g . We c h i l d r e n of Beneficence Are i n i t s being s h a r e r s ; And Whither v a i n e r sounds than.Whence, For word w i t h such wayfarers. 4 Another  aspect o f the r e a l and  i d e a l i n nature i s  Meredith's Comic S p i r i t , a c o n c e p t i o n no doubt d e r i v e d from 1 A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , pp.256-7. 2 c f . Goethe ("Truth and P o e t r y " , I I , p.168) - " a l l we can do i n the l i g h t - c a r of our d e s t i n y i s ' i n c o o l s e l f p o s s e s s i o n to h o l d the. r e i n s w i t h a f i r m hand," and to guide the wheels, now to the l e f t , now to the r i g h t , a v o i d i n g a stone here, a p r e c i p i c e t h e r e . We don't know whither o r whence." B a r t h and Man, I I , p.94. 4 The Question Whither, I I , p.236. 1  3  139 Moliere}  M e r e d i t h , i n s p i t e o f t h e combined j o y and f o r t i t u d e  that allowed him t o see the oneness of a l l n a t u r e , saw o n l y too c l e a r l y that l i f e was s t i l l  a t r a g i c t a n g l e t h a t even the  s t r o n g men were not u n r a v e l l i n g .  Hence the Oomic S p i r i t became  a n e c e s s a r y adjunct t o the poet's p h i l o s o p h y o f n a t u r e , f o r tragedy was i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h h i s f a i t h i n p r o g r e s s ; s i n c e nobleness was man's end, he had to look upon l i f e as a joke. Meredith's Comic S p i r i t , the power o f c r i t i c i s m that p e r m i t t e d the poet to view present e x i s t e n c e i n a way that was c o n s i s tent w i t h f u t u r e j o y , was the ether t h a t allowed the reason to  s t r i k e through the mist of t h e present w i t h a l i g h t t h a t  r e f l e c t e d back the f u t u r e sun o f - s p i r i t . T h i s "keynote o f the wise", Meredith's  fortitude, his  f a i t h i n the e v o l u t i o n a r y s t r e n g t h o f the v i t a l moment, and h i s 3 sheer p h y s i c a l j o y i n the presence  o f nature were t h e r e f o r e  a l l c o n t r i b u t o r y to the poet's r e c o g n i t i o n o f the i d e n t i t y i n nature o f the o b j e c t i v e and the s u b j e c t i v e worlds.  The p h i l -  osophy r e s u l t i n g from a balance of these f o u r elements  con-  s t i t u t e d the e s s e n t i a l source o f h i s mature acceptance o f E a r t h ' s aim, her b e n e f i c e n c e , and her b a s i c s p i r i t ;  f o r he was  able to b u i l d on the f o u n d a t i o n o f l a u g h t e r , s t r u g g l e , and evol u t i o n a concept  of nature t h a t both d e a l t c o n s i s t e n t l y w i t h  the world about him and gave hope of progress i n t o the f u t u r e . For example, he saw E a r t h ' s " g o a l o f g o a l s " as- both a s a t i s 1 John Lees, "George Meredith's L i t e r a r y R e l a t i o n s With Germany", The Modern Language Review, V o l . X I I (pp.428-437), 1917, p.431. ... 2 Sencourt, j f e r e d i t h , p.207. 3 c f . Youth I n Age, I I I , p.261 - M e r e d i t h r e t a i n e d h i s y o u t h f u l j o y to the end.  f a c t o r y present l i f e  f o r the f i t t e s t  and a speeding of the  race toward the p e r f e c t l y balanced l i f e of blood, b r a i n and spirit  now  enjoyed by the best men.  T h i s aim was  such  real  proof of l o v e behind nature's law that M e r e d i t h c o u l d b e l i e v e that nature's beneficence was  a p p l i c a b l e not o n l y to E a r t h but  a l s o by analogy to the cosmos!  Yet i t i s s i g n i f i c e n t t h a t the  poet very seldom spoke of the u n i v e r s e ; i t was the incomprehensibles w i t h which man Spirit,  however, was  f o r him one  should not concern h i m s e l f .  p a l p a b l e t o M e r e d i t h , f o r i t was  c l o s e l y connected w i t h the r e a l world.  Spirit  e x i s t e d i n man  ( i f he c o u l d but see i t ) and i n n a t u r e ; pure s p i r i t , 2 essential l i f e could b e l i e v e . which man to  of n a t u r e , was  the o n l y God  i n which M e r e d i t h  But t h i s God r e p r e s e n t e d the u l t i m a t e i d e a l to  could never a t t a i n without r e l i n q u i s h i n g h i s c l a i m  could speak of God  o n l y as a r a t h e r vague, p a n t h e i s t i c 3  e q u i v a l e n t to the v i t a l ,  There was,  he  deity  c r e a t i v e s o u l of E a r t h .  however, one c h i e f d i f f e r e n c e between Goethe's  and M e r e d i t h ' s : Meredith's Supreme Being was of  the  humanity; t h e r e f o r e , M e r e d i t h , l i k e Goethe, found t h a t  that was  of  God  as much an outcome  the poet's concept of e t h i c a l e v o l u t i o n as of Goethian pan-  theism. God f o r M e r e d i t h became the t h i r d member of the T r i a d 1 M e d i t a t i o n Under S t a r s , I I , p.266. 2 c f . Goethe ("Annals", I I , p.405) - "The v e r y b a s i s of my e x i s t e n c e i s that God i s in.Nature and Nature i n God." 3 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, C o n v e r s a t i o n s , p.389) - "Let people serve Him who g i v e s to the beast h i s f o d d e r , and to man meat and d r i n k as much as he can enjoy. But I worship Him who has i n f u s e d i n t o the world such a power of p r o d u c t i o n t h a t , when o n l y the m i l l i o n t h p a r t of i t comes to l i f e , the world swarms w i t h c r e a t u r e s to such a degree that war, pest i l e n c e , f i r e , and water cannot p r e v a i l a g a i n s t them. That i s my God.'"  141 as w e l l as the l i v i n g s p i r i t m o r a l i t y towards which man  i n nature; God was  the a b s t r a c t  was p r o g r e s s i n g :  From the pagan d i v i n i t y to the C h r i s t i a n , I see an advanced c o n c e p t i o n , and the nearer we get t o a g e n e r a l b e l i e f i n the A b s t r a c t D e i t y - i . e . the more and more a b s t r a c t , the nearer are men t o a comprehension of the p r i n c i p l e s {morality, v i r t u e , e t c . ) than which we r e q u i r e n o t h i n g f u r t h e r to govern us. 1 And  yet both these d e f i n i t i o n s  of God  had been i n M e r e d i t h ' s  mind d u r i n g the f o r m a t i v e years when Goethe's i n f l u e n c e so s t r o n g .  M e r e d i t h had merely used Darwinism  was  to make more  d e f i n i t e the e t h i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s of Goethe's p h i l o s o p h y . remained  the s p i r i t of nature whether M e r e d i t h approached  by way., of Goethian n a t u r a l i s m or e v o l u t i o n ^because  God Him  Meredith's  f a i t h i n the oneness of the r e a l and the i d e a l worlds made the two conceptions of God  i d e n t i c a l with one  another.  I t i s reasonable t o conclude then t h a t t h i s i d e a of E a r t h ' s u n i t y was  the M e r e d i t h i a n b e l i e f t h a t stood  f i r m i n the face of a l l the c o n f l i c t i n g thought i n c l u d e d ) of the V i c t o r i a n p e r i o d . l i e v e i n nature's b e n e f i c e n t s p i r i t , which was  God,  Goethian  (Darwinism  M e r e d i t h c o u l d always  be-  the d i v i n e "Over-Reason"  e i t h e r through a happy f a i t h i n an e t h i c a l  evo-  l u t i o n that i n v o l v e d s t o i c a l r e c o g n i t i o n of s t r u g g l e or through a courageous  acceptance of nature's s t e r n law of n e c e s s i t y  be-  hind which the poet could d i s c e r n j o y , s a c r i f i c e and l o v e ; f o r both approaches  were c o n s i s t e n t with h i s view of the r e a l  i d e a l ; worlds as a b a s i c i d e n t i t y , as a fundamental  example of the  mean which he and Goethe saw i n every phase of nature's ness. l~~Letters,  I , p.171.  '  and  complete-  142  A COMPARISON OF THE CONCEPTS OF NATURE IN TENNYSON AND MEREDITH THAT INCLUDES AN ESTIMATE OF THE RELATIVE MODERNITY OF THEIR PHILOSOPHIES G e n e r a l approaches t o n a t u r e One  b a s i c d i f f e r e n c e between the concepts of n a t u r e o f  these two..;men a r i s e s from t h e i r d i s s i m i l a r temperaments,  Both  poets were s e n s i t i v e , but t h e i r s e n s i t i v i t y l e d them i n almost opposite d i r e c t i o n s .  Whereas Tennyson, because o f an unhappy  e a r l y l i f e , s u f f e r e d acute m e l a n c h o l i a that manifested i n h i s over-emphasizing M e r e d i t h was  the p a i n f u l elements  of t h i s  itself  life,  always a b l e t o draw from the s p r i n g s of an e v e r -  present joy a f o r t i t u d e that allowed-him to face p a i n cheerfully.  These e m o t i o n a l a t t i t u d e s are i m p o r t a n t , f o r upon them  depended the approaches o f the two p o e t s t o n a t u r e .  Tennyson's  f a i t h i n the a b i l i t y of r e a s o n and s c i e n t i f i c knowledge to r e v e a l n a t u r e ' s t r u t h s o r i g i n a t e d from h i s e m o t i o n a l need r a t h e r than from a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y V i c t o r i a n b e l i e f i n the power of s c i e n c e t o e n l a r g e man's empire. acceptance  o f n a t u r e ' s benevolence  And  Meredith's  came from an u n q u e s t i o n i n g  d e l i g h t t h a t p e r m i t t e d him t o impose upon s c i e n t i f i c f a c t an e t h i c a l s u p e r s t r u c t u r e founded on i n t u i t i o n . must be kept i n mind t h a t M e r e d i t h was  Certainly i t  born n i n e t e e n years  a f t e r Tennyson and t h a t he, u n l i k e Tennyson, who in  was  the m a t e r i a l i s t i c t r a p f i n a l l y sprung by Darwin,  caught was  w r i t i n g most of h i s p o e t r y d u r i n g the p e r i o d when i t was f a s h i o n t o d e a l w i t h the e t h i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s o f  the  Darwinism  r a t h e r t h a n w i t h the s c i e n t i f i c f a c t s o f e v o l u t i o n .  The  fact  143 remains, however, t h a t both poets had determined approaches chief  their  to nature before 1859 and t h a t temperament was  the  determinant. ' Tennyson d i d not r e a l i z e u n t i l too l a t e that h i s  i t a r i a n r e a c t i o n to nature was  util-  inconsistent with s c i e n t i f i c  a t t i t u d e and s c i e n t i f i c - k n o w l e d g e , w i t h the e t e r n a l q u e s t i o n ing  that p r o v i d e d him w i t h seeming t r u t h s about the  p a r t s of nature. a hundred  These " t r u t h s " that r e p l a c e d one enigma w i t h  p a i n f u l r i d d l e s l e d Tennyson f a r t h e r and f a r t h e r away  from a c o n c e p t i o n of the whole t h a t h i s emotions may  individual  be that h i s view of nature was  M e r e d i t h ' s ; but i t was  c l o s e r t o fact- than  It  was  p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y very u n s a t i s f a c t o r y , f o r  f e e l i n g c o n t i n u a l l y hampered Tennyson's attempt a synthesis.  demanded.  at any s o r t of  Meredith, avoiding contradictory f a c t s  q u e s t i o n i n g not the whence, the why,  and  and the wherefore  of  life,  was both more s c i e n t i f i c and more p h i l o s o p h i c a l than Tennyson, for  h i s i n t e g r a t i o n of the whole was  by h i s emotion. ing  nature by way  a i d e d r a t h e r than hindered  I t seems r a t h e r i r o n i c  that Tennyson,  of reason and s c i e n c e , was  approach-  o b l i g e d to take  refuge i n a r e l i g i o u s f a i t h based on f e e l i n g , whereas M e r e d i t h , a p p e a l i n g i n i t i a l l y to emotion f o r an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f n a t u r e , was  able to a r r i v e at an i n t u i t i v e r a t i o n a l i s m , a f a i t h  embra-  c i n g reason and s c i e n c e . The law of nature Both poets admitted the i m m u t a b i l i t y of nature's law of change.  But Tennyson d i v i d e d t h a t law i n t o two p a r t s .  law of g r a d a t i o n i n nature was,  he conceded,  The  a good law, f o r  it  i n d i c a t e d a commendable o r d e r and s a n i t y .  dence of u n i t y i n nature because i t was  Itgave no  evi-  o n l y p a r t of nature's  n e c e s s i t y , but i t p r o v i d e d f o r Tennyson,as i t p r o v i d e d f o r A r n o l d , a moral example f o r man. nature's law was  However, t h i s h a l f of  incompatible w i t h the other h a l f , that which  had c o n t r o l over l i f e and death and which f o r Tennyson l a c k e d any semblance of moral o r d e r .  The  s t r u g g l e f o r e x i s t e n c e , the  unwarranted s u f f e r i n g , and the waste i n nature a l l seemed c r u e l t o Tennyson.  He had t o conclude that the law which  e f f e c t e d these c r u e l t i e s on a cosmic  s c a l e was  immoral.  Hence  he could a l l o w nature's n e c e s s i t y a hold o n l y on the p h y s i c a l p a r t of man; i n t o two  he had  to d i v i d e h i s "temporalized c h a i n of b e i n g "  c h a i n s , one s u b j e c t to nature's n e c e s s a r y laws and  other f u n c t i o n i n g a c c o r d i n g to the m o r a l i t y of man  and  the  God.  Because nature's law evinced moral e v i l as w e l l as moral example Tennyson could see n e i t h e r j o y i n n e c e s s i t y nor b e n e f i c e n c e i n nature. M e r e d i t h , on the other hand, f e l t that o n l y i n n e c e s s i t y , the one law o f b e n e f i c e n t nature, c o u l d man  discern true joy:  Doth man d i v i d e d i v i n e N e c e s s i t y From Joy, between the Q,ueen of Beauty's b r e a s t s A sword i s d r i v e n ; f o r those most g l o r i o u s twain Present her. 1 M e r e d i t h saw no waste i n t h i s nature whose law of a l t e r n a t i n g 2 l i f e and death gave v i s i o n s of the " s p r i n g i n g To-be", f o r t h i s law was  f o r M e r e d i t h evidence of an u n d e r l y i n g m o r a l i t y i n  nature that accorded w i t h man's e t h i c a l n a t u r e . 1 With the Persuader, I I I , p.198. 2 Seed-Time, I I , p.210.  Because the  145 ideas of waste, c r u e l t y , and s t r u g g l e for. e x i s t e n c e a l l cont r a d i c t e d the m o r a l i t y , o r d e r , and s a n i t y of n a t u r e , M e r e d i t h abjured them.  And,  though he r e c o g n i z e d both the apparent  evil  i n unmerited s u f f e r i n g and the vastness of the cosmos, he c o u l d f e e l t h a t these matters were i r r e l e v a n t to the p r i n c i p l e o f l o v e behind E a r t h ' s outer law.  I t was  not Meredith's p o l i c y , as I  have s a i d b e f o r e , to go beyond the comprehensible.  Yet to  term him an unseeing o p t i m i s t would be to assume t h a t he d i d not c o n s i d e r a l l the i m p l i c a t i o n s . o f e v o l u t i o n and Darwinism. H i s w r i t i n g s b e l i e t h i s assumption.  I t seems to me  t h a t what  he saw more c l e a r l y than any of the other i n t e l l e c t u a l s of h i s day was  that nature's primary law was  not s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n but  co-operation. Let us now concerning law.  compare Tennyson's and M e r e d i t h ' s ideas That they both conceived of law i n nature i s  immediately e v i d e n t .  But M e r e d i t h b e l i e v e d i n a law of change  that m a n i f e s t e d both the c r e a t i v e and the r e g u l a t i v e f u n c t i o n s of nature, whereas Tennyson saw n o t h i n g of . c r e a t i v i t y i n or behind nature's n e c e s s i t y , which f o r him was merely a mechani c a l law that possessed no element Meredith's concept.  of the v i t a l i s m present i n  Where M e r e d i t h i n t u i t i v e l y apprehended the  a c t i v i t y of nature through o b s e r v i n g the workings  of law,  Tennyson d i s c e r n e d o n l y a l i f e l e s s p a t t e r n ; s p i r i t , the o n l y l i f e , was  not f o r Tennyson part of nature.  Consequently,  Tennyson c o u l d p e r s o n i f y nature o n l y when she was a r e f l e c t i o n 1 of h i s own mood, but Meredith's moods u s u a l l y o r i g i n a t e d from 1  c f . I n Memoriam, I I I , pp.42,51,56,62,69, e t c .  146  a sympathetic  contact w i t h the moods o f nature. Man's p l a c e i n nature  Tennyson and M e r e d i t h both b e l i e v e d t h a t the f u t u r e progress o f the w o r l d depended upon the- a c t i o n s o f man h i m s e l f and not upon nature's law; they were a t one i n s t r e s s i n g an e t h i c a l progress.  But Meredith's i d e a of e t h i c a l p r o g r e s s  agreed w i t h h i s concept of nature's e v o l u t i o n , whereas Tennyson's f a i t h i n progress was founded absolute s p i r i t  upon a b e l i e f that man's  could g r a d u a l l y f r e e man's body from i t s  p h y s i c a l bondage i n n a t u r e .  Moral man, f o r Tennyson, was born  with a d i v i n e , not a n a t u r a l  urge:  F o l l o w the deer? f o l l o w the C h r i s t , the K i n g , L i v e pure, speak t r u e , r i g h t wrong, f o l l o w the K i n d E l s e , wherefore  born?  1  That i s , M e r e d i t h conceived of a g r a d u a l progress toward a p e r f e c t c o - o r d i n a t i o n o f the human f a c u l t i e s of blood, b r a i n , and s p i r i t , but Tennyson hoped f o r a s p i r i t u a l progress t h a t would r e s u l t i n a world o f s o u l c o m p l e t e l y f r e e d from  sense.  Where Meredith's monism demanded a T r i a d r o o t e d i n e a r t h and s u b j e c t to nature's change, c o n f l i c t and s e l e c t i o n , Tennyson's r e l i g i o n r e q u i r e d a d u a l i t y t h a t r e c o g n i z e d both the present s u b j e c t i o n of body to nature's n e c e s s i t y and the freedom of permanent s p i r i t from n a t u r e .  Hence, though both poets gave  the t o r c h of progress to man, Tennyson saw i t as. a means o f escaping from nature, while M e r e d i t h regarded i t as a sacred flame g i v e n t o man by the Mother so that he might r u n the race 1  Gareth and L y n e t t e , V, p.30.  147 of l i f e  i n harmony with her law of e v o l u t i o n .  Tennyson, con-  s i d e r i n g the s t r u g g l e f o r e x i s t e n c e an immoral p r i n c i p l e of s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n , could not a l l o w i t "to have any e f f e c t man's immortal s p i r i t ; to a l t r u i s m and  but M e r e d i t h ,  s e e i n g i n s t r u g g l e a means  co-operation, applied h i s e t h i c a l  of the Darwinian p r i n c i p l e to the e v o l u t i o n of  interpretation  spirit.  Yet, though Tennyson condemned the p r i n c i p l e of p r e s e r v a t i o n because i t was the r a c e , h i s emotional  not conducive  need f o r c e d him  s p i r i t , i n p a r t i c u l a r to h i s own  was  opposed to the d e s i r a b l e progress  self-  to the development of  to a p p l y i t to man's  individual s p i r i t .  faced w i t h a c o n t r a d i c t i o n : f o r him,  on  He was  as f o r M e r e d i t h ,  thus  egotism  of the r a c e ; yet h i s i d e a  of i m m o r t a l i t y demanded an e g o t i s t i c a l assumption, f o r Tennyson b e l i e v e d that o n l y the assurance  of p e r s o n a l i m m o r t a l i t y made  l i f e worth l i v i n g : The thought of working f o r the human race i s not i n c e n t i v e enough to v i r t u e i f man i s not immortal. The whole race w i l l be e x t i n c t , probably, i n a few thousand years. 1 Meredith,  however, d i d not l e t an i n c o n s i s t e n c y of t h i s  unsettle h i s philosophy.  One  need compare o n l y two  sort  poems, I n  Memoriam and A F a i t h on T r i a l to note t h i s fundamental d i f f erence between the p h i l o s o p h i e s o f the two poets.  These poems  both d e a l w i t h the problem of i m m o r t a l i t y , but the former d e c l a r e s that a f a i n t t r u s t  of the l a r g e r  hope of- p e r s o n a l  i m m o r t a l i t y i s the o n l y answer to the q u e s t i o n of reunion  with  the beloved Hallam, while the l a t t e r emphasizes a t u r n i n g to 1  Ward, " T a l k s with Tennyson", p.331.  148 e a r t h f o r comfort  and wisdom, and f o r s i g n s t h a t i n d i c a t e the  f u l l n e s s o f Marie's  l i f e , the c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the r a c e t h a t  c o n s t i t u t e s her o n l y i m m o r t a l i t y .  Thus i m m o r t a l i t y f o r Tenn-  yson had nothing t o do w i t h e i t h e r the progress of the race or nature.  C e r t a i n l y Meredith's  a philosophy f o r martyrs,  i d e a of i m m o r t a l i t y seems to be  but i t i s not n e a r l y as i n c o n c e i v -  able and i l l o g i c a l as A r c h i b a l d Strong would have us b e l i e v e : I t i s s u r e l y i m p o s s i b l e t o conceive o f permanent S p i r i t d i v o r c e d from permanent p e r s o n a l i t y . E i t h e r there i s no i m m o r t a l i t y , or u n i v e r s a l , s i n g l e , and permanent s p i r i t , or there i s some k i n d o f i m m o r t a l i t y i n which the i n d i v i d u a l has actual part. 1 Strong o b v i o u s l y has a "Tennysonian"  b i a s t h a t makes h i m i n -  capable of r e c o g n i z i n g i n Meredith's p h i l o s o p h y o f nature a s t r o n g , i n t u i t i v e c o n v i c t i o n of the oneness o f means and end. The  s a c r i f i c e of the i n d i v i d u a l was, f o r M e r e d i t h , a good means  l e a d i n g t o a good end. And, no matter  how unacceptable  Meredith's  view may be, t h i s s t r o n g r e l i g i o u s f a i t h , coupled w i t h h i s p h i l o s o p h i c a l c o n s i s t e n c y , should convince one t h a t h i s concept of i m m o r t a l i t y i s both c o n c e i v a b l e and l o g i c a l . The  a t t i t u d e s of. the two poets toward p r o g r e s s and  i m m o r t a l i t y thus determined man's p l a c e i n nature.  i n a l a r g e measure t h e i r i d e a s o f  Tennyson, d i s c e r n i n g no progress and  no promise o f man's permanence i n the scheme of n a t u r e , had to conclude t h a t man's p o s i t i o n i n an i n f i n i t e was one of i n s i g n i f i c a n c e .  space-time  Man r e g a i n e d importance  universe  o n l y when  Tennyson v i s u a l i z e d him as r e a c h i n g out away from nature and 1  S t r o n g , Wordsworth and M e r e d i t h , p.174.  149 toward, the d i v i n e .  Tennyson's e x p l a n a t i o n of the t r a g i c  of l i f e was t h a t man was t o o much i n n a t u r e . a r r i v e d at v e r y d i f f e r e n t c o n c l u s i o n s .  Meredith,  tangle however,  B e l i e v i n g i n the c r e a t i v e  e v o l u t i o n o f man* Bferedith p l a c e d mankind at the top o f nature's scale; f o r Meredith her h i g h e s t m i r a c l e . present t r a g i c l i f e  the e t h i c a l man r e a c h i n g toward nature became And, u n l i k e Tennyson, M e r e d i t h  saw i n  a proof t h a t man i n g e n e r a l was not c l o s e  enough t o E a r t h . A g e n e r a l comparison o f t h e i r p h i l o s o p h i e s of and a t t i t u d e s toward nature I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o observe Tennyson and M e r e d i t h caused  t h a t the temperaments of  them t o base t h e i r concepts of  nature upon d i f f e r e n t p h i l o s o p h i e s .  Though both poets were on  common ground i n a search f o r the U r b i l d , t h e y turned to p h i l osophers t h a t approached t h i s u n i t y from d i f f e r e n t  directions;  Meredith found a mentor i n Goethe; Tennyson favoured Kant. is  What  of i n t e r e s t i n these c h o i c e s i s t h a t the n a t u r a l i s m o f the two  n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y poets s u r v i v e d or p e r i s h e d a c c o r d i n g t o the choice made.  Meredith's  a d o p t i o n o f Goethe's p h i l o s o p h y p e r -  m i t t e d him to b e l i e v e i n a n a t u r a l i s m s i m i l a r Darwinian without  (except f o r i t s  elements) t o that o f the E n g l i s h Romantic p o e t s , but  the t r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s m that caused most o f the Romantics  of the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y t o veer away from complete n a t u r a l i s m . Through Goethe M e r e d i t h came to see the world as a v i t a l engaged i n an a c t i v e process o f Becoming.  entity  He, l i k e Goethe, saw  the " E a r t h - s p i r i t " i n a semi-mystical way as the e s s e n t i a l force.  life-  Because f o r him, as f o r Goethe, a l l was o f E a r t h , M e r e d i t h  150 could embrace Darwinism as p a r t of h i s u n i f i e d n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n . But Tennyson, adhering to the t r a n s c e n d e n t a l f a i t h of Kant, was  f o r c e d i n t o a dualism f a r more d e f i n i t e than t h a t of  Wordsworth, of C o l e r i d g e , or of S h e l l e y .  Had  Tennyson l i v e d  i n the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , when s c i e n t i f i c knowledge was  close  to the g e n e r a l ideas of p h i l o s o p h y , he d o u b t l e s s would have b e l i e v e d i n n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n , as Kant d i d .  But, l i v i n g i n  the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y and t r y i n g to f o l l o w the t e a c h i n g s of Kant} he could not achieve the s y n t h e s i s between the " o b j e c t i v e " and " s u b j e c t i v e " worlds. was  The  f a i l u r e of Tennyson's n a t u r a l i s m  l a r g e l y the r e s u l t of h i s i n a b i l i t y to r e c o n c i l e the 2  worlds of Being and Becoming  i n the face of s c i e n t i f i c  two dis-  covery that ignored a p h i l o s o p h y of Being. As might be expected, Tennyson's d u a l i s t i c  attitude  made h i s g e n e r a l i d e a of nature a n t i t h e t i c a l at almost p o i n t to M e r e d i t h ' s .  Where Meredith  a v i t a l , permanent s p i r i t  saw nature's  every  essence  as  i n f o r m i n g matter, Tennyson viewed  her as merely the t r a n s i e n t summation of m a t e r i a l e x i s t e n c e s . The  l a t t e r , looking'upon  p r e j u d i c e , found  nature a c c o r d i n g to h i s s c i e n t i f i c  that she o f f e r e d o n l y a d i s s e c t i n g a n a l y s i s  of m a t e r i a l experience;  s c i e n c e allowed her no e t h i c a l f u n c t i o n  1 I t i s p o s s i b l e , I r e a l i z e , to c a r r y too f a r an hypothe s i s such as t h i s one p a r a l l e l i n g the p h i l o s o p h i e s of Kant and Tennyson and those of Goethe and M e r e d i t h . Nevertheless, the p a r a l l e l s are i n t e r e s t i n g . They do e x p l a i n , i n p a r t a t l e a s t , Tennyson's dualism and Meredith's monism. 2 Even Herbert Spencer, f o l l o w i n g the s c i e n t i f i c p r e cepts of the e i g h t e e n t h century, b e l i e v e d t h a t s c i e n c e and r e l i g i o n c o u l d not be r e c o n c i l e d unless the e x i s t e n c e of a t r a n s c e n d e n t a l absolute was assumed. (Herbert Spencer, F i r s t P r i n c i p l e s , London, W i l l i a m s and Norgate, 1875, i x preface.)  151 and  no t r u l y c r e a t i v e r o l e , and i t made of her a w i l l - l e s s ,  unthinking,  non-purposive f o r c e .  Regarding her a g a i n from a  r e l i g i o u s viewpoint, Tennyson saw i n h e r c r u e l , . m a t e r i a l i s t i c s t r u g g l e something a n t a g o n i s t i c  to both.God and .man that had  to he borne o n l y because i t was a d i s c i p l i n e f o r man's s p i r i t , the t r u e - r e a l i t y . in  M e r e d i t h , on the other hand, could  discern  nature the complete and v i t a l s y n t h e s i s o f m a t e r i a l and  spiritual life.  An i n t e l l i g e n t , -benevolent, and purposive  nature combined, f o r M e r e d i t h , a l l the e t h i c a l and c r e a t i v e urges that e x i s t e d i n man and nature's other  creatures.  represented  f o r M e r e d i t h e s s e n t i a l humanity, whereas she  exemplified  f o r Tennyson c r a s s m a t e r i a l i t y .  It  i s apparent, then, t h a t M e r e d i t h conceived  She  o f nature  as an organic whole t h a t i n c l u d e d an e x t e r n a l nature and t h e inner nature of man i n a n a t u r a l framework o f p o s i t i v e goodness.  Yet the completeness of h i s p h i l o s o p h y  a f a c i l e optimism.  does not i n d i c a t e  C e r t a i n l y M e r e d i t h would not have con-  c u r r e d w i t h Huxley's a g n o s t i c  a t t i t u d e toward n a t u r e :  The m a j o r i t y o f us, I apprehend, p r o f e s s n e i t h e r pessimism nor optimism. We-hold that the world, i s n e i t h e r so good, nor so bad as i t c o n c e i v a b l y might be. 1 The  poet would have s a i d , r a t h e r , that t h i s was the.best o f 2 a l l p o s s i b l e worlds and that man must a d j u s t h i m s e l f to i t s 1 T.H.. Huxley, E v o l u t i o n and E t h i c s and Other Essays,p.78. 2 c f . Webster's C o l l e g i a t e D i c t i o n a r y ( f i f t h e d i t i o n ) d e f i n i t i o n o f "optimism" - 1.- P h i l o s . a. The d o c t r i n e t h a t the world i s the best p o s s i b l e world, b. The d o c t r i n e that r e a l i t y i s e s s e n t i a l l y good. c. The d o c t r i n e that the good of l i f e overbalances the p a i n and e v i l o f i t . 2. A n ' i n c l i n a t i o n to put the most f a v o r a b l e c o n s t r u c t i o n upon a c t i o n s and happenings", or a n t i c i p a t e t h e best p o s s i b l e outcome. ("Pessimism" i s d e f i n e d as t h e reverse of "optimism").  '  152  order i f he would achieve happiness.  But he would not have  assumed, as d i d many American adherents  o f "Coueism" d u r i n g the  1920's, that the j u i c e o f the C a l i f o r n i a orange and the cons t a n t r e i t e r a t i o n of the p h i l o s o p h y o f i n e v i t a b l e would b r i n g about a golden age." Meredith's  betterment  was an optimism  founded upon the p r i n c i p l e s o f r e s t r a i n t and balance  that have  been p a r t o f man's c u l t u r a l i n h e r i t a n c e s i n c e they were f i r s t propounded by the e a r l y Greeks. Tennyson's p h i l o s o p h y , however, e x h i b i t e d n e i t h e r o f these Greek v i r t u e s .  Because he had s e t f o r h i m s e l f the task  of r e c o n c i l i n g n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y s c i e n c e and r e l i g i o n  accord-  i n g t o e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y p r i n c i p l e s , he was f o r c e d i n t o a dualism that destroyed any p o s s i b i l i t y o f a balanced view o f nature.  His f a i t h i n science reacted against h i s r e l i g i o u s  b e l i e f s to produce an unfavourable  c o n c e p t i o n of an e x t e r n a l  nature which had no c o n t r o l over t h e i n n e r , s p i r i t u a l man and i n which pain, and e v i l were so evident that they any goodness that might be seen i n nature's  overbalanced  order.  Tennyson could sometimes be o p t i m i s t i c about s p i r i t  Although i n man  and God, he c o u l d not be other than p e s s i m i s t i c about a nature which, a c c o r d i n g t o the f i n d i n g s o f s c i e n c e , seemed t o establ i s h the meaninglessness of e x i s t e n c e and s t r i v i n g ; f o r he, u n l i k e M e r e d i t h , was not a b l e to put nature above s c i e n c e , to see i n nature an a l t r u i s t i c  tendency that, b e l l e d the s e l f -  p r e s e r v a t i o n p r i n c i p l e -that s c i e n c e a t t r i b u t e d t o her. one  Whether  c o n s i d e r s the d i c t i o n a r y d e f i n i t i o n s o f pessimism o r the  153 d e f i n i t i o n of modern pessimism  suggested by G-.M.  Trevelyan}  he w i l l see t h a t Tennyson, i n s o f a r as nature was  concerned,  was  a complete  first  pessimist.  Nature was  for. Tennyson but the  a c t of a complicated p l a y , an a c t which gave no h i n t of  God's noble p l a n and which l e d man  to d e s p a i r of any denouement  f o l l o w i n g t h i s present m i s e r y and p a i n : Act You And In  f i r s t , t h i s E a r t h , a stage so gloom'd w i t h a l l , b u t s i c k e n at the s h i f t i n g scenes. yet be p a t i e n t . Our Playwright' may show some f i f t h Act what t h i s w i l d Drama means.,.  woe 2  P a r a l l e l s between modern thought and the concepts of nature of Tennyson and M e r e d i t h The p a s t f o r t y or f i f t y years have witnessed a g r a d u a l breakdown of the p h i l o s o p h i c a l concept  of nature, w i t h the  r e s u l t t h a t today nature i s viewed merely as the background f o r man's a c t i v i t i e s .  Man: i n s o c i e t y i s the c h i e f concern i n  and nature i s r e l e g a t e d to a minor p o s i t i o n ; poets may  1950,  appre-  c i a t e the beauty of e x t e r n a l .scenery, but .no l o n g e r do they i n g e n e r a l p e r s o n i f y nature as goddess or as d e v i l .  Moreover,  the mass of mankind today have bowed to the s c i e n t i f i c that p r o v i d e n c e , purpose they.be  and progress cannot  thesis  be regarded, i f  b e l i e v e d i n a t a l l , as r e s u l t i n g from any i n h e r e n t  4 tendency-in n a t u r e .  P r o g r e s s , i n p a r t i c u l a r , has been g i v e n  1 G.M. T r e v e l y a n , The P o e t r y and P h i l o s o p h y of George M e r e d i t h , p.139 - "Nature, i t i s s a i d [by these p e s s i m i s t s ] i s w h o l l y a l i e n to.us, and h o s t i l e to our endeavour a f t e r the i d e a l ; that endeavour r e s i d e s [ f o r them] i n the heart of man a l o n e . " 2. - The P l a y . V I I , p. 117. 3 Aldous Huxley, "Wordsworth i n the Tropics",Do What You W i l l Essays..London Ghatto & Windus, 1929, pp.113-129-Huxley suggests that c i v i l i z e d man v i s i t the t r o p i c s . The n a t i v e s t h e r e , Huxley s t a t e s , s t i l l apprehend nature as a l i e n and i n human, that i s , as a d e v i l ( o r d e v i l s ) r e p r e s e n t i n g a constant t h r e a t to man. 4 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.547. ;  154 a s o c i a l , r a t h e r than a n a t u r a l , s t a t u s . 1  Though s c i e n t i s t s  s t i l l r e c o g n i z e a b i o l o g i c a l p r o g r e s s , they agree that the i d e a of human p r o g r e s s , which c o n t a i n s the i m p l i c a t i o n of r i g h t d i r e c t i o n f o r man but not n e c e s s a r i l y f o r e a r t h or the u n i v e r s e , i s not analogous w i t h that of b i o l o g i c a l improve2 mentv.  Science has t o r n away a l l the props  century ^concept  of the n i n e t e e n t h -  of n a t u r e .  That t h i s l o s s o-f f a i t h i n nature concurs  i n many ways  w i t h Tennyson's d i s b e l i e f in. her does not mean t h a t Tennyson's ideas are modern.  For the modern v/orld has no nature  phil-  osophy, whereas Tennyson, even i n the a c t of condemning nature, admitted her e x i s t e n c e f o r him. of her was  due  And  h i s condemnation  to a t r a n s c e n d e n t a l and p e r s o n a l approach t h a t  i s not i n harmony w i t h the r e a l i s t i c , h u m a n i s t i c , and outlook of today.  Tennyson s t i l l remains f o r us the  social typical  V i c t o r i a n , i n t e r e s t e d i n s c i e n c e and i n nature but a f r a i d the e f f e c t of h i s knowledge upon h i s r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s .  of It  i s to Meredith's p h i l o s o p h y that one must t u r n f o r modern i d e a s , f o r h i s n a t u r a l r e l i g i o n came much c l o s e r than d i d Tennyson's somewhat medieval  f a i t h to the modern concept  of  r e l i g i o n as a s o c i a l product. One  i d e a of Meredith's, that deserves  particular  mention because of i t s modernness i s h i s b e l i e f i n the tence of an a l t r u i s t i c  i d e a l i n s o c i e t y , whether that s o c i e t y  be composed of human beings or of other c r e a t u r e s ,  1  2  exis-  H i s regard  , Ideas and B e l i e f s of the V i c t o r i a n s , p.185. I b i d . , p.184.  f o r values r a t h e r than f o r t h i n g s , f o r a l t r u i s m r a t h e r than f o r egotism,  f o r c o - o p e r a t i o n r a t h e r than f o r s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n , i s  i n complete harmony w i t h some of the mast advanced, ideas of biologists  today.  tended t o obscure the f i r s t  Although h i s f a i t h i n the " s t r o n g " man t h i s s o c i o l o g i c a l i d e a l , M e r e d i t h was among  to r e a l i z e the prime importance  to e v o l u t i o n o f  c o - o p e r a t i o n among the "numbers"; h i s b e l i e f t h a t c o - o p e r a t i o n and the love born o f t h i s b a s i c urge c o n s t i t u t e the primary p r i n c i p l e o f b i o l o g i c a l and s o c i a l e v o l u t i o n i s now a r e c o g n i z e d t h e o r y among many d i s t i n g u i s h e d b i o l o g i s t s .  And what  M e r e d i t h i n t u i t i v e l y apprehended i s now regarded by many s c i e n t i s t s as f a c t : that the world of man i s doomed unless i t s government i s taken out o f the hands o f the s e l f - i n t e r e s t e d men  1  and g i v e n i n t r u s t to the "men o f understanding and 2  h u m i l i t y , whose g u i d i n g p r i n c i p l e i s l o v e " . Meredith's  b e l i e f that t h i s a l t r u i s t i c  tendency i n  man i s e q u i v a l e n t to nature's purposive and benevolent  spirit  i s not at p r e s e n t , as I have s t a t e d , p a r t of our g e n e r a l philosophy.  N e v e r t h e l e s s , I b e l i e v e t h a t t h i s fundamental  d o c t r i n e o f n a t u r a l i s m w i l l come i n t o i t s own a g a i n before the end o f t h i s t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y .  For,. although we are so.  1 Tennyson a l s o d e s i r e d the same a l t r u i s t i c end; but, because he b e l i e v e d i t was a t t a i n a b l e o n l y by s u p e r n a t u r a l means that transcended s o c i o l o g i c a l and b i o l o g i c a l f a c t , h i s idea o f a l t r u i s m i s not comparable w i t h the modern i n t e r pretation. 2 M.F. A s h l e y Montagu, "The O r i g i n and Nature of S o c i a l L i f e and the B i o l o g i c a l Basis o f C o - o p e r a t i o n " , H o r i z o n , pp. 381-399, Vol.XIX, No. 114, June, 1949, p.398"  156 concerned  at t h i s moment w i t h both the r e h a b i l i t a t i o n f o l l o w i n g  two world wars and the p r e p a r a t i o n f o r an impending war, we are even now beginning to r e a l i z e t h a t a new s y n t h e s i s , a new unity of a l l l i f e ,  i s being formulated by t h e g r e a t e s t t h i n k e r  of our century, A l b e r t E i n s t e i n . 1  Most of us laymen have a t  l e a s t a vague comprehension of one o f the b a s i c t e n e t s of E i n s t e i n ' s theory, that i s , t h a t t h e w o r l d i s best e x p l a i n e d in  terms o f energy, not matter.  i m p l i c a t i o n s of atomic  When we canrecognize the  energy r a t h e r than t h e d e s t r u c t i v e  aspects o f the atomic bomb, then our poets may a g a i n see the world  (as Goethe and M e r e d i t h saw i t , and Tennyson wished t o  see i t ) as a v i t a l u n i t y embracing a l l i n o r g a n i c and o r g a n i c life.  157 BIBLIOGRAPHY I  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES Bateson, F. W., ed., The Cambridge B i b l i o g r a p h y of E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , Cambridge, U n i v e r s i t y Press,1940. Ehrsam, T. G., D e i l y , R.H., Smith, R. M., eds., B i b l i o g r a p h i e s o f Twelve V i c t o r i a n Authors, York, The H. W. W i l s o n Co., 1936  New  Templeman, W. D., ed., B i b l i o g r a p h i e s of S t u d i e s i n V i c t o r i a n L i t e r a t u r e , 1952-1944, Urbana, U n i v e r s i t y of I l l i n o i s P r e s s , 1945. II  TENNYSON a) Works Tennyson, A l f r e d , The Works of Tennyson, ed. by Hallam Tennyson, London, M a c m i l l a n and Co.Ltd., 1908, 9 vols. Tennyson, C. B. L., ed., "Tennyson: Unpublished P o e t r y " , N i n e t e e n t h Century and A f t e r , V o l . 109, March-June, 1931, pp. 367-80, 495-508, 625-636. Tennyson, Hallam, A l f r e d L o r d Tennyson, A Memoir, London, Macmillan and Co. L t d . , 1897, 2 v o l s . b) B i o g r a p h i c a l and  Critical  1)Books Auden, W. H., Tennyson, An I n t r o d u c t i o n and London, Phoenix House L t d . , 1946.  Selection,  Brown, A. W., The M e t a p h y s i c a l S o c i e t y , New Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1947.  York,  Dawson, W. H., "Tennyson's treatment of n a t u r e " , The Makers o f E n g l i s h P o e t r y , New York, Fleming H. R e v e l l C o . , 1906, pp.187-98. Dowden, E., S t u d i e s i n L i t e r a t u r e ( 1 7 8 9 - 1 8 7 7 ) , London, Kegan P a u l , Trench, TrUbner and Co. L t d . , 1909. Gates, L. E., "Tennyson's R e l a t i o n to Common L i f e " , S t u d i e s and A p p r e c i a t i o n s , New York, The M a c m i l l a n Co., 1900, pp.60-77.  Gates, L.E. , "Nature i n Tennyson's P o e t r y " , S t u d i e s and A p p r e c i a t i o n s , New York,.The M a c m i l l a n Co., 1900, pp.77-91. Lang, Andrew, A l f r e d Tennyson, Edinburgh W i l l i a m Blackwood and Sons, 1904. Lodge, S i r 0. J . , "The A t t i t u d e of Tennyson Towards S c i e n c e " , Modern Problems, London, Methuen and Co. , 1912, pp.329-36. Lucas, F. L., Tennyson, P o e t r y and P r o s e , Oxford, Clarendon P r e s s , 1947. L y a l l , S i r A..Tennyson, New 1902.  York, The M a c m i l l a n Co.,  Masterman, 0. F. G., Tennyson As A R e l i g i o u s Teacher, London, Methuen and Co. L t d . , 1910. N i c o l s o n , H a r o l d , Tennyson, A s p e c t s of h i s L i f e , C h a r a c t e r and P o e t r y , London, C o n s t a b l e and Co. L t d . , 1923. Tennyson, C h a r l e s , A l f r e d Tennyson, New M a c m i l l a n Co., 1949.  York, The  2 ) P e r i o d i c a l Essays and L i t e r a r y P u b l i c a t i o n s Cooper, A. B. "Tennyson, the f o r m a t i v e i n f l u e n c e s o f h i s f i r s t twenty years", The Bookman (London), October, 1909, pp.20-30. F i s h e r , C , "Tennyson's R e l a t i o n s to S c i e n c e " , The C e n t u r y Review, "Vol. 7 (January-June, 1900), pp.456-65.  New  H i n e s , J . A., "Mr. Tennyson as a B o t a n i s t " , The L i v i n g Age, V o l . 119 (October-December, 1873), pp.372-77. Knowles, James, "Aspects of Tennyson - a p e r s o n a l r e m i n i s c e n c e " , N i n e t e e n t h Century, V o l . 33 (1893), pp.164-188. Luce, M., "Nature i n Tennyson", The L i v i n g Age., V o l . 287 (October-December, 1915), p.156 and p.604. Paden, W. D., "Tennyson i n Egypt", U n i v e r s i t y o f Kansas P u b l i c a t i o n s , Humanistic S t u d i e s No.27,1942. P o t t e r , G. R.., "Tennyson and the B i o l o g i c a l Theory of M u t a b i l i t y i n Species". P h i l o l o g i c a l Quarterly, V o l . 16 (October, 1937), pp.321-343.  159 R u t l a n d , W. R., "Tennyson and the t h e o r y of E v o l u t i o n " , Essays and S t u d i e s , V o l . 26 (1940), pp.7-29. Ward, W i l f r i d , " T a l k s w i t h Tennyson", The L i v i n g V o l . 210 (July-September, 1896), pp.325-35.  Age,  Watts-, T. , "Aspects of Tennyson - Tennyson as a nature . poet", N i n e t e e n t h Century, V o l . 33 (1893), p.836. Watts, T., "Aspects of Tennyson - As the Poet of E v o l u t i o n " , Nineteenth Century, Vol.34 (1893),p.657. Wheeler, P. M., "Tennyson, a V i c t o r i a n Astronomer", Popular Astronomy, V o l . 56 (December, 1948), pp.527-40. Young, G. M., "The Age of Tennyson", Proceedings of the B r i t i s h Academy, V o l . 25 (1939), pp.125-142. I l l MEREDITH a) Works M e r e d i t h , G., The Works o f George M e r e d i t h (Memorial E d i t i o n ) , New York, C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ' s Sons, 1910, 29 v o l s . M e r e d i t h , G., The O r d e a l of R i c h a r d F e v e r e l New York, The Modern L i b r a r y , 1927.  (1859),  M e r e d i t h , G.. "Unpublished L e t t e r s of George M e r e d i t h (1886-87)", arranged by R. E. G. George, Ninet e e n t h Century and A f t e r , V o l . 103 (January-June, 1928), pp.149-162. . b) B i o g r a p h i c a l and  Critical  1)Books Beach, J . W., The Comic S p i r i t i n George M e r e d i t h , York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1911.  New  Chambers, E. K., "Meredith's Nature P o e t r y " , i n A Sheaf of S t u d i e s , London, Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1942, pp.84-91. C h i s l e t t , Wm., George M e r e d i t h , A Study and An A p p r a i s a l , Boston, R i c h a r d G. Badger, 1925. Crees, J . H. E., George M e r e d i t h , A Study of h i s Works and P e r s o n a l i t y , Oxford, B. H. B l a c k w e l l , 1918.  160 C u n l i f f e , J . W., E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e During the L a s t Half-Century,. New York, The M a c m i l l a n Co., 1923. C u n l i f f e , J . W., Leaders of the V i c t o r i a n R e v o l u t i o n , New York and London, D. Appleton Century Co. I n c . , 1934. C u r i e , R. H. P., Aspects of George M e r e d i t h , London, George Rutledge and Sons L t d . , 1908. E l l i s , S. M., George M e r e d i t h , H i s L i f e and F r i e n d s i n R e l a t i o n to h i s Work, London, Grant, R i c h a r d s Ltd., 1919. Hearn, L a f c a d i o , "Meredith's 'Earth and Man'", i n I n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of L i t e r a t u r e , New York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1924, V o l . I , pp.370-8.0. Henderson, M. S t u r g e , George M e r e d i t h , London, Methuen and Co. , 1908-. Lowes, J . L., "Two Readings o f E a r t h " , i n Essays i n A p p r e c i a t i o n , Boston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1936, pp.121-156. P e e l e , Robert, The. Creed of A V i c t o r i a n Pagan, Camb r i d g e ,• Mass. , Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1931. Sassoon, S., M e r e d i t h , London, Constable and Co. L t d . , 1948. Sencourt, R. E., The L i f e of George M e r e d i t h , New C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ' s Sons, 1929.  York,  S t r o n g , A. T., Three S t u d i e s i n S h e l l e y and An Essay on Nature i n Wordsworth and M e r e d i t h , London, Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s ; 1921, pp.148-189. T r e v e l y a n , G. M., The P o e t r y and P h i l o s o p h y of George Meredith,...London, Constable, and Co. L t d . , 1920. 2 p e r i o d i c a l Essays and L i t e r a r y P u b l i c a t i o n s A l l e n , Grant, "Our Noble S e l v e s " , F o r t n i g h t l y Review, V o l . 42 (September, 1887), pp.214, 217, 220. C h e s t e r t o n , G.-K., "The moral p h i l o s o p h y of -Meredith", The Contemporary Review, V o l 96 (July-December, 1909), pp.23-29. C u n l i f f e , J . W., "Modern Thought i n Meredith's Poems", P u b l i c a t i o n s of the Modern Language A s s o c i a t i o n of America, V o l . 27 (1912), pp.l*^25TT"  161 Foote, G. W., "George M e r e d i t h : F r e e t h i n k e r " , The E n g l i s h Review, V o l . 13 (December, 1912 - March, 1913), pp.602-16. Henderson, M. Sturge','"Achievements and t h e o r i e s o f ' M e r e d i t h " , North American Review, September, 1908, pp.347-59. Henderson, M. S t u r g e , "Some Thoughts U n d e r l y i n g M e r e d i t h ' s Poems", I n t e r n a t i o n a l J o u r n a l of E t h i c s , V o l . 16 (October, 1905-July, 1906), pp.340-352. Holbeach, II. , " T h i s Year's Song-Crop" , F r a s e r ' s Magazine, V o l . 44 (July-December, 1851), pp.618-634. Lees, John, "George M e r e d i t h ' s L i t e r a r y R e l a t i o n s With Germany", The Modern Language Review, V o l . 12, 1917, pp.428-437. Magnus, L., "The S u c c e s s i o n of Mr. M e r e d i t h " , The F o r t n i g h t l y Review, V o l . 86 (July-December, 1907), pp.932-946. M o f f a t t , J . , "Mr. M e r e d i t h on R e l i g i o n " , The H i b b e r t J o u r n a l , V o l . 3 (1904-05), pp.686-705. M o f f a t t , J.,"''The Empty Purse'", The H i b b e r t V o l . 14, A p r i l , 1916, pp.613-626.  Journal,  P o l l o c k , J . , "George M e r e d i t h " , The Contemporary V o l . 161, 1942, pp.285-8.  Review,  R e v e l l , W. F., "Nature P o e t r y of M e r e d i t h : E a r t h and Man", The Westminster Review, V o l . 142 ( J u l y Dec ember, 1894), pp.506-523. Robinson, E . A., "Meredith's L i t e r a r y Theory and S c i e n c e " , P u b l i c a t i o n s o f - t h e Modern Language A s s o c i a t i o n of America, V o l . 52, 1938, pp.857-68. S t a w e l l , F. M., "The C o n c e p t i o n of Nature i n the Poems of M e r e d i t h " , I n t e r n a t i o n a l J o u r n a l o f E t h i c s , V o l . 12 (October, 1901-July, 1902), pp.316-334. Symons,.A., "George M e r e d i t h : w i t h some unpublished l e t t e r s " , The F o r t n i g h t l y Review, V o l . 113 (January-June, 1923), pp.50-63. Turquet-Milnes, Gladys M. , "Meredith and the Cosmic*.. S p i r i t " , The Contemporary Review, V o l . 127 (January-June, 1925, pp.500-509.  OTHER REFERENCES CONSULTED a) Books Beach, J.W. , The Concept of Nature i n N i n e t e e n t h Century E n g l i s h P o e t r y , New York, The M a c m i l l a n Co. 1936.  Benn, A. W., The H i s t o r y of E n g l i s h R a t i o n a l i s m i n the N i n e t e e n t h Century, London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1906, 2 v o l s . , Brooke, S t o p f o r d A., N a t u r a l i s m i n E n g l i s h P o e t r y , London, J . M. Dent and Sons Ltd'., 1902. B u t l e r , Joseph, The Works of Joseph B u t l e r , D.C.L., ed. by Wm. Gladstone, Oxford, Clarendon P r e s s , 1897. C a s s i r e r , E r n s t , Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, t r a n s l a t e d by J . Gutmann, P. K r i s t e l l e r and J . R a n d a l l , J r . , P r i n c e t o n , P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1945. Chambers, R o b e r t V e s t i g e s o f the N a t u r a l H i s t o r y of C r e a t i o n , T w e l f t h E d i t i o n , London and Edinburgh, W. and R. Chambers," 1884. Chaucer, G e o f f r e y , Canterbury T a l e s , ed. by J . M. Manly New York, Henry H o l t and Co., 1928. Collingwood, R. G., The Idea of Nature, Oxford, Clarendon P r e s s , 1945. Crum,.Ralph B., S c i e n t i f i c Thought i n P o e t r y , New York, Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1931. Cruse, Amy, The V i c t o r i a n s and T h e i r Books, London, George A l l e n and Unwin L t d . , 1935. Darwin, C h a r l e s , On The O r i g i n o f Species by means of N a t u r a l S e l e c t i o n ( 1 8 5 9 ) , London, Ward, Lock & Co. L t d . , 1901 Darwin, C h a r l e s , The Descent of Man and S e l e c t i o n - i n R e l a t i o n to Sex, Second e d i t i o n , London, John Murray, 1906. Dawson, C , R e l i g i o n and C u l t u r e , London, Sheed and Ward, 1948. Eckermann, J . 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